Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Book Review -Diva Swapna

I had seen Gujibhai’s name mentioned in Shikshan - Anandashan by Panse Kaka. I was searching for some books on  primary education and found this one. The moment I saw that Gujibhai were its author it was decided that I will read this book. A decision, which proved to be very good one.

The book was first published in Gujarathi way back in 1932.  Strange that the struggle for improvement of primary education was started long back and still there is so much to do. Written in extremely simple language, the book tells a fictional story of a teacher who seeks permission from the education officer to conduct experiments related to education on 4th std students.

Trying to swim against the current by purposefully shunning the orthodox methods of education he faces many difficulties. He is largely disappointed to see theoretically ideal things were not so easy to implement practically. He then devises various creative and intelligent ways to help teach children in a completely new way.

I am very much tempted to reveal some of the methods of his teaching but I won’t, read it for yourself.  One thing that I liked very much is the way he goes into the details of his experiments and reader is amazed at how nicely he devises ways to solve the problems that are confronted due to the syllabus that is mandated for him to teach.  This book shows that teaching primary children is no child’s play which requires lots of creative hard work and patience. Now method to read this book according to me, 

1) The book is again a small one with only 58 pages. The language used is simple but   since events take place at a very fast pace I suggest that it should be read with appropriate breaks.

2) 4 to 5 pages of reading in a sitting and about couple of sitting in a day could help you finish the book in a week.

3) Sometimes the author goes in more details. It can be a bit boring to read narration of actions of student by a third person when the experiments are being conducted but the way and the outcome of experiments compensates for it.

4) The best part which I liked is the way he teaches grammar to students by helping them understand the core concepts.

NOTE :- Even if you don’t read the entire book, One page Preface given at start is a must read as it gives a hint of present
 education system.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Rally

We had been a part of the rally conducted by the 'Binayak Sen mukti samiti' for precisely the same reason. Dr Binayak Sen as people know has been wrongly accused of being naxalite and incarcerated in chattisgarh for 22 months now. He has been denied bail by the supereme court for reasons best known to it alone. 8 of us  - me, ashwini, neerja, mukta, sagar, amrut, vedvyas and prayag participated. 

I had been to a rally for the first time and i must say i really enjoyed myself. I initially wondered why the rally took place in seemingly unimportant areas like mandai and laxmi road .. I mean it should have been outside the BJP regional office ( BJP rules in chattisgarh)  or the collector office or the police head quarters, but then realised that the purpose of the rally was only to make people aware and generate media hype ( i do not use these words in a negative sense). Following are the observations made -

1. The boards were a little small in size and the font too was small for people to read from a distance.
2. The overall management was good. We did not create problems for the traffic inspite of it being crowded.
3. The photographer only took pictures of a foreigner  :)
4. Mr. Bhai vaidya who was invited to speak on the subject digressed to telling how BJP was biased and how even varun gandhi could get a bail etc .. he thodassa khatakla
5. Lack of 'good' loudspeaker made synchronisation of the slogans difficult especially for people at the extreme end og the rally
6. They also distributed pamphlets describing the problem to people in the streets which was good.
7. We generated  quiet a bit of curiosity in the people standing by. Some people even came forward to ask for the pamphlets

Over all we really liked the experience in the sense it was fun and yet could be quiet effective in generating attention to the topic you want.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Everybody loves a good drought. P. Sainath

Gem of a book, deserves to be read by every Nirmanite. A book which has the power of changing our very attitude towards the poor. The title seemed too interesting for me to overlook the book. Ifelt that there was a strange mocking irony in it. But once I started reading the book, the title was as straight as possible. Just that the title was written from the point of view of the rich. I had already heard Nanda kaka (Nanda Khare) and Arun kaka (Arun Deshpande) mention it. So there was added eagerness to read it. I picked up the book, it said 'Stories from the India's poorest districts'. I started reading it and I still wonder how and when I finished this 470 pages book. To start with the book provides a well-researched, real and a heart-rending account of the condition of poor in our country. Written with lot of passion it gives daily account of the way poor manage to make a living. In a world when only dry statics are provided regarding the poor, P.Sainath paints a clear picture of the real facts which are overlooked in statistics. As one reads the book, an unavoidable anger towards the oppressor mixes with the sympathy felt towards the oppressed. Few selected photos are sparsely distributed over the book. Some of them have such great impact that they still hover in front of my eyes. P. Sainath has beautifully captured how haphazardly government project are planned, reasons behind total failure of these projects, how rich people cunningly use such government schemes/projects for their benefit and finally how some projects do more harm than good. The book is nicely divided into various sections. Primarily there are accounts of rural poor in various areas like health, education, displacement, usury and drought. Each section contains very interesting insights in the life of poor with detailed study of the reasons leading to it. Postscripts are added at regular places to suggest the changes in situation when author visited the same place after some time. The book ends with accounts when poor have fought back. Like in the entire book here also P. Sainath maintains his style of reporting stressing more on facts and not describing it as a heroic story where the good triumphs over bad. According to me all those who aspire for journalism can very well consider this book as an Ideal to follow and all those who are searching for problems to solve can find many in this book. To end with one of the very important point that is brought forward here is that the poverty is covered as events i.e. when some disaster strikes or when many people die of mal-nutrition but the process that leads to such events is largely ignored. Journalism should attack that process and not just cover the events. Now we come to how to read. 1) Firstly the book is very much captivating and I say one should read each and every part. 2) There are some repetitions of couple of lines here and there so don’t skip paragraphs as that repetition is limited to some lines only. 3) If in worst case you want to have selected reading, then the chapters ‘Still crazy after all these years’, ‘Beyond the margins’, ‘Lenders, Losers, Crooks & Credit’,’ Everybody loves a good drought’ and ‘With their own weapons’ are must read. 4) Needless to say poverty, development and press should be read just to get an idea of how much away the press is from its actual purpose. Now the question that stands in front of me, aren’t somewhere we ourselves responsible for this deviation of press from its purpose? According to me the answer is, yes we are. 

- Anwar Sahib