Thursday, May 29, 2014

Kaunsi Degree Hai ?

More than a year ago, my household help, "S." ( who has to-date been the subject of many blog posts ), came to me and requested me to write a letter for her.

Not that her family could not write. But she thought, that since it pertained to a facility on our campus,  I would be able to state the facts better in the application, and also introduce her and her family. 

She herself is classified as illiterate, but is one of the most naturally educated ladies I know.  With a Ph.D in Common Sense. Summa Cum Laude or whatever  they say in Latin.

She struggled and succeeded in educating her own kids, in municipal schools, singlehandedly , upto class X.   She has  a daughter in law who is a class XII graduate. The adults all work.  And she was now literally mobilising ideas and resources to educate her grand kids, 2 of whom stayed with her.

Resources, because the eldest grand kid was already in school, the family having taken a loan of 15 thousand, to pay for his admission, necessities, tuitions, et al. In the local English medium school.   Now it was time for the sibling to start school, and It was possible, that they could apply under RTE to our school on our campus, which was also an English medium school, but much cheaper. Both kids could apply there, and they would be set till Junior college.  

I wrote a letter for her, and they found out that they had just missed the deadline for admissions under RTE, for the local campus school, and would now have to apply after a year.

This year, I asked and reminded her about the RTE and the admissions. And was surprised to hear, that the family decided that the second kid would also go to the same school as the elder kid, expensive fees and all.

Which brings to light the sad uninspiring state of primary education in India.

The appointment of Smruti Irani as Minister for HRD has  so many baying from the rooftops about the absence of a degree in her CV.   Scratch a sleeping person and say the word "Education" and he will respond back on auto-reply  with the word "degree".

Yet, up to now, education has always meant more IIT's,  IIM's, and assorted colleges.  Assorted officially appointed highly qualified  folks with several degrees around their necks, officially disburse crores for education.  Schemes named  after politicians of yore are announced , and assorted ads show up on television.  Newspapers get into tangles reporting of profiles of students applying for premier institutes, and the cutoffs for various categories, of students as well as streams of learning.

In the meanwhile, spurious education institutes spring up out of nothing, with studied non-monitoring from those that should monitor.  They function out of single rooms, and basically sell qualifications.  The government, puts out  a list once in a while  listing these  institutes, but does nothing to shut them down. 

Education , is now a successful business proposition, thanks to the obsession of the public, and the demand , for "degrees" ...

Primary education, has always been about putting up buildings in rural areas,  without associated infrastructure, absence of maintenance,  lack of facilities , lack of teachers, and basically  no followup. Allocate the money , show it in the annual report, and your work is done.  You celebrate the girl child, but you cannot ensure sanitary set ups in schools for use by the girls, who often drop out as teenage approaches. Whatever success there has been so far, has been solely due to some dedicated folks who continue to slog in schools, despite the material shortcomings, transfers of school teachers due to ego clashes, and in the face of  political lack of will , electoral politics and so on.

Can this government put a moratorium for , say five years, on the creation of more engineering and medical colleges ?  Can this government study and analyse, why the government should be involved in things like fashion design ?  Can this government dedicate the next 5 years, to improving primary education in India, in a holistic way, where it extends beyond decrepit leaky unmaintained buildings with stolen plumbing and unsanitary surroundings ?  Can this government overhaul and decentralize the mid-day meal schemes to involve the mothers of children in the decision making process and the entire operating procedures? 

Maybe we have forgotten, that mothers never go to school or college to learn how to mother .  They learn on the job, with the help of family, and sometimes despite and without them. 

As it happened in the case of "S."  who was abandoned by her husband  and left to bring up 4 small kids , all by herself.  30 years down the line, she is still asked to provide the "caste" certificate of her non existent husband,  for being part of any government scheme, be it education, health or housing. That she has her own certificate, simply never counts. They do not accept it.  

I think Smruti Irani will be good for the post for which she is appointed. I have heard her talk.  She has mentioned  initiating an involvement of parents in the education process. It is now time to give a chance to someone who is unburdened by the weight of hefty degrees round her neck.

We are always so fond of spouting sayings like " Teach a fellow something , he will improve himself; but teach a mother something, and she will help bring up the family in the world....."

This is so true.

In reality, they will teach, the mother will learn, but at the end of the day, she will be asked , "Kaunsi degree hai ?"......

Time to change .   




Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Jab We Met .....

I've often felt, to the complete consternation of some folks who think I need a checkup, that, as a society beset with problems, there is a lot the human body can teach us ,  on how to handle them.

I also have a possibly outrageous notion, that all our body organs can think.  I know they say that there is a brain facility in the stomach/intestine system.  Maybe they will find the others later. 

A furious little boy, eyes full, coming home from school, kicking every stone in his path and whacking every tree within a stick length. 

He doesn't know what he is angry with. 

He has been teased . Told that he was found in the trash.

Because he is an adopted child.  

And those who teased him learned whatever they did from their own parents, who are the unfortunate manifestation,  of misuse , or actually , under utilization, of the so called evolved human cerebral cortex.   

Think of the human body.   A woman's body. And the Uterus.

It is a case of "Jab We Met" Or "When X met Y" .

An Ova with 23 chromosomes, meets up with  a Sperm with 23 chromosomes. They click. 

And the uterus, unconcerned with their origin, mobilizes to do what it is an expert at.  Namely providing intelligent housing for the embryo that results. Intelligent because it must interact with the mother's body as well as the baby's, and maintain a balance favouring the latter.

It provides a safe house for the singe cell , which has the amazing ability to subdivide and make copies of itself.  The nucleus of the cell has the coded instructions in protein strings  on what is to be done. And so it develops an outer  set of the cells, an inner set of cells and an intermediate set of cells  in the first 5 days of the grand positive meeting of the Ova and the Sperm.  The outer set of cells becomes the placenta which is the communication centre of the mother and child, the uterus and the mother's body, through which nutrition and messages flow.

Through all this wondrous development in the formation of a child , with all the requisite organs developing in a preplanned manner,  the Uterus performs to the best of its ability, constructively cooperating with the foetus and taking excellent care.

It does not speculate on the origin or circumstances  of either the Sperm or the Ova. 

It does not speculate on the morality or  social classification of the  donators of the sperm and ova. 

It is simply none of its business. 

It simply does what it is supposed to do.  Protect the foetus.  Monitor and manage resources for the foetus via the placenta .  And run its self-monitoring system for the foetus as it grows .     

It is a tough job.  The casing of the uterus, the human body, is not still. It is an active machine, that exercises, runs, stands, sits, shudders, bends, overdoes things, becomes despondent at times, unleashing a slew of hormones. There are other parts of the human body that have their own idiosyncrasies and behaviours.  The Uterus must understand and deal with all, screening the foetus the best way it can , from possible problems.

And yet, it reaches  its peak period of 208 days  , and introduces a new member to this world.  This one comes with its own properties, based on the dominance or recessive traits  that result, when the 23 Chromosome Ova  meets with the 23 Chromosome Sperm.  At no time, has the foetus (now child) been discriminated for the circumstances of when X met Y.

Unfortunately, our society never learns from these organs. Children are abandoned, mistreated and ignored, and the lucky ones manage to reach some institute , where they get a life.  Some lucky ones, also end up getting parents.

I wish our society would learn from the Uterus.  Honor the child.  Don't humiliate it based on what you think is its origin.  Teach your children to respect the human body.

Yes, there are traits in every child  that arise out of dominant genes of each of the parents.  It is also known that if it is a male child , it stands to inherit certain physiological  tendencies from the father  .  The female child never does.   And despite knowing this, the human uterus does an unbiased nurturing of the foetus, whether it is male or female.     

And yes. The Uterus mobilizes for use again and again.  To the best of its ability, till many years later, it fatigues, kind of retires, and sits away quietly, shorn of all its energy and vitality.  A life spent doing excellently what it is supposed to do, actually producing fruits,  which it must give up, and a final fading into the cavities so to speak.  Like the heart,  another organ that follows the philosophy of the Bhagwad Geeta , pertaining to working without consideration of the fruits of your labour.

Do we learn from this ?  NO.

Does our so called education teach us this ? NO.

We are a society where children learn from parents that blood has only 2 groups. Our blood , and Their blood.  And how it is different.  And how Ours is always superior.   And Theirs,  is mired in trash.  ( I have actually heard such a comment. From an ex-adoptive parent, who simply, returned the child, and then remained childless and what else, superior .....)

I hope that furious little boy who came home upset and confused, grows up into a fine, sensitive, and respectful young man, and honors the folks who gave him a family and a life. 

I hope he is wildly successful in whatever he wants, works hard for it, never losing the empathy he has for those not as fortunate as him.  

I hope he meets someone with similar thinking, and they bring up their own children differently, than what he experienced amidst  classmates, in his childhood.
I hope he respects the human body and its capabilities and learns never to abuse it.

There is much to learn from it. 

We have a cerebral cortex which allows us to do that.

They say it has evolved.

For some folks, err....  "superior" folks ....  , it clearly has not.     


Monday, May 19, 2014

Just saying ......

Just imagine.

He never played gully cricket, where the gully was actually a common narrow balcony for 10 flatlets, studded with extra furniture.

He never shuddered nervously at having broken some one's window pane with a misdirected shot, because someone else paid for the damage.

He never traipsed back from school, dragging sticks and stuff, walking together with his friends, and never had to suddenly break into a run on sighting a strange guy making dirty noises and actions.

He probably never got rapped on the knuckles with a metal ruler in school. Or stood outside IIIA holding his toes.

He never travelled in lumbering tilted red Double Decker buses or suburban trains with a population blooming out of its doors, and never ever struggled to extricate his school bag when he disembarked at his destination.

He never suffered the ignominy of having his PE white uniform splattered with mud as a fancy car sped by through a puddle while he waited to cross a road.

He never queued up. Period.

For admission to college, in pouring rain, in knee deep water, clutching close his certificates , only to have some doors close for lunch.

For tickets to outstation places in the holidays.

For paying exam fees, and getting hall tickets. Movie tickets (in the days before the Net).

For using machines and computers in labs at college , in the early days before laptops and desktops, when  talk was rich and resources were not. For copies of library books, where the text book was outrageously expensive. 

For lunch in a college canteen/cafeteria and heard "khatam ho gaya" when he asked for saambar..

He never worried about a job interview.  Or where he might have to stay. Or whether he could afford house payments. And even a first class quarterly train pass with a starters salary.

Potholes filled themselves when he travelled across them.  He never had to worry, or even think about the price of petrol, gas cylinders, electricty, telephones et al.

 He never had to travel where he entered a bus through a window, because the door was jammed with people.  He never sat in a three seater train bench, and had someone come and ask him to shift a bit, "jara sarkoon ghyaa".....   .  He probably was never shocked at french beans going for Rs 40  for 250 gms, simply because he never had to actually buy them or even cook them.   

He never worried about his job profile, because a non existent job means a non existent profile.  He was his own profile.

 He never had a deadline because no one set him one. He never tangled with managing cleaning, cooking, supervising kids, entertaining guests, finishing submissions for work.  All in the course of one evening.

No one ever pointed fingers at him, because a sentence was misplaced somewhere in the report.  No one threatened him with a memo, because they did not like his answer to something.  And no one brought the house down because numbers didn't tally at reconciliation .  The reason was always someone else.

He was never a convenient scapegoat because the management thought the customer was always right.  And he never, ever , spent an entire night righting something which someone else had messed up. 

He never ever had to think of increments.  Or bonuses. Strangely, loans, per se, might have been of interest.

He could say anything to anyone, regardless of age, experience of the latter, and his mother never said a word, in situations, where one would have received a public parental rebuke. 

He never worried about breaking rules, because the rules themselves bent themselves all over the place around him.

He never had an appraisal, because, they couldn't find anything to appraise.  And those who tried, gave up less than half way there. As "better" sense prevailed.

And one day, when people actually wanted to point fingers for something they thought he was responsible for,  a bunch of folks rushed to crush those fingers into closed fists, saying  he did nothing wrong,  the responsibility was of those around him and him together, and begged him to continue to do, actually, nothing. 

I wonder how the HR types would advertise for a job that fits the above.

Stupid me.  I am now suddenly interested in concepts like karma, last birth, prarabdh et al.