New Challenges Ahead


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Bangalore University’s decision to replace internal assessment marks with grades evokes mixed reactions from students and teachers alike

The undergraduate students of Bangalore University pursuing different courses as regular students have been liberated from the internal assessment system. Hence-forth, students will have to put in extra effort and answer their final examination for all the hundred marks. For, the university has finally decided to replace ten per cent of the internal assessment marks with grades, which will have little or no impact on the results of the degree course.

The decision of the university has received mixed reactions from both students and lecturers for obvious reasons. Students who are happy about the decision feel that they no longer are in the hold of vindictive teachers who use the internal assessment criteria to take out their vengeance on their “not so favourite students” for various reasons. Students who are unhappy feel that the university has unfairly taken away the ten per cent of marks which they had more or less taken for granted because most colleges award full or at least maximum possible marks, which eventually steps up their grand total without much ado.

College teachers are mostly a happy lot because they will be exempted from the onerous task of allotting these controversial marks. While some colleges opt for a random marking system, some others split these ten marks on several criteria like test marks, assignments, behaviour and the percentage of attendance. Some college lecturers, especially the ones who belong to the junior category, feel they have lost the legitimate control over students who will take them for granted during the academic sessions.

Most college principals and managements are also in agreement with their young teachers and feel that the grading system will not help them maintain their control over their students.

Apparently, the internal assessment system was introduced to give students a fair chance by recognising their effort and interest during the semester. It was also aimed at giving them the cushion effect to help them pass the exam or get that elusive first class or distinction, just in case they tend to goof up during their final examination. Unfortun-ately, the admirable attempt of the university has consistently met its Waterloo, prompting them to retract to their original scheme. It is obvious that the university cannot please everyone. Moreover, gener-ations of students who have answered question papers that carried hundred marks have not fared too badly in their lives or careers.

Yet, this declaration by the university is evoking strong reactions because of another announcement that followed soon. The university has decided to do away with the awarding of generous grace marks to help students pass the examination.

Evaluators who bore in mind the impact of examination results on the future of students and graced them with pass class or first class by awarding them with a few extra marks have now been curtailed from doing so. The university hopes to step up the standard of education by taking these steps.

The teaching community feels that if these moves are implemented, it will result in a large number of failures which will in turn result in a generation of frustrated students who will find new ways and means to cheat in examinations to beat the system. It further opines that students who are not serious about their courses will prove to be a distracting force to serious students.

While it is easy to understand the apprehensions of tutors, it is also clear that one cannot expect the university to not pull up its socks and try to set right the various shortcomings that are bogging it down.

The new moves suggested by the university are not really new. They have worked successfully in the past and there is no reason as to why they should not do so now.
Yet the university would do well if it gives the grading system some significance while awarding the degree certi-ficates. The awarding of grace marks could also be done with a sense of discretion. If there are students who have passed in all the other subjects on their own merit and need a mark or two to clear one subject, the tabulator can use his/ her discretion to help the candidate pass.

No lofty ideals can be achieved by taking extreme steps. A sense of discipline tempered with that of justice alone can cleanse the higher educational system and make it credible.

Festive Colours At Your Doorstep


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This Deepavali, try out a new rangoli and make a difference to your hearth and home.

Rangoli is perhaps one of the most ancient arts which can accept any improvisation or innovation. The tradition of each region has its own prescribed methods followed to this day. Yet, special occasions like festivities and functions call for exclusive varieties which can be worked on at intervals, at your convenience and will last as long as you want without creating a mess or fuss.

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Here are a few tips which can be used by all the people who are not familiar with the traditional art or simply want to try out something different this Deepavali.

There are certain ground rules to be followed while making these patterns. First choose the place where you will be displaying the rangoli and wipe it clean. Then take a piece of wet white chalk and sketch out a rangoli or pattern of your choice.

Check if the outcome is proportionate and symmetric and correct the same if necessary. Once you are satisfied with the design you can fill it up in any one of the many different ways.

You could use flowers, leaves and even grated vegetables to pep up your rangoli, but then these varieties may not last very long  for all the trouble you have taken. They dry up giving a withered look and sometimes get disturbed when there is a gust of wind.
Some longer lasting methods have been suggested here for getting better results.

Place conch shaped macaroni along the outline and fill in the interiors with masoor dal for pink, green gram and channa dal for yellow.

Make sure you wash the grains quickly under running water and dry them in the shade to make them glow.

Take rock salt and colour them with different rangoli colours.

Fill the rangoli with contrasting colours. Once it is filled use your finger and move it evenly and steadily along the outline of each contour creating space. Then fill the outlines with plain rock salt without disturbing the rest of the design. Place coins or sea shells along the outlines and fill the insides with saboo dana to give it that pearly look.

Colourful crepe and art paper or tailor waste cloth can be shredded and used to fill the pattern tastefully. The outlines can be highlighted by placing a series of golden and silver coloured safety pins in succession.

Ice cream sticks or straws could be cut to required lengths and placed along the outlines and the inner portions could be filled with colourful crayons arranged aesthetically.
If you have coloured flooring, and also have the talent of freehand drawing, wet the floor lightly and spread sand on the pre-decided area.

Move your finger on the sand and execute the picture on your mind.

Make sure that the excess sand is gently patted back into the background without leaving the mark of your fingers. Place pebbles or seashells along the outline to give that beach look.

Trust Triumphs


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It is not enough if we love and cherish our relationship when we are on velvet. It is important for us to have faith in our friend, spouse, children, siblings, in-laws as the case may be during times of doubt and crisis.

Every relationship will have phases of ups and downs it is during these ebbs and tides, negative feelings of jealousy, one-upmanship, hatred and incompatibility set in. It is up to us to overcome these feelings and smoothen out the relationship.

This cannot be done in a day. It requires careful nurturing and intense quality time spent in each others company highlighting each other’s characteristic traits. A complete understanding of the other person and the ability to accept that person with unconditional love is of great esse- nce here. Once that state is arrived, at no amount no back biting, gossip or misdirection can affect a relationship.

An episode from the story of Shiva and Parvathi can illustrate this point perfectly.

When Parvathi came of marriageable age, the celestial sage Narada suggested that Shiva would make an ideal husband for her. At that time Shiva was in a deep state of penance.

Nevertheless Parvathi decided to woo him through her rigorous penance and prayer.

Time flit past. Shiva noticed the unswerving perseverance of Parvathi. He decided to test the love and devotion of his spouse and appeared as a disheveled tramp in front of the lovely maiden.

Then he dissuaded her from enticing Shiva into marriage. He was the personification of uncouthness and indecency which reflected in his rude and unbecoming behaviour.

He put Shiva in bad light to dissuade Parvathi from considering him as her spouse.

Parvathi was disgusted with the tramp but chose to remain silent before ticking off the vagrant effectively. Shiva was pleased with her steadfastness and her implicit trust in him. Parvathi had proven her love beyond doubt. Shiva married her.

This story highlights the unwavering trust that Parvathi had placed on her chosen lord. No amount of brainwash to the contrary effect could make her stray from her belief.  Besides, she did not attach any importance to the materialistic or social aspects of life. Her courtship period was a rigorous one riddled with uncertainties and hardship but true love triumphed in the end.

If this tale can have an impact on our lives we can certainly refresh the strained rapports with our loved ones and fuse it with a new lease of life to make it worthwhile.

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Faith And Belief


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Faith and belief is certainly a lofty and an open-ended abstract subject that dwells in the realms of philosophy and religion.

It is subscribed variously by different schools of thought. That apart, the lay man comprehends and theorises the idea in his own way.

How many times have we not seen random persons having their fingers crossed, scream two for joy when they see a pair of crows, skip with elation when they see a mail van or plucking petals off a rose while chanting, yes/no? Some are terrified of Friday the thirteenth, lose confidence the moment they find a cat crossing their path, alter their agenda if Rahu Kalam sets in or simply back out of an enterprise because they heard an untimely sneeze.

Then there are others who will not use black ink to sign documents, perform inaugural Poojas to sanctify their latest gadget, not change their clothes till their favourite cricket team wins and so on and so forth.

These are people who have their own sets of beliefs based on their values, upbringing and experiences, oscillating between science and superstitions. We certainly live in a crazy world! Yet, it has been scientifically proven that these beliefs, no matter how bizarre they may be, can prove to be a psychological crutch and occasionally a self formulated panacea for the concerned individuals albeit temporarily!

At another level, the concept of faith and belief often reveals the strength of character in interpersonal relationships amongst individuals or a community.

An incident from the Mahabharata testifies this point. When Dronacharya proved to be invincible as the commander in chief of the Kaurava army, Krishna used the infallible character of Yudhishtira to foil the massive destruction.  Accordingly, Ashwaththama the elephant was killed by Bhima and the same was communicated to his father Dronacharya amidst resounding drumbeats by the ever truthful Yudhishtira. The great guru was thus led to believe that his beloved son Ashwaththama was dead and he gave up his arms and thereby putting an end to the annihilation of the army. The belief and faith of Dronacharya in the flawless character of an individual was used to change the course of events by Sri Krishna.

A person’s integrity, consistency, discipline and values which formulate his intrinsic character not only define his personality but also his equations with his fellowmen. People learn to respect and take his word at face value against all odds. Hence it becomes the social responsibility of every Good Samaritan not only to uphold his personal values but also see to that it helps the society to live in peace and harmony!

Smart Innovation


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Radha Prathi tells us how a handful of colourful straws can be easily converted into beautiful decor objects.

Have you ever considered the array of colourful straws found at juice and smoothie counters could metamorphose into innovative art material? These days, they are available in an assorted range of colours, length and circumference. A pair of scissors, some effective adhesive and a set of a sharp needles and transparent threads can help you transform the humble straw into commendable craft.

Colourful stands

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Find a cylindrical container made of cardboard or plastic. Usually tennis balls or ready to eat savouries arrive in these containers. They can be cut short with a hacksaw blade to the required size of six or seven inches before you work on them.

Bring out the straws and cut them so that its height matches the outer length of the cylindrical surface. Work on a colour scheme that pleases you and glue the straws on the outer surface of the cylinder. A length of pretty lace or satin ribbon can be pasted at the upper and lower ends of the stand. This border will keep the straws intact and will add beauty to your stand.

Wall hanging

Cut out three equal circles with a radius measuring five inches each on a cardboard and cut them out neatly. Draw a circle measuring a radius of two inches in the circles that have been cut out. Bring out the straws and sort out the colours according to your fancy and arrange the same along the border of the inner circle. Note that it is important to arrange and rearrange the straws in a number of ways in terms of both space occupation and colour combination before gluing them on, in order to achieve neatness in the end product. The centre of the circle can be embellished with mirrors, synthetic flowers or even prized family pictures.

Place the circles at equi-distance on the reverse side and fold the satin ribbon into a loop, and paste the ribbon all the way across the circles such that they appear like parallel lines across the middle region of the circles. This will help the ribbon to bear the weight of the piece without any strain. If you happen to find your wall hanging a trifle on the heavier side you can use another ribbon in a contrasting shade and add another loop for lasting strength.

Doorway decor

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Measure the width of your doorway. Add two inches to the measurement and double it. That should be the length of the transparent thread (usually used for picoting) cut out and threaded into the needle. Double the thread and knot the ends and fix a large bead or button at the end. This will serve as a firm end for the thoran.

Arrange the straws in a colour combination that appeals to you and thread them a centimetre away from the end, uniformly all along the length of the thread. When you reach the last two inches of the thread, fasten a similar bead or button and tie the loose ends.

This colourful and innovatively made thoran will be ready to usher in your loved ones through the doorway.

Festoon

A festoon or garland made from straws can come in handy during a party or festivity to add a gaily colourful touch to it. You could opt for a multi-coloured combination or a single colour. Once completed, this screen will last a lifetime. It is easily washable and very easy to maintain.

Cut the straw into lengths of an inch each. Take considerably long lengths of transparent thread, double it, and knot the ends. Fix a bead or button to give it firmness as instructed for the thoran. Then place one piece on another, like a cross, and pierce the needle through the straws. Continue to do so till you reach the desired length and wind up like how you began.

Innovative screen

Measure the required length from the pelmet to about five inches above the flooring. Work with the straws just like the festoon. Fix a curtain ring instead of a button and work at the commencement of the work. String the straws till the streamer reaches the desired length.

Repeat this process till you complete the desired number of strings. You could maintain the same length for all the strings or you could develop a pattern by decreasing the length of the strings consistently as it progresses to the centre on either side of the doorway. These curtain rings can then be slipped on to the curtain rod and hung across as a curtain of exotic flowers which will never

Ruffled Feathers


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Factors like social etiquette, status, and situation can be obstacles to one’s thoughts.

The question that bothered me constantly may not be as existential as that of Hamlet’s, nevertheless has nagged me effectively. What does a person do, when he or she knows something for a fact and finds people mouthing the contrary with confidence in public? I know that the simple and straightforward answer to this question is to correct the error/s. However, the process is not as uncomplicated as it appears to be. Factors like social etiquette, status, relationship, time, place and situation can prove to be obstacles for articulating one’s thoughts. It is certainly not a great idea to ruffle feathers of complacency, bruise the egos or jeopardise associations over trivia. On the other hand, donning a poker face on such occasions can cause considerable mental strain.

Since it is a Herculean task to opine without coming across as conceited, I learned the art of keeping my opinions to myself, unless it is sought for. Yet, I must confess that there have been occasions when I have spoken out of turn, much to the chagrin of others.

Once I happened to enter a hall where some people were discussing a poem animatedly. We acknowledged one another and they continued their dialogue on my pet subject. Their interpretation seemed to be off the mark. My latent antenna picked it up. I interjected unceremoniously with my eager elucidation. Stoic silences and stolid stares punctuated the place. Though the situation normalised subsequently, I was disturbed for a long time.

This time around, I vowed to find an answer to my dilemma. The universe sent me a response through an authority on mythological paintings. I broached her with my prize question. She recounted an incident. Long ago, she had attended a talk on the Tibetan art, culture and cuisine. Soon after, they were shown a mural of a goddess and were told that it was Saraswathi. Our lady recognised it as goddess Manjushree.

She gently whispered her finding to her husband. The suave, westernised fellow guests were put off by her temerity. The speaker, who patronisingly encouraged her to talk was embarrassed when she identified the painting correctly. An awkward silence prevailed till the crowd dispersed. Her knowledge landed her in a quandary.Then, she realised that it was not in her power to change the mindsets or responses of people during a short association. So she decided to adhere to the Gandhian principle and “be the change she wanted to see.” and accept her mistakes gracefully and make corrections wherever necessary more conscientiously than ever before. Her resolve clarified my predicament and has hopefully left me a better person.

Concentration As Key To Success


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Nothing succeeds like success! True! Definition of success could vary from person to person based on age, sex, nationality, religion, cult or culture.

Some people strive for success which could be worldly or very simply materialistic.  Yet others could aim at achieving long term and far reaching goals which can break new grounds and salvage the lives of others physically and metaphorically.

In either case the life of successful people is not a bed of roses. They are hard workers who have a definite aim charted out and work very hard to surmount the obstacles with a steely resolve. They are people who are willing to tread the “untrodden path”, take initiatives and risks with a sense of confidence and discipline.

They do not buckle under pressure and failure or get carried away by praise till their goal is reached. Their sense of purpose helps them to inculcate qualities like confidence, vision, intelligence and proficiency.  At the core of all these wonderful qualities lies a powerful key ingredient called concentration which paves way to success. It is mandatory for a potential winner to develop his or talent, dedication and determination with unadulterated concentration.

An episode from the Mahabharata, illustrates this point ever so well.

When Dronacharya was training the Kuru princes in the martial arts, the students noticed that the teacher showed a definite sense of partiality while training Arjuna. Hence the Acharya decided to conduct a little test to highlight the quotient of their focus on what they were learning as compared to that of Arjuna’s. Therefore, he placed a wooden bird on the branch of a tree and told his hundred and five students, that they were to consider the eye of the bird as their target and shoot an arrow. The pupils queued up to take the test and came to the testing ground on by one. Each one was asked what he saw before he discharged the arrow. As each prince described the backdrop of the target with eloquence they were not allowed to take the test and sent away.

Finally it was Arjuna’s turn. He was asked the same question, to which he said, that he could see little else than the eye of the bird. Dronacharya asked him to shoot the arrow and sure enough he hit the target perfectly at the center. Though all the princes were the recipients of the expert training of the greatest teachers of their  times, Arjuna’s attentiveness and devotion to his sense of purpose set him apart from the rest and rocketed him into the realms of timeless fame!