Saturday, 5 September 2015

Of News and Other Stuff-3

  1. Popular literature is to blame for the fact that schoolkids don’t completely get the importance of Ashoka. Brainwashed by the trite ‘moral of the story’, it seems natural to them (it certainly did to me), that a cruel king realises the folly of his ways and reforms. Even literature targeted at young adults suffers from this handicap. Read how Dumbledore goes on and on about Voldemort being evil because he messed with the powerful magic, that of ‘love’, to know what I am talking about.
  2. This not to discount the inherent innocence of children. But I suspect that today’s kids, with generally greater access to information, and exposure to violence specifically, may be able to appreciate Ashoka better.
  3. Promise this is the last you will hear of Ashoka here.
  4. Talking of belabouring a point, if I hear of the ‘shared values of democracy’ one more time, I will blow a fuse. Democracy is not a value, it is a political system. And it is not just a feature of the usual suspects (US, UK, Australia) but also ostensibly, countries like Pakistan, Myanmar and Russia.
  5. Hindu’s headline writer, why is it so noteworthy that India is a key partner in the Indo-Pacific region?  I am sure you have never heard this, but learn from ToI.
  6. Pratap Bhanu Mehta had an interesting op-ed in the IE last week about how adopting the ‘development’ plank in politics (as opposed to caste, religion) has its own pitfalls. One among them is the ‘hyper-instrumentalism’ of institutions-nowhere clearer than in education. Nobody seems interested in who the professors and what their specialisations are-the focus is mostly on the ‘average package’ that the placement cell of the college can net for its students (not even on the job profile offered). This would be acceptable for professional courses, but somebody should be worried about how prevalent this is in academic courses at the PG level as well. More emphasis on the quality of education being dispensed at the UG level (so people realise the intrinsic worth of a good degree than just its signalling effect in the job market) would probably help ameliorate this.
  7. That’s not the same as standardisation of syllabus across the board. I think DU’s bane is the resort to hiring new ad-hoc teachers every semester. Most of them don’t have a stake in knowing the subject they are teaching better because they are likely to land in a different college, teaching a completely different course within a span of a few months. And they (wisely) don’t completely bank on the temporary job either, simultaneously juggling demanding PhD courses or RAships.
  8. Also, the NET exam is a joke. If you are trying to set a benchmark of basic minimum, at least ensure that the minimum reflects subject knowledge/ teaching aptitude/ analytical and critical thinking skills. Rather than the ability for uncanny guesswork.
  9. Unemployedness does a lot for your ability to dispense gyan. I finally understand the adda culture in Kolkata.
  10. May be the sanghis are on to something when they eulogise the glorious past. Did you know that tam-brahms (shorthand for abstention now) were wine and meat consumers in around the beginning of the Common Era?
  11. Since I am now too old to celebrate the very auspicious, very vegetarian festival of Janmashtami, I marked the occasion by listening to this song.  For your viewing pleasure-

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