Sunday, August 21, 2011

                                               THE  ‘ANNA’ EFFECT

Bribery and corruption are common words for most of the Indians. It’s such a menace in the Indian society that corruption has been permanently imbibed in the psyche of common people as a way of living. The recent 2G scam, Adarsh scam, CWG scam etc only helped in reducing the confidence that people have on our democratic system.

There is a long history behind this corruption. Our fore fathers chose the path of democracy over communism to give each and every Indian equal rights and the power to decide the future course of our great nation. The first four decades after independence were very crucial for our country. We had to establish ourselves on the world stage after more than 150 years of systematic plunder and looting done by the British. Most of our wealth had been disappeared by the time we got independence. So our leaders had to prioritize and bring up strategies to elevate the poor and to usher in the era of development. In that context we must appreciate what our great leaders have done in the past. To protect our domestic market from global competition the policies were mainly on the swadeshi lines which aims  to make our country self sufficient and not depend on any other foreign nation on any needs. It helped in protecting our rural small scale industries although our gross domestic product remained much below than what it is now during those times. The policy decisions with regard to our economy began to change in the last decade of 20th century. As the cold war ended the global economic equations changed. So to keep up with that change, our markets were opened up. But the core industries still remained under governmental control. This shift towards a capitalistic ideology was received with a lot of criticism and skepticism at first. But that move proved to be a boon to our economy. Our growth rate doubled. Industrial output & Economic activity increased. India thus began to attain global recognition for its impressive growth story. Our development thus began adding momentum. So our growth rate started to increase on yearly basis.More foreign investments began to flow into the Indian markets. More and more rich domestic entrepreneurs came up and began floating their companies.

All this development translated into the tremendous growth and increase in the Indian middle class. But this development still couldn’t get trickled down adequately to the rural poor of India who constitute the majority Indian population. What this essentially meant is that all this development was one sided. Small scale local industries were not able to withstand this sudden inflow of foreign investments and the competition that ensued effectively sealed the fate of such small rural industries.

This unraveling scenario of huge increase in the Indian middle class provided more and more opportunities for corporate companies to increase their market foot hold. So in order to get higher share of market access and get more concessions from the governmental agencies these market giants began influencing our economic policy makers. I firmly believe that corruption first began at the highest levels of governmental agencies. This paved way for chain reactions. More and more people began to know about this and started giving bribes in order to get unfair advantages and concessions from the officials. This process began to trickle down even to the lowest levels of officials who implement the policies taken by the government. As time went by the acts of bribing became a normal procedure. Even the poorest people of our society have to pay bribes to get things done in governmental agencies. None of the so called intellectuals in our country tried to change this situation because one way or the other they too were involved in corrupting the governing system.

It is in this context that we must view the ongoing struggle against corruption that’s been happening in our country which got particular media attention over the past two weeks. At the time of writing this post Sri: Anna Hazare has entered his sixth day of hunger strike. Nobody knows if the issue will be resolved any sooner. All he is asking for is the parliament to pass the Jan Lokpal bill (Citizen Ombudsman bill) and not the weak Lokpal bill proposed by the government which accounts for only 5% of the total governmental work force. The UPA government obviously disagrees with some of the provisions in the bill, rightly so because most of the irregularities and corruption charges are being accused on their members. They have been launching counter arguments and trying to foster support against this movement saying that such a protest is undermining the whole democratic and parliamentary system in India. According to me that argument is pretty lame. No law can be framed in the parliament without the popular support from the people. Also we must change the system into a participatory democracy where civil society representatives also get a say in framing of important laws such as the Janlokpal bill. This movement has now struck a common cord with most of the young people who wish to see a change in the state of system. So whatever be the counter offensive launched by the government or by any other political party may be, none would halt this renewed sense of change and responsibility that’s sweeping across the country. There would be many people who would find fault with what Anna is doing but none of those critics do anything productively to change the system other than talking against Anna’s peaceful protest. The actual work is being done by people like Anna Hazare. If it were some political party doing this, they would have easily called for a strike or hartal thus disrupting the daily life of people. Nobody would have questioned that. But when an eminent social worker like Anna does something peacefully against a social evil such as corruption everyone tries to find fault with it. 

I just hope and pray that this anti corruption movement doesn’t fizzle out or end without a strong anti corruption bill being passed by the parliament. Such a bill would help in strengthening and restoring our confidence in the democratic system. So I urge all the critics and also the common people to join this historic movement lead by Anna Hazare and help bring about a positive change in our nation

Friday, June 10, 2011

The following article was written by me in the hope of sending it as an entry to a particular magazine. By the way that particular magazine was an initiative of my friend and his mates in a reputed Indian university. But sadly till date that magazine has not become reality and the blame lies squarely on the contributors like me who never showed up after they got that message. Let me explain, the following article was written by me in the hope of sending it to him but I never did actually send it as I thought it would never comply to the top standard maintained by the other contributors (journalism students of that reputed university). Anyways I wish to thank him (let him be Mr:S) for asking me to contribute even though he had a great number top quality journalism students in his friend circle. Yeah it would sound pretty lame, but I thought to write something about our education system. As this is my blog, I can gladly publish it as I don’t worry about the standard maintained here. So bear with me my dear readers and brace yourselves for this high school level essay nah…article :P

(Sorry Mr:S for breaking your trust :P )

                                      Educational Reforms A Necessity  

Education is very important in everyone’s life. Our educational system is one of the best in the world which boasts of producing thousands of professionals each year. And yet there is an incredible sense of unease amongst us youngsters about our educational system. I will try to point out some of the most important concerns that our generation is having with regard to this.
In its technical sense, education is the process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledge, skills and values from one generation to another. But our current educational scenario will not probably come inside that definition.

Our world is no longer the same place as our ancestors thought it would be. It has undergone lot many changes. We have grown up with the notion that teachers are 'God Incarnates'. Does that notion hold true now? I for one seriously doubt that.

In this age of modern technological advancements, the role of teachers in the life of an average student is seriously nothing . Take the case of our generation. Isn’t it true that we gain more knowledge from Google than an average professor or teacher in our school or college could offer? If someone asks me who my greatest teacher is, my answer would be without any hesitation as Google. Yes, this is the change that has been brought on by the huge advancements in technology.

If teachers aren’t that important anymore where would it leave our current educational system, more so in our particular Indian context??

Our educational system will have to adapt itself to the change that is happening around the world. It is ridiculous to find that our system is absolutely against the use of technology in helping accelerate the process of learning amongst the children. I would give you a very good example. How many of us have not wasted hours and hours of our childhood for memorizing the multiplication tables? Wasn't that absolutely mundane and foolish on our part to have done that when we had the luxury of using calculators? I used to say that we Indians are great in mathematics. But today I realize how smart the entire western educational set up is. It didn’t stress on boring things which any machine could rattle out. The focus was on doing things easier quicker and smarter. I’m sure that no westerners would have ever learned the multiplication tables like we Indians did. This probably explains why they are so ahead of us in creating new innovations.

Technology is an increasingly important factor in education. Computers and mobile phones are used in western educational system both to complement established educational patterns and develop new ways of learning like online education. This gives the students the opportunity to learn what they are interested in. Technology offers more powerful learning tools that demand new skills and understanding from students. The government considers technology as a threat rather than a tool for education here.

The focus of our educational system has solely been on examinations. The person who is successful in mugging up the textbooks and reproducing that in the examination hall comes out as a knowledgeable person. All others are deemed as worthless. What a joke in this age of Google.

But I still don’t advocate copying of the western style of education completely and implementing it here in India. We have to manage a delicate balance between the new modern techniques and the age old values to bring about proper educational reform. Our educational system would have to evolve itself according to the changing circumstances in our society and be open to new ideas which would help in fostering many innovative minds.    

What do you think about this ??  Comments are welcome :P

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