Monday, May 4, 2015

The Subtexts in Detective Byomkesh Bakshy


I recently spent a few hours watching 'Detective Byomkesh Bakshy'. The movie successfully captured the Calcutta of yore. Additionally the use of heavy metal as the score served to highlight the disjointedness of the characters involved. The Tarantinoisque fight sequences accentuated this further.

All in all the movie was very well packaged. For me the takeaways were not the maturing of Bollywood or the attempts to juggle many experiments within one movie – successfully at that. What stood out was the role of the moustache in the movie. The other thing that found resonance was the plot about making a deal with the devil ie getting the Japanese into Calcutta in exchange for 'freetrade' of sorts.

You could say that there was scent of more than just a movie in Detective Byomkesh Bakshy.

It is believed that the moustache is a symbol of machismo and virility. It is supposed to embody manliness and the male qualities of courage, valour – most kings who ruled this land and or parts of it wore these hirsute principles. The moustachioed male twirling his moustache adds gravitas to the moment of contemplation while also showcasing his manliness.

Byomkesh has a moustache too. However, unlike the characteristics of the moustachioed, the hero comes across as someone with a gentle soul. This is first put across to the cinema goers when he is slapped by Ajit Bandhopadhyay in the first few minutes of the movie. The slap floors him and he remains one with the floor as the camera pans the smoke heavy room with the carom playing crowd. The next time we are accosted by his sensitive spirit is when he turns his face to avoid looking at the ghastly wound on the leg he is holding. This persona is constantly brought to the fore in the movie - when he does not come to the aid of Ajit when they are accosted by a group of men who begin roughing them up. His flinching when Ajit raises his hand even though a slap seems to be furthermost from Ajit's mind.

Though the gentle demeanour hides a brave and enquiring spirit the value of the mooch on him is watered down by the heroes actions or want of them.

This watering down is complete when one compares the actions of Ajit who is not only clean-of-face but wears spectacles, is short, a tad rotund and wears a look of constant wonder. This man slaps the hero, exercises vigorously, shows off his boxers and fights a gang of men. These are the exploits of a hero, of a go-getter ie of someone who many would like to see with a moustache.

This hero's sidekick does not wear wear a moustache but displays all the faculties of someone who is moustached. So, is the common refrain 'mooch nahin tho kooch nahin' false? Yes there have been movies where the hero is clean shaven but he acts like a hero, bashing up villains and what have you. However, one has not come across a movie where the clean shaven 'side-kick' ostensibly performs this function of the moustachioed hero which is so popular, widely accepted and ingrained in people.

The movie clearly assigns the role of the thinker and of the action man to two different people, usually the hero does both. In doing so the director has also subverted the much held hirsute principles.

Dibakar Bannerjee, the director, also speaks of the dangers of acting on the ' enemy of my enemy is a friend' philosophy. The young freedom fighters who join Anukul's plot to get the Japanese into Calcutta and so rid the city of the British realise much to their dismay that they are pawns in a far greater conspiracy. Their desire for independence had made them puppets to a drug laced conspiracy and had blinded them to the perils of opening the gates of the city to another imperial army.

Though Byomkesh saves the day with some dexterous planning and quick thinking there is much food for thought at the end of the day. What would have happened if the Japanese did finally control Calcutta? Would Anukul have become the drug lord he wanted to be under Japanese rule? Would the freedom fighters have realised their dream of freedom under the rule of another imperialist? Would the Japanese have diluted their imperialistic ambitions for the dreams of these people?

Thankfully, the answers to these questions will remain conjectures. However that being said the movie does bring to light the pitfalls of blind nationalism of any given time. Such fervour catalyses decisions and actions that on the surface seem correct and justified, but in fact may only bring horror on an unsuspecting population.


Samir Nazareth is the author of '1400 Bananas, 76 Towns & 1 Million People'

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Old and Boring


‘Old and Boring!’ one gets to hear this very often, not from the lips of the old nor those in their teens but from those in their mid-thirties. The manner in which it is said is very matter of fact but in it there is a tinge of palpable apprehension.
Shakespeare has written about the seven stages of man, Hindu texts have kept it simpler and deigned them to be only four.  But, whichever version one looks at, there is an understanding of what each age brings to the table. There is a to-do list, there are inherent goals which society recognises and which the individual works towards. Each stage prepares the individual for the next.
It would seem that past a particular age group getting ‘old’ has become profane because it suggests an inability to be what one was. There was a time when the young wanted to grow up because accumulating the years meant freedom, independence and shouldering responsibility for the self. When someone brands a particular age as ‘old and boring’ and is unable to see the two as separate then there is a problem.
Those who are newly middle-aged are at a threshold of two very disparate ages. They bridge the ages of youthful daredevilry of the young adult with the more serious pragmatic, responsible age of the just pensioned and elderly.  The future looks uncertain but the past, which was known, sure looks rosy.  For many, after a point, age is no longer just a number; it suggests less options, a slowdown caused by the shackles of health, lack of earning capacity and seemingly less opportunities to, for want of a better term, have a good time.
Though one would like to come across as experienced and worldly wise there is now need to hide the rigours of the process which brings it. Many speak of the ‘child in me’, there is constant research on the ‘Peter Pan Complex’, while a billion dollar industry has risen from the desire to look, if not remain, young.  This façade gives people an option of straddling two very disparate worlds.
We try to look younger, behave younger and find opportunities to do so in our attempt to retain the things we derived happiness from in our younger days.   Evolution is a natural phenomenon that feeds of the surrounding environment. This phenomena is not only biological, but cultural, social and psychological.  So, the idea that the manner in which we attain happiness and the form of our happiness will remain unchanged over time is juvenile to say the least. It not only ignores our progress as individuals but the advance of society.
Even as we middle aged work with our turmoil of finding ways to remain young, what of the young who see us? Are we encroaching on a space that is theirs? What goes on in their mind when they see us at a pub screaming along with Bryan Adams as he swears ’18 till I die’? What do children feel when
mothers look young like them or their father’s become a ‘dude’? Do youth feel claustrophobic and xenophobic with the presence of the new young? Is the fear of getting ‘old and boring’ passed on to an even younger generation who will define middle aged as old?
‘Old and boring’ is a desire to not accept what experience brings – maturity. Isn’t wanting to remain young disregarding and even disrespecting the self’s progress on all level’s? Would an engineer choose to use his skills to solve second grade mathematics?  The need to remain and even act young is something similar to a child’s first day at school- he clings to his parents, afraid of what is out there. We, the middle-aged are comfortable acting young because we have been there. Also, now that we have the money, can rationalise morality and have no one to answer to we are trying to make up for what we believe are the lost opportunities of our youth.
The fact remains that we could be boring at any age. There seems to be a lack of faith in oneself when one assumes that with age one becomes boring.  Why should we choose not to build on a life time of experience and instead opt to regress? Why should an interesting life become dull when one grows older? When we find an answer to this question, we will realise that ‘old and boring’ have a dissonance to them that only maturity understands.

Published in Free Press Journal
(Samir Nazareth is the author of ‘1400 Bananas, 76 Towns & 1 Million People’)



‘Old and Boring!’ one gets to hear this very often, not from the lips of the old nor those in their teens but from those in their mid-thirties. The manner in which it is said is very matter of fact but in it there is a tinge of palpable apprehension. lead 2
- See more at: http://www.freepressjournal.in/old-and-boring/#sthash.xNqxWRJC.dpuf

Old and boring…


Elderly Indians participate in celebrations to mark Internationa


SAMIR NAZARETH says that increasingly being old means being boring and redundant in today’s youth oriented society.
‘Old and Boring!’ one gets to hear this very often, not from the lips of the old nor those in their teens but from those in their mid-thirties. The manner in which it is said is very matter of fact but in it there is a tinge of palpable apprehension. lead 2
Shakespeare has written about the seven stages of man, Hindu texts have kept it simpler and deigned them to be only four.  But, whichever version one looks at, there is an understanding of what each age brings to the table. There is a to-do list, there are inherent goals which society recognises and which the individual works towards. Each stage prepares the individual for the next.
It would seem that past a particular age group getting ‘old’ has become profane because it suggests an inability to be what one was. There was a time when the young wanted to grow up because accumulating the years meant freedom, independence and shouldering responsibility for the self. When someone brands a particular age as ‘old and boring’ and is unable to see the two as separate then there is a problem.
Those who are newly middle-aged are at a threshold of two very disparate ages. They bridge the ages of youthful daredevilry of the young adult with the more serious pragmatic, responsible age of the just pensioned and elderly.  The future looks uncertain but the past, which was known, sure looks rosy.  For many, after a point, age is no longer just a number; it suggests less options, a slowdown caused by the shackles of health, lack of earning capacity and seemingly less opportunities to, for want of a better term, have a good time.
Though one would like to come across as experienced and worldly wise there is now need to hide the rigours of the process which brings it. Many speak of the ‘child in me’, there is constant research on the ‘Peter Pan Complex’, while a billion dollar industry has risen from the desire to look, if not remain, young.  This façade gives people an option of straddling two very disparate worlds.
We try to look younger, behave younger and find opportunities to do so in our attempt to retain the things we derived happiness from in our younger days.   Evolution is a natural phenomenon that feeds of the surrounding environment. This phenomena is not only biological, but cultural, social and psychological.  So, the idea that the manner in which we attain happiness and the form of our happiness will remain unchanged over time is juvenile to say the least. It not only ignores our progress as individuals but the advance of society.
Even as we middle aged work with our turmoil of finding ways to remain young, what of the young who see us? Are we encroaching on a space that is theirs? What goes on in their mind when they see us at a pub screaming along with Bryan Adams as he swears ’18 till I die’? What do children feel when their mothers look young like them or their father’s become a ‘dude’? Do youth feel claustrophobic and xenophobic with the presence of the new young? Is the fear of getting ‘old and boring’ passed on to an even younger generation who will define middle aged as old?
‘Old and boring’ is a desire to not accept what experience brings – maturity. Isn’t wanting to remain young disregarding and even disrespecting the self’s progress on all level’s? Would an engineer choose to use his skills to solve second grade mathematics?  The need to remain and even act young is something similar to a child’s first day at school- he clings to his parents, afraid of what is out there. We, the middle-aged are comfortable acting young because we have been there. Also, now that we have the money, can rationalise morality and have no one to answer to we are trying to make up for what we believe are the lost opportunities of our youth.
The fact remains that we could be boring at any age. There seems to be a lack of faith in oneself when one assumes that with age one becomes boring.  Why should we choose not to build on a life time of experience and instead opt to regress? Why should an interesting life become dull when one grows older? When we find an answer to this question, we will realise that ‘old and boring’ have a dissonance to them that only maturity understands.
(Samir Nazareth is the author of ‘1400 Bananas, 76 Towns & 1 Million People’)
- See more at: http://www.freepressjournal.in/old-and-boring/#sthash.IsANOKnb.dpuf


Old and boring…


Elderly Indians participate in celebrations to mark Internationa


SAMIR NAZARETH says that increasingly being old means being boring and redundant in today’s youth oriented society.
‘Old and Boring!’ one gets to hear this very often, not from the lips of the old nor those in their teens but from those in their mid-thirties. The manner in which it is said is very matter of fact but in it there is a tinge of palpable apprehension. lead 2
Shakespeare has written about the seven stages of man, Hindu texts have kept it simpler and deigned them to be only four.  But, whichever version one looks at, there is an understanding of what each age brings to the table. There is a to-do list, there are inherent goals which society recognises and which the individual works towards. Each stage prepares the individual for the next.
It would seem that past a particular age group getting ‘old’ has become profane because it suggests an inability to be what one was. There was a time when the young wanted to grow up because accumulating the years meant freedom, independence and shouldering responsibility for the self. When someone brands a particular age as ‘old and boring’ and is unable to see the two as separate then there is a problem.
Those who are newly middle-aged are at a threshold of two very disparate ages. They bridge the ages of youthful daredevilry of the young adult with the more serious pragmatic, responsible age of the just pensioned and elderly.  The future looks uncertain but the past, which was known, sure looks rosy.  For many, after a point, age is no longer just a number; it suggests less options, a slowdown caused by the shackles of health, lack of earning capacity and seemingly less opportunities to, for want of a better term, have a good time.
Though one would like to come across as experienced and worldly wise there is now need to hide the rigours of the process which brings it. Many speak of the ‘child in me’, there is constant research on the ‘Peter Pan Complex’, while a billion dollar industry has risen from the desire to look, if not remain, young.  This façade gives people an option of straddling two very disparate worlds.
We try to look younger, behave younger and find opportunities to do so in our attempt to retain the things we derived happiness from in our younger days.   Evolution is a natural phenomenon that feeds of the surrounding environment. This phenomena is not only biological, but cultural, social and psychological.  So, the idea that the manner in which we attain happiness and the form of our happiness will remain unchanged over time is juvenile to say the least. It not only ignores our progress as individuals but the advance of society.
Even as we middle aged work with our turmoil of finding ways to remain young, what of the young who see us? Are we encroaching on a space that is theirs? What goes on in their mind when they see us at a pub screaming along with Bryan Adams as he swears ’18 till I die’? What do children feel when their mothers look young like them or their father’s become a ‘dude’? Do youth feel claustrophobic and xenophobic with the presence of the new young? Is the fear of getting ‘old and boring’ passed on to an even younger generation who will define middle aged as old?
‘Old and boring’ is a desire to not accept what experience brings – maturity. Isn’t wanting to remain young disregarding and even disrespecting the self’s progress on all level’s? Would an engineer choose to use his skills to solve second grade mathematics?  The need to remain and even act young is something similar to a child’s first day at school- he clings to his parents, afraid of what is out there. We, the middle-aged are comfortable acting young because we have been there. Also, now that we have the money, can rationalise morality and have no one to answer to we are trying to make up for what we believe are the lost opportunities of our youth.
The fact remains that we could be boring at any age. There seems to be a lack of faith in oneself when one assumes that with age one becomes boring.  Why should we choose not to build on a life time of experience and instead opt to regress? Why should an interesting life become dull when one grows older? When we find an answer to this question, we will realise that ‘old and boring’ have a dissonance to them that only maturity understands.
(Samir Nazareth is the author of ‘1400 Bananas, 76 Towns & 1 Million People’)
- See more at: http://www.freepressjournal.in/old-and-boring/#sthash.IsANOKnb.dpuf


Old and boring…


Elderly Indians participate in celebrations to mark Internationa


SAMIR NAZARETH says that increasingly being old means being boring and redundant in today’s youth oriented society.
‘Old and Boring!’ one gets to hear this very often, not from the lips of the old nor those in their teens but from those in their mid-thirties. The manner in which it is said is very matter of fact but in it there is a tinge of palpable apprehension. lead 2
Shakespeare has written about the seven stages of man, Hindu texts have kept it simpler and deigned them to be only four.  But, whichever version one looks at, there is an understanding of what each age brings to the table. There is a to-do list, there are inherent goals which society recognises and which the individual works towards. Each stage prepares the individual for the next.
It would seem that past a particular age group getting ‘old’ has become profane because it suggests an inability to be what one was. There was a time when the young wanted to grow up because accumulating the years meant freedom, independence and shouldering responsibility for the self. When someone brands a particular age as ‘old and boring’ and is unable to see the two as separate then there is a problem.
Those who are newly middle-aged are at a threshold of two very disparate ages. They bridge the ages of youthful daredevilry of the young adult with the more serious pragmatic, responsible age of the just pensioned and elderly.  The future looks uncertain but the past, which was known, sure looks rosy.  For many, after a point, age is no longer just a number; it suggests less options, a slowdown caused by the shackles of health, lack of earning capacity and seemingly less opportunities to, for want of a better term, have a good time.
Though one would like to come across as experienced and worldly wise there is now need to hide the rigours of the process which brings it. Many speak of the ‘child in me’, there is constant research on the ‘Peter Pan Complex’, while a billion dollar industry has risen from the desire to look, if not remain, young.  This façade gives people an option of straddling two very disparate worlds.
We try to look younger, behave younger and find opportunities to do so in our attempt to retain the things we derived happiness from in our younger days.   Evolution is a natural phenomenon that feeds of the surrounding environment. This phenomena is not only biological, but cultural, social and psychological.  So, the idea that the manner in which we attain happiness and the form of our happiness will remain unchanged over time is juvenile to say the least. It not only ignores our progress as individuals but the advance of society.
Even as we middle aged work with our turmoil of finding ways to remain young, what of the young who see us? Are we encroaching on a space that is theirs? What goes on in their mind when they see us at a pub screaming along with Bryan Adams as he swears ’18 till I die’? What do children feel when their mothers look young like them or their father’s become a ‘dude’? Do youth feel claustrophobic and xenophobic with the presence of the new young? Is the fear of getting ‘old and boring’ passed on to an even younger generation who will define middle aged as old?
‘Old and boring’ is a desire to not accept what experience brings – maturity. Isn’t wanting to remain young disregarding and even disrespecting the self’s progress on all level’s? Would an engineer choose to use his skills to solve second grade mathematics?  The need to remain and even act young is something similar to a child’s first day at school- he clings to his parents, afraid of what is out there. We, the middle-aged are comfortable acting young because we have been there. Also, now that we have the money, can rationalise morality and have no one to answer to we are trying to make up for what we believe are the lost opportunities of our youth.
The fact remains that we could be boring at any age. There seems to be a lack of faith in oneself when one assumes that with age one becomes boring.  Why should we choose not to build on a life time of experience and instead opt to regress? Why should an interesting life become dull when one grows older? When we find an answer to this question, we will realise that ‘old and boring’ have a dissonance to them that only maturity understands.
(Samir Nazareth is the author of ‘1400 Bananas, 76 Towns & 1 Million People’)
- See more at: http://www.freepressjournal.in/old-and-boring/#sthash.IsANOKnb.dpuf


Old and boring…


Elderly Indians participate in celebrations to mark Internationa


SAMIR NAZARETH says that increasingly being old means being boring and redundant in today’s youth oriented society.
‘Old and Boring!’ one gets to hear this very often, not from the lips of the old nor those in their teens but from those in their mid-thirties. The manner in which it is said is very matter of fact but in it there is a tinge of palpable apprehension. lead 2
Shakespeare has written about the seven stages of man, Hindu texts have kept it simpler and deigned them to be only four.  But, whichever version one looks at, there is an understanding of what each age brings to the table. There is a to-do list, there are inherent goals which society recognises and which the individual works towards. Each stage prepares the individual for the next.
It would seem that past a particular age group getting ‘old’ has become profane because it suggests an inability to be what one was. There was a time when the young wanted to grow up because accumulating the years meant freedom, independence and shouldering responsibility for the self. When someone brands a particular age as ‘old and boring’ and is unable to see the two as separate then there is a problem.
Those who are newly middle-aged are at a threshold of two very disparate ages. They bridge the ages of youthful daredevilry of the young adult with the more serious pragmatic, responsible age of the just pensioned and elderly.  The future looks uncertain but the past, which was known, sure looks rosy.  For many, after a point, age is no longer just a number; it suggests less options, a slowdown caused by the shackles of health, lack of earning capacity and seemingly less opportunities to, for want of a better term, have a good time.
Though one would like to come across as experienced and worldly wise there is now need to hide the rigours of the process which brings it. Many speak of the ‘child in me’, there is constant research on the ‘Peter Pan Complex’, while a billion dollar industry has risen from the desire to look, if not remain, young.  This façade gives people an option of straddling two very disparate worlds.
We try to look younger, behave younger and find opportunities to do so in our attempt to retain the things we derived happiness from in our younger days.   Evolution is a natural phenomenon that feeds of the surrounding environment. This phenomena is not only biological, but cultural, social and psychological.  So, the idea that the manner in which we attain happiness and the form of our happiness will remain unchanged over time is juvenile to say the least. It not only ignores our progress as individuals but the advance of society.
Even as we middle aged work with our turmoil of finding ways to remain young, what of the young who see us? Are we encroaching on a space that is theirs? What goes on in their mind when they see us at a pub screaming along with Bryan Adams as he swears ’18 till I die’? What do children feel when their mothers look young like them or their father’s become a ‘dude’? Do youth feel claustrophobic and xenophobic with the presence of the new young? Is the fear of getting ‘old and boring’ passed on to an even younger generation who will define middle aged as old?
‘Old and boring’ is a desire to not accept what experience brings – maturity. Isn’t wanting to remain young disregarding and even disrespecting the self’s progress on all level’s? Would an engineer choose to use his skills to solve second grade mathematics?  The need to remain and even act young is something similar to a child’s first day at school- he clings to his parents, afraid of what is out there. We, the middle-aged are comfortable acting young because we have been there. Also, now that we have the money, can rationalise morality and have no one to answer to we are trying to make up for what we believe are the lost opportunities of our youth.
The fact remains that we could be boring at any age. There seems to be a lack of faith in oneself when one assumes that with age one becomes boring.  Why should we choose not to build on a life time of experience and instead opt to regress? Why should an interesting life become dull when one grows older? When we find an answer to this question, we will realise that ‘old and boring’ have a dissonance to them that only maturity understands.
(Samir Nazareth is the author of ‘1400 Bananas, 76 Towns & 1 Million People’)
- See more at: http://www.freepressjournal.in/old-and-boring/#sthash.IsANOKnb.dpuf


Old and boring…


Elderly Indians participate in celebrations to mark Internationa


SAMIR NAZARETH says that increasingly being old means being boring and redundant in today’s youth oriented society.
‘Old and Boring!’ one gets to hear this very often, not from the lips of the old nor those in their teens but from those in their mid-thirties. The manner in which it is said is very matter of fact but in it there is a tinge of palpable apprehension. lead 2
Shakespeare has written about the seven stages of man, Hindu texts have kept it simpler and deigned them to be only four.  But, whichever version one looks at, there is an understanding of what each age brings to the table. There is a to-do list, there are inherent goals which society recognises and which the individual works towards. Each stage prepares the individual for the next.
It would seem that past a particular age group getting ‘old’ has become profane because it suggests an inability to be what one was. There was a time when the young wanted to grow up because accumulating the years meant freedom, independence and shouldering responsibility for the self. When someone brands a particular age as ‘old and boring’ and is unable to see the two as separate then there is a problem.
Those who are newly middle-aged are at a threshold of two very disparate ages. They bridge the ages of youthful daredevilry of the young adult with the more serious pragmatic, responsible age of the just pensioned and elderly.  The future looks uncertain but the past, which was known, sure looks rosy.  For many, after a point, age is no longer just a number; it suggests less options, a slowdown caused by the shackles of health, lack of earning capacity and seemingly less opportunities to, for want of a better term, have a good time.
Though one would like to come across as experienced and worldly wise there is now need to hide the rigours of the process which brings it. Many speak of the ‘child in me’, there is constant research on the ‘Peter Pan Complex’, while a billion dollar industry has risen from the desire to look, if not remain, young.  This façade gives people an option of straddling two very disparate worlds.
We try to look younger, behave younger and find opportunities to do so in our attempt to retain the things we derived happiness from in our younger days.   Evolution is a natural phenomenon that feeds of the surrounding environment. This phenomena is not only biological, but cultural, social and psychological.  So, the idea that the manner in which we attain happiness and the form of our happiness will remain unchanged over time is juvenile to say the least. It not only ignores our progress as individuals but the advance of society.
Even as we middle aged work with our turmoil of finding ways to remain young, what of the young who see us? Are we encroaching on a space that is theirs? What goes on in their mind when they see us at a pub screaming along with Bryan Adams as he swears ’18 till I die’? What do children feel when their mothers look young like them or their father’s become a ‘dude’? Do youth feel claustrophobic and xenophobic with the presence of the new young? Is the fear of getting ‘old and boring’ passed on to an even younger generation who will define middle aged as old?
‘Old and boring’ is a desire to not accept what experience brings – maturity. Isn’t wanting to remain young disregarding and even disrespecting the self’s progress on all level’s? Would an engineer choose to use his skills to solve second grade mathematics?  The need to remain and even act young is something similar to a child’s first day at school- he clings to his parents, afraid of what is out there. We, the middle-aged are comfortable acting young because we have been there. Also, now that we have the money, can rationalise morality and have no one to answer to we are trying to make up for what we believe are the lost opportunities of our youth.
The fact remains that we could be boring at any age. There seems to be a lack of faith in oneself when one assumes that with age one becomes boring.  Why should we choose not to build on a life time of experience and instead opt to regress? Why should an interesting life become dull when one grows older? When we find an answer to this question, we will realise that ‘old and boring’ have a dissonance to them that only maturity understands.
(Samir Nazareth is the author of ‘1400 Bananas, 76 Towns & 1 Million People’)
- See more at: http://www.freepressjournal.in/old-and-boring/#sthash.IsANOKnb.dpuf

Friday, April 17, 2015

Hindsight Before Foresight is Needed to Solve India's Education Conundrum


A few days back India woke up to a photo of an experience many have heard about or have gone through – cheating in exams. The photograph was of rampant cheating occurring during the board exams conducted by the Bihar Government. This unfortunately is not a new phenomenon in India. The same event was captured a decade back, nothing has changed. But cheating is not only rampant amongst the youth, news channels broadcast cheating that occurred during a promotion exam for junior judges. Is the education and evaluation system in India promoting cheating and cheaters? 
 
Rote is the method of learning that has been most prevalent in India. This is not surprising, given that it was memory that was key to handing down various prayers and texts through generations in ancient India. Memory was seen as a virtue which also stood for a particular class of people. This could be a reason why memorising is such an important part in teaching and learning in India.

Today, the use of rote is also an outcome of the schooling system that sees reduced number of teachers and higher number of students. In 2010, the then Minister for Human Resources Development stated that there was a shortfall of 12 lakh teachers while 5.23 lakh posts were vacant. In rural India, 11% of primary schools have a single teacher. In such a situation rote is indeed the only way for a teacher to impart some form of knowledge. A student blindly vocalising what the teacher says may just be parroting the sounds he hears but the student is being kept occupied for those hours. Thus it comes as no surprise that, one of the main findings of the 2014 Annual Status of Education Report is that approximately half of the Standard V children surveyed could not read at Standard II level. The report claims that Close to half of all children will finish eight years of schooling but still not have learned basic skills in arithmetic.”

So, there is every reason for students to cheat when they are tested.

Besides indicating a breakdown of the education system cheating can also be seen as a symptom of a society lacking moral fibre. But how can one grow this moral fibre when not only the education but many in society are complicit in creating cheaters? Teachers, instead of teaching in class conduct tuitions, parents prepare their children's class assignments. It would be pointless to teach students citizenship in an atmosphere that disrespects it.

But this is not just the case in India, there are instances of cheating in the US and UK too. These however have more to do with schools getting accreditation and therefore funding. Chinese students have also resorted to malpractices to crack exams.

Finland must be doing something right. Their education system has constantly been rated high. The main objective of the Finnish education policy is to offer all citizens equal opportunities to receive education. Therefore the focus is on learning and not on testing, thus teachers and schools are not forced to get students to perform in tests. This is not to say that students are not assessed constantly, but this is upto the teacher. Students come face to face with exams when they are 16 years old when they answer a mandatory standardised test. Most importantly the teachers are highly qualified, they are selected from the top 10% of their graduating class and have state sponsored master's degrees. The education system is publicly funded in Finland. A teachers job is highly sort after, it has been reported that in 2010, there were 6,600 applicants for 660 primary school training jobs. In Finland, High school teachers with 15 years of experience make 102% more than what other graduates make. It could be said that Finnish society give their teachers the same status as that of lawyers and doctors.

In India, teaching as a career option is not the first choice and many institutes offering a Bachelors in Education are of low quality. This is the reason why many States in India have sought exemption from the Teachers Eligibility Test (TET) which is an essential criterion for teacher recruitment and was started in 2011. This is a classic case of which came first – the chicken or the egg, on the one hand there are low quality teachers because of teaching is not rewarding monetarily and then the government is reluctant to give permanent posts to the teachers.

Any education system needs to be built on foresight, in terms of what the child needs, what the child will do for the nation and finally what the nation needs. However in India, a judicious use of hindsight would be more appropriate before looking into how the education system can create the citizens of tomorrow.

Samir Nazareth is the author of 1400 Bananas, 76 Towns & 1 Million People'

Saturday, April 11, 2015

About '1400 Bananas, 76 Towns & 1 Million People' and its author


http://www.heraldgoa.in/Cafe/Samir-goes-bananas-with-this-bag-full-of-stories/85970.html 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Getting into a train in India - An excerpt from 1400 Bananas, 76 Towns & 1 Million People

A para on journeying in trains taken from '1400 Bananas, 76 Towns & 1 Million People'. Book available on Amazon, www.uread.com