Of another son of the soil

I have been Sachin’s fan since I was old enough to understand cricket. I dragged my dad to the stadium long back in 2002 just to watch him play, even though the match was against Zimbabwe. We turned lucky, for he scored a beautiful century that day. I went to see him again, this time in a limited overs encounter with the Lankans at Jamtha. The stadium erupted as soon as it got a glimpse of Indian openers from the dressing room. I literally had to cover my ears, for the applause all around me was so loud. He got out cheaply, but still we cheered for him when he came to field at the boundary near our stands. The last time I saw him live in action was in India versus England test in December 2012.

Today, as the man hanged up his boots, millions had tears in their eyes. I am no different. Tears were bound to fall after listening to that speech and after the mobile guard of honour given by the team. Amidst all the emotions and the respect, I learned that he is being honoured with the highest civilian award. Immediately, I checked for the news. It said Prof CNR Rao and Sachin have been chosen by the government. As an avid fan, I should have burst out in joy. I did not.

Incidentally, I was following Anand-Carlsen Game that time. Though just an amateur player with a little competitive experience, joblessness and boredom over the weekend made me watch the game. I felt sorry for Vishy Anand, for the achievements of this man have not been short of the master; just he chose a less glamorous sport to play as an Indian.

FIDE, the world chess federation, currently has 143 countries as members.  There have been as many as 160 countries that have been members of FIDE.  There were 154 countries that played in the 2008 chess Olympiad. Anand has won the World Chess Championship five times and has been the undisputed World Champion since 2007. Imagine the determination to remain numero uno for such long time. Again, Anand was the first sportsperson to receive the second highest civilian award of India, Padma Vibhushan in 2007, a year before Sachin received. He has been the world champion since then, dominating a game played in over 150 countries. Cricket is played in 20 countries (trying to be very liberal here). Clearly, if one was to look at these stats, Anand should be the first to get a Bharat Ratna.

Let me be very clear here. I am in no way comparing these two legends. I am happy that sportspersons are included the list which consisted formerly of politicians, scientists, artists and social workers. What bothers me are the populist measures of the UPA government, firstly electing him as a member of Rajya Sabha while he still was playing for the country and now nominating him for the highest civilian honour just before a few months for general elections. A Bharat Ratna for him would be used for harnessing votes, diverting the attention of people from inflation, economic crisis, scams and what not. He definitely deserves the highest civilian award, but alongside or after some other greats (Dhyanchand, Anand to name a few).

Anyways, a big congratulations to the icon, one of my role models, Tendulkar Sachin Ramesh for being an exceptional cricketer and above that, an exceptional human being. We are honoured to live in the same era as you. We are blessed to watch you play! With a hope that the other sons of soil from playing other sports are also given the respect they deserve, I’ll sign off.


Life – Since the last post

After a long drought of five and a half months, I finally got my lazy ass back to writing. The last time I posted on my blog, I lived in room no. 320, IITH Boys Hostel, studied control systems and speech processing and had a lively junta in the neighbourhood. Today, I live in a flat in Bangalore with two of my friends from college, use excel for work and have no idea who my neighbours are. There has been a drastic shift in the last couple of months. Some things have turned out to be bad, others good.

The last month of college will surely be one of the most beautiful periods of my life. The farewell parties and get together made our bonds stronger. The first party was thrown by the junior batch of 2014. It was easily one of the best parties I’ve ever been in. From the roses and the applause at the entry to the wonderful souvenir in form of a plain t-shirt, which was supposed to be filled with quotes from batchmates, everything about it was perfect. The things that people wrote on the t-shirt made me feel happy and contended that I did spent some real good time here and that my friends believe in me. By the way, I got my t-shirt to Bangalore. Everytime I feel like a little lost, a look at all the things that people wrote and I feel quite motivated.

Then there was official farewell by the director. Director’s party started off with speeches by the people of our batch for their alma mater. Director’s speech was totally awesome. One sentence by him, “IITH will always be your second home and you can come anytime here” made my eyes wet. The 2 odd kms walk from the institute to the hostel at midnight, singing songs like yaaro dosti, hum rahe yaa naa rahein kal etc. and then sitting on the middle of the road and everyone sharing interesting stories from their life was surely a night to remember.

The third get together was with the team Egnite (which by the way is now an officially registered NGO \m/). Over the dinner, we discussed about a lot of things. Our team had 12-13 people from 5-6 different states. Over the year, we had become very good friends. While returning back on auto, someone asked a question as to what do we really want to achieve in life. All of us answered as to what we want to accomplish. My respect for comrades increased exponentially after listening to their vision.

The last get together, the Spartans get together, was a day before I was scheduled to leave. We went to Athidi, the same restaurant where we had our first party four years earlier. Life is a circle they say. Our journey had to end at the same place at where it started. Just as we went and had ordered the appetizers, one of us stood up for giving a toast. This was followed by a toast raised by each one of us. By the time we finished, we had been in the restaurant for more than 3.5 hours. The waiters were instructed to tell us that it was their closing time. But they, after seeing all the emotions in the room, lend us more time to finish. The whole exercise was as if, the story of those four years, the good and the bad things, the fights and the celebrations, the struggles and the victories were played before us. By the time we left, most of us had moist eyes, all the differences among us had vanished and we only had one prayer for each other “Jab bhi milna, haste hue milna” ( translation : whenever we meet in life, have that smile of yours intact).

Life at home went quite real quickly. The first 10 days went into remembering the last four years and regretting that life would not be the same again. It is said that time is a great healer. For, the next couple of days, I had a great time hanging out with Nagpur friends. We had couple of treats and when we were out of money, we gate-crashed into marriage ceremonies. But before I could extend that phase of chilling out in my hometown, I had to pack up for Bangalore. I hardly got a month’s rest. Blaming my bad luck and cursing the company, I started to pack up for the new journey.

Bangalore – The city made me fall in love with it as soon as I entered. The weather is probably the best among all the big cities in India. My job is pretty chilled out. My boss says that the starting phase of your job is your honeymoon period. This time won’t come back. So enjoy to the fullest. It has been about 2 months since then and the work pressure is about the same. I am kind of enjoying this extended honeymoon period (don’t tell my boss about this :P).

One big difference between college and corporate life has been the number of girls around. Coming from a skewed ratio of about 1 girl per 11 boys or so, entering an organization with almost 1:1 ratio was a distant dream ( “:P” for those who are still working in an organization with less ratio). My faith in humanity has been restored. 😀

A group of around 10 of us college friends try to meet up during the weekend and plan out something. We went for a few outings, had a few bakaiti sessions and watched a lot of movies. I’ve made a couple of friends in office too. Enjoy hanging out with them.

They say the grass is always greener on the other side. When in college, we would wonder and talk about the life outside, about the things money can buy. Here, after a few months, there is one thing that I know for sure. Money cannot buy happiness. Family and friends can! 🙂

Well, that’s about the last couple of months. With a promise that I’ll continue to write more frequently, I’ll sign off! 🙂

Of a Love, and a Story

Shreya and I were best friends since high school. Infact, all of the best memories of school life have a picture of her embedded somewhere in them. We were in the same school and used to go there by our school bus. She always sat next to me. She wasn’t just any girl. Her dimples were the cutest of all I have ever seen. Plus she had a varied interest ranging from politics to music to sports. She could discuss a Felipe Massa with the same zeal as a George Bush. You see a rare species of beauty with brains. I was not gifted with so many talents. I was good at solving equations, so enrolled for IIT JEE classes after my school. She wanted to become a journalist, like the character played by Priety Zinta in Lakshya.

We made a pact during our school days that however busy our life gets in the future, we’ll meet atleast once in a week. Every Saturday evening, we would go to our favourite hangout place, a small and quiet garden near her home. We would chat about a lot of things in those couple of hours. I don’t know why but I felt a sense of belongingness when I was with her. I could share anything and everything with her.

After we finished our boards and entrance examinations, our frequency of meetings increased. We used to meet every day, spend hours and hours gazing at stars, made fun of each other, made fun of other people. Nothing in this world is more beautiful than falling in love and you cannot appreciate this as long as you experience it. When you fall in love you realize that there is so much you have to talk about. There is nothing that is stupid; there is nothing out of bounds. We would talk about anything. Just the feeling of being with her made me happy. On one such night, I accidentally told her those three words. She had an immediate spark in her eyes. She said she too loved me and added that she couldn’t imagine her life without me.

My result of IIT JEE came after a few weeks. I got admit from IIT Hyderabad. She got admit from a university in Pune. It was difficult for us to part. I got her a stuffed bear for and she gifted me a keychain of heart parted into two pieces, one for me and the other for her. We promised to keep in touch and let not the distance affect our relationship.

During my initial days in hostel, we used to have conversations for a pretty long duration. Slowly there was a steady decline in our conversations. I used to get one word reply for every question. My messages were ignored, and no messages came from her side. I thought that maybe the academic pressure forbade her from giving time to me. We would just exchange formal conversations and end our chats.

I thought the winter vacations would be a good time to spend more time together and start a new chapter. One evening, I got a message from her to meet at our hangout place. I went there. There was something different about her. She was not the same happy to go girl, discussing a variety of topics with zeal and enthusiasm. Rather, she was all philosophical about life and how compromise with it is the best way to live. She ended that speech with one damn hurting sentence ‘Can’t we just be friends’? I was shocked. I was numb. I just couldn’t say anything. A few minutes later, I asked her the reason. She couldn’t give me a satisfying answer. I tried to convince her, I cried, still she was adamant on her decision.

It is difficult to understand women but the men never mind trying. As she was slowly waking away, I remembered the day we got in a relationship and she said “it was impossible for her to imagine a life without me”!

Disclaimer: The above story is an act of fiction. Any resemblance to living creatures is purely coincidental 😀

Of heroes in reel life, villains in real

The verdict of the hon. Supreme court granting 5 year imprisonment to Sanjay Dutt has attracted a lot of debate in the past few days. The whole Bollywood fraternity showed support to him. Some of them also suggested pleading to the governor of Maharashtra to grant him mercy on the grounds of suffering he had in the last 20 years. Justice Markandey Katju, Chairman PCI, went on to say that because his family has sacrificed a lot for the country and his movies have revived the message of Gandhiji in the people, he should be let free.  It is a disturbing thought that so many high profiles could condemn and challenge the verdict on purely emotional grounds. I totally understand the Bollywood sentiments. They have a lot of investment on Sanjay Dutt. But such a statement coming from a retired Supreme Court judge provokes me to ask ‘Is the judiciary biased towards powerful and rich’?

The conviction of Sanjay Dutt was no ordinary. He was convicted under the arms act, which calls for punishment anywhere between 5 to 10 years. He was having 3 AK-56 rifles, 9 magazines, 450 cartridges, a 9mm pistol and over 20 hand grenades. That’s not the complete picture. He got these grenades from Abu Salem, who then used to work for Dawood Ibrahim. Friendship and deals with the underworld people, who were responsible for the 1993 Mumbai Blasts, does not seem a small offence to me. Again, even after getting arrested, Sanjay Dutt had the luxury of taking help from the best legal counsel available. This was not the case with some other convicts, who might have spent a lot more time in jail, even if their crime was less than his. On another statement by the PCI Chairman about spreading gandhigiri and doing charitable work, there is need to do this for PR purpose rather than a sense of Social Service. I believe such activities are more of an initiative to escape your name as a criminal to the one as a good person/saviour. If tomorrow, Salman Khan gets convicted for the charge of poaching of a blackbuck or hit and run case, a wave of sympathy will again run and people will call for his philanthropic endeavours. True, there might be some development done by his charities, but does that reduce the magnitude of his crime.

Thankfully, we people are driven by emotions but the law of a country is not. The Supreme Court judgement has atleast increased by confidence in the judiciary is still not completely biased by money and muscle. Hope that the people of this country also see that the constitution and the law of a country is a bigger than an individual.

The art of selling – story of my placement

The last few weeks have been a hell of a journey. This post is mainly about my tryst with the placement season. Most of the blog post was written the day after I got placed (which is more than a week ago). Blame my laziness; I didn’t take the pains to write anything after that day. Only today, after a height of boredom, I decided to get back to writing. So here is my story:

December is the month where placement season starts at all the IITs. The slots for the first few days are generally given to the core companies and management companies having a good pay check. All the technical companies had a CGPA cut-off and I could not even write the preliminary test.  So, with a screwed CGPA and little knowledge of coding, getting into big technical firms was out of choice for me. The only domain where I could fight up at equal level with my colleagues was Consultancy and Management.  Being a new IIT and the focus of Placement Cell being bringing as many technical companies as possible, I was left only with peanuts to choose from.

I started with the preparation for placements only in late October with aptitude, logical reasoning and verbal ability. Many of my friends had written GRE and CAT by then. So, I was a late starter. Also, there was an arrangement made by the placement cell to have a few sessions on programming skills. I attended those lectures hoping to atleast put up a fight when the IT companies come.

Our end semester ended on 27th of October. The first preliminary test for one of the best technical companies was on 28th. I could not appear for it because of my CGPA. The next test was on 1st of December of another big shot technical firm. Luckily for me this time, I could appear for it. But, as expected, I couldn’t get past the preliminary test. In the afternoon session, I gave three back to back tests. I came at my room at around 9 p.m., exhausted and tired. I called my parents, told them that the placement season has started and that I am trying to get one. A small conversation with them helped me gain some confidence. I looked at hot Group Discussion topics for the next hour or so and went to sleep much earlier than my normal schedule. I believe this was one of the best things to happen that day and I realized it after I got placed the next day.

December 2nd was the D-day, when Flipkart came to recruit for the post of management trainee from our college. I woke up early, took shower (at 6 am in December :D) and wore formals for the first time in my life. I was confident to put up a fight in the placement process. The placement process was an aptitude test followed by a group discussion and personal interviews. More than 2/3rd of the students eligible for placements gave the aptitude test. Sixty questions in sixty minutes. I somehow just managed to complete the test in time. I was sure of getting into the group discussion round. I was expecting around 30-40 shortlists for the group discussions. But then, news came that the Flipkart recruitment team could not come to our campus for some reasons and that there will be Skype interviews for the candidates. As group discussion was cancelled, the number of selected candidates was expected to be somewhere around 10-15. The list was to come up in half an hour. I came back to hostel to have breakfast. While I was having the breakfast, one of my friends told that I had been shortlisted for the interview. I quickly finished the breakfast and went to the institute.

There were 15 of us. I was 10th to be interviewed. The first person told the kind of questions that the interviewer was asking. It was mainly a resume based interview. I made some changes in the resume and highlighted my managerial abilities. I expected some questions that he might ask from my resume and rehearsed the answers for the same. My turn for the interview came. I was asked with the following questions:

1. Tell me about yourself?
I told him about my childhood and educational background, my internship at Rakshak Foundation and another Organization I have been associated with.

2. Tell me more about your internship project at Rakshak Foundation?
I was expecting this question. I had prepared a long answer for the same. I gave him my project summary on ‘Improving catering services in Indian Railways’. I explained him my research methodology, my field visits, my interaction with officials from the government, NGO and the corporate sector, my recommendations and their possible applications.

3. Tell me more about other NGO you are associated with?
Again I was expecting this. I told him that we are looking at reducing the educational disparity that exists in the country. As a part of the organization, I had a chance to interact with more than 500 students and 30 teachers. In addition, we have conducted a career counselling session at two schools. I added the vision and mission of our organization.

4. Why do you want to come into the corporate sector when your heart lies in the NGO sector? Would you continue your association with NGOs after joining flipkart?
I was taken aback by this question. He raised a valid point. But I quickly composed myself and gave examples of various personalities I met during my internship. I gave him the example of founder of Rakshak Foundation who is a senior manager at Adobe in Silicon Valley.  I gave him another example of a dynamic personality we had at one of the guest lectures Rakshak who was Director in Microsoft, New Seattle but also ran a few non-profit organizations. I added that as a person who has been lucky enough to get good education, I feel it is a moral obligation for me to do something for the society. I added that given a chance, I would like to rise in the corporate ladder as well as give back to society.

5. Do you have any questions to ask?
I said I had read about the job profile and I don’t have any doubts. Just after I finished saying this, I realised that I should have asked any random thing to prove my interest for the job. Anyways, the damage (if any) was done.

The interviewer told me that the interview was over. All throughout the interview he had this strange expressionless face. Probably that was to make the candidates uncomfortable. I was not very sure whether my answer on NGO vs Corporate appealed to him. But then, there was nothing I could do. My fate had been sealed. I came out, met my friends and told them about the interview. I was again, thinking about whether the answer appealed to him. Tensed, I went for a walk around the college. This helped me relax a bit. By the time all the interviews finished, there were only 6 of us waiting for the results.  Coincidentally, all the 6 of us were selected for the position. We celebrated there, called back our friends and rushed to the hostel. Then again, there were congratulatory messages from friends from the hostel which was followed by a small treat at cafeteria. After all the celebrations, when the news finally sunk in that I got a job, I finally called my parents and told them that I’ve been placed. My father replied ‘Motha Zhalas’ (You’ve grown up). That was the moment of the day for me!

P.S. (1): A few things that I learnt from the placement process:

Being Positive: From my experience, placement season is the toughest time of the entire four years of engineering, atleast for those who have job as the only option for the future. The rejections in the interviews, the frustrations in not being able to qualify the written test and most importantly, peers getting placed leads to high loss of self-confidence and  sometimes, depression. Just before the day I was placed, I had not been shortlisted in any of the companies. But then, only a small belief ‘stay in the game till it is not over’ let me through.

Friends are of a great help: The time I got shortlisted for the interview, I had a call from few of my friends here. They all gave me some motivational talk which enhanced my confidence. Believe me, those few words by friends at the high time were a great morale booster. I told them ‘job mile ya naa mile, fight maarke aata’(Whether I get placed or not, I’ll put up a fight).

Play on your strengths: There were people in the test as well as shortlisted for the interviews who had better profile than me. I knew my limitations. That is why I highlighted only the points which I was comfortable in my interview. In the first question, where he asked me to introduce myself, I smartly emphasized on the points I wanted him to enquire more about. I decided the flow of my interview.

Luck: I feel this is a very important factor in the placement process. Strange it may feel to some persons, but placement procedure doesn’t only focus on the profile or the achievements of a candidate but they have more things in their mind. That is why there is an aptitude test. There were many deserving candidates, some even had their profile better than all of us who were shortlisted, but they couldn’t get passed the aptitude test. The highest score in the flipkart aptitude test was 50. The cut-off was 42. I got 44. Who knows, one or two answers here and there and I would have been out.  Again, there were a few people in the interview who were as good as the rest of the selected people. In other companies too, the same story repeated itself. Having a good luck is an asset. It would be needed to connect all the dots, to crack aptitude/technical tests, get into a good technical interviewing panel and finally get through a good HR round.

The above three points that I listed can be cultivated and polished from time to time, but regarding luck, one can only HOPE.

P.S. (2): A big congratulations to all the people who have got placed and best LUCK to all those who are yet to be. 🙂

Modi as Prime Minister?

If there is one politician who has the most dedicated and loyal fan base across the social media sphere, it has to be the Gujarat chief minister and a wannabe prime minister candidate of the BJP, Narendra Modi. One would hardly find anyone critical of his policies and personality on Facebook and Twitter. His speeches, his cartoons figures mocking the cartoons figures of other politicians are shared with pride by people.  As he gears up for his campaign for Gujarat elections and I presume he will win, given there is no one as charismatic as him in the Congress Party at his state, his next logical step after winning the elections would likely be establishing his candidature for the Prime Minister.

But I do have certain reservations on Modi being India’s Prime Minister. Given a chance, I’d rather prefer an incompetent and corrupt government in this country than to see Modi leading this country. Strange you might feel on my point of view. But let me justify my statement. Corruption leads to loss of money, whereas spreading hatred leads to loss of lives. Modi is too good in spreading communal hatred and god forbid if he becomes PM of India, he’ll get a chance to impact on national level .The better option would be a non-corrupt and efficient party which is very unlikely in the present circumstances.

My perception has nothing much to do with Godhra (even the congress regime had 1984 anti-Sikh riots) or his ideology. But it is more about his personality, his chilling ambitions and his style of functioning. His personality is that of an authoritarian and he rarely entertains contradictory views. Is there any other BJP leader from Gujarat whom you are aware of? His style may work in a smaller state but when it comes to national politics and the coalition era we have now with so many small political parties bargaining for policies favoring, authoritarianism does not have any space.

Modi does not entertain dissent coming in from the party members as well as government officials. If there is one word on the way of functioning of Modi, it would be fear. Fear to acquire votes, and fear to get his policies cleared off without any objection. The opening up of various criminal cases against civil servants who have spoken against his policies during godhra times and elsewhere is another such example of his arrogance.

I guess all of you might throw upon the example of development works in Gujarat being Modi’s strongest point. But Gujarat has always been a developed state. Business deals and profit-making runs in the veins of the Gujarati people. So with or without Modi, Gujarat would have been a prosperous state. On the contrary, according to the third National Family Health Survey over 41 percent of Gujarati children less than three years of age are underweight, which is worse than the national average. Over 55 percent of Gujarati women in the 15-45 age group are anemic. Among the industrial states with a high per capita income in India, Gujarat ranks pretty low on health and nutrition.

There is this perception that the two faces of Narendra Modi, i.e being an able administrator and a religious chauvinist are orthogonal to each other. My perception is they both not only share a close relationship but are needed for his existences. Together they form the core of a programme in which one becomes a prerequisite for the other.

As for his tough image, I believe we do not actually need tough leaders but we need leaders with a heart and a brain. Modi has a brain, a poisoned one. Manmohan Singh has both but unfortunately he lets the high command of his party use it more than he does.

I don’t have many problems with Modi continuing as Gujarat CM for many more years to come. But his entry into national platform should be forbidden. This looks easier if we consider the present political structure of the National Democratic Alliance(NDA). A lot of allies of the BJP in the National Democratic Alliance(NDA) have certain reservations on Modi as PM candidate and  BJP getting a full majority in the next general elections is very difficult.

I know I am in a minority blogger (all surveys indicate that urban Indians prefer Modi as PM, thanks to all the scams of the government we have in power today). People are fed up with United Progressive Alliance’s (UPA’s) corruption. Even I want them out of power. But, will the alternative be any different?

Imagining a World – The John Lennon Way

There is a reason that the Beatles is the most celebrated band in the world. Apart from the fabulous music they created, they were blessed with two of the best songwriters that got them so many numerous hits – the duo of John Lennon and Sir Paul McCartney. Even after the breaking up of the Beatles, John and Paul separately continued to make some great numbers. This post is about John Lennon, or rather, one of the songs by John Lennon.

I do not have a particularly good ear for rock music (apart from a few exceptions). What I like songs with good lyrics. While I was watching the closing ceremony of the London Olympic Games 2012, I stumbled upon one such song. The music was slow and soothing and hence, it was easy to focus upon the lyrics. I liked the song immediately. The song was ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon.  Many of you might be aware of the song. For those of you who are not, thought I might share the same with all of you.

The lyrics go like this …

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace

You, you may say
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world

You, you may say
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

The lyrics of the song were by far one of the best I’ve ever known. The hidden message of living in harmony and unison with each other, breaking the shackles of gender, class, culture, country, and religion is a tough thing to imagine. John Lennon imagined that. In an era where everyone cares about is my country – my life, he gave the symbol of one world – one dream.  The song is like selfless wish list of a child at Christmas. A perfect vision of a peaceful world. Truly only a dreamer could come up with such a creation.

If there is one song that I would like my kids to hear and learn as soon as they are old enough to understand the lyrics, it would be ‘imagine’. Thank You John for giving a wonderful philosophy and I wish someday the dream of the world you gave will be realized.

Oh, I actually forgot to mention the reason I wrote this blog today.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOHN!! You are being missed!

For the video of the song, see on the link below!  🙂
Imagine – John Lennon – London 2012 Closing Ceremony

Oye chotu ….

Very often in our day to day life, we get a chance to fall upon a person we know and call as chotu. We can find him at a roadside dhaba serving hot tea and washing plates, or at a cycle shop repairing the punctures of our vehicles, or near a bus stop selling balloons. I had a chance to stumble upon one such chotu, the same day when I went to a nearby village for my photojournalism assignment. I inquired him about his name, work, on whether he studies. He replied that he stopped his studies about 2 years back and since then has been working at the cycle repair shop.

I decided to look into issue of these chotus in more detail. Upon some basic research, I learned that the government of India in the year of our lord 2009 passed a bill which grants right to free and compulsory education to every single child in the country. There is another law which prohibits child labor. It states that children below the age of 14 should not be indulged in any hazardous physical work. There are some other provisions too, such as the mid-day meal scheme to provide an incentive to the children to go to school.

Inspite of all these measures, it has been estimated that about 12.6 million children (2001 census) in India are indulged in one or the other forms of child labor. The reasons might be plenty, there were no schools, there were schools but no teachers, the children were forced to work by their parents, they worked because they wanted cheap and easy source of making money and so on.

But the consequence of all these reasons is that without proper education and guidance, chotu has a very bleak future in this competitive world. The only option chotu will have after getting older is to continue the work in a similar field that he has been doing. Without skills such as English literacy and technical aptitude, securing higher skilled jobs is impossible and coming out of poverty would remain a distant dream.

To keep an economy prospering, a vital criteria is to have an educated workforce equipped with relevant skills for the needs of the industries. The young laborers today, will be part of India’s human capital tomorrow. Child labor undoubtedly results in a trade-off with human capital accumulation.

I believe India will truly be a developed country when we wouldn’t find chotus in the dhabas, cycle repair shops or bus stops but they would be in a place that would make them able to live a life of their choice. A place where these kids get an opportunity to develop physically, intellectually, emotionally and psychologically. A place called SCHOOL.

The Joy of Learning

An assignment in the photojournalism course compelled me to make trips to the villages near our campus to get some photos. For the past three years, I never got any chance to visit these villages. These things were perceived by me as something that was a responsibility of the NSS junta and others had no say in it.  We had a task to bring in pictures based on a particular theme in a village. I was initially a bit skeptical about the whole process. The most prominent question that was continuously ringing in my mind was how people would react to some alien person asking them to pose for the pictures. Again, with the very limited knowledge of telugu language, with the most prominent sentence I have said in my campus life being ‘naaku telugu raadu’ (English meaning : I don’t understand telugu :P), there was a little hope that I would convince the people and get even a couple of photos for the assignment.

The deadline for the submission was 1 week. Thanks to my laziness, the first four days went away just like that. I learnt that the other people have been going to the villages to take pictures. Finally on Thursday, I along with Saurabh decided to make a visit to a nearby village ‘kyasaram’. The village was altogether a different world. Being a person who has been born and brought up in a city, the calmness in the atmosphere there was too soothing. I started with some pictures of the farmers in their field. But then, we had to bring in pictures based mainly on a particular domain. As was already approaching dusk, there was little hope that I could explore more in the farming field. So I wondered which domain I should focus upon.

Just then, I saw a bunch of kids studying in a house. I immediately decided that it is them that I should cover. I went to them. The joy of seeing a camera reflected on their faces. I took some pictures of them posing for the camera to become friendly with them and get a chance to grab their normal expressions. Time passed. They forgot my presence and started their normal studying. It was then I got a chance to capture their expressions.

While taking their pictures, one of the highlighting things that I observed was the zeal and the enthusiasm these kids showed towards their studies. They seemed to be lost in their own fantasy world amid jack and jill, johnny johnny and other nursery rhymes, in learning the basics of number system and memorizing the varnamala. The innocence on their faces coupled with desire to learn was a treat to watch. The joy of learning, gaining new knowledge, the happiness on their faces left me thinking. Thinking when was the last time I studied only for the purpose joy of learning.

Frankly, I had a hard time to remember an instant. In a world where the first thing I do (and I presume most people too) after opening a book is to see the number of pages that I have to mug up for the exam.  And I think there is nothing wrong in doing that, given the fact that there are more things that we have to do. The problem may lie with the education system in general, or the rat race and the peer pressure that we have to face. This has become a part and parcel of today’s world and it will take another post to write on this issue. Some other time.

Anyways, I’ll leave you with a few pictures of these wonderful kids I met. Hope you like them. 🙂

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