Thursday, February 23, 2012

Flock of sheep

MCI has recommended an increase in the number of seats in the medical colleges and this will help to meet the need for doctors in the country. The human resources ministry also seems to think that by allowing or forcing the IITs to double their intake they will meet the demands of the industry and also will help the socially and economically weaker sections to get access to these premier institutions.

Is increasing the numbers without caring to increase the infrastructure [buildings, equipment, and personnel] bring about the desired result? Answer is no and one can see this happening in post independent India. There is definitely an increase in the number of professionals of all types but their quality has suffered over the years as evidenced by the calamities we hear every day in the media [collapsed bridges, train accidents, fires, buildings giving way, patients dying because of wrong treatment]

Some twenty five odd years ago Late lamented Prof B.G.L.Swamy wrote more out of sorrow than anger, ‘I was forced to take double the number of students for the course, this and the number of repeaters made the work of conducting examinations in a decent manner nearly impossible. When I brought this to the notice of the principal of the college and the director of education, the common answer was ‘Swamy, you have to manage somehow’ this somehow resulted in students taking examination, spilling over to the pavement. The principal who came to inspect, seeing students sitting on the pavement, tried taking his ire on me. I said,’ sir, what you see inside the room is any and the one you see on the pavement is how’

This over flowing ill trained students become tomorrow’s professionals and what we are seeing all around is the handiwork of these. A flock of sheep incapable of original thought and deed, capable only of incompetent repetition and blunder.

Who can save this country full to the brim with incompetence?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Cult of violence

The incident of a 15 year old student stabbing his school teacher to death should come as an eye opener to most of us. While not condoning the student who was driven to this, one should consider why he did this. The teacher who was concerned with the poor performance of the boy reported it to his parents who in turn took the boy to task and the enraged boy took out his frustration on his teacher. For many students, the present day schooling and the methods of learning are worse than spending time in jail. A society which puts scholastic performance as the acme of achievement places enormous pressure on parents and indirectly on school teachers who in turn pass on this burden of performance on school going children.

In post independence India there have been two primary casualties. One is health and the other is education. The government has gradually withdrawn its responsibility of providing these two to its citizens and has allowed the private players to enter the field. I wrote some time back on corporatization of health and the aftermath. The same is happening in the field of education. All sorts of player whose motive is to make money are entering this arena across the board from primary education up to post graduate level. This has not come cheap. These institutions are prohibitively expensive education shops. A situation has arisen in this country where in an average parent is finding it difficult to foot the education bill of his or her children. I know of many who are either stopping at one child or not having children at all for this reason!

Those who do send their children to these privately run schools are under considerable financial strain and to get a report that their ward is poorly performing and thus a poor return on investment must be indeed galling. They will vent their anger on the child and he in turn will resort to violence either on himself or on others, in this instance on the hapless teacher. Suicides are not uncommon during exam time and at the time the results are made known.
To add fuel to fire is the general atmosphere of violence in which we are living. Our media, TV serials and movies, Computer games that children play, glorify violence. A child who grows in this kind of atmosphere can easily justify violence [a la Taliban].

In this land M.K. Gandhi. We are slowly and inexorably slipping into a land of himsa [violence].

Thursday, February 2, 2012


I first read P.G. Wodehouse when I was in school. Both my knowledge of the language and the society in which the characters created by Wodehouse lived were rudimentary. I only read them to please my English teacher and never understood a word of what he wrote. I read him again when I was in college and the results were a bit better. I must have read and re read them many times since then and now his books are my refuge. Whenever my moods turn sour which is often, I take recourse to his books and return refreshed.

Many have told me he is a farce. Of course he is. But he makes me happy. He created a new world of farce based on characters drawn from pre Second World War British society and the characters have stood the test of time and have never become stale. The stories written 75 years ago can still make you laugh. One doesn’t have to necessarily go back to that era to enjoy his works. There is no need to imagine the scenario as it is vividly described when the characterization is done.

Wodehouse was an avid golfer. Another reason for my liking him. He once famously said,’ I wasted the first fifty years of my life because I began playing golf only after’. All golfers will whole heartedly agree with this sentiment. Our lives will be barren and purposeless [exaggeration?] if this game is taken away from our lives. He created a character, an elderly retired gentleman who no longer could play golf but who nevertheless waylaid the unwary in the clubhouse and told them stories recalled from his memory. The stories told by this oldest member [Sage] is available as golf omnibus and these too can be repeatedly read without loss of flavor.

The outstanding characters are of course that of Bertie Wooster and his valet Jeeves. The related uncles and aunts, friends and acquaintances, churches and clergymen, country houses and city clubs fill his books. Some characters are outstanding such as the pig lover Lord Elmsworth and the genteel poor PSmith.

At present I am reading another of Wooster stories and how he is being helped to get out of or prevented from entering holy matrimony yet again. It is fun reading.

Those of you, I am sure, who get occasionally depressed, given the dismal environment [at least true in India] will surely benefit if you take up reading him.

Happy reading