Sunday, June 27, 2010

Net the NET

NET or National Eligibility Test is conducted by the UGC and is a qualifying exam for future lecturers and researchers. With the 6th pay commission the number of candidates appearing has gone up but the number of candidates qualifying the exams has been pretty low. Does this mean that UGC NET is a tough nut to crack? Or are our students not prepared for such exams? well, in most cases the latter seems to be true. Students pursuing their Masters in Universities like JNU, DU clear this exam before completing their Masters. Some at places like BHU take a few more chances. But those at Patna University, Magadh University and other state universities seem to take forever to clear this exam. Where is the problem? Is the syllabus of the state universities not at par with that of the central universities? What are the teachers in the state universities doing in the classroom that the students are left terrified of the NET?
What I have observed over the years and specially in the subject of English is the students' pursuit of Narain series (all Patna University Dept. of English students are familiar with this) over the actual text and critical books. I do acknowledge the unavailability of texts in the book stores of Patna but we know 'where there is a will, there is a way!' Secondly, students keep running to the so-called 'popular' teachers for tuitions. These teachers may appear in the class once in a blue moon but conduct their tuition classes regularly and punctually. The predominant feature of these classes is the dictation of answers of important questions. One may think that over the years the answers to such questions (as the syllabus remains unchanged over long periods of time) may be passed on to the next batch of students but in reality no one passes things over. The other person who might be the best friend of the tuition going person will have to join the tuition classes; he can not take the notes from his friend for free!
Thirdly, the kind of questions that one is asked in the exams does not go beyond the theme, structure, characterization and style of a text. Students being students study what is needed for the final exams. who thinks of the NET?
The entire system is such that even the most hard working and intelligent student may be left deflated. In spite of writing good answers and working hard, a student may not get high marks because he was not patronized by some teacher.
As a result, we are left with postgraduates who (if unable to find alternative career options) wish to join the same league as their teachers - that of lectureship but lack the ability to tackle the UGC NET! It is high time that people in positions of responsibility pulled their socks up to make a sound future.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Honour Killings or Dishonour Killings?

Today's newspapers again carry horrifying stories of killings supposedly called 'Honour Killings'. The question is what is honourable about these acts? To a mind like mine they seem to be bringing 'dishonour' upon society.
Not delving into specific stories, one would like to focus critically on the reasons behind such gruesome murders. Most of these murders are related to the institution of marriage, specifically inter-caste, inter-religion, same-gotra marriages. And the reasons are sociological. Migration to cities, swallowing up of villages by cities has led to a disintegration of certain customs and traditions which were taken for granted by the earlier generation. Exposure to western culture and changes in life style has brought about a change in the attitude of the younger generation. Working in offices of MNCs one is not bothered with issues of caste or gotra. The choice of a life partner in such cases is governed by emotional and intellectual needs. This is where the gap between the ones working in cities and with MNCs or other firms and those left behind in villages widens and what one can observe is a mental time gap. The latter take upon themselves the task of 'saving' traditions and customs which they feel are 'endangered' due to the influence of the west.
Thankfully the courts have again intervened asking the State Government (Haryana) to ensure that murders do not take place in the name of family or caste or clan honours! But for how long? How long will people lead a frightened life because they have broken some custom or norm accepted by their family?How long will they live under the shadow of fear that one day, their father or uncle or brother will kill them in the most gruesome way possible so as to set an example for others?
What again is needed is a change in outlook and approach. When will the people realize that the same law or rule can not be held true for all? It is not a crime if individual happiness comes before institutional happiness.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sacrificed at the Altar of Postmodern Patriarchy!

Gender: Female. Age: 20-21. Education: Graduate in History, sociology, Political Science etc. Ambition: Waiting for the best catch in the marriage market.
Next year enters Post-Graduation in the subject concerned or a professional degree course but the aim remains the same. reason: marriage didn't materialize. This is the story for most of the girls (very true of the middle class). Higher education is not a matter of choice but from compulsion to get the best person available in the marriage market.
Again if someone has been unlucky till this point, she is 'permitted' to work because a working girl is preferred to a non-working one. If she is interested in studies, the next mark is a doctoral degree so that she can take up the teaching profession- generally taken to be a safe one for women and which will not let them neglect their home.
What happens if someone's marriage is arranged while completing the doctoral degree? a supportive husband and family will certainly lead to its completion. But what about those pursuing a doctorol degree in the sciences? They need labs for experiments and for writing papers. In this case, the desirous complete their doctorate but most are made to give it up in the middle and left with a sense being dissatisfied throughout life.
what strikes me is the way education has become a tool in the hands of patriarchy. The female child gets to study till the point her marriage has not been arranged. Once arranged, no one bothers to ask her whether she wants to quit studies or pursue them. It is expected of her to say good bye to studies unless the in-laws wish otherwise.
Again the notion of women working is a patriarchal creation. The men do not want the women to work because she enjoys doing so. The reason given by most is that the husband will not have to take time out for the wife in the evening; she will be too tired to demand an outing and will not have the time to 'disturb' the husband as she will have to do the cooking and other household activities (if the double income does not allow them to keep cooks etc.)!
Women are independent, free to make their own decisions but in most cases it seems to be a mirage! At the end of the day it is patriarchy which decides their fate!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Death of Mr. C

June 9, 2010 goes into personal history as a very sad day due to the death of a very dear friend, Mr. C who had been with me through the good as well as bad times. I became friends with Mr.C in March 2008 at his Tagore Hill Road residence in Morabadi. He was handsome looking sporting a moustache similar to Poirot's. A stout looking man with a wheatish complexion, he was a gentleman to the core. Well known for his warmth, he was a grand host serving tea at all times. With him was also Mrs. C, an equally loving and warm person who loved wearing sundresses blue in colour with 'I love you' written all over. Once I did ask her the reason for wearing the 'I love you' dresses and she said, "It's for Mr. C, dear. It keeps his mood uplifted and he feels wanted. With age catching up, one never knows when the other person might feel neglected. This is our way of keeping each other happy. We need not depend on others for our happiness." I found this very touching. Sadly a few months after my marriage, Mrs. C breathed her last and I was not able to attend her last rites. Mr.C continued living in the same spirited and warm way and in the afternoon of June, 9, 2010 he, too, breathed his last with his remains being buried.

FYI Mrs. and Mr. C were no one but the pair of mugs I had purchased from Reliance Fresh, Morabadi, Ranchi when I was in the process of settling down and courtesy a very dear person, the two mugs have breathed their last and the remains buried in the grounds!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Jai Ho!

We always complain about BSNL's services but this is one occasion where I can proudly say BSNL Jai Ho! And this is to do with 3G services. I had to do a conference call with people in Canada. We thought of doing a test call and fixed up a time which was 10:00 AM IST. Since this is the time to get to office, I decided to take my 3G modem and use it in on the way with my lap top. It was an unbelievable experience. I got unhindered connectivity through the busiest street in town and the person at the other end was surprised at my being connected on the road.
In US and Canada, offices, college/university campuses and houses have wi-fi connections. One doesn't find people using the internet on the road. No wonder the person I was talking to found this very 'cool'! And I was able to give the person from the other side of the world a glimpse of Patna!
Thank you BSNL!