” Mother’s Death Anniversary – Education through Experience ” – September 25, 2020.

V. Komallavalli. 1932 – 2017.

          Today, September 25, 2020, is my mother’s third death anniversary. She was 85 when she passed away on September 25, 2017. Her life was guided by a strong sense of duty – duty to family and to the community. Her common sense approach ( that I am endowed with abundantly proving the gene effect ) to deal with problems compensated for the lack of collegiate education in life. She got married in her early teens, another reason.

          Her favourite advise to us, children, comprise the following two sentences :  (1)  Speak the truth, and the truth as you feel and see ;  and (2)  Try, try, and try, without giving up. I didn’t take advises of this nature seriously at that time even when my inner voice warned me to give respect and attention to her words.

          It was only when I came of age, grew up to explore the world that I understood the real significance and the enduring relevance of those words. I explain the two briefly in the following manner as manager, national professor (retd.), and chief executive of my publication :

          1.  ” Speak the truth ” –  Tolstoy’s educational thoughts and conceptions come to my mind. Speaking of education and the wisdom of children, Tolstoy put forth his conception of education in terms of ‘truth, experimenting, and relationships’.

          He advocated a curriculum in education that is strong in the “pursuit of truth” triggering free explorations by pupils. What he aimed at was what we call in easy, simple terms today –  “independent thinking”.  It means thinking not influenced by someone else’s ideas. His concept of education is centered on the spirit of investigation of what it means to be human and to live as human in this world. The class room discussions should appeal to the curiosity of the learners and make them look at the world in a different way. Our present day courses on technology, creativity, innovation, and artificial intelligence have their roots in his espousal to think and view the humans , their freedom, their relationships, and spirituality in his teaching composition. We, in this modern age of technology, take those very factors as variables in adjusting to the population studied, their geographical locations, their beliefs/faiths in our design of systems. The basic premise of making pupils think in terms of creativity and curiosity existed then ( according to what my mother studied and said ) and today in pedagogical prompt.

          2.  “Try, , try, try, and never give up”  –  History reveals that Thomas Edison, the great inventor, who had more than  1000  patents to his credit was also known for his sequences of failures. His incandescent light bulb came after 18 months of failure to find a filament that will stand the stress of electric current. Scientific press, and even the learned were skeptical and funds were withdrawn for his experiments. He continued and ultimately came out with the carbonised cotton thread that proved successful. The metals he tried didn’t succeed. Despite failures, he kept on trying and finally won acclaim. Remember GE.  

          The following incident is revealing and insightful :  ”  One day a workman to whom he had given a task came to him and said, ‘ Mr Edison, it cannot be done ‘.  ‘ How often you tried ? ‘ ,  asked Edison. ‘ About two thousand times ‘  replied the workman. ‘ Then go back and try it two thousand more times ‘,  said Edison. ‘ You have only found out that there are two thousand ways in which it cannot be done ‘. “

          Edison’s  view of failure was clear. He never gave up and he will never like his associates (pupils in general) also to give up easily.

          My mother hadn’t studied these before uttering her words ;  nor did I when I dismissed her words easily ( that probably explains the plight I am in now ).

          It was pure commonsense and the practice she adopted in her household chores and school work to achieve excellence that made her say these words. I just gave meaning to her words from history briefly here.

           I still learn.

 

   ” Dieu avec nous “

   Friday, September 25, 2020 –  7.19 p.m. ( IST)

   Tidbit :  “. I never did anything worth doing by accident, nor did any of my inventions come by accident. They came by plain work. ”  –  Thomas  Edison.

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” Happy ‘ Three Score Years Plus Ten’ to Our PM Modi ” – September 17, 2020.

PM Narendra Modi.

          ” 70  is a Jubilee Number ; “

          ”  70  is a  Magical Number ; “

          ”  70 is a landmark in every human’s life.”

          Today, our PM Modi has marked this number with a Whitestone and with pride stepping on the ladder of ascension towards Jubilee Centenary. We are proud of him.

          Anyone who survives 70 is described as perfect and complete –  7 denoting perfection and 10 denoting completeness ;  7 times 10 equals 70. So is our PM Modi who is perfect and complete.

          Anyone who survives 70 is described as being Spiritual, Sympathetic, and Sensitive ;  so will our PM Modi too carry the  3S  proudly.

          Anyone who survives 70 is described as a great healer ;  so will our PM Modi be the great healer of the nation.

          PM Modi always played a crucial role in all Programs initiated for the nation. He is recognised as a Sincere and Honest Leader striving for the welfare of Citizens. He had earned unchallenged recognition and affection from all who worked under his tutelage.

          May  PM Modi continue to build on his activities as service to the deserving.

         Let us all wish to see him as a Centenarian.

 

   ” Dieu avec nous “

   Thursday, September 17, 2020 –  10.59 a.m. (IST)

   Tidbit  :  In the U.S.  70 Is the year when under Social Security one can receive maximum retirement benefits and may continue working without reduction of benefits.

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” NEET Entrance Exam – Unenviable Selection Process ? ” – September 13, 2020.

          NEET entrance exams will be conducted today (September 13, 2020) between 2 and 5 p.m.  for Medical Admission. It is being conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA) in pen and paper based mode. It will be held in 155 cities at 3843 exam centers. 

          It was only yesterday that witnessed 3 consecutive suicidal deaths – Jyothi Shri Durga in Madurai ;  Aditya on Dharmapuri ;  and Motilal in Thiruchengottai – all in Tamil Nadu. Exam sensitivity, stress, and fear are cited to be the cause of the suicides.

          It also raises the question whether  NEET like Competitive Entrance Examinations are the right choices of selection for the Competitive Medical Admissions. I feel : Yes. But there are arguments against that possibly merit consideration too, in fairness to all students.

          Education is in the General List/Schedule. Decisions on issues in this sector is justifiably in the purview of the Central and State governments. But, some State Governments including Tamil Nadu has sought to raise the right of State Governments in, specially, Medical Admissions fully to rest with State Governments only. The Central Government, however, refused to shift its ground on this firmly.

          Result :  NEET became compulsory in Tamil Nadu from 2017 arousing the feelings of ( tho’  highly debatable ) many that the dreams of thousands from the poor and middle income groups are absolutely shattered. Till that time the selection was primarily based on the scores obtained in plus 2 examination and the students put efforts to be doubly prepared with the syllabus for selection and interview.

          They also offered strong counter arguments to the claim that a Common Entrance Examination like NEET will be more effective. Reasons were adduced in terms of only a few questions being asked from the school syllabus. Students also could not compete with others who strengthened their preparations through private tutorial Institutions ( includes spending money placing the arguing groups at a disadvantage ) ; and not being able to compete with those coming from better schools like the CBSE.

          There have been strong protests from many political parties but in vain. Legal representations also failed to make much way against the tide and negotiations of the decision makers. The case of  ‘sour grapes’  for many aspirants to become a Doctor. NEET is firmly entrenched now. 

          Unexpected results soon followed :  A girl student, Anitha from Ariyalur District, who secured 1176 marks in plus 2 examination committed suicide for her failure to clear the NEET exam in 2017. This was the first such incident in NEET history. Kirthana from Perambalur ;  Vignesh from Ariyalur ;  Vysya Shri from Pattukottai ;  Shuba from Kovai ;  Devi Sri from Trichy ;  and the list continues.

     A Common Entrance Examination may well be the excellent way of selection for Competitive Courses. In the present day circumstances, however, it needs to be accompanied by additional measures to protect/enhance the chances of students according to background information – ethnic, cultural, family, and other details.

          Our country is diverse and teaching and learning methods and practices vary considerably in quality and resources in different schools, districts, cities, states, and regions. Hence, the differing opinions and views of leaders in different States.

 

   ” Dieu avec nous “

   Sunday, September 13, 2020 –  9.09 a.m. (IST)

   Tidbit  :  ” Tomorrow you will say, I wish I started yesterday “.

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” COVID-19 – A Disease Known is Half Cured ” – September 2, 2020.

         History is witness to the degeneration and depravity of the human sufferings due to the uncontrolled diseases through the ages – ancient and modern. COVID-19 is threatening the world now.

          The manner in which COVID-19 originated, infected, and impacted the world population in an age of modern science, modern hospitals, and modern research institutions is a stunning surprise to say the least. It is here that we need to focus on the diseases of ancient ages with good understanding and recollection.

          Hippocrates, the great Greek Physician of the age of Pericles, who is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of Medicine in 4th and 5th Century B.C.,  said :  ” Disease is not just the sufferings bestowed on human beings ;  it is the grief and distress affecting every life in the world “.  When human beings started spreading their habitats throughout the world, diseases also followed them.

Bacteria

         Infectious diseases have their origins even before human in the social life of mankind. It began when they used the land as their means of livelihood. Ground water, trees, and shrubs and their utility in terms of food sources (water, fruits,and leaves) brought with them diseases too.

          It is only now that Malaria,  Tuberculosis,  Leprosy,  Influenza, Smallpox, Measles  …  …  affected human beings. 

          431 –  434 BC : Plague of Athens during the Peloponnesian War raged for four years. It spread to Libya, Ethiopia, Egypt and beyond. The cause of the plague has been traced to influenza, epidemic typhus, typhoid fever, bubonic plague, smallpox, and measles. It also resulted in the defeat of Athens in the War. There was no vaccine or perfect medicines for the cure.

          165 – 180  AD  :  Antonine Plague, also known as the Plague of Galen, an ancient pandemic brought to the Roman Empire by troops who were returning from camps in the Near East. It was caused by smallpox and measles. Even emperors have not been spared. Lucius Verus died in 169 CE  and  Marcus Aurelius died in 180 CE. No vaccines, no therapeutics.

          249 – 262  AD  :  The Plague of Cyprian was a pandemic that afflicted the Roman Empire. Named after St Cyprian, it is estimated to have killed 5000 people a day in Rome alone. Beginning in Ethiopia it spread to North Africa and Egypt and continued for 300 long years. No vaccines, no therapeutics again.

          541 – 549  AD  :  Plague of Justinian spread through fleas taking the lives of 5 crore people. It was 26 %  of the total population of the world then. It had its origin in Egypt. Named after the Roman Empire in Constantinople, Justinian (527 – 565  AD)  who himself contracted the disease and recovered in 542. It spread around the Mediterranean sea, Northern Europe, and Asian Peninsula. It was the beginning of the first Plague pandemic. No vaccines, no therapeutics.

          It is recorded that Leprosy had its origin in Europe during the fifth Century AD. Its existence and spread being almost continuous for centuries made hospitals ;  research institutions ;  and special treatment extremely popular.  It used to be the belief among the people that God punishes people for their sins with this disease.

          1347  AD  :  Bubonic Plague hit Europe and Asia killing nearly a third of the European population. The beginning was traced to the 12 ships that anchored in the Messina Harbor of Sicily in 1347. Those who travelled in those ships also became the victims. Those who survived did not escape the sufferings. Sicilian authorities ordered the ships to be taken out of the harbour. About 2 crore people died. It was also called the “Black Death”. Control measures were activated immediately. Those coming by ships were kept in isolation under treatment for 40 days before being allowed to move into the city. An offshoot of this Plague incidence was the subsequent violence as the mortality rate cheapened life increasing warfare, crime, popular revolt, waves of flagellation and persecutionNo vaccines.

          1665  AD. :  Black Death started in London. In1666 was the fire accident in the central area of the city affecting the people, but it was also a blessing in disguise as the black rats and  which carried the plague also were wiped off.

          1817  AD  :  Cholera outbreak in Russia  spread to other areas in the next 50 years killing about 10 lakh people. Water and food contamination were the causes of the spread with India getting affected due to the English soldiers who were supposed to have carried the bacteria. Lakhs died. In 1885 a vaccine was developed but the spread could not be controlled effectively.

          1885  AD  :  Plague in Yunnan Province, China, spread to India and Hong Kong killing about 1.5 crore people. This also continued for several years in India. This is also called the  “Third Pandemic”  or the  “modern pandemic”. It also spread the disease through port cities via shipping routes to San Francisco. It was then the authorities made the “Chinese Exclusion Act”.

          1889  AD :  Russian Flu with origins from Siberia and Kazakhstan spread to Moscow. It further spread through Finland and Poland to other European countries. In the very next year, it spread to North America and Africa. About 3 lakhs 60 thousand people died. Treatment existed.

          1918  AD  :  Marked the beginning of Spanish Flu affecting nearly 50 crore individuals and killing nearly 2 crore people. Because the affected people were mostly from Spain, it was called the. “Spanish Flu”. Treatment existed.

          1957  AD  :  Marked the beginning of Asian Flu from Hong Kong spreading to China, America, and England. 14000 died in England alone. In 1958 it spread to most countries of the world killing about 11 lakh People. A vaccine helped prevent the further spread effectively in this case. 

          1980 – 1990  AD  :  Marked the beginning for HIV AIDS disease from Congo, Africa, and spread to other countries. About 7 lakh 70 thousand people died. As of today, the number of affected individuals is 7 crore and death toll is 3 crore. Treatment exists.

          2002 – 2003  AD  :  Marked the beginning of a lung disease, SARS, that spread to 26 countries affecting 8100 People and killing 770 people.

          COVID-19 today has affected all nations without exception. Pneumonia, Breathing Obstruction, and Brain effects constitute the three major factors for the fatality.

          About 135 candidates of vaccines are now under trial in various stages by various companies, with 31 already into human trials. It is encouraging that one or two will be valid,safe and effective by the end of this year itself. It speaks for the great attention and devoted minds of research institutions of the world in the field of  “Biotechnology”.  MIT    reresearers point to the company,  ‘Moderna Inc’  being in the forefront of the vaccine development.

          The cruel diseases brutally affecting human lives ;  killing them in huge numbers ;  scientists, doctors, and researchers engaging in active research to control and contain the diseases ;  governments and corporations spending huge financial resources in these effects ;  and healthcare associates risking their lives to protect and save the affected individuals – are all facts and perspectives in the historical context of the events detailed above. The etiology of the disease is known lending confidence to vaccine developers. Cure is not far off.

          That human education ;  human excellence in studies ;  human excellence in research ;  progress in medical technology ; and the enthusiasm and zeal of Administrators – will protect human lives is the  “HUMAN RESOLUTION  AND  DETERMINATION “.

 

   ” Dieu avec nous “

   Wednesday, September 2, 2020 –  5. 51 p.m. (IST).

  Mo Tidbit : ” Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease ”  –  Hippocrates.

 

 

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” Farewell to Former President Pranab Kumar Mukherjee ” – August 31, 2020.

         ” The loss will remain unfilled ”  is the traditional way of describing any life lost. But the death of Former President, Pranab  Kumar Mukherjee, yesterday ( August 31, 2020 ),  cannot be filled by anyone in ages. If there has been a politician in Indian history who has donned the role of a decisive adjudicator par excellence, it will surely be Pranab Kumar Mukherjee.

          Political entry for Pranab Kumar Mukherjee after being a government employee;  a lecturer/professor in an educational institution ;  and a journalist/news reporter ;  was a natural happening without a specific plan. He was identified and marked as a young political leader by Ajay Kumar Mukherjee.

           In the midst of senior stalwarts like AK Mukherjee,  Siddhartha Shankar Ray, Atulya  Ghosh, and Ghani Khan Choudhury, he was seen as an energetic, astute, and intelligent youngster by Indira Gandhi. That marked his transition from West Bengal to Delhi (national politics).

           It was a testing time for Congress when Pranab Mukherjee was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1969.  Kamaraj, Morarji Desai, Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, SK Patil, CB Gupta,  Atulya Ghosh, – all senior leaders under the leadership of Nijalingappa broke free from the Congress Party and stood against Indira Gandhi. 

          It was a major split witnessed in the National Party when Pranab Mukherjee stood solidly behind Indira Gandhi and earned the respect and confidence of Indira Gandhi paving the way for his entry into the inner circles of PM, Indira Gandhi. 

          Since then Pranab Mukherjee had important roles to play in most decisions taken by Indira Gandhi including the creation of Bangladesh. He was also the brain behind the 20 point program during the period of Emergency. It was no surprise that his precocious memory and the ease of solving problems made him her trusted and faithful advisor.

          Pranab Mukherjee never flinched from facing up to troubles when Indira Gandhi was defeated in 1977 or when Indira Gandhi faced the stormy sequences and attacks of the Janata Party that captured power. When Indira Gandhi returned to power in 1980, she made him the Leader of the Congress Party in Rajya Sabha. He was appointed as the Finance Minister in 1982.

          It still remains a puzzle that Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, and Rahul Gandhi did not hold him above suspicion. He was duly respected and given due rights but at the same time not without fear.

          Administrative reforms ;  Right to Information;  Right to Employment ;  Food Safety ;  Energy Security ; –  all constitute and bear his initiatives and personal/professional touch with style and substance.  ” NABARD”  creation ( banks for agriculturists and village people ) was an example of his  ‘thought leadership’.

          Pranab Mukherjee had his professional setbacks too. In 2004, the general expectations that he will be made PM failed to materialize ;  Dr Man Mohan Singh became the PM.  In 2007, the general expectations that he will be the pick for the position of the President of India again did not materialise ;  Prathiba Patil became the President.  In 2012,  the general expectations that he will be made PM and  Dr Man Mohan Singh will become the President did not materialise again ;  That is when he made his last  ‘political move’  to get his name declared as the candidate for President and compelled the attention of the whole India.

          The strength and courage to spell out the Congress principles and ideologies in a strong and forceful manner in the RSS Headquarters in Nagpur in June 2018 cannot be expected from anyone other than Pranab Mukherjee. The discipline, integrity and sincerity of work even while being aware of the neglect he has been subjected to by the party leadership cannot be expected from anyone other than Pranab Mukherjee. His speech has an important lesson on the value of  “Unity”  today.

           Completing a chequered 50 year career in Politics as a leader loyal to the principles and policies of Congress ; Remaining stable and constant in his support for the ‘premium brand’ in Politics ;  holding the position of the 13th  President of India ;  –  Pranab Kumar Mukherjee may have said  ‘good bye’  to the nation he loved the most, but not before making our memories indelibly imprinted.

 

   ” Dieu avec nous “

   Tuesday, September 1, 2020 –  9.59 a.m. (IST)

   Tidbit : ” Great is the art of beginning ;  but greater is the art of ending ” –  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

 

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