Sunday, March 31, 2013

We boys are spoilt by our elders !

Between two siblings, the 14 year old boy would get to pee whenever and wherever he gets the urge. It may be by the side of a lonely highway at night, or a busy flyover during the broad daylight. The car would be stopped, and he would quickly come out of the car, pull his pants down and start peeing in multiple directions drawing an imaginary painting.

The 12 year old sister on the other would have to wait till the family reaches home, or a decent restaurant.

This is where we boys start getting spoilt. Think of all the various situations where the girl by default, or by design, would get a better upbringing and hence can become a better citizen.

Girls are told to return home after the sun goes down, but it is a custom for the boys to get out of their homes after the sun goes down, for that evening adda or stroll. Boys, in fact get into a better dress for the ocassion. Mumbai may not relate to this behaviour as much as a reader from any of the smaller cities would. Perhaps this is one of the reasons for girls doing better in all the board exams across the country.

Whenever there are guests in the house, the girl in the family would have to get the glass of water. She has to play the good host, and the boy would just sit with the guests chatting, or would go out to play with his friends. Boy being absent from home is usual and acceptable.

When a girl becomes adolescent, she is not allowed to via roads where boys get together for a chat or normal masti. She is told to be safe and keep a distance. On the other hand, when a boy becomes an adolescent, he is never told by his parents to restrain himself. He is not discouraged from eve-teasing, as if that is his birth-right. He is expected to behave in a certain masculine way. He is a boy and can therefore live a life of careless abandon.

I have seen two kinds of parenting when it comes to a girl child. There are parents especially mothers who would encourage her daughter to study harder, to become financially independent, and effectively not become a housewife like herself. There are other set of parents, who bring up their girl child in a very conservative way and teach her to become the dutiful daughter-in-law and a domicile housewife.

Both these set of parents however bring up the sons in pretty much the same way. In the first case, the son is not being told that he should adapt to this new world of independent women, that many mothers like his own mother is building for his sister. He is not told that he should learn to adapt to marrying an independent working women, and effectively not be like his father. In the second case, the conservative ways of upbringing a daughter does not apply to the son in the same family. He would be the normal care-free boy whose mischiefs would be forgotten or ignored by the family.

These circumstances and society's ways of treating a male child is detrimental to the overall male species. In the short term, it may not be evident, but in the longer term this difference of upbringing between a boy and a girl will manifest into much grievous social and psychological problems. Worst possible scenario would be a diminishing respectability for the male gender.

I don't mean that male gender should be respected more than the female gender, but the scale should be equal for both the gender. Today, it is tilted towards the male gender. Tomorrow, it should not tilt towards the female gender.

Boys are inadvertently taught to be a MALE child by none other than his parents. The society add to this make-up. By the time we become adults from boys, we are already addicted to a huge male ego that cannot face failure, rejection, subjugation, a higher earning female colleague and a kitchen when the wife of the house is late from work.

Thank heavens that there is no way that men can get pregnant. It is the wife of the house that goes under labour and decides to quit and make professional labour a secondary labour. If the opposite was possible, I wonder what would happen to men with their super-sized ego and masculine attitude !

Things are not rosy just because we can't get pregnant. With higher incidence of broken marriages and lower incidences of child-bearing, there is a serious challenge that the male gender would face from the supposedly fairer sex in terms of competing for the coveted 'provider' title in the society.

We, male boys, have to adapt to this new reality. Parents have to guide their children fairly and equally. The notion of equality is euphoric, but the process to attain the same has to be smooth.

All of us, guardians of the society need to be aware, active and supportive in this transition, and take apt care of the boy child.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Life and Work of Srimanta Sankaradeva to be part of NCERT Curriculum

Society for Srimanta Sankaradeva (website) had made a formal written demand to the NCERT for inclusion of chapters on the life and works of the 16th century socio-religious reformer and litterateur of Assam, Srimanta Sankaradeva in the NCERT curriculum for all classes.

Letter to the Director of NCERT
In response to the demand, NCERT has assured to include the revered Gurujona's life and works in the school curriculum through a letter by NCERT Professor and Head of Department of Education in Languages, Professor Chandra Sadayat. Prof Sadayat is designated as a Public Relation Officer of NCERT.

Prof. Sadayat informed Dr. Borkakoti, President of Society for Srimanta Sankaradeva that NCERT will include Srimanta Sankaradeva in curriculum when the next revision is carried out. He further said that Srimanta Sankaradeva will be taught in the orientation programmes of teachers too.

Letter from the PRO of NCERT
Responding to a query from Telegraph about NCERT's favourable response to SSS, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has not minced words in praise of the great Gurujona. He dubbed Sankaradeva as a colossus and a visionary who changed the socio-economic fabric of the Assamese society. He said, it would be wrong to project the saint as a mere religious leader, as he was also a scholar, playwright, litterateur and a social-religious reformer. The level of creativity of the saint was very rare in the history of India and the world. More importantly, the essence of his creations focused on humanity and he spoke against human sacrifice, classicism and many other social evils. Even in the 15th century, he talked about women’s empowerment, de-centralization of power and universal brotherhood.

Few of the news clippings on the topic.

Economic Times




Assam Times

TDN Post

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Education: Fallacy is in its execution.

In his Budget speech, Finance Minister P Chidambaram referred education as one of the high priority for the government. He allocated Rs 65,867 crores to HRD Ministry for education, which is an increase of 17% over the revised estimate of the previous year.

The Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) has got Rs. 27,258 crores. Overall, schools would get Rs 49,659 crore, and higher education would get Rs 16,198 crore. The Rashtriya Madhyamik Siksha Abhiyan programme, which aims at universalisation of secondary education, has got Rs 3983 crores. Education budget also covers the mid-day meal programme, which has been allotted Rs 13,215 crores.

Budgetary allocations for education has been significant and consistent across five year plans. However, the story of education in India is a sad one. Since Pt. Nehru, Government is able to create a vast number of schools across all states providing practically free education.

But the concern was in the execution and running of those schools. These free schools were uniformly badly managed. Firstly, the first two five-year plans gave more emphasis to secondary education. Secondly, these schools were in the vernacular language, where English was just a subject.

Given the 200 years of British rule and our tendency to learn English to become a brown sahib, very soon the Indian middle class shunned the public Government run schools. They started making bee-line towards the missionary schools and other private schools.

It was next to impossible for private schools to meet the increasing demands of the middle class. Shortage of supply started the tradition of donations and favouritism. It was a capitalist culture being built right at the schools where modern India was getting their education.

According to a study by 'Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh represented India and were ranked just above Kyrgyzstan, which was ranked last in mathematics and overall reading skills among 74 nations.

According to another study, there are a large number of vacancies in key posts of implementing officer in the district and block levels, hampering the implementation of the Government schemes related to education, aimed at universalizing schooling for all children in the 6-14 age group. About 60% of such posts are vacant in Bihar, the study said.

Allocating 65000 crores in the budget is therefore not the solution. We may end up just repeating the mistakes. The need is to overhaul policies spending it on education. Government schools need to reach up to the middle and lower middle class with innovative marketing and sales strategies. The quality of education should be benchmarked against the best of schools around the world.