Right to Education

February 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Right to education … the buzzword everywhere! Newspapers, online journals, conferences, seminars, research papers everywhere… it’s only RTE!

Yet if you ask anyone … he/she may not be able to give a clear idea as to what is RTE … and why and how would it affect our country … our education system

I myself have done one conference (in professional capacity) on RTE and am currently working on a white paper on the same. But every time I look at the document and the current media glare that its generating it leaves me stumped!

Theoretically, the RTE act just says that all children between age 6-14 should get education free of cost. This in itself is under scrutiny as the age group is being said to be limited in its scope and not inclusive. Nevertheless the simple mission of the act is to make getting education a fundamental right … a right which if violated can be contested in court and thus has to be adhered to by all and one.

This is a basic primitive act and no one in their right sense should have issues with it. To take it a little back, India for centuries has been famous for its education and knowledge legacy. Written evidences from hundreds of years and even before show the importance education was given and the respect it garnered from the entire world. Foreign travelers who have visited India at various points in time in past have all marveled at the richness of India in knowledge, education and cultural heritage. The famous examples of Gurukuls where children were sent for education find mention in greatest epics of all times- Ramayana and Mahabharata.

These gurukuls were the centres of education and innovation and acted as the hub of knowledge. In a country with past such as this an act to make education compulsory is ironic.

But a look at the history and the number of times our country had to face hardships both financial and cultural in nature, this does not come in as a surprise!

 The RTE which finally became an Act in the year 2010 is but a beginning of a process of making the corrections and acknowledging that education is considered important enough to be put in as a fundamental right.

Since the time RTE has been made an act and in fact even before that it has been facing the irk of all and sundry. Though all sectors of the country came in to applaud the act and its implications but that was momentary. Ever since the act was released along with model rules, they have been under scanner. As more and more people are going through it, more and more issues are being pointed out … media is making everything public, discussions are making every other issue in education small and non significant.

 The problem is not the ‘fundamental right for free education to all’ rather the rules and laws that will need to be implemented to make this a reality.

 How it looks at the moment is that the model rules that have been prepared along with the act have been put together with little or no research and studies. A large number of the provisions of the act are such that they can not be scaled up for a country of our size.

 Then one of the major shortcoming is lack of clarity on the act – its provisions, its governance, its implications, its monitoring.

 Add to it the lack of awareness and advocacy and the act touted as one of the most ambitious act of its kinds assumes a status between being a mystery and an enigma.

This is exactly how people are looking at it … for every few days someone questions an aspect of education system and the question mark lands on RTE Act. For every thing to do with education comes under this act. So the common man who has not yet understood RTE becomes even more apprehensive, anxious and negative about the Act after reading newspapers. Whereas in all probability the issues being raised have been present even before the act came in to being.

This in no terms means that the act is perfect … it just implies that there is more to it and RTE is just a tool to improve the education system. Infact instead of thinking and assuming and looking at RTE as something new and alien, if only we look it at as a strategy to streamline all that has been happening in the education field – as a tool to make some deadlines and push the stakeholders to commit more and strive harder for better educational services – as a blueprint of the steps needed to make education a necessity rather then a luxury.

 Once RTE is looked at from this point of view it will probably be easier to comprehend, understand, support and implement. Needless to say that devil does lie in details and for RTE to become a success, one needs to look at the provisions and model rules in totality and with a clear view to the final objective.

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October 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Being a UPiete, W Bengal was always only a far away state on the map. Adding to the ignorance was the firm opinion of my mom that all Bengolies are quarrelsome and so good to be avoided. She had her own reason and I never questioned her like so many others of her diktats.

So to me the connotation of the word ‘Bengoli’ was very limited. Infact I had only one meaning and one reference – Bengolies celebrated something called Durga Puja every year and we were forced to see it at least once at a residential colony with the name ‘Durga Baari’! My memories of this are very vague – and all I can remember is the crowd and chaos. I am talking of my teenager days and like any other teenager I was totally disinterested in going anywhere even least crowded … so it was a complete pain and I would try and avoid it as much as possible. But parents have to do some things and I am thankful that in spite of tantrums I was exposed to many things and the yearly ritual visit to Puja Pandals was one of them!

But to be honest, it’s only in the recent years that the ‘Bengolism’ has become more real to me. Thanks to some Bengoli Friends, I have now been exposed to all Bengoli Things … from rituals … dress sense … nature … eccentricities … must for bengoli things … their shortcomings … sharp intellect etc .

If this wasn’t enough, some more bengolism was rubbed on to me once I joined what can be easily termed as a Bengoli Organisation – a company with strong Bengoli domination … CII!

To me, the most startling feature of the Bengolies, other then their big round bindi and the beer belly paunch is their ‘community bonding’. In all my interactions with Bengolies – community bonding comes across very strong – and it is most evident during Puja. Infact, Puja further strengthens this bonding. The way each and everyone participates in the puja – devotes times for practicing –  for shopping gifts for everyone –  for decorating and managing the pandals is a case study of sorts in itself – of participatory management! More so coz the story of crabs in a jar not letting anyone getting out is so often compared to the bengolies!

But none of this shows during the puja –  when all come together and work towards one aim of having the best Puja Pandal –  or when they sit together for Khichdi and Sabji or preparing for the ‘Gaan’ for the cultural evening. There is no evidence of any markings of economic status or any other differentials playing a role.

Yet another factor which plays a huge role in this bonding is their language! Unlike the North Indians who all have more or less a same root language, Bengolies have a distinct language – a unique communication tool! No matter which part of the country they may come from – their language binds them instantly – not leaving any scope for awkward silences and the connection is usually emotional and the same as that of a long lost friend found in a distant place. Language further adds to the community bonding as everyone who can’t speak Bengoli automatically gets side tracked.

Thus even in today’s social media dictated world where Facebook and Twitter are acting as the great leveler, it’s quite possible to find two bengolies connecting solely with “Ki Holo”

Bottom line – While my exposure and interest has risen considerably and Durga Puja has become a regular in my festival calendar also, I envy Bengolies …

–                     For your ability to speak /catch more languages (Oriya, Assamees to name a few)

–                     For your respecting demeanor towards women and giving more important to Goddesses

–                     For your community bonding

And above all for your strong culture … hail Bengal!

Get Married

September 9, 2010 Leave a comment

Marriage is still a universal phenomena in Indian society … there are no questions as to if a person wants to get married or not … it is just the thing that everyone has to do … there are no doubts in it. It’s just a matter of time. So any one who doesn’t get married till 30’s or so is first considered to be mad… choosy … fussy…having high expectations and then as they tumble down the thirties … if it’s a girl then they become frustrated… too independent…selfish and if it’s a guy then he is too difficult … has an affaire with someone from other caste/religion or is seeing another man!

There are no other connotations … everything has been decided and the actual players have no say … they just have to listen and not retaliate and if someone does answer back or tries to argue then … “yeh to hath se nikal gayi/gaya hai… or isse apne ghar waalon ka koi khayal nahin hai”

Now I consider myself to be too lucky… I have a set of parents plus a group of relatives who are slightly deviant from the usual behavior and hence I don’t get to hear all this at home or in any other social functions… though I know that people from outside do sympathize with my clan for my status of ‘single’

So this post is actually a tribute to all those who have issues and consider me to be frustrated … pompous … marriage hater … suffering from anti-man syndrome and totally against marriage … for as per them there is no other reason for me being single!

People would say that being single I can not and should not write about it … I have no authority on it. I differ … for marriage is one topic which does not leave me and I can write quite a bit about it …from various angles. I am the kind of person who can say more about it … for I see it from a distance and hence see it with more clarity! I see the hurdles … the problems … the weakness … the mistakes … the delays!

A lot of reasons come to me as I think of why should one decide to get married and when one should decide it … and it is with this angle that I look at marriage today … from the angle of an unmarried who for a change wants to get married but has some inhibitions … restrictions…hesitations…

  • Get married … soon… in early twenties…for as we grow we become rigid and fixed in our ideas … our exposure increases … we get to know the pros and cons of everything…we know we can manage all…we have heard so many stories of married ones
  • Get married … whenever you find the right person… don’t bother if it’s too early or you are still not successful…do not have enough bank balance … or the big car… or the swanky apartment… or ‘the’ designation
  • Get married … even if your parents don’t like the person …  but you know he is the right one for you
  • Get married … even if that means you are being selfish or so your parents make you feel … as you are not marrying their choice
  • Get married … with the person whom you think is good for you … as your parents may not find any one who is good enough for you … as you are the best one for them and no one measures up to you
  • Get married … not for the society but for your own self…for only you have to live with yourself
  • Get married … only if you have a valid enough reason and not because your best friend is doing so
  • Get married … and be ready for working on your marriage
  • Get married … and be ready to face surprises and shocks of varied shapes and sizes
  • Get married … and be ready to face politics from one and all in your own family and your spouse’s family
  • Get married … but never out of pity… on rebound… for revenge … or avenge… or family name … and never for the heck of getting married …
  • Get married … only for love … which may begin as infatuation … simple liking … admiration … respect … any of these positive feeling … there will be more chances of survival!
  • Get married … knowing that you may have to leave the person … for marriage is a gamble and there are equal chances of it not working out…

But do GET MARRIED… and leave no space for REGRET

Categories: Trivia Tags: , , ,

Speech is silver … Silence is golden

September 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Had always read and heard

Speech is silver … Silence is golden

Never pondered on it … being of the arrogant and the ignorant generation!

Now that I am down with fever and have a bad throat … and the only sound that comes out of my throat is that of a frog… am being forced to understand that there might be some meaning to it!

Dunno where I caught it from … the rain … cool cold drinks … or wherever … just know that it’s difficult to speak as it hurts and takes more effort on my side and still there is no surety that it would be understood correctly on the other side! So for past 2 days, have been rationing my speech … speaking less, in low tones and sometimes going mum to avoid complexities.

Initially it happened adhoc … I would speak and then cough … speak and cough … and go silent …

Then it dawned that I need to be careful if I want to rest my vocal chords and still communicate. And since then I am on a different learning curve … learning how to communicate when the resources (in this case my voice) are in scarcity!

But it’s a struggle … to not speak and stay silent … to contemplate before speaking out … to first decide and then speak … all the mumblings and blah blahs have suddenly to be avoided … and only the most relevant phrases to be echoed!

Currently it’s all about ‘connecting with people’ through SMS and internet chatting for me!

So this situation has brought out the importance of ‘silver’ speech … of the ability to talk… something that we take so for granted. And the realization has come only now when I am almost on ‘mute’ mode. For no matter how much we may write and tweet … it’s usually the one on one conversations that make things happen. Talking face to face or through any electric/electronic medium is the most important part of any successful deal both in personal and professional setting. And if communication is effective only when it’s two way (as the Koltler says) then verbal communication for sure forms the biggest part of it all!

For me it’s even more difficult … why coz I usually sort out problems and take decisions after a proper verbal conversation with myself! (People who know me know this including my boss!)

So the problem is huge … but there is always another side and here the other side is … not talking gives a chance to listen more … to think more about all the pending things … which have been getting backlogged … to contemplate more … to plot more (if u r the saas bahu types!) … to worry more … to  write more …!

The fact is that as one can talk only as much in this state of sore throat, one learns how to communicate effectively and efficiently … using less of words … with little of background information and using right/correct words!

Now giving little of background information while explaining anything has always been of interest to me … coz I find that most of us have to tell an entire story before reaching the relevant point. This is one aspect which is very easily dealt with in most of the communication chapters … they usually say ‘be clear and crisp’ and their job is over. But how does this happen and what are the reasons for so … is there any explanation?

See what I mean little background information!

A sore throat helps in being crisp and short!

So much for communication externally … lets take it internal.

A sore throat also helps in connecting with oneself … for no one else understands what we are saying and also it’s much easier to connect with one’s own self without any sounds and voices/conversations around. The silence which may bother in the beginning slowly starts comforting. For a change its vacuum outside and action inside … it’s like a solitary confinement. A good time for trying out meditation and reaching out to the higher level of living … thus converting the Silver speech in to Golden Silence!

That’s my hypothesis and my ‘hence proved’ … u can have yours!

Categories: Trivia Tags: ,