Friday, July 31, 2009

Shiksha Adhoori IV [Education Incomplete IV]

I've been contemplating to write on this topic for quite a long time, some how couldn't put it on papers... this argues about the way caste system is integrated into everyone's life through education. I remember in my younger days of school education in every book on the front page there will be a printed message of "untouchability is a crime", "untouchability is a sin". We also used to recite a few poems which discusses about the same context and most of us would still / ever remember these lines by Bharati "Jadhigal illayadi papa, kul thazhchi uyarchi sollal paavam" [which translates to "My dear!, There are no such thing called caste, it’s a sin to talk about disparity"]. Wonderful!... The year ends in the class reciting the same poem!. By then I had to move out of the school due to some economic crisis at my home. Looked for a transfer certificate and got it and now I wanted to enroll in a government / aided school there. There was a few schools short listed and finally one of it was zeroed in. When I went for admission we got to know that I was not entitled to get admission because I didn't carry a caste certificate with me which will prove that I am from a Backward Caste. I was not that aware of all these stuff that time and somehow my parents were able to manage the certificate and enroll me in the school.

Some where I got a chance to interact with the head master of the school to discuss about the scholarship which the government provided for students. I initially thought it was on merit basis but the head master threw me a question "What is your caste?". Probably with my knowledge he was the first person in my life who has asked me this question. Having read and studied about the lines mentioned above by Bharati [most of Bharati's such lines are aggressive and we were thought to read those with that sense of aggression], with the same amount of aggression I replied him saying that, Sir I've been taught "My dear!, There are no such thing called caste, its a sin to talk about disparity". Oh!.. I still remember the kind of force with the cane which sensed in my hands. I didn't feel bad about what I did but I actually felt bad that being a head master he should have appreciated the fact rather punishing. He also shouted that I would not be getting the scholarship at all. Some how as one of my relative was a teacher in the same school and after his intervention, I could manage to get the money.

I some how could not relate to the education on caste provided by our schools. At one place you teach caste and creed should be eliminated and at the other place you put on caste as the third field to be filled in every application form you issue. As per my understanding the disparity of humans in the earlier era came in to picture based up on the kind of occupation they did. Some how there were different culture that existed at different parts of the world which lead to even wider difference in their approach towards a certain system which brought in community and within a certain community everyone didn't have all the expertise integrated into them and there came the difference in approach to a given problem [which can be termed as the kind of work they do]. Based upon the utilization of presence of mind, muscle power, thought process etc., further the community had a certain term for identifying like minded people in the name of caste [I'm not good at history and these are purely my interpretations].

Later in the stages based up on the kind of work they do people were termed as untouchables as well by a certain set of "so called" elites of those period [some how I still couldn't understand how all these came] and in the modern era we people after hearing so much of history as well as philosophy started to / starting to move towards a caste / creed free world, but the schools which has the responsibilities to provide /educate the knowledge about why caste and creed came and why it should be eliminated is somehow incorporating the need and necessity as a priority to people [knowingly / unknowingly is a question]... This is what the reason why a lot of younger generation people [inspite things are far far better these days], come up in asking / talking about caste etc., as a primary need for existence. [I have no arguments here about the reservation system which the government has brought in.. will talk about that in a separate article]. For the above said I find the primary fault lies in the education system and the way it handles caste. Until we (try to) change that the education on caste will be always adhoora!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Brinjal Festival!!!

Some day on the month of June, when I was shopping at Chennai with my mom, I received a call from one of my friend / volunteer from Delhi and I was discussing about the POA of the Brinjal Festival proposed on July. After the conversation my Mom intervened to know what the conversation was about and I told her that we are planning to organize a "Brinjal Festival"... A wired look and with a strange voice she asked "Brinjal?"... didn't you get any other vegetable to celebrate?...

18th July @ 1.00 hours the car which we were traveling stopped before the flyover in front of Bikini Comma Place... Thanks to the service engineer who failed to put water and coolant in the radiator. After a brief stop we re-start and went for a while before it went off.... A couple of more stoppage took us to the Domestic Airport where I got down to locate a leading domestic air carriers cargo service to pick up a parcel which came from Bhubaneshwar and Rajiv and Sugandha went looking for a petrol pump where we thought we would get some solution... btw we went there to collect a cargo packet and unfortunately the packet which I wanted to collect did not have my name on it.... I got to know that these guys follow a whole lot of procedure and strictly stick to that before disbursing these packets.... after a fight for an hour I could some how prove that I'm the right person to collect the packet. When signing the documents, just for the security reasons that guy asked that what's there inside the packet and I replied... its Brinjal.... with the same wired look and a strange voice he responded "Brinjal?"...

I just thought myself, will this be the response with the people who would come to the Brinjal festival day?..... By the time thankfully with the help of a few people around the airport, these guys managed to cool down the radiator and we came back home around 3.30 in the morning.

Brinjal was never my favorite food but the opportunity to organize this festival as a part of Coalition for GM free India's run "I am No Lab Rat" campaign, built in the bridge between me and brinjal, by the time the event was supposed to start I had almost known a adequate part of brinjal and its history which helped me to respond to the media people who were there to cover the event. The interesting part of the entire festival was the way it could connect a common man to the diversities of brinjal and its tradition and also about the yet to be approved Genetically Modified brinjals, by this time most of the public have heard the name GM food and thanks to the response of Agriculture Ministry a couple of days before at the parliament session which made news just a couple of days before the festival.... but they didn't know by then that GM food is going to create so much of adverse health effects to them as well as there are alternate viable option of having food cultivation without switching to GM food.

Thanks to the volunteers who were able to run around and pull in more and more people and eventually when the day progressed there was always a buzz in the stall. We were able to display around 35 different diversities of Brinjal but to say in India there are more than 2000 varieties available..... When the day was over with our objective of generating mass awareness to the public some how got fulfilled. We pulled out a decent and nice event. I was winding up a poster which stated "Brinjal Dreams"... I don't know what brinjal dreams but I was dreaming brinjal for a weak long and I thought that at least today I won't have it :).

The response from the media to the event was quite decent and we had good coverage’s through wire service and also in some daily media. Look in the comment section for the links to the media coverage on the festival :).