Monthly Archives: April 2012

Compulsion.

Disclaimer: This post is about adolescents. Others, don’t judge us.

The phase of being in your teens, in this 21st century, is not easy. I repeat, not easy. With being surrounded by a whole lot of things, and having to balance yourself with each one of them, you tend to screw yourself up. Well, almost…

In the whole ball-game, life begins to feel pretty messed up. A few things, if not all, go haywire, hit bottoms. Relationships seem to be dwindling quick. Friends fade out and new friends replace them. Acquaintances, the term, finally surfaces. And all through, you are just trying to figure out who you are and why do some of your close pals say ‘You were different’.

Most of this, happens when you go to a new college, a new city, or both. Most of this, happens because we feel compelled to be like those we are around.

Seniors, classmates, roommates, batchmates. In that whole phase, we seem to forget who we actually were and tend to become someone we never have been. Without actually realizing what’s happening with us.

This, is a wake up call.

The last few months, I’ve been studying engineering in Pune and have been talking to a whole lot of my friends every once in a while, situated in different parts of the country, studying various courses. Simply said, each one of us has done something we never thought we would. Some have new-found interests in music. Some develop a knack of watching movies and TV series, and can never get tired of watching them. Some smoke. Some drink. Some eat what they supposedly swore they never would. Some lose friends. Some let friends go. Some blend-in. Some just go with the flow. Some, hold their places and stay left out. Some, do all of this.

The phase we’re in is something, no adult, no one who is above their mid-20s now, would understand. And that’s simple. They haven’t been where we are today.

The necessity to make friends, be friends with those who are around you, staying with you, studying with you, to be a part of the crowd instead of the one who’s a topic of the college gossip, makes us forget all the principles we had listed for ourselves, before we turned 15.

Peer pressure, as many would want to term it, is much different. I know you’d beg to differ, but just trust me, it is different. No one pressurizes us to be that person. We choose to be that person who’d be one of the many, who’d be liked, who everyone would love, who we assume no one would gossip about (even guys gossip, #TrueStory), and over everything else, won’t be lonely.

It’s loneliness that’s the crucial factor that plays its role here. The world keeps moving, it’s this loneliness that prevails. The loneliness that makes us humane and also slowly tortures us, while we choose to stay away from feeling compelled. We try to hold our grounds but lose it after one point. Not giving in to the peer pressure, but, giving in to our own urge to not be the one who is different.

It’s not about our behaviour. It’s about our feelings. We sub-consciously tend to make that change of outlook happen. Into those of someone else’s opinions, over those to whom we’ve listened to thus far. We all do that, and there’s not even a bit of denial. And if you deny it, it’s sub-conscious and something we don’t even feel we do. But, we do.

Why?

To be a part of the ‘it’ crowd? Not really. Out of loneliness.

In a new environment, we don’t make friends. We force ourselves to get adjusted to those around us, and call them friends. Because, in the end, we need to be comfortable around those we are gonna be with. Some, if we’re lucky, turn out to be really good friends in the long run. Others, friendships of convenience, of need, and those to be. And we change for these. All except for the real friendships.

We’ll click photographs, promise ourselves of supposedly creating memories. And 3 years after the graduation, we won’t even know where these so-special people, with whom we’ve clicked a few hundreds of photographs are, for the simple reason that we got busy with our lives.

There. We would’ve maintained our relationships that were around for the period that actually mattered. We have a 1000 friends on Facebook and an over-flowing contact list on our cell phones, but just a few tens whom we call and actually chat with. And the reality being, we took these few for granted and hurt them while giving those other hundreds much more than just a part of our lives, and changing for them.

It’s a compulsion of being friends and of maintaining relationships that we burden ourselves with. Not the compulsion of the so-called and dreaded bad habits.

This is a profound, yet simple reality. To not be who you are, who you have been and to not be influenced, yet to change and see yourself in a different light… It’s funny, weird, and somehow sounds absurdly logical. Some food for thought, I believe.


Until the next post… Adios!


My Dream School

In the last few weeks, I’ve posted 2 posts on Education & India (Part 1 & Part 2). There, I had said that I’d be posting a version of the draft I had created of the above titled post, a few years ago.
It was 28th or 29th April, 2009 when, in a seminar, in a group of 10, we were told to come up with a plan and layout of our dream school. We made a rough version of what is posted below. On coming back from the seminar, in the few days that followed, I realized the importance of that project and how much it meant to me. For the same, I completed what I had started as a competition, in the seminar and the outcome is as below.

My Dream School
In India, and for that matter all the worldover, schools are also known as the ‘Temples of Knowledge’. But, in India,temples are built after consulting architects but not the schools. Thus, today,I decided to give my dream school a real pictorial representation with thenecessary documentation.
My dream school is a two-storey buildingand technologically advanced. It has all the modern facilities that the worldhas never seen before. It is a school every student would want to be in. Thisschool is a secondary school i.e. for students in 9th to 12thstandards. Everything in the school is in the interior so that bad weatherconditions do not affect learning. The school will not have air conditionersbecause we believe the students need to be taught to help in solving theproblem of global warming from the schooling days itself to create awareness.The timing of the school will be from 9a.m. to 4 p.m. with a maximum of 5lectures a day.
The ground floor has the classrooms forstandards 9th and 10th along with the locker rooms ofstudents belonging to these classes. The entrance to the main school buildingis also through the ground floor. There is also the Audio Visual room, dininghall, auditorium, science laboratory, and the basketball, volleyball, andbadminton courts on the ground level.
The first floor has classrooms forstandards 11th and 12th. There are also locker rooms forthese students. The tennis court and arrangements for table tennis, chess,carom, and other indoor games are also made on this floor along with a separateroom for gym. There is a swimming pool and a cyber room on this floor.
The second floor has a football field and agarden. There are also changing rooms for boys and girls who play footballhere.
Everything is described in the pointshereon:
1) The whole school building is a Wi-Fizone with 802.11n wireless network and an internet speed of 2 gb/sec providinginformation to the students whenever they require without any kind of delays.Each student will be given a username and the student can access the resourceson the network if and only if the student logs in from his username aftergiving the confirmatory password.
2) Teaching in Classrooms: The teaching inthe classrooms of this school will be through video conferencing and videotelecast on the laptops/tablets of every child, thus making the environmentmore private so that each student can learn according to his abilities to copeup a subject. It also ensures that the same teacher can teach and record allthe lessons for a particular standard and then be with the students to solvetheir doubts, if they have any, with no worry about her next class. If astudent misses a particular class, he can approach the cyber room coordinatorand have the last class broadcast to him again personally, during break hoursor post-college hours so that he/she doesn’t feel the burden of studying a stepabove directly. Each lecture will be of the duration of an hour with a break often minutes between two lectures. The attendance in these classrooms will betaken by swiping fingers. There will be one fingerprint scanner on each side ofthe door to each room in the school and the students, teachers and other staffwill have to swipe before they actually enter the class.
3) Girls & Boys Locker Rooms: Thelocker rooms for girls and boys are provided separately and that too on thebasis of the standard they are studying in. The students can keep all theirstationary and laptops in these lockers so that they don’t have to bring thesefrom home daily. There are also restrooms in these locker rooms. There is alsoprovision of showers in the locker rooms so that students can freshen upthemselves before heading for the next class.

Ground Floor Layout
Ground Floor Layout – My Dream School
4) Dining Hall: The dining hall of theschool will have various kinds of food available, but, no two cuisines will beavailable on the same day. It will cover a variety of parts of meal likesalads, starters, beverages, soups, main course, desserts, etc. The studentscan have the food of their choice and preference. They won’t have to payanything extra for the food. However, the service can be accessed only in theafternoon lunch time and not in any other break.
5) Basketball, Volleyball & BadmintonCourts: Sports builds the body and that’s the reason there are variousarrangements for sports in this school. In their sports periods, the studentswill have access to all the different sports arrangements in the school andthey have to decide what they want to do in that period. This room on theground level has arrangements for students aspiring to play basketball,volleyball and badminton. We also have a court of beach volleyball with beachsand on it. There are also coaches available, two for each sport; so that onecan teach the game and at the same time the other can be the referee and takecare that students don’t get indulged into foul play and play the game in allits spirit. Also, there will be other ground staff so that the courts andequipment is maintained properly.
6) Science Laboratory: All the laboratoryapparatus will be made of borosil so that it doesn’t break easily and is heatresistant. The laboratory is spacious with enough apparatus to suffice 50students at a time. Also, the teaching for the science practical’s will be donethrough video conferencing in the same way as other classes but an attendantwill be available in the laboratory with sufficient knowledge of theexperiments in case students need help.
7) Auditorium: The auditorium of the schoolis spacious with a seating arrangement of 1000 people and extends onto thefirst floor. There are two large LED television sets, on either side of thestage, which will display the events happening on the stage live. Also, theauditorium will have the best possible audio surround system and more than 15speakers on each side. It will also have a hi-def video camera to record whatis happening and broadcast it simultaneously.
8) Audio Visual Room: The Audio Visual Roomof this school is the place where all the data of the auditorium will bereceived and processed. It also has a beautiful LED television and multiplecomputers with onboard video cards to process videos fast. The recordings forthe various lectures will also be done in the studio in this room. The peoplesitting in the room for editing will be those who know how to use videosoftware as well as have knowledge of at least one subject so that they canunderstand the lecture and edit it accordingly.
9) Tennis Court, Table Tennis, Carom andChess: The facilities for lawn tennis and the other indoor games mentioned willbe at par with the world’s best. The information regarding coaches and otherstaff is as in the previous sports room.

First Floor Layout - My Dream School
First Floor Layout – My Dream School
10) Swimming Pool: The swimming pool on thefirst level is a 10-lane swimming pool and also has depths of up to 11 feet. Therewill be four life guards in the premises of the pool at all times. They willalso coach students and help them if they need any. There are also changing rooms for males and females separately in the room.
11) Gym: This is the room that can helpstudents to maintain their body well and also is useful for warm-up forstudents who are representing the school in different sports in sportingevents. The gym will be very well-equipped with paraphernalia suiting theteenagers.
12) Cyber Room: This is the hub of thewhole school. The server of the whole school and all the data of the schoolwill be stored in this room. The room will also serve as the transmissioncenter of the Wi-Fi network of the school. All the student records will bestored in this room. The entrance to this room also requires the retinal scanof the school employees and any student is restricted in this premises.

Second Floor Layout - My Dream School
Second Floor Layout – My Dream School
13) Football and hockey field: There arearrangements for these games on the second level with a sun-roof on the top sothat even during the rains, they can enjoy the games. The school hopes tonurture each student in at least one sport so that he excels in it. The coachesand ground staff are also available here.
14) Garden: The garden of the school wouldbe maintained by the science club of the school. Along with regular plantspecies, there would be plants grown with the old Japanese art of bonsai.
Miscellaneous features:
15) Board: The school will be affiliated tothe state board so that it ensures covering most of the necessary topics andclears all of them right from the basics.
16) Energy: The premises will be usingenergy provided through solar panels situated on the roof of the footballfield. The hot water required in the bathrooms in gym and locker rooms will beheated too through solar panels.
17) Water: The water used in the building will be recycled and purified to reuseagain. The drinking water in the coolers will be UV and RO purified.
18) Notice Boards: The notices of variousevents happening in the school will be conveyed to the students by the mediumof notice boards. These will be put up outside each room conducting the event.For example, the sports camp notices will be put up outside the respectivesport room. The auditions for the dramas, etc, will be put up outside theauditorium. The notices will be available together in one place i.e. the‘Notices’ section of the login page which they must open to login to theirschool accounts.
19) Newspaper: The school will have aweekly newspaper service with the reports of events of the school, the seven mostimportant news of the world, one interview with a renowned personality. It willbe managed by the school students along with the help from one teachercompletely devoted to the cause. Also, the editor to the newspaper will be oneof the student members of the newspaper club.
19) Annual Magazine: The school willpublish an annual magazine emphasizing on happenings of the entire year withreports, articles and drawings made by the students themselves.
20) Houses: The school will be divided infour houses on equal basis and the students will have competitions on varioustopics throughout the year. The house which is the overall winner of thesecompetitions according to the points will be given a trophy on the annual dayof the school. There will be different criterions like academics, sports,co-curricular subjects, and other competitions. The individual criterionwinners will also be given trophies.
21) Student Council: There will be arepresentative to the student body known as the student council. It will have alot of power and can change the way many things happen in the school to theneed of the students, but, in consultation with the teachers and principals.The student council will have three levels of representatives. A) SchoolCaptains and School Vice-Captains and Sports Captains and Sports Vice-Captains,B) House Captains, C) Assistant House Captains. The duty of the house captainsis to nurture talent within the house with the help of their assistants. Theschool captains will cater to the needs of the school and the sports captainsto the problems of the school with respect to sports.
22) School Events: Annual Cultural Day willbe one of the most of the important events in the school. Various felicitationswill be done on that day. The school will have Annual Science Exhibition heldevery year. This will be the chance for aspiring scientists to showcase theirtalents.
23) Library: The college library will be anextensive e-book library supported by hard cover copies.
24) Principal’s room: Not very differentfrom the principal’s rooms around the world already.
25) Staff room: For the teachers, basicamenities.
26) Office: For the accounts and the otherclerical records.
P. S.: The last 4 points, were added during a recent revision and so do not find a place in the layouts, anywhere.

KONY 2012. Time for Action.

Cross-posted from Not Just The Talks.
 
It’s been almost a month (29 days, actually) since the day I saw the #KONY2012 video first. And since then, this movement has had my support, whole-heartedly.
And it’s been more than 10 days since my photo was published in the ‘Times Life!’ supplement of the Times Of India, for my efforts regarding the same.
If you’ve seen the KONY 2012 video, by now you know that the D-day is 20th April, which is less than a fortnight from today. And thus, it’s time to begin the preparations.
Posters, bracelets, sign-boards, t-shirts… It’s all rolling and travelling through the world!
We may not be in USA and our actions might not count as much as theirs will, but whatever we do, in our little ways does count.
We can’t see injustice befallen on the people of Uganda. We can’t see them going through pain while we live our lavish lives in a much more peaceful country. We feel for them. We feel their pain. We feel their agony. And we understand their anguish.
Today, I request you, to do what you can, everything you can, to support us at NJTT to make a difference and stand up for humanity. On humanitarian grounds, stand by us. Do what the world expects you to do, the right thing.
It’s now or never.
If your choice is now, go ahead and pre-order a t-shirt, with us, boasting the KONY 2012 graphics and taglines, and wear it on the 20th April, to show your support.
We’ve designed a t-shirt, especially for NJTT supporters of KONY 2012 and we’d be glad to get it to you at the rates it gets to us to get it printed. A comprehensive post, regarding the same, will be posted by someone from the NJTT team, tomorrow, specifying the price, delivery and other details. If you are not sure, don’t post it till then. But, if you are sure you want that t-shirt, help us get the count and we’ll make sure you get your t-shirt well in time.
If you still want to do more, then get yourself a copy of the posters from here, unzip the folder, read the ‘Guide’ file, and get those posters printed. (You can also get these posters from our Facebook page.)
Paste them wherever you can, how many ever you can on the 20th. Reach out to the maximum number possible for you to, what you think would be a great number, achieve it.
I’ll be doing both of these and will expect all of you to, too. It’s the world we live in, the world we love, we’re talking about. Let’s make it a better place to live in, for ourselves, for the generations to come.
Paint your town/city red! Make Kony famous!
Stop at nothing. KONY 2012.
Update (09.04.2012): We are making the t-shirts happen. At 350/piece (inclusive of shipping). Order them here.
For more details, check this post on our FB page.

Education & India: Part 2 of 2

Cross-posted from Not Just The Talks.

Like I’ve said earlier (by that, I mean in Part 1), my life revolves around the state of education in India today, being a student. And I lead from where I left, in the first post, in this one.

1) Colleges: The basic requisite for a successful post-education life-in-the-real-world, as I’ve heard so far, begins from colleges. Schools are those parts of our lives, when we’re shaped and also protected during the process. But, in colleges, we have our first interaction with the real world. So, it wouldn’t be immature-ish of me to say, that ‘That’s where it all begins…’.
There’s not much to say, except that what I’m (by that I mean everyone in their respective colleges) taught is purely theoretical bullshit. Something that has been in the textbooks since ages. And, even if it has been ‘revised’ lately, I’m assured, when I open the first page, that all I’ll study, will be something that isn’t even present in real day life.
For example:
a) I know that Intel 8051 microprocessor is an entire semester worth of subject for a specific brach(es) of engineering. Something, many of us who had vocational subjects in Junior College (11th and 12th), have learnt for a whole year. Besides, it has been out of the whole tech-world for ages now, since it was the first microprocessor ever built. The ones in use now, are much more advanced.
b) I’m truly tired of performing titrations of acids, bases, and everything that can be neutralized. I’ve been, since 4 years. And yet, my chemistry syllabus, since 9th, has a considerable amount of the same very thing.
I’m a student of science and thus incapable of being able to prospect what other branches are like, but well, I know for one, that they’re not apt to the industrial standards of what a professional should know. They lack practical knowledge. They lack the need for understanding and emphasize on the answers to be rote-learnt and puked into the answer booklets. 8 pages of random scribbling, even if it’s the story-line of a Bollywood movie, might get you more marks than someone who actually knows the concepts well enough and explains the same, more precisely in 4. And the most of all, having the inclination towards daily technology that I have, I hate that we don’t have technology dwelling into our educational lives.
Tech is all over our professional lives. A CEO without a tablet, a BlackBerry, an iPhone, would be like a CEO without a suit. A mall without free wi-fi access, would receive brickbats from the goers. We have courier guys who ask us to sign on a touch-screen with a stylus, before receiving our deliveries.
But, we don’t have simple amenities like free wi-fi access, projectors, etc. in colleges. We don’t have the permission to take notes on our laptops, tablets or smartphones, or getting them mailed to us, instead of having to pen down every single thing.
Just two questions. Seriously? And how long more?
All of the fore-mentioned, may not be necessary upto school level of teaching, but, beyond that, I redeem it to be the need of a student.
Another thing that makes me pity myself for studying in India, is the quality of teachers we have.
2) Graduate & Post-Graduate institutions: The lack of infrastructure, for the all-round development, in such institutions, beyond what I mentioned above, is something that I hate the most. And most of the infra provided, is out-dated, aged. The same applies to events occurring within the college premises. (A request to anyone from any college’s faculty or management reading this, a student’s graduation years are those which he/she memoirs the most, make sure you give them something to remember. Be it festivals, shows, competitions, workshops, what not! Make sure they have a memory of a lifetime, everytime.)
They say, someone who can’t be anything else, becomes a teacher. That, seems like the truth. At least in the colleges I’ve been in, and the one I’m in right now. A guy (I’m poor at Indian mythology, I don’t remember the name, sorry) learns the art of archery when Dronacharya was teaching Arjun, by just observing. That’s the kind of teachers I want to learn from. Those whose lectures I would want to attend. Those whose lectures I wouldn’t want to go to sleep in, sitting on the last bench. Those, in whose lectures, I wouldn’t want to keep texting because I’m bored. Enough said.
Every college has a policy (at least those that I know of) to restrict teachers from taking external coaching, anywhere. And well, we all know what the truth is. Most college lectures, all through the country, are not conducted. Teachers get their salaries. And they earn further-more because of the minting machines that coaching classes are. In purview of better grades, parents making students machines which run on a typical home-college-classes-home schedule. I don’t even know what to say, anymore!
Professors’ involvement in research, and industrial funding for the same, is something I root for. It’s necessary for learning what textbooks don’t teach us, in every institution. That also adds a second income for the faculty involved, the college and adds to the students’ knowledge.
3) Reservation: I was hoping I wouldn’t have to talk about it. But, a post about education, without pulling the strings of this sensitive topic that reservation and quota systems in education systems are, is incomplete.
I’ve a dual-side opinion on quota system. I think that quota should be there. But, I also think that this reservation of education seats, should be fair, to those who aren’t in the reserved categories.
Discrimination on the basis of caste, and giving unfair advantage (read: reserved seats with lower cut-offs) seems unseemingly wrong to me. Most of them, don’t even need it. Reading in newspapers the cut-offs for SCs, STs, OBCs being less than half of those for the general category, just punches a hole through my heart.
That’s how unfair we are, that for political votebanks and the divide-and-rule tactics, we give up everything we’ve ever learnt.
All our life, we’ve been taught to treat everyone as equals. Mahatma Jyotirao Phule, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, among others, gave up their lives fighting for equality. ‘Right to Equality’ is one of the fundamental rights conferred upon us the by the respected Constitution of India. And even then, when it comes to admissions, we just forget all this and fight about equality.
We’re in the 65th year of independent India, and I think it’s high time that we eventually got rid of this indiscriminate advantage given to those who are supposedly of lower castes. May be they didn’t have the facilities like we, of the general category, do. But, things sure should’ve and would’ve changed now. Reduce this reservation by 3-5% every year, or every 2 year, and reduce it till it reaches a 5% mark. Let them face the competition too!
Instead, in my opinion, reservation for those from financially weaker classes, should be actually implemented. The same way, the reservation for women’s seats, seems acceptable to me, considering the number of women who actually attend schools and colleges in India.
Solutions, I propose:
1) Syllabi : The syllabi of every stream of education, needs some incredible amount of shaking and revision by a whole panel of industrial experts, including top-level exeutives CEOs, CTOs, CFOs. Sorting and preparing a list of what should be, from what is. And the guidelines from what these experts conclude, be sent to the Universities over the country, and then let them formulate their own syllabi.
2) Teaching Staff : A mammoth-sized re-arrangement in terms of the rules and who-ends-up-a-teacher is necessary.
3) Extra Credits – There are students who are great at sports, writing, art & craft, playing music, etc. Why are they not given a fair hand over those others who are only good at vomiting out what they’ve read in the textbooks? To be a human being, and to graduate from college, are 2 different aspects, and every institution in India, by the virtue and very nature of it, is responsible for both of them. Undeniably. Thus, the inclusion of this, is something I feel necessary.
Education should be the arsenal of a country. The smart minds it produces, should lead and be led. I’ve said enough, in 2 posts. But, now it’s time for action. And that’s only possible, if each one of you reading this, reaches out to your ‘contacts’ and convinces one person of the need for these reforms and the solutions proposed. Of course, only if you think they are fair.
Until the next post…
P. S.: I may appear biased, forgive me. Use your fair judgement for that part of the post.