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The Dance Of Democracy

Cross-posted from Setu’s Blog.
Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote about my desire to do my bit for this country, and this world, to make it a better place. Considering how huge and important the impending elections in the world’s largest democracy, and my dear nation, India, are, it is befitting that I express my views about the state of it.

I’m not a member of any political party (not that I know of, at least). And I have strong reasons to admire and hate every party. Seriously. I have enough reasons on both side that it comes down to a very illogical, but personal choice for who I’ll end up voting for, during the “biggest festival of democracy“.

Festivals, from what I understand about the meaning of the word, are about celebration and for spreading joy and happiness. And since the day the longest elections in the history of India were announced (and much before) I doubt anyone has seen anything but. Not a single cheerful, hopeful emotion has been demonstrated by any candidate from any party. The elections seem more about showing why you shouldn’t vote the other guy to power than about why you should vote me. They seem about proving who is the worse guy, while we both are bad for you.

I turned 20 a couple of months back and this is the first time I’ll ever be voting, and already, I have such strong hatred towards the system that it makes me not want to vote. The state of politics and the legislative branch of the Government in this country makes me sad, and their antics make me wanna puke.

It sucks that elections aren’t fought on ideologies and policies but on name-calling and irrational promises. It is sad that most of the promises made in election manifestos are half-baked. It is frightening to know that we trust people who would give up their morals and sell their loyalty for the sake of a ticket to fight the elections.

Let’s be honest. Most of us know the candidate we want to vote for (yes, I’m talking about the white-bearded guy from Gujarat). But, does any one of us know what he wants to do for the country? He wants to wipe out corruption, great, but how? He wants to bring jobs to the poor and stimulate the economic growth, urm, what’s the plan there? And I can go on and on about every promise that has been made during every speech that doesn’t get even close to the action plan to achieve those.

I recently got done watching all the 7 seasons of ‘The West Wing‘, an American TV show that is about the life of the senior staffers to the President of the United States of America. During those seasons, they have beautifully shown 2 elections being conducted and how the Presidential candidates fight and win elections. And that’s actually what inspired me to right this.

I want to vote for Narendra Modi, only because he is the man who has put Gujarat in the fastlane of progress since the horrific 2001 earthquakes with its epicenter in Bhuj, Kutch. To bring Modi to power, he needs to win a majority, 272 to be precise, of seats in the Lok Sabha. And for the same, I should be voting for the Shiv Sena/BJP candidate in my constituency.

So, for getting the guy man who I wish becomes the PM, I have to vote for a random politician who only shows up 2-3 times every 5 years, and whose posters line up potholed roads which he didn’t bother doing anything about. That doesn’t seem fair, does it?

It gets deeper. I can’t really expect the Member of Parliament (hereafter, MP) to talk to me, or understand my problems and act upon them. I can’t express my opinions to him about the bills that are in the Parliament, or my issues that should become bills. I can’t expect him to go against his party, and vote for a bill that would actually benefit his constituents, while it may not make a difference to the rest of the country. I may not have voted for him, but, in the end, I am his constituent, and he represents me in the most powerful law-making body of the country.

Oh, and honestly, those are far-fetched desires. I can’t expect him to represent the party he is contesting from in the next elections as these, because the morality, being with a party whose ‘ideology’ you agree with, doesn’t exist. It is about how much money which party would throw at you, and which would give you the ticket to fight the elections.

Accountability, or rather, the lack of thereof, is the reason I think Indian politics is in such a terrible and pitiable state. That’s also the reason our opinions of politicians are the same as that of thugs and sleazebags. Of course, there are exceptions, and those exceptions are the very reason I have some hopes for the future of this country.

So, here’s what I think, and here’s what I feel underlines how this all changes. Here’s what I’m going to be doing for the next month, before I set out to cast my first vote on the 24th of April.

Get in touch with the representatives representing various parties, competing in my constituency, and ask them why I should vote for them. I want to ask them about my election issues, and what they’d do for them, during the next 5 years. Ask them for their contact details and if I can get in touch with them in the future when I need to talk about the bills that are under debate in the LS.

I will vote for the man I want to see as my MP, not the man who is a member of the party whose PM nominee I want to see at the center on 16th May. In the end, what the MP does, with regards to my constituency, in the next 5 years, will matter more. Because pothole-filled roads, higher electricity prices, incomplete infrastructure projects, street-lamps that don’t work, and errant auto-rickshaw/taxi drivers are the things I can talk to him about, and expect him to do something about.

That doesn’t mean these are the only things that bother me. I want to be able to talk about conducive economic policies, trade practices, military funding, education, healthcare, security forces, para-military, environment, major infrastructure projects, scientific research, and a million other things that deserve a national debate. Someday, I want to be able to discuss these with my MP as well as the PM candidate, but, that’s not possible today. Change is slow and time consuming. But, it must start somewhere.

So, this is where it starts. This is how the uneducated lot that serves and frames the laws that govern the educated lot, learns they need to be responsible to govern the 10 crore new voters. The voter of today is more well-read and aware about everything that matters to him, and he deserves more than a guy who relaxes in his extravagant holiday home, except when he is directed by his ‘party leadership’ to go to the LS to cast his vote for a bill. This is to show the politicians that the voter today actually gives a damn about who governs him and how. This is how the PM candidate 10-15 years down the line will know to be more humble, and understand the problems that plague constituents, and bother to listen to their problems before deciding what his next speech is about.

Until today, we the people have been dancing at the behest of the lords who are intolerant to our questions. Not anymore. It is time to do the right thing and make sure the laws of this country as stated in the revered Constitution of India, are upheld.

It’s time to make the politicians dance, The Dance Of Democracy.

Parting notes:
1) I have used the masculine (guy) while referring to the politicians all along because that represents the majority of them, and my current MP. That, in no way, is meant as a bias, but is only a very general linguistic usage.
2) I have written most of this post as what I want, but, in most cases, I think it becomes obvious that it’s about each person who will vote.
3) This is something I really am going to be trying to do. And, if you agree, I want you to do the same. It’d be great to share what actually the result of this is. If so and you want to contact me, there are a couple of ways you do so as detailed here.


An Apology, and a Promise.

Around this same time of the year, 2 years ago, I and some of my blogging friends contemplated starting a co-blog that’d help us make the society we live in, a better place. I remember the strings of e-mails we shared about the name of the blog, the content, the policies that we’d follow, the theme of the blog and how it’d look. And all the while, I couldn’t wait to see this dream come true. I couldn’t wait to get done with the pointless crap that stopped me from doing my bit to help in making this world a better place.

Sadly, much has changed since then.

Of those who were a part of the original group, one has left and been untraceable (she was a cyber friend). And the rest of us, that you see on the ‘Authors’ page have been knowingly ignoring and pushing posting anything for this blog, pertaining to our claims of having ‘other commitments‘. Needless to say, we’ve failed. We haven’t been striving as hard as we promised. Err, sorry, we haven’t even been trying to strive.

Considering that I was a major reason why NJTT started in the first place, I have a guilty conscience for this event. I feel sorry for those who pledged their support to us when we started because we’ve wronged them. We didn’t see the KONY 2012 event through, like we wanted to. We didn’t push for the ‘Your Turn Now‘ cards and make them mainstream. We didn’t speak for what was right, in our eyes. We let our own dreams fall apart, without any sort of a try to save them.

But, it doesn’t end here. It can’t.

I just read this blogpost today by someone about what has happened to Meru Cabs, because of the political clout existing in Mumbai and Maharashtra politics. I also read Meru Cabs’ appeal letter to the citizens of Mumbai whom it has rightfully and honestly served (yes, I agree, I have used them on multiple occasions and have never had a negative feedback) for the last six years. And reading both of these, made me extremely sad.

I’ve been contemplating writing a post for this blog for a while now, about what I can do to make the General Elections that’ll occur sometime next year, more transparent and help those who want to vote an informed choice. I would have written a very positive post about what NJTT is going to do for you and how amazing it’s going to be for us to help you all. But honestly, I can’t convince myself of it.

It’s the politics around me that makes me sad. It’s how pathetic it has become and how foolishly we accept the fake political promises made to us, at face value, that hurts.

I want to promise you that NJTT will do everything in its power to help you make an informed decision and to take a stand against what’s wrong. But, the past and what has happened holds me back today.

I can’t say for the other authors at NJTT and for NJTT as a whole, but, personally, I promise that I will try to do everything I can, always, to make this world a better place.

In hope that there’ll be another post that I pen down for this blog…

Yours truly,

Setu Shah.

It’s Your Turn Now.

It has been almost 3 months since my last post. And a lot has happened since. But today, I write this post for a reason. Because today, it’s my turn.

I came across this initiative (by someone who I don’t know personally) called Your Turn Now (referred to as YTN hereon) less than 3 hours ago, and here I am, writing a post promoting the same.

Each and everyday, we come across hundreds of people, have conversations with may be a fifty, and are thankful to almost a dozen. Similarly, there are many who are thankful to us, for something or the other, day in and day out.

What do we do to them, except say a ‘Thank you’? How do we express the gratitude in our hearts?

The gratitude is the goodwill we have. The goodwill someone else has for our actions. And YTN is an effort to spread that goodwill.

You don’t have to pay a penny. You just have to spread smiles, and these cards. What cards, you ask?

This is a 2-sided, visiting card style card which you pass on to someone who says ‘Thank you’ to you, for your goodwill, requesting them to do the same. The colours haven’t been reproduced as well as I would like on my scanner, but, they’re good cards. Not cheap quality, printing paper-style cards. Real, durable cards.

And the best part, these cards are available for free.

This is a start. A start to live in a better society, to live in a world where thanking someone isn’t a ritual, but, a happy and graceful choice. Why not take part in an initiative someone else is willing to pay for, just for those smiles, just for the sake of a happier society?

I am going to begin spreading these tomorrow onwards (I got a pack of 5 cards before 3 hours when I came to know about this effort). If you think it makes some sense, get them, spread them.

Until the next post…

‘Tis All In The Mind


Wait. Somebody just let out an angry grunt.

Who is it? Businessman? Teacher? Student? Salaried staff? Roadside vendor? Common man?

Ah! I should have guessed in earlier. The common man!

So what is this whole fuss about? Rise in prices? Rise in standard of living? Delays in commuting? Corruption? Scams? Black money? Or for one sole reason that you are fooled again?

A few days back I was same like the people around me. I had to go through the same painstaking process like most of us normally do. Wake up early in morning. Race against time to complete daily chores. Skip breakfast in order to catch the regular train to report at work. Miss the train. Report late at work. Bear the brunt of the senior for being late. Hunt through the list of clients. Strive hard to please them by compromising with ideals. Crawl back home in a tired state of body and mind. Miss the dinner with family while they wait eagerly to have my company and drop dead on bed with a hope that the new day shall be less worse than the current one. But the cycle hardly changes.

Who is accountable for this? Who is to be blamed for it?

The milkman, who has to compromise with the quality of dairy products because in no circumstances can I afford the increase in prices?

The newspaper guy, who delivers the newspaper filled with cynical headlines on front page?

The driver of the taxis, rickshaws, buses, trains who somehow don’t provide the sync that I expect from them to help me report at work on time?

The fellow commuters whose sweat makes the stench unbearable?

The boss who expects me to deliver results for the company even though I don’t see a scope of increment in salary, promotion?

The client who has his own battles to fight with rather than paying attention to my hardwork and asking me to come next time?

The canteen guy who delivers me a bad tea?

Or should I blame my family for unnecessarily irritating me when I am passing a bad day?

I observed my pattern of thoughts throughout the day. Most of them were totally cynical and pessimistic in nature. I kept complaining and ranting about most of the things that I saw around. The garbage in my neighbourhood. The price hikes. The scams. The bribe asking government officials to get my work done. The exam paper leaks. The killings reported in newspaper.

And then I came across A speech by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. Before moving forward I would request you to read the speech.

It made me question myself quite a few things and I am sure that the same questions will arise in your mind too. Why do we whine? Why do we complaint? If we do have issues with our system then why can’t we make our system better? It reminds me of one of the famous dialogues from the movie Rang De Basanti where R. Madhavan says to the other heroes, “Koi bhi desh perfect nahi hota… Usse perfect banana padhta hai!” No country is perfect by default. It is us who have to strive to make the country better.

All I read in the newspapers is Lok Sabha sessions being interrupted. Public services disrupted due to strikes. Self proclaimed social workers and politicians going on hunger strike and fasts. Political parties declaring nationwide shutdown. Is this helping us to progress in any way? Or are we dragging ourselves backward towards being a third world nation?

Did you feel offended when I termed our nation as a third world country? So did I. It is us who can prove the critics wrong by showing them our capability to be a superpower. It is us who can bring the change in our political system by actively making efforts to bring changes. Somebody has rightly said (I can’t remember the name of that icon), “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

It is our actions that can decide the fate of our system. And it is upto our minds to develop ideas that can help us develop as a first world country.

There are two options that you have after reading this post:
1. Whine around as always and laze around waiting for somebody else to bring the change and rule over us AGAIN.
2. Make up your mind to bring the change in a positive way.

Afterall, like the title says, ‘Tis All In The Mind.

Peace, Poetry and Power
Bhavin Shah

Kony 2012. Actions have spoken; louder than ever.

Allright people, time to get this done. As a part of the STOP KONY 2012 Movement initiated by the Invisible Children organisation, the world is to be painted red on 20th April, 2012 by spreading as much awareness as possible. Kindly show your support for the movement by downloading the posters from Not Just The Talks. facebook page and better still, print them and post them around the neighborhood; be a part of the rebellion!

Kindly read posts published by co-bloggers Setu and Bhavin regarding the revolution.

Also, we, Not Just The Talks.(Link directs to blog) are making it happen :).
KONY 2012 t-shirts at Rs. 350/piece (inclusive of shipping).
Promised delivery by 19th April (max) to make sure you can boast it on the D-day, 20th April.
Go, order people :)!
Fill up the form by clicking here and we’ll get in touch with you about the payments.

Once again, the posters can be downloaded from the NotJustTheTalks facebook page.

Set them as you wallpapers; let the parents, relatives, siblings ask whats up; no matter what, keep spreading the word and let the awareness magnify to no limits!
Here is your chance to be a part of a movement that has united the world against one massive violator; incase you wish to learn further on the movement, do watch the video below! BE THE CHANGE!

KONY 2012. Time for Action.

It’s been almost a month (29 days, actually) since the day I saw the #KONY2012 video first. And since then, this movement has had my support, whole-heartedly.

And it’s been more than 10 days since my photo was published in the ‘Times Life!’ supplement of the Times Of India, for my efforts regarding the same.

If you’ve seen the KONY 2012 video, by now you know that the D-day is 20th April, which is less than a fortnight from today. And thus, it’s time to begin the preparations.

Posters, bracelets, sign-boards, t-shirts… It’s all rolling and travelling through the world!

We may not be in USA and our actions might not count as much as theirs will, but whatever we do, in our little ways does count.

We can’t see injustice befallen on the people of Uganda. We can’t see them going through pain while we live our lavish lives in a much more peaceful country. We feel for them. We feel their pain. We feel their agony. And we understand their anguish.

Today, I request you, to do what you can, everything you can, to support us at NJTT to make a difference and stand up for humanity. On humanitarian grounds, stand by us. Do what the world expects you to do, the right thing.

It’s now or never.

If your choice is now, go ahead and pre-order a t-shirt, with us, boasting the KONY 2012 graphics and taglines, and wear it on the 20th April, to show your support.

We’ve designed a t-shirt, especially for NJTT supporters of KONY 2012 and we’d be glad to get it to you at the rates it gets to us to get it printed. A comprehensive post, regarding the same, will be posted by someone from the NJTT team, tomorrow, specifying the price, delivery and other details. If you are not sure, don’t post it till then. But, if you are sure you want that t-shirt, help us get the count and we’ll make sure you get your t-shirt well in time.

If you still want to do more, then get yourself a copy of the posters from here, unzip the folder, read the ‘Guide’ file, and get those posters printed. (You can also get these posters from our Facebook page.)

Paste them wherever you can, how many ever you can on the 20th. Reach out to the maximum number possible for you to, what you think would be a great number, achieve it.

I’ll be doing both of these and will expect all of you to, too. It’s the world we live in, the world we love, we’re talking about. Let’s make it a better place to live in, for ourselves, for the generations to come.

Paint your town/city red! Make Kony famous!

Stop at nothing. KONY 2012.

Update (09.04.2012): We are making the t-shirts happen. At 350/piece (inclusive of shipping). Order them here.
For more details, check this post on our FB page.

Education & India: Part 2 of 2

Like I’ve said earlier (by that, I mean in Part 1), my life revolves around the state of education in India today, being a student. And I lead from where I left, in the first post, in this one.

1) Colleges: The basic requisite for a successful post-education life-in-the-real-world, as I’ve heard so far, begins from colleges. Schools are those parts of our lives, when we’re shaped and also protected during the process. But, in colleges, we have our first interaction with the real world. So, it wouldn’t be immature-ish of me to say, that ‘That’s where it all begins…’.

There’s not much to say, except that what I’m (by that I mean everyone in their respective colleges) taught is purely theoretical bullshit. Something that has been in the textbooks since ages. And, even if it has been ‘revised’ lately, I’m assured, when I open the first page, that all I’ll study, will be something that isn’t even present in real day life.

For example:

a) I know that Intel 8051 microprocessor is an entire semester worth of subject for a specific brach(es) of engineering. Something, many of us who had vocational subjects in Junior College (11th and 12th), have learnt for a whole year. Besides, it has been out of the whole tech-world for ages now, since it was the first microprocessor ever built. The ones in use now, are much more advanced.

b) I’m truly tired of performing titrations of acids, bases, and everything that can be neutralized. I’ve been, since 4 years. And yet, my chemistry syllabus, since 9th, has a considerable amount of the same very thing.

I’m a student of science and thus incapable of being able to prospect what other branches are like, but well, I know for one, that they’re not apt to the industrial standards of what a professional should know. They lack practical knowledge. They lack the need for understanding and emphasize on the answers to be rote-learnt and puked into the answer booklets. 8 pages of random scribbling, even if it’s the story-line of a Bollywood movie, might get you more marks than someone who actually knows the concepts well enough and explains the same, more precisely in 4. And the most of all, having the inclination towards daily technology that I have, I hate that we don’t have technology dwelling into our educational lives.

Tech is all over our professional lives. A CEO without a tablet, a BlackBerry, an iPhone, would be like a CEO without a suit. A mall without free wi-fi access, would receive brickbats from the goers. We have courier guys who ask us to sign on a touch-screen with a stylus, before receiving our deliveries.

But, we don’t have simple amenities like free wi-fi access, projectors, etc. in colleges. We don’t have the permission to take notes on our laptops, tablets or smartphones, or getting them mailed to us, instead of having to pen down every single thing.

Just two questions. Seriously? And how long more?

All of the fore-mentioned, may not be necessary upto school level of teaching, but, beyond that, I redeem it to be the need of a student.

Another thing that makes me pity myself for studying in India, is the quality of teachers we have.

2) Graduate & Post-Graduate institutions: The lack of infrastructure, for the all-round development, in such institutions, beyond what I mentioned above, is something that I hate the most. And most of the infra provided, is out-dated, aged. The same applies to events occurring within the college premises. (A request to anyone from any college’s faculty or management reading this, a student’s graduation years are those which he/she memoirs the most, make sure you give them something to remember. Be it festivals, shows, competitions, workshops, what not! Make sure they have a memory of a lifetime, everytime.)

They say, someone who can’t be anything else, becomes a teacher. That, seems like the truth. At least in the colleges I’ve been in, and the one I’m in right now. A guy (I’m poor at Indian mythology, I don’t remember the name, sorry) learns the art of archery when Dronacharya was teaching Arjun, by just observing. That’s the kind of teachers I want to learn from. Those whose lectures I would want to attend. Those whose lectures I wouldn’t want to go to sleep in, sitting on the last bench. Those, in whose lectures, I wouldn’t want to keep texting because I’m bored. Enough said.

Every college has a policy (at least those that I know of) to restrict teachers from taking external coaching, anywhere. And well, we all know what the truth is. Most college lectures, all through the country, are not conducted. Teachers get their salaries. And they earn further-more because of the minting machines that coaching classes are. In purview of better grades, parents making students machines which run on a typical home-college-classes-home schedule. I don’t even know what to say, anymore!

Professors’ involvement in research, and industrial funding for the same, is something I root for. It’s necessary for learning what textbooks don’t teach us, in every institution. That also adds a second income for the faculty involved, the college and adds to the students’ knowledge.

3) Reservation: I was hoping I wouldn’t have to talk about it. But, a post about education, without pulling the strings of this sensitive topic that reservation and quota systems in education systems are, is incomplete.

I’ve a dual-side opinion on quota system. I think that quota should be there. But, I also think that this reservation of education seats, should be fair, to those who aren’t in the reserved categories.

Discrimination on the basis of caste, and giving unfair advantage (read: reserved seats with lower cut-offs) seems unseemingly wrong to me. Most of them, don’t even need it. Reading in newspapers the cut-offs for SCs, STs, OBCs being less than half of those for the general category, just punches a hole through my heart.

That’s how unfair we are, that for political votebanks and the divide-and-rule tactics, we give up everything we’ve ever learnt.

All our life, we’ve been taught to treat everyone as equals. Mahatma Jyotirao Phule, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, among others, gave up their lives fighting for equality. ‘Right to Equality’ is one of the fundamental rights conferred upon us the by the respected Constitution of India. And even then, when it comes to admissions, we just forget all this and fight about equality.

We’re in the 65th year of independent India, and I think it’s high time that we eventually got rid of this indiscriminate advantage given to those who are supposedly of lower castes. May be they didn’t have the facilities like we, of the general category, do. But, things sure should’ve and would’ve changed now. Reduce this reservation by 3-5% every year, or every 2 year, and reduce it till it reaches a 5% mark. Let them face the competition too!

Instead, in my opinion, reservation for those from financially weaker classes, should be actually implemented. The same way, the reservation for women’s seats, seems acceptable to me, considering the number of women who actually attend schools and colleges in India.

Solutions, I propose:

1) Syllabi : The syllabi of every stream of education, needs some incredible amount of shaking and revision by a whole panel of industrial experts, including top-level exeutives CEOs, CTOs, CFOs. Sorting and preparing a list of what should be, from what is. And the guidelines from what these experts conclude, be sent to the Universities over the country, and then let them formulate their own syllabi.

2) Teaching Staff : A mammoth-sized re-arrangement in terms of the rules and who-ends-up-a-teacher is necessary.

3) Extra Credits – There are students who are great at sports, writing, art & craft, playing music, etc. Why are they not given a fair hand over those others who are only good at vomiting out what they’ve read in the textbooks? To be a human being, and to graduate from college, are 2 different aspects, and every institution in India, by the virtue and very nature of it, is responsible for both of them. Undeniably. Thus, the inclusion of this, is something I feel necessary.

Education should be the arsenal of a country. The smart minds it produces, should lead and be led. I’ve said enough, in 2 posts. But, now it’s time for action. And that’s only possible, if each one of you reading this, reaches out to your ‘contacts’ and convinces one person of the need for these reforms and the solutions proposed. Of course, only if you think they are fair.

Until the next post…

P. S.: I may appear biased, forgive me. Use your fair judgement for that part of the post.

Time to be a Game Changer


Time: 4:20 PM IST
Venue: A small cabin inside my regular workplace.
Current Scenario: Loads of clients demanding their wants.
Action taken: NOTHING. Watching a random video sent by a confidante and finally making a contribution by writing this post.

Dear avid bloggers, readers and the random page hunters who are accidently reading this post to kill their time,

Here’s a big HELLO to all of you from my side. This is me… A random web surfer who likes going through random profiles, writing stuffs on random topics, rambling, ranting, abusing and cussing over the same things that most of the common men talk about.
Poverty. Corruption. Slavery. Treachery. Unemployment.
You name it and I join the bandwagon. Yes. It’s me. The common man.

Currently, my location is your IP address. That’s because currently you are reading this post on your gadget and that’s where I have popped up. Yes. I am the common man that you are seeing around your area, on a nearby table in the cafe that you are currently sitting in, a house near your neighbourhood. You name the place and that’s where I turn up. Because it is me. The common man.

I came across this link while searching for a good read to kill my time. It talks about the top ten revolutions that the world has witnessed. Though I can add up a few more that have been witnessed in recent times like The Egyptian Revolution, The Libyan Revolution but there is a strange feeling that makes me sad for not being a part of any of these revolutions. I am the common man. And I have an intention to contribute towards doing something good for the benefit of the society.

This is when I came across a history (in the making) to be a part of. If you think this is a revolt then I am one of those revolters. If you think this is a rebellion against the injustice meted to the random people then I am a rebel. And if you think this is the cause that you too are fighting for then yes I am your FRIEND!

Yes. I raise my voice against the injustice meted over my brothers and sisters in Uganda.
Yes. I raise my voice against the apathy of its people.
Yes. I raise my voice against the inhumane and the barbaric acts being witnessed out there.
Yes. I raise my voice in support of KONY2012.

I wouldn’t like you to read what is KONY2012 about. Rather I would show you what is the whole issue about.

Decide for yourself. Do you want to be a game changer? Or do you wish to remain a mere spectator?

The choice is yours.

Till then… Warm Regards.

Peace, Poetry and Power,

Bhavin Shah

Education & India: Part 1 of 2

I’m a student and I have problems with the education that is supposedly ‘imparted’ to me. That’s where this post begins from and that’s also where the part 2 of this post will end.

There’s a reason I chose ‘Education “&” India’ instead of what should have been ‘Education “in” India’. It being the same reason that we can’t and don’t produce enough talent, educated talent. There is no education in India. It’s a myth. And whatever is, is the word education & its association with India. Thus, the title.

I remember my kindergarten and primary school days. Everyday, I used to be more than eager to attend school. Not because of my friends, teachers or to study. (Or may be it was one of them, I was too little then to remember anything about it now.) One of the reasons being, like most others of my age, who were in other schools from mine, I didn’t have the worry of appearing in exams and performing poorly, at an age when I barely even understood what ‘competition’ meant.

Having come a good 8-10 years since that point, having come through secondary school, junior college and studying in an engineering college today, most the facts, myths and so-called-beliefs about education in India, are busted to me, and these are undeniable (of course, a few exceptions).

  1. Education is a business. A business, like none other. And a bountiful one, for that matter.
  2. The quality of education, depends on the fees of the school or college you are in, nothing else.
  3. There’s nothing really to ‘learn’ or ‘understand’. You rote, mug up, puke it out in your exam papers, get the marks, go to a good college/university, repeat the previous steps, get a job.
  4. You don’t have a heart. You don’t have a life. You have just competition to face. And that too, a fierce one.
  5. You may lose your admission to someone less deserving, but from a backward class. So, if you’re a student from the general category, you have to hate those who are not.

These are the things that are understood, told to, perceived, and accepted by everyone who is a student in any part of India right now (Please don’t shower me with exceptions right now, please?). The point is, everything that I’ve said above, is just the gist of the things I have understood in the last few years.

We make robots, not students or humans, in packs of thousands and thousands. Those who compete for every mark they can get, in every exam they ever give. We can’t think out of the box because our education cripples us to think in one line. Every time we think outside those boundaries, we are losing out on our marks, our parents are on our backs to score, and then we’re back on track to the end of the manufacturing line, till the end, again.

And then we’re proud in saying that NASA, Intel, Microsoft, Google, doctors in USA, etc. are Indians. Ivy League colleges have Indian deans. Heads of MNCs are Indians. Did they study in India? And did they ever say that solely their study in India made them their life in USA? Or any country of the world, for that matter? Why do educated (and/0r) wealthy Indians send their children abroad for studies?


We all, each one of us who is alive in this country, knows that the education system of the country is something we are not and can’t be proud of. And if we are, we are just fooling ourselves, truly.

And, no matter how much we talk about changing it, it’s not changing. Just not.

They say, Bollywood does what anything else can’t. For the latest, polio was eradicated completely after Amitabh Bachchan’s ‘Do Boond Zindagi Ke’ campaign (applauds), and there are numerous other examples which each one of us knows about. In fact, the reason India changes, is when Bollywood calls it to. And even after having our eyes soar of crying while watching ‘Taare Zameen Par’ and laughing till our stomach hurts, while watching ‘3 Idiots’, we didn’t particularly learn anything from either.

Or may be we did, but did we apply it to our lives? We are happy and when we’re out of the theatres, that’s it? There goes our desire to study and make our children study (for those who are, or will be parents) in a better and more sensible environment?! Just like that?

Well, for anyone else it may. For me, it doesn’t. For Not Just The Talks., it doesn’t. I’m tired, really tired of not doing anything. And I am going to. From now, and I will keep doing, for everything that I say on this blog that I will.

In this 2 part blogpost, I’m going to cover a few things that are my real concern with the education system in India. In part 1, I will talk about the over-all situation of education in India (a lot of which I already did) and then about the school-specific problems and reforms I think are the need-of-the-hour. In part 2, it will be a broad go from colleges (junior, graduate and PG) to reservation.

Also, I had designed what ‘My Dream School’ should/would be like, describing it with every minute detail, 2 years ago. I will put that up on my personal blog, after these 2 posts.

And so, to part 1…

The first thing that we need to bust, for every entrepreneur, coaching class owners and teachers and politician who enters the education sector with a view to exploit, earn, and be seen noble. Well, it is not a diamond-mine, you retards. We’re humans, children. Innocent, delicate, culpable, and we’re impressionable.

But, at the same time, we are not stupid, mindless or unaware to not see what you do! Enough said.

It hurts to see such things happen, mostly in colleges, and I’ll talk about it in detail in my next post.

Then comes my other major concern, the quality and techniques of education. They say, those who fail at everything else, teach in India. Seems pretty true with the quality of teachers I have seen in my post-school life (even in coaching classes). Techniques, well, rote learning never had me backing it. I always was the guy who understood every concept and wrote them down in his words. Still am. And will always be. But, I think over such theoretical studies (which is primitive and the portion is worn out, not in-sync with the current scenario of the world), practical knowledge, applications, logic, and promoting these, should be emphasized.

We live in a digital world. I know that digitization hasn’t penetrated so deep in the Indian cities yet (let alone villages), but, using technology and internet to our benefits, is the only way forward. Not being slaves to them, but, making them our media to communicate and ease our lives, yes. I would want to say do away with paper stationary completely and go digital! But, that’d be utopian and nonsensical. Reducing it, by a major, would do the trick to begin with.

Next up, the competition we are faced with. The forceful studying. Why should I study physics when I know I don’t want to be a physicist or even an engineer? What if I know I want to go medical? Or musician, actor, director, author, archeologist, sportsperson? Who deserves to make that choice if not me? Of what I do with my life? And that’s what we need. The ability to choose our lives, through what we are good at, over what we can force ourselves to be good at.

Coming to the last part of this post. Schools.

Kindergarten. The most expensive and weird business I have observed. Utterly unnecessary expenditures. People coughing up sums of money to get their kids into some XYZ K.G. where he/she’s just gonna play?! Interviews of a 4-year kid for giving him/her admission? I think that’s the lowest our society can (and more so I hope, should) fall to.

Well, I think where I studied, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan Vidyalaya, has left pretty good an impression on me about the no-exams-till-sixth-grade thing. Let your children enjoy life till they are 10 or 11, parents! Let them play, laugh, dance, sing, and be happy. Why burden them with studies till then? Why bombard them with the pressure to score?

Although, at the same time, teaching them their very well basics and building their blocks, for the future.

Marks for everything co- and extra-curricular. You have the right to get recognition for something exceptional that you do in the fields which are not related to academics in any way. But, they’re still very important. You have that right. And that should be given to us. That develops a student, in all the aspects of his personality, and not just as a popping parrot who would answer your questions, in the words of the text-books.

That’s pretty much it for now… Part 2 is gonna be much more hard-hitting and intense, I promise.

Till then, adios!

Update (02-04-2012): The part 2 of this post is up here.

It’s not just India. It’s the world. KONY 2012.

As Indians, we know how it is like to live in a diverse country. And thus, it’s easier for us to multiply those daily culturally different experiences by 7 so that we can somewhat figure out what the situation of the 7 billion people alive in the world we live in, and their diversity, is. Or, may be we can’t imagine.

Africa. The first thing that comes to our minds (all of our minds) when the name of this continent strikes, is that it is a third-world continent. Not a country, a continent. We have come to generalize Africa as a third world continent, as almost all of its countries are such.

Having said that, the second thing that pops into my mind (not sure about anyone else) is the way the people live over there. Since the advent of imperialism, the African people have suffered to the hands of their European, American, Australian and Asian colonizers. And wars (inter-country and intra-country both), have always been existent in the whole continent for power, control and most of all, resources.

Coal, mineral oil, silver, gold, diamond. Every single time, the same old story. No difference. Some random army guy with a lust for power and money, turns a rebel. Kills people without a reason, kidnaps kids from villages and tribes. Turns guys into his soldier and girls into sex workers. Millions are killed, everytime a civilian war has begun in the continent. Every (literally) bloody single time.

Movies like Blood Diamond, Hotel Rwanda, The Last King Of Scotland, among others, have shown us what the situation of the people there is, truly. And, those blood-smeared faces and bodies, those sad-but-hopeful eyes, those acts of cruelty, everything, is something I can’t forget.

One thing that has been common, in all these movies is that they depicted a phase of revolution, instability that was. Not existent in the current world scenario. But, it always frightens me, what if it was real, even today? And well, we know for sure, it is. Just that we want to close our eyes to it.

Now comes the sad part. The world doesn’t even know, most of the times. We see a 2-minute coverage of such situations in our daily prime-time news, every once in a while, we get sad, we speak foul about the people doing it, and then we’re back to doing what we were doing. That’s it! That’s all we have done all along.

Not anymore. Not anymore for at least me or the other bloggers posting for NJTT.

KONY 2012

Enough is enough, and this carnage has to stop.

I saw this video a few days ago, and then sent a personal message to 50 of my Facebook friends (the most influential of the lot), to share it, as much as they could. And truly, I’m saddened by the lack of response.

I posted it myself on multiple groups, pages, etc. And there has none or barely any activity. Right now, I hope that changes.

So, what is KONY 2012? What the freaking hell is this all about?

Joseph Kony is a thug, simply said. Grown into power in one such struggles (as described earlier), he is a military dictator who has done many a wrong-doings that he deserves to be punished for. He holds the 1st spot (much above Saddam Hussain, bin Laden and others) in the world’s top criminals list (since the first edition of the list), let out by International Criminal Court, for his crimes in Uganda and has never been caught, till date. Till date.

That’s the important part. And that’s what you must watch the video for. To find out how to get through this ’till date’ part. It is a long video (30 minutes). But trust me, it’ll be a well spent 30 minutes of your life.

‘Not Just The Talks.’ began as a platform to speak and bring about change within India, and for the people of this country. But, we at NJTT feel that if any such movement needs our support, we won’t shy for it. It’s for the humanity, for our brothers and sisters, the world over. And thus, today, I myself, Pratik and Raj, support this cause fully and will do as the video demands, when it demands. Kony has to be brought to justice, and we hope he will be, too.

Make sure you watch the video, I repeat, for the nth time probably.

As the little girl says before Michael Jackson’s ‘Heal The World’ song, ‘I think about the generations, and they say they want to make it a better place for our children and our children’s children. So that they they they know it’s a better world for them and I think they can make it a better place.’

So can we.

Let’s make this world a better place.


(Before posting this, I have read a few articles that talk against this whole movement like this and this. But, I also have read, and would want you to read this before raising any fingers against this movement. We support it, we absolutely don’t endorse it.)