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TWO ULTIMATE SUPERPOWERS

Superpowers!

I wish I had more than 24 hours in a day.

I wish I had the power to change a person’s perspective.

I wish I had the power to eradicate poverty from the world.

I wish… O I so wish…

These wishes never end. If all of us had a genie who could fulfill unlimited wishes for each of us, I think that genie would be the most exhausted soul in the world. With all the maturity that I gained through the experience of years – I wish for two superpowers. Probably if I were to write this article a year later, my wishes would be different but today it is so…

The superpower no. 1 – To know the difference between what I can influence and what I cannot

There is a prayer which is my favorite – “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept what I cannot change, grant me the courage to change what I can and wisdom to know the difference between the two.

I have spent a large part of my life wondering what people think of me and how they like me. And if they don’t like me, what can I do to change that? It is horrible but I was deeply influenced by how I am constantly judged by people. Imagine, what happened – disaster. I became my last priority and my first priority was to keep people happy and fulfill their expectations. Well, it took time, a few blows on the face and a lot of pain to realize that I have no control over what people feel for me. I cannot control how they judge me and so I have to stop worrying about it.

What is in my control is what I feel for myself and how I feel about the world. I can choose what to do with my 24 hours a day. I can choose who to be friends with and who to ignore. I can choose a million things in my life. But at the same time – not the whole world is under my control. When we lost my youngest brother in law (husband’s youngest brother), how I wished I could reduce the pain the whole family was going through. All of us wished to go back in time and make things right so that this death would not happen. But life doesn’t work that way. I learnt that Death is the ultimate truth and there is absolutely no influence over it. I realized that I can share the pain of my family but I cannot reduce it. I cannot take the pain away from my husband. He and his parents have to go through it and all that is in my control is to be with them in the journey.

A lot of times we end up running after things that we have no influence over without realizing that we are only wasting our time. All I wish is to have the wisdom to know what I need to accept and what I must struggle to change. Life would be way simpler then.

The superpower no. 2 – Strength to embrace pain

Any human being that I consider successful (in whatever field) is successful because he/she has gone through tremendous pain and struggle to get there. In fact, more the pain better is the outcome. We define success only when we face failures. Our failures define us not our success. A child who is born with all the riches has a completely different definition of success than his father who spent his entire life building up those riches.

Naturally, we all try to avoid pain whether it is emotional or physical. We have the plethora of painkillers to kill the physical pain and we happily take it without seeking the root cause of that pain. To escape the emotional pain we again have a number of killers that differ from person to person. Some people dissolve the pain in alcohol and other forms of abuse, there are people who resort to one night stands and flings, few more who resort to other addictions like shopping, makeovers etc. All this to forget and escape the pain inside. When we try to run away from the pain, we also run away from an opportunity. An opportunity to come out stronger. Feel the pain and cry out the loudest and only then you will get the strength to rise the highest.

I have had my own painkillers and I abused them in various ways which even messed up my life to a large extent. I wish to have the strength so that I never resort to my painkillers. I instead bear the pain, go deeper inside me to figure out the root cause of the pain, understand my pain, live the pain and then eventually emerge a stronger and better person.

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BEING “BRUCE ALMIGHTY”

I asked my wife – “what kind of super power you need for yourself?” And her answer was – “I should get some power so that I won’t be fearful anymore.

I went on to ask few others… One said he wants the power to have any food items easily and freely. Another said he wants a lot of money. A very close friend said she wants the power to manage her emotions well.

The powers we want for ourselves usually are either our desires or needs centric.

Okay, now let me tell you what powers or super powers I wish to have on my fingertips…

Two days ago, I felt like shouting at the top of my voice when I literally struggled to cope with my whatsapp and other social medias. My biggest problem is that I can’t get away from things that are of serious in nature. For example, when a person is sharing his or her heart I just can’t ask him or her to wait or say will talk later. I usually try to attend each and everyone. While doing so I feel exhausted, worn out and extremely frustrated. And sometime I feel angry and burst at my poor wife… when she shouts back or asks why I am behaving like that then I realise what I am up to.

My empathetic heart loves to listen to the problems of people despite of my own ailments and struggles so I would love to have the energy and superpower and some added hours as a whole package so that I can keep listening to them and understand them on a superfast mode and press the solution button for their good.

I know, I know… that’s not possible.

While thinking about this I remembered Jim Carrey in the movie ‘Bruce Almighty’. He literally struggled to handle the cries of everyone in the world though he tried to take the role of God which was next to impossible.

But he says –

I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.

I am aware of it too.

Someone very close to my heart usually tells me, “Submit everything to God instead of getting hyper and He will lay down the plans beautifully“.

Playing God or wishing for super power always frustrates us whereas depending on Him gives us strength. But I don’t mean that we will just do nothing and ask God to do everything. Instead, it will be wise to do our part and allow Him to do the part which are beyond our abilities.

God says to me –

My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in your weaknesses.

And that’s the super power I seek when I am troubled in life.

Stay Blessed!

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MY TRYST WITH SUPERPOWERS

From Marvel to DC comics we have seen it all. We have gaped at Superman spinning Earth anti-clockwise to turn time and we have seen Spiderman saving the world with his webbed hands. We are exposed to all kinda superpowers that leave us amazed and wanting. From Batman to Avengers we have ‘Oohed’ and ‘Aahed’ at our favourite superheroes and Superheroines but in our hearts of hearts, we all secretly want to be one of them. To do those otherworldly things and save the day. I was no different.

My choicest superpowers keep changing with time. Because with time I mature, so do my priorities and my preferences. We get the tag of ‘Major’ at 18, but I don’t think we get matured enough at 18, some of us develop much before that, but in my case, I was still a complete kid at 18. However, considering superpowers, I will tell you my choicest Superpowers and the shift in my choices with age.

As a kid I wanted the Superpower to Teleport. The countries I only saw on silver screen, the places I read about, I wished to see them all. I wanted to disappear from my bedroom and reappear in London, Trafalgar Square or Times Square, New York. I even used to spin around in the same spot at full speed in the hope to see myself disapparate.

Teenage came with the desire to acquire a Superpower that would take me inside the books I read. To fight by the side of Harry like Hermione, to steal diamonds along with Jamie McGregor from Master Of The Game and to be kissed like Maggie from the Mills and Boons novels. I wanted to be the most important female character of every book I read. I guess that was vanity, but It was a lovely phase of my life.

At 18 I wanted to the superpower to be a Computer. Yes! You heard it right.
For a girl who had so much paperwork to read and learn and remember, I wanted my eyes to scan everything I read and store it in my memory. I tried to answer every question thrown at me with lightning speed and precision. There was this urge to be the ace, to be better than Britannica(Wikipedia wasn’t this popular then). To jot down everything faster than a speech recognition typing assistant and make my father proud.

Time passed and with time passed away the most important person in my life, My Father. That time my choicest Superpower would have been to control Time. I wanted to turn it back and stop it right there. I craved to get my father treated in time and save his life if I could travel back in time. What a beautiful place it would be if no one aged. If I never had to live without Papa.

After my fathers’ demise came an extended period of Depression. Back then my choicest Superpower would have been to Mind Control. Yes, so that I can erase my memories and my mothers’ memories as they brought so much pain and hurt with them. I wanted to forget everything good and beautiful about my father so it would stop my heart bleeding.

Then came a time when I yearned for a Superpower to resurrect the dead. What wouldn’t I give to resurrect my Granny who passed away after losing two out of three of her sons? I have read enough books to know that it is a bad idea to summon the dead but the temptation was too strong.

Love knocked at my door in the form of a man, and I was healed with the warmth of his love that melted my frozen heart. The Superpower I sought in that phase of my life was to Siphon all his pain and regrets while loving unconditionally and without judgement. What a beautiful relationship it would be where I could be his anchor, and he could be my launching pad.

Today the Superpowers I seek are to Heal and to have Money in abundance.
You might be thinking that I am asking that out of Greed and Avarice, but that is the truth. The truth is I have seen so much suffering around me; every soul is in pain, every heart is pining and more often than not the reasons are depravity of money and health. I want to make the lives I touch better for people. No, I don’t want to be a messiah. Nor do I want to be praised or credited for my excellent work; but I know I am a Philanthropist, lover of humankind.

Now I want to tell you one secret. The most coveted secret. Every Superpower I ever desired, I had them all in me.I could Teleport, all I needed was an air ticket and passport. I could Transcend into my books as I read them. While reading them, I lived their lives, and I am happy to have lived that many experiences in one lifetime.I was better than a computer. I could improve my cognizant and comprehensive skills with enough practice and dedication. I could always control time, all I needed was a camera. I could look at the pictures that acted as portals and took me back in that moment where my father was still alive. I could control the mind; I didn’t know it. All I needed was firm resolve and determination to condition my mind to stay happy and confident and exude that aura to my mother and see her smile again, dance again. I did have the power to Siphon pain; I just had to listen with patience and offer words of comfort because it works like magic.

Moreover, last but not the least, I can heal people, and I am the wealthiest person on Earth, and I do it every time I do my bit towards the poor, the hungry and the sick in whatever resources I have at my disposal. I didn’t need a lot; I only needed the inclination which I always had. I couldn’t help all, but I could support that one person to whom it would mean the world.

On a parting note. I am a Superhuman. I am Mythical. I am a Phoenix. I turn to ashes many times, but every time I am at the lowest, I am reborn from my ashes.

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SECRET SAUCE TO EFFECTIVE EDUCATION …

Few years ago, I was in Finland on business travel. I have been working with Finns remotely for more than a couple of years by then, so, I understand how brilliant and dedicated they are at work. I admired that quality of theirs always. When I stepped into the office on the first day, I had goosebumps, not because of the cold outside but the parking lot. The parking lot was completely filled with cars, it was only 7.30 AM in the morning. For couple of weeks, I observed how religiously Finns follow rules, regulations and timings. Their lunch table and corridor conversations were always about their families, although they are colleagues at work, the friendship was very evident.

Finland has the highest number of patents in Digital Technology. I read a few technical publications available in the company website, they were quite impressive. The amount of technical details and their grip on the latest technology trends was attracting me. I wondered how they managed to attain the knowledge an upkeep with it?

The answer to the question came in the following days. A week later I accompanied a resident of our apartment complex to her kid’s school. Her daughter was 8 year old, they recently moved to Tampere from Helsinki. During the 20 minute drive to the school, she explained about Finnish culture and festivals, mainly Christmas and the Santa Claus ( he is resident of Finland !!!) She had the pride of being a Finn and I loved how much she admired her country…

It was a day full of surprises. Once we were at school, we went straight to the play area. All the kids were playing, I could see a wide variety of games, seems there is a compulsory play time of 2 hours. Have I told you? In Finland kids can start school only at the age of 7. The school is max for 4 hours a day and cannot exceed 20 hours a week. Of course, the ‘4 hours’ includes lunch time and play time. Technically all the schools in Finland are the same, there are no elite schools. It is illegal in Finland to charge for tution, hence the fee is very nominal, that is only to avail the facilities at school. Even super rich parents have to send their children to the same schools, equal education for all. Teachers strive hard to find innovative ways to help kids learn. But how do we know if the student is doing good in a particular subject ?

No, not exams. Finland does not have standardised examination structure until grade 10. There are neither exams nor grades awarded to students. Instead students are encouraged to learn practically. They can learn carpentry, art, baking, singing, poetry, athletics, sewing, not just mathematics and science. I have witnessed children aged 10 demonstrating robotics (working prototypes), teachers help them with coding and programming IC’s, but students have to come up with the idea, which eventually develops innovative thinking. Students demonstrate their projects explaining how the idea can be of help to the relative field. When children play in the garden, they can make a note of plants, fruits, flowers they see. Teachers ask them specific questions on how the kids spent their evening and teach them what ever they can from those experiences.

The term “homework” is completely unheard of in Finland. Students in late teens also won’t spend more than 10 minutes on so called “work they could do after school hours”. I still remember what the teacher said, “They are kids, at the age of 5 our muscles are not yet developed to hold a pencil. That’s why kids go to play schools until the age of 7. Schools here encourage students to learn by themselves. After school they have to spend time with family, make friends and socialise, that is how they can learn. Kids have to be relaxed and happy all the time, this helps in brain development. A student can become what ever they want to, and we only introduce them to various fields, they are free to choose. No profession in Finland is considered low or high, all are equally respected.

The story of Universities is no different. Student can apply to any university and get an admission (without a test). There is no tuition fee even for doctoral studies. This removes the major worry from the student, hence, they don’t have to wonder if they can afford what they want to study. Students get paid for studying, the “Student aid”. This money helps the students to find accommodation and buy the necessary books. No wonder Finland has the best education system. Masters is mandatory to find a job, because Finland wants it’s citizens to gain expertise on the career option before they can apply for jobs.

The complete education system is very liberal as it is supposed to be. This gave me an answer to why Finns are so good at accomplishing tasks. Education system shall not confine students thinking capacity with traditional teaching methods and subjects. There is a lot to learn in the school of life than in actual schools – this is what I learnt from Finnish schools, and the schools there give the scope for children to learn, really learn …

“Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners.” – John Holt

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MARKS ARE THE ONLY THING THAT MATTER… IS IT?

Yesterday I had a very long discussion with the English language teacher about my younger son. She said that my little one was quiet intelligent but the issue was he is very laidback. Happy and content with whatever marks he gets. He is not competitive, not obsessed with marks. Which is good, but not in India. She said “I wish he was born in Australia or the US then this would have been a good trait, but sadly not in India. Here marks matter. Actually marks are the only thing that matter.”

I was so worried and I spoke to him about it and he said “Mamma I don’t want to be like my other classmates” He has a friend who walked up to him after the unit test marks were declared yesterday with a very sad face and said “I am so upset I didn’t get good marks in any subject. I just got 18 out of 20 in most subjects not more than that.” My son said I felt like hitting him on the head and saying 18 is very good. Why aren’t you celebrating?”

It is actually a sad state of affairs these days. We all want full marks, percentage above 95 even 93 is not good enough.

Being a mother of one child who is in grade X and going to give board exam this year and the second one very close behind in grade VIII. I constantly battle with this issue almost every day.

I am dreading the day the board results would be declared. Relatives and friends and even acquaintances would demand to know how my elder son fared in the Battle of Class X Board Exams. Did his cut through the shield of 90% and emerge victorious? Or did he manage to just scrape through? (because anything less than 90% is scraping through). If I am feeling so much tension imagine what kind of pressure the child must be going through. Everywhere he goes he gets reminded that he has to give boards this year. Even I am guilty of this. I must be repeating this phrase at least 5-10 times a day “Board exams hain beta serious hoja, padh le” (Get serious and study you have to give board exams this year).

But then this is how the education system works in our country. More emphasis is on rote learning and writing it out in the exam. Understanding and gaining knowledge even though important is secondary to scoring. Your score will get you admission in a good college. Or the second option is to expect your parents to shell out huge sum of money as donation to get you in. Now donation option is not possible for 80% of Indian population as they can’t afford to pay such huge amount of money.

The education scene is changing slowly. With so many education boards available like CBSE, ICSE, State Boards and international boards like IB & IGCSE, parents have a choice to decide what kind of education do they want to provide to their children. Each board is providing something different for to the students. Schools are experimenting with new methods of education like the Waldorf education program etc. The education system is trying to move away from rote learning to skill based learning. But we still have to travel a very long difficult road to reach there.

Till then we are stuck in an education system which values marks more than skills, more than the individuals itself.

Every year we hear of so many suicides committed by students because they could not face their exams or could not face the disappointment in their parent’s eyes after they got low scores. Even worse we saw a case last year when a class XI student killed another child of his school in a bid to postpone the open day. Imagine the dread he had about the day his parents would meet the teachers and see his result.

Even parents these days are a jittery lot. They tread a thin line between motivating and encouraging their kids to score good and at the same time worrying whether their son / daughter is under too much pressure, dreading that the child should not get so pressurised that he or she takes some drastic step.

I am myself so entrenched in this, I really can’t take me out of the situation and comment on it. All I can say is that “Yes marks do matter but only to get admission to higher studies. But getting less marks is not the end of the world. As they say when one door closes anther one opens. There are so many skill based courses available these days with which you can make a highly successful and well paying career.”

I have seen through personal experience that marks scored during school is not the only benchmark for success in life. I have seen backbenchers and low scorers during school time growing up and becoming CEOs and the toppers during school time getting just average jobs and vice versa too.

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EDUCATION SYSTEM CAN NEVER BE MONEY MAKING BUSINESS… REALLY??

Few years back, I did a series of courses from an organization named “Landmark Education” (this line might have been repeated across many articles that I have written in the past). They are an organization that work towards transforming people’s life in a positive way through remarkable courses and seminars. I won’t go into details of the course itself but would like to highlight their business model. They are a US based organization and is extremely impactful. However, each of their courses are quite expensive and only a certain class of people can afford these courses. They run on a business model of networking which means if I do the course with them – I am supposed to get my own people into it (of course I don’t get any money for it) because I want them also to see the benefits of transformation and live happy life.

There are three courses in the basic curriculum which I had completed. And by then I had got a lot of people from my life registered with Landmark and also I was doing a lot of voluntary work for them which meant working throughout the weekends to organize the courses (again of course no money was involved). I was doing all this because I saw immense benefit through it. It was my way of spending weekends working for the fulfilment of the society.

Then there was a seminar which was about the concept of Landmark Education itself. It was a seminar where this organization was questioning its own existence. I was a passive observer in that seminar but I remember one argument very clearly.

There was a man who had done a lot of courses with Landmark questioned the organization – “Why do you call Landmark Education a business? It should not be a business. It is all about knowledge. I come here because of the fulfilment I get by doing this work. I don’t come here because I want to be an employee of this organization and earn lots of money. Even if you offer me money, I will not take it. Stop calling it a business!”

The lady on the Dias was an Australian lady and the shock on her face was clearly visible. “What is wrong is calling it a business? We are an organization like any other. We have services to offer and we charge for those services.” She said as a simple matter of fact.

“Education can never be a business.” The man shouted from where he was sitting. And this time a bit angrily.

Another person shot in at the right time. Of course, the tension in the room was quite tangible by then. He explained to the Australian lady – “In India, education is considered an act of social service. Most of the Indians will not agree with teaming Education with Business…” And the discussion continued on these lines thereafter.

I did not sit through the seminar post that argument. And also my interest and my time with Landmark reduced drastically thereafter. I am not sure if I agreed with the man and related to his anger. Maybe not. But at some point of time I started to feel that – eventually it is all about the money and the motivation to go there week after week went down.

Now as a parent I get reminded of that conversation again and again when my son’s school demand the quarterly fees.

My son goes to Nursery to an International school. His annual fees is much higher than what my parents paid for a year of engineering in a government college for me. We often joke about this. We often say that Education loan would probably be the highest loan that our kids will have to take even more than our home loans. The air is filled sarcasm as soon as the topic of school fees comes up amongst the parents. Worst part is that the teachers who work in the schools are still paid peanuts. It is franchisee owners, the landlords etc. who make the money from the fees that we struggle to pay for our kid’s education.

I am not sure what is right or wrong. On one hand we are also earning much more than what our parents earned when they were our age, so the high fees is justified to some extent. Of course, the staff needs to be paid well and land needs to be paid for. But there is something more to this business mentality of educational institutions than just money. The problem is that they only care for money now. I wouldn’t mind paying the schools if I would be confident that my child is safe and taken care of – but that peace of mind is slowly vanishing because of all the crime that happens in schools and indifference of school management towards it.

The mentality – “I will only care for my money and I don’t care what happens to your child’s future” is now becoming more and more apparent.

Education system has become a huge business now in this country and I wonder how angry that man I met in the seminar must be feeling at this.

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HOW MOTIVATING IS OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM?

As we know education is an important part of our life. It is the process of teaching, guidance and studying. The importance of education in one’s life has been discussed by so many scholars over past so many years. Earlier there were few schools and colleges. And perhaps this was a contributing factor other than poverty in people being uneducated. But now if we look at the present, we find so many schools and colleges and coaching institute. Even when there are so many educational institutes, still education lacks at some point in India. Still there is huge population that believes education is not important. Or maybe they don’t understand its importance.

When we look back we can see our country has progressed tremendously. We have new technology and advancement in many fields. How did this happen? It all happened because of education. The article that you are reading that means the one I am writing is possible because of the education. Had not there been education these developments and advancements would have been just a dream.

But if we talk about the good and bad of the education system, I will say it should always focus on active learning rather than passive learning. Our education system should work in the way where children would love to go school rather than throwing tantrums for not going to school. Okay, its children’s behavior of finding excuses for staying at home and playing but what about students of higher classes… They should not make such excuses.

So, now the question arises why do they (students of higher classes and colleges) make excuses… The very first and foremost thing that is important for any education system is- it should focus on skill development rather than just simple learning. It should be interesting and motivating, so that students can enjoy it and can make the best of it.

Now some of you might give me examples of those students who are excelling in their studies and are innovating. So, let me tell you not everyone has same caliber and interest. Since, education helps in shaping and building our future therefore, it should concern about each and every student regardless of whether the student is good or bad in any subject. This is the era where parents are spending huge amount of money on the education of their children. So, they have expectations from education system. Instead of teaching same subject to each and every student, we should focus on training and teaching them in the field of their interest. When this happens then our country will progress in a better way. Every one of us wants to do our best but if we don’t get motivated we can’t do that. People say institutes do not accede to the idea of making education enjoyable and interesting, maybe because our generation has a mindset of scoring high and getting a career by which we can earn a handsome amount. We somewhere believe that this is only the motto of being educated. But it’s not.

We are getting education so that we can make this world a better place to live. We should utilize our education for welfare of mankind. If we don’t do so and we keep doing things for ourselves then what is the use of so much of learning and scoring good marks.
I am glad that there are some educational institutes focusing on active learning and encouraging students to follow their passion. Being a student, I believe everyone has flair. Our schools and colleges need to recognize those talents, should unchain and facilitate them in being innovative.

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EDUCATED ANGOOTHA CHAAPS: THE REALITY OF ‘EDUCATED’ INDIA.

She comes in, sharp at 9.30, pale, lanky and shivering from the cold that has begun to build up over the past few days. I immediately chide her, “You’ll never wear a sweater to work, will you?” as I hand her her usual cup of tea.

“Forget it, Didi. Where am I supposed to keep the sweater when it starts getting warm again? So I don’t wear one.”

“But you’ll catch a cold this way…”

“Who cares. Do me a favour…” and she brings her cell-phone to me. “Tell me what’s written in this text?”

I read her some promotional text from some company. And I remind her for the umpteenth time that she ought to at least learn the alphabet. Her reply is always the same “Who cares?” And she forthwith busies herself with her work around the house.

This is the daily morning conversation I have with my house help. Over her education, or rather, the lack thereof. She is one of two girls in a five-sibling household. She belongs to a less-fortunate background and hails from a backward region in India. Resultantly, her parents never stressed that she or her sister ever finish their education. She has studied only till the 7th grade, her sister has studied less than that. And the sum total of their education has now reduced to an ability to scrawl their name on forms and bank cheques, should the need ever arise. But for all purposes, they are, what we call illiterates in India – angootha chaap.

Remember that age-old advertisement issued by the Indian Government that used to air on DD  – Poorab se surya uga, where an old man teaches a child from an unfortunate background how to start writing his name? When I was a child I used to wonder would I be able to know it all if I only learn how to write my name? Obviously not, as I later realized. The advertisement was a great initiative by the Rashtriya Saksharta Mission. But unfortunately, education is still underrated in our country.

Learning how to write one’s name is not an education, because one can learn how to write their name purely by memory, without learning the alphabet at all.

In fact, learning the alphabet itself is not an education, because the alphabets are of no use if one does not know how to string them into words and sentences, or read them from a book or a placard. 

Like my Help. She knows the English and Marathi numbers, but does not know basic mathematical problems. She knows the Marathi alphabet, but does not know how to read or write them. She knows how to write her name, but does not know any other word consisting of the same alphabets constituting her name. She does not even know how to tell the time! She comes to me for help with everything related to reading or writing. I fill out her bank forms. I inform her of her child’s scheduled parent-teacher meetings. I tell her when she’s supposed to pay for her loans. I have even instructed her on which medication she should take at what time, all because her ‘education’ amounts to nothing. And the irony is that she has admitted her child in a private school where English is the medium of instruction.

I often ask her, “Just what did you learn till the 7th grade if you don’t even know how to tell the time?” She only shrugs in response.

You may say that it’s her fault entirely for not using her education and I would say you are not wrong. But her circumstances, coupled with the prevalent social outlook on girls her age and of her background does not leave her a choice in the matter. Her parents thought it wiser for her to be married off at the young age of 15 (yes, unfortunately, child marriages still happen in India),  rather than letting her continue her schooling. They thought she would do better being a housewife and a house help, than being a teacher at a primary school. Because teachers at primary schools have liberated ideas and no one in their society needs a woman with a smart mouth.

She’s not the only one. There are countless others in India like her. There are countless men too, who know nothing beyond writing their names. Her brother is no less. He’s cleared his matriculate but does not know how to write a letter in Marathi or Hindi. I wrote his resume for a job application for a clerk’s position because though he can read somewhat, he cannot write at all. Needless to say, he’s still jobless.

Education is still considered a necessary evil in our country not a pure necessity, like clothing and housing. Forget about her class, I still come across women my age and from my background who have only cleared their matriculate and have forgotten much of what they learnt at school because they were expected to be home-bodies. No, this isn’t about how women should be allowed to work; this is about how women should be encouraged to at least get a graduate’s degree, because even if a woman is to be a stay-at-home mom, she ought to  be able to teach her own kids, and not ship them off to tuition classes, which, unfortunately, has become the norm these days in India. There is a parallel education system running, no, thriving in our country, all because there are so-called educated parents at home who are unable to teach anything to their children. What use is such an education? What use are such advertisements on education when the concept itself is reduced to learning by rote? An education does not end at school or college. It begins from there and is a life-long affair. But unfortunately, for many of us, their education ends when they receive their graduate degrees.

There are free schools with free books and free meals but their’s still no zeal in the lower echelons of our society to study. Why? Because earning the bread takes a precedence over receiving an education. Because these free sops are taken for granted rather than being grateful for. Because our society itself permeates an outlook that its okay to be an ‘educated’ angootha chaap. What India needs is not just education being thrust upon the masses, but education being made a mandatory requirement for every walk of life, even if one wants to be a house-help. What India needs is a change in the outlook of the masses, right down to the grassroots, that being educated means reading, writing and speaking at least one language well enough, apart from being able to do basic mathematical calculations. What India needs is a cultural revolution that an education does not end at marriage or being a mother.

What we need is to tell ourselves that its NOT okay to be ‘educated’ angootha chaaps.

She marvels at my 4 years old’s ability to already recognize the alphabet from a chart I’ve hung at home, her ability to use complicated words and count from 1 to 30 and backwards. I tell her again, like I always do, “Sit with me for at least half an hour each day and learn the alphabet. Slowly, you’ll come to learn how to read and write too. I’ll teach it all to you. I’ll even enrol you in night school, if you want.”

She only shrugs it off and reiterates, “Who cares? At my age what am I going to do with reading or writing?” And she busies herself with the sweeping again.

She only’s 26.

(Note: ANGOOTHA CHAAPS – Illiterate and uneducated)

EDUCATION SHOULD BE CREATIVE, NOT SPOON FEEDING

Education system in India is deteriorating day by day.

As a kid I loved studying a lot, I know it’s quite unusual for kids as they love to play and have fun, but I loved learning new things. As I grew up, school taught me that knowledge is secondary whereas grades are primary. Then started our race for achieving the highest marks, be it the wrong way. Gradually my interest for learning faded away as I was busy trying to get good grades. There are many people who don’t get good grades yet they have a very sharp brain as well as a very good IQ. We have reached to a stage where people are judged on the basis of their grades. The irony is, whatever we study during our school life has nothing to do with our career life.

Another problem of our education system is the caste system. I never gave much thought into this but while applying for universities, I was shocked as to how easily people got admission despite giving terrible interviews. I still remember applying for a university where we were supposed to appear for an entrance. When the cut offs were declared, I was dumbfounded. The cut off for scheduled tribe was one. Yes, single digit one! No offense to these categories but I don’t support this caste system. I believe that only those students should get the benefits who are from financially backward families.

It’s high time that people realise the fact that education is not business. Education is everyone’s right and not just for the rich kids. Students tend to drop out of schools and colleges because of huge donations the institutions ask for. The management quota in educational institutions are snatching the chances of the deserving candidates.

Students prefer studying abroad since you get more exposure as well as variety of courses to choose from. Sure indian education system provides that but there are a lot of courses which are still not taught in indian institutions. Due to caste system also, students prefer to study abroad.

I have studied in 3 different schools till now and all of them were english medium, yet I learned english from novels, movies and tv shows. The faculty expects students to speak in english and they themselves teach in hindi. Just by setting up some stupid rule like talk in english or you will be fined, won’t make a student speak in english. It comes from within. When you watch a person speaking fluently in english and deep down you hope to speak that way, that’s when one feels like working on one’s communication skills.

The spoon feeding teaching style is the worst. My english teacher used to narrate the questions and answers for us to jot it down. This basically closes a student’s brain. One never thinks out of the box, rather one never thinks as he or she knows very well that everything will be provided to him in a platter and he just needs to eat it and vomit it out during exams.

In simple words, education system in India is killing the creativity of the students.