Attention Please: COVID-19 and Exams

When the entire nation is struggling to survive/revive from the COVID-19 pandemic attack, it is essential for all of us to plan for our future and to educate our next generation. The country is in series of Lockdown and Shutdown since mid-March 2020. Hence all the educational institutes are also completely closed now. And all the Students are confined to their homes. Many have been struggling with on-line classes, without knowing the final outcome. While on-line classes are good as a temporary measure, classroom education is essential. Low networking speed, inadequate number of smart-devices (phones, laptops, desktops, etc.), insecure software and power outages are some of the major hindrances which we all are facing as we quite simultaneously arrange for the on-line classes, work-from-home and home-based services.

Now we have reached a stage where we have to take some bold decisions for our Migrant Workers, Young Generation, Industries, Farmers, Small Scale Industries, Hotels and Tourism Industries, etc.

However, the biggest responsibility for us now is carving an overall uniform policy for our Young Generation. Their current academic year is yet to be over! Without any respite from COVID-19, starting of new academic year is also getting delayed. Today, almost all the Students, Parents/Guardians, Teachers and Academicians do not have a clear picture about the present and future of education in India. While different States are coming up with different plans, it looks like the Central Govt (MHRD) is in a mess. One should sincerely think about the mindset of our young Students, when there is either no news about classes or exams, or when there are multiple contradicting news regarding the exams!!

Is this what we all want in India and our plan to become a superpower? Why cannot we plan the exams and academic years in a considerate and thoughtful manner? Our plan should consider the difficulties being faced by the Students from rural and suburban areas as well!

Here are some observations/ suggestions based on the current situation, both for the passing out and non-passing out Students.

1. For non-passing out Students, it is not clear whether normalisation will be done for all the streams. Their schedule is also not clear. Why cannot we have an uniform policy across the country (all the Boards & Universities) ?

2. For the passing out Students in non-professional categories (without any research project), there is no clarity here too. For them, normalisation or/and exams can be considered, depending on the overall situation. But there should be an uniform policy across the country (all the Boards & Universities).

3. For passing out Students in professional categories (with research project), “extra time” should be given to Students to complete their projects (survey, experiments, slides preparations, documentations, etc.). For them, normalisation or/and exams can be considered, depending on the overall situation. Unfinished practical classes and exams are also important for these courses. Authorities concerned should plan out an alternative way, without compromising the essence of the professional courses!!! Since lot of internal exams /quizzes/ assignments are there for professional courses, normalisation process can differ on the courses and even across Boards/Universities. But there should be an uniform policy across the country (all the Boards & Universities).

For passing out Students, “end-date” of the current academic year is significant for their further career plans- job, higher studies, competitive exams, entrance exams, etc. In my opinion, with the prevailing situations, the “end-date” should be extended at least until September-2020. This will ensure smooth completion of their research projects & gradations.

4. Both Central & State Govts. should consult Academicians, Teachers, Students & Parents without any bias, and come up with an overall uniform plan across the country (all the Boards & Universities).

5. While the Central Govt. notifications are largely directed towards Higher Education, there must be a plan for vocational courses too including ITI, Diploma, Polytechnic, Skill Development, etc.

Recently as per the notification of MHRD, they’re taking inputs for the “next” academic year, while the “current” one is in an utter mess!!!

It is highly concerning for the Students passing out this year. Students-Teachers-Parents are obviously very worried. It is causing psychological stress too, especially since COVID-19 is peaking now. Today in utter desperation, Students are trying to reach out to authorities concerned through various social media posts- Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, etc. But still there is no assurance for a clear-cut plan from our otherwise able Govts. !!

Request the Authorities concerned to take up this matter seriously and immediately. Right to Education is a fundamental right. So also Judiciary should intervene, if necessary.

How Odisha may Excel post Lockdown 4.0

Namaskaar

These are some top points that came to my mind for rebuilding and expanding growth of ODISHA state. Pls share your inputs as well.

  1. Ration & Other Essentials Management : with the influx of native Migrant Workers, the distribution quantities and supply chains intra & inter States need to be reshuffled.
  2. Employment Issues :
    • Native Migrant Workers who are going to stay back need to be given jobs. For same type of job, it will be a competition between them and their counterparts already living in Odisha.
    • Skill-sets need to be sharpened or redefined or reshuffled.
    • All these shall apply to both the organised and unorganised sectors.
  3. Space Issues : may not be substantial, wherever the native Migrant Workers’ ancestral or/and self-acquired properties are already in place and litigation-free; and with most of offices going online now, in any case, Real Estate prices must be lowered now; Waste Management and Afforestation to be duly maintained.
  4. POSCO and Vedanta like mega-projects : let’s try to win them back!!
  5. Explore the Bay of Bengal (BOB) : for research on global climatic changes and how to better forecast the weather.
  6. Seafoods : catches have to be done without disturbing natural habitats; explore advanced preservation techniques, marketing and increase exports.
  7. Food Processing Units : pickles, juices, jelly, dry snacks (baddi, lia, papadd, amba-saddha etc. ) – explore advanced preservation techniques, marketing and exports.
  8. Farming & Fruits : explore advanced techniques, graft varieties lawfully, better preservation against pests, bacteria & fungi, and increase exports; ensure direct reachability with Farmers & Fruit-cultivators.
  9. Dairy Products and Odisha Sweets : apply the GI tags as soon as possible; better preservation, marketing and exports.
  10. Deep-Sea Mining, Minerals & Natural Gas : explore BOB and its adjacent Seas but with due regard to the oceanic environment.
  11. New & Renewable Energy : start windmills, install more solar power panels and explore other alternative energy sources.
  12. Defence :
    •  increase presence of Navy and Coast Guards along the Odisha coastline.
    • root out Maoists with “sustained” efforts – allow them to surrender and get rehabilitated, or let them face the bullets!
    • increase R&D facilities in DRDO, Chandipur and also build similar new centres elsewhere in Odisha; these centres should be at least supportive in nature to the existing DRDOs in the country.
  13. ITI and Diploma Trainings : increase various practical sessions for the youth in the state, so that they find at least some good job after they reach the age of 18; also the industries will need their tremendous support. Redefine their work rates, allowances, bonuses, pension plans, volunteer retirement plans, accident coverages, foreign training options, academic exchange programs, etc.
  14. Academia :
    • implement Vedic ways of life in all Schools to enhance discipline, strength, focus and harmony in children i.e. irreligiously!!
    • encourage “fundamental” Sciences, Arts, Humanities & Commerce degrees at par with Engineering or Medical degrees; build more R&D campuses and invite foreign academia, tie-ups, etc.
    • build necessary academies like Law Academy, Music and Film Academy, etc.
  15. Hospitals : increase number of quality Government hospitals throughout Odisha; do not limit things only to Bhubaneswar & Cuttack; there should be all departments including special treatment for Acid-Attack Victims, Intellectually Disabled and people affected with Rare Diseases; information databases must be maintained with other good hospitals in the country.
  16. Make an all-inclusive Society : build proper & permanent shelter-homes, and good job facilities for Transgenders, Acid Attack Victims and other members of similar category.
  17. Panchayats /Sarpanchs : empower them at the grassroot levels; provide them all latest information and adequate support to operate best with transparency.
  18. Sea Tourism across Bay of Bengal (BOB): secure fine-weather cruise expeditions to South East Asian countries.
  19. Art & Artisans (including Textiles mills) : enhance their work reachability and regularize their due sources of sustainability (including pension, allowances, etc.) from both Odisha Govt and Customers.
  20. Historical Revival : of century-old temples, monuments and museums across Odisha; name or rename certain places after the state Freedom Fighters and other personalities e.g. Netaji Nagar, Baji Rout Museum, Mohd. Mohsin Music & Theatre, Ranganath Mishra Law Academy, etc.

Should Students in India get into Politics?

I have been active in teaching, and associated with many universities since 1990 – as an ordinary student, as a student leader and as a faculty.

What I experienced is as follows:

(1) Students are usually brainwashed by big political masters and for a future ticket; the more one gets into violent activities, higher the chances of getting a ticket.

(2) Today, other than active education, everything else happens in the universities. That makes faculties’ lives easier; no work and all other personal activities. Productivity and quality of education too has gone down.

(3) Politics is only not to hate or fight. It is also to serve the nation. Nation comes first. Unfortunately today, political identities and hunger for power are at the top. This can bring short-term benefits to students, but later it becomes the main reason of utter regret.

(4) Today, students are being driven by media, corporate-houses and political parties “to invite Alexander to fight with Porus”. This should be condemned and stopped immediately. Very few understand the safety and integrity of the country. Most indulge in “nara-bazi” and anti-social activities.

(5) Free or heavily subsidized education is actually the major reason behind all these. One doesn’t understand the value otherwise.

Students definitely had a big role in throwing out the Britishers. But unfortunately today, British mentality has gone to the academia!

A nexus of minds – be that from academia or corporate or media or entertainment or political parties, are instigating the students for their own/selfish benefits. Students are definitely the losers, and the country is the ultimate loser!!!

Today in universities, where education is subsidized, it is impossible to find students without any political affiliation. Political affiliation is a must for their survival, which has to be stopped at any cost!

CAA – where are we heading?

Instead of instigating the students and some people of our country for political support and “vote rajniti”, can’t we channelize them in a constructive way? The recent agitation against CAA across the country is more or less a political drama. By using the youth for their vote banks, I don’t know what are we going to achieve? Is this the India we are dreaming of?? While the agitation is ill-timed and completely misguided by the “opportunistic” opposition parties, the ruling party is also to be equally blamed! While many deserving and struggling people are going to get Citizenship because of CAA, it is unwarranted to bring this kind of ammendment which only adds fuel to fire in a multi-ethnicity country. Today, illegal migrants are only being used by political parties as their vote bank. There is no consensus on how to solve this issue. Let the scars of partition heal first!!!

It could have been handled in a better way, starting with an ‘address to the nation’ by the Prime Minister of India, and/or a meeting with the Chief Ministers of all the Indian states. Many people are still “unaware of the facts” and “apprehensive of the imaginary consequences”!! The entire episode of CAA was ill-advised. Why didn’t they bring the Tibetan issues as well, and bring them to the main stream? Is the refugee status suiting them?

Don’t understand the timing of this ammendment as well. Media which is mostly controlled by political parties is giving different colors to this agitation – freedom movement, police atrocities, democratic rights, authoritarian rule and the like. Country is getting divided in many lines. While religious sentiments are important, humanity too has to be respected; can they glue the division which is becoming prominent today?

The matter has gone to the Honorable Supreme Court of India, and let them find the constitutional validity of this rule?!? It has to be thoroughly argued and debated at various levels; should not be implemented overnight or instigated as we see now❗

🇮🇳 Jai Hind 🇮🇳

Azadi – is my right or responsibility?

I completely condemn the anti-national sloganeering at JNU campus ! Particularly, it being an iconic university and the way political parties such as Congress, Leftists and AAP supported it. Ultimately it turned out to be another political agenda of non-BJP parties / supporters just like the ‘awardwapsi‘ !!

A lot of ‘tamasha‘ and ‘dramabaazi‘ – inside and outside the Parliament, in the court rooms, in the news studios, in the main stream media as well as in social media. Just wastage of our time, money and intellectual discourse. Media houses are divided completely based on their political inclinations, not on facts. People on the social media are too divided mostly as a result of their frustrations, political inclinations and common sense.

Surprisingly after 67 years of Independence we are debating over ‘Azadi‘. Like ‘garibi hatao‘ sloganeering this will only become another slogan; only to fool people for votes. ‘Dissent’ and ‘Freedom of Speech’ are being misused only to achieve political goals. It is not being applied where it should be or can be.

Recent acts of certain media houses certainly opens the debate whether the media houses act for the country or against the country !!! Do they only see these events as opportunities to score their political or business mileage in the name of’Free Speech’ and ‘Azadi’ ? Many like me certainly cast serious doubt on this.

Disgusting editorials, opinions and front-page news items only reflect that the self-proclaiming ‘intellectuals’ are ‘intolerant’ and jealous of the development India is witnessing these days. The spirit and language of the so-called elite /educated /intellectual mass has sometimes made me think that I  would perhaps prefer to be uneducated, but dedicated towards the uplift of the society, and preserving the pride and dignity of my country.

However, I am also concerned with the Central Government’s response on this JNU row.

It is not yet a matter of being right or wrong; soft or harsh. But why was this hotchpotch approach and seemingly ‘no-control’ over even basic law and order ?!? Who were these ‘lawyers’ and why did their action repeat even after the SC order ?? Initially why was there no quick and solid directive? Why was a delay in taking action?  Why was then no specific /consistent statements from the Police (under Union Home Ministry) and the Ministry ?  There should have been quick and proper investigations and actions.

All these so contrary… so disappointing, especially when the supporters of the present Central Government are expecting a constitutionally justified, strict and non-sympathetic response… and additionally, some strong provision which will deter such nuisances in the future !

These nuisances and ‘dramabaazi‘ erupting often nowadays, only prove that though this country has a glorious history and unmatched legacy of brave hearts, kind hearts and geniuses, it has got miserably infected with the ignorant mass, the ‘chamchagiri‘ public, the utter selfish, the ‘satta‘ hungry and the traitors !!!!

What worries millions like me is the unwanted, disrespectful dragging of our Armed Force. Media houses, political shouting in the streets of JNU and other so called liberal universities are only pointing their frustration towards our Armed Forces. By calling them rapists, and comparing them with Maoists, these people not only show their low mentality, immature brain, selfish agenda against the nation, but also bring chaos in the society and spread hatred in many sections of it. How can they dare to insult the heroes of our Armed Forces? Is this called ‘Free Speech’ or ‘Azadi’? Are we all stupid to allow such kind of nuisance in the society?

Surprisingly, the same India where the Parliament used to get united against any external complications or aggression as well as internal turmoils, is now getting divided over silly political reasons and selfish attitude of some ‘netas‘ and their supporters. While RaGa has shown his true color after losing election, AK has shown his after winning election.

I am afraid that the BJP may again lose the next state elections – bad for the states, bad for the country – just as desired by its useless opponents, and the new breed of ‘anti-nationals’ who have been otherwise happily sleeping for the last decade over crores of corruption, appeasement, goonda-raj, and non-development chapters !!!

The ‘Make in India’ week lost the lustre on media columns. A rocky Budget Session has already started struggling in order to pass major bills and laws so awfully needed.

Again repeating what I said some months ago : absolutely high time for the Central Government to refocus, reorganize and act differently !

Aamjunta – it is your time to judge the right and wrong. Your action is needed ; not the golden silence.

Jai Hind.

Government Schools for All – a Dream !!

I am so glad and thankful to the Hon’ble Allahabad High Court for it’s recent order regarding the conditions of Govt. Schools in Uttar Pradesh. Finally the judiciary has intervened, when the executive (administration) and legislative (‘netas’) have failed in taking serious and necessary steps for our future !!!!!

school

I fully agree with the observations of the High Court that the conditions of Govt. Schools are really shabby – just one teacher for the entire school (to teach 5 classes at a time and also to do other activities like monitoring mid-day meals, counting census, poll-duties, vaccination programs, etc. !!), no building or an unsafe building, no seating arrangement, pending salary for months altogether and sometimes at a very low salary (contractual, block-grant teachers etc.), recruitment scams (VYAPAM is a live-example) and even over-crowded class rooms !!!!

Hope good sense prevails, and further litigation counts are not raised by bogus contestants of this order in the Supreme Court ! Though I am quite convinced that our Apex Court will uphold this order (if contested), but the delay in our judiciary process /system may dilute the intention. The delay could be because of backlogs, vacancies in position of respective Judges, long procedures or lack of infrastructure.

And I completely agree with the view of lakhs of fellow citizens that a Bill must be passed mandating the same in every part of India – be it in metros or remote villages, and till High School level !! If Right to Education (RTE) is a fundamental right, then it should be uniform across every strata of our society.

Only then, we can expect our present education system to change for the better – like it was even few years ago…where children later excelled in every sphere of life, despite living in remote villages; sometimes, t-o-g-e-t-h-e-r granted just one Government school !

Moreover, after paying various types of taxes and then education cess tax, why do parents nowadays have to send children to mushrooming private schools ???? Schools, where even the basic infrastructure is not there – no playground and no place for any outdoor activity !! Isn’t this sort of a financial loot (I think the term cannot be merely expensive) ?!?

Wish a similar order is passed that all ‘netas’ & their families will have to avail treatment at a ‘sarkari’ hospital only, and that they will not simply fly abroad for any medical treatment – small or big – whether at their own expenses or at the taxpayer’s expenses !! Hopefully then,  the conditions of Govt. Hospitals can be improved…….

Aamjunta – what do you say ?

Open Letter On Our Primary Education System On The Eve Of Teachers’ Day

Though I am not into professional teaching or an educational analyst or anything of that sort, since some time, I have these concerns regarding a section of latest schooling systems in India.

Just consider schooling during our generation and a little beyond. Whether cities /towns /villages, we went to “ordinary” schools… and those “ordinary” schools had almost everything required for a child to get adequately schooled :

– Safety and Security
– Discipline
– good Teachers
– responsible Support Staff
– thorough Courses
– Labs
– timely Examination schedules and proper Evaluations
– a Playground
– First-Aid facilities and a phone-call-away Doctor
– a Garden
– a School Bus with watchful Attendants
– a Store-room of books, notebooks, pencils and other accessories
– a Library
– Hostels
– an outdoor Stage
– a well-ventilated, well-lighted and sufficiently-equipped Hall where competitions /performances /extra-curricular activities were conducted on a regular basis
– various academic /motivational Presentations by external bodies (govt. or private)
– Office and Notice Boards /Circulations
– Musical Instruments
– observations for 15 Aug. /26th Jan.
– uniform celebrations of all Festivals
– a thorough conduct of Morning Assembly
– periodic teacher-parent Meetings
– easy Interactions with any teacher /principal on any working day
– due Counselling sessions
– due Recognitions /Prizes /Scholarships
– proper maintenance of all Records /Registers
– due Vaccination schedules
– Excursions /Picnics
– active participation in Social Services

Well, I agree some of these facilities like a big infrastructure or an equipped hall or musical instruments were not present in village schools but nevertheless, they were highly accomplished institutions even if one merely counts the minimum factors of good schooling. Haven’t students from these less-equipped schools following “trusted” models of curriculum, excelled later in life – whether at the national or international levels ?!? Or haven’t they excelled in any other sphere but just academics ?… Further, haven’t they been highly sought as teachers by countries where the school education models are so different or talk about some brand ?

Today in India, new type of schools focus so much on “projects” and “activities”. As far as I have observed, these are either wholly done by parents /elders or downloaded from the internet; then it is gathered as print-outs or copy-pasted onto a file (hard-copy /soft-copy) and ‘submitted’ in a day or two. So all these, mostly because of lack of time or in a bid to quickly finish the home-work and move on to the next engagement, whatever be it.

And the next engagement usually is to watch an IPL match or accompany ‘Mom’ to the mall /beauty parlour or go with ‘Dad’ to the nearest KFC outlet or get engrossed in some crap video games !! So ever wondered, how these “projects” and “activities” are really helpful for the child ?

Moreover, nowadays only a few schools (even branded ones) sport a playground – how is that justified when on the other hand, these schools are trying to focus on “projects” and “activities” for better advancement of the child ?? Yes, you got great infrastructure and wash-room facilities but playground – that’s also an inseparable part of a good school !

I find at least in some instances, today’s kids lagging in spheres that they should ideally be leading through. For example – well, its great to be wonderful at singing or swimming but first of all, with one’s usual textual lessons satisfactorily done !! Isn’t that the basic purpose (if not sole) of schooling ?

Though there are few good exceptions, I am afraid many children are moving away from even the basic grasp of subjects. “Projects” and “activities” are supposed to form a mere part of the curriculum and constructively aid in an holistic growth ! These should NOT end up consuming maximum time-energy of young minds, and then leaving them with a tired space, a yawning gape at the end of the day to imbibe the actual academic content or even to play or do physical exercises !!!!

Stress is further enhanced as nowadays our career choices and modern lifestyles have confined us (the youngest generation of parents) in already choked urban areas; and even kids have to start the day at 6 AM or earlier (i.e. board the school bus) and are able to reach back home around 5 PM or later (because of traffic or/and tuitions).

Irrespective of any rule, some schools don’t even conduct at least the basic tests /exams. That makes both the child and parents completely indifferent to academics ! Whether or not they understand the tasks – they are only focussed on finishing the “projects” and “activities” at any cost, by any means and timely ‘submitting’ it at school. That’s what the design of some new type curriculum dictates in many such schools.

Where is the space and time needed to r-e-a-l-l-y grow ? In the hustle-bustle, its also so difficult for parents /guardians /teachers to find a niche to quietly unwind, deeply assess children’s progress and properly interact amongst themselves. I am not hinting at the mechanical routine meetings or discussions but at the r-e-a-l assessment !

And regarding all sorts of fees –  it is needless to mention their inexplicabilities and almost exponential hike-curves ! And on top of that, we also pay a considerable Education Tax !! Why ?

In my opinion, it would do us genuine good if we could go back and stick to the “trusted” version of our schooling that concentrated MOSTLY on the essential features of “academics”, and then wisely balanced the REMAINING portion with extra-curricular “activities” or “projects”. Let’s revive and maintain that old proportion or healthy balance !!!

Of course, I agree – perhaps with the inclusion of some modifications that would best suit India’s budding future (as recommended by educated and experienced Academicians, Social Scientists and Child Psychologists).

But unfortunately, the new models have paced up so drastically that now many of us perhaps don’t have options. Every school in the neighbourhood to the one 15 kms away appears the same. Still, if possible, let’s give a thought and try to revive the “trusted” version of our education system (albeit with approved modifications), starting right with primary-level schools.

While framing policies and making rules per se India, let us keep certain aspects in mind. Here below, I have briefly listed three major ones :

1. Let us ensure a measured degree of uniformity in the country’s education system. Let NOT there be any sort of discrepancy which may cast even the faintest shadows of division across the rungs of our society !! Why thrust the burden of non-uniformities on children and ask them to cope with it ? Let’s be sensible and responsible in the most sincere terms.

2.  Secondly, let NOT educational reforms be mere short-term ones or based on vote-bank politics ! For example, presently the RTE facilitates free education for children up to 14 years and the Government-directed reservations in this category stand at 25 % in each school. But have you ever thought – what is going to happen to these children after 14 years of such schooling ? Ideally, that sums up just the 8th standard. Are there any reservations /provisions for owning up an “extended” support for their “complete” development or is their fate going to confront a full-stop, thereafter ? Then what is the ultimate purpose of such a facility ? A drop-out at that level, particularly from a brand school, is definitely going to struggle more !!… Moreover, it may make matters worse if we suddenly let go their tender hands; a young age as 14 years is too vulnerable to get trapped amidst anti-social elements and get lost into some dangerous anonymity !!!

3. Thirdly, can we possibly weigh options to NATIONALIZE various schools just as we nationalized banks ? It will not only maintain a definite standard (courses, fees, exams, activities, etc.) and uniformity but also build better check-posts of transparency and accountability in every department !

Let’s mind more about exploring the inner sheen than just meeting the expectations of a glamorous exterior !

Reflections: Part-VI

In the epic of Mahabharata…

[I]  King Dhritarashtra’s charioteer, Sanjaya, was granted divine eyes (divya-drishti) by Rishi Vyasa to witness the greatest Dharma- Yudh (War for Righteousness). Seated in the royal palace, Sanjaya watched it all and relayed the same to King Dhritarashtra.

Even the entire Bhagavad Gita is Sanjaya’s recital to King Dhritarashtra of the conversation between Arjuna and Krishna.

Isn’t that just like our modern day concept of live-telecasts via television (duur darshan) and satellite systems ? 🙂

Quite the same with the Brahmastras and Nuclear-war or Star-war; and also with Maya and Stealth technologies ! 🙂

Hmmn… sometimes, man’s conscientious dream or vision leads its actualization and physical perception by thousands of years !!!

111

[II]  One sub-section of the epic contains a great Dharma-Yudh Gyaan (Wisdom from the War on Righteousness) depicted by Lord Krishna.


Whether it is on the battleground or in the struggle of life, Success is infallible only where there are these three aspects: Dharma (Righteousness), Sahash (Courage) and Dharjya (Patience);

Rest all traits are merely Sadhan (Wherewithals);

But in the pursuit of Success, along those three aspects, when there is also a look out for Avsar (Opportunity) to weaken the enemy, then such an Avsar itself becomes Chhal or Kapat (Deception or Treachery);

The outcome is thus- that Dharma is devoid of truthfulness which requires an Avsar, that Sahash is incomplete which cannot be awakened without an Avsar and that Dharjya is unworthy whose essence is lost before Success even begins to actualize !

Well… let’s note that the above Gyaan is relevant when we consider only Dharma-Yudh ; the moment we consider Avsar, it becomes today’s Strategic or Opportunistic wars and confrontations within !!! Isn’t it ?
 

Svalpa Adjust Maddee !!!

We are a highly populated country with intensely varied demographies and inadequate infrastructure. Perhaps due to such factors and somewhat due to our inherent liberalism, since childhood we come across these two terms on a routine confrontation “thodda adjust kar lo” (svalpa adjust maddee /please adjust a bit) and “chalta hai” (its okay).

And sometimes that “thodda” / “svalpa” / “a bit” is tremendous 🙂 !

It becomes our habit, then reflects in our behaviour and finally forms our attitude towards almost everything in life !

So much so that at one point, we either forget (do not realize) how to justly rebel or become simply lethargic in voicing our deepest concerns even against things we stood object right away !!! We quietly accept everything, whether subtly or openly- whatsoever unfair it is against us, our families, our societies or our nation.

From the vital healthcare industry to an ordinary kiraana shop (general stores), we keep hearing these two terms.

On my birthday last year, despite proper instructions, the confectioner in the by-lane in front of our apartment wrote my hubby’s name on the cake and that too was mis-spelt. Let alone offering a replacement, the confectioner advised us thus, “anyway, you are a couple na… svalpa adjust maddee” 🙂 !

Well, coming to a serious context… Down the line, when we join a profession involving thorough interactions with disciplined clients (may be desi or videsi), or we are posted abroad in a culture where there is no such ‘adjusting’ business, we find ourselves stuck somewhere. If not for all cases, still quite often, we are then unable to realize what the problem is and end up grumbling that the other person is “such a strict customer” or simply “such a rigid felaa” (friend /acquaintance /colleague /boss) 🙂 . This also happens when we over-commit on deliverables and on our failure to duly meet those targets, then fervently seek all sorts of adjustments and re-adjustments from the other person !!

Worst of all : since many things can be adjusted as “chalta hai” (even when they are not at all okay!), in the process, sometimes we don’t even learn some of our basic rights !! Politeness and generosity are fine but not at such a cost !

Hence, as sensible elders, I believe it is very important on our part to teach children a right BALANCE between tolerance /acceptance and rebel /objection, particularly in any Indian society.

Irrespective of our global status or rank, let’s together address this attitudinal issue and write a new chapter for us… Primarily, it shall serve us good within.

Of Cats and Squirrels

July, 2014 :

Done with an errand, we were walking along the by-lane when we witnessed quite a funny morning early this month.

My hubby, who is very sensitive to dust, sneezed in rapid successions and with high intensity; so much so that in this case of ‘man vs.the wild’, two full-grown cats were “shaken up” !!! 🙂  Their green-eyes popped out in seconds and stepping-back, they quickly hid behind the pillar of a shop, tightly huddled up against each other (as if two friends holding hands in apprehension). Then they timidly waited there until my hubby managed to control his numerous sneezes and well crossed the spot !! 🙂

It was indeed such a funny scene. I burst into a laughter; so did the shop-owner, the sales-boy and a group of school-goers.

December, 1989 :

This reminded me of my cat, Jhumi, whom I possessed during the late eighties. She had been presented to us as a gift in an old string-purse. She was so tiny then that I think I could have accommodated three or four Jhumis in my palm. Being an only child, I soon found Jhumi to be a great companion, particularly on weekend afternoons. Initially, she used to stay endlessly in the comfort of my lap or little pockets of my baggy trousers and skirts.  As she grew up, she would sort of peep around and then quickly recognize my chair and crouch beneath it even when I was away. In my presence, she often laid there resting her warm body against my then cushion-like feet. Her feathery tail tickling my toes, for a while, made me forget all the rigours of the day. During winter mornings and afternoons, I would always find her on my blanket, coiled like an inactive snail. When we got out of the bed, she would demonstrate one of the finest stretch exercises and then bask on the fresh hay until Ma called us for breakfast.

Problems for Jhumi started when her kittens were born. Our Cook and Domestic Help could never tolerate the kittens since they used to jump here and there over their work areas and it also meant that they had to clean all the utensils and spots again and again. One afternoon, as our Cook prepared to serve food, the kittens emerged from bowls. 🙂 Funny but dangerous !… I was enjoying it but elders were then worried about preventing such misadventures. At the dinner table, they discussed about donating them away or making a separate, restrictive arrangement at the bungalow; then they lowered their thoughtful glances at my radiating joy and innocence, and could not conclude.

The next day went as usual.

In the evening, when we were away at a friend’s place, the two ladies (Cook and Domestic Help) packed Jhumi and her kittens in a rice sac and dispatched them on the local train. They entrusted the sac to their common friend who was travelling on the same train. Unless confronted, it must have thrust Jhumi’s family to a village at least 30-40 kilometres away.

That was the end of all my fun. When I enquired in dismay, my grand-mother explained about all infections that would have been likely caused by Jhumi’s family loitering in the kitchen and therefore, the necessity to release them into open, distant places. And our Cook added happily, “Don’t worry, baby… we have put enough food in the sac; they won’t starve” !

For almost a month, I did hope for them to trace paths back to home… But even more, I prayed that they all stayed safe in some caring hands.

Jhumi has been the only feline I possessed.

August, 1992 :

A garden around a bungalow is incomplete without springy squirrels. We were blessed with plenty of them. While we chatted on the verandah, we could see them jump over our legs or while we unwinded on lazy afternoons, we could watch them playing along window-frames and swaying branches. Their merry clicks enlivened the entire ambience.

Ma was an ardent lover of hanging varieties of plants. So she had a row of them adorning the tall borders and roofs of the long verandah. As a keen gardener, she used to place the right supports (dry twigs, jute strings, wire mesh, etc.) for her other plants as well to extend, grow and bloom in the best of their displays. But sometimes the supports went missing, and so did the Help’s colourful cleaning-rags ! Everyone was clueless !! The official gardener and watchman of the bungalow were upset because they could not account for it. And after a few days, they all started believing that ‘kahaani poori fillaami hai… koi purani aatma ghus ayee hai bungalow mein‘ (some ghostly theme of a film depicting return of an old spirit to the bungalow) !!! 🙂

One day, as I sat in the verandah preparing for my exams, I noticed about four or five adult squirrels sort of ‘spying’ on some thing. It instantly drew my attention and I closed the then boring pages of the Civics textbook. I gathered to look myself what was the ‘spying’ about. Soon, I observed that three or four of them first spread around in directions from which Ma or the gardener usually approaches for the plants on the verandah. Then they perhaps squeaked in some code of their own at which the last squirrel, seemingly younger and quicker, sprang into action without clicking a bit. That was definitely to deceive us that the group was playing far in the garden (the squeaking squirrels on guard) and there was none even near the verandah ! 🙂 While others kept guard, I saw this younger one quietly locate those plant-supports and loot one after the other ! It performed with such intelligence, dexterity and speed that I never blinked for a second, let alone calling Ma to witness this amazing scene !!

For example, if it was a simple twig, the squirrel would just pluck and hold it in its mouth. If it was a woollen or nylon thread, it would mostly use its forelegs to untie it without forming any knot and then neatly roll the loosened thread into a ball. Then tucking all these loot in its mouth, it would rush towards a particular bush. The queer activities were repetitive until a certain satisfaction was signalled en masse. Then they would all immediately disperse along with the accumulated loot in a joint effort.

That bush, I noticed, was situated right beneath the shade of a big mango tree on which they (may be, just two among them) had a nest. Later, gazing at it with my naked eyes, I found a robust nest based on the beautiful loot and also those ‘missing’ colourful rags hanging from it. 🙂

When I narrated the incident to my parents, they never believed me until they had the chance to themselves witness it. It was wonderful to watch this loot, together. 🙂

Ma was so emotional and generous that instead of getting angry at it, she started keeping rags and threads near the bushes !! 🙂  She believed that would unburden the cute creatures and enable them to uninterruptedly guard their little ones lying undefended in the nest during which ‘squirrel Ma-Baba‘ (the adult squirrels) had to gather hardware supports.

And indeed thereafter, the ‘squirrel Ma-Baba‘ (the adult squirrels) utilized the readily available resources and resorted to Ma’s garden only if they needed any extras.

The attendants of the bungalow had to quit the mysterious gossip around their ‘purani bhatakti hui aatma‘ (old wandering spirit) theory :-)… but nevertheless, were amused at this fact unearthed by Chote-babu (me).

Wish we had an advanced digital camera then……

 

%d bloggers like this: