19 June 2009
08 June 2009
Australia has a long history of racism. In fact from 1901 to 1975, they were openly racial and would allow only whites to emigrate into their country. They even imposed a kind of housing tax on Chinese people, which one can think of as similar to the Jajia tax that the Taliban is levying from the Sikhs in Pakistan. The only difference is the Taliban is discriminating on the basis of religion, the Astralians were discriminating on the basis of race.
Here is a quote from the father of racism in Australia, Alfred Deakin who was their Prime Minister, regarding Chinese and Japanese:
It is not the bad qualities, but the good qualities of these alien races that make them so dangerous to us. It is their inexhaustible energy, their power of applying themselves to new tasks, their endurance and low standard of living that make them such competitors.
We cannot also forget Pauline Hanson, the Australian politician, who in 2007 fought the election on a white Australia plank. She even formed a political party for this. It shows that there is a deep sympathy in the white Australians for such a cause, which was sensed by the astute politician.
The truth is, racism is deeply ingrained in the white Australians, even though they make a sham of being multi-cultural because it suits them. But the wolf hiding within the sheep-skin sometimes becomes visible as in the case of recent incidents. Every cricket match the Australian team plays is marred by one or two racist remarks or gestures.
Another sobering instance of their racism is the way the Australian police cooked up charges on the Indian doctor Muhammad Haneef from Bangalore of being a terrorist and even deported him from Australia. They later had to eat their words.
According to one report in the Times of India, there have been 1,447 incidents of violence against Indians in the last 12 months in Melbourne, which works out to 4 incidents per day.
This by no means is a sporadic case. There could be a calculated move to drive away Indians from Australia, and if we don't play our cards wisely, we could be having another Uganda on our hands.
05 June 2009
03 June 2009
24 May 2009
Do you spent several hours a day before your computer? This could prove to be a serious health hazard. Here are some tips to ward off disaster:-
- Use a comfortable chair with back rest. Your spine should remain in a more or less straight position while you are sitting. This will help you avid getting a back ache and other painful ailments like spondilitis.
- Move your legs frequently and squiggle your toes to maintain good blood circulation in your limbs. This will help you to avoid blood clots in the main blood vessels of your legs which could then travel to your heart with near fatal results.
- There should be at least two feet distance between your eyes and the computer screen.
- After every twenty minutes or so, stare away from your computer screen and focus your eyes on distant objects. This will give your eye muscles a chance to relax.
- After every forty minutes or so, get up and exercise your legs for a few minutes.
- To avoid wearing away of your wrists by continuous handling of the mouse and the keyboard, use ergonomically designed keyboards and mice. Also, if you do most of your work in English, good voice recognition software are available like Dragon Naturally Speaking, that can give 99% accuracy. They also allow you to operate your computer and do data entry by voice, thus obviating the need for the keyboard or the mouse altogether. Voice recognition software will also considerably speed up your input rate as speaking is up to 10 times faster than typing. Unfortunately voice recognition software is not available for Hindi and other Indian languages.
Add more tips in your replies.
16 May 2009
I received this as junk mail. I couldn't resist the temptation to post it here. My full apologies to Bengali friends, no ill-will is intended, just fun.
What do you call:
A mad Bengali?
A dark Bengali who lives in a cave?
A Bengali mobster?
Rob in Ganguli.
A perfumed Bengali?
A Bengali goldsmith?
A talkative Bengali?
An outlawed Bengali?
An enlightened Bengali?
A stupid Bengali girl?
A Bengali marriage?
A burping Bengali?
What's bigger than the state of Bengal?
The Bay of Bengal.
What do you call a Bengali who takes bribe?
How does the Bong learn the alphabet?
A for Orange, B for Begetable....
How does a Bong relax in the evening?
He goes to the Howrah Brij to get some Breej.
What does a Bong with a broken heart say?
My hurt is hearting.
What do you call a Bengali who works?
A work of fiction.
05 May 2009
India is fast becoming a nation surrounded by chaos.
Down south we have Sri Lanka, that is fighting a mortal battle with the separtist organisation LTTE. It looks like that the battle will soon be won by the Sri Lankan army and the LTTE will be eliminated once and for all, but the trouble in Sri Lanka will begin soon after. Freshly annointed with the glory of victory, Sinhali chauvanism will receive an immense boost and if they go back to the bad old days of discriminating against the Tamil, then every thing will start over again and in twenty years time will have another LTTE like organization rising like a phoenix in Sri Lanka.
On our western border, civil war has already broken out between the Taliban and the Pakistani army. Civilian refugees are crowding in make-shift camps. There is no end to the atrocities happening in that god forsaken country -- flogging of girls, beheading policemen, slaying of singers by their own brothers, the list seems endless. Pakistan seems to have taken a ride on a time machine to medieval times.
Bangladesh recently experienced an army revolt with disgruntled soldiers killing their own army officers. The ISI has spread into the social fabric of this country and China too is playing clandestine games there. The steady exodus of Bangladeshis into India is a perennial sore for us, that can have serious political repurcussion.
The last to be added to the list is Nepal. One had thought that with monarchy abolished and Maoists have laid down their guns to take on the reins of the government, this abjectly poor country is well on the road to stability and development. But no, the Maoists have proved that they are not as good at running a coalition government as they are in waging guerrilla war against the state.
With Nepalase Prime Minister Prachanda having resigned in a huff over a difference of opinion with the Nepalese President, the country has been plunged into anarchy again. It looks highly unlikely that sans the Maoists, the other 20 political parties will be able to cobble together a lasting coalition government.
More seriously, with the Maos out of the government, the whole process of developing a new Constitution for the country may be jeopardised.
And if the Maoists decide to pick up their guns again, we will be in for a prolonged spell of blood shed. If the Maoists in Nepal connect up their brethern in Bihar and Jharkhand, we will have one big trouble in our hands.
There is also a danger of the Maoisting falling into the arms of our Chinese friends and that too would be a disaster for Indian diplomacy in Nepal.
And as for India, we have just about managed to escape the unenvious fate of our neighbours. The Mumbai invasion nearly broke our back.
But our acid test will be what happens on May 16. Will we get a stable government in Delhi that would last a full term of five years or will there be prolonged instability and horse-trading instead?
Only a crystal gazer can give a definite answer to that.
04 May 2009
There is alarming news from Panna Tiger Reserve. It too has gone the Sariska way. A central team sent there to verify the report of tiger extinction has come back and reported that the worst fears were true. There are no tigers in Panna.
Inexorably this magnificent animal is inching towards extinction. The thousands of crores of rupees spent in the name of Project Tiger have been to little avail.
It will be a shame if we were to lose this symbol of our wilderness. Our jungles would never be the same if they did not reverberate to the roars of the tiger. Only those who have seen the tiger in the wild can appreciate what a loss it would be to lose the tiger from our jungles.
I have been one of the few and luckier people in the world who have actually seen the tiger in the wild several times. My first glimpse of this lord of the jungle (actually it was a lady of the jungle, for it was a tigress) was in Bandhavgarh and under thrilling circumstances.
At that time we were developing an interpretation centre for the tiger reserve. I was part of the project team as a writer. We were camped in Bandhavgarh to reconnoiter the place and to develop ideas for the interpretation exhibits. One idea that had come up was to develop an exhibit on how the jungle looks at night. Since visitors were not allowed into the reserve after dark, we thought this would be an interesting exhibit for them.
So a colleague and myself were travelling inside the reserve after sunset in a Forest Department jeep, which was a converted Maruti Gypsy. My friend was in the front seat, and I was in the back along with a forest guard who was armed only with a lathi. It was was an open jeep.
For quite sometime we roamed the dusty roads noting down our observations, but what we were keen on was to see a tiger. Suddenly we saw clear pug impressions on the dust by the side of the road. They were fresh.
The driver was an experienced naturalist who it seemed could read the mind of the tiger. He unerringly took us to the place where the owner of the pug marks was hiding. Actually it belonged to a tigress named Lakshmi, who had been ambling along the very road we were travelling. But hearing the noise of the jeep she had side stepped into the bush to let us pass.
But we were not keen on passing along, but on getting a glimpse of her. So we stopped at the place where the pug marks had ended, switched off the engine and the headlights and waited with bated breath for her majesty to make an appearance.
Quite a while went by and the tigress exasperated that we were not going away, finally decided to resume her evening walk. The moment she emerged from the bush, we were all excitement. What a grand spectacle it was. It was half-moonlit, the jungle was silent, except for the chirping of nightly birds. And there before us on the road was the tigress, just a few feet ahead of us.
That was when my friend decided to shine his torch on the tigress to get a better glimpse of her. The reaction was immediate. The instant the torch beam hit her eyes the tigress charged our jeep -- tail held high, blood-curdling growls emanating from her throat, and her dagger-like canines glinting in the moonlight. We could see only part of her body as the rest was hidden in the undergrowth. But the violent agitation of the bushes as she brushed them aside to get at us clearly indicated her trajectory.
At that moment I was standing on the back of the jeep craning my neck forward to catch very pixel of the scene that was unfolding before me. I confess that I did not even realize the danger I was in. I never even gave a thought to it.
But the driver was keenly aware of the danger. Just when the tiger had almost reached the jeep,he switched on the engine and the sound of the engine and the flashing of the headlight, unnerved the tigress who gallopped ahead and disappeared into the bushes on the other side of the road.
It was thrilling experience. For several minutes we sat there in the jeep taking in the exhilaration silently. I asked the driver whether the tigress would have pressed her charge? He replied that it is difficult to say for these animals are completely unpredictable, but in all probability, it was a mock charge, and she would have stopped just before the jeep, demonstrated a bit and then went off on her way. This tigress was known to be very aggressive and she usually charged jeeps that came too close to her.
I have seen tigers in Bandhavgarh on several occasions after this first sighting. But my best sightings have been in Kanha. We were in Kanha for the same purpose, developing an interpretation centre there. The first time I saw tigers there was late in the evening. The visitors leave the park at sunset and the park becomes peaceful after that. Tigers mostly venture out then. So we parked our vehicle at a strategic place and waited.
Not before long a tiger emerged and what a spectacle it was. He came out roaring at every step and marking his territory by lifting his tail and spraying the bushes with his urine. He then walked up to a pool before us where he lapped up water thirstily and then crossed the road right before us to disappear into the jungles. There was still enough light to see every movement he made.
My most exhilarating encounter with a wild tiger happened in this trip to Kanha. In it the tiger and I came in contact with each other at a very deep level. This is how it happened.
The bamboo forests of Kanha which flower and die once every 40 years had flowered a couple of years ago and they were all dead in great clumps. A few days earlier there had been a thunder storm and many of these dead clumps had been blown down and lay strewn on the road before us. At one place there were so many of them that our jeep could not move forward. We had no alternative but to get down and move the bamboo stems to the side of the road. We finished that and I threw the last piece of bamboo to the side of the road. We then got into the jeep and would have moved just a few metres ahead when we noticed a movement to the right of the road. We at first thought it was sambar deer, but no it was a tiger. A large male, whose lower body was coated with black mud. He had probably been sitting in a mud pool to cool off.
We immediately stopped the jeep. The tiger then came on to the road and started walking along the way we had come. We slowly started the jeep and began following him in reverse gear.
When the tiger came to the place where we had moved the bamboo he started investigating a bit. As soon as his nose reached the bamboo I had handled, he suddenly became very interested and started sniffing it in great detail. I wonder what thoughts came into his mind when he recognized my body smell there!
This little incident is in contradiction with what Jim Corbett has said of the tiger. He has written that tigers have no or little sense of smell. But the tiger before us on that day was clearly sniffing with great interest the bamboo I had touched.
I have seen wild tigers on several occasions from elephant back, but the thrill is not the same as when you see them at ground-level from your vehicle.
It is a pity that our coming generations in all likelihood would be deprived of the excitement of seeing a wild tiger. I also wonder whether they would forgive us for cheating them out of this priceless pleasure. I am not sure that they would.
03 May 2009
The stray dogs in Indian cities are very aggressive. They think they own the cities where they live, especially at night.
Many citizens hesitate to venture out at night for fear of the strays. I myself have experienced this in Delhi which has perhaps as many strays as there are Delhities. We were returning home after visiting the Taj in Agra and it was near midnight. The city was aspleep. The bus dropped us near our home and there was just a short walk. We had with us a couple of small children. Suddenly the strays surrounded us menacingly, several of them, huge shaggy beasts with glistening teeth. We were terrified. Luckly, our shouts of fear aroused a watchman of a society who came to our aid with his lathi. If he hadn't turned up at the right moment, I shudder to think about what would have happened to us on that night.
I remember another incident of my childhood days. A cow had given birth on the streets in Lucknow, but even before the calf had emerged properly, it had been bitten to death by a gang of strays.
In Ahmedabad where I live now, we have similar stray problem. When it turns dark, the strays take over the roads and chase any two-wheeler that passes them. This has often lead to accidents in which people have been grievously injured.
In the society in which we live, a bitch has taken residence and has given birth to a litter of puppies. They look cute when they are young, but as they grow bigger, they become aggressive and bite children, who can then die of rabies.
More pitiably, the puppies are so dumb that they get easily get run over by the cars in the society when they are shunted for parking. And it can be traumatic for small children to witness such violent death right in their societies.
So there is no wisdom in feeding strays or encouraging them. The city is not the place for animals. It is for human beings, primarily.
True city people can get nostalgic about animals. They should visit wilderness areas or zoos to get over their nostalgia. It is neither kindness nor pragmatism to encourage stray animals in cities, whether they be dogs, cats, cows, pigs or any other domestic animals. Unfortunately Indian cities are overrun with all these and more.
It has a lot to do with notions of misplaced kindness that some people have for animals. There is a lady in Ahmedabad who thinks it is kind to feed stray dogs. Her house always has half a dozen of these beasts hanging around in the hope of getting free morsels. In the end her exasperated neighbours gathered together one night with strong sticks and beat all the dogs they could lay their hands on to death. But they couldn't finish the task for the lady got up on hearing the howls of the canines and kicked up a fuss and even brought the police in.
In yet another incident a group of youngsters were chased by dogs while they were riding by on motor-cycles. They back in a car and ran over the dogs again and again till their bodies were reduced to a bloody pulp. They were later arrested for cruelty to animals.
Some people advocate that the dogs in the cities should be neutered. But in cash-strapped societies like India this is hardly a solution. Neutering a dog costs about a thousand rupees.
I have a friend who is an animal expert. He tells me that neutering strays is hardly an effective strategy. There are so many dogs to be neutered and there are so few resources, and if you don't neuter them all, the entire program fails, because non-neutered dogs quickly replace the neutered ones and soon begin to breed again.
The best way to control strays is proper garbage management. The dogs subsist on garbage. If the garbage is properly disposed, they won't have anything to eat and there would be no dogs either. But Indian cities have a long way to go before they can manage their garbage properly.
Or should we promote export of dog meat to countries like China, Taiwan and Thailand? It could kill two birds with one stone -- it could earn us foreign exchange and also solve our stray dog problem!
Hindi is increasingly becoming an international language. Proof of this is the large number of foreign companies who are bringing forth their websites, products and software in Hindi.
The latest in this series is Aquafold, a California-based software company that has produced the popular database interface, Aqua Data Studio. This software allows database designers and administrators to access various databases, such as Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, Sybase, etc., through a single interface, thus greatly increasing their productivity.
Now a major upgrade of this software, Version 7.5, has been localized into Hindi, along with 20 other languages, including Danish, Polish, Swedish and Greek.
For a full press release visit this link:
02 May 2009
My brother-in-law is with Tata Consultancy Services and was till recently posted in Shanghai. He had been telling us for a long time to visit him there. He was living alone there in a large flat which he had taken on rent. He had all the facilities to host several guests.
So when our elder daughter completed her tenth exam last year and had two months of vacation on her hands, we took our sala at his word and accompanied his family to Shanghai.
It was a memorable trip. I will have a lot to write about this trip in this blog, beginning with this small post about first impressions about China.
This visit was a few months before the Beijing Olympics was to start and luckily for us, a few days before the devastating earthquake that hit China.
We visited Shanghai and Beijing only. Beijing was added to our itinery because we would have become laughing stock in India if we had returned without seeing the Great Wall of China, a portion of which comes very near Beijing. Also there were excellent train connections between these two cities. The trains were similar to our Rajdhani express, but with much more plush interiors and infinitely less crowd. Probably the Chinese don't travel much internally, or are not allowed to do so.
These two cities of China are light years ahead of our Mumbais and Delhis.
However, I don't know what the situation is in the inner regions of China. From what we could see through the train window of the interiors of China, we didn't notice the kind of abject poverty that one can see during a similar train journey in India, say between Delhi and Mumbai.
We were in China with a troupe of our children (three families, six kids, ranging in age from 3 years to 15 years) and everywhere the Chinese would look at the children with amazement. Some even got themselves photographed with them! The one-child norm that has been stringently enforced in China has evidently left deep psychological scars in many Chinese.
The Chinese have invested a lot in their people and their life expectancy, child mortality rate, literacy rate, etc., are way ahead of us.
We have a lot to learn from the Chinese even though they have been mostly hostile to us since our Independence and have cultivated the friendship of our neighbouring nations such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal and have instigated them to cause trouble for us.
Language is a great problem in China as no one speaks English. So is food, especially for strict vegetarians like us. We had to carry home-prepared food everywhere we went, which was a great dampener.
Luckily in Shanghai we could locate a Punjabi family who supplied rotis and sabjis to Indian families. We availed of this service on several occasions.
In Beijing we also found an Indian hotel run by a Sardarjee which had first rate Punjabi food. For several days we had been subsisting on bread, milk and fruits and we set upon the fare that he produced like persons starving for several days, which we were.
Kangaroo words are words that contain other smaller words within them that have the same meaning, just like a kangaroo carrying its baby in its pouch.
An example is chicken. If you write it as cHickEN, and put together the words in caps you get HEN which means chicken. Get the drift?
Here is an article that has more details:
So are you ready? Here we go. Spot the joey in these marsupials:
30 April 2009
Open your balance sheet.
Ha ha ha !
What is 2+2?
Judge: It should be 4.
Politician: I will make it 4.
Raju: You tell me what you want it to be.
Child to mother: Mama, there is an error in this dictionary.
Mama: Can't be, it is a 100 year old dictionary which has been revised more than 20 times.
Child: No, mama, I am sure it is a mistake.
Mama: Ok, tell me what is it.
Child: It says here, Satyam means truth.
After Raju lost his job at Satyam, the Chefs association of India offered him a job at a fabulous salary.
They were convinced of his culinary abilities after seeing the way he had cooked the Satyam books!
Santa to Banta indignantly: I didn't know that even our government is into promoting corruption.
Banta (with a yawn): Say something new.
Santa: No, this is the absolute pits.
Banta (resignedly): Ok bum, tell me.
Santa (showing a rupee coin): Do you see what is written on this?
Banata: What is written on it?
Santa: Read it for yourself.
Banta: I am too tired. You tell me.
Santa: It says here, Satyameva jayate.
Banta was all attention now.
Why are Salman Rushdie, Abhimanyu Chatterjee, Shobha De and Arundhati Roy in such an awful mood after Satyam?
Because their books have been overtaken in the best-selling ficition category by Satyam Accounts.
Papa was examining beta's math's homework.
Papa: Beta, you have committed a mistake here.
Papa: Here. You have written, 1+1 = 11. It should be 2.
Beta: No papa, that was old Maths. After Satyam the rules of arithmetic have changed. Now 1+1 makes 11.
More Satyam jokes in my जयहिंदी blog.
The war in Sri Lanka is reaching its climax. LTTE appears to be in its last throes.
The Sri Lankan offensive is having a fallout in Tamil Nadu too, this being election time.
All the political parties there are trying to make mileage out of the war. Recently Karunanidhi termed Prabhakaran a non-terrorist. Then he went on a fast unto death (which lasted three hours, and from which he emerged quite hale and hearty) to stop the Sri Lankan war.
What should be a sane and rational attitude to this war in an average Indian?
While my full sympathies are with the Tamils being used as human shields by the LTTE, I am all for wiping out the LTTE once and for all.
Only after the LTTE is eliminated can international pressure be brought upon Sri Lanka to bring about an inclusive and democratic society there that respects the rights of the Tamils.
Eliminating LTTE has vital importance for the security of India. Close nexus exists between the LTTE, the Maoists and the ISI and perhaps the AlQuaida too. They all help each other in laundering drug money and in smuggling deadly weapons.
With the LTTE gone a crucial link in this chain will be broken and our security forces will have a better chance to defeat ISI and the Maoists violence.
We need to think beyond the LTTE, its defeat is imminent.
The real issue is what after the LTTE? If the Sinhala population in their moment of victory over their arch enemy, revert to repressing the Tamils again, which was the reason why LTTE and many other militaristic organization came up in Sri Lanka in the first place, it will all be back to square one.
At no cost should this be allowed to happen. Indian as well as international pressure should be brought upon Sri Lanka to make it forge a more inclusive society there, where Tamils have equal rights.
If we short-sightedly support the LTTE now, as the Tamil parties are doing, we will loose our influence over Sri Lanka and make way for other powers like China and the US to fish in the Sri Lankan troubled waters.
So the Tamil parties need to come out of their narrow political interests and start thinking strategically.
It is curious and highly distressing that the non-Tamil parties are silent on this vital strategic issue. I would have liked to know what the prime-ministerial hopeful like Mayawati, Lalit Paswan, Lalu Prasad Yadav, and Mulayam Singh think about the Tamil issue in Sri Lanka, and how they will be tackling it if they come to power.
The Tamil politicians have axes to grind of their own, so their views carry little weight, as they can be seen to biased in this matter.
The non-Tamil politicians have the luxury of taking a non-biased approach to this problem and they can therefore contribute heavily to the resolution of the problem.
Lalu particularly can play a crucial role, because the Sinhala population in Sri Lanka are originally from his own homeland. They migrated to the island at the time of Asoka when the island nation embraced Buddhism.
So the million dollar question is will Lalu magic work in Sri Lanka!
27 April 2009
That is the conclusion that Helium.com, a popular content distribution site, has arrived at.
Earlier, Indians constituted a sizeable portion of Helium publishers and they were contributing a large number of articles to their database. But the quality of English in these articles was atrocious, so much so that Indian articles were found to be bringing down the overall quality of the articles in the Helium database. Finally, Helium had to crack the whip and ban new Indian publishers from its site.
Here is a thread in another similar site that discusses this contentious issue:
Helium.com has banned India
The banning of Indian writers from Helium raises many interesting questions.
So far India has been vociferously touted as a vast English-speaking country rivaling even the US and the UK. The main exponents of this theory have been our software barons, be they Nandan Nilakani of Infosys or Ramadurai of TCS, and also our English newspapers, who are battling falling circulation as they face stiff competition from Hindi newspapers which are witnessing a surge in their readership, thanks to rising literacy rates in the Hindi belt. The hollowness of the claims of these champions of English has been exposed by this Helium episode.
The truth is, only 2% Indians know a smattering of English. Of these an even smaller percent knows how to write English properly. But since India is a populous country even this fractional percentage adds up to lakhs of people, if not millions. But given the size of our population, even these millions are like drops in the ocean.
I think we must now get over our fetish about English and recongnize that English is not one of our languages and we cannot excel in it without super human efforts. The question is should we be making this superhuman effort, or should we spend our energies more productively in other areas? Learning English entails forcing our tiny tots from an early age to learn a foreign language from teachers who themselves have imperfect knowledge of English, with the result that the English that these children pick up is imperfect, too.
More seriously, this forced education in English deprives children of a happy childhood and even a proper education. All education experts have said in one voice that early education should be in the mother-tongue, because it not only facilitates understanding of difficult subjects but also makes education a pleasurable and comfortable activity for children. When they find their teachers speaking the same language that their mothers speak at home, they feel at home in school. Today, because of many schools use English as the medium of instruction, many children hate school and even bright students fare poorly in many subjects. Many English-medium elite schools reportedly fine their children for speaking Hindi or their mother tongue.
By switching to education in the mother tongue, children's innate creativity can be unleashed and they can save a lot of the time spent in learning a foreign language. They can even straight away jump into learning other subjects using a language which they have already picked up perfectly before they are five years old. This can save them several years of time spent in learning English, and if this saved time is gainfully applied to the study of other subjects, the children can learn much more than they currently do from school.
That does not mean we should neglect English. English has its advantage because of its international status. We should teach English in our schools as a second language using professional ESL (English as Second Language) teaching methods. This way, much fewer teachers would be needed to teach English than are needed when English is used as a medium of education in schools. These ESL teachers can be trained to teach English as a second language properly. This will increase the quality of teaching of English and our students will pick up much better English than they do currently at school, and in a much lesser time.
Many non-English speaking countries, such as China, are following this sensible strategy. They will soon overtake us in command over English, if we do not wake up from our complacency.
There are many English-teaching techniques such as the Callan Method which can prepare students in English up to the level of Cambridge Exam in one fourth the time taken by other traditional ESL teaching methods. The Callan Method surprisingly does not even need an English-knowing teacher. The students themselves can teach each other English using their study material which is available even in Hindi.
Such techniques obviate the need to have English as the medium of education in primary and higher-level education. Having English as a medium of education is wasteful of student as well as teacher time and also of considerable teaching resources, in addition to being a very bad educational strategy. Education is best given in the child's mother tongue.
Using techniques like the Callan method, students studying in their mother-tongue can pick up enough command over English to be able to meet the English needs of global businesses, whether they be Indian corporates or multi-national companies. At the same time they can have a pleasant childhood and school life by studying in their own mother tongues.
25 April 2009
Folks, do you know that the first book on Indian blogging has been published? The book is named "A to Z Blogging" and is written by Ershad Ali. Published by Ravi Pocket Books, Meerut, it is priced at Rs. 150.
Here are some paper clippings of newspaper reviews of the book and some photographs of the book release function.
Here is a review of this book by veteran blogger Ravishankar Shrivastava. As you can see, the book leaves much to be desired.
When are we going to get a properly written, comprehensive, authoritative book on Indian blogging?
Anyone ready to pick up the gauntlet?
03 April 2009
Today is Ram Navami, the day Lord Ram was born.
How much do you know about Ram's biography, Ramayana?
Find out from this Ramayana Quiz.
01 April 2009
Shyamsunder paced the crowded airport lounge worriedly as he waited for the Delhi flight. This flight was getting delayed and the passengers were all harried and ill-tempered. The flight should have left the airport at three in the afternoon, but it was already nearing six-thirty. The flight was actually coming from Bangalore, and its departure from there had already been announced. It should have arrived in about an hour. Several hours had passed since that announcement, though, yet there was no sign of the aircraft. Rumours were rife about its fate.
Shyamsunder finally walked up to the counter and enquired once again of the lady who was there, "Madam, when is the Delhi-bound flight expected?"
"I am sorry sir, we have no information yet. The flight has been diverted to another airport due to technical reasons," said the lady politely, and then added, "I can understand your worries, sir, but we are helpless, the situation is beyond our control."
Shyamsunder was impressed by her good nature. He spoke confidingly to her, "In normal circumstances I wouldn't have minded this delay. But today I have my sick father with me. He suffered a heart attack a couple of days ago and doctors have advised him to undergo a bypass surgery. We are taking him to a hospital in Delhi where the date of his operation has been fixed. If we are delayed too much, his life could be at risk."
The counter clerk expressed her sympathies, and said, "We know it causes a lot of inconvenience to passengers when flights are delayed. But what can we do? VIP movements upset all our schedules."
"Oh, so that is it!" said Shyamsunder in consternation and anger, "some rouge of a minister is alighting is he?"
The counter clerk nodded in assent.
"The rascal! If I could get hold of him, I will kick him all the way to hell," Shyamsunder muttered to himself in impotent rage.
He drifted back to where his family was anxiously waiting for the flight. His father lay in a semi-conscious state in a wheel chair with his mother standing beside him in attendance. His sister Vandita stood near-by.
When Shyamsunder came near them, his mother asked, "Beta, when is this flight going to come? I am getting worried, it has been hours since we left home. All this climbing into taxis, walking and sitting cooped up in this wheel chair, is not doing any good to him. You know, the doctor had advised him not to even get up from bed."
Shyamsunder gently assured his mother that the flight was expected anytime now, but his voice carried no conviction. Vandita noticed this and taking her brother aside, asked, "Shyam, you are looking worried. Is anything the matter?"
Shyamsunder shook his head in despair and said, "I am beginning to wonder whether we did the right thing in bringing father here."
"For god's sake, Shyamu, don't say that," cried Vandita, taking her brother's hands in hers and almost in tears.
"No Vandu, I was just speaking to an airport official. Even she had no clue as to when this wretched flight is going to come."
"What is the problem though? Has there been an accident?" Vandita expressed her worst fears.
"Nothing of that sort," said Shyamsunder bitterly, "some foul minister is expected to arrive. Only after that scoundrel has departed is there any chance of our flight coming."
A pall of gloom descended over Vandita as she heard this, but thinking of her already tense and dejected mother she quickly disguised it.
Shyamsunder began to pace the lounge again.
An hour passed thus and then suddenly the sounds of an aircraft landing began to drown all other noises. The faces of the passengers assembled in the lounge lit up with hope. Almost simultaneously two army trunks screeched to a halt at the airport porch and several dozen fully armed commandos in their battle fatigues alighted from these vehicles. They immediately cordoned off the airport and began to roughly push passengers towards the walls. In this free for all Shyamsunder's father's wheel chair almost fell over and when Shyamsunder protested, the soldier who was herding the people towards the wall advanced upon him belligerently, mouthing filthy abuses, and began to rain blows on him with the butt of his stengun.
Aghast, Vandita ran towards Shyamsunder, and taking several of the blows on herself, dragged her humiliated and outraged brother away.
When the soldiers had taken their positions, a dozen or so white Ambassador cars drew up and from each a khadi clad neta and his safari suit clad secretary alighted. They all assembled in the lounge which the soldiers had cleared of all passengers. The secretaries carried large garlands in their hands.
Soon a robust-looking personality toting black sunglasses and attired in spotless khadi kurta-pyjama and gandhi cap emerged out of the airport exit, surrounded by a posse of security personnel.
Immediately the netas assembled in the lounge began to rent the air with shouts of "Hamare poojya raksha mantri Brajmohan Sahai ki jai (Victory to our revered defence minister Brajmohan Sahai)" and "Janata ke dulare, Brajmohanji jindabad (Victory to Brajmohan, the idol of the people)", and they all came one by one, taking the garland from their secretaries, and placed it on the neck of Brajmohan in great servility. Some even spread themselves on the ground in front of the minister.
The idol of the people, the revered defence minister Brajmohanji, who had returned from one of his frequent foreign jaunts, smugly watched all these proceedings and held up his palm in the manner of a Buddha showering blessings on his devotees.
Then they all got into their various cars and led by two soldiers on their motorbikes and flanked by the commandos, the flotilla of cars wend its away out of the airport with sirens blaring and neon lights flashing.
Even as the sirens of the minister's cavalcade faded away, a piteous wail arose from a corner of the airport from Shyamsunder's mother who was stretched over the dead body of her husband. Vandita added her bitter cries to this wail, while Shyamsunder stood nearby, sobbing silently.
31 March 2009
Holding the lifeless body of his little son wrapped in a white cloth tenderly in his hand, the sub-inspector headed for the burning ghat. Tears welling out of his blood-shot eyes had drenched every hair of his handlebar moustaches.
He had momentarily forgotten under the influence of liquor that the person before him was not any prisoner from his jail, but his own little son. The blow delivered with the full force of his heavy hand had cracked the skull of the boy like a melon and he had fallen down dead at his father's feet like a tree struck by lightning.
30 March 2009
I was teaching my little daughter the alphabet.
I drew a large A on her slate and said, "This is A, my dear. Say A, A for A-K Fortyseven."
My daughter repeated after me, "A. A for A-K Fortyseven."
"Very good. Now this is B. B for Bomb-blast."
"B. B for Bomb-blast." said my daughter.
"Now say C. C for Communal Riots."
"C. C for Communal Riots."
I had gone only this far when my wife breezed into the room and taking our child into her protective embrace, said in great agitation, "What nonsense are you teaching this innocent child. Have you gone mad?"
"Don't get worked up my dear," I said calmly. "Do you want her to grow up ignorant of the facts of the world? No, darling, she should be fully aware of the reality around her. Only then can she cope with the stress and strain of living in the present world."
And I continued with my daughter's education, "Come my dear, this is D, D for Drug Addiction."
29 March 2009
We are becoming more and more dependent on mobile phones these days. These handy gadgets, however, have certain well-documented health hazards.
Here is a nice article on how to minimize these hazards:
Mobile Phone Safety Tips
28 March 2009
What can you do to make your kitchen safe for your children?
Find out from this article.
27 March 2009
I was sitting in my friend's bookshop in Ambedkarnagar. The shop was overflowing with books by Ambedkar, Baba Phule and other dalit writers.
Pointing to these books, I asked my friend conversationally, "Which of these sells the most?"
"Manusmriti", he replied most unexpectedly.
I was mystified. "That's a strange preference for the people of Ambedkarnagar," I said.
"You see," he explained, "this is a politically active colony. Every other day some dalit meeting or the other is going on here. Making a bonfire of Manusmriti is a mandatory item in the agenda of each of these meetings. For this purpose people come here and buy this book in bulk."
Summer is setting in and you might be contemplating to buy an airconditoner. Or you might already be having one,in which case you would want to know how to get the most out of it.
Here is an article that discusses just this:
Air Conditioners: Getting The Most Out Of Them