Monday, August 22, 2011

The Indian dream - in 2D

As I reached an age where I got exposed to some well written articles, I started coming across the term ‘the Indian dream’. It was intriguing, because I never really thought it was possible for a billion people to have the same dream. But we once had: a dream to be a free country; or so they told us to believe. 64 years hence, do we still have a common dream? Is there a common thread that binds every one of us into one entity – Indian?
When I sat for my job interview, I was asked a simple question: ‘what are your short term and long term goals?’ In short they wanted to know what my dream is. The only dream I get often is where I save a damsel in distress. Another dream that teases me to reach the Meta state is when I stop a running train with just my index finger. Yes I dream of being a superhero a lot of times. We all want to be a superhero and what he stands for. We think ourselves as the purest part of the society surrounded by hooligans, questioning & comforting ourselves that we don’t deserve this situation. This dream, this vision is what we see in our movies as well: good fighting to win over the evil. Even when we make a movie about goondas & rowdies we try to justify their act of hooliganism, so that there is a good vs. evil fight at the end. We attach a purpose, a motive that makes a person right; no matter how bad an act he does, so that we can see us in him. When he eventually conquers his nemesis it’s our victory: a victory that we perceive will make everything right. On the contrary, when a movie doesn’t give a clear demarcation, it is termed as ‘loosely written’, ‘everything is left hanging’. This ability to see everything as B&W is the Indian dream I think: to plot everything in the 2D plane like the ‘good, bad’, ‘right wrong’ ‘for, against’, etc.

Take any issue of national importance; it has always been dealt with by the people in a ‘either this or that’ manner. You can either support someone or be against him. You can’t say something outside of the answer choices. I would call this impatience and a lack of perseverance. It took us 12 years of primary education to easily study a UG programme. Would we have been able to do it as a kid? When we all know there needs to be a lot of foundation & ground work required, why are we adamant in demanding results immediately? Some justify this impatience to the lack of development even after 64yrs of foundation. My question is; did we actually make a proper foundation? One government comes to make a scheme; the next government scraps it and makes a new one, which eventually gets scraped. Do we really have a defined path set for the future of our country? Instead of asking for a Shankar films like massive makeover in a matter of minutes, has anyone stopped and thought about a longer/permanent solution that will be able to adapt to the scenario of tomorrow? No, we are busy classifying the world as black and ourselves as white. But are we? A so called ‘farmer’ hates paying tax & so does everyone involved in the agricultural industry. They don’t even pay electricity bill. They say we are doing a service; why should we give our money to the government. If that is true, then why should the government relieve them of all their loans when there is drought? Go down south, to the interiors of Tamil nadu; Deer hunting is still practiced by the people there. Come to the cities; the working class goes all out to cut short a long procedure in any system. Even for rules related to safety issues, people pay bribe to avoid case being filed. From using helmets to emission control norms we don’t obey any rules. Little are we conscientious that a punishment is to make someone follow a rule. If, we don’t fear a punishment ourselves, how will a new legislation against corruption be enough to stop the corrupt? But we don’t care. We have made a great rule so we will remain complacent that everything will be fine here on. The great Indian dream fills our mind again. What does it take to make us push the envelope? What does it take to make us search for better avenues to curb such incidents? Didn’t we learn that prevention is better than cure? If we feel we are better educated than all the nethas put together, why are we following the same path as them to control injustice? Does a mother kill a child when it makes a mistake? By arresting someone for being corrupt is going to give you all the money that was swindled? Do you think 1.7 lakh crore money will come back to the government? Again we are making a precedent that we are interested in getting rid of the bad from our sight and nothing more than that.

I am not saying Lokpal is a bad law; I am not qualified enough to judge it. But my common sense tells me it is only going to satisfy the hunter in us – the Indian dream to win over the evil. We all know what happened to Sita after Rama killed Ravana. Lokpal may as well be the switch that cuts off the power to the corrupt; but little do we realise that the wire connecting the switch for empowering the citizen is obsolete. I want the wires to be laid first and then work on the switches, but the team Anna and the majority of people in metros want to take the opposite path. Either way, let there be light!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

As you tweet shall we drum

In the age of social networking, Media houses have turned to Twitter and other such sites to fill their channel for breaking news slot.

‘I am not signing the famous star’s new movie – tweets a famous actress’, says one article; another headline screams that ‘an actress is pregnant – actor friend wishes her through twitter’; meanwhile an actress’ statement about taking to yoga in her twitter page  becomes hot news for discussion in the media.

Not always can media quote these stars for their daily digest & not always are the tweets self-explanatory. When little information can be milked from a particular tweet the writers puts on his creative cap, only to use sentences from the actor’s previous tweets to frame a plausible article. If the tweet-lad didn’t provide substantial backup for the information, the media turns the plate by publishing an article like ‘twitter is buzzing with news about an actress’ secretive marriage – is it mere speculation?’ Instances like these more or less sums up to the media being publicists for these actors – unpaid. Is this what we meant when we wished for unpaid news? More than being free publicity campaign the articles has come down to the level of being nothing more than a round up of famous tweets.

Agreed gossips & interesting information capture the imagination of the audience, drawing their attention, which an editorial seldom does. We do understand that media need to be in the business to provide good news & this kind of news gives them a lot of TRP. But in an attempt to reach out to a larger audience, they have made us realize that finding/ making news is child’s play. Follow the tweeter profile of the right people in any industry and you will be the first to know even before the media breaks the news. These acts of laziness to produce an original article, wipes out the charm that a news corporation is affiliated with. Not only that, they invariable project an image that they don’t have any ownership or responsibility towards what they publish. If the tweet-lad had made a mistake in his tweet he would eventually tweet about it, which becomes a news in itself. Inadvertently, speculation has become the news article of today moving away from its analytical aspect. How many times has any media house in a neutral mind-set tried to educate its viewers when the people have been misled?

Today, News Corporation of India is marred by greater & deeper issues apart from tweet mania. In this time of crisis, the fourth corner stone of this democracy needs more than a breather to save itself. But for now it can do better without drumming to the tunes of twitter.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Samacheer Kalvi - Samachaara Kalvi

From the day we are born our growth has always been measured by how much we question our surrounding. True education happens as we acquire knowledge through reasoning. It is this principle that our ancestors had tried to impart as education – the power to reason or should we call it nirvana? In twenty first century as we are nearing the dream year 2020, education still remains a hindrance for knowledge. Yes, eighteen years of education has given me nothing more than what I have learnt about this world in the past two years as an engineer. Every professional I see, is now where he is only because of his understanding of this world. It is that driving force that had led him to acquire required knowledge. The irony being that, his sense of understanding has nothing to do with the education provided. Clearly one can see the real state of primary & secondary education in this country where people who really seek knowledge has no guidance. The whole system, from poor teachers to senile books fails to awaken the thinking power of the country’s posterity. If I feel I have got some amount of reasoning I would attribute it to my milieu. But are all blessed like the few of us? Can everyone afford to search for answers outside of the B&W words that lay in front of them?

Adding to this crisis are the numerous curriculum provided for different set of people. Indirectly it means people who are blessed with brighter parents are eligible to get the best out of the system while the self-made children remain underprivileged. It brings out a sense of demarcation amongst the younger generation even before they are ready to face the real world. What we really need is a drastic uplift for the below par curriculum. But, what rather comes out as requirement is a common system which sacrifices the higher points to accommodate the lower bracket.

Samacheer Kalvi the latest attempt to equalize the biased society in the near future seems to be nothing more than a powerful tool to degrade the society by eradicating the flowers even before their buds are formed. When, I a student of 90s, felt we were outdated in what we received in the name of education, what is the use of flushing out quality load for the present kids in the name of equality. It is synonymous to pushing the society back by a decade where we were still professing our hatred for hindi. Personally hindi hasn’t helped me in gaining knowledge, but every time I go out of this state it is that language that makes my journey smooth in the align land. In this sense, language and education should be treated as one and the same; a path for opening the mind for understanding what is available and what is to be made available. Like my current company’s slogan  – ‘it sets you thinking’, education must act as a fuel to the natural spark every human being has inside him. Not stopping there, it should also teach him how to preserve and transform the spark into forms which he would like to envisage in the future.

Coming back to Samacheer Kalvi, let us accept that the syllabus is on par with the matric standard if not higher. Even if that is true, will it be enough? Isn’t education all about tuning the mind, and not just mugging information? A boy playing a team sport will learn a lot more about society than he will learn about it in his book. A successful team captain will know more ways to make a person be his efficient self than a HR person. I am not saying books are obsolete for the current trend, all I am saying is, the way we see books is completely wrong. The change has to happen with the way teachers teach us and not just the books. Instead of spending crores and cores of people’s money on making copies of different syllabus to satiate each government’s ego, why not spend them on improving the quality of teaching? Will a piece of paper with some great words change the future of those kids? The need of the hour is a qualified interpreter between them and the books, till they can take care of themselves.
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