Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What a way to end the year??

In the last 2 weeks I did so many things which I would not normally - Got up late every other day (don't ask me what's new about that), ended up consuming more than two times the calories I need, had family approved gup-shup(pani puri) at road side bandi, ate hot hot mirchi bajjis on the road - went for morning walks with the intention of burning some fat, slept in the afternoons, was not hooked to the laptop more than 10 minutes every day, been with family at home not thinking of work team project ....

2 weeks of vacation - total relaxation - complete rejuvenation - all set to start the new year bright and fresh full of energy.

Feel like looking back to see how I have enjoyed the year. But I gotto sleep right now as I have to get up early tomorrow.

Me off to Puttaparthi tomorrow.. Cu all in the new year.

Happy new year!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Education as it can be

Dear friends,

My weekly sessions at CSIM have completed and I am now doing an individual project. This is like a dream project which I would love to implement some day.

My passion is in 2 areas - children and education. So, I plan to do a project that would bring more meaning to these. As most of you would know, I have been volunteering for ACT for the past few years. The idea of this project is based out of my experiences with children there. It has stemmed from the feeling of helplessness, frustration while teaching children and the constant urge to motivate children to learn the right way.

I have put down my thoughts of the project. In the coming weeks I will post my findings and ways to address the issue.

I would like you all to pass on your suggestions or any inputs you have.



Life of an under-privileged child

Today, there are many NGOs who work for educating under-privileged children. One of the biggest challenges these NGOs face is to sustain and increase the interest of the child in education. Being supported by the NGO, the child joins a government school enthusiastic about going the school and being the first generation literate in his/her family. Slowly as years pass by, the child keeps learning new theories and concepts in school and finds no relevance to it in daily lives. At home, their parents are uneducated and hence are not able to help them in understanding the importance or the science behind the concepts. At schools (typically government schools), the standard of teaching is poor. When the child reaches class 8 or 9, his/her interest in education drops as they hardly understand what they learn. They prefer to mug-up the question answers and score marks for the sake of exams than understanding the logic or reasoning. As time passes, they complete class 10 and face the big question of which branch/stream to choose. Most of them end up choosing commerce not because the want to become a C.A, but because they have an aversion to mathematics, physics and chemistry. Their choices are more derived from their dislikes than likes. Much before they realize, they end up gazing at the limited choices they have for an under-graduate degree. The girl enrolls herself for an arts course and the boy for a B.Com. As they have not developed their application and problem solving skills so long, they struggle to get a good job for their education. And there finally comes the irony - they land up in a job which has no relevance to what they have learnt so far.

There are multiple cascading problems here,
1. As teaching at school is more exam oriented and not application oriented, the child looses interest
2. As they loose interest, they start disliking subjects which need more logic like Maths and Science. This gives them limited options in class X and XII
3. Without developing the required problem solving skills, they don’t end up in the right jobs

Today, there are many organizations that are working for identifying the most appropriate streams for the child based on his/her capability. There are also organizations working towards getting a job for them.


Through this project I would like to work on the root-cause of the problem which is – Learning not being application and problem solving oriented.


Education is important to every child irrespective of their background. The problem of rote learning is applicable to children in general and only to under-privileged ones. Through this project I would like to come up with some ways of addressing this issue for all children.

Coming soon ...
Results of some study/surveys
Analysis of existing solutions if any
New solutions

Sunday, December 07, 2008

How terrorizing is a terror attack?

With the wake of the recent terror attacks in Mumbai, life has changed for most of us. We sit glued to the tv not watching movies or mega serials but tracking the latest updates on the investigations and closely looking out for new terror alerts and warnings. Every lunch table conversations is on the topic of what can the Indian Government do and how Pakistan is playing a double game.

Though most of us have not experienced the trauma personally being there @ the Taj or Oberoi or CST station, it has affected us completely. For me, it has been a major change in thought process -- my mind always clouded with fear and suspicion.

It was friday afternoon, we were sitting at the lunch table watching one of the news channels in the cafeteria. The usual conversations began and here my team mate told me that there is a threat warning sent for Bangalore. He continued telling us about why he cancelled all his weekend plans and wanted to stay safe at home. Dec 6th - the Babri Masjid day, seemed to be an excuse enough for another attack. I had my usual plans of a packed saturday with finishing some pending works followed by csim class and then go back home around 7:30 in the night. But after hearing to him, I was little scared and started thinking twice about my plans. At the end of our discussion, I was completely gotten to believing that it was unsafe to be out of home over the weekend though I knew I was falling prey to exactly what the terrorists want - create panic and confusion in the minds of people. Finally one of my colleagues managed to pep me up to gather some courage and move on with life.

This was not the only incident -- remember a few days ago, there was a high security alert in many airports in the country following some email threat? Around the same night was when 2 of my dear ones were supposed to land in Mumbai. I was so scared, din't know what to do. I din't want to talk about it at home and end up scaring others. That night, I hardly slept in peace.

Of-late I dream of people shooting around, sudden confusion created in the city, people running around to save their lives. It might sound exagerrated, this is exactly what I have been going thru in the last few days. I wonder what it would be like for those people who have been there.

Every other place has become unsafe. How can someone be at peace when survival itself is at stake?

The mumbai attack has been a big wake up call for all of us to identify and fix the major security loop holes and the basic issue of corruption. As a citizen, I don't have much clue of what to do? All I do today is to watch the tv and keep myself updated. That's really the sad state ...

Friday, December 05, 2008


Pics of Prakrut posted here

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Life post PRAKRUT

Seems like I just got down from a roller coaster ride... yea, I now experience a sudden slow down after a speedy bumpy ride with a safe landing.

There were days when I was juggling between mails, phone calls and work (of course). My days would begin with mom constantly saying 'aarthi aarthiiiiiiiiii.. ezhuduko... mani enna theriyuma.... iduku daan seekirama thoongu nu sollaren, ketta daane...' (I don't wish to translate and loose the charm of it :-)) and then I would sleepily come down switch on my lappy and start checking mails for updates from the team on the event.

It was almost 30 days of hard work concentrated over the weekends, that is how I would define our pattern of working. It was a complete phase of putting all learning into practice. We went step by step, sometimes jumped a few steps in anxiety and enthusiasm.

We did everything right from identifying the social issue of concern, the target audience, how we would want to attack the problem. At the end of these discussions, we decided to choose 'Environment' as the issue of target and we decided to host an event promoting the solutions instead of talking about the problem which is the usual style. That was how and when PRAKRUT was born.

Then we went about identifying target audience and the different activities that we would do as part of the event. School children were our primary target as a change brought in to the minds of young ones tend to stay with them all through the life. We also decided to approach general public thru the children. We planned to leverage the work of NGOs and corporates having solutions in this domain to bring forth the solutions.

Slowly we moved to the most important part of budgeting the whole event. This was the most funny task as each time we did, we got a completely new figure which was way beyond the previous times result. Thank God, none of us even our wildest dreams are doing any work related to finance. Till the last minute this the one constant variable.

All pre-work for the event soon started like inviting school children for the exhibiting their eco-friendly solutions, making posters for inviting them and writing rules. I almost felt like a school principal while editing the rules list. I was wondering how it would be if I were asked to come in school uniform on a weekend and how much I hated such things as a child.

Talking to NGO's, hearing their response, coaxing them to participate, answering wierd questions like 'will you give us food?', running behind them to get confirmation. It was all fun watching the story unfold. Thanks to Aruna for her immense patience in gathering the inputs and doing all the talking. I had enough of a bad experience right in the beginning :-)

The next round of running around was for the misc activities which turned out to take more effort and time than the main ones probably coz most of the important tasks were done by then.

Publicity poster making, visiting the venue, debating what food to serve thru the day, who will arrange, how to arrange, how much to spend - it all looks so simple and silly now. Writing mails to companies asking for sponsorship was the funniest of all. If only I show you the mails I wrote, you would laugh at it. All the realization of how to write a mail to a sponsor dawned after being grilled by Varsha (I hope Varsha is reading this :-)) one saturday afternoon. Oh man!! I almost lost hopes of having the event till she finally flagged off saying we are 70% complete.

It was a lot of learning - learning how to work in a team when people are in different frequency levels, how to ensure majority of them are not hurt and still put forward your opinions, how to use somebody's strenght, how to talk in a press meet (nothing will work if you don't know to speak kannada). What can I say when we had lots of praises at the end for this wonderful event. All the hard work seemed so much fun at the end.

Missing being on top of my mails, getting interrupted at work by phone calls, calling people, being in my own world of thoughts about the event. Missing all the people and the fun.

Life seems to now be moving like a goods train, so slow. Guess, this saturday would be the time to change gears and go on another roller coaster ride. Yep, time has come for my individual project - my FAC (field action component).