Nationalism in Economically Weak Times

I am sickened to read the newspaper reports coming out about what is happening in Australia, with Indian youths and students being attacked indiscriminately. I hate to say it, but around 3 months ago I predicted that there was every possibility of this starting to happen in the ‘developed’ countries. Sadly, it is a pattern that is all too familiar during times of economic downturn, reflecting the narrow agenda of nationalistic politicians. The agenda of those who would divide in order to rule.

Sadly, during times of economic downturn these kinds of events have played out in the past, too. Even when I was a teenager in late 1970’s UK the economy was in a torrid state. I was a fully paid up, badge wearing member of “Rock Against Racism”. For daring to wear such a badge I was on two occasions spat upon in the street. This is how it happens – the nationalistic (opportunistic) politicians seize their chance. They gather groups and meetings of unemployed youths and sell them a set of myths – “See that ‘Paki’ over there driving that nice car? That would be your car if the foreigners were all sent packing back to where they came from. See that Indian with a nice house? That should have been your house – and it could be, if we send all of THEM home.”

The reality is there doesn’t have to be any truth in it. Most of the youth they are addressing would have been unemployed even in good economic times. They usually are from families who see little value in education, are scornful of all authority and believe in the state’s obligation to provide for them while they live basically hedonistic lives. They live off state benefits, sometimes for two or even three generations after each other.

Sadly, I know that one of the effects of attacks on any minority community by a majority is that the minority withdraw in to themselves, fearing ‘the other’, feeling safer with their own. However, unfortunately, this provides fuel to the fire when the minority are then accused of separating themselves, not making an effort to integrate.

Since I was old enough to understand the strength and rightness of a Martin Luther King or a Gandhi I have known that bigotry, narrow mindedness and racism are not beaten by separation, by mistrust or disengagement. Together, we must all be ready and willing to stand up to nationalistic, jingoistic bigots wherever they exist – not with more violence, but with sensitive communication that corrects the myths and helps them to understand that beneath the skin, if you cut us, we all bleed the same blood.

This is a matter on which i would really like to hear from TSRS students as well as parents and teachers. This has to matter to all of us.

True Shri Ramites

Shri Ramites

These boys really represent what it means to be true Shri Ramites – well done boys!!

ICSE & ISC Results

There has been a great deal of celebration in the school over the last two days – copious amounts of cake, sweets and other goodies consumed, all on account of the best set of ICSE and ISC results the school has ever seen.

Our students have excelled across the board. These results were really satisfying from a number of perspectives, some less obvious than others;

a) 100% pass rate at both Senior campuses,
b) All time high averages at both ICSE and ISC,
c) Some great topper achievements,
d) No student has been held back at any time, regardless of their performance in any particular year. The school ethos here is – “If what we’re all doing isn’t working, let’s try something different”, rather than writing off the child and putting them through humiliation and lowered morale,
e) All students are permitted to follow the stream of their choice in Classes XI and XII – no cut-offs based on Class X results to determine who is allowed to do what.

We make no apologies for repeating our belief (as often as we can) that part of the success comes from the years of very open, supportive collaborative communication with parents – working together as a true partnership for the child’s best interests. Sometimes, like any partnership it can be challenging and difficult, but ultimately results like these show the vital importance of consistency and persistence to make the partnership work.

We have a team of educators who are very talented indeed. Perhaps the most powerful manifestation of that is that even in the midst of all the celebration of these results, the whooping, laughing and crying they are already planning and collaborating on ways that we believe can take the quality of education in TSRS to even greater heights. That, to me, is the strongest measure of a high performing and successful team. Colleagues – I salute you all.

For those who want to know the detail of the results, please use the link below.

08-09 Results MoulArav

A Zany Idea …….

In the so-called ‘Developed countries’ like UK or USA after a new leader is elected to lead the government everyone gets very focussed on the changes they can bring about in the first 100 days after taking office. Expectations are high and there is a willingness to suspend (at least some) cynicism and to look positively and favourably at what gets done.

Well, we have to acknowledge things are a bit different here, when it comes to the ‘public servants’. Also, it looks as though by the time the coalition horse-trading gets over the outcome is anyone’s guess.

However, in my view this shouldn’t worry unduly on the basis that nearly all of the progress in the last 10-15 years has happened despite the politicians rather than because of them. So, how about if the citizens of the country decided, after the election to have a “100 Days to Make a Difference We Can See”?

With inputs from the whole society, NGOs, media, companies, school children and college students there could be a programme of “putting little things straight” throughout the towns, cities and villages. We’ve all seen the stories about how crime on the New York subways was cut when they cleaned the trains. Well, how about a mass mobilisation of a few hundred million people all playing their part to make a difference for 100 days.

Even 1 million people (10 lakh) giving up one hour of their labour/ effort per day for 100 days would be 10 Crore man hours of work done. Wouldn’t that start to make a difference?

If we could imaginatively open our minds up to this, what could we start. Would we see a discernible difference after 100 days? What might that difference look and feel like? Would it create a momentum that could then be sustained? I would love to know what people think. Has my infection gone to my brain and addled it, or is there real possibility in this?

Being A Foreigner in India – The Embarrassment

India is a developing country. Apart from many other things that makes it a country of relatively less wise and ‘smart’ consumers when it comes to marketing, advertising and exploitation.

For the last 10 1/2 years I have been continually troubled and embarrassed by the plain fact that there are a whole bunch of western companies who do things here that they wouldn’t dare to do in their home markets. What wouldn’t they dare to do and why?

Well, i’m talking about companies that dump waste, e-waste and other refuse here as a cheap option for disposal and relief from a headache back home. Then I’m talking about some of the ships they will happily and quietly send to Alang in Gujurat for wrecking, regardless of the fact that the average lifespan for the workers who break the ships is less than 40!

However, day to day the most invidious reminders of how low my fellow ‘first-worlders’ will stoop when nobody is looking properly are all around us and especially in the lives of our children. We only need to make a list of the foreign ‘products’ with the biggest marketing budgets in India;
coke, pepsi and other fizzy drinks
chewing gums
Violent cartoons and children’s programming

The list could go on. What all these products have in common is that consumers in the developed countries have realised just how harmful they are and turned their backs on them – so they have turned their attention and their marketing dollars to markets like India and China. What these people are basically saying is – by now we know our products are bad for people. People in some markets have got smart, so we must go to the markets where people won’t get wise to just how bad we are, at least for a while. It harms children? Shame, but we have to make our money.

I feel like i don’t just want to feel embarrassed any more. I would rather voice the reality as I see it.The consumers of this country need to wise up rapidly and find their voice. Just think, there are plenty of countries where a child won’t hear bad language, won’t see anything obscene, won’t witness gratuitous violence on the TV before 9.00pm. Why won’t they hear it or see it? Because the TV companies are subject to controls brought about by consumers (parents) finding their voice and using it. Basically, the public, in big enough numbers, made it clear to politicians that they had better have some purpose and had better start representing what really mattered to the people.

Anyone who is familiar with the writings of Stephen Covey will recall that a few years after the publishing mega-success that was the Seven Habits he felt compelled to add an eighth habit – Enabling people to Find their Voice. I don’t believe the people of this phenomenal country want their children to be poisoned, to be tricked into becoming addicted to products that will stunt and diminish their lives (or their minds). It’s high time people find their voice and the confidence to believe that speaking up can and will really make a difference.

Maybe then, one day, the reason for my embarrassment will diminish. Until then ……. we strive …….

Basketball Winners

Great news!!

A team made up almost entirely of girls from the Middle School at Senior School, DLF Phase III have brought back the winners’ trophy of the Honoria Basketball Tournament at the Lawrence School, Sanowar.

Under the passionate and dedicated guidance of Narender Sir they took on teams of girls quite a bit older than them, but came good. I haven’t seen it yet – but I’m told it’s a very very BIG trophy.

Well done girls and well done Narender Sir for a job well done. It’s a credit to you how loyal the students in your teams are. They work hard at their training, show dedication and great commitment to master their sport and I know they have enormous respect for Narender Sir as their coach.

Well done!

(Incidentally, if anyone has any photos, please mail them to me and I’ll post them here)

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