Evaluation of Evaluators


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The citizens in the world of academics are only too aware that there are wheels within wheels. Students, their parents and their teachers know that the path to progress is many tiered.

Students have to imbibe what they are taught, customise their knowledge to cater to the needs of the examination system and then await results post evaluation. The process appears to be ancient, normal and warranted as far as one can see.

The evaluators take over from the point the students finish their examinations, and it is this factor that most students and parents are apprehensive about. Realisation dawns on them that the ball is no longer in their court; their results are in the hands of unknown evaluators especially when they take up the board or university examinations.

The routine of nervously scanning through the Internet and news channels for the forthcoming results can be quite draining to all examinees, no matter to which age group they belong. Though the law of cause and effect is well known to be proportionate, it is apparently not applicable in our desi educational system to a large extent.

It appears that the shloka from the Bhagavad Gita which says, “Karmanye Vaadhika-raste, Maa Phaleshu kadachana,” which means “You have the right only to do your duty, but never anticipate the fruit for your deeds” is applicable to the students who complete their examinations. That is why we find students spending their vacation with fingers crossed for the outcome of their performance.

The anomalies in the realms of examination results can range from appearing late to appearing wrong. Though all boards and universities do have channels for re-totalling, revaluation, availing copies of answer scripts and even provisions to appear in the court of law, the number of mistakes that happen have not come down considerably.

It is understandable that to err is human. After all, it is the teachers who correct answer scripts. It is quite possible that they could have made an error or two out of sheer oversight or fatigue. Considering the fact that they are also willing to recheck and award rightful scores when approached through proper channels also speaks for the fairness and the transparent nature of the system.

All the same, the students find it difficult to repose faith in the system because many of them have been unsuspecting victims of sheer apathy and convoluted processes which have scorched their spirits and singed their opportunities.

Shortage of evaluators

When the matter is scrutinised from the teachers’ point of view, many factors that seem to justify their slipshod job come under the magnifying glass.

Firstly, there is an acute shortage of evaluators. Since most teaching jobs are offered by private educational institutions, they have a floating population of teaching staff.

Teachers resign their jobs at the end of the academic year in search of greener pastures and are sometimes willing to take an unpaid holiday while in the process of switching jobs. This trend automatically shows a large dip in the number of evaluators during the annual academic break.
Teachers who are hired on a contract basis for the occasion try to earn a little extra money by hurrying through the answer scripts.

The teaching faculty with secure jobs usually decides to put up their price during this season and prefers to go on strikes and dharnas. They feel that it is probably the best time to make their presence and value known. The harsh truth is that teachers are the lowest paid educated class in society.

It is a fact that teachers are burdened with the onus of wading through a sea of answer scripts without respite and the remuneration mostly does not match with the effort put in.

Apart from that, the evaluators are answerable to the chief examiner as well as the students if they have bungled in the process of correcting an answer script or totalling the marks obtained. They can be even sued in the court of law for not taking up their responsibility seriously.

The callousness in assessment of students can be averted to a large extent if knowledgeable and conscientious teachers are chosen for the job consciously. In addition, they should be given their due importance, respect and remuneration. They will be only too delighted and diligent to carry out the responsibilities bestowed upon them. And then, the rest assured students can enjoy happy holidays.

Unresolved Misery, Remorse Can Be Fatal


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There are moments in life when nothing seems to be under our control. An incident from the Ramayana enumerates one such situation. When king Dasharatha fixed the coronation of his beloved son Rama, he hastened to his favourite queen’s chamber to break the news to her personally. Little did the king realise that Kaikeyi’s mind had been poisoned by her maid Manthara. He was shocked beyond words when he heard her demands to redeem the two boons given by him long ago. He could not digest the idea of exiling his dearest son to the forests for 14 years after fixing his coronation. He was also not very open to the idea of crowning Kaikayi’s son Bharatha as the king of Ayodhya. Repeated pleas to his dear wife got him nowhere and he swooned from time to time. The king was truly caught between the devil and the deep sea.

On the one hand, he could not even dream of going back on his promise because he was a man of his word. On the other hand, he could not bring himself to inflict an undeserving heinous punishment on his faultless son. He tried to cajole and coax his beautiful queen. When she refused to respond, he berated her and even threatened her about her impending widowhood. When she refused to budge from her obstinate demands, he wondered if he was at the receiving end of his own Karma. He imagined that he must have separated thousands of cows from their calves, mothers from their sons and wives from their husbands to have merited such a state. He tried to recollect all the possible evil deeds that may have been perpetrated by him to reap such misery. He succumbed to his end without putting up a fight as he was depressed beyond measure.

Natural disasters, death of a beloved person or separation from a loved one can leave us devastated. Any amount of solace cannot reverse the incident. When misery and remorse envelop us, it will be better for us to accept the situation and contemplate on the next step forward. On the other hand if we choose to wallow in our despondency we might tumble into a bottomless pit of sorrow which can push us to a state of depression or death.

New Age Challenges of Teaching Undergrads


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By S Radha Prathi, Dec 21, 2016,

Teaching at the undergraduate level is increasingly becoming a challenge even to the most enterprising, enthusiastic and experienced of teachers these days. Barring a handful of undergraduates, most students are hardly ever interested in the course. For most urban youth, it is a passage of rite to be fulfilled before they enter the world at large to pursue their vocations, businesses, jobs or personal lives.

Lecturers and professors both old and young who had gathered at a national seminar seemed to be speaking in one voice on their pet subjects. They began with the most sacred ritual of marking attendance which gains sacrosanct dimensions especially towards the end of the academic year.

The UGC insists on a minimum of 75% attendance requirement before taking up the prescribed examinations from time to time. Every student who falls short of the mark, unable to get a proxy or have the means to circumvent the problem, makes it a point to be there towards the end.

These students add to the nuisance value in the classroom because they are unaware of what is transpiring in the room and that naturally keeps them diverted. Interestingly, they are the ones who come up with ideas of having special classes in a bid to step up their attendance quotient.

These days, the courts stand testimony to the increasing numbers of affidavits filed by erring students suing colleges for depriving them of the attendance that would have enabled them to take up examinations.

Attendance has been boiled down to the level of being physically present in the campus. Never mind if you are late, distracted or have misbehaved in the lecture hall. A couple of medical certificates and wedding cards genuine or otherwise have the powers to set matters right.

Neither the students nor their parents seem to be unduly worried about the learning curve that could have shot up if discipline and diligence were employed. This act  is nothing but a sterling example of how colleges inadvertently nurture downright carelessness laced with rudeness which gains legal validation because of obscure processing.

Gone are the days when lectures were interrupted by garrulous youth and giggly girls who indulged in small talk or biting into a morsel of food during the serious hour. These days they are otherwise occupied checking or sending messages on their cell phones, that is if they are not playing or shopping.

If they are asked to deposit their instruments outside before a guest lecture, each one will take their own sweet time to make “suitable arrangements” before taking leave of their external organ for an hour or two.

Internet age
Taking down lecture notes is passé, because graduating youngsters believe that everything worth learning can be found on the internet. Necessary course material can always be bought, photocopied, scanned or stolen if necessary. Most pupils are not interested when there are relevant digressions from the topic because they do not figure in the scheme of the portions prescribed for examinations.

On the one hand, they want to be treated like adults when reprimanded for permissive public behaviour; on the other, they want to be spoon fed with the exact mark allotment for each question.

It is ironical to note that the youth of the world which believes in worldwide networking do not make an attempt to see the interrelated nature of subjects which can go a long way in shaping them as sensible and sensitive global citizens.
The harsh truth is students no longer learn to gain knowledge but to earn degrees. They attend college for the frivolous social ambience and not for getting a panoramic on various subjects. Politics, groupies and sectarian views have substituted the secular outlook.

Examinations, mark sheets and certificates have become passports to the first jobs which are usually procured through campus interviews. Hence, it is no wonder students are becoming increasingly removed from the teacher-taught equation. They have forgotten that being a graduate is not about procuring document, it is about graduating to a higher phase in life and emerging as a better human being who has some expertise over the chosen subject.

Matters will improve only if we are able to instill a love for learning in the young or just devalue degrees of the ones who do not measure up to display basic knowledge of the chosen subject and show evidence of etiquettes demanded of a graduate.

Sportive Attitude Can Save The Day


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/583763/sportive-attitude-can-save-day.html

Winning and losing are part and parcel of life. The person who is more talented, strong, intelligent and fortunate wins. The ones who do not measure up to the mark lose out.

While it is only normal to acknowledge the champion and celebrate the victory, it is not quite in the order of things to look down upon or insult the ones who have not been able to make it.

Etiquette warrants that all the participants in the event or game accept their results gracefully and move on in life. It is neither necessary for the winner to crow over his outcome nor for the loser to bemoan his failure or play the blame game.

If we allow pride, ego or pettiness to rule over our emotions, it can prove to be detrimental to us in the long run.

The story of Anaranya, the king ofAyodhya and a descendant ofIkshwaku dynasty, is documented in theRamayana. It is said that this heroic ancestor of Rama was the unquestioned sovereign of his times.

Ravana, the king of Lanka, who happened to be his contemporary, went around the world to prove his prowess. Many kings submitted toRavanawithout fighting. Ravana challenged Anaranya to dare his supremacy and summoned the king to submit.

Though Anaranya was old and feeble by then, he chose to fight his contender. Ravana not only defeated Anaranya but also vanquished the army of Ayodhya in a trice. Anaranya was thrown down from his chariot. Ravana walked up to the fallen king and placed his left foot on the prostrate body of Anaranya to underscore his triumph. Anaranya was able to accept his defeat but could not digest the insult.

Anaranya was enraged. He cursed Ravana a certain death in the coming future at the hands ofRama, which did come true in the course of the Ramayana.

The confrontation between Anaranya and Ravana is a sure sign of the fact that no one can be sure of winning all the time.

Various factors contribute to success or failure of a person in a given situation. Only a sportive attitude can save the day for all concerned.

 

Selflessness or Helplessness


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We are living in times when most people refrain from or at least think twice before helping one another. People, who do help, fall into two categories. One set of them help in the hope of reaping returns later. Another set of people are Samaritans for whom helping is their second nature.

The Samaritans’ natural instinct to help is often exploited by the people who are at the receiving end of the good deed.This lopsided equation leaves the helper braving the brunt of his action, while the receiver is sometimes not even sensitive to the fact that he has plucked his benefactor to the bones. A tale from the Upanishads elaborates the different dimensions of unquestioning helping nature and its impact on the helper.

Once, the Devas decided to perform a Maha Yajna. Protocol dictated them to abstain from possessing arms during this spiritual activity.They requested sage Dadheechi to become the caretaker of their valued possessions. The sage, who led an altruistic life, did not want to get involved. The Devas impressed upon the sage that their rivals would never dare to incur the curse of the sage at any cost.

Dadheechi understood the magnitude and might of the weapons, so he took up the responsibility of safeguarding the same. The Devas completed the Yajna successfully, but did not come back for the weapons. Meanwhile, Dadheechi found it difficult to concentrate on his penance because of this liability. He liquefied the lethal weapons and consumed them.

Several years later, the Devas felt the need for weapons when they were badgered by Vritrasura. When Indra, their leader, came to know that the weapons lay in the bones of the sage, he realised that he could retrieve them only when the sage passes away. Indra did not hesitate to request Dadheechi for the bones, because his need was urgent.

Dadheechi understood the emergency. He gave up his life to honour his promise. Indra created the infallible Vajrayudha using the bones of the sage and slayed his enemy. Dadheechi immortalised the concept of selflessness with his deed.

Helping one another is the only way forward. However, the helped must be conscious not to bleed the helper white and push him to a state of helplessness.

When Patriarchy’s Clasp Ends Up Choking You


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/574677/when-patriarchys-clasp-ends-up.html

Recently, the suicide of a homemaker and mother of two made news. She had hung herself to death following a violent and shameful domestic incident. It so happened that she was bathing with the geyser on, quite against her thrifty husband’s instruction. When he pointed out the matter to her, she apologised for using the geyser for a few more minutes.

Livid, he yanked her out of the bathroom, and thrashed her for escalating the electricity bill. The rest of the family, comprising her parents-in-law, sister-in-law and her two children, watched the woman being subjected to violence in the nude. The 31-year-old decided enough was enough and put an end to her life. Cases were slapped against the family and police investigation was initiated.

The story will probably do the rounds on social media, family and friends’ circles and eventually die a natural death. After all, patriarchy constantly smothers and pushes countless women to take extreme measures. Most of the time, the victims are humiliated, violated and decimated without qualms by the very people in their families and vicinity.

The rankling tale brings forth multiple issues that need to be understood, analysed and set right. We as a nation are often under the impression that education is the panacea for many ills that contaminate our society. In this episode, the woman was a postgraduate in education who possibly chose her family against a career in teaching. It is unfortunate that she could not impart even the basics of civil behaviour to her immediate family.

Whether her husband was trying to deprive her of the comforts of city life or simply drive home a lesson in good economics is unclear. Whatever the reason, his act of violence proved to be fatal not only to his spouse but also to his future and that of his children. Apparently, mere education can achieve nothing unless it is reinforced with dollops of values in terms of integrity and humanity.

The smaller problem (in this case) happens to be the matter of the geyser which runs on electricity which in turn generates a bill that has to be paid on time. Perhaps one of the guiding motives of this incident was also the man’s inability to cope financially. A remote possibility is that he may have wanted to conserve electricity.

Such being the case he could have encouraged his wife to work and contribute to the family kitty instead of behaving like a brute. Then she need not have been apologetic about the hot water and paid the price for it with her life. She may have garnered self-confidence by putting herself out there and lined her purse with some well-earned money. This in turn would have made her family members treat her with the respect and dignity that she deserved.

She gave up her life because she could no longer live in the ignominy of unreasonable hatred and felt ashamed to display her distress to her growing children.

It’s impossible to miss the fact that the perpetrator’s parents, who also had an adult daughter, did not object to their son’s loathsome behaviour. The report says explicitly that the father-in-law categorically declared that no one was going to save the woman from the punishment meted out to her.

Was he giving a peep into the darker side of marital life to their daughter while supporting his son or was he deriving vicarious pleasure from seeing his son’s wife in the nude sounds rhetorical. Perhaps the mother-in-law, who was a mute spectator to the disgusting affair, was used to such scenes.

The parents of the deceased Sushrutha filed a police complaint against the man who had treated her poorly for years. Yet, they abandoned her dead body because our belief says that a married woman’s funeral should be conducted by the members of her marital home. Their love for their daughter was overruled by their belief in traditions and customs. Never mind if those very traditions had brought about her suicide.

What kind of memories are the children going to grow up with? It would be a miracle if they are able to lead a normal life after being a witness to such atrocity.

This horrible happening has been discussed threadbare to show that what happened in the young woman’s life is a sample of the kind of coercion, mortification and constant degradation that women are put through despite being educated and contributing members of their families.

Our women should stop going by a set of rules, beliefs and convictions blindly to fit into the brutal society. They should become wary of succumbing to wickedness and sadism and learn to stand up for themselves.

It is time we realise that the women in our subcontinent lead life in concentric circles. The domestic, social, economic, religious, traditional and political layers that surround us end up choking us before we look up. The only panacea to this syndrome can be achieved when individuals, families and communities work on strengthening our moral core with universal values of integrity, fraternity and equality.

 

It is Good to Feel Bad


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Sanjay, all of 17, was severely reprimanded by his lecturer for not submitting his record notebook on the due date.

The lanky boy hung his head in shame and looked sideways at his friends who were standing by the door. Reassured, he mumbled a cursory apology and exited the staff room. Before long, his pals cheered him up and soon, the gang was off to watch a movie.

When Sheila, 12, was scolded by her mother for not keeping her room clean, her teenaged cousin Leila consoled her saying, “Moms are like that only. Even mine never misses an opportunity to pick on me. So don’t worry, chill!”

Evan, 22, a waiter at a high-end restaurant, was clumsy while serving tea to a regular customer and was taken to task by his manager. When he returned to the kitchen, his colleagues told him that there was no point in moping because the manager was incapable of digesting his meals if he did not chew up one of his underlings every day.

These are but random instances. Yet there is a line of commonality that strings them together. In every cited case, the person who was pulled up for his or her mistake felt victimised. Not for long did the person pause to reflect on what they did wrong.

The already dormant conscience was further assuaged by an empathetic consoler who made a villain out of the conscientious disciplinarian.

How many times have we not been party to or at least witnessed scenes where the pointlessness of feeling bad is underscored? Then comes the scolding of the ‘scolder’ for finding faults unnecessarily and making proverbial mountains out of molehills. Eloquent empathisers will go a step further and cite a track record of similar situations and ridicule the stickler in good measure.

Usually, martinets are nicknamed and made laughing stocks of their immediate society, fodder for the gossip gristmill. True, none of us like to be criticised. Often harsh words can make our hearts bleed much more than prickly thorns. It is during these times that we look up to our friends and well-wishers for emotional support. We feel lighter and better when we are comforted.

There is nothing wrong in craving for some reprieve when we are submerged by our blues, especially if we have been walked all over for no fault of ours. At such times, we will do well to follow the advice of our supporters and treat these instances as passing clouds. We must get on with our lives without attaching too much importance to the slights meted out to us.

Nevertheless, if we happen to be at fault, the best course of action would be to reflect and introspect on the subject. Then it will not be very difficult for us to see that we have erred and therefore have been admonished, albeit harshly. It is time for us to realise that it is alright to feel bad or guilty. It just shows that our conscience is functioning well.

The best step forward in such circumstances would be to apologise sincerely and correct the error and make a mental note of the new lesson that has been learnt. On the other hand, if we happen to be in the shoes of the sympathiser, we can lend a patient ear to those who are hurt, but must not fail to point out the need to apologise gracefully and set things right. If we get used to the ‘don’t care’ attitude, we will remain mediocre all our lives.