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!

Fortune, the Fair Weather Friend


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Sometimes we wonder about people who are corrupt but successful. Then, we feel tempted to go astray. When we succeed at such times, we gradually lose sight of our integrity and will have no qualms about repeating our misdeeds.

A story from our hoary past sums up this situation. There was a poor Brahmin called Hari Sharma. The pious man along with his family gained employment under a rich merchant, Sthuladatta. Life went on smoothly. The family worked very hard to make the wedding of their employer’s daughter a grand success. The Brahmin expected appreciation for his services. When he was neglected, he felt insulted. He decided to follow the path of deceit quite against the advice of his wife to teach Sthuladatta a lesson.

That night, he stole the horse carriage of the bridegroom and tied it under a tree outside the village. Then he instructed his wife to inform the worried Sthuladatta that he was a competent astrologer. When his employer consulted him, Hari Sharma extracted an apology from Sthuladatta before divulging information about the lost horse. This orchestrated act instantly shot him to fame. Even the king once consulted Hari Sharma about the robbery in the royal treasury.

The Brahmin was shaken by this unexpected test of his fake knowledge. He cursed his tongue aloud in privacy. The malefactor Jihva heard the curse and promptly pleaded guilty because Jihva in Sanskrit means tongue. Hari Sharma was dumbstruck by this unexpected coincidence that worked in his favour. The emboldened man dared to protect the thief for a fat commission and led the king to the remnant treasure.

The wise ministers found Hari Sharma’s accuracy dubious, prompted the sovereign to verify Hari Sharma’s expertise. Accordingly, they placed a frog inside a pot, closed it and invited Hari Sharma to reveal the contents. The terrified Brahmin who knew his game was up remembered how his father often called him a Mandookam or a foolish frog. He muttered his thoughts aloud. The court was dazzled by Hari Sharma’s brilliance and he was rewarded handsomely.

Hari Sharma realised that deception coupled with good fortune was a fair- weather friend who could desert him any moment. Hence he left the kingdom a reformed man.

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.

 

 

 

Bird’s Eye View of Sanskrit


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To many of us, the word “Sanskrit” suggests a wonderful language which belonged to a hoary past. We know that India is the land in which this wonderful language originated. Ancient Indians were well versed in the language. The Vedas, the Puranas, the classical texts – The Ramayana and the Mahabharata were written in this language and they have been recognised and revered by people across the globe even to this day. The Indian way of living, its ethos and flavour is directly related to the language and what it has to offer by way of classics and literature. Just about every subject under the sun has been covered in one way or another in some of these texts. Linguists and scientists marvel at the precise nature of this language. The inherent binary code of the letters in the language has been discovered to be compatible for codification and for use by computers. All the contemporary Indian languages have been derived from this source, with the exception of Tamil.

This ancient language has a hoary past running into millenniums hence it is very difficult to arrive at some consensus about the origin of the language. Traditionally, Indians, believe that the language was initially used by our pantheon of 33 crore gods to communicate amongst themselves. Hence Sanskrit is also called Daiva Bhasha or the lingo of the gods. Later on, the language was gifted to mankind by goddess Saraswathi and hence Sanskrit is also known as Geervana Bharathi.

The fairy tale like origin of the language apparently had few takers amongst the hardcore linguists across the globe who think that Sanskrit evolved from Prakruth derived from the sounds of nature. They believe that long, long ago when man evolved into an intelligent being, he found the necessity to communicate his thoughts, feelings and ideas. He probably played “dumb charades” and sometimes took to hieroglyphics to put across his thoughts and aped sounds from nature in order to communicate. Over a period of time the language was organised and honed till it reached the point of perfection. The phonology, syntax, vocabulary and grammar of the language has the world awestruck with its finesse and completeness.

When an ancient language has so many feathers in its cap (or is it crown?) one would think that the language is on velvet and nothing can ever go wrong in its kingdom. Yet sadly enough, we have come a long away from such a pristine state of affairs. A brief study of the history of the country will reveal that, we as a nation have been introduced to varied cultures and civilisation over the course of history. The invaders left their stamp behind that influenced our way of living and thinking to a large extent. Lots of factors changed. Yet the change cannot be considered complete as we have retained the basic Indian values despite innumerable onslaughts. Perhaps it is at this juncture, we should recognise the power of the Sanskrit language which helped us to carry forward the basis of Indian-ness for it has been the cementing factor which has sustained the spirit in the oral and written format.

All of you are perhaps aware that Sanskrit is one of the most ancient languages in the world which is complete in its own way. Have you ever wondered about the origin of this language? As students, whenever you are taught something new or asked to learn a novel concept, you may have found yourself wondering whoever started it all. Some of your questions may have interesting answers and some may not.

If you have ever wondered about Sanskrit, well, there is a very interesting tale about the beginning of the language in our ancient texts. It is said that lord Shiva lapsed into one of his ecstatic danced to the beat of the Dumroo, a small percussion instrument (see picture alongside) and several variations of sounds flowed out of the instrument. It is said these letters were gathered in this order and used as the basic letters of the language and were represented in the ‘Devanagari’ script.

The sound and the symbols of the language were effectively used by the people to compile a comprehensible vocabulary and record their observations and inferences in the form of Vedas which are called Rig, Sama, Yajur and Atharvana Vedas. A close reading of the Vedas will reveal that they not only give guidelines to lead a life that emphasises on living in harmony with nature and fellow human beings but also have a wealth of information on just about every topic under the sun.

A few copies of the Vedic literature was etched on processed palm leaves by scholarly students for reference, but most of them committed the entire text to memory and passed on the texts orally to their juniors. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why, we do not have too many copies of the entire text available as on date.

Many a time some words were lost in mis-pronunciation and lapse of memory. In such cases, people resorted to the basic rules of grammar which helped them to supplement the blank with an appropriate word. This procedure is almost akin to solving a crossword puzzle where you have a clue of both the meaning of the word and the number of letters in the answer word.

Our ancestors had evolved a wonderful way of understanding and learning a language. Panini an ancient grammarian who is believed to have lived in eighth century BC formulated 3964 “Aphorisms” also known as “Sutras” each running into a word or a phrase. If a student of Sanskrit grammar learned these sutras by heart, his language was sure of becoming impeccable. These sutras dealt with different aspects of language like grammar, analogy, vocabulary, communicative language among other things which facilitated the learning of the language almost faultlessly.

The fact that there have been little or no revisions in the basic rules of the language ever since reflect on the level of perfection that had been attained by the grammarian. The famous Vedas, Puranas, epics, classics and even contemporary literature have been written in the language which subscribes to these rules. Perhaps, it is features like consistency and the completeness of the language that keep it going on till this day despite so many setbacks.

Genuine Thirst for Knowledge


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Genuine thirst for knowledge

There was a time when people who thirsted for knowledge went to great lengths to acquire it. The passion to learn helped them to overcome distance, hardships and challenges without an iota of hesitation.

Once the students became erudite, they safeguarded knowledge fiercely with great care and awkwardness and passed them on selectively to some trusted disciples for reasons best known to them.

A story in the Upanishads records how Indra, the Lord of Devas, once initiated sage Dadheechi with divine knowledge like Pravarga and Madhu, because he was excessively impressed by the sage’s severe penance to learn the same. Since it was niche knowledge, he categorically told the sage that his head would be cut into 100 pieces if he passed on his learning to anybody else.

The Ashwini Kumaras, who happened to eavesdrop during the last segment of the conversation, were tempted to learn the special subjects. They did not want the sage to pay with his life. So, they cut off the sage’s head and hid it in a secret place and placed a head of a horse on the sage’s torso. The sage was awed by their genuine desire for knowledge, humility and the willingness to take such a huge risk for the love of learning. Dadheechi imparted the Vidya to them. At the end of the session, Ashwini Kumaras wanted to transplant the original head of Dadheechi on his person. They thought that even if Indra decided to carry out his threat, the head of the horse would be mutilated.

In the meanwhile, the enraged Indra decided to take the twin Devas for a ride. Indra took the original head of the sage into his custody. The nervous twins were forced to confess. Indra recognized their genuine thirst for knowledge and returned Dadheechi’s head which was duly fixed. The Lord of the heavens realized that it was impossible to hold back learning if the teacher and the taught were enthusiastic about gaining mastery over the subject.

Today we have come a long way. Just about every subject under the sun is available to us at the click of a button. The opportunities to learn and expand our mental horizons intellectually are infinite. Despite the immense and easy facilities, we find that most of us are not serious takers.