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

 

 

Facing Board Examinations?


Published in the Student Edition of Deccan Herald

Board examinations are round the corner. Each academic year is designed in such a way that each student is expected to gear up for the Annual examination right from his first day of each academic year .The teachers, parents and the students prepare for this mega event collectively throughout the year.

Teachers of the respective subjects take enough number of revision lessons in each subject to ensure the success of students in the final examination. The teacher has the constraint of catering to the entire class which will consist of students of every genre hence cannot pay attention to the trivialities that contribute to perfection. Hence there are variations in student performances. Though every student puts in his or her best they make lapses which affect their percentage. These lapses can be overcome by following a few tips which can surely pave the way for the student to reach the top.

  • Students should frame a tentative time-table for themselves for studying in hours of the early morning which is most conducive for studying.
  • They can first prepare for a subject they are good at so that it gives them a feeling of satisfaction and confidence to proceed with the subjects which are not their hot favourites.
  • They should make it a point to concentrate on one subject at a time so that they get a complete picture of what they are doing.
  • Many students resort to classroom notes and worked out exercises which follow the lesson. This may not be adequate and they should be encouraged to read the lessons from the text book at least once after each revision.
  • Students should avoid memorizing answers for they could be let down badly if their memory fails. On the other hand, if they grapple the concept of the subject they can always put across the answer in their own words.
  • Students can take dictation tests from every subject and perfect their spellings.
  • Poems meant for memorization should be written out a couple of times looking into the text book to grapple the punctuations and spellings.
  • Map work, graph work and diagrams of science should be practised and not glanced through in the last minute for they can easily fetch a student anywhere between five and eight marks when answered accurately.
  • While preparing for mathematics students should be encouraged to work out the prescribed varieties of sums from different text books to help them gain expertise through experience.
  • Group study should be ideally avoided except in the case of mathematics where the students can compete with each other to arrive at the correct answer at the earliest.
  • Students can be encouraged to solve old question papers without omitting any questions by way of choice and get it evaluated by the respective teachers if possible. This exercise will help them revise concepts in different ways.
  • While preparing for the language papers, grammar exercises could be worked out from general grammar books or e-exercises for getting a better insight of the concept.
  • However much a student prepares for an examination certain features of language papers like letter-writing, essay writing, précis writing, paragraph writing, caption writing and comprehension passage are unpredictable. Hence they need to work out sufficiently so that the student does not get put off by the question paper.
  • While preparing at home, it is best that students should use a pencil to write, for it has the twin advantage of not only improving the handwriting but also imbibes a sense of neatness in the student. [The student erases the errors and gets out of the habit of scratching eventually because of getting used to see a scratch free paper].
  • Students should strictly avoid answering avoidable phone calls and entertaining themselves with music or watching television during the study hour for the distraction will adulterate their concentration.

A saying in Sanskrit goes thus, Sukharthinaha Kutho Vidhya, Vidhtarthinaha kutho sukham? when translated means that a pleasure seeking person cannot acquire knowledge and a person seeking education cannot even think about pleasure. The saying may sound very harsh but it is very true even in this day and age where the academic capabilities of students are measured by examinations.

Go ahead and set your score and reach your goal! Best of luck!

Board examinations are round the corner. Each academic year is designed in such a way that each student is expected to gear up for the Annual examination right from his first day of each academic year .The teachers, parents and the students prepare for this mega event collectively throughout the year.

Teachers of the respective subjects take enough number of revision lessons in each subject to ensure the success of students in the final examination. The teacher has the constraint of catering to the entire class which will consist of students of every genre hence cannot pay attention to the trivialities that contribute to perfection. Hence there are variations in student performances. Though every student puts in his or her best they make lapses which affect their percentage. These lapses can be overcome by following a few tips which can surely pave the way for the student to reach the top.

  • Students should frame a tentative time-table for themselves for studying in hours of the early morning which is most conducive for studying.
  • They can first prepare for a subject they are good at so that it gives them a feeling of satisfaction and confidence to proceed with the subjects which are not their hot favourites.
  • They should make it a point to concentrate on one subject at a time so that they get a complete picture of what they are doing.
  • Many students resort to classroom notes and worked out exercises which follow the lesson. This may not be adequate and they should be encouraged to read the lessons from the text book at least once after each revision.
  • Students should avoid memorizing answers for they could be let down badly if their memory fails. On the other hand, if they grapple the concept of the subject they can always put across the answer in their own words.
  • Students can take dictation tests from every subject and perfect their spellings.
  • Poems meant for memorization should be written out a couple of times looking into the text book to grapple the punctuations and spellings.
  • Map work, graph work and diagrams of science should be practised and not glanced through in the last minute for they can easily fetch a student anywhere between five and eight marks when answered accurately.
  • While preparing for mathematics students should be encouraged to work out the prescribed varieties of sums from different text books to help them gain expertise through experience.
  • Group study should be ideally avoided except in the case of mathematics where the students can compete with each other to arrive at the correct answer at the earliest.
  • Students can be encouraged to solve old question papers without omitting any questions by way of choice and get it evaluated by the respective teachers if possible. This exercise will help them revise concepts in different ways.
  • While preparing for the language papers, grammar exercises could be worked out from general grammar books or e-exercises for getting a better insight of the concept.
  • However much a student prepares for an examination certain features of language papers like letter-writing, essay writing, précis writing, paragraph writing, caption writing and comprehension passage are unpredictable. Hence they need to work out sufficiently so that the student does not get put off by the question paper.
  • While preparing at home, it is best that students should use a pencil to write, for it has the twin advantage of not only improving the handwriting but also imbibes a sense of neatness in the student. [The student erases the errors and gets out of the habit of scratching eventually because of getting used to see a scratch free paper].
  • Students should strictly avoid answering avoidable phone calls and entertaining themselves with music or watching television during the study hour for the distraction will adulterate their concentration.

A saying in Sanskrit goes thus, Sukharthinaha Kutho Vidhya, Vidhtarthinaha kutho sukham? when translated means that a pleasure seeking person cannot acquire knowledge and a person seeking education cannot even think about pleasure. The saying may sound very harsh but it is very true even in this day and age where the academic capabilities of students are measured by examinations.

Go ahead and set your score and reach your goal! Best of luck!

Beating Retreat


Published in School Edition of Deccan herald on 29th January 2019

Most of us are very particular about beginnings. We take all the care to begin well because we know that “Well begun is Half Done”. The care and the interest we have at the commencement of a project somehow takes a back seat when we reach the end of the road. If you are still wondering what I am talking about, just have a look at the first pages of your notebooks and the page in which you are writing presently, you can see the setting in of carelessness. On the other hand, if you find that you have improved on yourself, you are on the right track. If you maintain the neatness and enthusiasm till the end, you can be sure that you have all the qualities that are the hall mark of successful people. Yes! Conclusions are as important beginnings.

All of you must have seen or at least heard about the elaborate celebrations of Republic Day in Delhi. The humungous amount of effort that has gone into organising an event of that scale goes without saying. However, how many of you are aware that our nation has the proud heritage of winding up this event with equal elan?

The conclusion of Republic Day festivities known as Beating Retreat  is conducted three days after the big day which falls on  29th of   January every year.  The Indian Army, Navy and Air Force are joined by the Central Armed Police Forces and the Delhi Police and they march in Vijay Chowk which is close to the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The Chief Guest of the function is always the President of India. This year when our president Ram Nath Kovind arrives his bodyguards the trumpeters will herald his arrival. The function will commence with the hoisting of our tricoloured and the playing of our  National Anthem. Then a grand march will ensue and the ceremonies will be declared closed officially.

Did you know that the ceremonious conclusion of our Republic Day festivities happens to be a direct rip off of the British tradition? As usual we have given it our unique Indian touch and made it wholly ours.

The ceremony was designed by Major G.A.Roberts a British national in the year 1950. Jawaharlal Nehru the first prime minister of India was keen to impress our colonisers with the grandeur of our land and our prowess. He delegated Major Roberts to come up with a spectacular event for the Queens visit. That is when Beating Retreat came into being. It also became a showcase of our strengths making the leaders of other countries think twice before taking us for granted.  Thereafter it became an official ceremony year after year where our president and a special invitee usually the head of another country inspect the grand march.  Our guest list shows that we have honoured rich and poor, strong and weak, friendly and unfriendly countries alike. According to the records listed in Wikipedia, thus far we have missed out on having invited guests only three times 1952, 1953 and 1966.

Did you know that the average Indian citizen can buy tickets for this event which is priced from Rupees twenty to Rupees five hundred. In fact our government has made arrangements for people to pay and watch the rehearsals also just in case they are busy otherwise on the 29th of January. For those of us who do not live in the national capital we can watch the ceremony from the comfort of our homes either on television or the website.

Living in the Present


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/622259/living-present.html

There are many a time we put off doing or experiencing something for a later date. It may not always be money. We reserve our best clothing, crockery, candles, and accessories among other things hoping to use them at a premium occasion in our lives. Our usual excuse for doing so is usually a feeling that the present moment is not ideal for the activity.

A tale from the Panchatantra speaks about the dangers of being in the saving mode all the time. Once a hunter shot a wild boar, the wounded animal pounced on him and ripped his flesh apart. The agonised hunter was shocked to death by the boar before it breathed its last. A jackal which was passing by was beside himself with joy when he saw the corpses of the wild boar and the hunter. He realised that he need not go around scavenging for food for several days to come. He circled his newfound treasure and saw the bloodstained bow. He decided to save the bulk of meat for future. He proceeded to lick the life fluid off the bow and in the process triggered the arrow that was ready to be shot, right into his open mouth.

Almost immediately, the jackal fell dead beside his feast. The jackal died in his earnest bid to save the best for the coming days.

Those of us who are at least a couple of decades old must have realised that the precious moment that we have been waiting for may have come, but we may not have always had the time or the mind space to dig into our paraphernalia and fish out what had been saved for the red lettered day. It is also quite possible that our prized possession may not really rise to the occasion or we may have come across a better and a more contemporary and practical substitute to the stowed away goodies.

While it is pragmatic to save for a rainy day, it will do us a world of good to overcome our magpie syndrome and live each day to the fullest. It is said that yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery but today is the present. It is impossible to discount the valuable content of the saying.

Raising Our Daughters The Right Way


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/605191/raising-our-daughters-right-way.html

Bringing up: In a world full of judgements and suspicions, we have to raise our daughters with the correct set of values.

Under the wings...Under the wings…

Archana insisted on homeschooling her twin daughters as she had nightmares about admitting her children to the kindergarten in the metropolis soon after being bombarded by stories of lurking paedophiles around learning centres. Vandana gave up her lucrative job because she wanted to be at home when her daughter arrived home at noon. She had heard horrific stories of children being administered sleeping pills in their milk at daycare centres. Meera laughingly calls herself the designated chauffeur of her kids because she is always driving them in and out of one class or another.

Lakshmi opted for voluntary retirement just when it was her turn to get promoted, to ensure that she could fund her daughter’s dream to study abroad. Suma, a qualified lawyer, decided to be a stay-at-home mother because she believed in the dictum “Better safe than sorry” (All names have been changed to respect their identities.)

What these young and not-so-young mothers have done for the apples of their eyes, is not unusual. Each of these mothers and several tens and thousands of their kind have been doing more or less the same thing in various capacities. No, they are not cynical or paranoid, they are just being careful. With reason too. We live in a world which is riddled by multiple standards, inequalities in every aspect, uncertainties and incomprehensible expectations. Hence, leading a normal life believing in the intrinsic goodness of fellow human beings is out of the question.

Now is the time for us to rethink our parenting strategies, especially where it concerns the girl child. After all, parenting is called an art and not without reason. We must prepare our daughters to hope for the best but be prepared for the worst right from the moment they arrive in our lives. Here are a few areas that need
serious looking into:

Physical well-being
A taste for a nutritious balanced diet punctuated with some form of exercise should be introduced right from the beginning. When a healthy diet and a physical regime coupled with personal hygiene become a habit, immunity levels will soar, and keeping healthy will not prove to be a challenge. Teaching them martial arts or sports or simply involving them in everyday household chores will help them build stamina and can prove to be a boon in times of need.

Modesty & morality
Modesty and morality should not be mixed up. Remember, being prudish can cost them dearly. They must be taught the difference between good touch and bad touch. Girls should be taught not to be ashamed of their bodies or the changes they undergo. They should be encouraged to spell out their doubts and fears. It will do well to sensitise girls to the fact that the outside world will judge them by the clothes, accessories and the makeup they wear, though character cannot be determined by the length of their sleeves or necklines.

Subjects like virginity, rape, honour, domestic violence, honour killings need not be drawing room conversations, if it feels delicate. All the same, there is no point in sweeping the subjects under the carpet and looking the other way when they do crop up.

Using such topics as a launchpad to clear the cobwebs of a growing mind can go a long way in preventing girls from becoming judgmental. The knowledge will also cushion them to some extent, if they are unfortunate victims of such
circumstances.

Coping with new age trends
Many girls go through a phase in life when they get their facial or body parts pierced or tattooed, when they colour, curl or straighten their hair or undergo cosmetic surgery on a whim and regret it later.

Depriving permission outright may not go well with everyone. So, the stubborn ones can be encouraged to try the temporary option and then if they really care for the fashion, then they can be told to take the plunge.

Being feminine
Girls should be taught to appreciate and enjoy their feminine side. Since we live in a diabolical world, girls can be groomed to be soft-spoken and delicate damsels. So, they should be clearly told that they must not hesitate to protect themselves even if it means biting and kicking the molester on the face, or very simply amplifying their lung power.

Expanding the mind
Encourage your girls to have friends, go out and mingle. While dating or having a relationship is not wrong, they should also be taught when and where to draw the line and how to say no firmly when they feel uncomfortable. Writing a diary or pouring their concerns to an agony aunt can help them ease their tensions. Ask them to be careful about what they post and with whom they share on their social media sites, especially their pictures. With so much cyber crime going on, one can never be too careful.

Humility And Faith


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/489972/humility-faith.html

Radha Prathi, July 18, 2015

The Pandavas and Kauravas were aware that the war of Kurukshetra had become imminent. They started working towards it because they understood that the success of a project depends on various factors. Their actions stand testimony to this fact.

The Pandavas and Kauravas started scouting for military support in a methodical manner. Both the parties were aware of the power of the Vrishni race. Both sides wanted to garner the Yadavas as allies. Besides Lord Krishna the king of Dwaraka was a common cousin of the Kuru princes. Hence Duryodhana and Arjuna went to see him to seek support.

Duryodhana took the initiative of going early. He found Krishna enjoying his siesta. The Kuru prince decided to wait and seated himself on a seat at the head of the bed to register the fact that he was the first to seek interview with the Yadava king. Arjuna came in after a little while. He saw Krishna in slumber and his cousin at the head side of the royal bedstead. Hence he also decided to wait for Madhava to wake up. So he hovered around the foot of the bed silently.

Eventually Krishna awoke. He saw Partha and greeted him. Duryodhana was miffed. He was aware that the early bird gets the worm, little did he realise that the latecomer would get preference over him. He clarified that he was present much earlier than the Pandava. Krishna smiled and exchanged pleasantries before asking them what brought them there. The Kuru princes spelt out their requirements. Krishna said that one of them could avail his powerful Narayana Sena and the other could avail his personal support albeit unarmed. Even as Duryodahana hastened to speak, Krishna preferred to consider Arjuna’s request not only because he saw him first but also because Arjuna was younger.

Duryodhana seethed with impatience. Soon he chuckled with relief, when Partha opted for Krishna without arms. The contented Kaurava made a graceful exit after being assured of the massive Yadava military support. Then Krishna looked benevolently at Arjuna and queried him about his choice. Arjuna humbly submitted that he valued the presence Krishna in his side. The fact that Krishna would be unarmed did not bother him because he was sure that victory would follow the heels of his lord, for Krishna supported the right.

Planning and taking initiative the cornerstones of success should not be sidelined at any cost.  Yet the choice of Arjuna speaks of a more important factor, one of humility towards his well-wisher and friend and irrevocable faith that Truth will establish itself when pursued with earnestness even without weapons