Sunday, June 26, 2011

Simple 60% Genius


Like most other facebook and twitter citizens, or should I say 'twittizens'?, I too have nearly abandoned my blog for a long time now. I guess we just keep on moving to the next logical steps and then realize that somewhere along that journey, we have started to miss what we always thought, were those simple times. For instance no one writes a letter nowadays. With the advent of email and mobile phones, the simple art of letter writing is lost forever. With the advent of social networking sites and chat, we have also started losing out on the habit of sending out emails and forwards. Everything is now on facebook, and so there are lesser and lesser active bloggers, and more people sharing quick snippets on their life through twitter. No one paints or sketches these days. Why take the trouble, when you could quickly take a snap using your latest HD camera, modify it the way you want it in Picasa or Picnik and post it on facebook /twitter, get instant feedback and make sure everyone from your closest friends to your distant family is raving about it. The whole shocking point of it is that this frightening advancement is not happening just on the internet, but rather all around you.

Today's newspaper talks about the cutoffs that colleges in Delhi have announced, about it being 100%, about how the students are under stress, about how the universities have no choice apart from that to complete their screening process. So it means we have a huge pool of young human talent, which is at 95% in their marks. Where do those students continue their studies?. What does it tell about our education system?. Have we suddenly become all cream and no milk?. As I fold back my newspaper, I realize all this news and debates have already been reported 2 days before itself on T.V news channels, where everything is breaking news. The newspapers themselves still playing catch up.

Not just in the field of education, but in global society and in politics, we are seeing massive transformation. Right, from the countries in the Middle East, like Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria where there have been huge protests for moving away from dictatorial rule towards democracy, here in India, civil society is fighting the mechanism and pattern of democracy, which has allowed rampant corruption to grow in it's midst. So why the sudden thought?, why are these voices rising suddenly right now?. In a sense it is because in a society where every rupee saved goes into repayment of EMI and loans, a new car and other amenities for the middle class, the tax levied on every Indian citizen year over year becomes a big hole in the budgets across the subcontinent. In a society which is rapidly becoming money oriented, the anger and angst against corruption is the logical normal angst of an Indian taxpayer.

In a sense money and wealth is what is driving this whirlwind of change. Therefore students all of a sudden have to work harder, because the competition is more, Better the institute, better the placements. Better the offer, greater will be the loans taken, bigger the car and home, then the children and the cycle goes on spinning out of control. The dark clouds that pervade our meaningless existence are starting to grow darker and darker.

While I read back and make sense of the vile picture i have painted, I also know that all hope is not lost. Problems are not India centric. These are problems seen across the hemisphere. Even the mighty United States, is taking a hard look at their education system, as they do not want to lose jobs to India and China. Japan is still trying to make sense of their energy crisis. Africa still struggles with it's poverty and hunger. India and China are on a race with each other, both in search of the next logical step. All of which confirms that the time is ripe for a global reformation of society and of mankind. The spiritual, emotional and philosophical inputs to this global reformation have to come from Nature and from mankind.

I was reading Uwen Akpen's "Say You're One Of Them", which talks about the social conditions in Africa, through six brilliant short stories, all told through the eyes of children making them all the more heart breaking. Apart from learning about Africa, I also have learned that the most affected and most scarred people during such times of unrest are the children. I see many children today already on facebook, already getting more than 95 percent marks, yet they are losing out on the love of a subject. We should not forget that a good mathematician might get just 60 percentile in tests put to him, but that should not be the basis for our deciding what he/she should learn. In a recent tech article, a senior technology person notes that in the Indian IT industry there are very few people who are really working with a passion for computer science or programming. Those engineers without passion cannot be blamed completely, because passion is never part of the equation for many. As a child, a career decision might not be right, but as a facebook-bred teenager, if a child says that he is interested in becoming a detective, then may be forensic science is not a bad educational option either. When passion comes in to the equation, money slowly lingers out. Then even with 60% marks, he might be a genius.!

If people with passion were to work on fuel cells and energy research, maybe we would not have to pay so much for petrol and other groundbreaking discoveries might happen. If people with passion were to work on automobiles, maybe traffic could be managed better. I say this not because I think people already working in these sectors do not have passion, but because I know of several Chemical, Mechanical and Civil engineers, doing mundane work in Indian IT companies, only because they pay more. For that matter sadly, all engineering branches today flow in to the same IT ocean.

Selflessness is a virtue that our greed for money is slowly destroying. That one virtue which can help make our world a much better place is fighting against extinction. I recently went to watch this year's National Award winning movie "Adaminte Makan Abu" and was mesmerized by it's message of simplicity. A poor old Muslim man and is wife seeking to go an Haj is unable to set off on his journey due to shortcoming of funds. Even as friends offer him money, he refuses and plans to go next year with optimism and plants a sapling in place of the tree that he got cut down for raising the money. This simplicity and pious selfless life that we had been living is quickly becoming a rarity. Needless to say, there were only 5 of us in the huge theatre.

Whatever i`ve written I hope is not 95 % correct. I would like to believe it is Simple 60% Genius.!