Dear Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi,
I heard your address to the students yesterday, sans their teachers. I am also happy that you have reached a settlement on OROP. I agree that we should take care of our war veterans. We should equally take care of our farmers and teachers.
There is no nobler profession than teaching. Teachers shape our mind, show a path, impart wisdom. In countries like Finland, teachers are more trusted than their army. A country that doesn't make teaching a respectable profession has a bleak future.
Today is Teachers day. And it is also the right time to think about our effort to make this profession respectable. Have we done enough for them? Here is my cheat sheet that we can do for our teachers. It needs will, conviction, empathy and most importantly concern for India's future.
- 1. Respect our teachers. Let not bureaucracy regulate them. Let practitioners decide teaching, standards, assessments and testing.
- Kill teacher training institutes. The current teacher certification system has done the biggest disservice to the India. Integrate teacher qualifications into the university system. They must be a part of the arts and sciences school of the universities.
- Let teachers do a major in the subject they will teach. Knowing how to teach doesn't make good teachers. They must know the subject better.
- Make teaching prestigious as a profession. Give them the stature that makes them one step ahead of any other professions. It can be housing, schooling, medical or pensions. A careful look at our fiscal policy w.r.t teachers will yield desired results.
- Make teachers salary tax free. Or increase their standard deduction dramatically. Put more money in their hands without increasing the cost of education.
- Maintain a national registry of teachers and faculty - academic, publication, research and consulting records.
- Incentivise people who chose teaching as a profession. The salaries must be best across industries or at least competitive. The best students must be choosing teaching as a profession.
- Ensure that no educational institution or university ever can be charged any tax - income tax or service tax or sales tax. Bring down the cost of education.
- Encourage private education, with enough regulation. Create more opportunities for teaching as a career option. Let the salaries increase due to such competition.
- Lastly and most importantly, give them a boss that they can respect and look up to. Educational qualification is not a pre-requisite but stature definitely is. Don't humiliate them by making them report to those who don't understand importance of education.
Sir, It is Teachers Day. If you want to chart a new path for India and its youth, if you really want to derive demographic dividend, it MUST start with the teachers. You have the mandate. You have the will power. The nation has trusted you. It is for you to fulfil this trust or fail the nation. Start with the teachers and results will follow.
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A concerned citizen
As government cancelled Greenpeace India's registration under Foreign Contribution Regulations Act (FCRA) recently, for allegedly working against the country's economic progress, the NGO that works for a sustainable environment came up with a unique campaign to "reclaim right to dissent" by recreating nine iconic Bollywood film posters to highlight the Indian environmental predicament.
“While our continued existence has been no less dramatic than the best of Bollywood, with twists and turns every day, our story is far from unique. Similar clampdowns have been seen all across the country, but we are confident that people will join our campaign, and send a clear message to those in power: you can’t muzzle dissent in a democracy," said Vinuta Gopal, interim co-Executive Director of Greenpeace India in a press statement.
The recreated posters are also accompanied by a similarly rewritten plot summary for the movie.
1) Swades: We the people
Set in modern day India, Swades is a film that tackles the big issues of freedom, nationalism and what it means to be Indian, through the protagonists’ struggle to defend people’s rights, and define the diverse country that we call “home”.
2) Mahan: Once upon a time in India
The year is 2013 and India’s greed for coal is growing unchecked. Raess, an Indian steel and power conglomerate, has just secured rights to mine for coal - but their plans will destroy Mahan, one of Asia’s oldest forests. Outraged, the forest community has rallied together as ‘Mahan Sangharsh Samiti’ (MSS) to save their homes and livelihoods. They challenge Mr Ivar Urai, the owner of Raess, to a game of ‘Gram Sabha: a game of real democracy’, a sport that has been forgotten by the ruling powers. If MSS can defeat the Raess team, not only will they save their home, but also protect more than 50 lakh trees and the livelihoods of more than 50,000 people.
3) Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham: Its all about loving your country
Campaigning together for a sustainable future, the Greenpeace India shows great passion for their country. But the Ministry of Home Affairs has other ideas, and launches a protracted war against the family. As baseless allegations and false charges throw the family into dire circumstances, this also makes them realise that they need to stick together in hard times and speak up for their beliefs and love for the country.
4) Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron
A dark satire on the rampant corruption in bureaucracy, news media and business, featuring two bumbling Greenpeace campaigners who accidentally discover the shady side of the Indian tea industry. Supported by a cast of skilled comics, they expose the Indian tea industry’s ‘standard practice’ of selling pesticide laden tea, and mobilise an entire nation to challenge the tea industry to adopt clean and sustainable farming technologies. Is this modern day Mahabharat going to veer away from the original and go the way of the villains or is there still hope?
5) A Wednesday
Greenpeace India staff and supporters remember the fateful Wednesday that changed their lives. 11th of June 2014, the day a leaked alleged Intelligence Bureau report branded the organisation as a ‘threat to national economic security’. A day that has altered the way they function - the case of an organisation fighting for India’s environment, a leaked and malicious government document and more than 75000 Indians backing the organisation.
6) Andaz Apna Apna
In this tragi-comedy that has acquired a cult status since the first Intelligence report was suspiciously leaked to the media in June 2014, protagonists try and dodge villains. Watch their hilarious journey as local courts, high courts, tax and immigration departments get involved, playing an elaborate game of hide-and-seek. The recurring twists come via court judgements which keep favouring the protagonists, though the villains blithely ignore the law. Who will win in the end?
7) Dil Chahta Hai
Three inseparable childhood friends are just out of college. Nothing comes between them - until circumstances force them to choose between a shared love for their city, and love, life, even personal health. Will one last bid for clean air bring them back?
8) Mr. India
A large-hearted farmer must risk it all and come up with clever ways to save his family farm when he discovers the evil genius Sonmanto’s plans to release Genetically Modified Organisms into their fields. Will he be able to save his community - and all of India - from the clutches of the megalomaniac organisation? Or will “Sonmanto khush hua” be the last thing he hears as he loses everything?
9) 3 idiots
A classic coming-of-age comedy sees college classmates reunited in a search for their long-lost friend. Reprising poignant memories of their mad youth, as they railed against social injustice together, they follow a tumultuous trail to track him down and ask him to help tell the world their stories today. Will he be ready to ignite a new generation?
Greenpeace India, the NGO that has been at loggerheads with the government over unharnessed coal mining, deforestation and nuclear projects, accuses the government of waging a "malicious campaign" against it and that the NGO will not be deterred by the attempt to "silence" its campaign.
Government's decision can be seen as a big setback for the NGOs operating in India, says a report in The Guardian:
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The latest decision marks another setback for foreign charities operating in India, after the country placed the US-based Ford Foundation and Christian charity Caritas on a watchlist.
Modi’s nationalist government, in power since last year, has cancelled the foreign funding licenses of about 9,000 charities since a major crackdown began in April.
Novak Djokovic may be the world no.1 tennis player but not sure if the same can be said about his dancing skills.
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However, the Serbian tennis star is never reluctant to show a few of his dance moves, every now and then.
So while celebrating his comfortable straight sets triumph over Austria’s Andreas Haider-Maurer in the US Open men’s singles second round, Djokovic did a little jig with a fan.
Even as European leaders increasingly try to prevent refugees from settling in the continent, a photo of a five-year-old boy has brought home the full horror of the biggest refugee crisis in living memory.
The photo taken on the morning of September 2 shows the lifeless body of a young boy lying facedown on a beach in Turkey, not far from the fashionable resort town of Bodrum.
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Potterheads across the globe went bonkers after author of the widely-loved Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling, tweeted this: