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State of Indian Education System – Appalling!

I was shocked the other day when my cousin told me that her daughter (3 yr old) studying in Nursery had 9 subjects to study. 9 subjects in a Nursery class??!! I cannot imagine myself to have studied so many subjects in 10th class, Nursery is too far to call. My cousin goes on to say that her daughter had to answer a set of 30 questions to get through an exam – Who is the Prime Minister of India, Who is the President of India, Which bird can fly backwards and such like. I had only one question for her – did the school teach the student her home address, her school address, names of her parents, home phone number – information which is critical for a child of such young age? Given the state of politics in our country, why would I want to know the Prime Minister of India if the same changes every couple of years, if not less? I would rather learn the capital city of my country, capital of the state which I live in – information which is much more stable, information which is useful. The nursery kid is not going to a quiz contest, is she?

I also read about one of the schools in Hyderabad which started of an ‘Integrated IIT course’ for kids of age 11. Needless to say, competition caught up and now there are dozens of schools which ‘specialize’ in this course. I personally did not know a school called ‘IIT’ existed till I cleared the IXth class (maybe I was too ignorant!). Parents pay astronomical amounts of money to send their kids to these courses just to keep ahead of a Mrs. Verma’s kid, who is after all going to a normal course. These courses, by their very name and schedule send shivers down my spine. Classes from 8 to 8 and then lots of homework – when is the kid to enjoy a game of cricket, sit on the terrace and enjoy the stars at night, listen to nuances of life from their grandparents, read about what is happening in the country, discover authors like Enid Blyton – no, the only aim of parents nowadays is to see their kids get into IITs – as if, that was the only way to salvation (if it is, then I don’t want it! And seemingly what I hear from my friends in/from IIT, it isn’t – not by a long shot).

Probably I am a little too old-fashioned, but when has this ‘going to tuitions’ become a trend? As far as I remember, when I was in school (not too long ago, 10-11 years back), going to tuitions was actually an insult. Even if students went, they went very discreetly. There was a social stigma attached to it – if you are going to tuitions, then you are dumb! Period. Students who were smart picked up every subject in school itself, and tuitions were a strict no-no. But today, the trend seems to have reversed. Going to tuitions has become the norm, and students who don’t go to tuitions are the ones left out in the race (what race, which race…don’t ask me, I have no clue!) School from 9 to 5, tuitions from 6 to 9 and then finish homework – no wonder, I see no kids playing cricket, flying kites, cycling around the streets with no purpose any longer. Sad state of affairs – and thankfully, I am not a part of it (but my kid would be – that is my worry!) [Tuitions have become such a roaring business – from LKG to Engineering, Medical nowadays – considering the burgeoning student population, it’s not a bad business proposition at all].

I still remember – when I was of age 11, studies was my least of worries – I was more concerned with how will my team win the next cricket match next evening, what is for dinner, how should I not allow the benchmate to occupy my space on the bench at school, will my mom give me 50 paise so that I can buy the ice-cream outside school etc. I spoke to a kid sometime back and all he was asking me/talking to me was what should he do to score cent percent in mathematics, are board exams really important to get into IIT, how competitive is the world – he was a kid of age 12. Tragic, but true. My father used to tell me various stories (for the sole purpose of killing the fear of water within me) to teach me swimming, my elder cousin used to teach me how things get done in the outside world and suchlike. Kids nowadays have only one thing in mind – to climb the ladder as fast as possible – my only worry is they have no clue which ladder they are going on!

It is erroneous on my part to blame the Indian education system of being fixated on IITs, Tuitions, cramming for exams etc., instead of the kid enjoying and learning life. It is just the principle of efficient markets – unless there was a need, the markets of tuitions wouldn’t have flourished as it is today. Parents are the ones to blame – they fear that their kid is going to lose out on top education, and hence pour out their life savings in educating them. We have turned Education into a commodity, into a ruthless business. We have forgotten the basis of education – education is for life, and not for a living. Instead, we have negated that basis totally – it is only for a living and nothing else. For me, treating the kids to bookish knowledge from 9 to 9 kills their creativity – and that would be a blunder of enormous proportions in the long run!

P.S – I have heard stories of many parents (and some who are my friends) promising that they would not subject their kids through this rigorous system, but would let them develop ‘freely and creatively’ – not pressurizing them into studies. However, once the kid touches the age of 3, these parents automatically switch their mode to ‘keeping up with Mrs. Vermas’ – so much for their tall and empty promises of ‘freely and creatively’.

Looking back, I am extremely grateful to my parents for letting me truly develop ‘freely and creatively’ – for not once did they say ‘Beta, you should get first rank – look at the other guy’, ‘Beta, you should study more – don’t play cricket’! I did get a stare from my father though – just once, a stare, no words – when I came back from a cricket match at 8 in the night, with my Mathematics 10th board exam the next day 🙂 [I think the stare was his fear of ‘Oh dear! This guy is gonna flunk his exam tomorrow 😛 ]

Update: My analysis of Budget 2008-09 published here (Budget 2009-2009 – A Bird’s eye view)

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New Year – 2008 – The Year gone by and The Year coming up!

In all the hullabaloo of this entire ‘New Year’ eve’s thing of late night parties, drinking, dancing etc., I wanted to post a quick blog to mark the occasion – yes, you can raise a toast in my honour 😛 !!

I really wish I were as complex and my mind work in a hundred different ways to say this – 2007 has been a remarkable year for me – highs and lows, good times and bad times – it was one year where I had to struggle for my identity, my interests, myself – and I have grown mature and wiser going into 2008!!! I really wish I could say that – but then, I don’t want to look back at this blog and laugh at how stupid was this post 🙂

Well, to put it my way – very simply – 2007 has been a good year to me. Let me get done with the ‘lows’ part first. One of my best friends passed away in April, and someone very infinitely dear to me moved away around the same time. ‘Tough phase’?? – you bet it was! That said, the ‘highs’ have been quite a few – 2007 has been a year where I moved to my new company, bought quite a few assets, made a lot of great friends, visited and roamed around a couple of countries, learnt a lot in different fields and dammnn..turned 25 🙂 . All in all, a very productive year to say the least.

Going into 2008 – well, looking forward to it with lots of excitement, hope – of different things to happen, meeting different people, probably another continent or two and obviously lots of fun – the same old bland stuff that I had promised myself last year and probably the year before 🙂 . I am reminded of my favorite school teacher here and let me quote her – ‘Good, Better, Best – Never let it rest. Till the good becomes better and better the best’ – I would be happy if I would not have inverted this quote at the end of 2008 🙂 .

P.S –

a) Movies – Best movies of 2007

1. Taare Zameen Par 2. Johnny Gaddar 3. Chak De 4. Guru 5. Manorama Six Feet Under 6. Dharm

Kindly do not miss these movies. Each one has a charm of its own. And yes, each one is brilliant.

b) Have been selected as a Desicritic at Desicritics.org. ‘Christmas in Florida’ travelogue has been published on this premier Indian blogging site. So hopefully, it should motivate me to blog better, if not more frequently.

c) It’s been 8 years since my Engineering – and I still can’t believe time flies so fast. One year back, one of my Engineering friends said -‘ some years later, you wouldn’t even realise because Time would heal you of all those memories’. To him, my only answer is (and yeah, I made this up on my recent trip to Florida 🙂 )

They said, ‘Time would heal everything’;

They lied!

d) Where are the New Years’ Eves I say? I don’t see any around. (if you get the pun, kindly excuse the PJ 😉 )

Wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year!!

We Won, Yessss!! We Won!!

As one of my friend would say later, ‘Watta match!! Watta match! If you had asked me if a girl’s kiss is better than this – I would have disagreed completely!!’

Let me say at the outset, that this match and the tournament was won because of only one man – Ajit Agarkar. Thank Goodness, he was on the bench. Else, I doubt if we could have reached the semis. So, let’s just take a bow to this great man for the greatest contribution he has ever made to the Indian Cricket.

Billed as the greatest final that was ever to happen, the match lived up well and truly to its expectations. No one, either in the stadium or across millions of homes in India and Pakistan would have asked for a better match – a match that went right down to the last over – a match where the quality of batting, bowling and fielding was outstanding – a match which starkly reminded me of Miandad’s last ball six (which thankfully, did not happen) – and finally, a tournament final which did not end up as an anti-climax where one side would romp home with victory (as has been the case usually)!! Could I have asked for anything better on a Monday evening – Absolutely not. I was on the edge of my chair all throughout the match – instructing (actually ordering) my friends in the room not to move an inch from their places till the match was over (Not that the stars and future of the match was entirely dependent on the seating arrangement of a few people in a room – but where passion overtakes sense, logic is out of the window).

As the ball went sailing over the rope in the last over of Kaka Joginder, silence prevailed in India while jubiliations would have begun in Pakistan. It was all a matter of one wicket or a six. Probably the only person in the world who had to hear more abuses than Agarkar was Kaka Joginder in that particular moment. Then, it happened. Misbah’s “mind running like a computer”(I will come to this phrase later) crashed – generating a serious error of trying to scoop the ball over fine leg instead of hitting that lollipop-half-volley-decent pace ball over the bowler’s head for a six. Psycho Sreesanth held on to the catch and only just (if he had dropped it, then probably that would have been the end of his career after his magnificient 4 overs for 44 runs is a totally different matter). India celebrated, Misbah cried and Pakistan was shocked. Kaka Joginder redeemed himself to do the jig along with Harbhajan and Pathan during the lap of honour. Crackers were burst, People screamed and when we had dinner at some restaurant later, everyone was in a fantastic mood – smiling, hi-fis and boisterous laughter. It was one party!!

Everything that happened for India and Pakistan in this tournament happened for their own good – Pakistan have found a deadly pace combination in Asif, Umar Gul and Tanvir – if nurtured properly (instead of hitting around with bats and getting into squabbles) would become fearsome. Misbah is more than an ideal replacement for Yousuf (although I cannot say he has a long bright future ahead of him – he’s already 33!) and an able and a fantastic leader in Malik. For the Indians, the biggest gain has been the pace attack, Rohit Sharma and Kaka Joginder (who’s fate is similar to Misbah). Dhoni’s silent thumbs-up to Harbhajan after he bowled Michael Clarke during the nail-biting India vs Australia match is more than a sign that he is here to stay – lest, politics do him in. Needless to say, this signals the end of Agarkar’s career whose only credit is that he snatched defeat from the jaws of victory countless number of times!!

Now that India has won the Cup, I need to ask a few questions to a few people – not that their answers would matter – but then, let me exercise my right as a blogger –

Shoaib Malik – How did you assume Muslims around the world are supporting you to win? India has a sizeable population of Muslims and they celebrated India’s victory yesterday probably more than the other communities did (I am sure you missed seeing Irfan Pathan on Yousuf Pathan’s back enjoying every moment of their victory!!). Why bring in religious fervor and stupid comments to such a wonderful match? Beats me.

Ravi Shastri – What’s with your cliches nowadays? Have you run out of them? You used ‘his mind is running like a computer’ probably 5 times in 5 minutes of your commentary. Others include ‘Going right down to the wire’ (still can’t see the wire), ‘Anybody’s game’ and your oft-so-used-to-death ‘Game on’. You better ‘go back to the drawing board’ and invent new cliches. Please!!

Harsha Bhogle – Dear o dear! What was wrong with you in this tournament? You were so insipid and were looking for words – ‘Oh! Misbah has hit the ball over the rope, I just can’t describe how he hit the ball’ – I guess your job is to do that. Once or twice, I can understand – the statement was repeated across multiple players in multiple matches. Is it ‘Familiarity breeds contempt’ scenario here? Improve oh dear, Kindly do. So many people in India admire you.

Psycho Sreesanth – I mean whatt!! I guess Dhoni does a security check on you before you step on to the ground, lest you draw out a pen-knife and slice Hayden or some other player. I guess you need to turn your aggression inwards and develop more consistency – else, you are a ‘gonner’!!

Freddie Flintoff – It is just not ok to blurt ‘I will hit your face, you just wait’ to Yuvraj. Back it up and please, to a team of jelly-bean throwers and whiners of ‘too much away from home’, this attitude would not work – Nope it won’t.

Sunil Gavaskar – For once, I guess you should have appreciated that India won – whole-heartedly. We can completely understand that you are grief-stricken that Sachin did not play a part in this ‘important historical event that happened after 24 years’ but please – for once, could you stop saying ‘Both teams deserved to win’ and say that ‘Indians played a magnificient game under an able captain to win comprehensively. Deserved winners’!! Could you? Somehow pessimism overtakes my usual highly optimistic behavior when it comes to you.

Ajit Agarkar – Oops, sorry! No questions Sirr!! You have played very well. You have motivated the team very well from the trenches (Imagine, players saying to each other – however worse, we can’t get worser than him, pointing to Agarkar). No sir, seriously – thank you very much. I don’t think you should have expected a better farewell than winning this Twenty20 world championship.

Yeee!! Twenty20 is here to stay. The 50-over match on Sep 29th between India and Australia already sounds boring!! 🙂

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