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Monthly Archives: March 2015

Favour: A Malignant Tumour

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‘Favour’ seems to be a very innocent and positive term. But in practice it is a malignant tumour, which is hard to diagnose and when discovered it is too late for treatment. It multiplies uncontrollably. It dominates other cells by suffocating them and then it kills them or converts them. Gradually, it kills the patient.
Let me deconstruct this term for you. Dictionary meaning of the term ‘favour’ is ‘an act of kindness beyond what is due or usual’. By asking for favour a person becomes vulnerable in front of the person giving favour. She is then obligated to return the favour. One must note that in the definition itself, favour is described as an act of kindness that is beyond what is due or usual. Why would anybody help you beyond what you deserve? But before answering that question, let us just take a moment to think that if this person who is asking for favour does not deserve it then, is he taking something away from a person who deserves it? What becomes of the person who deserves it but does not get it because somebody else received it as a favour?
I have grown up hearing ‘there is no such thing as free lunch’. So, obviously now this person who has been favoured will have to return the favour. In the doing so, another person who deserves something will be deprived to accommodate this person. This goes on and on. If an institution has one such person who has this habit, he or she will bring another and attract a few others. The circle becomes bigger and bigger with each favour. Soon the institution has a number of people who have been favoured, in other words, who do not deserve this place but by an act of kindness were accommodated snatching it away from someone who deserved it.Can an institution survive with so many ‘favoured’ people?
Now what happens to the people who do not agree with this policy of giving and receiving favours? They are sidelined and are often part of the collateral damage. They are suffocated till the time they die or are converted. Converts, we all know, are never really included in the group. So what happens to the institution?

Speak Up For Your Freedom Of Expression

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I just read Romilla Thapar’s article published today in The Hindu newspaper in which she argues for the need to speak up for our freedom of expression as a community in the following words:

“It is time now that we all start asserting that we too represent a community in society, and that our sentiments are deeply hurt when freedom of expression is denied to us. We do not stamp out other people’s rights, but we do have to defend our right to express ourselves.”
(Romila Thapar in The Hindu dated 13 March 2015)

Full article can be found at http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/the-real-reasons-for-hurt-sentiments/article6987156.ece?homepage=true

Pushkar Fair: Story Behind This Picture

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Camel With His Friend

The moment captured by a camera often has a story hiding in it, which only the people involved are aware of. This photograph also has a story. I clicked it a few years ago in Pushkar, small town in Rajasthan during the camel fair. It was a business trip for my sister and I was accompanying her. At the last minute, she suggested changing our itinerary to include a visit to Pushkar Fair. Pushkar was around 20 km from Ajmer city where we were staying. Our plan was to go to Bhilwara, a district in Rajasthan, which was on the other side of Ajmer. I was not interested in looking at camels and other livestock put up for sale. So I fought hard to but I failed and so, as soon as we reached Ajmer, we booked a cab for Pushkar without taking rest.

Afternoon was too sunny for the month of November. Since it was a last minute plan, I did not have time to gather information on Pushkar. The route to Pushkar was scenic. We crossed Aravalli, the oldest mountain range in India. Sun played hide and seek with us when we crossed the mountain range. We crossed a famous Dargah on the way, which marked our entry into Pushkar. Then after more than half an hour, our driver pointed out Pushkar temple. It is the only temple built in the honour of Lord Brahma, one of the Hindu Gods. We did not stop anywhere. As we were reaching closer to Pushkar, sun was becoming unbearable. Finally, we saw colourful stalls on both sides of the road. Then the driver stopped the car and told us that this is the Pushkar Fair ground and we should call him when we are done.

We got down. Pushkar Fair ground was on the outskirts of the town. Then we started admiring the colours of the hand made decorative objects. Suddenly, I felt as if the ground was sucking my feet in and the sand was getting in my shoes, covering my feet. I looked down irritated and shook my feet one by one to get rid of the sand. But then it happened again. The stalls were hiding the reality of scene.

Finally, we decided to walk inside the ground. Still troubled with my sand covered feet, I was looking down, instead of looking in the front. The sun was so harsh that my sister was also very inattentive lost in her bag looking for an umbrella. Finally, we both looked up and what we saw was unimaginable and overwhelming for both of us.

All we could see was sand all around us. We turned and looked around and then looked at each other. Then we again turned around and finally we simultaneously said, ‘Desert’. The stalls, which initially appeared to be hiding the reality looked so small in front of the vastness of the space. Endless open space covered with sand, yes, it was a desert. We were standing in the desert.

This was our first experience of desert and it was overwhelming. That’s the day I clicked this picture. It was clicked on the ground where camel and horse races are held during the fair. In the background are men from all over Rajasthan and neighbouring states. People visit this fair to buy camels and other livestock. We rode a camel-buggy (cart) for the first time. We also saw horses dancing in the fair. Villagers were staying this this large space in pitched tents.

This photograph brought back a beautiful memory  in my mind.

First Issue of the Magazine is Out: Reflections

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After much delays and hard work, first issue of the wall magazine was out amidst a lot of confusion. We are yet to decide the price of the magazine. However, while children were busy colouring the magazine, I began reflecting on our two month-long journey. There are many lessons to be learnt from this experience. I am listing some of them in this post:

1. We decided to bring out a monthly magazine using Nai Talim but this process made us realise that if we want to keep our costs to the minimum in order to be self-reliant; use machines as little as possible, in other words, do everything by hand; and if we only work for two hours every Sunday, then we cannot possibly bring out an issue every month. So, we had a meeting today and it was decided that we will publish an issue every two months. So, that we can engage with the process.

2. Today, there was a lot of confusion because we were working on two issues at the same time. Confusion leads to stress, which defeats the purpose. We are publishing this magazine to know ourselves better; to understand the process of publication and most importantly for the fun of creation. Thus this confusion needs to be addressed. I found that the fault lies with me and not with my group of children. I need to first prepare a calendar of activities and share it with children and then take their suggestions and implement it. Children need that kind of fixing of dates in order to work systematically. Since all of us are doing it voluntarily, it is the last item on our list. We remember it only on the day we meet. So, I have now decided to work on a calendar of tasks.

3. Collective Meeting: Meeting and discussing various issues is pertinent in order to engage children intellectually. This is another point I need to work on. I need to fix a time on every Sunday to discuss details of each process. This will help us all in making sense of the process and improving our work.

4. Task Orientation: As already mentioned, I need to specify a task for each Sunday, which I need to keep reminding children in the beginning and end of our Sunday activities. Secondly, we all need to work on one task at a time as a group. This will help us focus and on that particular process and will help us think together as a group.

Right now, these are some of the things on my mind. I need to work not these details during the week so that I am ready for the coming Sunday.
If you have any suggestions, then please leave a comment.