Live and Express

Live and Express


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On Education: What needs to be incorporated?

In #India, we are still following the British system of generating clerks and paper-pushers. Paper is gone; but Excel has stayed – yet we keep doing the same thing. And by the way, I didn’t forget the Engineers – though their shine is getting lower day by day.

In an inclusive society, everyone has a role to play. And the education system has to reflect that. Thanks to the multiple streams, these days, the young generation has the option to pick a profession of their choice. But yet, there’s still a lot of components that need to reach out to a whole lot of students.

Life skills, is for one. Understanding the world around us and how to interact and manage it, is an art and a science, as well. Arts & Crafts, usage of tools, carpentry, importance of water, masonry, environmental education, are all required.  So, it’s not just about preparing a list of 143 careers and ask the student to pick a couple for their higher education. It’s about the wholesome, all-round education, so that the students are confident on doing anything, and grow the passion of learning what is required.

The other thing that needs to change – and this is important and very difficult though – is setting the tone of the class based on the caliber and the type of students that are present. I am not kidding. The students should drive the classes and the subjects. Pipe dream, you may say, but if you don’t cater for who are there in the class, what’s the point of your class or your school? We should start some experiments around this.

So, those are the highlights. I am not going into the arguments of urban-vs-rural, home-based vs. school-based, private vs. public schools, etc. These are long-drawn discussions and have wasted so much of our time, but never led us anywhere. At the end of the day, people do what they want to do, after all the Facebook roars and Twitter rants.

Thanks for reading!

 


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The Water problem – Episode 3 – The Heroes

Whenever we talk about big issues like population, food, or water, all of us are taken aback on what we could do on a personal level. In fact, we restrict our efforts to very minimal, get satisfied that that’s all we could do. While every small efforts are appreciated, we need to think out-of-the-box, open up our minds and look at things at various angles on how we could help.

Many of us are well-educated, with degrees on various subjects, and will be able to help in several ways. Many heroes are inspiring to me in how much we could help. I came across one inspiring example today in Times of India – in the article about how a 82-year old man constructed 14 tanks in an arid region to keep his hill green!  In fact, he had invested whatever he had just for this cause!  Such ingenuity and enterpreneurship is the need of the hour – to solve our big problems!

If a man with very scarce resources can do so much, imagine how much we could do! It’s just a matter of heart. In today’s world of instant reachability and abundant resources, I don’t think it would never be a problem for us.

More to come!


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The Water Problem (Episode 2)

Recently I wrote about the looming water problem in India. At that time, all I had was questions on the enormity of the issue, and how we can tackle this. I made a bucket list of all the stuff that I can do, and I quickly followed up with a few people I knew on social media and otherwise, and the results were a bit comforting, although the efforts are long-drawn projects that need constant follow-ups.

I was deeply heartened to see that many people are actually working on the water already at various levels – creating awareness, conducting sessions, executing implementations to effectively use groundwater and rainwater, and coming up with innovations that can made radical improvements to the abilities to store water.

Two of such groups that I came across were The Rainwater Club and Bhungroo. Both of them are well-known in the water circles for their work. The Rainwater Club is doing their work mostly in Karnataka and Tamilnadu, while Bhungroo has projects all over the world, but head-quartered in Gujarat.

The Rainwater Club has modules to conduct trainings and sessions in the schools, so that awareness can be created among the children. It would be great to partner with them to conduct sessions at your schools, especially if you are a group of institutions or a chain of schools.

Bhungroo is all about implementation, you can reach out to them to implement their solution in the usually drought-hit areas of your state, to see if their solution would help the situation.

These two were great starts for me to do something about the areas that I know of, while I am talking to someone in Kerala to see if there’s a potential solution for their unique issue of land level being the same as sea level along the coast, and hence water cannot be stored underground!  I am also planning to be in touch with a unique project in south India, to partner with them for projects and training on water for school children.

I will keep you posted!


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The Water Problem!

I was terribly shocked when on a fine morning this week, I saw the report from NITI Aayog about the impending water problem across India. In summary, it said that many states will run out of ground water by 2030.

This is very serious, and even more serious is the fact that around 30 cities in India will run out of water by 2020 (yes, you read that right; 2 years from now!).

It’s not like ‘Should I care? What can I do?’  It is more like ‘I got to do a thousand things that I can.’

Are you listening?

Alright, so here’s what I did. I picked up a sheet of paper and wrote down all the stuff that I can do. I am giving this here to be a starter or an inspiration for you to think of things that would work and make a difference:

1. Contact Indian organisations that are working in the field of primary and secondary education, as well as Indian organisations that work on public education, and make them create modules and syllabus that can be delivered to students and general public so that they are aware of how important water is and create awareness about the following topics:

  • Ground water restoration
  • Irrigation management
  • On-farm water use
  • Drinking water supply
  • Devising water policies

2. Strengthening the ways of predicting rains, such that general public can make arrangements to tap rain-water in whatever infrastructure they have wherever they live.

3. Try working with aerial experts to see if any additional data can be gleaned for point no. 2.

4. Creating awareness in colleges, so that the outgoing students can create products and software surrounding the issue. Bonus point: it creates jobs

5. Influencing the governments for implementation policies.

6. Contact on-the-ground organisations in various states to work on implementations in their states.

7. Work with organisations that already have a lot of reachability in remote areas (for example, population control organisations), and convince them to create awareness and educate their audiences.

What ideas do you have?  Feel free to rack your brains – because it’s you and your children who are also going to affected by this. The usual Indian apathy won’t help!

Thanks for listening.

 

 


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On social media and channelizing the minds

Why social media for me :

It was one of those strenuous days in 2017. I had too much to do in 3 or 4 activities spread across the day.  I like focus, and that’s the way I have been for the past many years. I like channelizing my mind, body and my energies in a task. But then, there are some boring moments when you would like to just get off for a minute or two, wander your body and your mind, and then get back to the task.

Social media (Facebook, Twitter, et al) have been a cure (or a curse on how you see it).  That one of two minutes of wandering of the mind away from the task using social media extended to 10 minutes, 20 minutes, and before you know, it had consumed a full 43 minutes!

“Well, that’s not good”, I told myself. I decided to take a mental inventory of HOW the time is spent on social media. I sat down and wrote a diary of all the posts I read, I liked and shared, and just “browsing”.  Though it was just my break time that I spend on social media, I wanted to justify myself on how the time is spent, because it’s my precious breath and life after all, moment after moment, before I die!

My findings!

The notes I saw alarmed me. 89% of the time was just browsing post after post in Facebook and Twitter, without any focus, learning or practicing a skill.  A typical “browse” Facebook session contained a book advertisement from a book club, an advertisement on how to “opt-in” more customers to your blog site, a post in a school group asking whether this school is better or that, a post in a music group with a picture of a guy with a violin, a group post about the latest trend in western cinema, a post in a railway group about that fantastic engine….You get the drift.

A rattling mind and the consequences

If your mind travels this fast with no focus on a specific subject or related thinking, you know where you will get to – nowhere.  It not only puts your brain in an ever-shifting mode, it will strain your brain to no-end resulting in nervousness, a sense of loss, depression, anger and a deprived feeling!  Many studies have also shown the same.

Social media tools for streamlining

Social media tools that help you segregate topics as streams based on hashtags or keywords are helpful. It helps browse through the social media posts and organize your thoughts on one direction, learning a thing or two about a topic and participating in a discussion.  But many of us do not use those tools on a native basis, but login to the social media sites directly.   In this year, I have reminded myself to use these tools instead of logging into social media sites directly, and save myself of the mental stress!  If I ever wanted to take a 2-minute break, that should not be and won’t be on the social media sites, but a short walk, a visit to the restroom, a cup of water and then back to work again.

Not just the break time!

We all know the three things that are required to excel – Learn, Practice, Network.  A typical successful person’s time management has these components.  For all of these, accessing the Internet has become a necessity.  For learning and networking, social media has become important.  We just need be careful that our learning and networking time is used productively, not just during the break time, but during our work time also, and be conscious that our precious time is not wasted in endless, mindless browsing.

So…

I thought I would just share my thoughts on this, which I had been postponing for a while now. I wrote a Facebook post (there you go!) on this sometime back, but not sure how many people it reached, so here I am, writing a blog.  Hopefully it’s useful for you!
Thanks for listening!


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#India’s 1/3rd is #youth. Is it time to rejoice?

While inaugurating the World Population Day 2014 with UNFPA, Honourable Home Minister of India has said that India’s 1/3rd is youth.  While this is good news that we have the resources at hands to build a vibrant nation, we are not prepared to tap the potential of this youth – due to many mismanagement issues. It’s not a time to rejoice, but to commit ourselves and work in the right direction to unleash the potential of this youth, otherwise, it’s going to be a disaster of uneducated, unemployed people constituting 1/3rd of the nation.

Ground reality is harsh.  A recent report shows that 1/3rd of the country is poor. Mr. Rajnath Singh is all for listening and addressing the concerns of the youth. This is good, and at the first place, quality education is unavailable in 70% of India, which are rural.  Several NGOs are pitching in and trying to change the rural education landscape by running quality schools, but there is grapevine that government is mulling imposing a law which prohibits NGOs which does not have a certain amount of funds to close their schools!  So, government schools don’t have the necessary quality and infrastructure; private schools will be closed if they don’t show sufficient money. Where will 1/3rd of India Population go for education?

If strong structural changes are not brought in, all these 1/3rd of the population will be capable of only manual labour.  And it shows today, where people from central and east central states are moving to other far-off states in search of labour jobs, leaving alone their homes, culture and lands.  This is clearly not an indication of a vibrant culture, but may be of a blind economy.

On top of all, the country will go crazy trying to educate with youth whose number keeps multiplying year after year.  Unless there’s a policy on population of India (to stop generation of more and more babies), India is going to multiply many fold and keep adding to the uneducated rural youth problem – which in turn will lead to inefficiency, crimes and hopelessness.

So, what’s India’s Population Policy?


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#Gift an #Education, Make a #Life ! – #Isha Vidhya

5 months ago, #IshaVidhya applied for accreditation with #GlobalGiving, a respected online fundraising platform which partners with corporates, employees and individual donors around the world.

Isha Vidhya crossed the fundraising requirements of $5,000 from 40 donors in just 23 days to become a permanent online member partner of GlobalGiving, thanks to many general public, supporters & wellwishers worldwide. They recognize Isha Vidhya’s work in transforming the rural education landscape of #India, and especially in #Tamilnadu. With its high quality education through carefully crafted methodology to the most economically backward children, Isha Vidhya is making a signficant difference in the lives of many rural families – many of them are first generation school-goers.

The fundraising was started to fund the critical infrastructure needs of the rural school near #Dharmapuri in Tamilnadu, needs like academic material, furniture for classroom and staff, compound wall, water facilities, digital class room, etc.

IshaVidhya has obtained $10,175 in donations from 104 donors. It’s heartening to see that 13 of those donations are from #corporate employees through employee gift cards, whose companies are partners with GlobalGiving, and be able to donate to Isha Vidhya through the GlobalGiving portal.

There’s still a long way to go to reach the fundraising target of $97,750, so awareness about this good work need be made to spread the word far and wide so that many more can support this building of rural India through education.

And the good news for the existing donors is that your project Isha Vidhya is in a very good standing at GlobalGiving, in many categories including donations, no. of donors, number and quality of project reports, and frequency of donations. It is expected that IshaVidhya will soon be in the ‘Leader’ category at GlobalGiving, at which time it will be introduced to more corporates, employees, and offered more exposure opportunities.

On February 12th, 2014, between 9:00 AM USA Eastern Standard Time and 23:59 PM USA Eastern Standard Time (between Feb 12, 2014 19:30 PM Indian Standard Time and Feb 13 10:29 AM Indian Standard Time) (what would be the time at my place? : http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html), donations made to Isha Vidhya at the Global Giving portal will be matched 30% by Global Giving, upto a maximum of $1000 per donor, till the Global Giving matching funds of $75,000 run out.  This is a great opportunity for everyone to donate and show their support for Isha Vidhya’s work. The link is:

http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/ishavidhya

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