Sunday, February 21, 2010

Another update on Books I am reading...

Finally I completed "O Jerusalem" a week back.

The story of the struggle of the Jews and Arabs to acquire a land of their own was constantly interrupted by my own effort to  buy my own plot :)

I picked up this book because I was curious about the story of Jews , who are they, why they are being subjected to so many hostilities. 
This book doesn't deal about these subjects rather it talks about the days,events around creation of Israel and the fight for Jerusalem.

Israel is the country of Jews and its creation was opposed by the whole Arab world as the Jews were immigrants who came to this area as their ancestors were from this area but they have been long thrown out of these area by the Arabs but after World War II the Jews of Palestine fought for their own land and finally after UN approval they got their own land but Arabs opposed it as they were the current owner of these lands and they wanted Jews to be put under their rule but Jews opposed that and thus started the war of 1948 between the Arabs and Jews for the acquisition of land and the main piece of Cake called Jerusalem as Jerusalem is regarded as the birth place of three religions Christianity , Muslims and Zionists (Jews).

Seeing this UN proposed the internationalization of Jerusalem and divided the rest of Palestine between Jews and Arabs. Now it was not acceptable mainly by Arabs so they attacked the Jews.

By the end of this book Jerusalem(which is currently capital of Israel) was still divided among Arabs and Jews when ceasefire is called and it was won by Jews after the Six-Day war of 60's.

This book is another example of how a single moment can change the face of the complete history.

It also showed how a relatively small but organized bunch of people can defend themselves against a relatively large but diverse army.

I think after Italy and African Safari, now Jerusalem is the third place on my list of must visit places :)

Dominique Lapiere and Larry Collins, just like Freedom of Midnight, have written this book brilliantly.

Currently I am reading "Five people you meet at Heaven" by Mitch Albom. I have read half the book and its truly amzaing, a must read.

Its one book which after reading has made me want to die quickly so that I can reach heaven or hell as it says that Heaven(After Death) is the place where you get to analyze your life on earth, why everything happened, what was the good for you in it etc.

Will give a complete review once I complete it.

Saturday, 20th Feb 2010


I know its a relatively quite a long post but I will really appreciate if you guys could read it full.. Thanks


A Friend of mine, who stays at Noida, has been involved with Social Work since a long time. She and her group of friends regularly visit the slums around the place where she stays and talk to people staying there in getting their children enrolled to the nearby Government Schools. They also take classes in those schools on Weekends and whenever possible.

So this Saturday I too accompanied her to these Slums and got few kids enrolled in that school.

We all know that Education is foremost problem of our society. There are a majority of people in India who have not even got Primary Education.

The mentality of people In India is that the sole purpose of Education is to help you to earn money and more quickly they have their kids started earning money more better for them.

For economically good families, they want their children to study so that they can get a good paying job and for poor families they feel that they won't be able to afford that good an education.

So when it comes to poor people , they don't send their children to school because most of the work they are doing i,e, for example Rickshaw pulling , painting, construction works etc , they feel their children will also pick up that legacy and their children don't need education for doing those work.

One practical example that my friend shared with me was this that she met a Rickshaw puller who was earning 15K every month and little more inquiry made her average out the average monthly income of a Rickshaw puller to around 6-7K and believe me that if not higher than its atleast comparable to what even an MBA grad earns sometimes in small towns. So that person can ask this question "Why should I get my child education if he has to run a Rickshaw and could earn same as what I am earning?"

So a startling revelation for me was their economic condition. The people in these slums are not economically that backward. They earn quite a decent amount of money. Ok I don't want to generalize as I know for most of the poor people arranging two meals a day is still a major problem but I guess people living in urban slums are somewhat better off.

All of us have heard or read about the problems or rather complains of the slum people, so I got a first hand experience of hearing or seeing it directly.

I will list down the problems that I saw

1. Their living conditions are pathetic. Everywhere you can see dirty water stagnated, litters and garbage being thrown everywhere, no sanitation, no drainage system in place. Surprisingly I saw three covered toilets for ladies but there were not well sanitized.

I was so angry to see all this. Not because government is not doing anything but more because how can these people don't do anything about it. Why can't they themselves dig up drains and dump the garbage in a common place and not let water stagnate.How can they live in such a filth?


My friend says its because of the "Chalta Hai" attitude so predominant in India.

2. When we asked them why they don't send their children to schools, most of them said that they have got their children enrolled but now their names are stuck off as they have been absent from schools for long. In their words "aisa todhi na hota hai ki 4 din school na jao to naam hi kat jaega."

Now there are some points here. First since these people have migrated from their villages so they still have some occupations,mostly related to farming, going on there carried on by their relatives, so sometimes in a year they do have to go back to their native place to either cut the harvests or for some festivals, now these vacations of theirs don't align with the holidays provided by schools so in most of the cases their children have to miss school for these trips. and as these trips mostly last for at least 1.5-2 months, schools in most cases strike their names off.

Second problem as stated by parents is that their children get their stuffs like books, pencils etc either stolen or torn down by other students and every now and then they have to buy these stuffs for them. Also according to them the children fight among themselves and the teachers don't pay any attention to that and like all parents they feel that their children are innocent. So they feel that the environment is not conducive for their children to study and the school authorities are not at all responsible.

Now for the first point the immediate solution is to inform the school that your child won't be coming for a while then his name won't be stuck off. For second, a lot of things, yes I agree School teachers have a bigger part to play but apart from that parents also need to impart good behaviors in their children, Since I am not going to discuss about the solutions as I need to think over it little longer so for the time being just highlighting my experience and what problems I noticed.

3. The biggest problem according to me that I saw with these people was not economic or lack of interest in their children's education. In fact quite contrary they atleast have some interest and although the lack of motivation owing to non-benefits of education apart from for earning money and the level of government schools was evident but still there were families who preferred shelling out more money to get their children educated from private institutions or getting them tutored by private teachers. So according to me the problem was Birth Control. Each one of them had atleast 4-5 children and believe me I can't believe that any of the women over there were physical capable of bearing even a single child. 


Now biggest sufferer of this is the girl child because every family has an infant or a baby and since both the parents are working people so its the onus of the girl in the family to stay at the home always and look after that baby and as the permissible age for a child to start classes in government school is 5 years so by the time the infant grows up to become eligible to go to school, the girl herself has become 5 years older than what she was earlier so now her family thinks she is too old to start schooling and is more eligible to either get married or start working to earn. A tragic reality that made us emotional was a girl whose brothers we were getting enrolled in school, we asked her "Does she want to go to school?", she wanted to but as she had to take care of her infant brother she just looked at her brother and she just smiled and din't say anything. 
(This is another image that will remain forever in my mind apart from the one I saw at a red light lot of years back where I found a beggar child underlining the word School written on an advertising hoarding. )

My friend was so disappointed and we really wanted that somehow we could do something to help her.

There was an another girl, her family makes papads (An Indian appetizer made of dal and spices.) and they had got their younger daughter enrolled but this girl never went to school and was assisting her parents in their work. We asked her too about school and she said Yes too. So we requested her parents to get her enrolled too. They were willing but since they were busy that day they promised to get her enrolled on Monday.

Also as most of us are aware about the problems that come with population,they were very much visible at those places i.e. low roof homes not sufficient for even one person but accommodating 6-8 people.

4. Another issue that we saw was the lack of interest among some children. It was not the case for everyone as there were certain children who themself asked my friend to ask their parents to get them enrolled in the school. Here we feel the lack of enthusiasm and responsibilities or results shown by these Government schools is responsible for this lack of motivation. For that my friend and her group of friends visit these schools on weekends and take classes and this has shown improvement. But just like seeing your friend going to school inspires other children to go too , in the same way one rotten apple can spoil all the other apples too.

After we gathered all the children whom we had to get enrolled or reinstated in school we walked with them to the school.

Now certain points that I need to make people aware about admissions in these schools:

1. You need atleast one parent to accompany the child at the time of admission as the school have to write their name , parent's name, their village name, province (tehsil) name, district name and most importantly their caste and also have to get the signature of their parent.

2. Following is the fees structure:
Admission Fee - It ranges from 20-50.
Monthly Fees - Rs 2.
Contribution to Martyrs Fund- Rs 1 per year.
Examination Fees - Rs 10 to Rs 30. Depending on class and number of subjects.

3. Each year students get Rs 300 from Government for attending school. Its given in two installments of Rs 150 and usually started after one year of being enrolled provided they are regular.

4. Earlier Government used to give free uniforms too but now we have heard that it has been discontinued.

5. All the books are provided by School.

6. Every child have to bring an empty lunch box in which they are provided free lunch everyday by the school.

We got 8 children enrolled and got others reinstated.

Now there were certain points I would like to highlight.


1. We din't get any receipt for the admission fee that we deposited and neither did the principal took a note of the amount that was payed for each child. And as mentioned above this amount varied from 20-50 and the principal told us that you can give as per your wish , so initially we gave 50 and then when the number of students increased we gave 20Rs.

Now the point I din't like was how they are going to give an account of this to the Government. Whats the record of the admission fees deposited. I trust that she might be very honest but she can't be proven accountable for any deposits.

2. There was a huge difference in the functioning of Government and Private schools. All the fees structure that I mentioned above was what we heard from the teachers and unlike private schools these things and a lot of other things were not explained involuntarily to the parents who came to get their children enrolled i.e. without anyone asking and here the parents are uneducated people who don't have the confidence to talk to the Principal or teachers and usually come back without asking anything. So when the teachers ask the children to get the tuition fee and examination fee when required, they doubt that the teachers and schools are asking for their own benefits and they don't trust.

Government schools lack proper image building and marketing.

3. As with most of the Government setups in India, Government schools also lack the sense of responsibilities and sincerity. The teachers mostly don't pay sufficient attention to student's belongings and discipline and also since they are government employees they are made to do other jobs apart from those of the schools like election duty, census evaluation etc.

4. Parents also lack responsibilities. They only go to school when they have to collect the compensation and I am not aware if they have Parents-Teachers meetings or not. They only see their children playing on streets after they come back from school and never ask them what did you study today or what homework do you have etc. And then they complain that they only play all day and their teachers don't scold or ask them to study.

5. I observed a stark difference between the children who were already studying in the school and the ones we took for admission. For one they were smart and a very practical example of what education can do. They were also quite confident and knew how to talk.

6.Some of the children that we took to school already had attended some school at their native place and as they were looking older than 5 year to be enrolled to 1st standard, the Principal decided to take their interviews.
The problem we found in those interviews was that these students knew tables very well and they could recite tables till that of number 12 easily but they couldn't read hindi words. They knew the Hindi letters but they don't know how to pronounce or make words made from those. Another difference in the level of education in towns and villages.
So unfortunately we had to get them enrolled in 1st.

Now here I have an incident to mention that too of a girl, who was crying because she was quite older and may be her friends were also in higher classes but since she couldn't pass the interview we had to get her enrolled in 1st. Another reason why its so important to start education on time. But for the time being its "Better late than Never"

7. The parents complained that their children are not cared properly. Teachers don't pay heed to their complaints of books and pencils being stolen by fellow students and also as Government processes take time they take the delay in getting compensation as a conspiracy by school to not pay any money to them.

On the other hand the teachers complain that the parents don't take interest in their children's studies, the home environment is not conducive, the students disrespect them by saying that I will go to a private tuition than come here, hearing which the teacher send them back and as they don't convey it properly to their parents, their parents blame teachers for sending their child back. They don't take the pain to go to school themselves and enquire and as a result the child remains at home, he lotters around with other kids, plays all the time and learn abusive languages and bad practices.

So a lot needs to be done in every field.

Overall it was an enriching experience. Have already heard about all this from my friend but it helped to experience it in person.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

.........

Koi Kutton Se Darta Hai,
Koi Jhullon Se,
To Koi Darta Hai Duniya Ke Banavati Usoolo Se,
Or Ek Hum Hai Ki Darte Hai Tujhse Yahan Tak,
Ki Daar Lagta Hai Tere Fenke Hue Phoolo Se. (Means even the flowers that you throw at me )

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Random Thought XLII

At times, all people need is a Hug and two words "Its OK"

Monday, February 15, 2010

Love as misunderstood by me ...

It was Valentines Day yesterday, although I started writing something sad, filled with anger but as I went to see my Didibhai this weekend and on 13th we were discussing something, the after thought of that discussion made me think of the feelings that I have captured in the below poem. 

Thought of writing in English first but somehow completed the hindi version first. Have tried to capture poetically my feelings and hope it has come good.

Jab bhi baat hoti hai Mohabbat ke fasano ki, 
Khud bakhud aa jati ho tum Jehn me mere khyalo ki.

Geet jaise hi koi bajta hai mere kano me, 
Tumhari tasveer hu bahu ban jati hai un tarano me.

Dekh kar kisi bhi komal shishu ki chehre ki khushi,
Yaad aa jati hai tumhari wo khilkhilati madhur hansi.

Jab bhi ghatti hai koi, achi buri ghatna, 
Vyakul hokar mann ka wo tere liye sab ratna.

Kha ke kuch bhi swadist, 
Chak kar lajeej khaana,
Dil me jagti hai hasrat,
ki tumko bhi hai chakkhana.

Phulon ki mehkti khushboo, 
Panchiyon ka chehchana,
Aisi jaagahon pe aksar 
Dhundha hai tera theekana.

Issi tarah to humne tujhse Mohabbat ki hai,
Na tujhse kuch kaha hai, 
Or na hi mere dosto ne kuch sunni hai.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bade dino baad....

Pata Nahi Najakat Hoti Hai,
Ya Teri Shararat Hoti Hai,
Par Tu Jab Bhi Dekh Kar Muskurati Hai,
Khuda Kasam Qyamat Hoti Hai….

.....

Dara Sehma Sa Rehta Hai Dost Mera,
Or Hum Hai Ki Apne Jubaan Pe Lagam Kass Na Pae,
Wo Rota Hai Ye Soch Kar Ki Hum Usse Khafa Hai,
Or Ek Hum Hai Jo Usse Khafa Ho Na Pae.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

....

How much wider a smile can be till its still considered a normal smile ??? Need to know this before I die or start losing teeth....

Friday, February 5, 2010

!-!

For the first time in the bus I had tears due to happiness in my eyes !-! :-).
A very nice feeling :-)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Dreams...

Kya Khub Hai Ye Band Aankhon Ki Duniya,
Yahan Nibhti Hai Jo Hai Apne Mann Ki,
Gunjti Hai Yahan Khushiyon Ki Khilkhilahat,
Baatein Hoti Hai Apnepan Ki.

Kabhi Mein Arab Desh Ka Baadshah Hota,
Kabhi Hind Desh Ka Wazir.
Par Jis Desh Ka Bhi Raja Hota,
Mauz Karta Wahan Har Fakir.

Har Pal Sang Hoti Hai Mitro Ki Toli,
Hota Hai Mann Ka Koi Meet,
Jab Mann Karta Mein Hun Khelta Kudta,
Jab Mann Karta Gata Hun Geet.

Na Hoti Hai Koi Adhuri Aasha,
Na Muskil Hota Hai Koi Kaam,
Jab Jee Hota Hai Wahan Chala Jata,
Ghum Aata Desh, Videsh, Char Dhaam.

Har Dil Pe Mein Hun Raaj Karta,
Har Kisi Ko Hai Mujhse Pyaar,
Jisse Jee Mein Aata Yaad Karta,
Main Hota Sabka Mitr, Sabka Yaar.

Ye Toh Hai Sapno Ki Mehfil,
Jisse Kehte Hai Mann Ka Pratibimb,
Isliye Toh Dekhta Hun Mein Sapne,
Chaiye Ho Soti Raat Ya Jagta Hua Din.