The Other End of The Corridor

The Other End of The Corridor

It's a page turner which highlights society's perspective on women
-Praveen Sood, Commissioner of Police, Bengaluru

The book is admirable as a debut work of the author
-Prof.Harbans Singh, Writer & Critic

The book is straight from the heart. It renders the best of what one expects in a storyline
-Madhav Kaushik, Writer & Poet

It is an inspirational read for all girls in our country, and a must read, especially for parents with daughters to be married
-K.B. Ganapathy, Editor-in-Chief, Star of Mysore

The novel stands apart for its magnificent narration. The writing is crisp, evoking and compassionate
-Sudipto Das, Author of The Ekkos Clan

The novel is an engrossing read
-Neelam Saxena Chandra, Author

Recommended read for every woman to keep chasing her dreams, and for every man to know what it means to dream
-Namrata, Author

Walking that Extra Mile… Pratham shows the way

(Published in Star of Mysore, June 24, 2014) 

By Sujata Rajpal
If there is one thing which sets the children of Private schools apart from those in Government schools, it is the exposure to advanced teaching methodologies and quality education. Government school children are also at the receiving end due to unavailability of qualified teachers, and poor student teacher ratio which aggravate the despicable scenario and further widen the class divide.  Shouldn’t the race be considered null and void, if there is no common starting line for all? Bring everyone at par and then watch the fun. 
Pratham Mysore continues to do its bit to bridge this gap as far as the exposure to quality education is concerned. Its most recent initiative is aimed at bringing the children from government schools to the forefront of competitive excellence. The objective is to prepare the high school children to take up NMMS (National Means cum Merit Scholarship) examination conducted by the Department of State Educational Research and Training (DSERT) in collaboration with State and Central Government Education departments. It awards scholarships to meritorious students of economically weaker section and thereby helps in reducing the dropout rate of children at Class VIII.

Dr T. Padmini, Founding Trustee of Pratham along with Dr Yoganandan, Professor of Physics at Vidya Vardhaka Junior college, worked on the methodology to execute the same.
As a pilot project, 39 children from three Government Schools (Government High School, Vontikoppal, Adarsha Vidyalaya, Vinayakanagar and Government High School Medar Block) were selected through an aptitude test for the intensive coaching programme.
Fourteen children coached by Pratham have successfully cleared NMMS examination. They will get a scholarship of Rs 24,000/ for four years. At the State level, 56 children have passed the examination from Mysore North Block with only 14 children from the Government Schools. It is a matter of pride that all the 14 children were attendees of Pratham coaching programme for NMMS. 
The students went through rigorous coaching on Aptitude, Science, Social Science, Math and Languages. The classes were conducted for six months after school hours by Pratham’s enthusiastic team of volunteers. When it comes to coaching children from families with hand- to- mouth existence, the challenge is not just training them to learn the curriculum. Besides coaching, there were logistics issues like arranging light snacks for children as they would come straight from their respective schools, transporting them to a common centre, keeping their motivational levels high and such other issues which most of us cannot comprehend. But as they say, if there is will, there is always a way. All issues become non issues when there is a bigger purpose to achieve.
NMMS Examination comprises two tests – General Mental Ability Test (GMAT) and Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). GMAT consists of 90 multiple choice questions on verbal and non – verbal metacognitive abilities like reasoning and critical thinking. SAT also consists of 90 multiple choice questions covering subjects namely Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics, History, Civics, Geography as taught in classes VII and VIII.
The customized programme followed a structured approach to teaching including  three mock tests , and used abundant visual aids. 
“A picture is equal to one thousand words. Visual representation helps in better retention and understanding. I used PPTs and other forms of pictorial representation to teach Math and Social Studies. Even the Great Wall of China should be explained through visuals,” tells Serena Lobo, a volunteer with Pratham. Serena is now an employee of Pratham.
“Apart from teaching aids and a structured approach, what actually works is the positive attitude towards students.  Shun the negative labels and see what wonders they are capable of doing. The objective of this programme is not just to coach them to get the scholarship but instil confidence in them to face life,” tells Dr Padmini.
Nayana M , a 9thgrader from Vontikoppal Government School was thrilled when I spoke to her over the phone.  She is one of the 14 recipients of NMMS scholarship this year.  “I am going to buy only books with the scholarship money, and I want to study Commerce after SSLC,” said Nayana. Her mother Leela who works as a house help called me back as soon as I ended the call.  “Madam, I forgot to tell you, I am very happy not only because my daughter is getting a scholarship of Rs 500 per month but because this programme has improved her confidence level. Look, how confidently she spoke to you over the phone just now,” said the proud mother.
Rightly said, if you are confident, you can conquer any mountain.

The Name Game

A rose called by any other name would smell just as sweet, wrote Shakespeare.
Mysore will be Mysooru / Mysuru and Bangalore will be named Bengaluru soon and so will some of the other cities in Karnataka.
So what? What’s the big deal about it? Will this twist of the tongue make Bengaluru less polluted, less congested; will it bring relief from stray dog menace or yes, will it become Singapore( BTW do you remember once upon a time S.M. Krishna wanted to make Bangalore …sorry Bengaluru like Singapore?) How it is going to change life for any one of us. Don’t understand why such a hullabaloo on name changing ceremony except the twisting of tongue to pronounce it. Are there not more important things craving for attention than a mere change of name? If only name change could improve things…
The proposal for the name change first came in Dec 2005, it is only July 2007. In a country where everything from Buses to proposals thro decisions move at a snail’s speed, it is pleasantly amazing to note that the decisions can be taken so quickly and things come to conclusion in 18 months. What if our politicians start demonstrating such exuberance and elation in other matters too like stray dog menace, efficient public transport, depleting greenery, traffic snarls ….I will have to write an essay if I start mentioning everything.

Knowing Etiquettes Matters

Shivram Gangadhariah has sent an interesting article on how important it is to know diversity in human behaviors and etiquettes as these convey different meanings in different cultures.

We should be thankful to the wonderful diversity that exists in human behaviors and etiquette. Otherwise ours would have been monotonously boring world. But this diversity can create some problems. When it comes to etiquette, ignorance is certainly not bliss. Innocent actions may cause confusion or, worse still, may be construed as offensive.
Following examples, courtesy, show some of the complexities arising from diverse etiquette. Germans prefer formal mode of address such as doctor or professor, stressing their educational credentials, so you shouldn’t make the mistake of using first-names in Germany. In England you are expected to be punctual to meetings, whereas in Italy being 5-10 minutes late is the norm. Attending a meeting in Dubai wearing a dish-dasha (a white ankle-length gown) and gutra (head cloth) is likely to draw criticism, as foreigners are not supposed to wear traditional Muslim clothing. At times, etiquette can be very subtle. In Japan, business cards should ideally be produced from the pocket of your jacket, and not from trouser pockets. Also, the business-card presented to you should be left in front of you, because putting it away is a signal that the meeting is over. Sometimes, ignorance of etiquettes can cause much more serious problems than mere confusion – it may offend your host and damage the relationship beyond repair. For example, in Hong Kong, gifting clocks to acquaintances is a strict no-no because it is thought to signify death.
First-time visitors to India who are ignorant of Indian behaviors may be bewildered to find their hosts shaking head side-to-side to indicate agreement or approval, because most of the rest of the world understands a sideways shake of the head to mean disagreement or disapproval. In our own Mysore, it is improper etiquette to say “naanu hogu thini” (“I am going”) while bidding good-bye – the correct expression is “naanu hogiddu baruthini” (“I am going & shall return”).
Do spend some time and effort learning local behaviors and etiquette before visiting a new place, as it will help you to some extent in becoming good brand ambassadors. It is not without reason that employers spend small fortunes educating their staff in behaviors and etiquette of the locals, before packing them off to foreign shores.

The Programmer’s Disease
RSI (Repetitive Stress Injury) is a lingo in IT industry. Vikas Kamat has penned an article on how to cure such injuries. He has fondly named it Programmer’s Disease.

We all love mouse as an input device to the computer, and today it is hard to fathom a computer without a mouse-or-trackball-like device. But stop for a while and think how many times in a day you are moving your right hand (for a right-handed person) from keyboard to mouse and vice-versa, it’s probably in tens of thousands of times. The Programmer’s disease occurs by excessive use of the computer keyboard and the mouse. In the medical community, it is also referred to as CTS (Carpel Tunnel Syndrome) and RSI (Repetitive Stress Injury) and increasingly, it is causing a serious problem for workers in the IT industry (hence the name).
How I Fought Programmer’s Disease
In the year 1999 — about ten years into my programming life — I started experiencing acute pain in my right hand (I’m right handed). I didn’t know about RSI then, and sought physical therapy, which provided temporary help. I had some colleagues who underwent surgery, but the pain returned very quickly. I would use ice-packs, which tremendously helped during the treatment. But the pain was not curable.
In year 2000, a fellow programmer suggested that I switch my mouse-clicking hand.
I tried it, and it was difficult initially, but the body learns sooner than you think. The pain subsided, and over the period of last seven years, I have become ambidextrous, and best part is that the pain is gone!Switching the Clicking Hand Cures RSI
Tips to Prevent RSI

• Stretch and massage your hands
• Perform activities with hands that are opposite to the repetitive strain — like weight lifting, racquet sports (like Tennis, no Cricket doesn’t help!)
• Distribute the work to other parts of the body — use alternate fingers and limbs.

Personally, I am waiting for the two technical breakthroughs – one is a foot-operated mouse. As automobile driving technology has shown us, the foot can be very sensitive and can respond very rapidly. The other thing I’m waiting for is a digital glove so I can keep my hands in the pocket of my pants and still operate the PC.

Road to Good Health

‘Give lift to your heart, use stairs and not lift’ …says a bright yellow poster adorned on the wall just outside the elevator as we enter our office in the morning. I often find employees in their 20’s and 30’s lovingly admire creatives on this poster while they wait for the elevator to descend. Perhaps ‘your’ heart’ in this poster literally means ‘your’ heart and the message is for others and not the reader. It is natural that our health seems valuable to us only after we lose it.
The most unfortunate fallout of the unprecedented economic progress that world has witnessed in the past decade is the radical change in the life styles of most employees. The project dates, deadlines, work sheets, number of billable hours take the lead in running the biological clock. Time being the most precious commodity; the employees are working more, exercising less, eating wrong and taking stress thus grossly affecting their overall health. Studies show that almost 1 billion people worldwide suffer from high blood pressure and more than half a billion will harbor this silent killer by 2025. High blood pressure is a leading cause of stroke and kidney failure. Hyper tension and heart diseases are no longer privileged domains of people in their 50s. These can strike even as young as twenties and thirties. Right diet and adequate exercise are instrumental in keeping one fit and healthy. Ironically as per the reports, the bird flu killed only 2000 people worldwide but it created a panic that even the hard core non – vegetarians turned vegetarians overnight.
The age old proverb “you should visit a doctor only when you fall sick” is passé in modern day environment. “Visit your doctor regularly so that you don’t fall sick” is the modified proverb. Good health means more than treating illnesses when they occur. It also means achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, getting optimal nutrition, exercising and staying fit to prevent disease.
Getting started is always the hardest part. It is entirely your choice as what you want to do – exercise, swim, jog, yoga or simply walk but do something as good health like most good things in life is irreversible.