Higher Secondary Certificate Exam for the Best Mugger

Well, 15 days into the New Year, and it already isn’t happy for a few of us! I know you lost your hair pin, which was the perfect shade of the dress you are going to wear for SulaFest! Life can be cruel sometimes- hang in there!

But there are some unlucky 10th and 12th grade students, who are going to appear for their board exams next month- Oh you poor souls! For me, the only good thing about these SSC board exams was that it happened a decade ago! Yes, I am old, but what the hell, at least I am not struggling for my face to be exhibited on the side of the BEST bus! Hello paan stains!

All you can’t-wait-to-go-college-kids are thinking about is- how much do I get to answer the question that seems to be on everyone’s mind (including Jaadu) – “Are you planning to take up medicine or engineering, or should we hire you as our sweeper?” But let me tell you something. 80% of the questionnaire is going to be from that one chapter you skipped. And no, you will never use trigonometry in your life! True Story! *facepalm*34a9bfc80ff200387fbfc1637a2699f3

Apart from hard(ly) work, heavy bag workout, and chit-cheating, (oops, chit-chatting) another thing which is prevalent in a student education today is – tension! It is as important as the date of Battle of Plassey- which, by the way, is June 23, 1757. But I have google, and you don’t! One up!

There are only 2 kinds of students who are tension free at this moment–

  1. The one’s who have surrendered themselves to the examiner – since they know no amount of work they do now is really going to reap any benefits!
  2. When your self-esteem is so low, that there is no self, and only esteem is left – and you are wondering where do I drive to now?

While some others are not really tensed about the exam, but if the Rs. 10/- Puja thali is going to work its magic is their primary concern!

One small theory about tension – Tension is always about achieving and not about understanding. (This one is not by Baba Ranchoddas). And this, my friends, is the primary problem with our education system. For example – Students generally fetch full marks for writing, “Excess alcohol causes memory loss and liver cirrhosis”, but celebrate writing this answer with a wasted night. Memory loss I guess. On second thoughts, probably they are doing it right – experience by practical implementation is more important after all.

Right now, your mind is thinking of all kinds of possibilities that this upcoming exam holds-

“What if I don’t score well?”

“What if I score so well that my parents think I am brilliant and I am forced to take up medicine?”

But all said and done, stop reading this article now, and start getting concerned again for the upcoming exams, so that you clear it just to give the next one, and then next, until you realise that it’s a trap and your parents lied when they said – “Bass, this one exam, and then life is great!” Booyeah!

50 shades of Ban

No one told me when the Make in India was replaced by Ban in India. It is not even funny the number of things we have banned in the last one week.

The only thing that is common in all these bans is our inability to tackle sensitive issues. Banning is running away from the scenario. It is a reflection of our hypocrisy, narrow-mindedness, bias, and cowardice. It shows that we have no faith in our thousands of year old culture and value system, that we are questioning its sustenance.

Having said that banning does not deter the fact that we are what we ban.

I mean if we have to ban anything, implies that it exists, that it is our value-system, a trend now. And banning a video doesn’t change that! Whom are we kidding? Do the policy makers really believe that banning products, actions, videos, and words really curbs their use?  In fact, all it does is people looking for more illegal ways to do “it”, eat “it”, watch “it”, and all this while saying “it”.

Seriously, don’t we all know where to find alcohol in Gujarat? And by now, beef in Maharashtra? Don’t we all use cuss words? Haven’t we seen the AIB Roast or the documentary? In fact, banning the video gave it more popularity, and all the people who did not even know AIB exists, have access to the aforesaid video. And don’t even make me question banning 50 shades of grey.

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I think this simply shows the power of the words don’t, no, ban has. We just have to do it. Cannot explain the psychology more simply. That exactly is how it works, government! “Ban” is not the solution.

There are 50 shades of our mentality to be tackled, and putting even a fraction of our energy in that direction will get a lot more achieved than banning these things.

PS – Let me know when we Ban Janata Party!

Dog-Opoly

A city of dogs – underdogs of the city!

Dog-Opoly is a dog version of the famous board game Monopoly, but it really is the monopoly of dogs on the Indian streets!

And for a dog-fearing person like me, I have always wondered why is the stray-dog population in India so high, as compared to the negligible numbers in the west? Besides being a nuisance to the locality, chaotic, catastrophic for children, unhygienic, noisy, etc., it can actually be quite scary to walk on the lonely streets at nights with howling noises in the background. The fear quotient in me is so high, that it almost makes me feel that I am a part of a “Conjuring” for real! While it may not be appropriate to generalize, but stray dogs have proved to be calamitous for humans in quite many incidents and places. In fact, a number of road accidents occur, of which a few prove almost fatal to a person walking, in order to save the-dog-sprung-from-God-knows-where, and I am not eliminating the chances of their deaths here as well. Thank God for the law in 2001 that forbade the killing of dogs, which was a good-step but has further added to the stray population. “Why doesn’t government create better infrastructure?”, a dog-lover or any person-with-a-heart may ask. But in retrospect, we do not have proper facilities for more than half the population, let alone the thought of the thick-skinned people on top melting at the their plight. And we haven’t even started talking about pigs, donkeys and other more “bechara” animals on streets yet!

Quite a few people by now probably must already have started hating me for my perspective on this particular situation, but in all practicality it makes sense. I mean I understand that they also are a breathing, eating, pooping, moving, barking-but-unable-to-talk-and-express-their-plight (and so are chickens we eat?) kind of creatures, but in my view we need to re-think the extent to which we take things emotionally and start introducing practical solutions to the existing grave problems- a journey from sensitive to sensible.

When I did my research I realized the main reason was our hygiene habits. It is the unattended litter on the roads, which actually is a feast for the strays, and hence they survive for long and strong. This is the prime reason. We as a culture are quite messy, always blame the incapable and inactive government for improper infrastructure, and on the other hand don’t even maintain sanitation regime on personal level! We really do not need to wait for a few intellectuals to instruct us, “do not litter” boards everywhere, Satyamev Jayate, or a Prime Minister to start a ‘Swacch Bharat Abhiyan’ to know the importance of cleanliness. It is only clearing of litter, and not killing the strays, that will solve the problem – quicker than anything! It is common sense to not litter, and should be followed as a protocol, otherwise the efforts of a handful will go to the dogs. Literally.

Apart from that, there are a lot of organisations that neuter and vaccinate the stray dogs – all thanks to the unlike me dog-loving people out there. Let us at least help them help us using whatever way we can – volunteer, provide resources, financial aid, inform about unattended or bruised stray dogs, adopt and get them vaccinated etc. Also encourage more and more people to make stray dog as pets, instead of buying ’em. These solutions may not be quick in their eradication, but probably are first few steps in the planned scheme of reducing their numbers!

Every dog has its day, but with our collective efforts these dogs will have a life. Amen.

i(am)MAD

Oh yes totally! iMAD – I Make A Difference – is a Nashik based youth organisation, working hard to bring smiles on the faces of the lesser privileged kids in the society, and are striving to equip them to retain the smiles for the rest of their lives.

Simply put, it is really only that!

But there is an entire process to it. The beauty of this process, because we are relatively new, is the flexibility of the ideas and their execution. There are no set rules or pattern in the way learning is delivered – it is done in the best possible way that we know at that moment. And that not only is fun, but is much more productive than a pre-set traditional unidirectional way of doing things.

How is it different from any school or tuition out there, you may ask! The program is driven by 20-something volunteers, who even now are victims of the dull monotonous education system. We all have 20 years of experience of being ‘schooled’, and hence are well aware of what not to do with these children. With that out of the way, it is just innovation and creativity in making learning fun, making it a dialogue, a discussion, in injecting the thirst for knowledge, in all-round development, in exposure to the ways of the “real” world, in empowering the kids, and fabricating them to be passion driven human beings.

And this  organisation is led by someone who practices what he preaches, since Siddhant was merely 20 year old civil engineering student, when he started this organisation, and made it tremendously successful in very less time. It grew from a 5 volunteers organisation to a 150 volunteers organisation is less than three years!

We currently have three centres in Nashik, and have been invited to start a fourth one as well. We work in seasons of 3 months, twice a year, considering the exam and vacation schedule of the kids. In the remaining six months, we analyse our methods, discuss our ways of tackling different situations, and how can we better them. These are more crucial months, because this is where our foundation for the next season is laid, not only in terms of syllabus planning, but also in the way it is delivered.

Apart from all the sessions we have at personal level once a week, we are trying to make an impact in their lives on an everyday basis. Consequently, we are working on installing iCOMP – a computer with all the relevant data included, and made accessible in more fun ways to the kids in their hostel premises. More on that later.

All I can say, with personal experience, is that it really is just a farce thinking that we are making a difference to their life, while in reality, those few hours are just an investment to a fulfilling and enriching experience we have, which in due course shapes us as leaders, as people and makes a world of a difference to our lives. I bet every volunteer will second that.

PS – If you are in Nashik, and are interested to join us, or can help us in any way possible to you, please contact the president of iMAD Siddhant Borade – 9545861100.