Saturday, December 1, 2012

To Be or Not To Be

Paradoxical Principles of Organizational Life (from the handout given by Professor Smith in Leadership class)

1. To produce change, preserve the status quo
2. To  increase autonomy, augment dependency
3. To create unity, emphasize diversity
4. To empower self, strengthen other
5. To gain control, relinquish command
6. To change other, alter self
7. To birth the new, kill the old
8. To see clearly, look at nothing
9. To lead effectively, follow diligently
10. To become “a part of”, grow “apart from”
11. To overcome hopelessness, give up hope
12. To generate possibilities, set limits
13. To facilitate growth, cut back
14. To build authority, authorize others
15. To foster trust, risk losing all
16. To be whole, embrace regression
17. To know self, encounter other
18. To develop coherence, hold onto chaos
19. To receive feedback, reveal self
20. To establish commitment, express non commitment
21. To accept the unimaginable, reject the possible
22. To reserve what is, reinforce novelty
23. To move on, plant roots
24. To accentuate individuality, heighten belonging
25. To acquire wisdom, affirm ignorance

To Be or not To Be is the question, To Be and not To Be is the answer.
by Kenwyn K. Smith, 1990

Professor Smith emphasizes in class to make vulnerability our greatest strength. It might sound a little illogical, but wait: are we not talking about paradoxes? And to think about it, is it not something which is true in all the situations? We are the best friends with people who know our weaknesses and not the ones who know our strengths. This is why we call the best of our friends as chaddi-baddis. They are so close to us that we share everything with them: even our underpants.

I have had many friends through different phases of my life, be it different schools, college, jobs and random friendships. But the ones who I have stuck on to are the ones who I could share my feelings with. They are the ones who know what the situations are where I behave like a dumb ass  They know exactly what my fears are and what makes me anxious.

This is the reason we are so close to our parents, our siblings, and our family members. They know us so closely that they can write essays on our weaknesses.

Now when I reflect, I think that if I would have exposed my vulnerability to everyone I know. Probability everyone would have been such a great friend. The world would have been absolutely fantastic with all the love and warmth. :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Who is Happy?

“If migration improves the socio economic conditions of the migrants, isn’t it a good thing?” asked a student to Dr Amitabh Kundu in the Science Po (Political Science) lecture today. The lecture was about migration in Indian cities and we were looking at migration in Indian cities along with its effects and causes. Though the question looks simple, there is no straightforward yes or no answer to this. Clearly, the professor did not have a direct answer either. And to answer this, he narrated a small story from the great epic Mahabharata. The story goes like this:

When the Pandavas were in exile, Kunti, the mother of the five Pandavas expressed the desire to drink water on a particular day. One of the sons went to a river to bring water for his mother. But he was made captive by Yaksha. Another son of Kunti went to free his brother and bring water but met the same fate. Similarly, two more sons of Kunti were made captive by Yaksha. At last Dharma, the eldest of the brothers and the wisest, went to Yaksha. Yaksha put forward a series of questions in front of Dharma. And one of the questions was, “Who is happy?” To this Dharma replied, “One who earns his bread and butter through mental or physical labor and is not a migrant is happy.”

What immediately came to my mind were two separate conversations, one with Nishit and other with Mayank. Both of them were going to the States to pursue Masters and both of them were worried about going away from their respective families, friends and their country. When they had told this to me, my reaction was full of surprise. I told them that they will make friends there and they will get adjusted there like one does in a new city.

But today when I am planning to go abroad for doing Masters, I feel shivers down my spine. For some reason, I feel nostalgic before applying for masters. The only thought of going away from India that troubles me. I have also been thinking about being a migrant in the national capital for the past few months. What is it which has held me to this city? There were aspirations which drew me to the city but probably now there is nothing. At times, I yearn for going back to my hometown and settling there. I agree that there are less opportunities and more struggle to make a living there. But what is there and will always be there is the familiar air, the familiar smell of earth and, most importantly, my family.

There are many things which this city has given me and I will miss them when I give I am not here. But I know that I will be happy if I am with my family. I know my family will be happy if I am with them. And happiness is something which we want in life. Ain’t it?

P.S. Professor Rudrangshu Mukherjee said in the class, “We must put any historical personality in context before commenting on his or her actions.” On the similar lines, one might argue what Dharma said to Yaksha might be true in that context. I have only one answer to this, “If you are a migrant, ask yourself if you are happy living in a foreign land.” :-)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Masked Men

I grew up surrounded by masked people. And I never met the same person more than once in life. Every time I saw a woman who caught my attention, she would go away in the sea of masked men, never to reappear. And then I would keep on finding the same face in the vast sea of theatre artists I grew up with. This was maddening. I could not understand why I was not able to see the same person again. What was more baffling was the fact that different people were always called by the same name, every time. On the other hand, I also did not understand the logic of the fact that Ajoba (grandfather) was called Bhau (brother) by everyone. While the different-looking people around me had the same name, the same person was referred to by different names.

It was not until I was five that Ajoba told me that I did not have a mother. And then I realized the reason why ladies caught my attention more than men in the vast sea of different and sometimes scary-looking people. It was my inner longing for my mother. Though Ajoba tried his best, in spite of his age and ill health, to be a loving and caring father to me, he was too masculine to become a mother. Not only was he not able to cajole the crying child, who was hungry, he would sometimes turn his back on me when I was crying due to waking up because of a bad dream. I would cry for some more time and then when I got tired of crying, I would sleep peacefully. Though I was a little afraid sometimes to go near Ajoba, I loved him as he was the only person I had met more than once in life.

Ajoba once told me that he found me at the Grant Road station. I was sleeping in serenity when he saw me for the first time. I was so calm that he thought me to be dead. He says that I looked so beautiful that he kept on looking at my face. He kept doing that for almost ten minutes when my lips twitched. By then I had enchanted him so much that he had decided that I was going to be saved. I was going to grow up with him, in his house, around his acquaintances, around his profession. For long, I was not able to figure out what Ajoba’s profession was. All I could see him doing was giving directions to different people every time to do something or the other on stage. Like I didn’t see the same person again in my life, he didn’t give directions to the same person again. It looked after doing what Ajoba asked him to do; they vanished, got lost in the wave of masked people. The same wave which washes away my name written at the Juhu Chaupati everytime I write it when I go there with Ajoba or one of the masked men.

Ajoba did not have a family. I once heard some masked men saying that Ajoba was adopted by a theatre group when he was one year old. His mother had poisoned her husband and then drunk the same poisoned juice to end the misery of life which comes with the chawl life. She tried to poison him as well before she poisoned herself but something stopped her from doing that. Perhaps, the calmness with which Ajoba was sleeping prevented the possible death. Perhaps, death got scared by already existing calmness. He was then adopted by a single lady living in the nearby kholi who worked in the theatre group. And thus he was adopted by the entire theatre group when the lady who adopted him died in an accident after a month of the death of his parents.

When I was six, Ajoba first talked to me about acting. He provided answers to my questions of why I was not able to see the same person twice in life. He told me about why he had two different names. He told me the reason for which he was always keeping directions to people. He told that a director has to do that all the time. He told me that I was born to be his son, I was born to be an actor, I was born to be a director, I was born to carry forward his theatre company.

Ajoba told me that the entire world is also like a stage. When I asked about the director of the world, he would talk about the God. He would say that that we play the part as decided by The Director. He was just playing the role of a director. This is how it was destined to be. I was destined to play the role of his son; he was destined to play the role of my father. The masked men were destined to play the roles of the masked men. And once I thought about it well, I was able to relate everything I saw with a stage. The swarm of men coming out of the Dadar station in the evening was nothing but a stage setting with many actors at a time while a child sleeping peacefully at the Grant Road station was also a stage setting with a few days old child playing the lead.

At seven, when I went to the school for the first time, they asked me what I wanted to be after growing up and the only thing I could think, say or write was ‘actor’. I knew of nothing other than masked men and the impact was so much that I have started thinking of everyone as a masked man, even Ajoba.  I was a good student at school, a little afraid though. I was afraid that someone would snatch my tiffin box which Ajoba made me every day; I was afraid that someone would take my books away and then Ajoba would shout at me; I was afraid that someone would send a goon at night and take my Ajoba away from me. I loved Ajoba and didn’t want to be away from him. Ever!

I left school not long after. I could not see any sense in learning what they taught at school. I was learning whatever was required for me among the masked men. People without masks made me afraid. Ajoba resisted my decision not to go to school. I told him that I wanted to act, direct and run his theatre company and it didn’t require any knowledge of Science or Algebra. He shouted at me, even raised his hands to slap me, but he stopped. I do not know why. And the moment his hands stopped, I knew that he had given his consent. Ajoba was my teacher for the rest of my life. He taught me everything he knew about acting, directing and running a production house. He taught me that masked men need unmasked men to support them and vice versa. He taught me that people become better humans after wearing masks. He taught me how to wear a mask every time.

Today Ajoba is not there. I am an orphan again. I still remember the day he died. He was not feeling well since the morning. I asked him to visit a doctor but he refused. He told me that some malignancies cannot be cured. As the sun went up, so did his body temperature. But unfortunately, it did not come down as the sun started coming down.  He was panting and gasping for breath in the evening. I was sitting beside him; I didn’t want to move an inch away from him. I was praying to the Director to let this director play his role for some more time. I was holding his hands to make him sure of the fact that I was always there for him. I was touching his forehead again and again to check if the temperature lowered. But it was decided that that this actor had to make an exit. He had to go leaving the stage for other masked and unmasked men. And before midnight, he went! The director made an exit. I did not weep. I did not weep for the fact that I did not know that people weep when someone dear dies. I just sat there holding his hands and looking at his calm sleep. I held his hands till it was as cold as ice and it became unbearable for me to hold it further. We took Ajoba for burning his dead body. I felt like an orphan for the first time. I was really an orphan now.

I run the theater company after Ajoba. It has become big now and we do not need to struggle for survival anymore. We are going out of this city for the first time to stage a play. But I miss Ajoba. I cry in bed at nights thinking of him. Truths are scarier than bad dreams. They do not let one get tired of crying. The masked people have to hide their emotions behind their masks. I have done the same. I do not show the emptiness which has crept into my life when Ajoba is not here. Though it has been seven years now, I feel the same pain which I had felt when I returned after his funeral.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Descartes: The Method of Doubt and Cogito

Descartes occupies an important place in western philosophy. He starts philosophy at a time when it had dried out by the end of 1600 AD. He wants to find a foundation on which other knowledge could be built. Thus, he can be thought of as a foundationalist. He believes in the Plato’s idea that ‘knowledge requires certainty’. But at the same time, Descartes rejects Plato’s ideas that the physical world is not knowable. In fact, he tries to build a certain and stable foundation to know the physical world.

At the time when there was rejection of Aristotle by the contemporary western philosophers, Descartes remains a rationalist. While the contemporary philosophers like Locke, Berkely, Hume and others started and became a part of the empiricist movement; Descartes is still in Aristotleian tradition. Descartes is the champion of what is called as mechanistic philosophy. He argues that the world is a giant machine. Objects do not move themselves, rather one movement leads to another. Thus Descartes focuses on causality. (Brown)

As stated earlier, Descartes believes in certainty. He is looking for a stable foundation which is certain and which cannot be doubted so that he can use that as a base to build upon knowledge. In this process, Descartes comes up with the ‘Method of Doubt’. According to the method of doubt, anything which can be doubted is false and hence that cannot be used as a foundation for building knowledge:
“For the purpose of rejecting all my opinions, it will be enough if I find in each one of them at least some reason for doubt (Descartes)”.

However, it must be noted here that Descartes does not actually believe that the things which can be doubted are literally false. It just means that Descartes discards them of being capable of providing a foundation or being used in a valid argument. Descartes believes that if he can find something which is not doubtable in this sense, it can be used in a valid argument to build the knowledge of the physical world.

In order to search the ‘undoubtable’, Descartes starts with doubting the three faculties by which we come to know the world and the things. These faculties are the senses, the imagination, and the reason or understanding. He starts off by doubting the senses. His argument is that the senses are unreliable and hence cannot be used as foundation. We might get into an illusion by our senses. For example, the scientific experiments of optical illusion prove that we might be misled by our vision. Similarly, we can be misled by other senses. Since the senses are unreliable, they cannot be the foundation.

Now Descartes moves on to doubting the physical world. To doubt the physical world, he uses the argument that he could be dreaming that he is in the physical world. And thus, the physical world becomes an imagination of the mind. Similarly, he extends this argument by saying that this possibility cannot be ruled out anything or any experience in the physical world.

Further in order to doubt the physical world, Descartes introduces the idea of the ‘Evil Genius’. The evil genius has the powers of the God but he is not God. The evil genius can deceive us about the physical world. It is possible that the evil genius created illusions all around. Even the stars, the sun and all the celestial bodies are illusions created by the evil genius. However, it must be, once again, noted here that Descartes does not believe that the evil genius really exists but he is just using this argument to doubt the physical world. According to him, this is a possibility which cannot be ruled out.

Finally, Descartes doubts the disciplines like physics, astronomy, medicine and all the others which are based on the study of composite things. He doubts the simple and general disciplines like geometry, arithmetic on the grounds that these are study of things whose existence in this world is doubtful. He takes the example of a math problem and says it is possible that everyone is making a mistake in solving the problem and no one in the world is aware of the mistake. To understand this argument better, let us look at the following math example:
Let us assume, x=1
ð   x=x^2
ð   x = x^2 -1
ð   x-1 = (x-1)(x+1) [Expanding the RHS]
ð   1=x+1 [Dividing both sides by x-1]
ð   0=x [Subtracting 1 from both sides]
ð   x=1 & x=0.
Hence, it is proved that 0=1.
However, there is a mathematical error (dividing both sides by x-1) in the above example, it is very difficult to figure that out for someone who is not adept at mathematics. Similarly, it is possible that we all are doing some mathematical errors everyday without realizing it.

Thus, Descartes rules out all the truths which are derived from senses or imagination and eliminates almost all the truths which are derived from logical reasoning or understanding. And this elimination takes places by doubting those truths. However, he says that there is one thing which is certain. He cannot doubt his own existence. When he doubts, he must exist. Even if there is an evil genius who is deceiving him into illusions, even if all the mathematical reasoning has got some unknown mistake, but the fact that he is able to think about these means that he exists. The evil genius cannot deceive him till he is not there in existence. So when he is thinking, he knows that he exists which cannot be doubted. Hence, he finally concludes  (Descartes)

As stated earlier, Descartes is looking for a foundation on which he can build other knowledge. ‘Cogito ergo Sum’ is the foundation on which he can build all that he doubted. This piece of knowledge has the quality which he calls as being clear and distinct. He says that an idea is clear if it manifests to an attentive mind. This means that if one is awake, attentive, well fed and not distracted, one would be able to see that it is true. He further adds that an idea is distinct if it contains nothing but clear ideas. ‘I think, I exist’ is self evidently clear and distinct.

In the next step, Descartes extends what he has discovered till now. He knows that he exists and the essential characteristic or requirement of his existence is the fact that he thinks. This means that it is possible for him to exist without a body but existence without a mind is not possible. However, it must be kept in mind that by thinking, Descartes means anything which is a mental activity. It may include seeing, feeling pain, believing that two plus two is equal to four etc.  Thus, when Descartes says that ‘I exist’, he actually talks of the existence of his mind.

The proposition ‘I exist’ comes from the fact that ‘I think’. It means that Descartes has assumed that I exist before he could prove the existence of ‘I’. Moreover, there is another assumption in this case which says that thinking things exists. There is no reason given by Descartes on why or how thinking things exist.

There is some certainty in the proposition ‘I exist’ but there lie many ambiguities on the grounds of assumptions taken in the proposition ‘I exist’. The first one comes from the argument that I exist because I think. This means that Descartes has assumed that the thinking things exist in the world. However, he has never mentioned or proved the existence of ‘thinking things’ in his arguments. The second assumption is that the process of thinking is believed to be done by ‘I’. By saying that it is ‘I’ who is thinking, Descartes has not considered the fact that the thought which is passing through ‘I’ might be something which is put in it by the evil genius. Thirdly, as Soren Kierkegaard says, Descartes has inherently assumed the existence of ‘I’. It is also possible that this ‘I’ is something which is part of the evil genius which is controlling the body and our experiences of the physical world. This means that there might be no existence of ‘I’. Thus it is wrong to assume that the ability to think is in the mind as it can be a part of the evil genius. Moreover, Descartes says that ‘I’ can exist without a body but ‘I’ cannot exist without a mind but he has not shown how the mind can exist without a body. This is something which Hobbs also points out in his argument.

Using Descartes principles of Cogito, we can also think of the existence of man-made robots and computers. Since robots are capable of thinking and taking their own decisions in different situations, so we can assume that robots also exist. But it becomes difficult to explain how a machine exists which was assembled by human body whose existence is doubtful.

Though the above arguments question the existence of ‘I’ but these arguments also accept the existence of something in which the thoughts are being put by the evil genius. And if we consider the possibility of ‘I’ being a part of the evil genius, we also arrive at the certainty of the existence of the evil genius. If we consider the existence of ‘I’ with a mind, it is unclear how it can exist without a body. Thus, it can be concluded that there is something which exists but its nature is unclear and arguable.

Works Cited:
Brown, Dr Richard. Descartes-1, Method of Doubt. 29 July 2012, youtube
Descartes, Rene. Meditations on First Philosophy [Meditations de prima philosophia, 1641], Meditation I and part II. Trans. J. Cottingham. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986, rev, edition 1996.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Where is my Teacher? --- Part 2

Shalini studies in Grade 5 but is not able to do a simple addition problem. Mukesh is a Class 3 student unable to read a sentence in Hindi (his mother tongue) without mistakes. This is the story of more than half of the rural kids in the country who lag behind their prescribed standards of learning. According to the latest Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) survey conducted in more than hundreds of rural districts across the country, the number of such kids is increasing every year. This raises a question whether we are investing the right amount of money for educating our future generation.

The answer is ‘Yes’! The education budget has doubled in the last six years. There are incentives like ‘Mid-day meal’ to bring students to the school. The Right to Education (RTE) makes it compulsory for every student till the age of fourteen to go to school. In spite of all the planning and resource allocation, the kids are not learning in schools. The recent PISA survey which focused on Math, Science and reading performances of the child placed Indian kids at the second last place out of 72 countries. This shows that there is something which is missing from our primary school system.

The recent article in The Times of India about the shortage of primary and upper primary teachers in Varanasi district answers this question partially. However, the wider gap lies in the absence of good quality teachers. No matter how good the school infrastructure becomes or how much money is spent in making the classroom more lively and vibrant, a student cannot learn without a good teacher. The teacher has to be capable of teaching in the class, creating interest in the class and motivating the students to learn.

The quality of teaching which we have in our government schools is questionable. On one hand, most of the schools have a shortage of faculty and on the other, the teachers present are not capable of teaching. In most of the cases, their knowledge of the subject is limited. The recent ASER report shows that in many schools, a teacher in Class 6 is not able to explain the meaning of ‘addition symbol’ to the class. It may be argued that every teacher in the country has a degree in Education and has qualified the Teachers’ Education Training (TET) exam for being appointed as a teacher. Then why is the teacher not capable of teaching?

As someone who has worked with government school teachers, I would question the credibility of the TET exam. There are books and coaching institutes which just prepare teachers for such exams. So, a person can easily cram the subject, get through the TET exam and become a teacher. Moreover, a teacher trained in math teaches languages and a teacher trained in history teaches science. It is quite obvious that the quality of teaching is going to suffer in this scenario.

Gone are the days when the bright students chose teaching as their profession. I still remember the inspiration which I got when I came to know that my physics teacher was the state topper of his times in School Board Exams. We don’t have such teachers in schools anymore. Today, people get into teaching because of the easy money it offers.

Apart from the easy money which one can make through teaching in government schools, teaching attracts many as there is no accountability on the part of teachers. The lack of accountability is also one of the reasons of poor quality of teaching. Once recruited, there is no evaluation of the teacher. There is no check on the quality of teaching in the class. There is lack of honesty on the part of teachers. At times, the teacher asks a student to read a poem or a table in the class. The rest of the class repeats the poem or the table while the teacher engages himself in some other work.

Absenteeism is something which hampers teaching and learning a lot in the schools. Studies conducted to compare absenteeism in India and other countries shows that India ranks second worst in teachers’ absenteeism in the world, the rate of absenteeism being in the order of 25-26%. The system of proxy attendance is also widely prevalent. The teacher is marked present on the register while he or she is not in the school. I myself have come across many such instances while conducting the ASER survey in schools. Teachers are appointed for special duties like census, election services etc. This adds to the absenteeism in the class room. No one is bothered about the loss of studies in class.

            Private and convent schools, on the other hand, do not suffer much from the problems of absenteeism or poor quality of teaching. But these schools are not affordable for a larger fraction of rural students.

The best way to improve the learning levels is to recruit the best faculty which can work effectively with the students in the class room. But in our country, where there is no craze among the best students to get into academia, this seems a distant dream. The focus should be on effective training of the teachers so that they are able to teach efficiently in class. There are teachers’ training programs running in the country but those are not able to solve the problem. The teachers should be trained in innovative and interesting ways of teaching to encourage students to come to the school. The teachers should not be engaged in duties other than teaching. A check should be put on the absenteeism. The policy makers should focus more on the quality of teaching in classrooms rather than focusing only on building the infrastructure. What the children of this country need is the Right to Learning and effective measures need to be taken to attain that.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The African-American Bird

The caged bird sings of freedom,
Singing is the only thing it can do.
The singing is not a cheerful one,
It is full of rage and fearfull trill.

The caged bird has got a home,
But the boundries are made of anger.
It is angry over its master, 
It is angry over its fate.

The bird has got the entire universe, 
To sing and to play along.
Though it sings like the caged bird dos, 
The sound is happy and a merry trail.

P.S. The poem was written as an reconstruction of the poem "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou in my Creative Writing Class.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Bye Bye IIT-JEE!!

Six years ago, second Sunday of April, probably it was 8th April like today, and I was all ready to give the much hyped and so called exam of exams ‘IIT-JEE’. Like most of the people appearing for the exam, I just wanted the day to get over so that I could breathe in peace. Though I was quite skeptical of my chances of making it through the IIT-JEE, the exam mattered a lot to me as it did to many others. However, the exam happened and so did the results; many hopes were broken and many skeptical souls (like mine) climbed a sharp peak of happiness. I had achieved something which seemed a very big thing at that moment. And at the same time, I proved to myself and the world around me that I could do something. This success gave me the confidence to take up any challenge in life. Probably this was something which gave me a bigger pleasure than the achievement itself.

But when I look back, I don't find it to be something which was given larger than life importance (by people around me and, at times, me too). Probably, this is because I know the world better now. Now I know that there are bigger things in life which are to be done, many battles to be fought, many victories to be acclaimed. No, I am not a warlord or a barbaric fighter but yes, I am a fighter.  I fight against the evil inside me and at the same time, I fight against things around me which are not correct.

As high school graduates sit today for this exam across the country with hopes, dreams and anxious faces, I wish them all the luck in this world. At the same time, I am happy that this exam is going to be over for good as I think that it has taken away the joy of school life for many. It forced many to ignore and forgo the last few years of school life which are treasures for life time.

Life can never be made or shattered by one exam which is taken up with pen and paper in hand. Life, in fact, is a bigger exam with a few mind-boggling questions every other day. One needs to be an expert in solving the questions of life, and not worry too much about solving the questions which are kept in front in the printed form.

It doesn’t matter much whether one studies in the best college or the second or the third best college. What matters in the long run is your honesty, your sincerity towards work, your ability to take up risks and challenges. And no college in this world can teach this art better than the University of Life.

So here comes my bit of advice for the IIT-JEE aspirants today: Go enjoy the exam as you would like to enjoy the life. Don’t worry much about results; leave it on your destiny. Whatsoever happens, your destiny would never fail you. Best of Luck!!

P.S. I understand IIT-JEE would be loved by many and its demise would make them unhappy but there is, probably, another class of people who would love its demise. I belong to the second category. And hence, the happiness expressed on the fact that IIT-JEE won’t be there next year onwards!

Friday, March 30, 2012

One Year In Delhi & The Learnings Are...................

It has been a year today since I came to Delhi to become a resident/immigrant in this city. When I had left Delhi, I had left it forever, thinking that I would do something in my home state and would not come to Delhi to make a living. But didn’t some wise man say, “Man proposes and God disposes”? So, here I was, again, not being able to do much there in Bihar and returning to Delhi to find a living.

When I came back to Delhi, though I still wanted to work in the field of education at my heart, I just wanted a job and would have been very happy getting any, even if it was to wipe the nose of my boss every hour. The burden f unemployment had been too heavy for the last five months and I just wanted to ‘work’ now.

After coming to Delhi, I had my efforts in place to find a job, but as I was looking for one, opportunity came knocking in the form of Pratham-North India. So, I got an opportunity to do what I wanted to do in Bihar. Once again, the desire to work in the field of education became strong and left my aspirations for a job in IT/engineering. I joined Pratham and it was nice working there for almost one and a half months. Though I left Pratham to join PRS Legislative Research as a LAMP Fellow, I didn’t leave the field of education either through Pratham or Unlearn Formulae. And the time was fun, pure fun!!

Now if you have read this far, you must be wondering, “where is the learning in all this narrative?” so without wasting much of time and internet space, let’s talk about the learning:

·         At times, you might be very low in life and it would be difficult to hang on. You would be urged by the circumstances to choose the easier option and you might choose that. But if you hang on, you probably would come out of any situation.

·         You need to believe in your destiny or karma or whatever you call it. That is the only thing which is your pillar which will give you support at times. And to have faith in your destiny, the first requirement is to be a good human being.

·         You can’t always listen to your parents or the society. They might not let you do what you want to do and what you are meant for.

·         You should not worry about your market value. If you work in whatever field you want to for a considerable period of time, you will raise your market value to the level where you want it to be or where you would have been otherwise.

·         Your body and brain are something which will always remain with you whether you have a career or not, learn to have a connection with them and try to keep them charged and fit. You can’t be happy with a grand career if you are not fit physically and mentally.

·         Last but not the least, the universe always conspires to help you in what you want to do in life. At times, it might test you and the test might be a little harsh sometime, but if you stand by your conviction, you will come out with flying colours.

P.S. One thing which I learnt about this city is that this city is a little weird (may be all cities are with a certain pace to life) and, at times, I feel that I am in a different world when I compare it with my hometown. Sometimes I want to run away from this jungle but, at times, I just miss it!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

We Have a Lot of Time! Don't We?

Last week, I went to my bank (no, I don’t own a bank, it actually refers to the bank where I have an account) to get my internet banking password. I was asked by one of the lady to go to assistant manager’s cabin and ask the person sitting there for the same. The moment I went there, he got on to a phone call which lasted for about ten minutes discussing business, haal chal and life. Patiently, I kept waiting for the call to finish and get my password. The moment this assistant manager put the phone back, a guy appeared from nowhere into the cabin, passed on greetings with the manager and they started off another discussion about some transaction which was to be done and the complications arising out of it. And all this while, I was learning banking lessons from these people and thinking “Didn’t I come before this guy?”

And then this bright moment came when my dear Assistant Manager bothered to raise his head and look at me. He asked my purpose of standing there and after knowing it, asked me to wait for two minutes. I sat at the sofa lying nearby and waited. After some 10 minutes, I was waiting and still I kept on waiting. When it went beyond my tolerance limit, I went back to the assistant manager and kept standing there. He again took some time to raise his head and tell me that he will get back to me soon. I was agitated as I had already waited for 25-30 minutes for a password. Finally, he called me and again asked my purpose of my visit. I explained him the purpose which forced him to search for my letter which contained the password. But before he could search he again made a few phone calls and did some data entry in his computer. During this time, he also asked me what I studied and where I was working and why I changed fields.

And after a lot of head hunting, he declared that my papers were not there and actually there is a ‘Madam’ who is the actual Assistant Manger and she will give me the password. He asked me to wait for ‘the’ Madam or come another day. This angered me, which I tried not to show. But when I told him that he kept me waiting for around 35-40 minutes for a single piece of paper and even after that, he was unable to give it to me, he replied by saying “hum to jo customer pehle aayega usi ko dekhenge.

I decided not to talk to him anymore because that would mean an unnecessary exchange of unpleasant words with him at a time when I was already late for office. I just left the bank premises thinking I am never going to go back to take my password.

P.S. I know I am going back to get my password but this incidence stops me whenever I decide about going to the bank.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Who is a Patriot?

Sixty-four years passed since we lost Bapu. The patron of non-violence was killed by a ghastly act of violence. But when I saw a few status messages today praising Nathuram and then did a little bit of research on net, I was taken aback. How can anyone call someone who killed the ‘Father of the Nation’ as patriot?! Now someone may argue that Bapu was not that great a person as big as he is projected and perceived. Ours is a democracy and we may think whatever we want to and probably say so as well. But the problem arises when we need to know the truth. Who should I believe the ‘Bapu’ supporters or the ‘patriot’ Nathuram supporters?

If I want to believe that it was Gandhiji who was majorly responsible for the division of the country, then it would mean that he was not a patriot and didn’t have any role to play in our independence. Isn’t it? Then who struggled for our independence? Some might put up Bhagat Singh’s and Netaji’s name as real freedom fighters. But they died (or went missing) long before we gained independence. So did freedom come on its own without anyone’s effort? If yes, then why even worship Bhagat Singh and Netaji? Why pay homage to any freedom fighter?

If I want to know the truth, where do I find it from? If I look at the history books, questions would be raised on the authenticity and integrity of those who wrote it. What is the guarantee that anyone who writes books about historical events and developments is not politically inclined? And anyway, history is written by victors, so it again would not be the complete picture. If I talk to someone to find the truth, what is the guarantee that what would be told to me would be pure and unadulterated truth?

The nature of my work says that I can’t trust unauthentic and non-credible sources and work according to them. But then the credible sources are written by someone whose credibility can also be questioned. All this leaves my mind quite perplexed.

I think that every human needs a role model to live and move ahead with life. For some, this role model is present there in the family, some find it in school and some find it outside in the real world. But when everyone around is in the quest of questioning the credibility of every second person for political or personal motifs, where do young people find a true role model? This is a very dangerous situation for us because the youth is going to go haywire in the absence of a role model. And this process of youth distraction has already begun. And we can see this in the increasing number of youth crimes, suicides and other complications.

And while my quest for ‘my’ truth goes on, let me remember Mahatma today for if nothing else, then these beautiful words which he believed in:

Vaishnav jan to tene kahiye je PeeD paraayi jaaNe re 
Par-dukhkhe upkaar kare toye Man abhimaan na aaNe re!