Showing posts with label Education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Education. Show all posts

Sunday, July 21, 2013

[If] I Lead India

If you are a TV Advt junkie like I am, chances are you wouldn't have missed the Times Of India 'I Lead India' campaign. You can say that they spent a heck lot of money conceptualizing that ad.
What with all the furniture, the extras, the fire, the clearance for the stunt, the celebrity endorsements and the special effects. You could either be one of those who got the adrenaline rush for the 10 seconds you saw and sprung out of your couch to do the fist bump when the girl did 'the scream'. Which btw was frightening!
Or you could be one of those who watched the ad silently and thought 'What a sheer waste of money!'
Yet again, you could be one of us (like me) who watched the ad with contempt and the silent angst of how our media houses have trifled the struggle for real freedom.

Freedom is not about burning furniture, however symbolic it could be.


Downloading ringtones or the anthem is not going to do squat about anything.
Having a 'Roadies' style audition is so far from what we need, that the Lead India initiative is a mockery of how far our unemployed, educated youth will go for fame and 15 minutes of facebook/TV glory.

Public anger against corruption is not about lighting a massive heap of furniture on fire. This worked in the good ol' days of Gandhi, when lives were simpler and when every Indian was as oppressed as his/her neighbor. What happens to furniture that is not made of wood?

Today, we are not oppressed. We are comfortable. Our thoughts are not about freedom of speech and freedom to vote or some such ideals. We are preoccupied with our thoughts to buy that multi-million rupee apartment, being able to afford the EMI on that SUV and fuel, sending our children to that high-priced International/Christian school in India or abroad, going on that annual vacation to the US/Europe/Thailand, having split air conditioners / LED TVs / Side by Side refrigerators in our homes and to never age or die.
Copying and pasting solutions that worked then to our situations now can never work. We'd think the Anna debacle would have taught us this but looking at the way this and some other 'patriotic' ads have been playing on TV, I doubt if we'd ever learn.

But something good has come out of this ad. What would I do to change the way India is?
As a person who has lived more than half his life in a westernized society, I have a fairly clear idea of what might work and what wouldn't.

Let me begin by reiterating how unique India is.
Among other major countries, we have a lot of character and resilience.
But that's where the good parts end.

We lack self-respect and have a skewed perception of self worth. We are extremely judgmental and are easily enthralled by illusions of grandeur.
We don't practice nor possess dignity of labor. We are hypocritical and love looking down upon people who are not of the same socioeconomic status as we are.
We are brought up to believe that there are only a handful of professions you must grow up to be and God forbid if you are something else.
We tell our children not to cheat/break the law, yet we will jump that signal or ride without a helmet.
We preach tolerance towards women, yet we will (physically/mentally) abuse our wives, sisters and mothers.
We preach non-violence yet breed racism and intolerance towards those who fall out of grace in our sight.
We raise our children in black and white. There are no greys around. Nothing in between.
And if you have been unfortunate enough to have parents who placed a lot of importance on money, then you will grow up to be an average Indian that worships money.

While the list below is not conclusive, I do believe it is a good way to start.

  • Rewrite the constitution with the inputs from citizens.
  • Establish stronger, swifter courts.
  • Enforce existing laws.
  • Step up punishment. Punishment should be incremental, swift and profound.
  • Abolish paper money. Creates a money trail that can't be erased easily.
  • Enforce Accountability.
  • Establish minimum hourly wage. Removes prejudice and reinforces dignity of labor.
  • Increase fines by 10x. 
  • Enforce the RTI Act.
  • Increase internet connectivity.
  • Detach religion from public life.
  • Improve infrastructure. Which in itself will be a major impetus for growth.
  • Encourage public participation in all forms of governance.
  • Abolish multiple party system and adopt a bi-party system.
  • Abolish reservations and socioeconomic quotas.
  • Ban politicians (for life) who
    • have been convicted or are suspects in (criminal/civil) lawsuits.
    • have not passed a certain level of education.
    • do not have proven leadership skills.
    • have not been a part of local/national community service.
    • have been in power for more than 10 years in their active political life.
  • Revamp the educational sector.
  • Foster and reward corporate community service.
  • Reward agriculturalists who innovate.
  • Reward performance instead of tenure.
  • Reward and encourage mentoring.
  • Calibrate standards.
So there you go.. I have the good feeling that I've missed out on some here, but these are things that are not impossible to do. Many countries around the world have faced the same challenges that we are, yet when they adopted standards that suited them the best - excelled.

This could be the start! Do we really have it in ourselves to change?!


Friday, May 31, 2013

The chickens that didn't hatch: The truth you need to know

So it is a fact that Arindamn doesn't like his critics.
He is a sore loser and a cry baby.

I feel compelled to post a series of links dredged from the internet on one of the largest education scams to hit modern India, so at the risk of getting my post banned/blocked with juicy lawsuits, here goes:


Studying in this "B-School" [note the quotes] can make you the best in .. errr... who are we kidding - nothing. Tall claims busted.

And if you'd still like to play Russian roulette with your hard earned monies, then I suggest you read the truth here.


And if this post does wake the pony-tailed phony from his daze, then you can be pretty sure that I will meet the same fate as this poor chap. Ahh!! the pitfalls of being indexed and famous!


And so he did the cardinal sin of dissing one of our pride and joys - IIMs. And yes, we dared to think beyond the IIPMs too.

But why have we descended on Mr Pony-tail like a bunch of vultures? 
Do we really care about the thousands who fall prey to his slick SRK advts? 
Are we really concerned about the damage he's causing? I don't think so.

Strip away all his facades, and its easy to see that he is just another businessman out to make his billions, hook or by crook . So? 

Look around and you'll see atleast 10 other unscrupulous business(wo)men who have the same goals too.
Why bother?

The only reason why we've latched onto him like a hungry lioness is because of the way he has 
tried shutting us up. Given to ourselves we would have shut up, in time. In the words of Fasttrack, we would've 'moved on' to the dozens of other juicy scams that our politicians supply us with.

So through all this, Mr Pony-tail ought to remember how futile it is to try and muzzle mouths he can't shut. He blocks one Site, 10 other will replicate the posts. He muzzles one writer, 20 others will gain inspiration and fight. Ironically, by doing what he is doing, he is justifying his critics and echoing their suspicions. He is validating what they think he is- Nothing but a wonderful fraud!


Thursday, October 07, 2010

Will Work for Food

Perhaps the few times in a man's life that he humbles himself and when all else seems less important:
Its when he’s desperately waiting for an interview.

India has the largest educated unemployed. Yes, its true.
Any consultancy or recruitment agency worth its salt would have young hopefuls just waiting  for those magical 2 words. You're hired!

Who said BPO's are running out of people? Who's ashamed of working in a Call center?
Not the 1000's of young literate boys and girls who stand, sit and pace for many hours waiting for an interview.

They would come early and many would spend almost the whole day but only a few will get lucky.

Of the many things in life, applying for that job, waiting for your interview and then waiting for the verdict is one of two or three times in a man's life when he turns into the gentlest of gentle creatures. Soft voices, gentle and the most discreet. All sins are forgiven and all indiscretions pardoned. Egos deflated, you can almost walk over the pride of a man and he will never even wince. Nearly everyone around you seem to be more anxious than you. Everyone tries to avoid each other's glances, they all seem to have lost their collective Appetite.
The prettiest young thing does not even get a third glance from the men.

I imagine how many will keep their jobs down for the rest of their active life, but who cares. Candidates will profess their undying love and loyalty to working hard for their future employers.

The recruiters invariably feel like gods, fully aware that their every nod and gesture is being interpreted and scrutinized by eager Candidates.
Many of the men seem to have woken up, and hurried to come. Deodorants are given an obvious miss. The razor too.
I don’t know about the others, but many seem oblivious to good dressing sense. Jeans coupled with formal shoes, formal trousers mated with the ubiquitous white, dirt stained sneakers and nearly all of them carrying a college bag that seems ridiculously heavy (what are they carrying?). And don’t even get me started on the communication skills. I wonder how any of them will ever be able to stand a sentence with a Westerner. Tooth brushes were obviously given a miss too.
The nervous fidgeting, the flitting glances, tapping, the bored yawns, the swinging of the feet, cracking of the knuckles and the more confident ones among them will be trying to demystify their phones, watches or whatever gadget they have with them.
Nearly all of them look as if they have just been given the death penalty.

There seems to be no end to the deluge and while we grownups are haggling with petty laws and debating on the right to education, I would like to ask just one question.

Where is the quality of education and our graduates right now?

We sure are book smart but street smart? No. I have seen candidates come in slippers for an interview.

I suddenly feel old (and a little bit wiser) when i think about how teachers in my day and age gave a lot of importance to proper etiquette.

Something’s amiss here. Perhaps i am old fashioned and this might be the age of the metrosexual male but i think manners still make a man.

But… oh who’s listening.


Sunday, March 07, 2010

It's not Plagiarism, its just 'Collective Research' !!

People who work with me and those who I communicate with frequently have lauded the way I write.

For a person who is aiming to be a bonafide writer worth his salt, I believe I have a long way to go. This belief keeps me grounded and very receptive to my critics.

Ofcourse, I have not always been as prolific or fluent as I am.
I have at one point of time, struggled with grammer. I would have been an Architect or a Scientist (following in the shoe prints of my Dad).

But for my 10th grade English Faculty, I would have languished in a lab.
I remember after a particularly tough session on 'Conjunctions', as I was hurrying towards the Physics laboratory, I bumped into the chubby frame of my English lecturer. 
Been a sufficiently chubby and suitably minute person that I was, I lost balance and bounced off the wall. 
As kids of my age, you can bully yourself through the term if you score well in your term papers.My average grades qualified me to growl at her.

Interestingly, I remember she apologised. I grinned at myself. I can get used to this, you see.
Our school tried hard to inculcate the reading habit into their wards; with moderate success.
Later that day, we had the same lecturer 'mind' us while the nerds among us buried ourselves into TinTin and Hardy Boys. I was engrossed in doing nothing. Libraries are for losers. Now I don't remember her name, but I remember what she told me at that moment. She walked over, and told me how gifted I am (Gee, I know that. Tell me something new) but knowledge should never have a saturation point. 

I don't know whether I really started reading then, but 18 years after that comment. I still recall that statement every time I hit a Writers Block.

I gravitated towards English and literature and found how much more amazing and fulfilling English is than any amount of dissection or chemical formulae.


'English is such a language which is so easy to speak incorrectly, but difficult to speak correctly'

I have been a poet, essayist and an editor since then. I have had spectacular faux paus and breath taking leaps.

If you are still wondering how the title applies. Yes, it does. 
Sometime ago, as we all do tend to forget lessons learnt. I became complacent and arrogant with my writing. 
Allow me to recollect one of my spectacular faux paus..

I happened to chance upon an advt in an extremely popular technology magazine calling for Content Writers. Needless to say, I applied. They required me to write a 1000 word article on a cell phone. Don't Copy Paste. Piece of cake, I thought.

Ofcourse, I had the article ready. Emailed it. Already confident that I would be selected, I counted my chickens before they hatched. In this case, even before the hen was born.

One week later, I get a mail from the Chief Content Editor.
A very scathing remark that read: 
'We thought when we said no copy/paste, that implied no cheating. Your article is a blatant attempt at plagiarism.'
They also sent me a copy of all the websites and the searches that I could have run to get the article. I was embarrassed beyond belief. More than that, I realised that I'd let myself down.

I have come a long way since then. Have worked for several Content Writers churning out 
articles that were uniquely researched and exquisitely written.

Yes, I do understand that this is no one's utopia, but atleast wake up and smell the BT Brinjals and the Sex Scandals, people.

Why do we forget the lessons of our past.
Why do we get so complacent?

We take pride in mediocrity. The result? We end up making a fool of ourselves in front of the world.
We take pride if we are able to cheat the system. We jump the traffic lights if we don't see a traffic cop standing round the corner. 
We cannot bear to wait for the lights to turn green, but we don't mind waiting for Sachin to hit that six or to wait in that line to catch that blockbuster.
We cannot tolerate to be treated with any less respect but dont mind making our servants - our bonded warehouse property.

We cannot tolerate Pakistan feeding terrorists, but don't mind 'poly-ticks-ians' sucking the sap out of our country.
We cannot stick to our Gandhian principals of living, because we need to give that 'bribe' to get that 'favor' done
We cannot tolerate going to war with the Pakis and the Chinese but don't mind the Shiv Senas (and like scum) dividing and ruling us.
We cannot bear to see Kashmir being invaded by the Pakis, but don't mind the Russians molesting our children in Goa.


"It's not Plagiarism, its just 'Collective Research' "
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