SpoorthiMag (www.spoorthimag.com) brings to you the latest issue which has Education as its main concern. Education is every man's birthright, and we discuss some of the issues and perspectives on the same. Also covering the regulars.
NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2013
The Meaning of Education by Neelanjan Mitra
Playing Solo by Fabiano Fernandes
A Week in Greece by Fazeela Mollick
The Essential Elements by Pranjal Malav
Our Perspectives on Education: From the Spoorthi Team
Cover Story: The Meaning of Education
Topping the Troops: Professor Amartya
Achievers: Maria Montessori
Invincibles: PlanetRead: Literacy for a
From the Spoorthi Team: Our
Perspectives on Education
Fulfilling Art: Do Dooni Chaar (Two
Twos Are Four)
Tanushree Raha Sarkar
Modern Day Fables: Foo Foo the Frog
and Nanhi the Nightingale
Youth and Spirituality: The Essential
Musical Notes: Music and Education
Memorable Journeys: A Week in Greece
From Across Two Oceans: Not Only in
Ageless Verses: Benediction
A Cloud of Smoke
Learning After School
Just A Tale: The Blank Page
People Next Door: The Reality of Small
By Deepanshu Anand and
Guest Column: At the Root of Survival
Design and layout:
Cover Photo by: Tony Fischer
His Flicker Page
Titled: Learning in Boston Common
Seen in Parkman Plaza, Boston
Common, America’s oldest park,
created in 1634.
There are three such “virtuous”
sculptures placed around a relatively
small semicircular patch of pavement
on the Common. The other two are
“Religion” and “Industry” The sculptors
(now deceased) are Adio Dibiccari and
The Massachusetts statehouse is in the
from the editor’s desk
Teachers, schools, libraries, books, universities are probably some of the
first words that come to mind when we think of the word “education”
but what about the right to be educated and the freedom to receive education? The story of Malala Yousafzai is in the public domain, but
there are unknown stories of millions of children worldwide for whom
education is an unattainable dream. Some begin school but are forced
to leave because of poverty and their parents’ opinion that earning
an income is better than studying.
In some countries girls are denied education and forced to enter marriage to perform their duties to
husband, family and in-laws. This travesty has existed for centuries.
In the 1930s in the United States, it was uncommon for women to be
educated beyond what men deemed as their limit.
Attending a university was a thing unheard of for women. That attitude has changed,
thankfully, and women from developed and some developing countries
have the freedom to attend schools and universities and receive the same
education as men.
Despite the challenges women have faced throughout the centuries, many
have still managed to beat the odds and become equal contributors to
the growth and development of their countries.
Here in the pages of Spoorthi we present diverse views on education.
Neelanjan Mitra discusses the Meaning of Education in the Cover Story.
In the column Musical Notes, Sameer Havaldar writes about Music and
Education. In our guest column Rebika Nongmaithem’s article, The Root
of Survival, asks us to think of education as more than just a tool for
getting ahead in life. In the section, People Next Door, Vibhu Sharma’s
insightful story will touch and inspire you with its honesty.
Education is a process that should be never-ending. Every day we draw
breath brings an opportunity to learn something new, to become reacquainted with past knowledge, to improve someone’s life by sharing
what we’ve learned.
It would do us well to keep in mind the words of Henry Ford, American Industrialist and founder of the Ford Motor Company, “Anyone who
stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning
the meaning of
impart be made clear and obvious. There
knowledge and teach skills but do can be thousands of interpretations
these institutions really educate? of the Swami’s statement, but in my
understanding it means that every
In this modern era where one of the human being has an innate ability
most important parameters to judge to reason. This ability to reason
a person’s competency is the weight cannot be taught, but it can be made
of the wallet he carries, we regard stronger. An education will enhance
education as a rung on the ladder to that ability in an individual to attach
becoming competent. We’re focused reasons and define causes for all
on our studies and we’re either forced actions in his immediate environment.
to, or voluntarily submit to writing
entrance exams for premier institutions.
The reason behind such a long battle Education gives birth to principles
is the same for many of us soldiers, and a principle eventually generates
“we need to earn … for money defines a cultured habit, manners to deal
the meaning of life”. I do understand with situations and react accordingly.
and have regard for this view that Principles are not derived from empirical
drives the spirits of young hearts of evidence and scientific studies, but
today, but I also believe that through from human beings’ cognitive ability. I
the years and the miles of this journey, believe that the study of science and
we forgot the meaning of education. logic acts as a catalyst in evaluating
ideas but certainly does not limit the
innate ability of consciousness to frame
Swami Vivekananda once said, them. The consciousness of a human
“Education is the manifestation of the being is all-powerful in its ability to
perfection already existent in man”. frame principles, and education assists
Man’s perfection is innate but it must in rendering a concrete covering.
Another important point is the difference
between being educated and being
principled. The former encompasses
learning theories and theses and the
latter reflects true education. The
following examples will further clarify
the idea. An engineering graduate
from a premier institution in India, and
someone I’ve known for quite some
time, recently got married. He works
with an MNC, is completely polished
and is referred to as an “intelligent” guy.
However, for his marriage his parents
demanded a substantial amount of
dowry and the groom did not disagree.
In my first year of college I witnessed
senior students ragging the new
entrants. None of the new students
were in favor of it. Some even
protested to the higher authority.
But strangely the same protesters
participated very actively in ragging
their juniors. Their action showed
that they lacked principles and strong
character. These traits come from total
education, not just book knowledge.
In my school I learned that the
masterpiece of God is a human being,
and the differences between a human
and an animal are our intellect, our
curiosity and our memory. Surely a
cumulative effect should produce the
most important thing, wisdom. The
objective of being educated should
be to generate wisdom. We project
wisdom only when we apply the
concepts we’re taught in our lives and
then learn from the consequences.
Our story of life revolves around
relationships - relationships with
parents, friends, relatives, employers
and others. One common desire runs
through these relationships, everyone
wants us to act in accordance with
their expectations. I believe wisdom
combined with a desire to act in
tandem with the wisdom gained,
will assist in drawing that perfect
character we’re expected to possess.
My life as a hotel lobby pianist can be frustrating, lonely,
demoralizing and at times even exhausting. Is it worth it?
Without a shadow of a doubt in doing something that the
heart, body and soul love, yes, every moment is worth it!
Most people call solo piano “the old man’s job” but I’ve
been doing this for the past 12 years and enjoying it,
because for me it’s not just a job. “How many hours a day
do you practice?” “Show me your hands.” “ You’re really
good.” These are the most common responses I get when
people listen to me perform.
I used to play the keyboard as a kid and I was lucky to be
born in a family with an English music background. In
my home, the sound of music from the radio began the
day and ended it. I loved music and wanted to make it my
career so I journeyed to England where I attended one of
the top music schools in the country.
I discovered however, that in general, people are not very
open and supportive to music as a profession. Society
believes that a “real” job entails working from 9 to 5. I,
too, fell into that trap and studied computing and later
began to teach in order to pay the bills. I was on a path
that had no existence for me and rather than stepping off
this path, I became assimilated in the world where people
simply surrendered themselves to earning an income to
pay the mortgage and other bills.
I’m just glad that as the years went by, the attitude to music
changed for the better. It became a very important part of
our day-to- day life so much so that piano music is used
as a relaxation therapy to soothe the mind and help cure
the stress that is caused by the competitive nature of 9 to
around me is making music more of a business instead
of spreading it as the gift that it is. I wanted to share my
love for music and actively distribute the gift of music and
so I began to teach and educate people into learning and
appreciating music the right way.
But even that is a challenge since people would rather
spend big bucks and many hours a night in a pub or at
a gym rather than pay to learn something productive
and creative that would help them to feel good about
themselves. This is what I came to realize.
Nevertheless, my life as a pianist is pretty amazing as I get
to meet a lot of people. I have performed in some states in
India and also a few countries in Asia where I’ve interacted
with people from all walks of life.
It is wonderful how people stand by my side to take a
photograph or to shoot a video for reasons unknown to
me. But it makes me feel proud and happy that I have been
able to bring smiles of joy to the faces of total strangers.
A pianist’s life is like a piano itself. The black and white
keys are a combination of both good and bad. The good
part is that people love to be in my shoes; the bad part is
that the shoes may not fit everyone.
Note from the Editor: I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Fabio
play at the Royal Plaza Hotel in Delhi and you too can listen
to him on YouTube. Search the name Fabio Ferns.
For me, music is a gift but unfortunately, the world
topping the troops
professor amartya sen
An economist who could also be tagged as a sociologist,
historian, political analyst and philosopher, Amartya
Kumar Sen’s work on welfare economics earned him
the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1998. For his countless
contributions to economic theory, ethics and education
he received accolades and awards from many countries,
the latest being France. On the 15th February 2013 he
was bestowed the Insignia of Commander of the Legion
says, “I read a lot and like arguing with people.” One of his
well-known books is called The Argumentative Indian”.
Over a period of years Professor Sen taught at the
prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(MIT), the Universities of Berkley, Cornell and Stanford.
He taught Economics at the University of Calcutta and
the Delhi School of Economics. The London School of
Economics, the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and
Harvard also benefited from this erudite scholar.
His extensive work on development economics had a
great influence in formulating the Human Development
Report published by the UNDP and his books have been
translated in more than 30 languages. The Time magazine
in 2006 listed him in their “60 years of Asian Heroes,
and in 2010 Professor Sen was among their “100 most
influential persons in the world”. He was also included
in the 2010 edition of the “World’s 50 Most Influential
People Who Matter” published by the New Statesman.
On November 3rd, 2013 Professor Sen turned 80 and
continues to busy himself by serving on various Boards
and Educational institutes worldwide. For relaxation, he
More on Professor Sen’s life and work can be seen in the
documentary directed by Suman Ghosh, Amartya Sen: A
Life Re- examined.
Born in 1870 in the town of Chiaravalle in Italy, Maria
Montessori developed a philosophy of teaching that
bears her name – the Montessori Method of Education.
In an era where women adopted traditional roles, Maria
Montessori courageously chose her own path. At 13
she entered an all-boys school to prepare for studies
in engineering, but she changed her mind. Instead she
went on to study medicine and in 1896 became Italy’s first
female doctor, graduating with honours from La Sapienza
University in Rome. She specialized in paediatrics and
psychiatry. It was during her treatment of underprivileged
children at her alma mater’s medical school that Dr
Montessori observed, “intrinsic intelligence was present
in children of all socio-economic backgrounds.”
In 1900, the Ministry of Education appointed her as
director of the Scuola Magistrale Ortofrenica – the
Orthophrenic School for developmentally disabled
children. The school, which still exists today, was
described as a “medico-pedagogical institute for training
teachers in educating mentally disabled children with an
attached laboratory classroom.” It was at this school that
Dr Montessori began her vigorous pursuit of research in
early childhood development and education and where
she developed methods and materials. These she would
later adapt for use with normal children. Under her
tutelage the students sat the state examinations and
passed with high to normal grades thus confirming her
theory that all children can learn despite their challenges.
The philosophy behind Dr Montessori’s educational
system is that “learning is a naturally spontaneous
process followed by each individual and is not acquired
by listening to words but by experiences from their
environment.” Dr. Montessori held the opinion that
teachers are the mediums to transmit this philosophy.
and she incorporated her observations by adapting and
refining those methods in keeping with the students’
needs. “Also based on her observations, Montessori
experimented with allowing children free choice of the
materials, uninterrupted work, and freedom of movement
and activity within the limits set by the environment. She
began to see independence as the aim of education, and
the role of the teacher as an observer and director of
children’s innate psychological development.”
Dr Montessori also published a book describing her
philosophy and methods – Il Metodo della Pedagogica
Scientifica Applicato All’Educazione Infantile Nelle Case
Dei Bambini (The Method of Scientific Pedagogy Applied
to the Education of Children in the Children’s Houses).
Between the years 1909-1939, through her travels,
lectures, and work in many other countries in Europe
and in the United States, Dr Montessori’s method of
education gained recognition. Schools were established
in these places based on her philosophy and practices.
In 1929 together with her son Mario, Dr Montessori
founded the Association Montessori Internationale
(AMI) “to oversee the activities of schools and societies all over the world and to supervise the training of teachers.” Among the sponsors of the AMI
were Sigmund Freud, Jean Piaget and Rabindranath
Europe was in a climate of war in the 1930s and Dr
Montessori, in her speech at the second Montessori Congress in France in 1932, chose to speak on
Peace and Education. She held peace conferences
between 1932-1939 in Brussels, Copenhagen and
The spread of Dr Montessori’s ideas on education in Italy
began when she took up a post at the Casa dei Bambini Utrecht. For her efforts in this regard she was nom(House of Children) in 1906. Children of low-income inated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1949, 1950 and
families from the San Lorenzo district in Rome attended 1951.
the school. They responded to her teaching methods
Maria Montessori (Image from wikipedia.org)
In 1913 an Indian student attended the first International Montessori course in Rome, and other students did the same in later years returning to India
to promote the Montessori method and establish
schools. In 1926 the Montessori Society of India
was formed and in 1927 Dr Montessori’s book Il
Metodo was translated into Gujarati and Hindi.
With the support of Rabindranath Tagore who used
the Montessori system in his own schools, the Montessori method of education became firmly established in India.
countries all over the world.
The Theosophical Society of India, in 1939, invited
Dr Montessori to give a series of lectures at their
headquarters in Madras (now Chennai). The war
broke out and she was forced to stay in India until 1946. The British interned all Italians in their
colonies, but she was allowed to travel around India
giving lectures and courses.
She was 76 when she left India. Dr Montessori
continued her work, teaching, developing and lecturing. She died in 1952 in the Netherlands leaving
a legacy in teaching methods that have survived to
this day through Montessori teachers and schools in
planetread - literacy
for a billion
An ambitious objective – literacy for a billion- but
through its innovative teaching methods this
organization is making strides in achieving its
objective. PlanetRead is a non-profit organization
registered in India and the state of California in the
USA. The organization’s work is based on a concept
developed by the Indian Institute of Management,
Ahmedabad (IIMA) in 1996 for mass literacy – Same
Language Subtitling (SLS). The President of PlanetRead, Dr. Brij Kothari “laid the foundation” for
the SLS project at IIMA when he was an Associate
Professor at the Institute.
PlanetRead’s use of Bollywood songs to implement
SLS is one way the organization has been able to
reach its main target group – the “early- literates”
whom they describe as people “who are officially
‘literate’ but who cannot read, for example, the
headlines of a newspaper.”
Through the attraction of the Bollywood entertainment machine, PlanetRead has been able to motivate millions of early-literates in India by integrating
SLS with movies and songs thus making the learning fun and easy. And is playing its part in reducing
illiteracy in India and the world.
To learn more about PlanetRead, how to get involved, volunteer or do an internship visit their
website at www.planetread.org
The work of this organization has not gone unnoticed. Among its many awards, the most recent is
“The International Prize”, a literacy award from the
Library of Congress, Washington DC in September
from the spoorthi team
OUR PERSPECTIVES ON EDUCATION
For me, education means learning. When you learn about different things, it is
knowledge, and when you know their application and significance in life, it is wisdom.
Both together are important. I don’t have any breakthrough moment that changed my
perspective on education. I was top-scoring student in my school days. However I can
say that there came a period in my life when the learning process became constant.
I was distracted, or it can be blamed on the education system, but then there are
moments that remind me why the desire to learn must be constant. These moments
are credited to the good people in my life, who are learned and who have inspired me
to remain a student all my life.
Education can come from so many sources, good and bad. It’s the medium through
which many have escaped poverty and drudgery. Without education a person’s future
is limited. In my view, education encompasses learning at 3 levels – the brain, the
heart and the soul. We can gain much knowledge in a discipline, skill or artistic
endeavour but if the knowledge is merely for material gain or career advancement
then it becomes dry – not true knowledge, nor inspired education. As a child I
was curious, and learning excited me and it still does. When I learned to read,
books opened up the world for me, and you might say that reading was the catalyst
that caused me to believe that my education will not only come from teachers in a
classroom, or from the other adults in my life. Through my beloved books I encounter
the wise and thoughtful words of men and women of ancient and modern times. As
long as I breathe, I will continue to seek avenues of education to improve and enrich
from the spoorthi team
OUR PERSPECTIVES ON EDUCATION
Education, for me, is about learning the basics and laying a strong foundation. It
doesn’t mean a school education or college degree. For a cricketer education is about
learning the game and watching others play. Reading books is an education. For a
singer, the knowledge and practice of sura and taal is education. Education is also
about upbringing. The personality and characteristics of a human being are formed as
a result of education. Educated people care about surroundings and society and think
of the best possible behavior for the circumstances. Uneducated people do not know
that. They believe in the right to speech, the right to education and democracy but
without any care for corresponding duties. It’s not about having degrees; it’s about
knowing what you say you know.
Education for me is a process, a constant process of becoming a better human being.
Education is not just limited to books but each and every way a human mind learns
is education. An individual can learn from any source, not just from books. One can
learn from a person whom he has never met through his actions and words. One can
learn through observation and also learn through listening.
It is education that helps a society to become civilized, more so the education of
mind and soul. Education takes us on a better path of life. It is education that
secures a better living for us. Education can also be negative. A child can learn wrong
things. So it is also very important to properly channel the type of education that’s
being received and the form in which it’s disseminated.
As an individual I have learned more from observing and listening than reading my
textbooks. I learned more from people by seeing them doing whatever good they were
doing. So education is not just limited to schoolbooks and schools but beyond.
do dooni chaar
(two twos are four)
Tanushree Raha Sarkar
Do Dooni Chaar is the story of a typical middle class
family energetically narrated by Payal Duggal, the
daughter who’s at college. The head of this family,
Santosh Duggal (Rishi Kapoor) is a mathematics
teacher in a school, earning a moderate salary. He
supplements it by giving lessons at a tutoring centre.
The Duggal family is like any other typical Dilli-waali family. There is Kusum Duggal, a supportive wife
and a caring mother, played by Rishi Kapoor’s real
wife Neetu Singh, the tomboyish daughter Payal,
played by Aditi Vasudev and their young punter son
Sandeep, played by Archit Krishna.
Santosh Duggal rides an old Bajaj scooter and lives
with his family in a one-bedroom flat. Like most
middle class Indian families, they spend more than
their earnings to maintain their status. Their children aspire for a modern lifestyle, to go out with
boys and girls of their age; to eat at McDonalds and
make quick money to get luxuries that their parents
are not able to provide for them. While Payal wishes
to do a call-centre job along with her studies to make
quick money, Sandeep finds even a quicker way betting on cricket matches.
The family is excited when Santosh Duggal despite
his limited means, announces that he would buy a
car. They have their own versions on how to earn the
money for this purchase. The best scene in the movie is when Santosh Duggal buys packets of a laundry
detergent in a promotion where the first prize is a
car, but sadly he does not win.
and love, you can feel it’s a real family. Their neighbours and other characters also act their parts well.
Rishi Kapoor’s comic timing stands out. In one of the
scenes, he goes to test drive a car and the salesman,
trying to flatter him, says, “Sir you are looking 10
years younger. You look fifty driving this car.” Rishi
Kapoor stares at him and says, “But I am just 51!”
The movie also effectively depicts the nobility of the
teaching profession along with the fact that teachers
(especially in the private sector schools) are among
the lowest paid salaried people in India. The movie depicts a situation where a teacher is tempted to
compromise his honesty and increase his income
through illegal means, but at the end he realizes that
his good reputation is more important. Not only a
teacher but parents too should be honest and teach
their children the same values. You can observe the
struggle between: Life Long Regret vs Life Long
Pride and Shame On Yourself vs Being Role Models
For Your Kids. And finally we are presented with the
evidence that good teachers always live in the hearts
Do Dooni Chaar is a movie that in my opinion is
excellent in all aspects - the casting, the script and
the directing. It has clean tickling humour, lovable
characters and a meaningful storyline.
The chemistry that the four leading characters
share is very appealing. They play their characters
to perfection. The way they talk to each other, fight
modern day fables: Junglenagar
volume 04: Foo Foo the
Frog and Nanhi the
Before you go on yet another awe-inspiring journey of Junglenagar and its more-humane-than-human animals, I
would like to point out that this story is inspired by the classic poem “The Frog and the Nightingale” and this version
is a little tribute to its poet, Mr Vikram Seth.
When some odd looking humans (they wore
artificial tails on their necks) demolished Bingle
Bog to build a base for a multi-national company,
the animals of Bingle Bog migrated to Junglenagar.
Among them was Foo Foo the Frog. He had an
unusual family background. His mother had an
affair with a Chinese frog named Foo, who promised
to supply her with noodles but instead made her
pregnant and left her. She named their son Foo Foo
and died from guilt not long after his birth.
Before coming to Junglenagar, young Foo Foo
studied music under a frog that taught his disciples
near a Sumac tree in Bingle Bog. This frog was
said to be the pioneer of Croak music and Foo Foo
idolized him. Croak music is identified through the
use of heavy-sounding instruments like drums and
guitars. Instruments that produce sweet and mellow
sounds were hardly used. The frogs understood that
their voices were not soothing. Some of the frogs
used machines to give a particular texture to their
voices. Foo Foo did not like this much since he was
proud of his voice.
However at Junglenagar Foo Foo got a reality check.
He realized that the citizens of Junglenagar were not
exposed to Croak music and they rather preferred
the melodious voice of Nanhi the Nightingale. She
was everyone’s favourite and her singles Till the
Jungle Ends and 18 till I am poached were recordbreakers. Titu the Tiger, who was the King of
Junglenagar, asked her to write a song to promote
tourism in Junglenagar and she came up with In My
Jungle. It gained instant popularity and Foo Foo the
Frog heard the song being played on everybody’s
cellphones. His ego was bruised but his genuine love
for music inspired him to take up the challenge of
introducing and making Croak music popular in
Junglenagar. He began by inviting small groups of
animals to his concert and played the iconic song
- We will Crock You - that earned him legendary
status in Bingle Bog. But everywhere he performed,
his song was rejected and he was greeted with sticks,
stones and swear words. He was a little dejected.
Suddenly an idea came to him and he arranged for a
meeting with Nanhi the Nightingale.
Foo Foo introduced himself as the big music
director from Bingle Bog. He complimented her
singing but deliberately caused her some distress
by adding, “You are a shining star about to fade.”
Nanhi the Nightingale was taken aback. “What?”
she responded, surprised by Foo Foo’s comment.
“I hear you’ve been singing the type of songs for
years. It is good to have your style, but styles come
and go. If you don’t refine your skills and modify
your style, you will be forgotten.” Nahni could see
Foo Foo the Frog’s point. Her manager kept telling
her about her diminishing popularity and sinking
revenues. Perhaps this frog was the one to turn
around her fortunes. Immediately her manner to
Foo Foo became quite friendly. “You are the music
wizard of Bingle Bog. I do not want to retire so soon.
modern day fables: Junglenagar
Would you help me regain my popularity?” Foo Foo
instantly agreed and her training began.
He introduced her to other types of music but
emphasized the history, the beauty and the
importance of Croak music. He did this so skillfully
that Nanhi the Nightingale thought that it was the
most divine way to reach God. Yet she was not
totally happy and complained that she was not
singing enough. Foo Foo dismissed her complaint
by joking that her voice was precious and must not
be overused. “But I lose the rhythm when I don’t
sing often enough! And I sing so few words too!”
Foo Foo got angry and refused to train her if she
was so mistrustful. Nanhi apologized profusely and
promised not to question his methods. And indeed,
she didn’t question him again even when he asked
that she make her voice a little hoarse to suit the
unique sound of Croak music.
When he felt she was ready to perform as he wished
Foo Foo began the preparations. The marketing on
Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp groups brought
out the audience. Foo Foo claimed that the tickets
were sold out and then he re-sold them on the black
market through his brokers. Nanhi’s concerts became
mega events. When the animals of Junglenagar
disapproved of Nanhi the Nightingale’s new singing
style and refused to buy tickets, Foo Foo bought out
Nanhi the Nightingale was confused while all this
was happening. She knew through her concerts that
her music was not enjoyed as much, but the revenue
accounts stated otherwise. She became ill because
of her heavy concert schedules and trying to make
her voice more and more hoarse. Foo Foo, despite
Nanhi’s efforts, was never satisfied and made her
train day in and day out. Eventually, the poor bird’s
throat and lungs lost their function and she died.
The animals of Junglenagar hardly felt depressed at
her death. “She was singing so badly in her last few
days. Maybe the God of nightingales was unhappy
with her and took her away.” Meanwhile, Foo Foo
the Frog and his music started gaining popularity.
His croaky voice suited the same songs Nanhi the
Nightingale sang, and unrivalled, Foo Foo the Frog
became the new music sensation in Junglenagar with
hits like She is just a Devil Froggie, The Best of Both
Jungles, Animaliser and Tails don’t Lie. Numerous
other hits made Foo Foo very famous and he croaked
away in Junglenagar from dusk to dawn, awn and
awn and awn.
youth and spirituality
the essential elements
I have said in my previous articles that the circle of
persons whom we meet, chat and spend time with
should always be positive and nurturing to our body
and soul. This is of prime importance in our progress
towards a higher self as positivity and happiness
help our body and mind to cultivate the beautiful
thoughts from which also arises the power within.
We all have our separate paths, separate lives, but for
someone on a spiritual path, the above conditions
are absolutely obligatory. Family and friends play a
pivotal role in our lives and we can only experience
bliss if they’re happy too, so we should spend time
with them, try to help them if need be, and make
sure they aren’t depressed or melancholy in anyway.
Sometimes it happens if we’re in an early stage of
spiritual elevation, we might feel the ecstasy is quite
overwhelming and we think every person should
experience it. We might even try to help a lot of other
people emotionally and mentally but we aren’t ready
for it yet, the continuous flow of positivity might get
interrupted and we may feel suffocated or entangled
with nowhere to go. There’s a reason why it is said
that every person has his own path, we can walk with
him but we can’t carry him to the destination. If we
do that, the repercussions might be of an extreme
nature, and unimaginable. Let unfold what resides
in the beautifully unpredictable future of each
individual. We can only guide someone, not carry
him in our arms.
Yet we must observe some caution and ponder on
the following question. What should be embraced
and what should be left alone for our own
enlightenment? Our loved ones, the persons who
care for us, our family members and our friends are
the ones who will give us the comfort and joy that
brings us closer to the inner peace that everyone
longs for. That being said, we should also refrain
from excessive efforts towards helping people who
have a pessimistic attitude towards life and all the
forms of nature. They will hinder our progress as
they usually carry a lot of negative energy that might
obstruct us, and our ability to keep our mind in a
state of equilibrium. Also, if there is a person like
that who is very close to us, we might consider a
temporary state of solitude to cleanse our inner self
of the negativity that emanates from that person so
that we can submit to the cosmic source (the highest
one) for further guidance. Finding our purpose in
life has become extremely important and this is
what people search for, the purpose behind these life
cycles, transcending the states of life and death.
As a reminder of how we can balance our approach
to those around us here is a beautiful quote by Swami
“Condemn none: if you can stretch out a helping
hand, do so. If you cannot, fold your hands, bless
your brothers, and let them go their own way.”
music and education
Learning is an ongoing process. “The acquisition of
knowledge or skills through experience, practice, or
study, or by being taught” is learning. And education
means “The process of receiving or giving systematic
instruction, especially at a school or university.”
If we go back to the roots of the Indian Education
system, the students who studied in the Gurukul
system would remember the Vedic Chants taught by
the Guru. The teacher or the guru is one who would
supervise a class of students and guide them by
teaching values and other knowledge. Although it’s
very difficult to remember everything that’s taught in
those classes, today if a student hears Vedic Chants
in any part of the world, he would still recognize that
the tune is the same with a few variations here and
There are two important aspects I wish comment
on, education in music and music in all other fields
of education. Traditional music has always been
taught under the instruction of a Guru as in the
Guru–Shishya (disciple) system. Even though the
main concern is about teaching music there are also
a few things that the Gurus will explain, for example the time theory – a system that indicates which
raag is to be sung at what time of the day. This is an
artistic science. Then there’s the Laya (tempo/speed
of a piece) that gives the mathematical calculation
of the number of beats that would help the musician
in his performance. And for music in all other fields
of education a layman can easily remember the tune
compared to the description of a particular piece of
music. That is why it’s easy to reproduce the rhymes
learned in school rather than the lectures.
Music is now a part of mainstream education. Music
can be studied from early school days to the Masters
Level. One can also specialize in specific genres of
music. Here I would like to narrate an anecdote. Sri
Madhav Gudi, learned Hindustani Classical Vocals under a single guru for over 27 years! Yes, Sri
Madhav Gudi was a senior disciple of Bharat Ratna
Pt. Bhimsen Joshi. In our life we would be able to
achieve a Master’s Degree or even Ph.D in 22 to 25
years (10+2+ Degree 3 years + Master Degree 2 or 3
Years + Ph.D in 5 years). Sri Gudi Ji studied for more
than 27 years and still he felt incomplete. It is not
about certificates and grades all the time. It is about
the hunger to learn more, and the knowledge and
happiness that you derive from learning.
In this modern world certification does matter, however, this should not deter musicians from embracing
different genres and creating new sounds as they
continue their musical development which should
be, in reality, a lifelong learning experience.
a week in greece
“Do not stay at hotels around Syntagma Square.
Stay in the Plaka district. ” That was the advice
we received from the Greek gentleman seated next
to my husband on the British Airways flight from
Heathrow to Athens International Airport. I had
urged my reluctant spouse to have a conversation
with the Greek and get information about where to
stay since we’d made no arrangements. “Take the
bus to the city centre, not a taxi.” This was another
useful tip that saved us drachmas (the Greek
currency before they switched to the Euro).
I’ve fast forwarded so let me rewind. A visa, we
needed a visa to enter Greece and that we obtained
from the Greek Embassy at Holland Park in London.
We were staying at a friend’s flat in Kensington
Gardens not far from Holland Park so the first
morning after our arrival in London we took a stroll
to the Embassy. To our horror, it was a free for all!
There was no queue in the country where everyone
queues up for everything. But the Greek Embassy
is not Britain. People just stood around until the
clerk responsible for ushering applicants to the visa
officers decided whose turn it would be. Eventually
the clerk noticed us and beckoned us to a free officer.
Thankfully, without much ado we received our visas.
On landing at the airport in Athens, we cleared
immigration and customs with ease. Taxi drivers
tried to catch our attention as we exited the airport
terminal but we obeyed the Greek passenger’s advice
and took a bus to the city centre. We got off at
Syntagma Square and began to walk towards Plaka
not knowing the distance we’ll have to cover on
foot. At one point, we stopped a handsome Greek
policeman to ask whether we were going in the
right direction. We were, but it turned out Plaka
was not just around the next bend! My feet could
go no further, I was ready to sit on the pavement
and not move. My shoes were not made for walking
long distances! Fortunately, we saw a hotel sign
only a few footsteps away. I managed to limp to the
entrance leaning on my husband’s arm. The Pan
Hotel was not 5-star by any means but it was good
enough for one week. As an airline employee I got a
discount on the room rate, meals not included.
We toured the famous ruins in the historic city
of Athens - the Parthenon, the Acropolis and
its museum, the Temple of the Olympian Zeus,
the Theatre of Dionysius and a few other minor
ruins. Walking through the National Gardens of
Athens we came upon the Zappeion exhibition
hall, a neoclassical-styled building that was opened
in 1888. This impressive building is used for
conferences and meetings both official and private.
We eventually found the Plaka district and strolled
through its labyrinthine streets admiring the ancient
architecture and occasionally stopping to admire or
purchase a souvenir.
Our hotel was not far from Syntagma Square and on
evenings we’d sip mineral water and dine on Greek
food at one of the outdoor cafés. Summer brought
out tourists and locals alike and we had a fun time
Visiting historical sites, museums and other places
of interest may be the highlight of a vacation, but for
me, it’s the unexpected occurrences that prove most
We had just finished lunch at an outdoor café in the
Plaka district when we noticed a wedding taking
place at the nearby church. No one stopped us
when we entered and stood at the back to observe
the ceremony. The bride and groom were greeted
with a military guard of honour with their swords as
they left the church, the groom being a member of
the Greek army. Someone made a joke and though
we didn’t understand the words, we understood
the actions and laughed along. We even received a
prettily wrapped bag of sweets.
Hearing our accents, shopkeepers were curious
about us. At first they thought we were from
Britain because we spoke English. Most were
ignorant of Trinidad and Tobago except for one
man who remembered that it was a Trinidadian,
Hasely Crawford, who was the fastest man at the
1976 Olympics winning the Men’s 100 metres race.
Clearly that man was a fan of Olympic sports!
We took a one-day cruise in the Saronic Gulf not
far from Athens. The tour guide on the ship spoke
7 languages fluently and told us she understood
Arabic. As we sat on our deck chairs taking in the
breathtaking scenes of a brilliant blue ocean and
matching sky, I heard an American voice telling
another passenger about “the great view” entering
New York harbour with the sight of the Statue of
Liberty. I wondered why on earth would she boast
of that view when before her was incomparable
beauty! I wanted to tell her to be in the moment.
New York harbour is far different from the scene she
was witnessing. Our ship the Saronic Star stopped
off at 4 incredibly lovely islands. On Aegina the
main attraction was the 5th century BC Temple of
Aefea. Hydra, Poros and Mykonos were the other
islands on the ship’s route. Whitewashed houses,
impeccably clean streets, seaside shops and cafés,
colourful fishing boats and the ever-present deep
blue ocean dazzled the senses.
One day we went on a wild goose chase but we got
the benefit of seeing the famous port of Piraeus. It
happened because we arranged to meet 2 friends
who were in Greece at the same time. We turned
up earlier than agreed at a hotel we thought
was the Holiday Inn, only to find out it was the
Intercontinental. The doorman kindly arranged a
taxi to take us the correct hotel. We waited at the
Holiday Inn for more than 2 hours. We ate lunch,
watched guests go in and out of the hotel and made
enquiries at the front desk in case we may have
missed our friends. Eventually we got tired of
waiting and left the hotel. Later on, they told us that
their train was delayed. Seems we were not destined
One week may have been too short but in that time
our interactions with the Greeks and their country
left impressions not easily erased.
from across two oceans
not only in the classroom
Among some of the most profound ways in which
I’ve received education, one I clearly remember even
to this day is an interaction I witnessed between a
colleague and a stranger. The stranger, the owner of a
shop at which we had stopped to buy a watering can,
responded almost angrily to her polite enquiries. He
was discourteous in manner. He didn’t care that she
was a customer and deserved his best attention. To
my delight, she ignored his behaviour, thanked him,
and quietly left the shop. We proceeded on our other errands but on our way back to the office, we had
to pass the man’s shop. My colleague paused, and
graciously bid the man “good afternoon” and walked
on. He was stunned at her courtesy and offered no
reply. Played out in front me was an example of how
to defeat unkindness with kindness. My friend was
oblivious that she was teaching me through her behaviour but I saw the lesson. It’s one I took to heart
and one that I often act upon.
and to be spontaneous. Sometimes their very words
contain a wisdom that eludes someone with more
life experience, if only the adults around them will
listen when they speak. Children can often be quite
insightful in their expressions.
Caregivers, consciously or unconsciously, impart
valuable lessons to children from their own life experiences. Whether they are parents, grandparents or
other relatives, these adults can be encyclopaedias of
information ranging from child rearing to managing
finances. Some will also teach by their example. I
remember attending a function to celebrate a young
man winning a scholarship. In his speech he mentions his eldest uncle whose academic achievements
were an inspiration for him.
Among artisans, tradesmen, farmers, fishermen, tailors, cooks, seamstresses and a host of other workers
generations of families are taught skills they’ll never
We place emphasis on formal education, education
acquire in any classroom. Through the system of apthat is imparted at kindergartens, schools, univerprenticeship these skills are kept alive. Fathers teach
sities, other tertiary level institutions and training
sons, mothers teach daughters, and so on. Here in
institutes. The teachers, lecturers and professors of
Trinidad, big catering businesses had their start in
these institutions train us in various disciplines and
home kitchens. Parents taught their children the
skills to equip us with the tools to derive success in
skills and they eventually took charge of the business
our chosen area of study. But of equal or even greater or opened their own. Sometimes, a career choice
importance is the education that’s available outside
is made not because a child studied the subject at
of the classroom.
school but because they grew up in the midst of the
parent’s occupation. Well-known Trinidadian fashChildren are one source of informal education. Their ion designer, Meiling, said her mother’s sewing room
innocent minds are unsullied by prejudice, hate, an- was her playroom and her schoolroom. It is there
ger, fear, worry, stress, and the myriad concerns that she developed her love for sewing and designing.
affect the minds of grownups. They teach us to love
Meiling’s mother was a successful seamstress and
unconditionally; to be honest in our opinions; not
she supported her daughter’s desire to make a career
to fear the unknown; to smile, laugh, be happy and
in the fashion industry. Today Meiling is one of the
be charitable. They can teach us to be curious; to be Caribbean’s most successful designers.
analytical; to appreciate each moment as it comes
from across two oceans
Travel is a good form of education too and it need
not be outside of our own country. A trip to an
unfamiliar town or village especially for a special
occasion or event can turn up some very interesting
knowledge and encounters.
In any bookstore there is a section with DIY (Do
It Yourself) books for those who have interests
in a particular area. Instead of receiving formal
instruction, such persons purchase these books
and teach themselves the skill. For instance, those
who wish to learn a language can avail themselves
of books, CDs and dictionaries and engage in selfstudy. I began learning Italian on my own with the
help of “teach yourself ” books and through the
songs of Andrea Bocelli. There are other creative
ways to pick up a language, listening to radio and
TV programmes; watching films and reading books
in the language of your choice and conversing with
someone who’s a native speaker.
A friend of mine whose father was a high ranking
civil servant taught himself woodwork and produced
some beautiful pieces for his home. One of my
uncles who was, in some ways, an inspiration for
me, had an interest in HAM radios (Amateur Radio)
and taught himself how to build one. Even when
he retired he continued the learning process in his
many areas of interest and kept his mind sharp.
wagging its tail as its master approaches – these can
us something if we’re willing to accept that education
surrounds us and is not confined to a classroom.
Yanni, one the most famous musicians and
composers in the world taught himself how to
play the piano at an early age. It’s reported that
he began his musical career by “giving recitals for
family members.” Coming from a musical family,
the award winning and multi-talented musician
A.R.Rahman learned to play the keyboard from his
father, himself a musician. Later on he refined his
skills under a teacher’s guidance but the musical
environment in which he grew up provided the first
Even an ant crawling to its nest, a bird feeding its
young, a bee making honey, a turtle laying its eggs,
the leaves of a tree turning many colours with the
change in season, a butterfly fluttering from flower
to flower, a cat taking an afternoon sleep, a dog
Let my life be such a tune my Lord,
That my ear refuses to listen to another.
Let it be such a glance my Lord,
That my eyes refuse to watch another.
Let it be such purity my Lord,
That my mind refuses to serve another.
Let it be only for your glory my Lord,
That my soul refuses a shelter to another.
a cloud of smoke
A cloud of smoke rises in the air and quickly does my vision impair,
Through paths unfamiliar I trod in silence, musing with purpose intense.
I feel I have the answers found, to all the questions that in my mind abound.
I guess, I see, I listen and wait and wonder at my inner state.
I do not float, I do not sink; I cannot speak of what I think.
I came upon a mountain steep and saw the struggle seated deep,
River running by the side does swiftly with my thoughts collide.
The urge inside rushes to the fore and sets my mind alight once more.
I can no longer follow its quest, when and where it wants to rest.
I searched for but could not find the answers to my queries - blind.
I’ll keep my thoughts all in a shell, until in time on them I’ll dwell.
learning after school
Stepping out of the place, where each day something I learned.
Nothing I extracted myself. Baked knowledge was served.
Some things I grasped by choice and some things I swallowed with force.
And some things I refused to learn, which aches my heart with remorse.
Now stepping into a busy place, where everyone lost in their mess,
Would not care to stress, for what I lack and what I possess.
Would I learn myself or fail in every forthcoming test?
Would eagerness to learn stay or will I kill the zest?
Now stepping into a place where there might be no one to teach me.
Vague is vision, vague is journey, vague is destiny.
Just a tale
the blank page
He opened a new page of MS Word. After spending the day reflecting upon different arguments that shaped
his life and that of his fellow earthlings, he wanted to choose a topic to write on. He wasn’t new at writing. He
had written a few poems and short stories before and was aware of his improvements. He had felt the ecstasy
of finishing a creative piece and wanted to feel it again tonight. But he must not think of the shore now. He
was just starting his voyage.
He didn’t want to restrain himself on finding themes. What an artist is he who specializes? An artist should
be free as a bird, unfettered by boundaries and should write what he feels. He reflected upon his latest
thought. Freedom comes with constraints. To kill a cat for pleasure is not freedom as the cat has a right to
live and the right to freedom as any living creature. Anyway, he would keep these thoughts for some other
day. He should focus on selecting a theme. It should be something that he feels strongly about. Many writers
in the world write something just for the sake of it. He had tried that too and although that work received
reasonable appreciation, he felt as if he was deceiving himself. The best work is what first pleases the artist.
He thought of something that he felt strongly about. This was a challenge. There were so many things that
he would notice and think of writing about, but when he judged how he felt about them some would just
not interest him; some he wanted to write down but didn’t know how and for most of them he didn’t have
a firm opinion. It was not judicious perhaps to have a strong stand on anything as others have a right to
their opinions. He checked himself as he realized the distortion in his thought process. It wasn’t the time for
philosophy. He started to write something.
The beauty of nature was something he wanted to write about for a long time now. As a an aspiring writer he
was bitter about plagiarism, but didn’t fear the prospects of his work being called clichéd just because many
writers have written on that subject. Beauty, love, nature and such themes would exist until the end of the
world. For love didn’t exist only during the time of Shakespeare or nature wasn’t a refuge from the worldly
woes only during the time of Keats. One can write on anything as long as it’s written differently and in the
case of poetry, beautifully.
His thoughts went back to Keats and his wonderful creation “A Thing of Beauty”. He googled it and read the
poem and was as moved as he was when he first read it. An endless fountain of immortal drink, as Keats
had precisely put in words, is the continuous joy that nature provides us. The poem was written about two
centuries ago and he could still feel the applicability of the idea. In fact, two hundred years later, with man’s
doubts and fears increased, it seemed more relevant. He remembered his occasional morning walks, the
observations he had made on trees and flowers, birds and dogs, men and women. He remembered watching
sunsets, full moons and stars on clear skies. He remembered the bliss he felt while getting drenched in the
rain, on smelling the fragrance of wet mud. He smiled and began to write.
Just a tale
For the next forty-five minutes, he struggled. He read Keats’ poem three more times. A feeling of surrender
overcame him. He felt strongly about nature and its beauty, yet he wasn’t able to write anything. Perhaps
there are a few things that one feels strongly about, but can’t put in words, or was this an excuse? Perhaps he
didn’t feel strongly enough or perhaps he was just not capable enough. Anyway, he was tired now and it was
almost time for dinner. He saved the document and turned off the computer.
After satisfying his appetite, he came back and opened the page. He read what he had written and could not
decide whether he should write the next line or delete what he had written. He did the latter. He then logged
on to Facebook®, thinking that he would get some inspiration (or at least recreation) there. He spent the
usual ten minutes to check the updates. A couple of friends appeared on chat and he had a casual chat with
them on everyday stuff. He wrote only a couple of lines in that one hour. His father called him to perform
an errand and when he finished and decided to log out of Facebook® and return to writing, it was almost
midnight. He was feeling drowsy now. He gave it a final shot, read what he had already written and added
two more lines. He became blank again. After ten minutes he read the whole piece. It wasn’t good enough.
What was missing he couldn’t tell but something was missing. Finally, he deleted what he had written,
looked at the blank page and shut down the system.
The session was disappointing, but he was too sleepy to ponder about it anymore. In his bed, he said to
himself, “I will give it a fresh try tomorrow.”
PS: Unfortunately the world sees only the “The Blank Page”.
people next door
the reality of
small town india
I recently attended a National Service Scheme
(NSS) camp with some of my class mates
from college. Here is a detailed account of the
experiences that I had while visiting a village
where I realized that the realities of life are far
harsher than we think!
Our camp destination was a village called
Devsar Dham in Haryana. Initially I just saw
this camp as a good opportunity to hang out
with friends because we’re all day scholars and
don’t have the fun of staying in the hostel. But
things changed when I reached the village.
The environment was so pure, divine and
natural unlike the scene at our engineering
college where we’re surrounded by scientific
equipment and an artificial environment, and
far away from nature and its purity.
The village is a dham (pilgrimage site) and
has spiritual significance. The smell of incense
sticks, parsad vendors and the sight of temples
greeted us. On our arrival we were rushed to a
dharamshala (religious rest house) that lacked
the basic amenities to which were accustomed.
Here we were divided into seven groups; all the
groups were led by a final year student.
On the first day we went from house to house
to make people aware of various issues. Most
of the people in the village were in their work
places instead of their houses so we targeted
their work place to interact with them. We spoke
to them about various aspects of RTI (Right to
information), the importance of cleanliness
and ill effects of liquor and smoking products.
During these intereactions we noticed that
many of the people in village were unemployed,
even though most of them were officially
educated up to B.ED , JBT and so on. Maybe
their education was reflected only on paper.
Few of them showed their disgust and dislike
for smoking and alcohol habits, while some
of them were totally consumed in the vicious
cycle of alcohol and were suffering in all
possible aspects - physically, emotionally and
We met a man who was so destroyed by alcohol
consumption that it was difficult for him to
differentiate between dream and reality. He
represented the image of a devastated human
being. On enquiring, he told me that he has
four younger brothers. Imagine the life of those
younger folks and their chances for the future.
Unfortunately all four were accompanying
people next door
their brother on the road to destruction. The
man’s neighbour, a middle-aged woman, urged
me to make them aware of the ill effects of
alcohol consumption. We tried our best, but
were unable to penetrate their inebriated states.
We understood their despair for when we were
leaving them the eldest brother came up to me,
nervously grabbed my hand and said he really
wants to quit his bad habits and asked whether
could help him in anyway.
they knew. After few general questions I asked
them, “What is the name of our country?”
I was astonished to hear them give their village
name instead of the name of their country.
After that I didn’t try to teach them and educate
them in the conventional way, because of these
1. I was reluctant to try conventional education
methods after observing their existing
He was watching me with his pale, wide open condition.
eyes as I took his cell number. And I still have
his contact number, but I really don’t know
what to do with it.
2. We were short on time and even if I tried it
Next we visited a school. It was in the certainly be a futile effort.
usual deplorable condition of the ordinary
government schools - students sitting on the 3. I tried my best to teach them about moral
muddy ground that was littered with cheap values and concepts full of wisdom that related
to their living conditions.
4. I preferred the message of wisdom over
I saw a JBT trainee sitting in front of a class, conventional education because I believe it
with earphones in his ears. Most of the children was important to change their mindset and
there were had runny noses and suffered from thinking instead of focusing on regular studies.
malnutrition; their eyes and expressions
reflected the terrible conditions under which
they lived. I observed that they were eager to
learn and develop but were chained to poverty, I still remember the names of some of the
ill health and child abuse. Some of them, a students and I developed a kind of relationship
few lucky fellows in better conditions, showed with them in the short time I spent in the village.
They were also fascinated with my college
official uniform dress and other accessories
such as my mobile and watch which, for them,
I don’t know what caused me to ask them are luxuries.
questions, perhaps it was get a sense of what
people next door
From this experience I learned that
a moment is enough for learning a lesson We did our best to change their thoughts
full of wisdom, if one’s effort is genuine and about the caste sytem and corruption
through our plays, but I was really
disheartened when villagers, especially
the older ones, rebuked us for raising our
voices against the ancient traditions of this
2. I understood that it was these people’s inhumane system. But we were happy to see
fate to be born in those circumstances and the support of the village youngsters for
with that understanding I have begun to our ideas. Nevertheless, the sad fact is that
appreciate my life even more. Now I am the elders of the village do not only cling to
sincerely grateful in a more optimistic and and practice ancient beliefs, their thinking
enthusiastic way for my existing resources and mindset are also negatively affected
by useless regional newspapers controlled
by local politicians, hence maintaining the
level of their thoughts. Moreover they are
shockingly unaware about the world outside
I have realized that in our country,
it is a great blessing to be born in a good
environment with many resources and good
people. Now I am thankful for everything I
My short stay in Devsar Dham exposed
me to real, raw life, a life far away from the
artificial and vicious circle of city living. On
the whole, it was a learning experience and I
came to recognize that I hold the potential
Before we returned to the college, we to change the lives of many, even in small
organized a nukkad natak (street theatre town India.
to raise awareness on social issues) at the
centre of Devsar. We used this medium to
bring forward various current issues such as
the caste system and corruption. We tried to
deal sensitively on the caste issues because
this village was infamous in its perpetuation
of this evil.
Photo by Deepanshu Anand
Photo by Fazeela Mollick
guest column 31
at the root of
Every one of us might have come across at least once
in our life someone telling us, “Study hard! If you
study hard, you’ll get a good job and live a good life”
which basically means that our survival and living a
secure life is dependent on following this advice. And
we accept and believe this advice without question
because it is part of what we are taught and what
careers are not ours to choose. We’re compelled to
choose a career path by those who have influence
over us not because we wish to follow that path.
Imagine there’s a man who is very knowledgeable and
well educated. He wants to share his knowledge by
teaching the children and teenagers in the rural areas
and so he does. Instead of being commended for his
charitable actions he will be condemned. People will
ask why is he wasting his time teaching? Why doesn’t
We do have Art and Music in schools but those subjects he work in a well -paid company, have a car, luxurious
are not considered important. For our society the flat and lots of money? Only a few in our society will
important subjects are Science and Maths, not even understand the wonderful choice he made.
English or History. The reason is that in the future
we’ll be sitting an engineering exam or MBBS exam. On the other hand, a man with the best education,
We don’t even have time to think whether our choice a big salary, doing the same job as his seniors before
of subject is really what we like. Doing an engineering him and who owns a luxurious flat and a car will be
course or MBBS will guarantee a good job and for more recognized and appreciated. And this is because
students who choose those areas of study the future our society believes “the purpose of education is to
is set! What is to be done with a degree in Art, Music earn a good salary and live a secure life”.
or English where obtaining a job is unlikely unless
one does an M. Phil or PhD? In addition, there is But education means knowledge. It is the most
no guarantee of a job. So, even if we have talent in powerful thing in this world. It can give us everything
disciplines other than the traditional ones, it serves we have ever wanted in life. Education has the power
little purpose. Nobody thinks that we will invent to change and presents the opportunity for learning
something new. The concern and focus is on how fast and discovery. There is nothing wrong in getting a
we will complete our education and begin earning a good job after obtaining a good education. In fact,
everyone has to play safe in life. But at the same time,
let’s also try to change the definition of education
This interpretation of education is an example of in our society. Let’s not look to it only as a means of
what defines our society - study hard to get a good sustaining our social status and competing in personal
job thereby following the example set by our elders. wealth or satisfying the demands of our needs.
We don’t need to think of a new development, a
new invention or innovation. If we wish to become Instead, let’s look at the other benefits that education
entrepreneurs and we succeed then we’re praised, if can bring to our lives. It provides us with the knowledge
not, we are treated as losers. Nobody will even care for innovation, development and discovery. With this
or pay recognition to the fact that at least we tried to knowledge we can create inventions that will help
fulfill our dreams. People are not in the least interested to make the world a better place. And even more
in knowing or understanding the challenges a person fulfilling is the joy of sharing education with the
uneducated and the new generations to come. There
faces in following a dream.
is a lot more education can do for us other than being
Everyone seems to be sailing in the same boat. Our just “At the Root of Survival”.
What impact does commercialization have on the delivery of quality
a negative impact on
the quality education;
all that matters is the
number of students in
a university and number of courses offered
and the facilities. What
doesn’t come into focus
is the quality of teachers.
No doubt it includes and
brings in a huge number
of students in the fold of
education but the quality
of education is highly
has been a tremendous
increase in the number
of “degree holders” but
not a parallel increase
in the number of
So far it has only been
economically profitable to
the companies investing
of education. It can
be fruitful only if it is
provided to students who
are not only able to pay
for the education with
or without educational
loans, but are also
capable of “receiving the
education and applying
has both good and
has some time lag.
and the cream
comes to the top.
can also fleece a
lot of less informed
people. This is what is
happening in higher
education in India
was a big craze.
Literally thousands of
were opened and
a huge number of
students joined them.
Except for the top
colleges the products
of others were
useless, so now most
of the engineering
colleges are getting
less than the required
seats filled. It is
worse with the MBA.
4000 colleges were
are now being closed.
is necessary. Loose
regulation does not
The poor will be
deprived of quality
education if the
of the education
its roots. Quality
everything that is
necessary for the all
of a child. Morals
and ethics will have
no place in the
activities will be
will start producing
will get replaced
and academics shall
gain importance in
a commercial based
All that glitters is
not gold but then
for sure know how
to wrap wood into
the foils of glitter,
that sells. And the
values are lost when
the emphasis is
on selling, which
is what fosters
It’s a doubleedged sword. By
education it should
not mean anybody
with money getting
want. There should
be some process to
maintain the quality.
On the other hand,
What impact does commercialization have on the delivery of quality
In 1995, the World Trade Organization introduced The General Agreement in Trade and Services
(GATS). The GATS agreement considers that services could be traded internationally even though
the producers and consumers are in different territories. The impact of economic globalization
and this trade liberalization has seen education added to the list of items to be traded, just like
banking, health care, and tourism to name a few.
With the removal of trade constraints on education at all levels, but especially in higher
education, offshore institutions could infringe upon the services of their home-grown
competitors. Many see this competition in the education sector as a lowering of the standards/
quality, and we are well aware of institutions that have emerged as ‘diploma mills’.
To stay ahead of the competition, even traditional institutions of higher learning have adopted a
corporate/business model in the delivery of their service. If one thinks about it, this approach
should result in a high product quality and lower costs. However, many of us continue to
maintain the conventional view of education and so, we cannot conceptualize education as a
The competition that comes with commercialization should cause educational institutions
to introspect and re-engineer their approaches to teaching and learning. Institutions now,
are careful to adopt international best practices in every area of their operations. There are
demands for education to be delivered through different modalities, for example, online and
blended learning. Lifelong learning is now a reality, as many retired persons are retooling
for employment after retirement. Others are acquiring additional skill sets that would allow
for career change. We are all aware of declining economies. Funding for education in many
countries is now “state assisted” and not “state funded” and this fact has propelled institutions
to develop and market new programmes as a revenue stream.
Commercialization impacts reputation and branding and ultimately, quality of service. The
product output must be an individual who can think critically, be technologically savvy,
communicate efficiently, and exhibit leadership skills and professionalism – the profit.
How has the pace of modern life with all its distractions affected the way
festivals are celebrated?
Burning Question for Next Issue: Festivals. Mail your replies
with a photo and e-mail address to email@example.com
All articles and poems must be “ORIGINAL”. You can choose
from the list of sections on the contents page of the magazine
bearing in mind that some of the sections are theme-dependent.
Any submission that does not fit the Spoorthi concept of positive
fulfilment will not be considered for publication.
We also encourage you to send us your “ORIGINAL” works of art
such as photographs, sketches, paintings and digital paintings. If
we like them they’ll be published in our magazine and credited.
All submissions must be theme related.
Here is the theme for the next edition.
January/February – FESTIVALS
Please send your submissions and questions to:
Deadline for submissions is 15th December. In the subject of
your email state the section for which you’re
submitting your article, and ensure that
your article has your name, a title, your
e-mail id and a photo of yourself (For
The Spoorthi Team thanks you for your interest and support!