CategoryFood for thought

This is my uncle Kishan…

An assortment of about fifteen kids are seated in front of me. All supposedly fifth and sixth graders. The syllabus mandates me to read out to them a story and ask them questions based on it. Something akin to the reading comprehension questions that we solve. I set off in my task in reading out a para and asking the one in the third row a very simple question. His poker faced response immediately states he’s not got a word of what I’ve been talking. Same applies almost every other kid out here. I break up the sentences now to see if that helps them. Still the same response. I finally check to see if they at least know the individual words in the sentence. Turns out that NONE of them are even able to appreciate the presence of a ‘the’ in the sentence! Besides, when asked to translate a statement like – ‘This is my uncle Kishan’ to telugu, I get the weirdest responses imaginable! They do not know the difference between ‘Buying’ and ‘Going’! Teaching them to decipher paragraphs is way too optimistic.

The next hour or so goes in asking them to echo back just four sentences, asking them to focus on my lip movement and giving them a suitable transliteration. With small role plays I try to engage them to capture the essence of what was being talked about in the book. They soon seem to be liking the whole concept and cheerfully engage each other sheepishly shouting broken English sentences. The misplaced it’s, the’s and she’s don’t matter a dime but as they chorously repeat what I read out from the book, I find it hard to digest the fact that these kids do not have access to even basic primary education. These kids from the Arundati Upper primary school have just three people to teach them-Two ladies [ One who is just recuperating from an operation and the other being the Head mistress] and a septuagenarian gentleman who’s been voluntuarily teaching them for the past two years. The community that runs this school wants to raze this down and build a complex here instead. That would equate to about 100 of these kids losing one last oppurtunity to get a hold on their lifes. Imagine one of your kids/nephew/niece to be in their shoes. Wait, they don’t even have shoes to walk in!

Estb. by the community about fifty years back they have kids from class 1 to 7. There’s a fan or two in the building with no Power to run them. The dripping roof of the two or three rooms that constitutes this school would satiate the thirst of the kids directly in monsoon. A couple of ayah’s[Read girls probably in their 9th or 10th grade] take classes for the kids in the lower grades!The kids come here to the school for the sole motivation of the mid-day meal that the government provides them or should i say – ‘supposedly’. The kids who’re in the fifth and sixth grade in no way can match any regular third grade kid from the other regular schools. Those who move out from the school, I understand discontinue their education and take up a mechanics job or other petty things.

As I head back home with a ‘Telugu’ medium math text book to understand what I’ll have to teach them next week, the vicious reality still remains blaring out there on the immense hurdle ahead of them and more so the onus on us to give them their basic right to education.

Drop in a mail to [email protected] if you could spare a couple of hours in the weekends! We need your help!

Gyan de la Spiky

It’s been just one week that I’ve got back to Hyderabad after my six months stay at Pune and I’m still struggling to cope with boredom. My body’s sort of got so fine tuned to an active lifestyle that sitting in front of the computer once I’m back home is something that I’d last prefer to do. But then that is all that I’m left to do, at least till I chalk out a few plans to get myself to rebound again.

Looking back I realise that one centric reason, why things were much interesting then. Every weekday I used to head to office planning how I’d best spend the day so as to enjoy that weekend to the fullest. For the most part of it , it was visiting a new place or raising the bar to do a better or higher grade trek. I was sure, there was always something different in store for me that coming weekend. That only pushed me harder to give my best at work during the weekdays so as to avoid any last minute goof ups. ‘You work two days a week and take rest the remaining five days‘ is what Anmol once commented on my passion for trekking. I now realise how true he was!

On the brighter side, There’re three important yet simple learnings that I’ve gained from my Pune experience –

  • It’s not how long you live that is important. It’s how well you live it is all that matters.
  • Raise the bar every time you feel you’re succumbed by pressure. You’ll soon know there’s much more to gather than what’s on the ground.
  • Have a passion and target acting on it every weekend, Your work life would soon fall in place. That ways you’ll end up doing justice to both your personal as well as professional goals!

Gyan in practice:

  • Got a 21 geared Lumala bike for close to 7 grand sometime back. Guess cycling would soon replace my passion for Trekking.
  • Joined a few internal clubs at the Hyd DC. Hope they keep me working on weekdays 😉  .
  • The Budokan Karate classes start from November 1st . Just confirmed my registration today.
  • Learning the Guitar by myself. Not much progress made though.
  • On the Professional front, I’ve got roped into an assignment that would involve more of SDLC process than technical stuff. And I’m lovin’ every bit of it!

Who said life was boring ? I take back my words 🙂 .

Those little bucks!

One another interesting article!

The Japanese save a lot. They do not spend much. Also Japan exports far more than it imports. They have an annual trade surplus of over $100 billion, yet Japanese economy is considered weak, even collapsing.

Americans save little. Also US import more than it exports. Has an annual trade deficit of over $400 billion. Yet, the American economy is considered strong and trusted to get stronger. But where from do Americans get money to spend? They borrow from Japan, China, and even India. Virtually others save for the US to spend. Global savings are mostly invested in US, in dollars. India itself keeps its foreign currency assets of over $50 billions in US securities. China has sunk over $160 billion in US securities. Japan’s stakes in US securities is in trillions.

Result: The US has taken over $5 trillion from the world. So, as the world saves for the US, Americans spend freely. Today, to keep the US consumption going, that is for the US economy to work, the countries have to remit $180 billion every quarter that is $2 billion a day to the US! Otherwise the US economy would go for a sick. So will the global economy. The result will be no different if US consumers begin consuming less.

A Chinese economist asked a neat question. Who has invested more, US in China, or China in US? The US has invested in China less than half of what China has invested in US. The same is the case with India. We have invested in US over $50 billion. But the US has invested less than $20 billion in India. Why the world is after US? The secret lies in the American spending, that they hardly save. In fact they use their credit cards to spend their future income.

That the US spends is what makes it attractive to export to the US. So US imports more than what it exports year after year. The result: The world is dependent on US consumption for its growth. By its deepening culture of consumption, the US has habituated the world to feed on US consumption. But as the US needs money to finance its consumption, the world provides the money. It’s like a shopkeeper providing the money to a customer so that the customer keeps buying from his shop. The customer will not buy; the shop won’t have business, unless the shopkeeper funds him. The US is like the lucky customer. And the world is like the helpless shopkeeper financier.

Who is America’s biggest shopkeeper financer? Japan of course. Yet it’s Japan which is regarded as weak. Modern economists complain that Japanese do not spend, so they do not grow. To force the Japanese to spend, the Japanese government exerted itself. Reduced the savings rates, even charged the savers Even then the Japanese did not spend (habits don’t change, even with taxes, do they?). Their traditional postal savings alone is over $1.2 trillions, about three times the Indian GDP.

Thus, savings, far from being the strength of Japan, has become its pain.Hence, what is the lesson? A nation cannot grow unless the people spend, not save. Not just spend, but borrow and spend. Dr. Jagdish Bhagwati, the famous Indian-born economist in the US told that don’t wastefully save. Start spending, on imported cars and, seriously, even on cosmetics! This will put all nations on a growth curve. ‘Saving is sin, and spending is virtue.’

Before you follow this neo economics, get some fools to save so that you can borrow from them and spend. This is what US has successfully done in last few decades.

Source: Email Forward

In Quest of a visionary life!

Purushotam skews his head up and looks at the monitor. I’m reminded of the frequent mails that we get regarding body posture while sitting in front of the workstation. The 45 degree look down angle at the monitor cannot be applied in this case. The plastic chair doesn’t help much either.

Remotely bothered he hits the arrow key and navigates the word document. He is almost through with the test on Basic ‘C’. Moments later he hints he’s completed the test. A few corrections are done and a jubilant Purushotam walks out with his mother’s help towards the door.

Uttam seated a bit away smiles looking at the table. I wonder what his mind is concocting in the vast expanse. I introduce myself and sit beside him. He’s faster than me in socializing. A few minutes and we’re discussing almost everything under the sun. Soon we strike a deal – He teaches me Marathi and I teach him English. Thoughts fly by his mouth in Hindi/Marathi but when it comes to English, he’s blacked out. Soon Shekar, Baaji rao and Preeti join the conversation. Shekar, BaajiRao and Uttam are pursuing their 12th grade at Fergusons and Garware College. Preeti has completed her MA in English and currently plans to do her M.Phil.

Biswajeet and Aditya soon join us after having a quick chat with Purushotam’s Mom. Suddenly the topic of Indian independence pops up. When asked what they feel about the independence movement, Shekar is prompt in responding – India shouldn’t have been given Independence. He reason’s out saying they would have been in a better position today had the British continued to stay. Point taken!

They’d just had a session with Dhananjay – A graduate from University of Pune. Most of it was in Marathi, so there wasn’t much that I understood. But their jubilant responses and the questions on career development takes me off my feet. They know where they need to be few years down the line. Much better planned that me! It’s only about how they work towards it that would decide how far they go towards reaching their goal.

These people had different interests and passions; were from different backgrounds, schools and colleges. Just one thing bonded them together – All were visually challenged! A few dyslexic and physically challenged too.

Just two hours with them and you learn what life is all about. Believe me; they’ve seen things from a much better perspective than us. Every statement from their mouth makes me realize how little I was in front of them. They teach me – It’s not the vision that is important, what’s important is how you visualize it. They tell me, they’re no more afraid of darkness; all that they’re afraid of is light.

At 07:00pm as the class ends, Uttam requests us to show them the Infosys campus. I’m stumped! We promises to take them in the forthcoming weekends, bid goodbye and walk out. The sparkling smile on their faces as we shake hands and walk out still lingers in my mind. I’ve never seen a livelier smile than that till date – a smile of true thankfulness.

All that they were asking for was a few minutes of our time to see the world from a visionary perspective, to learn things from the so called fortunate people like us, to understand and reconfirm if what they’ve been visualizing in their abstract minds is actually what is present out there.

As I walk out of the old school building, I’m ashamed of things I’ve been so proud of till date. I’m belittled and humbled by the prowess that these people possess. There’s so much that we’ve lost sight of in our endless quest for a better life that we’ve lost track of the minute details of living a worthier life.

If you’re from Pune and can take some time off on your weekends, probably you may want to do some unlearning and pay a visit to the Snehankit foundation. For all you know, it’s we who are blind, light just being a camouflage.