Spoorthi nov dec13_education_hq


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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.

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Spoorthi nov dec13_education_hq

  1. 1. ISSUE 6 NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2013 INSIDE: 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
  2. 2. what’s inside 04 Cover Story: The Meaning of Education Neelanjan Mitra 06 Playing Solo Fabiano Fernandes 10 Topping the Troops: Professor Amartya Sen Fazeela Mollick 11 Achievers: Maria Montessori Fazeela Mollick 13 Invincibles: PlanetRead: Literacy for a Billion Fazeela Mollick 14 From the Spoorthi Team: Our Perspectives on Education 15 Fulfilling Art: Do Dooni Chaar (Two Twos Are Four) Tanushree Raha Sarkar 17 Modern Day Fables: Foo Foo the Frog and Nanhi the Nightingale Aman Arora 19 Youth and Spirituality: The Essential Elements Pranjal Malav 20 Musical Notes: Music and Education Sameer Havaldar 21 Memorable Journeys: A Week in Greece Fazeela Mollick 23 From Across Two Oceans: Not Only in the Classroom Fazeela Mollick 25 Ageless Verses: Benediction Neelanjan Mitra A Cloud of Smoke Tauseef Ahmed Learning After School Aman Arora 26 Just A Tale: The Blank Page Aman Arora 27 People Next Door: The Reality of Small Town India Vibhu Sharma 29 Picture Power By Deepanshu Anand and Fazeela Mollick 31 Guest Column: At the Root of Survival Rebika Nongmaithem 33 Burning Question www. credits Editor: Fazeela Mollick Sub-editor: Aman Arora Content Management: Tauseef Ahmed Design and layout: Raghav Gautam Inputs: Neeraj Upadhyay Cover Photo by: Tony Fischer His Flicker Page http://www.flickr.com/photos/22714323@N06 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 Angelo Cascieri. source: www.flakmag.com/misc/ parkman.html The Massachusetts statehouse is in the background. mag.com
  3. 3. from the editor’s desk 3 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 stays young.” Fazeela Mollick www. mag.com
  4. 4. cover story the meaning of education 4 Neelanjan Mitra Schools and colleges 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. www. mag.com
  5. 5. cover story 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. www. 5 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. mag.com
  6. 6. specials playing solo 6 Fabiano Fernandes 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 5 jobs. 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 www. mag.com
  7. 7. topping the troops professor amartya sen 7 Fazeela Mollick 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 of Honour. 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 www. More on Professor Sen’s life and work can be seen in the documentary directed by Suman Ghosh, Amartya Sen: A Life Re- examined. mag.com
  8. 8. achievers maria montessori 8 Fazeela Mollick 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 Tagore. 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 www. mag.com
  9. 9. achievers 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 www. mag.com 9
  10. 10. invincibles planetread - literacy for a billion 10 Fazeela Mollick 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 2013. www. mag.com
  11. 11. from the spoorthi team 11 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. Aman Arora 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 my life. Fazeela Mollick www. mag.com
  12. 12. from the spoorthi team 12 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. Raghav Gautam 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. Tauseef Ahmed www. mag.com
  13. 13. fulfilling art do dooni chaar (two twos are four) 13 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 of students. 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 www. mag.com
  14. 14. modern day fables: Junglenagar volume 04: Foo Foo the Frog and Nanhi the Nightingale 14 Aman Arora 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 www. 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. mag.com
  15. 15. 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 the audience. 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 www. 15 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. mag.com
  16. 16. youth and spirituality the essential elements 16 Pranjal Malav 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 www. 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 Vivekananda: “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.” mag.com
  17. 17. musical notes music and education 17 Sameer Havaldar 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. 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 www. 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. mag.com
  18. 18. memorable journeys a week in greece 18 Fazeela Mollick “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 www. 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 people watching. 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 memorable. 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 mag.com
  19. 19. memorable journeys 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. www. 19 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 to meet. One week may have been too short but in that time our interactions with the Greeks and their country left impressions not easily erased. mag.com
  20. 20. from across two oceans not only in the classroom 20 Fazeela Mollick 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 www. mag.com
  21. 21. 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 all teach 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 lessons. 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 www. 21 mag.com
  22. 22. ageless verses benediction Neelanjan Mitra 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. www. mag.com 22
  23. 23. ageless verses a cloud of smoke Tauseef Ahmed 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. www. mag.com 23
  24. 24. ageless verses learning after school Aman Arora 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. www. mag.com 24
  25. 25. Just a tale the blank page 25 Aman Arora 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. www. mag.com
  26. 26. Just a tale 26 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”. www. mag.com
  27. 27. people next door the reality of small town india 27 Vibhu Sharma 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. www. 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 financially. 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 mag.com
  28. 28. 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 I could help him in anyway. 28 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 reasons:- 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 would 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 confectionery wrappers. 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. leadership qualities. 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 www. mag.com
  29. 29. people next door 29 CONCLUSION 1. 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 real. 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 and opportunities. by useless regional newspapers controlled by local politicians, hence maintaining the level of their thoughts. Moreover they are shockingly unaware about the world outside their village. 3. 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 have. 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. www. mag.com
  30. 30. picture Power Photo by Deepanshu Anand Contact: deepanshuanand93@yahoo.in Photo by Fazeela Mollick Contact: fmollick@gmail.com www. mag.com 30
  31. 31. guest column 31 at the root of survival Rebika Nongmaithem 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 society expects. 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, high salary. 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”. www. mag.com
  32. 32. burning question 32 What impact does commercialization have on the delivery of quality education? Commercialization has 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. Aarushi Ign No doubt it includes and brings in a huge number of students in the fold of education but the quality of education is highly compromised. There has been a tremendous increase in the number of “degree holders” but not a parallel increase in the number of knowledgeable people. So far it has only been economically profitable to the companies investing in commercialization 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 it efficiently”. jayeeta ghose Commercialization has both good and bad consequences - depending upon market reaction, which has some time lag. Commercialization can encourage competition and the cream comes to the top. Commercialization can also fleece a lot of less informed people. This is what is happening in higher education in India today. Engineering was a big craze. Literally thousands of engineering colleges 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 opened; hundreds are now being closed. Strong accreditation is necessary. Loose regulation does not help. The poor will be deprived of quality education if the already existing commercialization of the education system deepens its roots. Quality education includes everything that is necessary for the all round development of a child. Morals and ethics will have no place in the curriculum; arts and co-curricular activities will be ignored. Schools will start producing machines and not humans. Conventional teaching methods will get replaced and academics shall gain importance in a commercial based education. karthik kambalimat sidath sameera bandara thilakaratna All that glitters is not gold but then Education gurus for sure know how to wrap wood into the foils of glitter, promises, shortcuts and everything that sells. And the values are lost when the emphasis is on selling, which is what fosters commercialization. niti sharma professor avk murthy www. It’s a doubleedged sword. By commercializing education it should not mean anybody with money getting whatever educational qualifications they want. There should be some process to maintain the quality. On the other hand, commercialization provides more opportunities. mag.com
  33. 33. burning question 33 What impact does commercialization have on the delivery of quality education? 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 business venture. 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. Annette Arjoonsingh 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 editor@spoorthimag.com www. mag.com
  34. 34. Submission Guidelines 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: The Editor editor@spoorthimag.com 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 Publishing). The Spoorthi Team thanks you for your interest and support!