Monday, July 25, 2011

Life is precious!

Disclaimer : This post is in response to an unfortunate incident that occured last week or reported to happen at IIT Kanpur, IIT Madras in recent times . This is to share some of my life’s experience which may be found useful by some. The aim here is not to find fault with an individual, institution or a practice but to complement the efforts being made by the stake holders of the society.

Section I

Last week I got a ‘Like’ from a student on an inspiring quote of Goutam Buddha that I pasted on Google Buzz. Following back I found that the student’s own posts in the buzz are inspiration abound. There I found this youtube video. What I liked most in this is the ability to face the life by not feeling bitter about it in such a situation. The glow in face indicates a sense of fulfillment which most of us, blessed not being challenged like that, lack. Salute to the spirit of life!

Happening on the Ground!

Few days back, one student entered my office in the evening, thoroughly shaken. Hours back one final year student of a different Dept. but from same hostel, has taken the extreme step. Apparently, he was struggling to put up a good academic performance and he largely confined himself to his room. The remedial part needs timely assistance from fellow students, family members, faculty members, admin. etc. The institute has a counseling cell and every hostel has a student group to assist it. Since the results are computerized, an algorithm could be put in place to generate an alarm and forewarn all concerned if some sort of pattern is found in the progress report. The guardians can remote log in through their ward’s log-in, password into institute’s ERP system and track the performance. They may visit the institute at least once a semester to talk to faculty members and discuss the progress.

Being Multidimensional

However, it is wiser to be less dependent on environment or remedial measures. It is better to acquire important life skills oneself from early stages of life. The guardians should appreciate this and not engage their wards in career oriented study only. The playgrounds are empty these days as the students are running from one tution teacher to other, trying to make every single minute of the day count. For youngsters, there is no time to study biographies or teachings of great people and drawing inspiration from them as they are ‘out of syllabus’.  Reading novels or classics are replaced by watching television which does not allow imagination to grow. It is not only sublime thoughts, as a whole we are thinking a lot less these days or have less time for ourselves to think what, how and why?

More Practices

Few days back I was insisting one of my relative to take at least one week break every year so that the family can spend quality time together in some travel destination. They cannot do that not to miss the private tution of their ward. I wonder if I can suggest participating in cultural functions in the school or locality – it could be a play or group dance, song or recitation. I would even suggest taking some time out on a weekly basis to do something for the underprivileged. It could be teaching Math. / English for one hour to the kid of the housemaid or spending some time in the nearby old age home or orphanage. The value of spending some time on a weekly basis (if not daily) in a good company or a study-circle is so much underrated! If I talk about few minutes of prayer and mental concentration on a daily basis, I am talking more about calming down of one’s nerves that can focus the energy better, than making one spiritually inclined.

What we Miss

The sportsman-spirit – the ability to accept victory or defeat gracefully, the ability to communicate with others or work in a team, the sense of responsibility to oneself or the family or the community are found wanting in the ‘me as centre’ way of life. We the elders are more responsible to allow such an attitude towards life as we never worried about what is healthy and what is unhealthy in trying to push a youngster towards some sort of competitive advantage in a career-only life.

Are we these?

We try to tell that if somebody does not get into IIT, he is a failure; if somebody does not have a 5 figure monthly income, he is unsuccessful; if somebody manages to skip Independence Day celebration at school and attends special class of the coaching centre at that time, he is clever; if somebody manages to hide tips received for study / exam. from fellow students, he is intelligent. We do not value patriotism, love, unselfishness, truthfulness, trustworthiness, honesty, …. in fact, we treat them as deterrent to make our ward ‘smart’ or ‘street ready’ …. the idea is to counter the ‘selfish world’ with greater amount of selfishness … in the process we run into a vicious cycle …. all the while we believe that I have equipped my ward enough to scrape through or outlive others. Alas! We are making hell out of this world what could have been a heaven.

 It is all about striving!

Nothing is automatic in life. We have to earn what we deserve. Else we have to leave our life to chances. Will a young individual prefer that or lead a life of one’s choice? Then please do not neglect development of different faculties of life. Develop yourself as a complete human being. Life is to be enjoyed. The less self-centred we are, the more we are able to enjoy ourselves. You don’t need to believe these words. Practise and experience yourself. The sign of life is ‘strength and happiness’. Mind the word ‘and’. It is not ‘or’. Both are required. Find a way that gives you both. May you all become inquisitive about life. It is precious!

 Section II

Since 1986 (the year when I got decent ranks in 10+2 Board Exam., Medical Entrance Exam., Engineering Entrance (IIT-JEE and WB-JEE) Exam.), several students and their guardians approached me for discussions on how to excel in career oriented study and not life as such. I appreciate if they thought I am too inexperienced to comment on excellence in life. But that I do not see them as two different things and one is a part of the whole did not cut much ice. My father (Link) allowed me to attend only three felicitation functions. I got an opportunity to speak on two occasions – one at my school and the other at a district level function. The state level function was the one hosted by Chief Minister and was formal in nature. In both places, I talked a lot about what helped me in my preparation - sports and games, drawing inspiration from Vivekananda quotes, the positive impact of discussions conducted in weekly study circle etc. Perhaps I talked too much on this to make the organizers feel rattled in both the places.

 Speaking from experience!

I am sure that everybody understands the importance of hard and systematic work. I request you to have sufficient time for self-study to assimilate what gets into head. Running from one tution to another which does not give space for oneself, perhaps is not the best idea. At 10+2 level, I took two tutions. Each teacher taught twice a week for about 2.5 hours and thus only four slots per week were blocked. This (i) reduced the financial burden of my father (ii) allowed more time or self-study and (iii) allowed me to hit playground every afternoon. Please refer to the segment titled 'Lady with a lamp' in this post to appreciate the longing for study.

 And now!

Yesterday (Saturday is Extra Academic Acitivity day here as per institute curriculum) a group of NSS (National Service Scheme) volunteers asked me to attend a meet for a brief period. These are the famous Super-30 pass outs. They are motivated by their mentor there to do something for the needy. NSS gives them a platform. They have gathered some 15 students from two state Govt. run schools. They have an intensive training plan to work with Class XI-XII students on Saturday and Sundays. When I reached there, I found that the school students cannot come on Saturdays and there is only common slot available on Sunday. Each has already three or more private tutors. I asked the school students, with another training program like this, when will you have time to study yourself?

 Beyond MCQ (Multiple Choice Questions)

The intensive and exhaustive beat-the-MCQ-based-exam-pattern training of some coaching centres may allow some of you to crack the entrance exam. A good memory is a big plus point. But the life beyond is no more MCQ based. The solutions will not come from what you have memorized alone or the tricks that you have learnt that exploits the weaknesses of MCQ type evaluation. Life beyond will always test your fundamentals. You have to decide if you should enjoy the success of cracking a tough entrance exam., make merry for months or a year OR assess what you missed in your preparation and make up for that. The choice is yours!

 You have a right!

Life is beautiful and exciting. Please feel curious about it. Never ever think about pushing yourself to an extreme. Read the biographies of great people. Develop interest in sports and games, community welfare initiatives. Give more time to next door and physical (not virtual) friends. Be in touch with family members. Talk or write blogs. Express yourself. Whenever you feel any need, ask for assistance. It is your right. The world belongs to you. You too belong to this world. Always give each other another chance.

1 comment:

Atanu Manna said...

The video, which has been attached with this post is truly inspirational and the statement "Life is Precious!" is strongly justified.