“I Listen”!

In a colloquial conversation, in a public gathering, a teacher was once asked, “what do you do for a living?” 

He answered, “I listen!

Funny to the core as it might sound, it had a very deep trans formative meaning to the same.

Most of the teachers by any set of imagination, would go on talking on how well they teach, how well they are able to bring out the curiosity in the kid, how well they are able to communicate their learning, and so on.

But here, this gentleman was standing amidst the who’s who of education sector, answering the very fundamental of what you need to do in order to make sure that every kid on this planet gets an opportunity to learn, as per his/her needs, convenience and adaptability.

For if one doesn’t listen to what the kid has to say, how would one know, what he/she wants, what are the kind of challenges the kid might be going through in his/her life be it getting bullied by a set of rogues or failing to understand that one concept in science on which he was made to believe that his entire future would depend on.

This fantastic habit, which we all refer to as listening, goes well beyond what I have spoken above and is a mool mantra of sorts when it comes to our day-to-day life.

Be it professional, or personal, though everything is personal (another thought for another time ;)), yet for clarity and for discussion purposes, lets keep it separate.

Professionally, an organization is one big family, where in the father/mother or the so called CEO tries to make sure that each kid performs to the best of his/her ability, reaping proportionate awards for the same, at the same time, making this family a prosperous unit.

kids-listening-clipart-listen02

Personally, father and mother, try to do everything possible for their kids, trying to make sure that every need is met with a suitable material/emotional support for the child to grow and become a productive and healthy individual.

But if the above forget to listen to what their kid has to offer in terms of advice, in terms of feedback, in terms of sharing his/her concern, in terms of discussing his/her problems, then no matter how good the HR policy is

or

The home conduct rules and values are, the kid will end up suffering, because of the chaotic environment around him/her which doesn’t seem to offer that much needed ear, leading to multitude of problems, both physical and psychological, that our society needs to be caught in big time, at this very moment in our lives.

So, if you want to become a good father, a good mother, a good CEO, a good leader or whatever category of good, you need to imbibe this art of listening.

I wonder, how many are indeed listening ;)!

Source for the Image: http://www.clipartpanda.com/categories/free-clip-art-children-listening

Advertisements

Accountability and Transparency in India: Perspective of an “Aam Aadmi”

People have given their mandate and it is believed that the new government will be and can be the one stop solution for all our problems. Whether it would be or not is yet to be seen, but one thing is for sure that there is hope amongst the population.

And one such hope that makes me excited on a personal level is that people who are given the power and the responsibility to execute scheme of things in their respective domains will be held accountable for what they are doing at the same time, the decisions, impacts on the population and the basis of the same will be made known to the public.

I believe this will not only empower the population to express their opinions and take part in the decision making process but also it will create an atmosphere of transparency which would enable the population to develop a resonance with the entire concept of a welfare state.

The question though is, how on earth this can be made possible. People have got used to a way of living that encourages corruption and jugaad, be it getting a driving license or a passport made or be it availing any other service from the bureaucrats and other government officials.acc2

The secrecy act, that was implemented at the time when British ruled India still remains on paper and in practice and even in the Right to Information Act, 2005; the secrecy act has not been repealed. But is the government the only entity to be blamed in this case?

Well, not really! It is the people who need to contribute on a personal level. Imagine a scenario, where everyone refuses to bribe a government official for the service he/she is supposed to provide and consider it as their right to be correctly informed, then would the government official have any other alternative than to serve you in his/her best possible ability.

The point that I am trying to make here is that we should try to be the change that we wish to see in others. We cannot expect others to do their part and continue to loiter around without any sense of responsibility towards our nation and her citizens.

The idea is to adopt a comprehensive and multi-sectoral approach wherein both people and the government they elect, along with the government commit to this culture of transparency and accountability.

The question that arises here is where should we start from? Some would say that education is the key when it comes to developing the all-important morals and ethics in an individual and the schools need to be structured in such a manner so that utmost importance is given to these wonderful aspects not only in theory but also in practice.

It is no hidden truth, that children learn the most by observing others in their vicinity, be it the teachers in schools or parents at home, or their peers with whom they play and have fun. All stakeholders in this case need to do their bit and contribute to the development of a child who thinks and does things keeping in mind the value system and the ethics, dharma that India has been known for since our Ancient times.

We just need to rediscover that dharma and play the game by the rules that dharma seems to support. A good initiative in this regard could be setting up gurukul like schools where in the students can be made to learn the importance of living an upright life. The teachers that need to be recruited for such schools need to be people who are genuinely interested in improving the state of affairs in this sector and have lived accordingly setting an example for all to emulate.

Though, I would want the infrastructure to be of the highest quality, yet even if to start with; the infrastructure doesn’t match the likes of international schools, it can do without if these values and morals are instilled in the lives of the students.

When these kids go on to become government officials, I am pretty sure that things are going to improve. They would frame and implement policies which would have an in-built transparent character and in turn would take responsibility for their actions. The ideal case would be when they would not need anyone to monitor them from above for doing what they are already supposed to do.

In this ideal scenario, there would not be any need for a grievance redressal committee; there would not be any need for multiple bodies on which the government exchequer is wasted and this money in turn would be utilized for implementing various development policies, be it in agriculture, healthcare, employment sectors etc.

But we aren’t living in an ideal world, so to say, and we need to discover solutions to all our woes keeping in mind that the ideal will take some time and enormous effort to implement. We can start by implementing the ideal at the same time we need to provide support to this ideal initiative.

The support could come from the Civil Society, known for keeping the government on its toes for implementing the various schemes in an efficient and effective manner at the same time making sure that the government is held accountable for the responsibilities that it has undertaken.

The Civil society in turn needs to be supported by the big shots in the politics and corporate world. On part of political world, the legislature should leave no stone unturned when it comes to enacting laws which would prove to be a blessing in disguise for the common folk who will feel empowered by the state to fight for his/her rights, and there shouldn’t be any sort of delay in enacting the same.

The laws should be such which enables, encourages and makes it easy for people to do good rather than the bad. On part of the corporate world, the corporates need to understand that they have a social responsibility towards the various stakeholders whose lives they seem to effect and that they need to do business but in a responsible manner.

A good initiative in this regard is the 2% initiative, wherein the corporates would be made to invest 2% of their profits in CSR activities, thereby ensuring that the corporates contribute in this process of nation building.

Transparency should become a norm and secrecy an exception. Yes, I agree that certain truths about our national security needs to be hidden in order to make sure that they are not misused, but the rest on which a number of times politics is played and people are kept unaware just because the big shots will get a chance to exploit them in some way or the other needs to be made public.

A culture of information sharing on a voluntary basis needs to be instilled in the minds of the government officials for which adequate training should be provided in institutes like LBSNAA.

Every government department who is in the business of providing services to the citizens needs to have a charter in place where in a timeline is mentioned with regards to how many days it will take for a particular official to implement his/her duty and a clause mentioning what and how one could redress one’s grievance in case the official doesn’t fulfil his/her duty.

If at all such a situation arises, where an individual needs to appeal for redressal, it should be made sure that the redressal process is fast and cost-effective. Special courts and tribunals can be instituted for different departments in order to handle the departmental mess.

This would not only reduce the burden on the likes of High courts and the Supreme Court, but would ensure that justice is provided to the people in a cost-effective and timely manner, because justice delayed is as it is justice denied.

The right to information Act is an excellent initiative in this regard when it comes to moving towards a culture of transparency. But the lacuna in its implementation needs to be filled and it should be ensured that the very ideology behind implementing the same is pursued.

Decentralization is another aspect where in if people are given the responsibility of deciding what is good for them on a community level, will in itself lead to transparent functioning. Though there will certainly be a need to put in place a fully functional social audit system, monitored by the likes of SDM and DM in the respective districts.acc1

This would not only enable people to take control of their lives but would also ensure that they understand the difficulty and the various challenges that are faced by the government when it comes to implementing various schemes. This would in turn enable them to develop an attitude of bonhomie towards the government and a collective approach towards problem solving.

Coming to the various welfare schemes that are being implemented, per se on a policy level one can go on debating on the utility of the same; but on an implementation level certainly improvements can be made.

Some of the factors that have marred the various schemes from effective implementation are hoarding, corruption etc. One reason that one can associate with this is lack of transparency and information sharing.

People are not aware of what they are entitled for, whom they can approach and talk to in case they don’t get what they are entitled for. Rights based awareness generation is the need of the hour. Various NGOs, Anganwadi centres and the likes of SHGs can be made aware of the various schemes that are being implemented by both central and state government and they in turn can disseminate this information to the people at large.

Till the time rural electrification and internet connection is taking place, it should be ensured that information display boards are put up at panchayat level or block level in the local language wherein people can come and read about the various entitlements and then demand the same from the government officials in charge of disseminating their duties.

In case the government official goes back on fulfilling his/her commitments, the social audit body should be mandated to look into the same and recommend disciplinary proceedings against the official which should then be taken up on a high priority basis by the state government. Same applies to any other sector be it healthcare or be it agriculture.

The need of the hour is to have:

An attitudinal change on part of the government officials;

Rise in awareness quotient on part of the people;

Accountability mechanism for quick and cost-effective redressal on part of the state and central machinery;

Social auditing at community level;

A platform for information dissemination and opinion sharing;

Education of the highest quality on the lines of gurukul;

Tribunals in various departments for reducing the work load on the HC and SC;

Reforms in criminal and civil codes and the justice system with concepts such as Amicus Curie and Alternate Dispute Redressal given importance;

A will/desire on part of our government to improve the existing scenario;

Responsible voting behaviour on part of the people;

Being the change one wishes to see in others on part of the population;

Participation in decision making on part of the people at local level through decentralization;

Skill set development at community level to be able to work along with the government in a collective manner;

I am sure, if the above is implemented it will lead to an atmosphere and culture of transparency. People and government will start working towards nation building in a collective manner and the day will not be too far when the ideal would become a reality.

Sound monitoring mechanisms would encourage righteous behaviour. A strong accountability system would restore faith of people in the government and a better and a brighter future for India.

That is what one should not only hope for but should also contribute to the same at one’s own level. Isn’t it?

Source for Image: http://beautifultrouble.org/principle/take-leadership-from-the-most-impacted/, http://www.commirza.com/accountability-up-and-down-is-gold/

Result Season

Come the summers, and we all are flooded with news containing the results of the plethora of competitive examinations taking place in our country coupled with the Board exam results.

On one hand, there are some fortunate students who emerge out with flying colours in these examinations, on the other hand there are students who are left wanting and face the wrath of our exam-oriented society with terminologies such as “bekaar hai”, “kisi kaam ka nahi hai” etc.

Recently I happened to talk to one such student who had failed miserably in all the exams that she had given ranging from the 12th Boards to the competitve engineering examinations.

Her family is upset that even after paying for the best of coaching institutes for her, she had failed them miserably. Constant comparisons with her friends who have been able to make it through, is driving her crazy to the extent that she had even contemplated running away from her home to avoid all the criticism that had followed since the results were out.

With the kind of the competition that every child has to go through in this country, parents must realize that there are bound to be children who will not make it to the top notch. They must therefore, instead of blaming their child, should provide a mental and emotional support to their child irrespective of the results.

Their love for their child shouldn’t be contingent, in any way, on the success or failure of their child in such examinations or on the kind of feedback they get for their child from the society and the near and dear ones around them.

It is extremely important that the parents should stop imposing their dream on their child and should stop treating their child as a trophy which they can show to the whole World.

Source for Image: http://www.testime.in/2012/02/28/cdsi-2011-final-result/

Today’s Column in iNext DainiK Jagran

http://inextepaper.jagran.com/c/186967

Add on to the Above:

How many times have you thought of things in this World which are so not perfect? And if you are a girl then the imperfectionist nature of our society tends to bother you more, especially in the context of the incidents that take place every day and are reported in nearly every newspaper in our country.

On top of that, with the kind of law enforcement mechanisms in place in our country, parents are left with no other option but to feel insecure and scared about us. As a result, some parents don’t want their children to go away from them even for studies, especially if they belong to smaller towns and cities.

This might lead to frustation in the minds of children who might have seen some dreams for themselves and not getting the chance to pursue their dreams might lead to disappointment in life.

This needs serious thinking on the part of our society. What kind of environment are we as citizens providing to the people? And what kind of legal machinery is in place where people are themselves scared to approach a police officer for their own good?

What is needed though is to instill confidence in the minds of the people about the whole system. What is needed is to make this system function well. This would in turn mean quick disposal of cases on the part of our Judiciary along with presence of responsive and efficient investigating agencies.

Bringing the above into action is a basic necessity for a democracy like us to prosper and fulfill its ambition of giving justice to the idea of a welfare state.

Source: http://www.studyabroaddomain.com/

Discrimination in Schools

It was heard of during the British days that students in schools were discriminated on the basis of their economic statuses explicitly. The implicit discrimination continued to exist even after the independence though.

But here is a case where a school in New Delhi by the name of St. Andrews Scots Senior Secondary School forces the students from economically weaker backgrounds, admitted under the 10% quota regime, to wear tags to demonstrate that they have been admitted as such. There might be compelling reasons for the management of the school to have introduced such a derogatory policy.

The other day we were complaining about a US Vice-Consul abusing the Tamilians, and we got really annoyed at the statement made. Now, what should be done? Here is a case in our own backyard, where student rights are openly violated and if this was not enough they are made to be discriminated.

The government, instead of putting Anna Hazare behind the bars, should make strong note of it and a severe action should be taken against the culprits here.

Source for Image: http://newton007.com/article/school/

It’s All About Money, Honey ;)

I came across an article wherein Jairam Ramesh had gone on to say that it is because of the kind of students who make it through to the IITs that IIT as a brand name is famous around the globe and not because of the kind of infrastructure or research or professors.

Then there were some counter arguments given by one of the country’s eminent scientist that Jairam Ramesh was being naive here about the quality of professors. Kapil Sibal event went on to say that the government does not endorse Ramesh’s view, which is purely his personal opinion.

Well, I would like to add here that the quality of professors is degrading these days. Earlier, we used to have people who were themselves B.Tech from IITs and then went on to do a PhD from some reputed institute in USA. All in all, they were themselves very hard working and intelligent people and turned out to be good professors. Now a days, IIT is recruiting people as professors who don’t have such a sound educational background as it used to be before. I am not saying that the graduates from other colleges can’t be good professors, but at least on paper if we go by the degrees and achievements, earlier, IITs used to have better quality.

But shouldn’t the discussion be also about the kind and quality of IITians who go on to get some lucrative jobs in fields totally unrelated to what they studied during their stay at IIT. Or if we dig a little deeper, shouldn’t the question be about the kind of awareness or lack of awareness our schools create about choice of career that we end up choosing a career based on the lucrative outcomes in store for us after graduating rather than choosing a career based on our liking for it. At the same time our society and our parents want us to fulfill their expectations and that is exactly what we end up doing, not able to defy the obvious, being brought up in a certain manner.

So, instead of our politicians mulling over the quality of IITians, they should first of all make an effort to create good infrastructure and recruit world class faculty. Secondly, they should try to introduce a provision of some kind of counseling for students graduating from schools.

On the part of parents and society, they should try to provide a healthy environment for their children to develop at the same time giving him/her an opportunity to do things that he/she would be happy doing.

If this was done in the first place, the so called IITians (why i say so called is because sometimes this terminology is used in a negative way for those who have graduated from the same) will not be “wasting” (as perceived by some) the enormous amount of funds being invested by the government for their education and would not be running after “the thing”, money. But as they have said it is never too late.

Having written all this, sometimes I wonder when everything in this World can be done via money then why shouldn’t one be saying: “It’s all about Money, Honey“‘.

Source for Images: http://baloo-baloosnon-politicalcartoonblog.blogspot.com/2010/08/education-cartoon.html

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/site/gallery/cong-ministers-sign-moa-on-river-ganga/1/3404.html