Category Archives: Not Just The Talks.

It’s Your Turn Now.

It has been almost 3 months since my last post. And a lot has happened since. But today, I write this post for a reason. Because today, it’s my turn.

I came across this initiative (by someone who I don’t know personally) called Your Turn Now (referred to as YTN hereon) less than 3 hours ago, and here I am, writing a post promoting the same.

Each and everyday, we come across hundreds of people, have conversations with may be a fifty, and are thankful to almost a dozen. Similarly, there are many who are thankful to us, for something or the other, day in and day out.

What do we do to them, except say a ‘Thank you’? How do we express the gratitude in our hearts?

The gratitude is the goodwill we have. The goodwill someone else has for our actions. And YTN is an effort to spread that goodwill.

You don’t have to pay a penny. You just have to spread smiles, and these cards. What cards, you ask?


This is a 2-sided, visiting card style card which you pass on to someone who says ‘Thank you’ to you, for your goodwill, requesting them to do the same. The colours haven’t been reproduced as well as I would like on my scanner, but, they’re good cards. Not cheap quality, printing paper-style cards. Real, durable cards.

And the best part, these cards are available for free.

This is a start. A start to live in a better society, to live in a world where thanking someone isn’t a ritual, but, a happy and graceful choice. Why not take part in an initiative someone else is willing to pay for, just for those smiles, just for the sake of a happier society?

I am going to begin spreading these tomorrow onwards (I got a pack of 5 cards before 3 hours when I came to know about this effort). If you think it makes some sense, get them, spread them.

Until the next post…


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.

Education & India: Part 1 of 2

Cross-posted from Not Just The Talks.

I’m a student and I have problems with the education that issupposedly ‘imparted’ to me. That’s where this post begins from andthat’s also where the part 2 of this post will end.

There’s a reason I chose ‘Education “&” India’ instead of whatshould have been ‘Education “in” India’. It being the same reason thatwe can’t and don’t produce enough talent, educated talent. There is noeducation in India. It’s a myth. And whatever is, is the word education& its association with India. Thus, the title.
I remember my kindergarten and primary school days. Everyday, I usedto be more than eager to attend school. Not because of my friends,teachers or to study. (Or may be it was one of them, I was too littlethen to remember anything about it now.) One of the reasons being, likemost others of my age, who were in other schools from mine, I didn’thave the worry of appearing in exams and performing poorly, at an agewhen I barely even understood what ‘competition’ meant.
Having come a good 8-10 years since that point, having come throughsecondary school, junior college and studying in an engineering collegetoday, most the facts, myths and so-called-beliefs about education inIndia, are busted to me, and these are undeniable (of course, a fewexceptions).
  1. Education is a business. A business, like none other. And a bountiful one, for that matter.
  2. The quality of education, depends on the fees of the school or college you are in, nothing else.
  3. There’s nothing really to ‘learn’ or ‘understand’. You rote, mug up, puke it out in your exam papers, get the marks, go to a goodcollege/university, repeat the previous steps, get a job.
  4. You don’t have a heart. You don’t have a life. You have just competition to face. And that too, a fierce one.
  5. You may lose your admission to someone less deserving, but from abackward class. So, if you’re a student from the general category, you have to hate those who are not.
These are the things that are understood, told to, perceived, andaccepted by everyone who is a student in any part of India right now(Please don’t shower me with exceptions right now, please?). The pointis, everything that I’ve said above, is just the gist of the things Ihave understood in the last few years.
We make robots, not students or humans, in packs of thousands andthousands. Those who compete for every mark they can get, in every examthey ever give. We can’t think out of the box because our educationcripples us to think in one line. Every time we think outside thoseboundaries, we are losing out on our marks, our parents are on our backs to score, and then we’re back on track to the end of the manufacturingline, till the end, again.
And then we’re proud in saying that NASA, Intel, Microsoft, Google,doctors in USA, etc. are Indians. Ivy League colleges have Indian deans. Heads of MNCs are Indians. Did they study in India? And did they eversay that solely their study in India made them their life in USA? Or any country of the world, for that matter? Why do educated (and/0r) wealthy Indians send their children abroad for studies?
Simple.
We all, each one of us who is alive in this country, knows that theeducation system of the country is something we are not and can’t beproud of. And if we are, we are just fooling ourselves, truly.
And, no matter how much we talk about changing it, it’s not changing. Just not.
They say, Bollywood does what anything else can’t. For the latest,polio was eradicated completely after Amitabh Bachchan’s ‘Do BoondZindagi Ke’ campaign (applauds), and there are numerous other exampleswhich each one of us knows about. In fact, the reason India changes, iswhen Bollywood calls it to. And even after having our eyes soar ofcrying while watching ‘Taare Zameen Par’ and laughing till our stomachhurts, while watching ’3 Idiots’, we didn’t particularly learn anythingfrom either.
Or may be we did, but did we apply it to our lives? We are happy andwhen we’re out of the theatres, that’s it? There goes our desire tostudy and make our children study (for those who are, or will beparents) in a better and more sensible environment?! Just like that?
Well, for anyone else it may. For me, it doesn’t. For Not Just TheTalks., it doesn’t. I’m tired, really tired of not doing anything. And I am going to. From now, and I will keep doing, for everything that I say on this blog that I will.
In this 2 part blogpost, I’m going to cover a few things that are myreal concern with the education system in India. In part 1, I will talkabout the over-all situation of education in India (a lot of which Ialready did) and then about the school-specific problems and reforms Ithink are the need-of-the-hour. In part 2, it will be a broad go fromcolleges (junior, graduate and PG) to reservation.
Also, I had designed what ‘My Dream School’ should/would be like,describing it with every minute detail, 2 years ago. I will put that upon my personal blog, after these 2 posts.
And so, to part 1…
The first thing that we need to bust, for every entrepreneur,coaching class owners and teachers and politician who enters theeducation sector with a view to exploit, earn, and be seen noble. Well,it is not a diamond-mine, you retards. We’re humans, children. Innocent, delicate, culpable, and we’re impressionable.
But, at the same time, we are not stupid, mindless or unaware to not see what you do! Enough said.
It hurts to see such things happen, mostly in colleges, and I’ll talk about it in detail in my next post.
Then comes my other major concern, the quality and techniques ofeducation. They say, those who fail at everything else, teach in India.Seems pretty true with the quality of teachers I have seen in mypost-school life (even in coaching classes). Techniques, well, rotelearning never had me backing it. I always was the guy who understoodevery concept and wrote them down in his words. Still am. And willalways be. But, I think over such theoretical studies (which isprimitive and the portion is worn out, not in-sync with the currentscenario of the world), practical knowledge, applications, logic, andpromoting these, should be emphasized.
We live in a digital world. I know that digitization hasn’tpenetrated so deep in the Indian cities yet (let alone villages), but,using technology and internet to our benefits, is the only way forward.Not being slaves to them, but, making them our media to communicate andease our lives, yes. I would want to say do away with paper stationarycompletely and go digital! But, that’d be utopian and nonsensical.Reducing it, by a major, would do the trick to begin with.
Next up, the competition we are faced with. The forceful studying.Why should I study physics when I know I don’t want to be a physicist or even an engineer? What if I know I want to go medical? Or musician,actor, director, author, archeologist, sportsperson? Who deserves tomake that choice if not me? Of what I do with my life? And that’s whatwe need. The ability to choose our lives, through what we are good at, over what we can force ourselves to be good at.
Coming to the last part of this post. Schools.
Kindergarten. The most expensive and weird business I have observed.Utterly unnecessary expenditures. People coughing up sums of money toget their kids into some XYZ K.G. where he/she’s just gonna play?!Interviews of a 4-year kid for giving him/her admission? I think that’sthe lowest our society can (and more so I hope, should) fall to.
Well, I think where I studied, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan Vidyalaya, hasleft pretty good an impression on me about the no-exams-till-sixth-grade thing. Let your children enjoy life till they are 10 or 11, parents!Let them play, laugh, dance, sing, and be happy. Why burden them withstudies till then? Why bombard them with the pressure to score?
Although, at the same time, teaching them their very well basics and building their blocks, for the future.
Marks for everything co- and extra-curricular. You have the right toget recognition for something exceptional that you do in the fieldswhich are not related to academics in any way. But, they’re still veryimportant. You have that right. And that should be given to us. Thatdevelops a student, in all the aspects of his personality, and not justas a popping parrot who would answer your questions, in the words of the text-books.
That’s pretty much it for now… Part 2 is gonna be much more hard-hitting and intense, I promise.
Till then, adios!
Update (02-04-2012): The part 2 of this post is up here.

It’s not just India. It’s the world. KONY 2012.

Cross-posted from Not Just The Talks.

As Indians, we know how it is like to live in a diverse country. And thus, it’s easier for us to multiply those daily culturally different experiences by 7 so that we can somewhat figure out what the situation of the 7 billion people alive in the world we live in, and their diversity, is. Or, may be we can’t imagine.
Africa. The first thing that comes to our minds (all of our minds) when the name of this continent strikes, is that it is a third-world continent. Not a country, a continent. We have come to generalize Africa as a third world continent, as almost all of its countries are such.
Having said that, the second thing that pops into my mind (not sure about anyone else) is the way the people live over there. Since the advent of imperialism, the African people have suffered to the hands of their European, American, Australian and Asian colonizers. And wars (inter-country and intra-country both), have always been existent in the whole continent for power, control and most of all, resources.
Coal, mineral oil, silver, gold, diamond. Every single time, the same old story. No difference. Some random army guy with a lust for power and money, turns a rebel. Kills people without a reason, kidnaps kids from villages and tribes. Turns guys into his soldier and girls into sex workers. Millions are killed, everytime a civilian war has begun in the continent. Every (literally) bloody single time.
Movies like Blood Diamond, Hotel Rwanda, The Last King Of Scotland, among others, have shown us what the situation of the people there is, truly. And, those blood-smeared faces and bodies, those sad-but-hopeful eyes, those acts of cruelty, everything, is something I can’t forget.
One thing that has been common, in all these movies is that they depicted a phase of revolution, instability that was. Not existent in the current world scenario. But, it always frightens me, what if it was real, even today? And well, we know for sure, it is. Just that we want to close our eyes to it.
Now comes the sad part. The world doesn’t even know, most of the times. We see a 2-minute coverage of such situations in our daily prime-time news, every once in a while, we get sad, we speak foul about the people doing it, and then we’re back to doing what we were doing. That’s it! That’s all we have done all along.
Not anymore. Not anymore for at least me or the other bloggers posting for NJTT.
KONY 2012
KONY 2012
Enough is enough, and this carnage has to stop.
 

I saw this video a few days ago, and then sent a personal message to 50 of my Facebook friends (the most influential of the lot), to share it, as much as they could. And truly, I’m saddened by the lack of response. I posted it myself on multiple groups, pages, etc. And there has none or barely any activity. Right now, I hope that changes.
So, what is KONY 2012? What the freaking hell is this all about?
Joseph Kony is a thug, simply said. Grown into power in one such struggles (as described earlier), he is a military dictator who has done many a wrong-doings that he deserves to be punished for. He holds the 1st spot (much above Saddam Hussain, bin Laden and others) in the world’s top criminals list (since the first edition of the list), let out by International Criminal Court, for his crimes in Uganda and has never been caught, till date. Till date.
That’s the important part. And that’s what you must watch the video for. To find out how to get through this ’till date’ part. It is a long video (30 minutes). But trust me, it’ll be a well spent 30 minutes of your life.
‘Not Just The Talks.’ began as a platform to speak and bring about change within India, and for the people of this country. But, we at NJTT feel that if any such movement needs our support, we won’t shy for it. It’s for the humanity, for our brothers and sisters, the world over. And thus, today, I myself, Pratik and Raj, support this cause fully and will do as the video demands, when it demands. Kony has to be brought to justice, and we hope he will be, too.
Make sure you watch the video, I repeat, for the nth time probably.
As the little girl says before Michael Jackson’s ‘Heal The World’ song, ‘I think about the generations, and they say they want to make it a better place for our children and our children’s children. So that they they they know it’s a better world for them and I think they can make it a better place.’
So can we.
Let’s make this world a better place.
Peace.
(Before posting this, I have read a few articles that talk against this whole movement like this and this. But, I also have read, and would want you to read this before raising any fingers against this movement. We support it, we absolutely don’t endorse it.)

Women, Vowed to be Woed.

Cross-posted from Not Just The Talks.
Disclaimer: As the author of this post, I personally recommend only those who are aged 16+ (an adult according to many republics around the globe) to go ahead with reading this post. Others, a sincere request, don’t read it right now at least. Please abide by this request. And as always, this is just a point of view, solely my own.
All those who have been regular readers of my posts for Not Just The Talks., would wonder why this post. Those who aren’t, this part is for you. I had said in my previous post that the first topic I talk about will be ineducation.
But, here I am today, posting about the Social Evils, the topic I was planning to write about the last. Reason? Events occurring in and around my life that pushed me to the limit of acceptability of things happening the way they are, have been, but, will not.
It’s a fact that the life of women is hard. Like, really hard. And then there’s another fact. No man will ever acknowledge that her life is harder than his. If you ask me, I would say that the man who cannot acknowledge this, is a male chauvinist coward.
Having said that, the life of a baby girl forming as a foetus in a mother’s body, her being born, her teenage, her adulthood, her life in complete, flashes in front of my eyes. And over it all, the problems she faces in all those (mind you, much more than what a guy would phase in one particular phase) seem to occupy my mind. From being abandoned even before being born, to being burnt alive. From not getting the support of her family when she needs it, to having to give up her dreams just because she has to ‘run a home’. From being pushed into a marriage as soon as she completes 18 or graduation (luckily that!) to being divorced for not being a virgin. That’s the life we Indians are known to give the women whom we promise to treat as equals! That’s our tradition!
In this post, I think I’ll stick to going from phase to phase, starting at the youngest.
1) The Innocent Infant:
A few months ago, I read a Mumbai Mirror report (sorry, don’t have the link) of some particular kind of sonography machines being seized from clinics across Mumbai. Now I’m no expert in medical equipment (thus the inability to name the instrument), but I know for one, that it was the machine which could help parents recognize the gender of their baby, even before it is born. They’re not allowed to be used in India, as per the law of the country.
The reason? Female foeticide. The abortion of a foetus, in the process of its development, because it is recognized to be a girl. I remember reading a report in TOI a few years ago of a massive unearthing of female foetuses found dumped in Noida.
And I’m not afraid to say that the reason this happens is the Indian culture, the heritage we are so a part of.
It is a social stigma (or so they say) since ages, for a girl to be born in a family. She brings bad luck, she’s a curse, etc., etc. I’m pretty sure I don’t need to say more, everyone of us knows the various pronouncements of it. And that is, not just in rural India, but even in the urban, so-called civilized India. Similarly, that is not just in the lower strata of the Indian society, but equally deep-rooted in the higher, economically ahead families.
My take: Sex determination instruments, should be allowed, lawfully. The parents of the child have the right to know what gender their offspring is going to be!
Yes, knowing that the ‘tradition’, ‘culture’, and the orthodox India that we live in, will then promise to thereby reduce the female population furthermore. But, is this the solution?
The deep-rooted misconceptions, the evils that make us inhumane have to be rooted out. And there is considerable progress in this direction, which I won’t fail to accept. But, there’s an even more considerable lot that remains to be done. That change can be brought about by us, the youth, in our actions and thoughts. That’s what I’m talking about.
2) The Growing-up Stage (if you’re 16, I’m pretty sure you know what I mean to say):
Puberty. The phase where a girl becomes a woman (over-rated, I believe).
Just a few days back I heard of a girl not getting to perform some specific ritual in her own brother’s wedding, just because she would ‘probably’ be on her monthly cycle. The particular incident reminded me of what I have seen, heard, read in all these years. Women not allowed in temples, in ceremonies, in festivals, etc. is not just a popular myth, but a fact that is of the worst and most illogical of them all.
The times when they need support of their families, those trying times, they being treated by their families like they are a mistake to be born as girls, in the name of rituals and religion, is the worst thing that can happen to her. For Christ’s sake, those monthly periods are the reason she gets to be a mother at some stage of her life!
My take: Women, girls, stand up for what your rights are. Take a stand. Don’t let the compact-minded, orthodox elders determine what you get to do and what you don’t. To guys, support those girls who stand up for this. They need you to be there for her.
Enough said.
3) Ambitions in vain:
I’ve seen this too much to be true. Fought for it, till I won. And I will, all my bloody life!
Having to forgo what they want to do with their lives, what they want to become, just because the life they want to pursue asks of them long working schedules, so that they can manage their homes as well as they are supposed to, so that they can serve their in-laws, and what not… It makes me want to die in hell, every time I hear something like this. What kind of a society, what kind of a country do we live in? Seriously this?
My take: No one, forget the gender he/she/it is, should ever have to let go of their dreams, ambitions, or the professions they want to see themselves in, just because of such stupid inhibitions of the third-world country that ours was.
4) Born to Marry:
It seems so to me, and aptly I assume, that women are born to marry. They are married the first thing they qualify as per the law (sometimes even before) or they complete their basic graduations. No questions asked, no wishes heard, tears falling to deaf ears.
What if the girl doesn’t want to marry at such a tender age? What if she wants to work? What if she wants to go for a job? ‘Nope. Nothing doing. You’re a girl. What will the society say if there’s a spinster of your age about us? Think about the image of your parents, grandparents…’ And it all goes on and on… Finally, the girl gives up her own dreams, desires and compromises to live the life her family expects her to live.
My take: The age when anyone (not specifically a girl) should marry, is when they feel they’re both physically, mentally and economically mature to sustain their ownselves and their families. And that, is their personal choice, not something that parents or other elders, should have a say in. It’s not a number game, it’s how psychologically prepared you are to take the responsibility of living a life linked to another human being, in any and every way.
5) Cook, Serve, Starve:
Yes, the post-marital life.
The secondary member of the family. The person who should make sure food is available at the times demanded. The person who should keep the house clean. The person who has to make sure the clothes are well washed, dried and ironed. The person who has to keep the home full of supplies necessary.
Oh, these are not the tasks of different servants! This is what an ‘Indian bahu’ is expected to do and be.
My take: Common! You really expect me to say anything here? (And by the way, getting a different servant for everything is not the solution!)
6) A body that’s never hers:
It’s usual for a girl to have snide comments passed on her, to be an object of visual abuse, to be made fun of in every possible and cheap way. That’s something she has to be fine with, completely.
Everyday, everyday, every bloody day, there’s at least one news report of a 
girl being raped somewhere. Just yesterday, I saw the account of a girl on TimesNow who was raped at gunpoint. I had read in TOI that according to the number of cases of rape, filed every year, there was a rape occurring in the country every 4 minutes. And that’s the rapes whose reports are filed with the police!
I can’t believe how horny men are and can be. Seriously. And these are the same men, who will then divorce their wives because they didn’t qualify the virgin test (I can’t be more blunt, sorry).
I can’t imagine the trauma the girl who is expected to live a life of normalcy after she is forced into a sexual encounter. I just can’t imagine.
My take: This is not just a problem in India, but over the world. All I can say is, not every guy is a jerk. Women must know to protect themselves from jerks. They’re everywhere, sadly. (I loathe myself for being unable to provide a sane solution for this, trust me.)
This brings me to the conclusion of this post. There’s a lot more that each one of us knows about, and many of you would’ve probably even expected me to write about. But, writing or not writing about it. The thoughts we have, the feelings we feel, the actions we take, make the change. That’s the reality. And that’s the only reality.
I’m disappointed in the women of this country for bearing everything that has been happening to them over generations, and them not standing up for it. I’m disappointed in the men of this nation, for not standing up for their wives, sisters, daughters. I’m disappointed in the culture of this country, and the Gods of this diverse country, if this is what they’ve preached and that’s what we follow. I’m disappointed in the respected Constitution of India, for not being able to bring the change and wipe of the socially backwardness of our country. I am. But, I also add that it’s never too late.
But, I am hopeful, too.
We live in a democratic, free country. A country where everyone is promised to  be treated equally with the rights they are conferred upon. And that’s what I will fight for. That’s what I want you to fight for.
And I know that we are making progress even as I write this. I know that we would have made progress even in the time from when I type this to when you read it. That’s because we are not alone. There are thousand, probably millions others, who think the same way that I and you do (I know you think alike me because you’ve read 1900 words of this extensively long post so far).
Yes, right now, to the moment, I feel that women, are vowed to be woed, by virtue of them being the feminine kind of the human race. And yes, I hope that changes by the time I make my way to hell…
I’m sorry if I have hurt the sentiments of a particular section of the society, or any person in particular. I didn’t mean to.
Signing off… Until the next post… Peace.
Note: To all those who know me personally, I hope this post doesn’t change the relationship we share, in anyway.