Sunday, October 26, 2008

Deepavali thoughts

it is deepavali time.
this time, the mood seems somewhat subdued.
partly the rains and partly, i guess, the drain on the stock markets.
today's paper talks about the reduced cracker sales.
increased cost and weather are considered the reasons.

but, some persons i spoke to - including some youngsters, who otherwise would have loved to burst crackers - were not that keen.
is it because the fireworks we see on TV and movies - which are grander and more vicarious. whether it is violence in the news and movies or the well orchestrated displays that precede or are part of concluding sessions of major events.

the small 'bijlees' or 'sparrows' or 'lakshmi's or even the 'atom' or 'hydrogen' bombs feel very pale in comparison.

i also noiticed this time, that the campaigns on going green [avoiding noise and air pollution] or the ones that say do something instead..
like donating for the needy or other social causes instead of spending on crackers.

a couple of years ago, it was a campaign against child labor, that used to be rampant in the fireworks industry.

it is good to see the spread of the spirit of sharing and caring.
like most occasions these days, this is also an opportunity for the retailers to gram a share of the wallets.
giving is redefined as buying.
one's affection and caring is measured by the price of the gifts to be given out.

newspapers carry full page ads; more implicit or not so subtle are placed articles on the goodness of giving. 
yesterday's issue of Mint - a paper that i started liking - carried a special article on 100 options for giving.

while these provide opportunities for one to cleanse some felings of guilt, more tolerance and consideration for others is needed to make every day a deepavali celebration.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

the business of education

recently, i had an opportunity to visit a couple of educational institutions in a tier 2 city in tamilnadu.
one of the visits was for an assessment for business excellence and the other was more of a courtesy visit.

it was a good revelation on the business of education.
i was pleasantly surprised by the number of highly qualified persons who have taken to teaching and continue their research interests.
i had been under the impression that research was only at the IITs, IISc and IIMs.
the topics of research were also very contemporary and relevant to the present times.

the investments made by some of the institutions in infrastructure - with hig end technical equipment etc., was also very good to see.

over informal interactions, also came to know how many private institutions have come to the education field, with the intention of making fast money.
with minimal facilities, mostly part time staff etc - they collect a lot of cash with minimal investments,

i have seen the products of all kinds of institutions, as they get into the working world. and had wondered how come there is so much variation in the quality of the output.

these few days gave me more insight into the business of education.
how the ratings / rankings games are played, how the positioning with the campus recruitment teams is well planned etc.

these revelations only reinforced by belief that we need to do something in a large scale at the primary eduction level to bring about a consistent change in the attitudes in our children's view of the world.

with things like the current economic crisis raising basic questions on the soundness of the decisions of the 'adults', i get some simple questions that have no clear answers.

the children should not lose faith in the human systems.
let us start with primary education.