Why are you being educated?

To disappoint all those readers who thought its a post by me – it is better than the general book review post. At least read the quoted part. 🙂

Why are you being educated?

By J Krishnamurti

Rating : 4/5( 1 point for reiterated parts in the later chapters)

It was my first peek into J. Krishnamurti’s philosophical ideas and thoughts.
(For those who want to know more about him or want to gain some insight from his work – check http://www.jkrishnamurti.org )
I found them really interesting and enlightening in the educational aspects. I have only read the education part after reading this book. I will later check the other areas also.

About the book – it is a collection of talks which J. krishnamurti gave in various Indian universities during 70s & 80s.
His chief concern is to awaken the students from the fact that the pursuit of knowledge does not liberate man from his fundamental ignorance of himself. While knowledge is indispensable, it also creates the illusion that we have the intelligence to meet  the challenges of life, and this makes us neglect the vast and subtle field of the human psyche.

In my college time also, there were some leaders(thought leaders & political leaders) who gave speeches at seminar. The difference between their speeches & the speeches in this book is vast. It may be the time which has changed or may be the leaders who have drastically changed. Perhaps we as a society have forgotten and ignored such topics on human psyche. That was thought to be of vital importance just a few decades back.(Or may be I was not fortunate to listen to such speakers in college time)

To give you the idea about what is in this book, i will put some of its passages here:

Are you going to waste your life? passing some exam, getting a job, being trained to imitate. That is what you are being taught : to imitate, to conform, to fit into the pattern. And is that the end of life? Then you ask : ‘ What shall we do ? Is there something else ?’ To find something totally different from all this, you have to have a great deal of intelligence. Intelligence is not knowledge. Knowledge gives you capacity, position, status but knowledge is not love, knowledge is not compassion. It is only where there is love and compassion that there is intelligence, and that intelligence of thought. So are you wasting your life ? Nobody can answer that question except yourself. The purpose of life is what you want.

If everybody is second hand, who is first hand ?
( To find out first hand, don’t be second hand )

Is this knowledge, or is it total ignorance, when we cultivate information, when we learn from others what we are and how we should think & what we should think ?

And there are many more questions on which a student can mull on. Though, at present time, when I interact with my friends & family, they still have the same trepidation. Then I wonder should they have asked these questions to themselves by taking some time out of their race for knowledge.

I do ask similar questions from time to time. It keeps me grounded. I would like you also to reflect on them – so please pick up this book, if you can. Or you can check his site and read or listen his speeches from there.

Arigato. 🙂

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[SHSF] Youth in Politics

I read this post[click] from one of the blogger I follow.

As it happens, when the topic of politics and middle-class youth participation comes up – it starts with bringing up the problem first. A student from middle class family cannot make his/her way into political system on his own even if he/she is interested.You may cite examples proving it wrong. However, the problem is not only about bringing middle class or lower class. It is for youth in general. It is about bringing youth closer to politics & politics closer to youth.

It was enough to make me curious. I started thinking about closing this gap with what ever current knowledge I poses.

The posts point was mainly about introducing the youth into Politics through Youth Parliament in metro cities. I would like to know your view(for/against) this point.

I put forth some foolish & naive solutions for it. At that time I was reading the ‘District Development Cell'(trying google – it won’t work. Try reading govt. reports or try the links at the bottom) provisions in our constitution for development initiative. For me – politics is not limited to ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘Price Tag’ anymore. It has expanded to the ‘real’ – ‘ measurable’ – ‘tangible’ development works & initiative. So, if I want to put youth into politics I would prefer this path where they are introduced to the political system through development i.e. through real change. This way their participation can result into some thing tangible even if it is small as a week’s work or a week program.

There was this link I found about ‘Applying to govt. to set up a Entrepreneur Cell’(To Get specific Detail do check the aicte Website and the various respective sections there) in a college. As the two names sound similar with ‘Cell’ & ‘Govt. Grant’ present in them – I thought,

Why can’t student bodies of colleges situated in a district be allowed to open District Development Cell for their respective districts ? Or Why not have a body of students as support/volunteer staff in these District Development Cell??

Just think about its possibility. There are many youth which will be left out but I think it can be one way to initiate them into socio-political work.
I discussed it with one of my friend (who is keenly interested in entering politics). I found that this is not how the ‘District Development Cell’ system works. They can be established only when DMs,Municiple Heads, Panchayat Heads of the district come together & decide to do so. Plus there is already little say of local bodies in such organization. Having student won’t change anything.

I am still skeptical though, having a curious, impatient, interested & energized youth may create new channels of working in such development cell. Further, the important part is to connect the youth with such process.

I didn’t left him after his feedback. I asked him to suggest what are his views to close this gap. (I would like you to suggest some too)

He proposed that to close the gaps students of a college first have to be included in decision making process. They should be active to ask questions to the college authority. They should be able to propose development initiatives required to better the college infrastructure & administration. For example:

Why it took 5lakh to make a speed breaker?
Why there was no open tender to bid for hostel construction?
Can the college put a computerized system for hostel food/canteen management?
Can college have a gender sensitivity program for its teachers & new students?
Will college help the near by slums in solving some of there problems?
How the central funds were spent in two years & in which activities? How they improved the conditions?…(likewise)

Students coming up to ask,suggest & inquire the college administration. As college are a small reflection of the society outside, so if individuals are active in ‘positive’ college politics then they may do so outside college. One may say that same happens in colleges. But I said earlier it was not about ‘Game of Thrones’ or only being a student representative bodies. No.

What I mean by these is that – we don’t want representative participation in college. We want individuals in college to participate in politics. Representation never works if individuals don’t have any spine to ask the authority. And I prefer if students participate in changing their college first & then their district and then head for the country politics. At present, Students do come out in protest & demand actions from the govt.How I see it is like, student protest for college politics or national politics. What about district??

To conclude it, I say if the ‘District Development Cell’ idea doesn’t work only because it is not allowed in current system – Why not create a new system which enable to do so or better modify the current one.

It is a very naive opinion/proposal. Nevertheless, I consider it to be a worthy idea to be considered. There are some obvious weak points which I am proposing like slowing down the administration, useless bickering of students over small issues, disruption in curriculum & studies(which is main focus of college), focusing students being too much active in political actions. Still, being a ‘Rational Optimist’ – I think these flaws can be overcome by little improvements with each passing year. Our constitution is such an amazing organic document, so why can’t we make such organic politico-development cells for participation of Youth.

I found this idea really interesting. So I will keep it in my mind & contemplate over it. Because I know that my understanding of the actual system is limited by my limited exposure of Indian Political structure. Our media is useless in enlightening common people like me about it. I hope the temples of education can help put some light on it – to kindle the fire into hearts of the youth.

Arigato 🙂

Few links of District Development Cells :
http://nadia.nic.in/District_Rural_Development_Cel/district_rural_development_cel.html
http://ddinajpur.nic.in/Departments/District_Rural_Development_Cel/district_rural_development_cel.html
http://coochbehar.nic.in/htmfiles/DRDC_scheme.html

Pocket Diary -15

I was writing something, so mind is still active. I will write this fast post from my pocket diary.Today it’s on India & writing.

Tagore, ” The problem is not how to wipe out the difference but how to unite with the differences intact.”

I rarely find people, with exception of Bongalis’,who defend or like the Tagore’s thoughts on development. I connect more to Tagore & Gandhi on their ideologies on development of lowest strata of India. I don’t accept everything on their face rather judge them with skepticism.  And as Tagore said – the problem is to unite with difference intact. Do you know, Tagore & Gandhi’s ideas were different from each-other & they used to differ on most of the issues. However, this quote is related to the ‘unity in diversity’ characteristic of Indian Union. Also, this is what in contemporary management they are calling as win-win dealings (I can see similar patterns).

Gandhi,” A society that has no vision for the education of children & youth & is not prepared for the same, is doomed to die.”

The organic growth & development of society is one of the most peculiar part of Gandhian ideology. And I am interested in the organic growth of similar nature alongside with the new technology & innovations, we are discovering day-after-day. Acc. to me, Education is the core of the whole system. If you can develop a culture, an ecosystem of learning which keeps on changing & evolving with time & includes everyone – changing the society will be little easier. I know it’s easy to say that but hard to do. But you know what, I have got a life ahead of me,with my cognitive faculties working fine I will try to create such education core.(even if in a small village or town)

R. B. Austin,” I write because I have no other choice.”

Somebody(sorry I forgot your name & too lazy to check 😦 ) replied with this quote when I asked for ‘Why do you write?’ in one of my earlier posts. It was for the #amwriting series.
With so many people not involved in writing anything – they have many other choices.Even I have, but I choose to write. 🙂

Steven Pressfield, ” As writers, we’re always searching for Real.
Real, we believe, is powerful. Real is authentic. Real is true.
In fact, Real is boring. Real is tedious. Real is hell.
What we want is the simulacrum of Real.
The illusion of Real. We want artificially real.”

Steven Pressfield is like Seth Godin for me, in field of writing. His suggestion speaks to me. My interests are of contradictory nature. On one side, I want to read more and more of ‘reality’ and on the other side, I want to imagine the ‘unreal-creative-islands’. The quote itself creates opposing forces in my mind regarding writing anything. How about you?

Arigato 🙂

History of the World

Here is another short review of a text-book

History of the World : From late Nineteenth to the Early Twenty-First Century

By Arjun Dev & Indira Arjun Dev

Rating: 4/5

Camera 360

Arjun Dev is the author of NCERT textbooks on World History. This book is meant for undergraduate students of history & for international relations. Since the changes in UPSC mains syllabus – this one has become an essential on your table. Actually, I should have gone for the XI class school textbook but decided to get this one. They both are exactly same, there may be minor differences only.

About this textbook, its characterized by what any NCERT textbook are like – lucid,succinct and comprehensive. Its a power pack for learning world history. It starts with introduction to Pre-World War I scenario of the World. Then moves on to the events comprising the WWI. Then the next part describes the changes in world before the WWII begins. After that, the WWII description is followed by after WWII situation of the world.

The book first provides the introduction to the main incident & the reasons behind it. Then it goes on to explain the economic,social & political issues which led to the War. Also the condition of people & the economy during that period. Each European nation is given space explaining the condition of govt, people & workers there. Even Latin American countries exploitation along with Asian & African colonial rule has been showed light on.

The History extends till as recently as 2003 Iraq War by America. Though , in case of India it has stopped at the Non-Alignment Stance. I wished the recent changes in foreign policy should have been included in the text.

Well, it’s a must read book for UPSC examine-es.However, It do not covers the pre-WWI major events like French Revolution,American Independence,Inductrial Revolution…e.t.c. For them I would recommend reading Jain & Mathur‘s World History – It is complete as per UPSC new syllabus on World history. And if you want to have a short & succinct view of World History – pick it up. It will hardly take 2-3days. Although, this book is already in Class XI curriculum of CBSE based schools – you can get it from them also. 😉

Arigato 🙂

P.S – Lately,I have been posting only book-reviews. I am not getting much time to mull over my thoughts & put them into writing. I want to refine them before posting it here.  I am busy finishing one book after other, & trying to squeeze novels in-between. I think I am spreading myself thin.

 

False Sense

[ NOTE– after writing this post I felt I have just stated the obvious inferences & only tread knee deep into the matter. Therefore, this post is categorized as a RANT, read at your own will ]

 

Preparing for UPSC made me aware of the huge mechanisms & complexities that go into strategising for the public welfare. I held the planning of schemes, for a country as diverse & vast as ours, to be a shining example of quality work. Though appraising it doesn’t ,mean I never criticized the implementation part. Still, I am awed by the planning part itself & would wait for the ground work experience to see clearly the implementation part. The words & sentences phrased inside those plans made them a titillating scholarly work for me.

This false sense (which I knew was false) was broken recently because of a conversation with a friend of mine. She also praised the scheme plans but pointed out that the words used are just ambiguous. They don’t tell you anything concrete. What’s happening or what will actually happen. I argued back that it is for good because it leaves space for the zealot bureaucrats to expand on & use creative/innovative methods to achieve the goals. Added that it also leaves space for corrupt & sluggish ones also. My point was that it depends on the character of the executive & the awareness of the masses. This was all agreed to.

However, since that talk – I have been vigil on the words being used in the plans/schemes/reports. To my disillusion, they are really ambiguous not even in meaning but even in the value they create. From the document about Achievements of SSA:-

3,02,872 new schools opened;2,42,608 school building constructed; 10.30 lakh teachers appointed; improve access to 99% of primary level…e.t.c.(check it on ministry site if you want to)

Well, they do feel great to look upon. After all we even lack the infrastructure for the education. Although, I didn’t noticed any data on learning enhancements  being achieved,the knowledge level of teachers trained e.t.c.Even it said that 99% access to primary education but not 99% utilization of the same. In short, I only saw the quantitative data not the qualitative one. The qualitative ones are like the PAISA release & other such reports from NGOs.

It was like we have 1000 acre land supporting 100 people without any infrastructure and human-development. And then we tell people that we built infra on the 80% land including schools,housing,industry & others. There can be two possibilities after this. One, the whole infra is under-utilized because the occupants are not aware about there use. Second, it attracts more people than its capacity & leave everyone with lower than provided quality of services.Like infrastructure was made for 200 inhabitants but is being occupied by 600 of them – making available 1/6th of the service quality.I see the first scene played for the rural & SME sectors of govt. schemes. And the second one being played in the rest. Nonetheless, corruption is present in both the case. To make the matter even more complex the distribution is never equal(how can it be!!) ,thus, creating inequalities between already unequal sections.

Why I have been stating the obvious? It helps me clarify the conditions we are living in and also helps out vent out my frustration with the under-effective executives & uncompromising-selfish masses. All the above rant was only to understand the stupefying complexities of the system in a general sense. Unless the problem is not understood or is not identified, how can the solution be arrived at.

All the above brooding led me to some thoughts though,like – the present PPP model allows the quantity obsessed govt. to work hand in hand with the quality concerned private players(read NGOs). These private players may even help further in implementing the ambitious programmes through their focus on the regional disparities & local solutions within the reach.

I will stop now or my thoughts will roll-on to the other complexities of PPP model like monopolistic tendencies of Big corporate, apathetic action towards the natives, private sector corruption…

Thanks for letting me share this rant with you.

Arigato  🙂

P.S – I think coming posts will be rants only as I am studying for the exam which is only 30days away.May be I will not write any posts at all.

Single Exam Brouhaha

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Note: Long post, read at your own leisure.

There has already been so much comments & opinions on the proposed merger of admission test for all engineering colleges including IITs, NITs & other institutes. There is discussion of dilution of standards or IITs; degrading the brand of IIT; incomparable marking schemes of different board exams and many other assumed & sought for problems. I don’t want to comment on the standards or IIT per se, but on the recent trends of merging of examination systems for engineering, medical,  mba & other exams.

Last year only I was having discussion with my friends & my father that this govt. just wants to standardize the college admission process on the line of global trends i.e. like SAT score. I think the finally in India also we will be using SAT, might be with some other name. The most appalling motive I feel is that govt. wants foreign university opening branches in India or their funds for education sector. On first thought it looks great, Oxford India, MIT India e.t.c. We cannot provide even primary education for all, but want everyone to have an option of global university. Is there an assumption that all those who go to college are rich & have the luxury to spend huge amounts for a mere graduation or post-graduation. There are so many sub-standard colleges in our country which are running below their quotas & being run like corporate houses. Too much mud-slinging on the influx of foreign education institutions in India, let me get to the point of single base exam system.

Kudos to the institutes & authorities on easing the pressure on students by unifying the various entrance exams. Now, they just need to give full into one single exam. Uncertainty factor will lessen down as one will know which college he is eligible for. No college will exploit the students by declaring the date of admission just before some other exam results are out. Students will focus more on school activities as major part will be dependent on the board papers & ones personality will be judged by the extracurricular or exceptional work done by the student. Although It is sought that students will not take coaching but on the contrary they are going to enrol more into them. This effect can be bought if the exam level is very low or like school level, then also for the increased competition level they will surely join them. I mainly wanted to highlight the negative side of the reformed system. So here it goes.

This  step just infuriates me, possibly because this opportunity was not with me. However, howsoever pressure multi exam puts on a student, everyone will agree that it gave multiple opportunities to score & get a good college. One might mess up one exam but he will have other exams to try again in next exam. This might become better with new system but still I would prefer a multiple chance then a single-shot game. Anything can happen in an exam.

Second, it just goes away from the core competency of Indian students to perform in pressure situations & handle many fronts at a time & also much tougher and varying exam patterns than global exams.

Thirdly, it present the problem of measuring everyone with a single scale. Judging by the ability of a cat to fly, a fish to run & a bird to swim is ridiculous. All the nerds are at loss. Now school performance & extra-curricular activities will matter. You can’t say I am a fish, I can’t walk on the land – you have to become an amphibian now.

Hope you get the metaphors of the top & bottom fruit basket pictures.

Fourth, It doesn’t stops the propagation of sub-standard colleges, nor does it promises a quality education for all. Fifth, this type of steps in India should have taken when there would be similar standard institutes. Even between IITs & NITs there is considerable difference in facilities, quality of education & research work. The pvt. Institutes are in there own world it seems. With all this systems in place & one would get seats in pvt. Institutes by taking loans. Yeah! congratz to all the students who would get into the debt cycle before starting their job. I think if students suicide lowers down then we’ll see increase in working class suicides.

All this came out because of strong feelings for the education sector in India. More things are on negative fronts, but let’s see we might get better & shining education system Just wait & watch.

P.S – I totally support the unified JEE. After all for what should they have a Brand? Are they education institutes or products? What do they actually do for the grass roots of the country?

One more thing, I expect there will be huge black money inflow or scams in education sector with more reforms in the future.

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Pocket Diary – 7

Here is what i have noted in my 2nd pocket diary or copied from somewhere.

Quotes:

Earl Nightingale: “A success is anyone who is realizing a worthy predetermined ideal, because that’s what he or she decided to do…deliberately.”

Noam Chomsky: “Education is a vital weapon of a people striving for economic emancipation, political independence & cultural renascence.A truly emancipating & democratic educational system could only emerge from a broad-based people’s movement that was dedicated to the needs of its people & expressive of their aspiration”

I found both the quotes having depth & again went into contemplating them.I also noted some ideas for my concept drawings but i think i am kept at bay from the digital work by the resistance.For reading, i have noted two books by Seth Godin viz. “Purple Cow” & “Tribes“.But i don’t want to buy them….trying to get my hands on some e-copy of it.Right now i am reading “Thinking Fast & Slow” by Kahneman.Its on Behavior Economics rights from the creation of the subject till recent findings.It’s sort of a Text-Book but written in an interesting manner – a layman Bible for Behavior Economics.

I wanted to write my thoughts which i noted in the diary, however i think an elaborate post of each thought would be better.Also i had some foolish ideas – more on that later.

Gracias ! Buena Noches!