Karnataka Jnana Fellowship – My experience…

Can instinctive action mislead us? Or will it always lead us to the right path?

This is the question that occupies my mind now. That is because, I have acted purely on instinct in the case of the Karnataka Jnana Fellowship. I saw an article in the newspaper sometime in June this year and immediately went over to the computer, went to their website and applied. The force of instinct was so strong I could not resist it. I did not try to resist it either. One part of my mind was asking though whether I was doing the right thing. I asked back. “Why not go ahead?”.

Recently, i did a little bit of financial calculations too. This project if we can call it one (of taking up Jnana fellowship, if I do get thru) has a negative net present value (in financial terms) of a significant amount of money. In simple language, it was a cost to me and not a financial gain. Do I still want to do it? Yes. It is corporations which look at profit and loss. Government looks at cost-benefit balance. I too had to see a cost-benefit balance. Benefit not only to me but benefit to the community at large. After all, living for oneself is so boring. I have written in one of my earlier blogs too (my previous blogspot blog) about why it should be the aim of every individual to ‘give more to society than he/she draws’. This was my chance to give. I cannot let this go… At least, I had to give it my best shot…

I was fortunate enough to get through till the interviews (past a lot of scrutiny and a good written test) which happened yesterday. A full day at Vikas Soudha… Starting about 8:30 am when I got in till about 6:45 pm when I got out, the time I got before the panel of eminent people asking me what I could do if I were selected was miniscule. Whether I managed to convince them, the result will tell. The lessons I learnt from this whole experience though were great. Never before had I sat before a panel of about 15 members. One does not get time to think (being a bit of a slow thinker had me a little troubled). So, it clearly boils down to what is deeply embedded in our minds. Only those points will come forth. Its a test for our ability to stand our ground and not let our thoughts be hijacked by what is being asked. Its a test of conviction, of strength of belief. Quite rightly so. It is an experience that has brought in more energy, conviction and strength to me. My instinct to work with the community at large has only grown stronger.

One aspect to be highly appreciated is the strength of the process the Jnanaayoga followed. The transparency levels have been very high. Sometimes, I wonder if it was a little too high. Criteria for selection was very clear, although I was a little surprised at the weightage given to our 3 answers on purpose given during the application. Arrangements were great. They have shown how well things can be conducted from within the government too…

Lastly, let me come to what occupied me over the whole day minus the interview time and the little time I took out while sitting there to prepare. This truly was energising. Never before have I got to know more than a dozen people in a single day. This was such a day. A very unusual day for me. I have at least 8 new contacts in my mobile now. I met people working on enhancing science education, on youth related issues,  those teaching management, those training teachers, teachers, people running a school, those working on getting the soil right for horticulture, …. Civil society is not sleeping. By no means. Each one has a passion and is striving to contribute in their own way, with a positive approach. Cool !

We discussed at length on each of our experiences and on the possible road ahead, in the education field mainly but even on horticulture. Like minds coming together… If I said that we came up with solutions, that would be obviously wrong. If solutions to the problems plauging the primary and secondary education were simple, it would have been set right long back. We even came up with plans on working together outside the fellowship scheme too.

I wish to say one thing at the end. Lets get the cynicism out. Lets get to work, whether inside the government or outside but towards the welfare of our great nation. If we think that putting the education system right is a 10,000 km journey and give up, we will never complete the journey. We have to walk our talk… Good thing is that we are not alone in the struggle. If one goes out there looking, one would find so much of good work happening. So many are working. Lets give our bit…

Jai Hind !!!

Addition on the 30th Sept, 2011: After the results came out…

Its been a tough day… a day of gloom….. The fact that I did not make it kept haunting me through the day and still is haunting me. I understand that the other person who made it to the department I was looking to get in to, is more qualified than me and quite likely has more experience. That is comforting…. Still, at a personal level, its a loss that is somehow difficult to get adjusted to. I am sure that the commission has done a very good job of screening people and all those who are in deserve to be there. I still cant reconcile myself to the fact that I didnt make it… This is the battle thats been going on all day.. One moment this way, one moment that way…. :-|.

Quite clearly, my inability to hold my ground during the interview let me down. I got drawn a little away (towards pre-primary education) from my focus area (child protection) and i was less guarded in the new territory…. and got shot down… I will remember to hold my ground next time, probably in another context..

There is the NGO platform for me in any case…….. and I pledge my support to those who are in. Am here to help if required.

Jai Hind !!!

A date with history for India: 27th Aug 2011

 

Today, truly would be seen as one of the important days in the history of India. The 27th Aug 2011; a day when parliamentarians cutting across party lines came forward, having recognised the public sentiment to speak in favour of a strong lokpal bill…. Truly heartening….

 

I do not want to be naive and believe that the movie is over with a happy ending. No. There is no ending in real life and the struggle will continue. I know. We all know that. But today is a day that will give us much belief and strength. We, as Indians probably have been sleeping for long and not asking of our representatives, what we should have. This movement lead by Shri Anna Hazare ji has woken us up. I cant speak for all but I guess that is fairly true for the most of us. We have learnt how to voice ourselves. We know that come next time, we have a defined path, a precedent to look back to and take our movement forward. Why more??? Well.. There are many more things we need to change to become a truly great nation. I am quite sure that most people into this debate already recognise that the next movement is going to be on ‘Election Reforms’. It will come and we know how to handle it. That we have to be part of it. Peacefully. In the Gandhian way; in the Anna way. I hope we can spare Anna ji from those movements and that we wont demand another 13 day fast from him. Hats off to him for pulling it off in Great style. He has the energy to stand up and sing the national anthem after all this. You cant but respect him. Salute him. Hail him…. Jai Anna ji….

 

This also calls for an important recognition. While most of us have been left to feel that all institutions we have including the parliament, the government, the judiciary, the police are all pathetic to say the least, we should rise above that. We have to sit back and think about it once more. Are we just pouring our hatred of some of the people in these institutions on the institutions itself. Most likely yes. Believe me. I have read a little bit, if not much of our Constitution and you know what? Its a great document. We truly must be proud of ourselves for having such a great constitution. Following debates on news often, I can also read between the lines and see how good our parliamentary system is as an institution. How one uses it is another matter but the institution in itself is laudable. The judiciary off late has been very active and very rightly so. It is one of the best institutions we have. Our efforts should be to strengthen it and not to be disparaging.

 

We need to get the UPSC exams reformed, the elections reformed, our schooling system changed and so on… We have our task cut out. Are we ready to venture and get onto the job or are we going to remain on the sidelines and keep cribbing? Let us not crib. Let us act. Let us prepare ourselves for the struggle. How? Study the systems, work on the ground; not for a day or two but for years. We, only then will be powerful enough to do anything about it. Anna ji did not become what he is in just one day or even the last 6 months starting April when he came to limelight. Its been a lifelong struggle. We. the youth of India need to rise. We need to shoulder the burden. Building institutions is no joke. We will know when we do it. We will certainly do a better job than our predecessors. I am sure. But we must struggle to get it done. Nothing happens like in movies…. We need to motivate more of our youngsters to join the police, the government jobs, the judiciary and even become parliamentarians. We also should strive to be so. Then, we will see a truly powerful nation. A great India….

 

Jai Hind !!!

South Indian Marriages today: Is symbolism reigning supreme???

Are we a confused society today??????

is the question that comes to my mind when I go to attend south indian  marriages today.  I speak only of brahmin marriages since that is what I know to some extent and that is what I draw my thoughts from. I am not sure if I am the one who is ignorant or whether most of the people involved, including the seniors ignorant and confused about how a marriage is to be conducted and why we do many of the traditional procedures in a marriage.

I am quite sure many of us do not understand why some procedures are done in some way and even if known, is that relevant today? Culture has to be a dynamic entity and not one bound hard in an era which we for some reason like to cherish. Let me deal with specifics so as not to lose focus.

There is an event called the ‘Kashi yatra’ which is held. The story goes that in early does, boys used to go to gurukula and learn vedas and other stuff. That stage is called brahmacharyam. Once he completed the initial training at the gurukula, he would need to embark on a journey to the himalayas for further training and practice. He leaves home and is headed to the himalayas. Seeing a nice guy going off, a father of a girl approaches him and asks him to postpone his journey by a few decades. He asks the guy to get married to his daugher, take care of her and then may be later in life, he could resume his journey to the himalayas. The guy agrees and hence the marriage happens. Great!!!! Makes a lot of sense in that context. Is that relevant today? Why do we still have to make the guy ‘SYMBOLICALLY’ get started on his journey to himalayas (which he no way intends to…) , put a person with an umbrella behind him and then get the girl’s father to come and stop him enroute. All the while, the purohit or pandit instructs each of them what they are supposed to do. Obviously so, because neither the guy nor the father know what the script is until the last moment when the purohit directs the movie.. Yes. It is a movie because there is a camera rolling…

I do not want to be cynical and demeaning of what is done. Just that I am amazed why we have to live in the past and do stuff as it used to be done ages ago. Can we not be original? I am left confused as to what we are trying to achieve. What I illustrated above is just one of the great series of events that fit to form the marriage script. What troubles me is the sense of ‘artiificiality’ in the whole event. Apart from a top few experienced people, few know the sequence and much fewer people understand why many of the things are done. Since experts (pundits) are available to direct the show, the actors (including bride and groom) care little to learn anything about the age, the context and the history behind the tradition. For the actors, it is only a matter of a one day or two day event where they get to meet a lot of their family and friends and showcase their prowess in holding a marriage in a ‘nice’ way. The events per se and their meaning has little value for them. The seniors though are very serious about getting it done the ‘right’ way but what the ‘right’ way is, is driven by the one who calls the shots.

I dont want to keep writing too much. I felt strongly about this and hence am writing. Its been many many marriages I have attended and this sense has been growing all the time. Two things reign supreme, ‘symbolism’ and ‘copy-cat’ nature. I would much rather like to see an event driven less by what ‘ought’ to be the ‘right’ way and more by what the two families getting united like and feel the ‘right’ way is to express their respect for the other and to ‘break the ice’ so that a lasting relationship can flourish.

In our culture, marriage is more a union of two families than just the union of the couple getting married. Its absolutely fine. Good. Forms a good support structure for the couple. Social instinct is in all of us. Most like to get together with all of near and dear ones, establish new relationships etc. All that is relevant. Why not stick with just that and do it in a way we all feel it is good to do?

Food is a big part of marriage and rightly so. The greatest respect one can show to another is to call the other to their place and serve them good food by one’s own hands. That is great. I love it. I am just back from a marriage where even the cooking is done by the family members themselves. They themselves cook for then hundreds who come and serve by their own hands. Nothing better to start off in a new relationship. That though does not happen in most marriages. It has become increasingly difficult with the way we live now and with the number of people attending a marriage. That is an area which is ruled nowadays by contractors who do it all…. Just that the vastly important personal touch is lost. The host now just comes around to see that you are having a good meal….

I am not writing in a very organised manner. Started writing only because the force of the thought really is too high for me to resist writing. I am not sure how much of what I feel i have been able to echo in the above lines but am quite sure many of us would relate well to the topic.

In the end, I only want to see why we are doing what we are doing and why we should probably change. May be, may be we are just too happy to ‘hail’ our ancestors and attribute great laurels to them for establishing great traditions. Yes. They certainly were great because they started off a tradition based on original ways of doing things as suited to their context. It is we, today who are demeaning them by not being worthy descendants. We instead of again establishing great tradition as per our context today are just living with a ‘those-were-good-old-days’ feeling. In our enthusiasm to hail our ancestors and our traditions, we are losing out on an opportunity to bring realism into our culture. Hope we do not end up destroying the respects for our great ancestors among the coming young generations. Wish we could borrow the nice principles set forth in tradition, adapt it and conduct marriages (and other functions too) in a more original and relevant-to-today manner. Hope that would bring back the much needed realism and ‘genuine’ relationship amongst the families coming together. (It is much easier to show respect in a ‘formal’ way than in an informal instantaneous manner.)

We have had great ancestors who set forth great traditions. Living upto their status, we today as their descendants should establish traditions that would last a few generations ahead. If it lasts for too long, then tradition would become a burden rather than a boon. Culture and traditions need to be dynamic, changing to the needs of today or else, they risk dying and being consumed by other cultures or traditions.

Hoping to see more marriages which we can understand without the help of an ‘expert commentator’ sitting beside us and relating to us the script in the absence of who, we come back from the marriage function with not just a stomach full of good food but also a mind full of questions and confusion…..

Jai Hind !!!

Review of the Jan Lok Pal Bill V2.1

Please find inserted below, the Jan Lok Pal Bill V2.1 with review remarks of mine. I am not a legal expert by any stretch of imagination but understand a few basics of law and systems of justice in India.

(Please look at ‘review comments’. Document is in MS word format)

I have not completed the whole thing. Will do so and update.

Jan lokpal bill 2.1_Reviewed_partially

Some global remarks / observations:

  • Lok Pal certainly seems to assume unduly high powers, powers of courts to issue orders / enforce order in many cases. This has to be avoided in my view. I think that Lokpal should be able to receive complaints, take suo-moto notice etc and investigate but passing order should be left to the courts.
  • Not needing permission to investigate is essential and that is good.
  • Lok Pal appears to be empowered even to look at wrong decisions taken by public servants. That is undue power. In general, actions of any of us may be subject to 3 problems; Inefficiency, wrong judgment, malafide action. Only last point should come under purview of Lokpal. If for instance, a municipal officer wrongly judges the need for a bridge in a place and gets it constructed and 2 years down the line, it is seen that it is not used much, should we accuse him of unduly favouring the private player who got the contract to construct it. No !!! . Unless, the officer has received favours from such private player, he should be immune.

Jai Hind !!!

Have we won the war against corruption?

Of course, not. We have just won our first battle, the ‘battle of jantar mantar’ against corruption.

The next and major step would be to get the bill passed in the monsoon session of the parliament in July 2011. That too seems to be well on the way with Mr.Veerappa Moily as well as Mr.Shanti Bhushan expressing that there would not be much trouble in agreeing on a good draft of the Jan Lok Pal Bill, 2011. One certainly should keep fingers crossed still. There is a panel with eminent and very knowledgeable people. The representatives of civil society includes Mr. Prashant Bhushan, a senior Supreme Court Lawyer, Mr.Arvind Kejriwal, who has been a main force in drafting the bill who is a former IAS Officer and an IIT, Kharagpur graduate, Shri Anna Hazare ji himself and Mr.Shanti Bhushan, another serior Supreme Court Lawyer as the co-chairman. The government’s panelists includes senior lawyers too. Hence, the panel certainly has the required expeirence and eminence. The only question would be on the will of the government to allow good strong provisions of the Jan Lok Pal bill to be retained.

We would also have to be clear that the focus of the bill remains on tackling corruption rather than allowing the Lok Pal to dictate policy decision to the government, as Shri Harish Salve, another senior Supreme Court Lawyer pointed out. At the end of the day, it is the politicians and the bereaucrats who have to take policy decisions. We cannot have a Lok Pal which would be breathing down their neck all the time. This would impede even good and necessary decisions. For example, if one starts questioning the need for a Unique Identification Number as has been floated now, citing that it is unnecessary and will not help in development, no decision can be taken. The Lok Pal should get interested and question it only if there appears to be reason to believe that while executing this, some companies or individuals have been unduly favoured and for this, certain politicians or bereaucrats have received bribes. So, it is very essential to keep the focus on tackling corruption. We have to believe that if corruption is stopped, then we would have politicians and officials who can take decisions that would benefit the country, even if they at times err in judgement. As long as the intent is good, certain inefficiencies and wrong decisions would not affect us in the long run since they would be quick to realise and correct themselves as against the current scenario when we have malafide intent which is impeding development.

What role do we have as citizens now?
Firstly, we need to ensure that as many people as possible understand why this bill is being put forward and what effect it would have on their lives. A significant percentage of the educated population, with a large percentage of youth have turned up in this movement and have understood the above points. It still remains that millions more remain who do not know what is happening and why it is so. We need to spread the word. People need to realise that if they are focussed on their today and tomorrow alone and how much tax they pay or they avoid or what grants or exemptions or subsidies they get from government are enough and that the larger picture is not of their interest, then such a perception needs to be changed. This attitude would amount to being ‘paise wise and rupee foolish’. Lets take a concrete example. If we say for example, retrieve all the black money stashed away in foreign banks or get the tax from big time defaulters, which are of the order of thousands and lakhs of crores, it would mean that the govt. would have so much more money and may be able to reduce our tax burden or keeping the same tax burden, be able to deliver much more development like investing in renewable energy sources to meet our present and future energy demands. The government can spend the same on ensuring good infrastructure and teaching quality to the millions of children who are our future. We can improve on the human development index by focusing on health, malnutrition etc.
The education cess of 2% can be waived off. We can pay off our debt to the world and save interest that we keep paying to the world bank and others, which contribute significant percentage of our yearly budget.

The gains do not stop there. When there is little or no corruption, free market would work better. Free market will work better because the regulatory authorities of the government would do their jobs well. When free market works well, we the people, the consumers will stand to gain. No companies would be able  to bribe some officials and get away in avoiding safety norms. We will have pilots who have a true license. Our hotels will follow all necessary sanitation and cleanliness so that we get good food. Fire safety in our offices would be correctly taken care and hence man made disasters can be avoided. Hospitals would become safer for patients since a good Medical Council can then regulate how hospitals charge patients and ensure that no unnecessary treatments are done. We will live better. We will have cleaner roads when all garbage is disposed off well. We will be able to generate biogas from food waste to fuel some of our energy needs. Most importantly, we can confidently step into the police station and register a complaint in case of a problem. We need not henceforth fear the policeman himself. If they are not corrupt, they would be more than helpful. If such is the scenario, then would we not have many many gains from avoiding corruption?

Its time to stop being focussed on our own small world and look at the country at large. If the country grows, we certainly will grow too, in fact at a much faster pace than when we focus on just our good. We will be more peaceful when we dont give bribes to get our false house construction plan approved. We would be happier when we do not have black money in our house. When we are peaceful, we can be happier. We will see happier people around us. The housemaid who comes to sweep our house will be happier since her children would be getting good education in govt. schools and her insurance is taken care by a well functioning govt scheme. Would she not work better then? Happier people work better. So, we would grow not at 8 or 9% but at 15%. Not only on GDP, but our Human development index growth also would skyrocket. We would truly become a great nation, a position we deserve truly.

All this will not come easy. It will not come in one year or even two. It may take a decade more but if we are moving in the right direction, we will reach it. There would still be many many anti-social and corrupt people who will try to derail this system. We have to stand up. We have to refuse to give bribes to take short cuts or avoid taxes. Strength is always internal and strength comes from knowledge. We should learn the law, at least to the extent we need. We should stand up for our rights. We should live up to a stature that we deserve all the good things talked about earlier. Thats when all this would come true.

Jai Hind!!!


Support Anna Hazare…. Ready the weapon against corruption

We dont anymore have to be lacking in imagination or feel helpless. We have the beacon to guide us towards curbing corruption in India. Hail Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejrival, Kiran Bedi and others….

The Jan Lok Pal Bill, 2011 is our weapon. We will still have to use it and fight to kill or even curb corruption to a large extent but without this weapon, we would be powerless and helpless as we feel today… Hail the concrete Bill drafted by experienced and eminent people with great integrity…

We need to back this bill and get the joint drafting committee. That would be the first step. We trust the eminent team which has started this movement. When 5 of them are in the joint drafting committee, we can certainly hope for a good bill that will go to the parliament to be passed in the monsoon session.

This is our second freedom movement. Freedom from corruption which restricts every step of our growth.

Under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, I hear that workers are paid Rs.30 and made to sign a voucher for Rs.100. I have personally overheard a lady boasting in a public bus that she can get you a loan of Rs.25,000 from the govt under some scheme which you need not pay back, and for which she will take Rs.3000 as commission. If we go on like this, how will we progress???

We should stop giving in to the demands of bribe at every govt. office from now on. Its ok if our land registration gets delayed by a month, its ok if our no-objection certificate takes 3 months to come…. but I will not pay a bribe.. Lets tell it straight and clear to every govt official or politician who demands it. We have the Right to Information Act too. We can file a RTI to find out what happenned to our application. The Information officer at the office is bound to reply. If we get no reply, we can file a complaint with the district Information commissioner. (Guess I got the title right.) If there has been undue delay (as against service level agreements which are published at some offices), we can seek redressal.

If we are in a hurry though, then India would have to wait for long to be free of corruption.

Lets stand up against corruption….. and support Shri Anna Hazare ji and others…

Jai Hind !!!

 

Read the bills

Jan lokpal bill by Expert (Eng).pdf

Lokpal Bill by Government of India.pdf

Spreading better education to rural areas: a need today…

 

“India’s population is growing and is set to grow more … and stabilise at 170 crores by 2070. Are we ready to deal with this?”

The above is a report I read recently in the Newspaper. The stabilisation date which was earlier predicted as 2048 has today become 2070.  Imagine the needs and the advantages of this….. Lets take the advantages first. It is called a ‘demographic advantage’. Even today, India has 55% of it’s population below 25 years age. The population between 18 years and 40 years age which is the most productive age group is also huge. It means that we have a great platform to work and to develop further and be a “Truly developed Nation”. I am not talking about GDP growth. That too will happen but we need to improve heavily on the “Human Development Index” first. That means that we should have low infant mortality and maternal mortality rates, high survival rate , better nutrition level for children, good education, good employment opportunities etc so that even our most disadvantaged population can have a more ‘dignified life’. Becoming a global power house will happen later.. but our first goal should be to improve our human development index….

Take other nations… US has a relatively aging population… China too has an aging population (due to their one child policy which has been there since 1979).. 20 years down the line India will have probably one-third of the world’s working population…. Can we not beat the world with that????

So….. We realise what an opportunity we have in our hand.. But….. Are we ready to grab it???? The current situation does not seem too encouraging… You might have read my other blog “Are government schools dying?”… We as a nation are today spending very little on children…. Just about 3.6% of GDP goes to school education…. Not enough effort being made to reduce infant mortality… Not enough to reduce malnutrition in children… Significant amount of child labour….How are we going to have a “really productive population” in 20 years????? I wont paint a totally gloomy picture… There has been significant positive steps taken towards better child health, nutrition, education etc…. the pace though is very slow….

Azim Premji’s investment in rural education today is a great step…. He is doing what the government should have been doing… 8800 crores is not a small amount… Huge.. My ‘Salute’ to him….

The children deserve it… Its not just that they are going to make us world leaders tomorrow.. Our children deserve it… It is their right… Do we not want to live in a society that is more happy on a whole? Just the sight of happy children is such an inspiration… We owe it to them…

Now, to the practical question of how we should go about this Mission? I dont have a ready-made answer… Of course not… But I am thinking what part I should play in the whole Mission… Out of the three main tasks listed below, I pick ‘education’. Simply because I am not qualified to look at the others…

1. Improve rural health, especially of women and educate them (to prevent infant mortality)

2. Improve nutrition and health of rural children (to allow stable and good growth and development)

3. Make education universal and bring in quality meaningful education

 

I am looking at the following ways.. (am not anywhere close to Azim premji 😉  ):

a. Spare some time to go and teach rural children personally

b. Prepare easy self-learning material (books, audio, video, animations etc) and spread them..

c. Some day, to start schools…. Hopefully soon…..

 

In an attempt to prepare some self-learning material, I prepared this one video.. please have a look. This is in english now.. I need to work on local language versions.. and see how to take it to the rural kids…

http://231906.myvideotalkstudio.com/streaming/pages

 

Would be happy to listen and share info on this ….

 

Jai Hind!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Are government schools dying in India?

I am hearing this sentiment more and more, at least in Karnataka….

 

I hear that in kolar district, the government officials themselves acknowledge that government schools are running out of favour of parents. Parents today, in rural areas clearly seem to favour Private English Medium Schools. They perceive that the poor quality of education in the government schools and moreover, the local language being the medium can be a disadvantage to their kids in the long run. They seem to be going far to pay significant amounts of fee to get their children admitted to such private schools who teach in english medium. The problem though is that this is spawning many poor quality english medium schools. Even then, the medium of instruction seems to hold enough value and parents are willing to bet on it. Last year, apparently, many government schools got closed down since their strength came down to less than 5 children in total. More are said to be in the risk zone.

I heard the same sentiment in Hassan. I understand that many government schools are running with less than 10 children in a class. Here too, the english medium seems to be the main factor.

 

I am sure that no state government in India would acknowledge this trend and switch to english medium in their schools. I am not saying that we should do so. There is actually a big potential for promoting local language heavily. Today, unfortunately, jobs seem to be highly skewed towards the population that knows english. The government should also strive sufficiently to make studying in local language viable by promoting such businesses and services which create jobs that can be handled well with the local language. There is little on the internet that one can do without english. This also needs government intervention and promotion.

Another factor is India’s structure itself. We are a combination of states that speak different languages. Hence, english becomes a unifying factor. If one knows english, he/she has a better chance of getting  a job in many states rather than just knowing the local language and being restricted to his/her own state.

Government itself functions in the local language and that is good. Unfortunately though, government in itself cannot create enough jobs for the burgeoning population.

Given this scenario, a parent would certainly feel that if he/she is betting on the education of their kid, then why not bet on english medium private schools even though their quality of teaching may be as poor as that in government schools. Obviously, this leads to the fact that government schools in India could be dying a slow death unless revived.

The right to education act, 2009 seems to show the will to provide a big push but how much difference it will really bring in is to be seen. The karnataka government recently announced that 8000 school teachers would be recruited. This is required to see that the right to education act can be implemented well. The government has said earlier that they would implement the act starting in the academic year 2011-12. Lets see what happens.

The fact though remains that the government schools, even though constituting about 93% of all schools in the country today are an endangered species just like our tigers.

 

Jai Hind !!!

Part of a daily routine for children at Institutions…

“Idle minds are devil’s workshops”

Many of us must have heard the above quoted saying. This is very true in the case of children who are housed in Institutions. If they are not given enough opportunity to engage themselves in activities for most part of the day, then they while away time and in this process, start in-fighting, abuse of each other, threatening the care takers etc.

The context I am talking of is the Institutions setup under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 as amended in 2006. Institutions like Children’s home for boys, Children’s home for girls, Observation Homes and Special homes are places I am talking about.

I present below a proposal of an ‘Activity Plan’ for children. I present the same in four steps. Firstly, I quote what the National Model Rules, 2007 under the above said act has to say about the daily routine to be followed. Secondly, I put forward certain basic principles we keep in mind while developing the activity plan. Thirdly, I propose a mapping of children that needs to be done before deciding on the programs and to decide which children would attend which activities. Lastly, I present the programs that I propose.

These are to be treated as an approach of deciding programs at anyof these homes.

Activity Plan for the Children’s Home for Boys and Children’s Home for Girls

Background:

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 as amended in 2006 along with it’s National Model rules framed in 2007 provide for the following:

Rule 43 on ‘Daily Routine’ mandates institutions to provide for a daily routine contributing towards:

  • Personal hygiene and cleanliness
  • Physical exercise, yoga and sports
  • Educational classes and vocational training
  • Moral education and prayer
  • Group activities and community singing
  • Special programs for Sundays and holidays

Rule 47 further says that:

  • Institution shall provide education to all children according to age and ability, inside or outside the institution, as per requirement
  • Institution shall provide mainstream inclusive schooling, bridge school, open schooling, non-formal education and special education where required.
  • Institution shall provide extra coaching to school going children where required through volunteers or coaching centres

Rule 48 further says that:

  • Institution shall provide gainful vocational training.
  • Institution shall develop networking with ITIs, Jan Sikshan Santhan, Government or Private organizations or NGOs with expertise and also with placement agencies

Rule 49 further says that:

  • Provision for guided recreation shall be made available and it shall include indoor and outdoor games, music, television, picnics and outings, cultural programs and a library

Guiding Principles adopted while preparing Activity Plan:

  • Mainstream inclusive education is the most preferred option and this is to be provided by schools nearby the home. In the event of the child not being ready for the same, other forms of education as enlisted below may be provided for purposes listed therewith.
Type of schooling Purpose
Bridge schooling To maintain continuity and bring the child to the level of entering mainstream schooling
Open schooling For dropouts to allow them to move slowly but steadily up the ladder
Non-formal schooling To provide for life skills (like knowing the society we live in, local geography, the economy, types of jobs, their health etc)
  • Irrespective of the period for which the child is expected to stay at the home, educational services shall be provided.
  • Where possible and necessary to have enough children in a single group, boys and girls shall have classes / training together.
  • Sports are a very important component and hence shall be given good focus. Outdoor sports ensure that children remain fit and healthy as well as allowing them to learn about winning, losing, team spirit etc. Hence, outdoor sports in a fairly professional manner shall be taught to the children.
  • Gainful vocational training provided by ITIs or other such institutions shall be preferred when possible, or else in-house training shall be done by recruiting professionals. Placement options shall be looked at for elder children if they have completed 10th standard or for unavoidable reasons, cannot complete 10th standard.
  • Music and dance captivate children and can be used as a medium to reach them. Hence, this also will form an important part
  • Learning the local language (at least speaking) can be useful and hence shall be taught too.
  • All children are not the same and hence mapping the children at the home is required before deciding the activity plan for them.

Mapping children:

The mapping shall be done for each of the offered component of activity as listed below.

  1. 1. For Sports:
Age 7-10 years, 11-14 years & 15-18 years
Health / special needs On individual basis
  1. 2. For Education:
Age 7-10 years, 11-12 years , 13-14 years & 15-18 years
Highest class completed or Learning level (by individual assessment) in each subject whichever is lower 1st to 10th standards
Years since dropout Less than 6 months, 6months to 2 years, More than 2 years
Language studied in / known (Actuals)
Health / special needs On individual basis

Note: Here, the likely period of stay of the child is not considered (as per guiding principles).

  1. For Vocational Training:
Age 13-14 years & 15-18 years
Interest of the child (Within available vocations)
Health / special needs On individual basis
  1. 4. For Music and Dance:
Age 7-10 years, 11-14 years & 15-18 years
Health / special needs On individual basis
  1. 5. For Local Language Classes:

All Non-Kannada speaking children shall be given Kannada speaking skills training irrespective of age.

Programs:

The following programs shall be organized for the indicated groups deciding in the mapping process.

Sl. No Activity Group (decided by mapping):
1 Sports: Football, Cricket, Volleyball and Shuttle badminton
2 Education: (a)   Bridge schooling If ‘years since dropout’ greater than 6 months and less than 2 years& 

If learning level close to age appropriate class in most subjects

(b)   Open schooling If ‘years since dropout’ greater than 2 years& 

If learning level well below age appropriate class in more than 1 subject

&

If no nearby teaches in the  ‘language studied in’ of the child.

(c) Non-Formal (life skills) education For all
3 Vocational Training: Carpentry, Painting, Craft, Electrical, Electronics etc
4 Music and Dance: Film based, Semi-classical or folk
5 Local Language: Only speaking skills

Will China ever become a democratic country?

Yes. If my guess goes write, China will be a democratic country by 2020.

Well !!! Firstly, let me acknowledge that I am no political expert. I do follow international news quite avidly but that’s about it. I have told this to a few of my relatives / friends and they have dismissed me outright. I still stick to my theory though 😉

Why do I say so?

It goes on some simple principles and precedents as stated below…

a) Need for Freedom is the biggest need and this will surface over the long run. The general public will realise that even though they can be exploited in a democracy also, it is in democracy that they stand the best chance of getting their own rights fulfilled. This will form a major force when a significant part of the population realises this. We are already seeing some signs I guess.

b) Human greed will ultimately triumph. Only in a democracy can a significant percentage of people comfortably swindle other people’s money. As long as power remains within few hands, they will either remain good or they alone can swindle. This would be a second important force because the greed to make a lot of money exists among many and those with the talent / skills would relish such an opportunity. I am not at all being cynical. I am looking at it as an independent observer (though myelf being a human 😉 ).

c) The Soviet Union did not survive. It had to give way to the need of many people wanting their due for the effort they put in. “Give according to capacity, take according to work” is a principle that cannot last how much ever we wish it survives. People will start defecting from the state and moving to other democratic countries that allow them the freedom and potential to uplift their standard of living.

d) A country so large will have so many views. Each person is different. If all are to stick to the same ideas, it is impractical. Each person would like to be heard and see his opinion respected. One can only keep everyone saying the same thing with a lot of force and using so much force costs a lot of money and resources and sometime sooner or later, the state will find itself unable to cope with this.

e) International capitalistic market forces would try to get democracy installed because that is when they can use their patents to make money and ensure that people dont reverse engineer their products and deny them the money they feel they deserve. They want all nations to sign treaties that help them make money and being sharks, keep swallowing the small fish and remain the ruler of the seas of market. Even political leaders of big democratic countries would feel the pressure from these forces to push for ‘democratisation of the world’. I can see that they already are doing so.

If I am not wrong, it was the greek philosopher Descartes who said that the world is run by only three forces, “Power, Pleasure and Religion”. I think he was quite right. Most people would desire these and what better system than a democracy to offer this.

One recent event shows further signs of this. The Nobel Peace prize being given to a person who speaks this language. He might truly have done very good work. I have no knowledge of that. China certainly did not like that as one would expect.

Please treat this as a purely academic statement. I am completely neutral to this issue. I am neither going to be happy nor sad if China becomes a democracy. I have nothing to gain or lose by this except probably for the fact that I can claim that I predicted this. 😉

I would conclude by saying just one thing. “Loka samastha sukhino bavanthu” which means “May the whole world be peaceful”.

Jai Hind !!!