Palm Leaf Paper


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Long long ago in India, when children of your age went to schools known as the Guru Kula they had lots to study just like you but they certainly did not have to write as much as you do! They committed whatever they learned to memory and sometimes noted down some very important definitions or formulas on palm leaves for later reference. You see they did not have note books then as you have them these days! If you are wondering whether they were lucky, unfortunately they are not around here to answer your question but they were certainly an eco-friendly lot as they were not using reams of paper made from trees!!! In such a case you could always argue that the palm leaves they used were also sourced from trees! Very true, indeed! In those days there was really no dearth of palm fronds, besides the rudiments of language like grammar and core subjects like science and mathematics were reduced to verses running into two or four lines. These couplets and quartets captured the essence of the subject in as few words as possible. The student had to understand these formulas which were popularly known as “Sutras” and he needed to memorise them to help him remember of all the aspects of the theory at a later date.

They were tested on the subject from time to time orally just like you are tested, but then all of you also take up a written test to show that you have writing skills too ! Perhaps they were spared of the exercise because processing palm fronds into writing material was a long drawn process.

Centuries before paper was invented our ancestors hit upon the idea of using hardy dried leaves as paper.  They were known as “Patra” which means both letter and leaf in most Indian languages used till date. Students processed palm leaves not only for their use, but also for their teachers and scribes who were engaged in making copies of important manuscripts.

Processing palm leaves was no mean task, but it was certainly fun –filled too! Palm fronds cut freshly from the tree were allowed dry partially for a couple of days in  sunlight and then they were then buried in swamps for a week so that they become sturdy and later on the leaves were washed and dried completely in the shade.

Then they were cut along the borders so that they formed rectangular pages which measured eight to twelve inches in breadth and about an inch or two in height. Some times when longer sheets of palm paper were required they were sewn together using plant fiber.

Once the palm paper was ready for use a fine tipped iron stylus (pencil) was used to etch the words or diagrams on the leaf so that it made a depression without actually damaging the leaf. Then powdered vegetable dyes usually green or charcoal powder made from burnt coconut shells were mixed with sesame oil and rubbed over the leaves in such a way that the colours settle down in the depressions. Then the palm leaves were coated with turmeric powder mixed with sesame oil to add sheen and strength to the leaves. Then they were bundled together and wrapped in silk or cotton cloth for safe keeping. Our ancient texts like the Vedas, Puranas, the epics, scripts of plays and treatises have been passed on to us on palm paper.

Possibly this is the reason why we are able to see manuscripts preserved in this manner for over a millennium in a fairly good condition in spite of the gross neglect they are subjected to.

Over a period of time when paper was invented and mechanization made it possible for it to be easily available paper made from palm leaves made an exit. Today these processed leaves are used as canvass on which creative artists showcase their talent.

If you happen to be traveling in Orissa make sure you visit a small village called Raghuraipur in the district of Puri. There are several craftsmen and artists who make a living there by etching wonderful designs on processed palm leaves. Even little children in the village know how to make the longer lasting palm paper. Now that you have an insight into the method, why don’t you try making your own name plate on processed palm leaf?

Traversing with Technology


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Published in the school edition of Deccan Herald

By S. RADHA PRATHI

Mankind is zooming forth on the technological path paving new possibilities and discovering unseen horizons. So how can the field of education be left behind?

The digital era has dawned in the classrooms of urban India in a very subtle way. The black board has been displaced by an interactive monitor. The daily attendance is marked on an electronic pad; information about the absentees is communicated in real time to the parents and guardians. Circulars regarding timetables, holidays etc curriculum updates, mark sheets, fee receipts and even homework or project instructions are sent via Whatsapp messages. Teachers use power point presentations and show relevant videos found on You Tube to elucidate a point. Students are also encouraged to surf the internet and research on topics suggested by teachers and make power point presentations. Studying the theoretical and practical aspects about the world of computers has become a mandatory feature of Indian academics right from the Primary school.

Ever since the ministry of education has made it imperative to fix cameras in all the feasible areas of the schools with the exception of the toilets, it has become easier to monitor any kind of defaulting behaviour or heinous activity.

High end schools and colleges have already introduced customised notepads in which text books, summaries, notes, worksheets, sample question papers and reference material have been uploaded. Unit Tests and surprise tests are conducted in the multiple choice question pattern and results are declared immediately to apprise students of their performance levels. Digital libraries and prolific use of Kindle in educational institutions have emerged like silver linings in a time when we are desperately trying to conserve trees. Some schools even record class room teaching hours and relay them in real time or leave them as library records so that absentees and other students can have access to them as and when necessary. School and college day functions, farewell parties, ethnic and sports day celebrations are being recorded and saved on clouds for posterity. More recently a news buzz about several rural schools in India going digital is a clear indicator that we are stabilizing on the digital track.

A bird’s view of the digital scene can fill one with a sense of fulfillment.  We have reached a state where we can rub shoulders with the developed countries of the world. A lot of clerical work has been circumvented. Records are being maintained and are easy to reckon with as and when necessary. Teachers do not have to do repetitive work. They can save diagrams, charts, graphs, maps and such other teaching aids as soft copies and use them several times over and conserve their effort and time. Students and teachers find it convenient to compare past performances with the current scores. Interaction among the three arms of the golden triangle namely the student, teacher and student has become smoother and transparent.

No less than a hundred schools in India have introduced subjects like animation, robotics, gaming and three dimensional recording in their syllabus.

We have reached a point where the members of the arms of the golden triangle are under the impression that equipping oneself in the latest technology can be a protective shield for a sparkling career and a tinkling bank account.

For all eyes to see, it would appear that we are on velvet and the only way from this is forward.New aspects of learning are always welcome. All the same one has to take the age, aptitude and the requirement of the same to be imbibed in young minds at an impressionable age. Besides one must remember that learning is an art and it can be best inculcated orally, visually and by writing or working it out. Perhaps further studies or revision can happen digitally.

If we chose to overlook this dimension of education, it is quite possible that we might end up raising future generations of students who will shirk any work which cannot be done without technology. The path of progress cannot and need not be reversed but we must traverse it mindfully!

Misuse of Power


http://www.deccanheraldepaper.com/

S RADHA PRATHI

When power gets to the head of those on top of the ladder, they can no longer prove to be ideal leader material. The followers of these megalomaniacs will become disillusioned sooner or later. Eventually, they will not hesitate to decimate the egotist to a non entity.

Perhaps the earliest documentation of this time-tested truth is found in the Vishnu Purana. Vena was crowned the king post the death of his father Anga. The young king was carried away by his newfound authority. Soon he started throwing his weight around. He expected every subordinate of his to worship him. He even expected the Rishis of his kingdom to cease conducting Yajnas and concentrate on eulogizing him. The citizens did their best to pander his bloated ego, but apparently their efforts did not please him enough. Sometime later, the sages of the dominion rallied around and tried to sensitise him to the omnipotence of the almighty.

However, Vena was not the one to be convinced. He wanted the Rishis to perceive him as a living God. He harassed those who acted at cross purposes to his dictum. The entire kingdom which was engaged in compulsory sycophancy soon stagnated in every possible way.
The sages headed by Bhrigu, discussed the unfortunate state of affairs threadbare. They had implemented the traditional formula of Sama friendly approach, Dana– compromise, Bheda- debate and Danda- punishment, on King Vena with no avail. They realised that the situation was out of hand. They unilaterally decided to kill the king and redeem the people of the tyrant’s monopoly, in order to redeem the people of his autocracy.

The noteworthy aspect of this incident happens to be that the most timid, well-meaning and wise people were compelled by their discretion to take such an extreme step. History has stood testimony to the fact that anybody who has thought no end of himself or herself has always, invariably been subjected to the same end. Leaders must remember that the unconditional power and position bestowed on them are acts of faith. They have no right to breach the trust of the people who put them up on the pedestal.

 

Cornerstone of the Medical Industry


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

By S. RADHA PRATHI

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” A question asked at various times usually elicits interesting answers from young people.  A global survey shows that almost all kids express a desire to become a doctor at some point of time during their childhood. Well, if wishes were horses —– well, they are not!

One needs to study very hard and score admirably well to get into a medical course. Then it is a life of complete dedication with little or no respite. Everybody who aspires to become a doctor may not be able to, due to various reasons. Yet this does not mean that you have to discard the idea completely. You can serve in the medical field, if you explore your abilities in one of the numerous paramedical fields.

All of us are aware that modern and efficient medical practices swear by relevant tests and sometimes squarely depend on them to diagnose elusive ailments. The diagnostic industry deals with hundreds of tests based on various parameters executed from latest equipment. An astronomical figure of qualified manpower is essential to run this industry on well oiled wheels. The laboratory technicians, chemists, and analysts form the backbone of this set up.

If you want to be a fruitful contributor to this sector, you can choose to study a paramedical course of your choice. There are nearly one thousand five hundred colleges and hospitals across our sub continent that offers their degree, diploma and certificate courses to students who have completed their board examinations at the tenth and twelfth standards. Karnataka tops the list with the maximum number of this facility.

A GLIMPSE OF SOME OF THE DEGREE COURSES

B.Sc. in Operation Theatre Technology

B.Sc. in X Ray Technology

B.Sc. in Radiography and Medical Imaging

B.Sc. in Dialysis Technology

B.Sc. in Medical Record Technology

B.Sc. in Medical Laboratory Technology

B.Sc. in Ophthalmic Technology

Bachelor of Occupational Therapy

Bachelor of Physiotherapy

B.Sc. in Speech Therapy

BASLP Course

B.Sc. in Audiology

B.Sc. in Anaesthesia Technology

B.Sc. in Audiology and Speech Therapy

B.Sc. in Optometry

A GLIMPSE OF SOME OF THE DIPLOMA COURSES

Diploma in Operation Theatre Technology (DOTT)

Diploma in X Ray Technology

Diploma in Radiography and Medical Imaging

Diploma in ECG Technology

Diploma in Dialysis Technology

Diploma in Medical Record Technology

Diploma in Medical Laboratory Technology (DMLT)

Diploma in Ophthalmic Technology

Diploma in Physiotherapy

Diploma in Anaesthesia Technology

Diploma in Nursing Care Assistant

Diploma in Sanitary Inspector

Diploma in Hearing Language and Speech (DHLS)

Diploma in Dental Hygienist

Diploma in Audiometry Technician

Diploma in Audiology and Speech Therapy

WHO IS ELIGIBLE?

Tenth pass with first division.

Twelfth pass with first division and  Physics, Chemistry and Biology as your optional subjects.

DURATION OF THE COURSE

Diploma: 2 Years

Degree: 3 Years

NOTE: Students who have completed their tenth standards will have to do a mandatory bridge course in Physics, Chemistry and Biology for one year.

So also, Twelfth passed students who do not measure up or clear the eligibility test will have to take up the bridge course.

JOB OPPORTUNITIES

You can contribute to the medical field effectively if you train yourself in one of the three main areas of the paramedical zone.

If you have the ability understand and appreciate chemistry and biology you could become a laboratory technician who studies samples of bodily fluids, tissues and bones and generate reports.

If you have a technical bent of mind, you could learn how to operate the various machines and equipment around the hospital and help patients to use these machines properly and arrive at results.

If you have always wanted to be beavering away at the operation theatre or the Intensive care unit, you can avail training to operate the equipment there and conduct superfast tests as and when necessary.

 

Once a student completes the degree or diploma course successfully he or she is likely to be placed immediately in decently well paid job in a relevant laboratory or hospital.

FUTURE PROSPECTS

It is said that your qualification is the passport to your first job. If you want to climb the ladder, you will do well to study related subjects one by one as short term Certificate courses. Your hands on experience and constant exposure to the variegated and ever expanding paramedical field can make you the laboratory chief at some point in your career. Besides, the satisfaction of having helped out innumerable doctors and patients as the cornerstone of the medical industry can feel insurmountable.

 

 

ANIMATION DISAMBIGUATED


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

By S. RADHA PRATHI

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

By S. RADHA PRATHI

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.

 

 

The Sublime and the Ridiculous


https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/right-middle/sublime-and-ridiculous-671464.html

The other day, I watched an interesting documentary on the life of nomads who live in the desert region. They were answering several questions regarding their history, demography and relevance of their lifestyle to a keen interviewer. When the next phase of the show began, the group was asked what they thought about random subjects. Their treasury of knowledge oscillated between the absurd and the astute. For instance some of them did not know the name of the region where they had camped; but seemed to have an uncanny knowledge of the natural resources of the land like where to find water and supplies for their caravan. They hardly cared that their kids were not going to school. Yet they seemed to have been made of grey cells all over. They were able to tell the time and weather without any contraption; they reeled off a dozen home remedies ranging from a bad cold to scorpion bites. They seemed to know a repertoire of words from a series of languages including English, useful for their survival. The tribe did not bother about lack of potable water or sanitation facilities, but were perfectly capable of optimizing what came their way without obstructing or polluting their environment. In other words they epitomized the concept of wild wanderers to the core!

Then there was a query on lord Ganesha. The interviewer called upon an elderly woman in the group and asked her why she thought the lord was pot bellied. Pat, came the answer; “Because, he has the earth in his stomach.” Even as the eyes of questioner lolled with disbelief, a slow and deliberate explanation as if to a child followed. The lord protected the world by placing it in his stomach; it was but natural that the round world bulged over his middle. I mulled over the outlandish answer. For a while it appeared as if the lady had reduced sublime to the ridiculous.

Then, I was reminded of Thomas Paine who once said, “The sublime and the ridiculous are often so nearly related that it is difficult to class them separately, one step above the sublime makes the ridiculous and one step above the ridiculous makes the sublime again.” The words which had seemed like a cryptic code to me until then suddenly came alive.

I was able to appreciate their interpretation of the deity despite appearing different. It was pretty much on the lines of what the devout would say, about the lord protecting the universe. In retrospection I realized that their set of life skills and knowledge albeit different were on par, perhaps even superior to the so called civilized society.