Saturday, 27 October 2012

Satyendra Dubey

"It was a damning story and pointed at several deals including the awarding of contracts under the Rs.50,000 crore National Highway Project." 
Today's op-ed in the Hindu. 
Satyendra Dubey was murdered. Some people,hired hands, were arrested and convicted, but no one from the PMO has been identified.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satyendra_Dubey
We all believe that Dr Manmohan Singh and Mr Vajpayee were personally honest. Now many of us are personally honest but have no great clout. But when honest people who have the ability and are in a position to make a difference, fail to do so, there is no hope. 

Monday, 22 October 2012

cell phones

In 2003, I bought a cell phone for the first time. This was because my daughter wanted to go for Math coaching. Her teacher lived quite far away and by the time she finished, it would be quite late. So I gave her the cell phone to ensure she has means of communicating in case she was in trouble or could not get an auto.  At that time, my son did not have one since I was not  so worried about his security.
 Even much later, when she lived  in Chennai, where my parents used to live, whenever she got into an auto, my father would insist she sms the auto number to him.
I live in a colony that is 4 km from the main road and buses are few and far between. Often, my daughter would come by bus to the nearest bus stop on the main road and call me - I would then go and pick her up. When there was this move to ban cell phones from school and college campuses, I was worried how she would manage.
For girls, cell phones can sometimes be a lifeline.
Mayawati feels girls must not have cell phones.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Chicago

From all that one sees on the TV,  it looks like we are in  Chicago in the 1930's.
If some official opposes sale of kerosene in the black market, he gets burnt alive with the available kerosene!
Some girls get raped, we have  sociological discussions on the reasons and the girls are given some small sum of money.  No one talks about punishing the culprits--that is not on any person's agenda-least of all the police and local administration.
If everyone is corrupt, and in collusion with the mafia, is there any hope for us?

PS-- All problems solved -- it's chow-mein that's the culprit!  
Never serve chow mein and ban it from all the chinese food bandis.  There will be no more rapes.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

To continue.........
In UKG, my five year old son had to learn to write an invitation for his birthday party, in Hindi. The invitation was dictated by the teacher. What I remember of this is "मैं ने अल्प आहार का आयोजन किया है ". Who writes or talks like that?  and which 5-year-old birthday party invite is written like this?
I was not sure if I found it funny or was angry.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

making a realistic curriculum for children




Pushing too much on children makes them unable to learn...the backlog is always there and they are always lagging. This makes them lose confidence and they are unable to learn even the easy bits. If only the powers that be would place emphasis on quality and not on quantity, it would make a huge difference. If only they would ensure that however little is taught, it  is taught well and learnt well,  education would be a success story. 
I used to go to a hostel for tribal children run by our organisation. There was one boy in the 6th class who had a beautiful maths notebook-- all problems solved, very neatly written with good remarks from the teacher. These were problems on addition / subtraction of fractions.  During the course of my conversation, he admitted he could not subtract a two digit numbers from another. Then how did he do the problems in his book? He said he copied them from his friend. 
I said I would teach him. I went to the blackboard and started. Now all his friends came up and wanted to join in. So I made many columns on the board and gave numbers at random. They all noisily solved them, and in the process taught  this boy  how to subtract. He learnt it within that one hour I spent there. 
At an appropriate age, different for different children, they learn very easily. Earlier on, it's a terrible task, and they never learn. I noticed this with my two children and the ill effects of this forced teaching is still felt by one of them even after 23 years .
The Montessori system addresses this by keeping together children of different ages – say 4-6 or so and letting them learn at their own pace.
But all this requires committed teachers who understand how to judge learning outcomes.


Wednesday, 10 October 2012

CII initiative

The CII (AP) has a new initiative where they bring together some representatives of  pharma, biotech and CRO companies  with local colleges to give some inputs to students about what industry needs from potential employees. They do this already  with engineering colleges. Through this initiative  industries can give some inputs to academic institutions on how to make students employable.
Students who need jobs after a BSc most often go to the BPOs for jobs and they get paid quite well. Pharma and biotech industries on the other hand do not pay students with BSc well.
The BPO jobs are sometimes good for the students, sometimes not so good-- a few of them fluorish in this new field while some others don't. But when these BPO jobs dry up, or move to Philippines or Uruguay,  then what will students with a BSc in biological sciences do? There are not enough jobs for them -- not even for those who have an MSc.  
Secondly, students are also totally undeserving of the BSc or MSc they get. In MSc, they cannot still read a chapter in Lehninger (a standard textbook of Biochemistry) and make their own study notes-- forget research papers. 
However, the most important thing they lack is professionalism.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Every year, I set a question paper for a local science talent examination for class VIII /IX /X from schools in rural and urban areas of AP. I firmly believe in a comprehension type of question paper where concepts, not necessarily in the syllabus, are explained and questions asked on that passage. I believe that it levels the playing field and eliminates the bias against those who have bad teachers. However, at the pre-question paper meeting of the academic committee, people objected to this saying it takes up too much time to answer. I do not think that is a valid objection. There should not be a fixed number of questions to be answered in 1 min each or so. That is what makes these exams unreliable. The 1 min/question makes it difficult to give questions that require thought. This leaves us  with a lot of fact driven questions and  avoiding them makes paper setting  very difficult, specially for the VIII class, where the syllabus is entirely about preparation and properties of various substances. Well I have been trying my best and so far so good.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

mothers-in-law

The equations between generations has changed a lot in a short while. For hundreds of years, households ran with a powerful patriarch or in some cases matriarch.
In any case, the matriarch ruled the women of the household.  A man marries a woman and sort of hands her over to his mother, for her to command. This has been the custom for hundreds of years.
But I see amongst my friends, things are different now.
The older women of today are in a cusp - they had dominating mothers-in-law and had to be docile; they are also expected to be accomodating with their busy daughters-in-law.
Their day of dominance has been left out of the menu. 

Saturday, 6 October 2012

From my old blog


On growing old
I think the two things that make old age painful is losing ones energy and ones memory....not losing ones good looks as is the popular perception.When one is 10 years old, anyone above 15 seems old. Then, when one is 20, 40 is old. At 40, 70 is old and so on. So the definition of old age is very flexible. When young, we think it is sad to be old. Of course, old age when one is feeble, helpless is awfully sad.But as one grows older, there is a sense of liberation. As we leave the insecurities of our teenage, we become more confident. In our twenties, we become independent and that's a source of happiness. In our thirties, we become parents, learn to handle professional responsibilities.We really grow. We are not so worried about what others say, we are sure of ourselves, more confident about doing what we want.What I find most liberating about being old is the freedom. A young girl cannot chat with strange people, auto drivers, co passengers in a bus. Now, I just have nice conversations with strangers---I give free advice on anything I feel like, even if they dont like it, they tolerate that nice old lady. You can bargain with impunity.... It is liberating. What is not nice is the loss of energy...I see a hill but I know I cant trek up to the top...it's sad.I envy the young their energy

GHI

An op-ed   by two people from the niti aayog talks about our ranking in the global hunger index. They say if we don't give high weight...