Sunday, October 11, 2009

Commitment to work!

I have often thought how we spend our a mercy of our whims and fancies, mostly!!!
And that is the pathetic part....
Life is a place to be enjoyed, but life is also a desert which we have to beautify with the strength of our convictions, water it with our commitments and see it fructify...what we as a nation lack today is the will to be committed as a dutiful citizen!
We have taken the freedom of our country too literally...political freedom does not entail freedom to hurt a fellow citizen by way of our enjoyment!
On the road, at public places, at places of worship, we behave as if we are there to be gratified instantly, throwing all civic and polite behaviour to the winds. Would we dare behave the same way inside our households, where we have our elders? Mostly not, leaving a few aberrations.
This lackadaisical attitude has spilled over to all walks of our lives. Indeed the bane of our country is the Chalta hai attitude! But when we are exposed to intense international rivalry, we find ourselves at our wits' ends since the competitors have prepared well while we were busy wasting our time and energy on petty oneupmanship!
I have always tried to ingrain in my students the will to take responsibility, the pride in calling themselves "professional students" because that is what they ultimately are. Not much responsibility is entrusted to them either at their homes or by the society. If they could not be even committed to the job of studying and trying as best as they could to excel in curricular and co curricular activities, they do not have much to write home about!
Every cannot become no. 1...but everyone can try to become no. 1...and in that trial lies your good karma!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009

How are you?

Just talked to a student of mine on FB...she gave the customary reply....sab chal raha hai....
Now... in this reply lurks our mentality of a person caught up in the web of life and unable to get out...with everything, we still lack JOSH...(army men would know about this too well)...without JOSH nothing fructifies....
When we meet someone and are asked how are we...we start off with a long lamentation of how cruel life has been to us...or that we are this the reply the person across was searching for...are we turning his sunny morning into a morbid one? Lets just square our shoulders and reply..SAB THEEK HAI DOST....and see the effect in the other's eyes...
So here is hoping that when we greet each other, we spill a bit of sunshine in his life too....

Thursday, July 2, 2009


(Text of the letter written to the hon’ble minister of Human Resources Development, Shri Kapil Sibbal)
Sir, I have had classroom experience of many years and teach science and mathematicss to students of classes IX to XII. To my mind, the singular factor which keeps students attentive to books and the curriculum is the fear of tests and examinations. Take this factor out and you will see lawlessness not only on the campus but also spilling on to the streets. The fear of boards at least makes the students work for three months prior to exams. In the absence of this sword of Damocles, the average student will bid adieu to his books for the better part of the year. Ask this to any teacher who teaches X or XII…most of the students do not study in IX and XI.
The core question is de-stressing the system, due to which the Class X board is being scrapped. The system is stressed because our system is based on cramming knowledge irrespective of its applications. If all the examination papers except the literature papers have multiple choice questions, then the fear of cramming and hence faltering does not arise.
As suggested by the minister, the schools should evolve a regular testing scheme which again does not stress out the students but tests their knowledge. One of the methods which I suggest is to take test of one subject every Saturday, so that all the tests will be over in approximately 10 weeks (for X) or 6 weeks (for XII). Then a second round can start leaving one Saturday for rest. This way, the students will be getting one full week for revising their course and at the same time the fear factor can be given a send off by making the paper as MCQs. Also the final and terminal examinations should be scrapped. The cumulative marks of the year long tests should be the benchmark for promotion to the next class.
Projects for classes X and XII should be scrapped. Projects only tend to overburden the student with lots of writing work and at the same time teachers insist on making them decorative leading to cost escalation and makes copy cats of serious students too.
We are wasting our most precious resource i.e., our youth by giving them credit only for the amount of studying that they can do. We have not been able to imbue them with a feeling of building our nation. What is the use of SUPW (which students address as Some Useful Periods Wasted) which does not take care of our social needs? The need of the moment is to tie this up with National Literacy Mission and students above IX should be given credit for participating in this mission under the supervision of their schools.
The introduction of Environmental Education has not reaped any benefits and should be scrapped. The students should be routinely taken out for reforestation and reorientation on environmental issues.
We also should have a fresh look at the syllabus and root out all the chapters, which are of no use to the student in further studies in higher classes.
I hope you will take cognizance of the points detailed above.
With regards
Robin Mitra

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Celebrations and festivities mark every Tuesday in the Hindu
month of Jeshtha in Lucknow. All these Tuesdays -- known as Bada Mangal --
are dedicated to Ram's biggest devotee Hanuman. In view of the same, Monday saw hectic preparations underway in city's Hanuman temples as his devotees would be thronging the temples in large numbers.

And why not? It is said that Lord Hanuman blesses all those who offer him prayers and prasad during Bada Mangal. Members of the family especially eldest son and daughter should pay a visit to the deity. If that's not possible, at least the head of the family should bow his head before Hanuman.

Bada Mangal's an occasion, the celebration of which begets its origin to Lucknow's culture of oneness. History has it that Janab-e-Aalia, second wife of nawab Shuja-ud-Daulah got the old Aliganj Hanuman temple constructed. She is said to have dreamt of Lord Hanuman who ordered her to get a temple constructed.

Based on her dream she ordered quarrying of the area she saw in her dream. The idol was found after which it was transported on the back of an elephant to the city. The elephant, however, did not step forward after a point (the place where the temple is situated). Therefore it was decided that the temple be constructed at this place. Since then, Bada Mangal is celebrated with festive gaiety in the city to mark the belief of the Muslim begum over the deity.

Naming her son, later known as Nawab Saadat Ali Khan, as Mirza Mangloo after the deity, Begum Aalia started the tradition of a fair which continues to be held every year. As time passed by, the festival became a symbol of Hindu-Muslim congeniality. No wonder Muslims too contribute whole-heartedly in arrangements for the Bada Mangal.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lucknow Votes!

Tomorrow Lucknow shall vote for the 15th time since this glorious country threw off the shackles of British imperialism. Hope and ecstasy permeated the air that rain swept morning of 15 August , 1947 even though the birth pangs of our country were very painful. The very phrase,”free India” had a sweet taste to it in all connotations.

Our motherland shall turn 62 this August. The hopes of Bhagat Singh, Subhash, Gandhi and Nehru have borne fruit, and to quote Nehru, “not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially”.

We are a presence in the world today…our scientists, armed forces, the intelligentsia, our farmers have done us proud. Gone are the days when we were an impoverished nation looking askance at the might of wealthy nations to feed our starving. Today the most powerful country in the world too feels proud after having inked a nuclear deal with us. Most of the top leaders of our country have served us well. But something still rankles inside…..

Have we really reached where we set out to be? We are a unique country in the world with multi ethnic multi religious multi cultural ethos. Somehow we have held together in our ups and downs. Our love for each other is commendable and the social fissures which are sown by political parties for their short sighted gains have not been able to shake our foundation of love and caring for each other…but how long?

Today the two major demons of peace and tranquility on this planet are very obvious….terrorism and recession. While we have enough goodwill and financial resources to tide out the second, the first evil threatens to swamp the entire humanity.

As potential voters, what do we look for in these parliamentary polls? To my mind, the parliamentary polls are an architect of bigger values of our country: our home administration, our foreign policy, our defence, our financial situation…the local issues should not have too much of say in this format…but then the mood of the people about local issues too are reflected in any poll which comes their way…we have to learn to run our democracy in a more matured manner.

When political parties lend serious political space to film or cricket stars, it seems that they are insulting the intellect of the population. What experience does the tinsel town or the cricket pitch have of harrowing living in the chawls and other bastisi in our cities? When these wave to the crowds and promise the moon and the stars, it just seems that they are making a mockery of our steeping poverty.

I know its very difficult to make a choice with the limited option we have in Lucknow. The candidate is well educated and has done some work for the city albeit with an eye on the impending elections happens to belong to such a party which is a one (wo)man show and erecting statues are the order of the day than sending poor children to schools or feeding the unfed.

Another party is represented by a beauty queen of yester years who seem to have a very weird take on computer education and English as a language.

The oldest surviving mammoth party could have selected a better person for the job to fight out the prestigious Lucknow seat. But it seems that this city no longer figures in the future plans of their high command.

Which leaves us with the candidate of the so called right wing party. A legislator for a long time, someone who has never really gone on to national politics.

Elect whomever you think the best…but you also have to make them work for you and hold them responsible should they fail in their duty as public representatives. And please do make it a point to have their mobile numbers and postal addresses as well as web addresses. Do tell them the problems you face. Democracy is a system of interaction. Please do not label any guy bad just because he happens to be a politician. In every sphere of life there are good, bad and the ugly. Do not hang your elected representative just because he happens to have ideology, which does not concur with your own. But you are entitled to a patient hearing and s/he has to get your job done. Else bombard him with paper work. The system does work…it does move, although slowly…

Please have faith in our democratic system and do not become a cynic. We have enough of them. They refuse to be a part of the solution. I, for one, have written quiet a few times to the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and called up one or two state ministers. They do respond. Please also think about the tremendous responsibilities that they shoulder. So if you want to get your job done, be persistent and have faith in the system.

At the end, all of us are in this together. We have to make this system work. We are so fortunate that we are not born in some Godforsaken country where there is a despot army chief for a ruler or a religious zealot as the President. We have many shortfalls, but then doesn’t every relationship have them…still we don’t stop falling in love….