Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lets Honour The 'Kartavya'

The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems” M.K. Gandhi

A wonderful thought by one of the most thought provoking leaders of the century…
As we celebrate the 60th Republic day of our country will full gusto, I do not intend to ponder  over  the hits and misses of my countrymen (& women), I do not want to go ga ga about the glorious past or not express my utter dismay over the current scenario !
All I want to do is to celebrate….celebrate the ‘people’ and their work, which has been commendable. It gives me a hope that we will continue to be a Republic Country as long as we have the potential leaders among us who serve selflessly and who will lead the society out of the din!

In this post I write about ‘Kartavya’…the alternative school in my University and ‘Kartavya’…The duty!

While many groups desperately try to garner attention of the students’ in the University , this particular lot of students remain ever dutiful! No hush - hush about their genuine endeavours. Niranjan, Sharat Chandra and other students from the Special Centre for Integrated Studies(SCIS) University of Hyderabad have been manoeuvring an alternative school for the children of the migrant labours since 2007.

he story goes like this…In 1999, students of Indian School of Mining University (ISMU) Dhandbad, started teaching five students in the premises of a temple.  Over the years, the number has reached to 700 students in numerous centres in different states of the country. Niranjan, an ex ISMU student, determined to carry forward the legacy, joined hands with some of the spirited friends in the University of Hyderabad to help out the dispossessed children of the campus.

In 2007, this group of enthusiasts built a small shed behind the integrated hostel, with the help of few labourers. This place was once the seat of learning for about 120 students. There was a dedicated lot of volunteers and the teacher to student ratio was also encouraging one. There was one teacher for every 25 students.

Now the school is in a dilapidated condition .The building is no more in use and the
present school has been shifted to a place next to the SCIS building. This school consists of two rooms   and two permanent teachers. The volunteers take classes in the evening for two hours and the present strength of student is 35 students. The decline in the number of students has been mainly because of the frequent migration of their parents due to the change in the work site. The Kartavya volunteers make sure that even if the children move to new place, they must continue with their education. They try to place them in the alternative schools in the new habitat.

 Meanwhile the good news is that Kartavya has also been recognised as the alternative school.

In the first year of its functioning Kartavya had its moment of glory when four of its students cracked the entrance and got admission in the various residential schools of Andhra Pradesh, Next year the number rose to nine.
But the students settling in the residential schools do not stop their engagement with the Kartavya people. The volunteers make sure that they keep monitoring the progress of the child by remaining in touch with the teachers, school authorities and parents.
The funding for this endeavour comes through voluntary donations and the resources pooled from selling socks of old newspapers and selling paper bags and other goodies crafted by the students in the school.
Kartavya is not just a humble initiative to impart education to the deprived kids, there is more to it. There is a constant effort towards involving the parents too. The volunteers have a vision wherein they want to work with the people in the slums and try to improve their lives by providing means of livelihood.
Kartavya suggests, the work done is the ‘Duty’. The volunteers make no claims of doing extraordinary service… it is an inner calling…for the greater good! 

Friday, January 22, 2010

Marxist and not The Leader!

“A communists fights for the people till his last breath…and then he continues to fight…by donating his body for medical research Com Basu has inspired millions.”
One of the facebook status message of comrade (pun intended) Ishan Anand drew my attention. Ishan , like millions(may be I am overestimating!) of the comrades of the country was trying to pay a humble tribute to ‘The Leader’ Com.Jyoti Basu
Jyoty Basu, whom we had almost forgotten … until last week when media and the national leaders started worrying about his health, and the news channels were flooded with the news of who’s who of Delhi visiting the nonagenarian leader , we were suddenly reminded of him! Joyi Basu died at the age of 95 and the nation? was mourning his death.
No questions can be raised on the “commitment” of Jyoti Basu towards the tenets of Marxism, probably it is not a hyperbole to say that his deaths heralds the end of Indian Marxism!  I repeat Marxism again!
But I wonder if Marxism is the magic wand that would heal the all the problems of the commons… Definitely not, infact No ‘isms’ can claim such powers. Then why do leaders fail to negotiate with their ideology?
I do not feel as sad as the other comrades feel on the demise of Jyoti Basu but I am more agonised by the demise of Bengal. The state which was at its intellectual zenith in the pre independence era, was almost brought to ruins during the rule of so called towering communist leader of the country!
In the 23 years of Jyoti Basu’s rule….youth fled from Bengal.
Employment eluded its able human resources.
Industrialists packed their bags and the per capita income of the people reduced considerably The worst dilemma of the populace was that it had to keep re-electing the party as it had no other viable choice!
To quote Suhel seth “ The only thing that didn’t move away from Bengal during those twenty three  years was CPI(M) i.e. Communist Party of India Marwaris) . Suhel Seth makes an apt sarcastic remark as the Marxists (barring few honourable exceptions) in Bengal continued amassing wealth when the rest of the Bengal was languishing in poverty, thus christening them Marwaris.
In 1980s when Basu’s government took the decision to remove English language from the primary school curriculum, it denied access to the ‘language of opportunity’ to a generation of Bengalis. While one side he took steps to strengthen the trade unions throughout the state, on the other side he comfortably neglected the poor performing PSUs.
Basu did commendable work in the area of land reforms, enforcing Panchayati Raj institutions and empowering the poor peasants in the rural Bengal. He made agriculture a viable economic activity, but despite of all this I fail to comprehend why there are pockets in Bengal that remained untouched by “Development”. There has been a constant neglect of the tribal areas… no wonder the people are retaliating in places like Lalghar.  
 In short Jyoti Basu failed the most promising land of the country, especially when the whole of Bengal was at his feet for two decades.
As a person he has been described as one of the finest gentlemen or “Bhadralok”, but on political front when it came to “performance” Basu erred miserably! The Bhadraloks are not supposed to run the governments; they are the ones who run intellectual discourses. Jyoti Basu was a true Marxist ideologue, but was never ‘The Leader’ of the masses.
 To conclude I would like to quote a Kolkata basi who expressed his view on the communist rule of Bengal when he was asked his opinion by a news channel, he quipped The Communists do not believe in hell or heaven either.... hence they created the present day West Bengal