When an Option becomes a Choice

Article published in the annual EDUVERSE

supplement of Deccan Herald, bangalore edition

                     WHEN AN OPTION BECOMES A CHOICE


 Our sub continent boasts of at least two and a half dozen living languages and perhaps a few hundred existing dialects. The statistics are not only true but also very overwhelming to the citizens of other countries who manage to communicate in perhaps two or three languages. All the same when we look at our language skills with reference to our millions in population it is very disproportionate. The number of people who can read write and speak a language well happens to be a small fraction. And the ones who can appreciate the literature, art and culture associated with the tongue happen to be a smaller fraction.

We have no one else to blame for this situation except ourselves. Somewhere along the line, education came to be associated with studying subjects which will earn them a livelihood and perhaps help them scale up the economic ladder. Over a period of time language skills started fading. If we do not pay attention to this loophole in our system it will be no surprise when our languages disappear en masse some day in the future.

As they say, it is never too late to regain anything as long as we apply our minds to it. At this point of time in the year lakhs of teenagers who have completed their pre university examinations are standing on the threshold of new beginnings. Most certainly there must be a section of students who have a flair for languages and would like to explore the vagaries of the tongue and delve deeply into the rich literature of the language. Yet many of them refrain from pursuing a course that is close to their heart because of preconceived negative notions attributed to the arts stream and language learning as an optional subject.

For those of you who are surprised and curious, please be aware that all universities offer undergraduate courses through which students can specialize in language studies which is officially known as “Optional” languages. Just about every university offers “Optional” in English, Kannada, Hindi, Sanskrit and Urdu on a mandatory basis and sometimes throws in a couple of other foreign and Indian languages. Students study their chosen “Optional” for all the three years of their undergraduate period. During this period they are introduced to the linguistics, stylistics, phonetics and syntactical aspects of the language besides getting a panoramic glimpse of its vast literature spanning across the ages. Aspects like history of the language, its development, influences on and of the language on its immediate society, culture and ethos of the people are discovered. Poetry, prose, novels, short stories, dramas ranging from ancient to post modern are brought to the attention of students. A passionate reading never fails to inspire students to ponder and admire the universality of the works leaving them to thirst for more.

Three years of intense study of the language with two other ancillary subjects can boost the intellectual and emotional quotient of the student. The ancillary subjects offered are numerous. One could choose to study any two subjects from an elaborate list that contains History, Sociology, Economics, Journalism, and Psychology among others. Each of these ancillary subjects will help the student to develop a fresh insight into the “Optional” language and the interdisciplinary nature of learning.

One can pursue a teachers training course or a master degree course in the same “Optional” after graduation and top it with a M Phil or a doctoral course.

 The career options for students who pursue these courses can range from teaching at various levels, to becoming well grounded journalists, historians, civil servants to even ambassadors of the language. The rich dividends that one can get by doing these courses do not stop at only monetary remunerations. A sincere dip into the vast ocean of literature will not only help its ardent users to bear the torch  and pass it on to the next generation but will also make the individual a sensible and sensitive citizen.


 “Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things.” –Flora Lewis

Language comes first. It’s not that language grows out of consciousness, if you haven’t got language, you can’t be conscious. – Alan Moore


That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong. ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

Literature is where I go to explore the highest and lowest places in human society and in the human spirit, where I hope to find not absolute truth but the truth of the tale, of the imagination and of the heart. ~Salman Rushdie




Published in EDUVERSE- JNANADEGULA special supplement of DECCAN HERALD on Saturday 26th May 2018


Well, the students of the present day can dare to dream and transform their passions into their professions. If you are the kind who has not spent a day of your life without watching animated cartoons and similar shows, and have ruminated on the details and have mentally added variations to the show, you might as well consider making a career out of it.

Those of you who have creativity in your beings and have completed their board exams at the tenth and twelfth standards and have a flair for drawing can explore the world of animation through structured study. Once the basic requisites are ticked, you will need to check on your working knowledge of English, that is because, it happens to be the medium of study. There are several institutes in all the major cities of India like Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Trivandrum have emerged as the country’s major animation hubs which cater to the specific needs of these students for a period of six months to eighteen months depending on the module chosen by the student.

If you want to do a full-fledged undergraduate course, well, options also exist both in our country. Students have to attend a basic entrance test that checks their English language skills and arithmetical ability. A group discussion round evaluates their ability to think differently and creativity. The candidates who clear these rounds are admitted to the course.

Students who join the course will be led through the fundamental aspects of animation like using computers, drawing, sketching, model making and film making. They will be exposed to the history of the subjects and worldwide samples of classical and innovative animation. Slowly and surely the students will be taught and guided through several projects both theoretically and practically till they become industry ready.

Animation techniques are incredibly varied and difficult to                       categorize. Techniques are often related or combined. Hence the project guide of the individual student or the group takes up the responsibility of going that extra mile to help any new technique that the student may like to experiment with.

At the end of even the shortest course the institutes make sure that the students are familiar with the basic concepts of animation by making each student submit a project in place of exams. This frees prospective employers of these students of anxiety because the fundamentals imbibed during the course will help them to learn any new technique that they may have to use later on while on the job.

It is interesting to note that these students are picked up by experts and moguls in the field well before the completion of their courses as assistants and interns.

The world has realised that India has yet another talent for animation and its rich history culture and mythology has a lot more in store for the world than the eye can see. The runaway success of animated shows of Chota Bheem, Hanuman, Tenali Raman and Krishna among others has rejuvenated a renewed interest in India.  The Indian films with their special effects have not been missed by the discerning eye of the connoisseurs of the art either. This global recognition has led several Indian entrepreneurs to make mileage of the situation and as a result we have several reputed institutes like, MAAC, Arena, ANTS, Animaster, Toon School which have carved a niche for themselves in a rather short period.

Most good schools of Animation have a state of the art infrastructure, with an ultra modern production theatre with the latest equipment. The fact that the titans of the industry like Walt Disney, Imax, Warner Brothers and Sony are signing up huge contracts with Indian animation companies speaks in volumes of the impending boom in the industry.

The time has come when it has become essential for parents and teachers to analyse the latent potential of children who fill up the last pages of notebooks, their desks, the walls in their arms distance and any other canvass within their reach with sketches and doodles of incomprehensible characters. Perhaps it is time to analyse the minds that expend undue interest in cartoon shows and animated games with renewed interest and awaken the budding animation expert in them.

Multimedia in Animation:

Animation has brought many imaginary characters and stories to life. From Mickey Mouse’s endearing antics to Lara Croft’s edge-of-the-seat adventures, generations have grown up admiring this magic. In India alone, 300.000* professionals by 2008 are expected to be employed in the animation Industry. Animation Application Areas include Entertainment (Movies, Television). Business (Marketing Demos, Product Promotions), Sales (Presentations), Education (CBTs/WBTs), Tourism (Kiosks), Publishing (Graphics & Printing), Web Design, Virtual Reality for Simulations in Defense, Engineering. Advertising (Commercials, Print Ads), Interiors and Fashion Design.

  • “Animation is the rapid display of a sequence of images of 2-D artwork or model positions in order to create an illusion of movement.” In other words drawings and sketches are mobilised using technology to give it the feel of movement.
  • Students are given a lot of practice in drawing and sketching which is technically known as 2D skills. As the student progresses he or she is introduced into skills of visualizing and mastering 3D Animation, besides learning Character Design and Morphing.




Take a Plunge into the Heart of Arts

Published in EDUVERSE- JNANADEGULA special supplement of DECCAN HERALD on Saturday 26th May 2018


The air in the higher education scene is certainly undergoing a subtle change, if the recent response to the results of CET is anything to go by. The reaction of the students of second PUC who have taken up the exams has been surprisingly lukewarm, considering the fact that it had been held a sacred ritual for every student of science for almost two decades. Apparently there is more to it than the eye can see at the outset. Though the confusions and pandemonium connected with the examination in the last two years or the reservation policy appear to be the obvious culprits there are other latent factors that are working on the minds of the Indian populace.

Even as early as the last academic year the educational system represented by the colleges followed the unwritten rule of taking students with a high score into the science stream and phasing out to the commerce and arts streams respectively as the total marks of the board examinations tapered down. The parents and students accepted this unwritten dictum and tried very hard to get into the sciences to prove their worth.  The student tribe as a race flinched at the idea of taking up arts as they fear that they may not be respected in their peer group, especially in the urban areas across India. Well they cannot be really blamed for their conviction because an invisible and unlabelled stigma has been attached to the subject.

While the commerce stream invariably took the middle path and played it safe, it has been the arts stream that has been bearing the brunt of it all except in a few rare cases. If a brilliant student chose to study arts in the past he invariably aimed at taking up the civil service examinations. Then there were others who took pride in obtaining and honours in BA in the past, but the mediocre students pursued the same to embellish their names with a degree which could be obtained without much strain.

A study reveals that on an average in India, the arts stream has an astounding number of female students the ratio showing almost eight girl students for every two male students. Most of these graduates in arts have been showing a leaning towards teaching or have reclined back in the glory of just being a graduate. Even those who pursue their higher studies through distance education show an affinity for the arts as it facilitated self study and gave them scope to answer the papers in the vernaculars. Usually, students who choose to take up under graduate and post graduate courses through correspondence courses opt for arts to serve their purpose of completing a degree course.

The mindset of the regular students of the undergraduate courses in the arts stream did not reveal a very different tale. In fact when several lecturers and heads of institutions were asked their opinion on the arts courses they were certainly not ecstatic about it. They unanimously opined that only the dregs of very academically poor students take up arts and this trend has eroded the interest of both the teachers and the students over the years.

Even the best of colleges revealed that barring a handful of sincere students who were passionate about their subjects the rest of them took it for a lark. It appeared that the students who dappled with combinations that highlight the study of literature in several languages, journalism and psychology were considered to be more astute among others who chose the customary combinations like  political science, sociology, History etc.

Of late there has been a noticeable change in the attitude towards studying arts at least in the urban sector. It is important to note that this trend is catching on only among the elite and intellectual urbanites who have had an international exposure. The rest of the brethren are pursuing the course because it is cheaper, easily available, can be pursued with or without guidance and most importantly as everyone consulted on the issue chimed in that one does not have to study the “dreadful subject” called mathematics.

The present craze to pave way for a budding career in the arts stream should not be misinterpreted for lack of opportunities in the past. One glance at the subjects and several combinations offered by the PU Board of Karnataka and various universities in the state reveals that there has been absolutely no dearth of subjects right from day one, but colleges that came under their wings never risked to experiment beyond one or two common combinations.

However of late this trend is undergoing a gradual change as more and more enterprising and gifted students are aiming at becoming Art Historians, Archaeologists, Theologians, Anthropologists, Curators, Copy Writers. The colleges in the state are recognizing the need to cater to the need of these aspiring students as a record number of application forms have been filled out for these courses in almost every college.

At present the serious students of arts are migrating to America, Australia and England to follow their dreams. Some of the students who have dared to tread the “untrodden path” have found that it is not only “Cool” to study Arts and if pursued in right earnest it can woo a lot of “Hot” money too. Go take a plunge if your heart beats for the arts.



Trying To NET Secure Teaching Jobs


Yet another NET examination was conducted by the UGC leaving thousands of post graduates from varied disciplines keeping their fingers crossed.

This entrance examination consisting of three papers in scores of subjects is conducted with the view of selecting top -quality candidates for teaching posts at first grade colleges and candidates for junior research fellowship. Just a glance at the list of centres across Indian cities and townships will give you an idea as to how popular the examination is.

It is also very interesting to note that a developing country like India where illiteracy has not been totally eradicated has tens of thousands of post graduates who have scored the mandatory 50 per cent or 55 per cent which happens to be the eligibility criteria. It has been noted that most of these aspiring lecturers and research scholars take up these examinations conducted bi-annually in June and December of every year till they succeed in clearing them.

The three tiered paper can be quite foxing. It requires hundreds of hours of methodical preparation in mammoth proportions sifting through the finer details of their subjects.

Crystal clear rules

The NET rules are crystal clear. The third paper which is subjective in nature will be evaluated only if the applicant has scored the specified aggregate in the objective rounds. The formidable nature of the test has left many an aspirant hapless. When one tries to find an answer for the question as to why does succeeding in the NET proves to be elusive and even wily at times after multiple attempts, many issues come to light.

Many post graduates take up jobs or M Phil programs soon after their course some of them get into marital bonds. These new commitments leave them with little or no time to yield to the exacting study regimen expected out of them. There are yet other candidates who may have completed their master’s programme rather aimlessly in singular subjects like anthropology, theatre, library science, the languages among other such subjects and hope to land a well paid and secure future after clearing the NET.

Yet it seems a trifle ridiculous that people who have specialised in specific subjects are unable to crack questions that revolve around the basics of their chosen subject.  If the candidates taking up the NET were truly passionate about their subject, they would need little goading. They would voluntarily work hard for the love of the subject matter and eventually even out the odds that confront them.

Unfortunately, most students who take up post graduation courses are not very serious about their studies. They sign up for their master’s degree to fill the time gap while waiting for a job or marriage. There are many who pursue the master’s degree through open universities or correspondence courses to obtain a promotion or an increment.

Guide books, notes and skimming through old question paper patterns can see a person through the exercise. When such scholars take up teaching at under graduate level and hope to clear the NET, it can be a staggering task. The qualitative difference between the master’s degree and the entrance examination has proven to be the stumbling block from time to time.

All the same it is noteworthy that the students who take the NET to gain lectureship outnumber the prospective research scholars. Yet simply clearing the examination is certainly not a passport to a teaching job. Those who have sweated it out and surmounted the challenge have to wait for the colleges under UGC to advertise for their posts.

It is a fact that there are hardly any new vacancies created in UGC aided first grade colleges because most science students pursued professional courses after their pre-university courses and the strength in the commerce and arts stream is none too large either. Such being the case new incumbents can be absorbed only when a senior retired or deceased whichever is earlier.

It is easy to surmise that NET is a case of too many aspirants for too few posts and the few lucky ones who have made it to the post must realise that they must utilise the opportunity to the hilt.

At the end of the day, one should realise that classroom has nothing to do with passing a written examination. It will not equip a lecturer to evince interest a heterogeneous group. Passion and dedication should rule the roost. Constant up-dates on the subject and honing language and communication skills can aid a great deal in managing a state of constant flux in the classroom.

It is time to redesign the NET to serve the purpose!

With Designs On A Creative Career


nterior design courses offer excellent opportunities for those who wish to be self employed, or work part time. It is one of the few professions where one can operate from home with a minimal investment, writes Radha Prathi

The rapid paced urbanisation and influx of several multi-national companies and offices in the country has created a never-before-expected demand for professional interior designers. Indians are becoming more and more conscious of their surroundings and do not hesitate to spend a good bit of money to alter the home and office spaces they inhabit. As a result the right brained students of India have never had it so good, considering the fact that they have a plethora of options to pursue a course that matches their interest.

Housekeeping no longer remains the domain of homemakers. Ambitious and creative students can actually pursue a course in interior decoration and make a brilliant career out of it. An enthusiastic professional will find each project challenging for he will be expected to come up with resourceful and ostensible solutions in order to achieve a dream interior setting chalked out by the client. Candidates with creativity, aesthetic sense and the ability to transform a vision into reality can opt for the course. Interior design courses offer excellent opportunities for those who wish to be self employed, or work part time.  It is one of the few professions where one can operate from home with a minimal investment.

Just about anybody who has completed his or her intermediate or graduate studies from any discipline can take up the course. But unless the candidate has the aptitude for the job the course will amount to fitting round pegs in square holes.

These days several interior design schools have cropped up in all the major cities of India. They offer courses ranging from a period of anywhere between one month to three years during which time the students are taught the nuances of working in a three dimensional perspective and spatial flow. Students are also given training in lateral thinking, drawing both on paper and also on computers. Courses which run for a longer duration familiarise students with history and the role of decors in the ancient and medieval world. Most interior designer schools in Bangalore revealed that they also conduct classes in spoken English and basic arithmetic to help their students to communicate more effectively and to reckon with the necessary transactions while dealing with the job when they are on their own.

The students are given several practical sessions in their in-house studios and they are also encouraged to do a short internship with leading architects. Most students consider this aspect to be the most valuable part of their courses for though designers work over flexible timings they invariably have to work towards fulfilling looming deadlines.

A random survey revealed that serious fledgling designers generally opt to work with leading architects for a song to learn the ropes of the trade. Once their mission is accomplished they quote their price or simply drift away from the mother company to initiate one on their own. Divya Ponnappa, leading architect revealed that graduates in interior designing from the universities of Delhi or Mumbai had a better welcome in the market because they were considered serious students in the profession. Anuradha Palekar successful designer who has done her course in the famous JJ school of Art from Mumbai endorsed the view and added that the certificates mattered only in the initial stages but in the long run it was not where and how the course was taken but the performance which was rated. The architects of Space Artists revealed that they were not very concerned with the certificates as long as the candidate displayed his or her intrinsic aptitude and flair for the job.

Gayathri Vissa who has her own firm confirmed that once the initial struggle was over and the goodwill of the market was earned life for interior designers was good.
Successful designers have an entire retinue of carpenters, electricians, tile layers, and masons on their pay roll. They also have regular suppliers of fabric, paints, artifacts and such paraphernalia to deck up a home. It was amazing to note that a successful interior designer will have the ability to activate employment and in turn step up the economy with his dedication.

It is clear that if a potential interior designer has tons of creativity and a tremendously observant eye for beauty and when moulded by experts in the field by way of training he will find the world to be his oyster.