Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Innovative way of sourcing urban things to rural folks...

Clothing is one of the basic necessities for our social survival. Buying clothes is imperative on occasions as well as out of need. An average income earner buys clothes three or four times a year. Gross 60% of the population in a country like India buys clothes twice a year, and 20% buy just once. It is during festivals like Diwali, Dussehra or EID that they buy clothes. A corporate employee buys clothes every fortnight or less (a survey revealed) mainly on weekends. Approximately, he/she will buy at least or minimum 24 pairs a year. That’s no comparison with a common person or a daily wage earner. So where do these clothes go? Closets or cupboards and stay there long after the user moves on to newer clothes, rendering them useless.
During one of my visits to ‘Seva Mela’ (an exhibition showcasing various NGOs in the city) last year, I encountered an interesting NGO named ‘Goonj’. It is a Delhi-based organization, which works towards eradicating various issues.

 About Goonj - 
Goonj is providing clothes & other basic amenities to millions in the far-flung villages by turning urban wastage into resourceful supply for rural India. Every month, over 80 tones of material reaches various parts of the 21 states of India through a nationwide network of over 250 grassroot organizations, panchayats, Ashoka Fellows & social activists. 
You can contribute: old/new clothes (washed), woolens, blankets, utensils, footwear (in pairs), dry ration, sewing machines, umbrellas, school material, books, bicycle, spectacles, toys, newspapers, magazines, used papers (only one face utilized) and money.
The clothes people donate to Goonj are given to the rural and economically backward populace. But they don’t give it for free, they are given as a reward to rural/slum communities who come together to undertake various development activities such as road repair, well digging, pond cleaning, constructing bamboo bridges, plantations etc. That sounds really dignified isn’t it! Things which are easily grabbed are not valued, unless some sort of worth is imparted to it.

After sorting, the unwearable /unusable materials are used to create employment by converting them into more than 35 different products.
 Bags and backpacks made out of jeans.

Strong pencil pouches for students made out of jeans.
Mobile pouches made from reels of audio/video cassettes, a good handicraft work.
'Shaadi ka Joda' (bridal wear)
Goonj, supplies ‘Shaadi ka Joda’ (bridal wear) for orphan couples without any rent. I was astonished to see that they donate four to five dresses to both brides and grooms to perform the wedding rituals; after all, it’s everyone’s dream to make his/her wedding an occasion to be remembered for life...

Donation drive in the office

To support Goonj, and as a part of “Joy of giving week” we organized a donation drive in the office. Placed huge cartons in our reception; within a period of one week we collected a pile of things, that’s really a great response! I thank all my Purpletalk* colleagues for contributing towards a noble cause.  Especially, I appreciate Sachindra Pandey, a senior software engineer at Purpletalk, who initiated this drive.  The collection includes – clothes, books, bags, shoes, electronic playing kits, stationary items, and monetary contribution as well.

That’s a car full of things we received from the collection. Cheers to all J

Monday, October 15, 2012

Milestone in the schooling segment – the Tenth std.

‘SSC’ the other name of Tenth std. in A.P., India
Schooling is an important phase in an individual’s life. You can play, enjoy, and have fun along with studies in this period. However, things are not the same always; you have to really slog it out towards the end of the segment, viz in tenth std.  “Tenth std (SSC) is the turning point in your life, you have to cut down on your recreations and devote 100% time to studies.”, say parents in a strict tone. At school, SSC students don’t have games/pt period. They won’t take part in cultural activities; “if they participate in all the cultural programmes like dance, drama/skit, singing etc, their precious time will be wasted, so, it’s better to curb all entertainment for SSC students”, assert the teachers.  Some crazy parents challenge the tutor – sir, if you make my child score at least 85%, I will reward you with 10k bucks. “It’s a prestigious issue, my daughter and my colleague’s daughter are in tenth standard; if my child gets a low score, how can I show my face to her?” says a working mother. “Do or die, you must score above 90% in the final exams otherwise it’s really difficult to get admission in a good senior secondary school”, says a middle class father.
Private schools progression -
Some or many private schools have moved a step forward – in the ninth standard itself they start teaching tenth std. syllabus. Actually, in the ninth standard, the academic year is somewhat like this – the first 4 months they will teach the 9th std syllabus (term end exams are omitted or skipped), then remaining year they are taught tenth std syllabus. They almost finish teaching the syllabus of tenth in the 9th standard itself. So, the question is, what do they do in the tenth standard? Here, is an interesting answer – in the entire academic year (10th standard) they’ll be revising the entire syllabus at least four times. Conduct so many tests, term-end exams, mock board exams etc. It’s all fair in the race for grades in this competitive generation- ascertain the [corporate] school managements.

But, 9th standard syllabi has plenty of aspects which are useful to students in higher standards. Omission of these topics lead them to suffer later for the lack of knowledge. It’s nothing but a gamble on the students’ future in favor of just one exam (SSC)
The Board Exam
Tenth std students have to appear for board exams in the month of March every year. Though the government has been planning to change the exam system for more than a decade, we hardly see any changes in it. There is tight security in the exam halls with ample invigilators; however, malpractice cases are on the high every year. It’s a known bitter fact, that due to pressure from parents and teachers, certain number of tenth std students are ending their lives after failing to reach their parents’ assigned targets. It is not unusual to hear reports of  suicides the very next day after the declaration of results.

I wonder, is SSC that tough, to sacrifice all the happiest moments of our beautiful childhood...? Well, this is the scene in almost all the schools in A.P.  No limits to expectations. Parents, teachers and students, everyone wants scores, grades; this rat race is making the child an entity rather than a citizen. The need of the hour is to change the exam system, syllabus and approach to teaching as well.