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Saturday, 25 October 2008

Rendezvous with Ramesh “Maava” / Meeting my Mentor

I was meeting him after a gap of two years. There is always a feeling of expectation, excitement, suspense, happiness and a little bit of hesitation just before I meet him every time. He always provides that element of surprise, invariably in every meet. I am talking about the first Principal and Head Master I had in my educational career, Mr. Ramesh, presently the Secretary of Chaitanya Vidya Shala, Channarayapatna.

He is an exceptionally principled man, who inculcated discipline amongst us, and gave us awareness of the rights and wrongs of life, at a very young age. During school days, we were almost afraid of him, but it was a fear that came out of immense respect and admiration. He used to love his pupils and we loved him too, and fondly called him Ramesh Maava (i.e., Ramesh Uncle).

He has left an everlasting impression on me, in particular, as I always liked him the most among all the teachers I had during my initial school days. Looking back now, I treat him as my mentor. The influence he has had on me is next only to that of my immediate family members. Even today, some of my school friends tell me that I almost talk and behave like him on most occasions! It might be true too, and I am in a way happy that I have tried following the footsteps of a great man.

Coming back to my latest meeting with him, after getting to know about the recent professional and personal achievements of me and my batch mates, he went on to talk about some of the most interesting topics and burning issues faced by the society today. He always talks about the most sensible and sensitive topics, and this time, it was no different. Having dedicated his entire life to the field of education, the current state of the art in the field of education was certainly high on the agenda.

Although me and many of my batch mates are part of the ‘IT industry’ that has seen some sort of a boom in recent years in India, Mr. Ramesh did not hesitate to express concerns about the ‘economic imbalance’ that this IT boom has caused. All other professions, he says, have been adversely affected because of this, and the field of education in particular has faced serious impact. This reminded me of a recent statement by Prof. C. N. R. Rao, who went on record saying that the IT boom of Bangalore has brought ‘social imbalance’ to the city. He had said that a well functioning society must have its fair share of people of all classes, young and old, as well as professionals in various domains ranging from basic sciences, medicine, engineering, arts and culture. That certainly hasn’t been the case as far as Bangalore is concerned in recent times.

Mr. Ramesh also felt that the dramatic increase in the rate of crime in the city can also be attributed to the side effects of this economic imbalance, and while agreeing, I would like to add here that the increase in the lack of courteousness and civic sense that we are observing of late, as well as the increase in road accidents and mental stress among city dwellers could also be attributed to this socio-economic imbalance.

Mr. Ramesh also said that education has suffered a lot under the circumstances, with the profession of teaching appearing not very attractive. Everyone, from every corner of the country aspires to be software professionals. Although the schools in major cities with great reputation from the past have managed to survive, the schools and colleges of smaller towns, villages, and even tier-III cities have really started to struggle of late. There are no qualified teachers, and if there are any, chances are that their quality is questionable. Teaching is an extremely responsible job. Those in the profession would be building the generation of tomorrow. They need to be proficient enough to build a good future for the country by imparting knowledge to the young citizen of India. In this context, non-availability of quality teachers at every level of education has become a serious cause for concern.

The governments too must take a large part of the blame, according to him, and because of the fact that the governments have shown callousness in projecting the teaching profession as a driving force for the country’s success, the quality of education has degraded. Today, there is no proper planning, roadmap and goal visible for a student, or for a teacher for that matter, who aspire to undertake the journey of education together, hand in hand, as depicted by our ancient saying of ‘Sahanaavavatu, Sahanau Bhunaktu…’.

The discussion went on for nearly two hours, and he gave loads of examples along the way. But, I would like to conclude it here, and hope against hope, as Mr. Ramesh himself does, that his dream education model would see the light of day someday.

Monday, 20 October 2008

A couple of SMS Gems!

ಒಂದಿಬ್ಬರು ಸ್ನೇಹಿತರು ಆಗಾಗ ಬಹಳ ದಿನ ನೆನಪಿರುವಂತಹ ಮುತ್ತಿನಂತಹ SMSಗಳನ್ನು ಕಳಿಸುತ್ತಿರುತ್ತಾರೆ (ಫಾರ್ವರ್ಡ್ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಿರುತ್ತಾರೆ). ಅವುಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಒಂದೆರಡನ್ನು ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಬರೆಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದೇನೆ:

1. ಮಧುಸೂದನ್ ಕಳಿಸಿದ್ದು:

2005: ಪ್ಲೇಗ್
2006: ಮಲೇರಿಯಾ
2007: ಡೆಂಗಿ
2008: ಚಿಕುನ್ ಗುನ್ಯಾ
2009: ಮಟನ್ ಗುನ್ಯಾ !
2010: ಬದುಕಿದ್ರೆ ಪುಣ್ಯ !!!



2. ಲೋಹಿತಾಶ್ವ ಕಳಿಸಿದ್ದು:

You might have done a hundred good things, but nobody remembers you. But you do one wrong thing, nobody forgets you.

God gives and forgives; Man gets and forgets...

ಸದ್ಯಕ್ಕಿಷ್ಟು ಸಾಕು. ಮುಂದೆ ನೋಡೋಣ...

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Why do we see people like these?

"There is a journey you are expected to undertake - a journey that would take you to the desired destination. Many have been there already, and people around you believe that you can reach there too. You are expected to be their stepping stone. If you can reach there, you can take those expectant folks with you, and provide them an opportunity to go further ahead and embark on what appears to be a journey that is far more treacherous and challenging than this one. A journey into the unknown. Not many people we know of have been successful in that journey.

But this journey, the one that is expected of you, is clearly achievable. You are expected to be analogous to the early pacesetter of a marathon race. That's where the expectation ends. No medal is expected of you. Agreed, it requires its own set of skills. But you are expected to have those skills ingrained in you anyway. Even if you don't have the ability to undertake this journey, you can cultivate it, by observing others who have been successful in this before. There are many glowing examples.

All you need to do is to make an honest attempt. Yes, there are brick walls to overcome and landmines to be avoided along the way, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. You need to make a gritty and calculated effort to reach there.

But no, you don't make an attempt - you don't want to. Because the journey doesn't excite you. Why would it? You have the comfort of a cushioned seat and you are enjoying the mid day sun; and more importantly, you know that in all probability, nobody can force you out of your cushion seat. Why would you want to leave all this and go on a tricky trek? In fact, you want to try and take your mind off anything that is even remotely related to it, because you want to avoid even getting accidentally excited by the journey and its destiny.

You know that those expectant folks are anyway planning an even more treacherous journey that includes the one that is expected of you. Even if you don't succeed in this, they will put in their efforts to reach this intermediate milestone, and continue on from there.

So, what do you do? You backtrack, and let the team go. Not necessarily. To avoid that remote possibility of losing your luxury, you pretend to try your best. You find brick walls, you want them to bring those down for you. You find land mines, you want them to diffuse those for you. They would do it, because they have a dream to go further - and the key thing here is - you know they would do it for you. This is precisely the plan. Given a choice, you would want them to lay a bed of roses in your path so that you can safely reach that light at the end of the tunnel. You hang around till they reach that milestone. Now you are assured of hanging on to your cushion seat for a long while to come. You rock back and enjoy a sip of your favorite cool drink, while a fatigued set of people march on, purely drawing energy from their dream destiny. Thanks to the induced fatigue, they have to draw this energy much earlier than expected. Hope they can reach there..."

This "you" in the above narration of mine - why do we see so many of them around?