education

Time graduates !



While I was there, I attended a graduation. Attended one. The brother in law was getting an MBA with some kick-ass project scores and some serious study.

Well, ceremony in itself was nothing short of splendid. It started on the dot and ending on another dot. The speakers, the pageantry and pomp gave order a new coat of glitz. The commencement speaker spoke with some purpose, perhaps taking her role rather seriously. That translates to “it was a rather long speech”.

People with knowledge of Six Sigma or stuff of that order perhaps facilitated the arranging of chairs. Students were at the best of behavior that had me wonder if they had been told that they better be at the best of behavior ‘or else’.

Three and a half pats, was all that I could give myself later. Beyond which it became a trifle laborious. For my hunch was right after all. Wikipedia says : “At the high school level, this allows academic administrators to withhold diplomas from students who are unruly during the ceremony”.





I know. I know. You are the ‘bullet train quick’ type who is quick to spot “but this is for high school”. Well, allow for some exaggeration. Will you ? Please adjust.

An overbearing black sea of gowns with borders of red / blue / yellow, well complimented by hoods, painting a rich tapestry of straight angles above the head. Ofcourse, you couldn’t miss the lovely garlands that adorned necks that seemed to have stuck out quite a bit to get this far !

Something that will definitely not miss the ear is the hoots and cheers from families. Families that seemed to have turned out in droves to cheer the graduating student, sometimes mirroring a mini product launch campaign, as names of individual students were called out. Much to my baffling, which you will empathise with, as you read on.



Overall, this was one heck of a ceremony. Something to remember.

Flip a page.

There are graduations. And there are graduations.

The only graduation that I attended was at the end of the MBA. Once. Just once in life. That was many years back. If you are expecting a deluge of memories to inundate this post, well, no. Sometimes you are spared.

The strongest memory, however, of that ceremony was the distinct smell that rented robe brought along. My family was represented by one person : me. I don’t recall of any of my classmates turning up. They had already immersed themselves in newly found jobs in an emerging economy. Better ( or worse) still, no one bothered to find how the ceremony went.

I have no recollections of the speech. Goes http://premier-pharmacy.com/product-category/birth-control/ even further, don’t even know who was the speaker. I have racked my brains and re-jigged my memory with no results to show, except perhaps five and a half strands of hair that the floor bears as evidence.

Ofcourse, those were days where a facebook update to let the world know that you have just had a glass of water, wasn’t exactly possible. So no trail remains. Digital or otherwise. Net net, nothing remains as evidence, which is disproportionately epochal to what the degree has brought me in life!

Looking back, it occurs that that those were the ages when you just wanted to get on with it. There was no celebration of ceremony. We had a future to make. A life to live and a livelihood to create.

Modern day urban Indian schools are now towing the US line. Ah, I forget. In the US, graduations galore. Everything from swimming classes to kindergarten have graduations. Unfortunately, I never could make it to any of those, but yet, have heard truck loads of stories of them.

Back here in India, many a school has graduation ceremonies. With robes and all that. When parents invite me and the missus, to a party to celebrate their son or daughter graduating from Kindergarten, we turn out in our best. The moment in time, when the kid graduates from mellifluous ‘child blabber’ to saying in impeccable English : “This school sucks”, is indeed a moment to savour.

While I am quite neutral on the graduation for kids. But then forcing them to wearing academic gowns and caps and such else doesn’t get better than the league of fancy dress. Both for me and the kids. But it is a wonderful revenue stream for the school and perhaps a good photo op for the parents.

I am reasonably sure that your suspicions of me being one heck of an old world twit have been proven beyond doubt. Perhaps. But then, I am someone, for whom the only meaningful recollections of a graduation are of a postman.

Yes. A postman, who brought a Post Card, during the height of every summer. The only word printed there : ‘Promoted’. That announced graduation to the next class.

Even as the card was entering the safe confines of a steel almirah, courtesy my dotting mother, I would be gone. To face the sun, and try to beat down the beads of sweat on the forehead. Cricket. Tennis. Or simply, attempting to stone the next odd shaped tamarind fruit. No robe. No gown. No ceremony.

Times. They change.

Perhaps, Time graduates !

Towards a wired future.

Theres this letter you might want to read here.
The times have changed. Haven’t they. In a big way. With Blue-ray technology. Internet & its many applications. DVD drives. PlayStation III ! Ofcourse, things have changed.

And of course, children of today will rise above all the plans the adults of today have for them. That’s my hope. And wish.

Sample this.


An advertisement calling in for students ( in the age group of 5-6 years). Apparently, they are starting a ‘new batches’ ! To teach kids read and spell words using phonetics.

And of course, parents have to be worried if their kid cant spell ‘Dictionary’ at the age of 5. Or 6 for that matter. Of course. And spelling that right, will make a ‘a winner in life’.

And of course,there are exams that measure. And measures that examine. Tuition centers that coach. And coaching classes that tutor. TV programs on stars and the world. And the world full of stars of other kinds.

I think, We are indeed on the right path. Of course. Lets hear it. For all of us. Educators. Policy makers. Kids. Parents. And everybody else in this chain. Yay.

As we hurtle fast towards success in a super connected world. With Orkut facebook, digital technology, faster education, blogs, spell checks (btw), Educational programming and the like….

..am i the only one, wondering if our education system makes us meander towards a wired future . With short circuited souls ?

( This is Part – II of a three part series on the Kids World of today )

The Same Wall in K World !

Post – 1 of a three post series on the K World !


Theres this wall. Everyday on the way to work. On the way to work. Currently it echoes a lonely halo in the mornings. For schools are closed and children are away on holiday.

In some time though, schools would reopen. Overflowing satchel and sprightly uniforms will dot the roads. As much as school buses and parents at a bus stop. Tiny hands scratching the air while in animated conversation about an ‘important’ topic is clear. Of a butterflies. Bees. Cricket. actors. Etc Etc. And of course, mothers there have their own.

It is indeed some sight. To watch the contrast. The children without a care and worry. The moving butterfly, the kite that broke free and the odd ‘secret’ visibly keeping them busy. Them mothers, i don’t know. Their subject of discussion remains distant to me.

Coming back to the wall.

The children, they sit on the wall. They are rather, propped on the wall. By ageing grandparents and caring mothers. An escape from having to stand and wait for the school bus. And sitting on the high perch, on the high wall, they converse.

The 10 seconds it takes for me to drive past them, are enough to spot the happiness in them. Animated. Energetic. And that 10 seconds is usually http://premier-pharmacy.com/product-category/blood-pressure enough for me figure the energy expended in keeping them up there. At one place that is.

And in the evening, when i drive back, by the same wall, exactly where the children sat, there are the others that sit on the same wall. Men. Propped by themselves.

Young men. Old men. Middle aged men. All sit and have conversation. Some read the newspapers. Others discuss. Perhaps they too are waiting for their bus to arrive..

For a while now, i haven’t been seeing the children. When the schools reopen, there is going to be chatter and banter. And it is such a sight to behold. Everyday morning.

And i wonder, how it would be to be that wall. To be privy to all what the children speak. Their dreams. Their worlds. I wonder. And then, i think of the company the wall keeps in the evening. I shake my head. And say, ‘time flies’.

The wall will come to bounce with morning energy again. Soon.

Here’s to a great school season. May it rekindle in children the joys of living, the spirit of curiosity, inclusive thinking and a mindset that will make our futures better.

And may they tear down all walls. Save this wall.

This is the first of a three part ‘Kids World’ series on the modern day world of a child

Common Mango !

Its the season for Mangoes ! And the lovely sweet Alphonso variety is doing the rounds. And of course, the one who can stop at just eating one, is inhuman, supernatural or plain stupid. It depends on which side you look at it from !!

Pooris and Aam Ras are the seasons favourite in many restaurants like this one


And as usual, whats in season is in season. Like here. And so, she makes a dish which is called ‘Aam Ras’. ‘Aam = Mango. Ras = Juice’ she painstakingly explains. He tilts his head and tries to remember. This hindi word ‘Aam’ seems to be familiar.

This ‘Aam Ras’ puts him in a rush. He dips into the luxurious ‘Mango pulp – mixed with milk – served chilled’ (And so he thinks. And that’s the closest this blog has ever got to a recipe). And says, ‘Its addictive’. And means every intonation. Very much so.

And mangoes, this season seem to be everywhere. Or so it seems to him. Newspaper reports are much to the contrary. Some mangoes are pricey. Some cheap. But all, worth a little haranguing and a bargain.

And as he ploughs into one more scoop, there is a flash of recollection. With a flash of the Hindi education that’s in progress, he asks her.. ” ‘Aam’ also means ‘common’ right ? ”

She arches her eyebrows. Sensing that the devils company is set to show some results. ‘Aam Aadmi’ as in the political campaign means “Common Man”, right ?’ She nods her head. Half in disinterest. Half in irritation.

And then, the words escape his lips. “Or is it possible, that they really want to call the commoner a proper ‘Mango’ ?!? ” She face palms. ‘Incorrigible’. She says. And asks him if he wants some more. The head nods vigorously. ‘Upon one condition’. She says.

The second helping is had.

In total silence.

Nuclear Civics anybody ?

It was a week ago that i heard Teesta Setalvad amongst many others speak. Many aspects of what she spoke stays firm. But if there was one element that stood out starkly, that was the brief discussion on ‘civics‘ lessons in school.

So, i asked a kid i know what kind of Civics lessons they had in school. She was a small kid. And she said, without bating an eyelid that she is yet to receive a driving licence. Only a while later, did it strike me that she was talking of a different civic(s). The Honda variety.

I ran. And ran. And ran. And came here to write this post !

Am not sure how many of you recall fondly, the civics lessons that you studied in school. I recall vividly. Not fondly. There were are few lessons on the Indian Constitution. I distinctly recall sitting up late nights to memorise those acts and articles ! Fundamental Rights. Directive Principles of State Policy. Some lessons on parliament. Its formation etc. And invariably mix up the years !

And i still remember, the chap who scored the highest marks was the one who could memorise those acts, amendments to the acts, the year in which the amendment was made etc. etc. For example, It made a big difference, if i wrote ‘Arbid Blogger’s bill of 2006′ while in reality it was ‘Arbid Bloggers Bill, 2007′ !

Aside : (I wonder whats come of the brilliant soul who got the year right, repeatedly. (The last heard, he had emigrated, if that was any consolation). But i know whats become of the soul, who got the stats and spells wrong. Repeatedly. He finally has a go at the chap who got the year right. By writing this post !

Thinking about it seems to bring to the fore many of my ideas to the fore. I suddenly seem to have found an answer to the nations woes. Even the world’s woes. Civics it is !!! Reforming Civics education suddenly seems to be such an obvious solution to the worlds problems! Yes. That is my eureka moment in a long while !

How wonderful would it be if the children of the world all understood different constitutions. Cultures. Different laws. Rules. By understanding, i mean understanding. Not learning by rote !

Think about these as actionables

How about making young minds think and reason out between the right and wrong. According to the constitution.

How about focusing on the essence behind each law and not the year on which it was passed.

How about giving children, assignments to research on how the constitution is working. Of it is at all working ?

How about getting children to understand different constitutions of the world ? Ok. At least a few countries ? Ok, at least a few frameworks ?

How about getting Civics back to the forefront and give it a status akin to Physics or Chemistry or other important subjects ?

At one point we needed Physics and Chemistry like nobodys business. But now we have enough abuses of those subjects by mankind that we need ‘Nuclear civics’ more than ‘Nuclear physics’ !

The world can definitely do with some more civics sense ! What say ?

That Revolving Light !

Cochin. 22nd Sept ’08
That name plate and revolving light with a siren on, has so much going for it !! The common man bows. The traffic gives way. Prospective (rich) fathers-in-law will kill, for a son-n-law with that kind of light. The District Collector in essence, is the administrative head of the entire district, and hence is entitled to the privilege of the blue siren !

Many years ago, the allure of the civil services beckoned me as well. Teachers told me, that ‘for your IQ’, i would get through easily. That was in class six. I took them seriously. A few years later, i realised that they were kind souls, and certain acts & words were out of kindness. And nothing else !

Well, to be fair to them, i did score some decent marks and was an above average quizzer. (Those were different days. The closest i come to quizzing these days, is the quizzical look that seems to keep me perennial company )!

Constantly egged on by relatives, friends and family, i thought i would have it too. The revolving light atop the car and unmitigated power. Besides which, the thought of ushering in change & a new way of doing things and making a difference did lurk. I swear. (And i have a strong feeling that Obama somehow took that theme from me)!

In that hope, there were issues of Competition Success Review that were picked up with great regularity. Profiles of people who did make itto the civil services were analysed. Idolised. We also had a few neighbours from the IAS. Talking to them helped stoke a fire too. ( If they could do it, i could too )

And then, one fine day. I gave it all up. To put three years of life ( assuming that i cleared the exams etc) on the line, for a distant promise of power, a revolving light & possibilities of impacting society…. didnt quite add up.

With a promise to stay socially engaged and strive for change, in whatever i did, i walked away. Much to the dismay of many. Till date.

The MBA came along. Life took a different turn. And I didnt have regrets. Still dont. That revolving light dream was firmly on the rear view mirror. What remained for a few years, were the old dusty issues of the Competition Success Review ! With reams of material on how to give interviews and group discussions ! And those profiles of people who made it. Idolised once. Dropped then !

These days, however, a revolving light passes by, an apparition of possibilities turn up. Maybe i could have done a better job, i think, than all those who made it ( perhaps by continuing with Competition Success Review )!!

But that thought refuses to linger. Am happy here. I didn’t have to stick to that magazine and read arbid interviews and come face to face with BSRB question papers !

The road forked long ago. And i took the one more traveled. And am glad i did. My life has evolved in a very different clime ! In a different light ! My calling has been elsewhere.

Education post !

Having been having conversations with various people on children and their education. Matter of fact ones, with no intended result.

The needs of parents sometimes amused me. But caused a lot of concern. One of the chief drivers seems to be, “he should go to a good school. A school which will give him a great pride that he is going to such a big school”. By then, I was sure that it wasn’t the child’s need. But the parent’s need.

I shudder to think of what would become of such a child, living out his parent’s needs. I don’t know. I hope things will all be fine! To me education is mired in capitalism, and children are so closeted in fragmented learning and competition which is not leading them anywhere in the right direction.

Coincidentally, I stumbled upon a book “Education & the significance of life” by J. Krishnamurthy. I have just commenced, but it seems to offer a world of insight. I am capturing the first paragraph of the book over here.

“When one travels around the world, one notices to what an extraordinary degree human nature is the same, whether in India or America, in Europe or Australia. This is especially true in colleges and universities. We are turning out, as if through a mould, a type of human being whose chief interest is to find security, to become somebody important, or to have a good time with as little thought as possible.”

We need to provide our children with education. To listen. Learn. Discern. Love. Talk. Hold hands. Build. Build on their passions. Grow as individuals and human beings. That will lead them to sustained, holistic & long lasting fulfillment. When I put these on the table, a good friend and a parent began “it depends.”

Yes. I thought. The future of our civilization depends!