Time For New Friendships


Published in the Student edition of Deccan Herald on 11th June 2019

TIME FOR NEW FRIENDSHIPS

By S. RADHA PRATHI

A brand new Academic year has begun. There is a clean slate to begin with. You have new stationery, school uniforms, shoes, bags, pencil boxes, water bottles, sports equipment, Yoga mat et al. Everything is so new or at least squeaky clean. You cannot stop yourself from arranging and rearranging your school ware. There is a sense of belonging and happiness. When you take all of these things to school, you find that your friends have similar items which they are very keen on showing it to you. All of you must be spending your free time chattering away and catching up with what happened during your vacations. Some of you must be handing out tasty tidbits, little gifts from your vacations and even belated birthday gifts.  Then there are some of you who make it a point to speak with the teachers who had taught you in the past and then there are others who have a friendly hello to the staff members who are in the administrative and service departments. The whole school campus seems to be a homecoming of sorts. Each of you have so much to share with your best friends but you have so little time. Well that is one of the most interesting and memorable aspects of school life.

Thus far you have been reading about a situation which applies to those of you who are back in familiar surroundings amongst known people. The excitement and the elation is something that ought not to be missed by any of you. Make it a point to enjoy every bit of it. At the same time when you look around a wee bit carefully you will notice that there are so many new faces on the school premises. There are new students, teachers and assistant staff members. They have joined your school presently. So everything must be very new and perhaps a little strange to them. All the same the adult new comers will somehow figure out a way to make themselves comfortable with the help of their colleagues. That will leave out the children, who are new to the school. They could be from the local areas or from different cities and towns and perhaps even from other countries. They must have joined your school because their family or guardians must have relocated to this place. Though your new schoolmates and classmates may have all the attractive paraphernalia related to school, they have no one to show it to because everyone around them is a new face. While the confident ones try to start a friendship with a smile the shy ones dread the thought of being spoken to. They are not sure where to sit, with whom to speak or who to lunch with. They are unfamiliar with the map of the school and are not aware of the little rules that are applicable at the assemblies, washrooms, laboratories, canteens and music rooms. They are not sure how to start a conversation or sometimes hesitate to ask the questions that will make their lives easier in the school campus. True, they will eventually get over their initial hiccup and blend with the rest of you and who knows they could turn out to be your closest of friends over a period of time.

However if each of you who is comfortable in your environs make it a point to greet the new comers of your class and include them in your group the new pupil will get introduced to every person in the class. Lunch hours and leisure periods could be used to learn something about the new classmate while he or she also learns something about you. Extending a warm friendly hand of friendship will reflect warmly on your new friends face. Your generous and forthcoming attitude will make you more cheerful than ever before. Don’t miss the time for new friendships.

When an Option becomes a Choice


Article published in the annual EDUVERSE

supplement of Deccan Herald, bangalore edition

                     WHEN AN OPTION BECOMES A CHOICE

By S. RADHA PRATHI

 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.

WHAT OTHERS SAID:

 “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

 

 

Of Epiphany and Catharsis


https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/right-middle/epiphany-and-catharsis-710382.html

I have always believed in the power of destiny. We always meet people for a reason if only for a season. Little did I know that my physiotherapist would initiate a process of enlightenment in yours truly when he became instrumental in arranging a lectu…

Read more at: https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/right-middle/epiphany-and-catharsis-710382.html

TIME AND TIDE WAIT FOR NONE


This story was published in the student edition of Deccan Herald on

18th December 2018

“ I will start studying from New Year”, “ I will clean up my room from the first of January”, “ I will continue with my Guitar classes from 2019”,  “ I  will  stop playing with the smart phone after I check all the new year greetings on Whatsapp”, “ I will not touch chocolates, cakes and chips after the New Year party.” Perhaps one of these or many more such lines are doing the rounds. Are you also making some such promise to yourself? The spirit of festive season can certainly have a very therapeutic and rejuvenating effect on people. Hence it is no wonder everyone is filled with the enthusiasm to make resolutions towards personal betterment. Well, there is nothing wrong with the zeal. After all new beginnings have a way of bringing positive changes and progress.

By the way, do you remember the story of “The Hare and the Tortoise”? Once the two animals were talking to each other and suddenly the hare started making fun of the tortoise for its slow gait. The tortoise laughed with the hare for a while but soon became very angry and upset. Therefore he told the hare that the two of them could enter a race which would decide the winner. The hare laughed at the idea for he was sure that he would win hands down. Nevertheless, he agreed to enter the race because he wanted to snub the tortoise for his overconfidence. On the day of the race, the two creatures set out from the start line. After a minute or two, the hare decided to rest for a while, and catch up later. The pleasant weather made him fall asleep. The tortoise noticed this, but did not stop in his tracks. He plodded on, in his naturally slow manner and reached the finish line a couple of hours later. In the meanwhile, the hare had fallen asleep, when he got up after several hours; he rubbed his eyes and scampered to the post, only to find the tortoise waiting for him at the Finish line. The hare felt very ashamed of his over confidence which made him lose out to someone who was obviously lots slower than him.

Though most of us know this story we fail to realise that we behave like the hare. We might have the right resources, guidance and support but we fail to make use of them to achieve our goals. Instead we waste our precious time on distractions which do us no good. We begin with a lot of eagerness and then it starts fading away. Therefore we are left with a lot of projects that are unfinished, promises that are broken and ideas that are not executed.

If you jog down the memory lane, you will remember that you too were bubbling over with the same kind of energy last December and perhaps earlier Decembers too! You began well, but most of you lost track of your goals like the hare because of several reasons. Some of your resolutions were forgotten or were found to be impractical and then there were some resolutions which bored you to tears and some others which could be done at a later date. If only you had shown some consistency in working on your resolutions like the tortoise, you could have succeeded in accomplishing your plans after all slow and steady wins the race!

Yet your attitude shows that you have neglected your own promises to yourself. If you don’t respect your own words then how can you expect others to do so?

You still have some time to redeem your promises before your start making new ones, make sure that you use it wisely and well for Time and Tide Wait for None!

 

 

 

The World of Automation


article published in the student edition of Deccan Herald on 13th December 2018

There was a time when kids like you were fascinated when they heard the story of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. The part where the hero goes to the cave door screened by the waterfall and mumbles “Open Sesame” was the favourite of most youngsters. Today children like you must have seen glass doors in hospitals, malls, high end showrooms and homes which sense that you want to enter and quietly open up without expecting you to say anything at all!

At present, there are several such instances of man’s fertile imagination that have been translated into reality through science. Movies, science fiction and detective novels have acquired a charm of their own, especially as they showcase a lot of plethora of gadgets that function at the push of a button or the mere waving of the hand.

We must thank science and technology for having helped man to realise his fantasies, for now, we have truly arrived because we live in an era of automation. Automation in homes is the latest fad in the world of gadgets. Why don’t you read the rest of the story and check out how many of the gadgets are you using , have seen or heard about?

Simply put, home automation is anything that gives you remote or automatic control of things in & around the home. The systems that you can control include: Lighting, Appliances, Heating and cooling, Security and monitoring systems, Entertainment (home audio and video), Communications (telephones and intercoms, internet), Lawn sprinklers, Curtain movements, Pool filter pump, Spa heater, Filtration unit, Gate/garage door motor, Shade motor control, Roof sprinklers, Electric strikes, Keyless entry etc.

The concept of home automation is to connect all of these systems and devices to a central controller so that they can be controlled from anywhere and react to one another. For example, as you arrive home, your home-automation system can automatically turn off the sprinklers, open the garage door, unlock the front door and disable the alarm, light the rooms as and when you enter, and turn on the TV. Or if you have a home theatre, it might automatically dim the lights, draw the shades, and direct all calls to voicemail so that you can watch your movie in peace.

This central controller can be accessed and controlled through interfaces like keypad, wired or wireless touch-screens (with/without video), universal remotes, mobile devices such as a cell phone or PDA, any PC, at home, in the office, or on the road.

The central controller has various peripheral devices connected to it so that it can receive and send signals to them for appropriate controls. These peripheral devices can be Lighting Controllers,  Switches, Lighting Dimmers, Wireless security transmitters, Door contactors, PIR sensors, Infrared key fobs, Fire/smoke detectors, Sprinklers, Sirens, audio controllers, speakers, temperature sensors, thermostats, cameras, televisions, CCTV, appliances etc.

In other words if any  premise is fitted and wired well with some or all of these devices they can be animated and programmed to be your slave at your will. And the best part is that technology has made all these magical possibilities come alive because some scientific minds have been working overtime on the subject. While it is all right for you to enjoy the fruits of the hard work of scientists, it will do you a world of good if you are able to add on the treasury of inventions and improvisations. Applying your minds and stretching your imagination will egg you on to experiment and explore further. Perhaps, at some later date you might actually end up enlarging the world of automation.

 

Talk and Workshop Topics


Keynotes

T hough this information has already been published in the keynotes section, I am uploading this again in the blog section following quite a few enquiries.

The following topics can be elucidated and discussed at various levels for specific age groups, genders, professions and purposes as per requirement.   Examples from mythology, history and literature will be used to put across the idea effectively. Strategies, solutions and options to deal with problems will be the mainstay of each talk. Games, role play and activities will be included when conducting the sessions as workshops.

note: I am game to exploreother ideas and topics if given enough time.

WOMEN

 

  1. WOMEN IN MAHABHARATA: About women who made a statement domestically, socially, politically et al. The talk covers a few or all the women in the epic and will highlight their strength of character and its relevance in today’s world. The talk can be exhaustive and spread over two or three sessions.
  2. WOMEN WHO CHANGED THE DESTINY OF HASTINAPURA: Satyavathi, kunti and Draupadi
  3. WOMEN IN RAMAYANA: About women who made a statement domestically, socially, politically et al
  4. WOMEN IN KALIDASA: About women who made a statement domestically, socially, politically et al
  5. KRISHNA: Champion of women dignity, security and empowerment.
  6. VALMIKI: Champion of women dignity, security and empowerment.
  7. MEERA AND ANDAL Unrequited love., exposition of Andal’s Vaaranam Aaayiram, and Meera Bhajans Can be treated as individuals or comparative study
  8. ROMANCE IN INDIAN MYTHOLOGY: Brave enterprising women who were ready to claim high stakes.
  9. WOMEN IN UPANISHADS: About women who made a statement domestically, socially, politically et al
  10. PANCHA MAHA KANYA: Modern ills faced by women like honour killing, rape, molestation, HIV aids leading to questioning the character of a women in contrast to Ahalya, Draupadi, Sita, Tara and Mandodari
  11. MOTHERS AT HEART: Yeshoda, Radha, Kunti who nurtured children who were not their own biologically
  12. GANGA: Divinity, purity, motherhood, folk belief, epic belief, pollution et al.
  13. SINGLE MOTHERS: The challenges from time immemorial. Sita, Kunti, Jaabali, Jijabai
  14. ALANKARA AND SHRINGARA: Make up, jewelry and cosmetics derived from indigenous herbal Indian sources for the enhancement of facial, physical and mental beauty.
  15. NAVARATHRI: Women Empowerment Ichchca Shakthi, Jnana Shakthi ,Kriya Shakthi
  16. VENI SAMHARAM OF BHATTA NARAYANA: An analysis of self respect, love and revenge.
  17. BHISHMA: The man who wronged women as he was trapped in the web of his own principles.
  18. SUYODHANA OR DURYODHANA: Dual personality who knew what was right but preferred to do wrong.
  19. KARNA: The fallen hero who was admired and dreaded by women.

 

MANAGEMENT 

  1. THANK YOU AND SORRY: These words are the most misunderstood and misused in the name of etiquette. A re-look at these words for building bridges amongst people and our souls.
  2. PRAISEWORTHY PERSONALITY: The Purpose, Path, and Pursuit of the Philosophy of life taking into other P factors.
  3. DEMYSTIFYING THE THREE Ps TO PROGRESS: Positive Thinking, passion and Sense of proportion by themselves have no power unless backed up by dedication and perseverance.
  4. NARADA TANTRAM: Sometimes the hornet’s nest has to be stirred to restore order.
  5. ICHCHA SHAKTHI, JNANA SHAKTHI KRIYA SHAKTHI: Thoughts become actions which can lead to success. In other words we are the architects of our destiny.
  1. COMMUNICATION SKILLS: The example of Hanuman in the Sundara Kanda is used to elucidate the dome thing in communication in the global scene.
  2. COMMUNICATION SKILLS: The essence of conversation is based on truth and compassion. Importance of body language, tone and intention which can far surpass use of language.
  3. ART OF MANAGEMENT: Delegation is only one part of the show. Self reliance, detachment and confidence is the way forward.
  4. KARMA THEORY : It is scientific, therapeutic and cathartic can change the world if each one becomes conscious of what his actions can lead to.
  5. KARMA THEORY :The serpent stories of Mahabharata
  6. LEADERSHIP: Flexibility and firmness, decision making, delegation, team work
  7. TEAM WORK Vs INDIVIDUAL ENTERPRISE: A conflicting ideal between material and spiritual progress.
  8. WORK ETHICS: How to cope with personal beliefs and professional demands without compromising on values.
  9. CRISIS MANAGEMENT: Many of them are under the impression that crisis management can be learnt at a crash course but developing presence of mind and using common sense are lessons of a lifetime.
  10. SUBHASHITAS, DOHAS AND KURALGAL: similarities in the world of wisdom.
  11. SATYAM SHIVAM SUNDARAM: Beauty is threefold, physical, mental and spiritual.
  12. SWOT ANALYSIS: with examples from mythology to suit the nature of different problems.
  13. TIME MANAGEMENT: Multi tasking, priorities, planning, procrastination et al.
  14. SHADOW LEADERSHIP QUALITIES: Bhishma, Krishna, Shakuni

 

INDIACENTRIC

  1. INDIAN WAY OF LIVING AND ENVIRONMENT: Makes an attempt in exploring certain age old traditions and separates the wheat from the chaff that is tradition from superstition.
  2. GLOBALISATION THE INDIAN WAY: Concept of Vasudhava Kutumbakam-the world as one family.
  3. GURUS IN MAHABHARATA: Ideas, ideals and inspirations that can be drawn from the epic teachers. It is also a session on the essential human flaws that interfere in the functioning of a complete teacher.
  4. STORY TELLING: Most effective teaching methodology since Panchatantra
  5. RANGOLI: The esoteric and educational value of the Vedic tradition in today’s world.
  6. THE MIDAS TOUCH OF INDIANISATION : Much against the popular belief that we are westernised, we actually Indianise whatever comes in our way.
  7. FOOD AND FESTIVALS OF INDIA: Food is more about region while festivals construe to religion, it is the spirit of celebration which is important.
  8. PAGAN INDIA: Worship of the forces of nature, which automatically makes us eco friendly
  9. UNDERSTANDING EVERYDAY LIFE IN THE TRADITIONAL INDIAN CONTEXT
  10. HIMALAYAS THE SPIRITUAL UNIFYING FACTOR OF INDIA: A take on what keeps India together despite diversity.
  11. UNITY IN DIVERSITY: Universal unity of mankind in terms of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam and Ekam Sat.
  12. THE NEED TO CONSERVE INDIAN LANGUAGES: promote use of mother tongue to salvage tradition and culture.
  13. SANSKRIT THE MOTHER OF LANGUAGES: Underlying unity in eastern and western languages.
  14. THE GREAT INDIAN MIDDLE CLASS ECONOMICS AND ENVIRONMENT: Old wine in new bottle, Swachch Bharath.
  15. SAVE WATER: Water does not disappear, it gets evaporated/polluted or displaced.
  16. SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT: recycle, reuse, recharge
  17. COLOUR OF CORPORATE IS GREEN: Corporate social responsibility.
  18. MEDICAL KIT IN A MASALA DABBA: Discuss spices and their benefits
  19. YOGA: Physical, mental and spiritual benefits
  20. GREEN BUSINESS IDEAS: Based on Indian resources catering to Indian way of life.
  21. TOURISM AND GLOBALISATION: Being aware of the History and geography of a place can go a long way in making the world a global village.
  22. MUSIC MATHEMATICS AND SANSKRIT: The interrelated aspects of the three subjects.
  23. CHARACTERS IN OUR EPICS AND MYTHOLOGY: metaphorical representations of the myriad shades of human thought, behaviour and actions.

ART

  1. WORLD OF ART: Different art forms can help man imbibe both discipline and creativity. Work both left and right brains.
  2. LEISURE ARTS FOR NORMAL BLOOD PRESSURE: The impact of embroidery, crochet, knitting, rangoli weaving et al
  3. ART OUT OF WASTE: (PPT aided)
  4. MUSIC AND MATHEMATICS: Similarities in the two subjects with respect to discipline and creativity.
  5. SKYLARK AND NADABRAHMA: Western and eastern exploration of music as a quest for eternity based on the contemporary works — Shelley’s poem and some Thyagaraja Kritis
  6. HARIDASA TRADITION: A take on Bhakthi tradition in Karnataka. Social and spiritual dimensions.

Workshops on the following topics can be conducted over two sessions of ninety minutes each followed by half an hour of interaction or open house discussion as per requirement.The sessions will be a combination of talk and activities.)

  1. Individual life long development. (Physically, mentally and spiritually).
  2. IT and English language teaching. ( Developing games to hone grammar and usage)
  3. Creative writing. ( Touches on fantasy, imagination and story writing.)
  4. ( Practical and economic aspects of Greek and Indian Drama aimed at helping oneself to available resources).
  5. Developing a green thumb. ( Creating green space around living and working spaces with available resources.)
  6. Green practices. (Practical and economic aspects of avoiding pollution and conserving resources).
  7. Teachers Training. (Practical and economic aspects of teaching using games and puzzles to introduce topics or revise them.)
  8. Women Empowerment. (Physically, mentally and spiritually)

10.Team building and leadership. (SWOT analysis of colleagues and employees and learning to build a healthy competitive atmosphere.)

TEACHING

  1. GOLDEN TRIANGLE: The inter relationship among, expectations from and disillusionments in the triangle of parents students and teachers
  2. THE GURUS OF MAHABHARATA: Guidelines on about how to be and how not to be a good teacher by analyzing the student teacher relationships in the epic.
  3. CLASS ROOM CONTROL: The discretion to take stand on when to be firm and flexible and concentrate on content.
  4. VOCABULARY : Using games based on vocabulary to sensitize the use of spellings, syntax, phonetics and grammar.{ Note: Vocabulary can be used a tool to develop teamwork qualities, understand common fallacies and even philosophize depending on the age, ability and interest of the participant}
  5. HANDLING DIFFICULT STUDENTS: The session will progress from generic to specific discussing the expectations, psychology and the environment of the student.
  6. PREPARING FOR BOARD EXAMINATIONS: The dos and don’ts of examination rules, preparation and performance {Note: this session will be conducted differently at the head and the tail end of the academic year}
  7. PREPARING FOR ENTRANCE EXAMINATIONS: Overcoming the challenge to excel and make a mark when comoeting with dark horses of varied calibers.
  8. EXAMINATION AND EVALUATION: A session for teaching staff on the validity of the necessary evil. Will be mostly conducted on the lines of a debate.
  9. THE GOAL OF LEARNING: Knowledge, exposure and reflection as against rote learning.
  • LEARNING BASICS: Importance of getting the concepts right , the need for bridge courses
  • USE OF TECHNOLOGY IN CLASSROOMS: The pros and cons of using technology will be discussed on lines of a debate.
  • THEATRE AND CINEMA: Role play, playing clips of relevant videos to put across a point. Examples using prescribed textbooks will follow.
  • USE OF MUSIC: Rote learning of multiplication tables formulae, poetry, periodic table etc
  • MUSIC MATHEMATICS AND SANSKRIT: The interrelated aspects of the three subjects.
  • POETRY AND POETICS: helping students to enjoy and experience the essence of poetry.
  • TESTING TECHNIQUES: Suggestion of various methods of immediate and periodic testing of what has been learned to make learning more effective.

 

Teaching to Learn


https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/panorama/teaching-learn-702880.html

Over the years, I have realised that no matter whatever else I do, teaching is what keeps me ticking. I started teaching primary school children donkey’s years ago since the time I was in high school. This exercise made me realise that teaching made a…

Read more at: https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/panorama/teaching-learn-702880.html