Mumbai: The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai has released an official notification inviting all the interested and eligible candidates for the award of Junior Research Fellowships at this centre. The BARC Recruitment 2020 for 105 vacancies has started and the last date to apply is January 15, 2021 on the website—barc.gov.in. All the selected candidates will register for PhD in Homi Bhabha National Institute (HBNI a deemed to be University of Department of Atomic Energy). Application fee of 500 is payable at the time of submission of online application. Mode of payment of the application fee is only through online. Application fee is exempted for women candidates and candidates belonging to Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Person with Disabilities.
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Achariya World Class Education explores the role of happiness in education
The Indian education system has undergone tremendous changes in the course of history. While factors like its success and failure are open to deliberation, one fact that cannot be ignored is that it had put the students under a mountain of pressure. From the pressure to score well to pressure to outshine in extra-curricular activities, all of it took a toll on students physical and mental well being. As move forward, it is the moral responsibility of each individual to make the New Education Policy address all those concerns for a better future.
Achariya World Class Education recently organised a thought-provoking webinar on the ‘Role Of Happiness in Education’ to understand and suggest how we can transform ourselves and the Indian education system.
In his inaugural remarks, Mr Samyak Chakrabatory, Founder & M.D. of X Billion Skills Lab, who was also the co-host, said, “For companies, students are essentially creators of revenue, for tuition classes- students are a way to attract more students and for schools-students have become mere cohorts that we need to push forward and take them to top the exams. In all of that, somewhere we have forgotten what about the child, what about the students and also moving out of that the role of education is also producing citizens of the country and of the world.”
Elaborating on what does happiness mean especially in the context of happiness, Dr J Arawindhan, Chief Mentor & M.D, Achariya World Class Education, said, “Education is all about expression. When you are able to express yourself in your head and your heart happily, willingly and smilingly; you are able to do things from your head and heart holistically without any limitations, you can see your own possibilities making into peak possibilities of your own expression- That is where the happiness is there in education. Expression should be there; Education should be towards that expression and that expression from the head, heart and hand should be integrated. Expression without the heart, expression without the head and expression without the hand is incomplete expression. Without the combination of these three, you will not have the state of happiness.”
Teachers are delivery mechanism of education. When asked how do we convince the teachers to not create more pressure or anxiety on students, Dr Arawindhan further added, “In context of a classroom, the teacher is like a magician. The interaction between a teacher and the student, the master and the fellow, is what is needed instead of mugging up a book. If we ask for skills, intelligence and expression of individuals, the schooling and the classroom experience would be much more happier. We need an ecosystem for that to happen.”
Speaking about how can schools and colleges transform itself to be a happy environment from an infrastructural point of view and behaviourally from a teacher’s perspective, Mr Biju Dominic, Chairman at FinalMile Consulting, Chief Evangelist at Fractal Analytics, said, “Happiness, from an overall perspective, as far as any activity is concerned, is when I want to do that activity over and over again and that I am looking forward to doing that activity. We say that there will be happiness when students say that ‘oh, I want to learn’ or ‘I want to do that activity again and again. From a brain’s point of view, when I am sort of anticipating something that I really want to do, the chemical that gets released is the dopamine. If dopamine gets released, the brain wants more and more of it. When we create the whole environment of learning, wherein students, teachers, school, parents and the physical environment play a role, happiness really comes alive in the world of education.”
Spiritual and mindfulness coach Shyamal Vallabhjee, highlighting the role of spirituality as an essential ingredient in a schools’ curriculum, said, “if you take one sect of spirituality, for example Buddhism, we talk of awareness and equanimity. Awareness is your ability to draw your thoughts, feelings, and emotions and hold it and equanimity is your ability to distance from it. Through awareness, we cultivate a practice called mindfulness. Mindfulness is your ability to stir your mind. When you stir your mind physiologically, we also relax the body. If you look at the physiology, the hormone and the gut that drives happiness is serotonin. 90% of your serotonin is in your gut. If we can bring a spiritual practice like breath work, mindfulness, gratitude to the forefront of education then what you are doing is that you are ensuring each person is cultivating the art of centering their mind every single time. This doesn’t mean that they would not be unhappy or they will not have anxiety but it means that the frequency at which these incidents happen will reduce quite drastically. Also, it will empower them to reset their mind and body every single time they move out of it.”
He further added, “With respect to happiness, the biggest problem is that we tend to link happiness with success and that is the first thing that education needs to break out of. Until you do not break the invisible thread that somehow got linked, then people will feel that they are on a conveyor belt and they need to continuously do more and more. As a result of that, you are going to make yourself a victim to everything outside. Any person you speak to about happiness, will tell you that happiness starts within.”
When asked how do we incorporate it in a systematic fashion, Shyamal Vallabhjee responded, “In a world of information overload, more important that the habit you cultivate, are the people you choose to listen to because they will reiterate the habits that you need to become the person that you want to. We can change the education system very simply. We try to create a practice where every single class from Grade I to Grade XII, the one minute of their practice is by stilling the mind and then we teach people how to become hypersensitive of how they choose to listen to.”
Watch the entire telecast here:
MPBSE BOARD EXAM: LAST DATE FOR APPLICATION EXTENDED
New Delhi: MPBSE Board Exam 2021 has been extended the last date to submit an application till 31 December 2020, by the Board of Secondary Education, Madhya Pradesh. Candidates who are to appear for the classes 10, 12 board exams can submit their online application forms on the official website of MPBSE—mpbse.nic.in. The Board has reduced the late fees for online application submission. Students who will submit the examination form till 31 December will have to pay Rs 100 extra as of late fees. Students who will apply till 15 January will have to pay a late fee of Rs 2,000. For students who pay till 31 January, the late fees will be Rs 5,000. And those who will apply till 31 March will have to pay a late fee of Rs 10,000.
NO CBSE BOARD EXAMS TILL AFTER FEBRUARY, SAYS EDUCATION MINISTER POKHRIYAL
New Delhi: Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ went live on Twitter on Tuesday to interact with teachers across the country on the topic of board exams 2021. He said that the CBSE board exams would not be held till after February, and that more discussion was needed to fix the CBSE board exam 2021 dates. The board exam situation has been confusing students and parents as no date has been decided for the start of the CBSE board exams 2021. Usually, the CBSE board exam schedule for the upcoming year is released by November in the previous year.
PM MODI RELEASES SPECIAL STAMP TO MARK CENTENNIAL OF AMU
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi released a special postal stamp on Tuesday, to mark the centennial celebration of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). PM Modi participated in the event through video conferencing. With PM Modi, the Chancellor of the University Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin and Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ were also present on the occasion. PM Modi also praised the efforts of AMU in helping the society at various time of crisis including getting thousands of people to do free tests, building isolation wards, building plasma banks and contributing a large amount to the PM Care Fund shows the seriousness of fulfilling your obligations to society.
Corporatisation and education: Are children turning into robots?
In the two decades of my teaching and consultation career, whenever I have counselled parents or conducted seminars and workshops with them, I have invariably begun with: “Where do you see your children ten years from now?” And I have always been bombarded with answers containing this one very loaded adjective: Successful. All parents want to see their children as successful professionals, successful artists, and successful sportspersons—come what may. I find it appalling how not a single parent, in all these years, ever declared that they imagined their child would grow up to be “healthy”, “happy” or “resilient”, irrespective of their profession and the moolah they make annually.
Let’s face some harsh facts before taking this discussion further. One in four teenagers in India suffers from depression. Over the last five years, more than 40,000 students committed suicide in India. Last year, 8,492 students committed suicide. One student commits suicide every hour in India. Teenagers who experience cyberbullying are more likely to suffer from poor sleep, which in turn raises levels of depression, according to a new study by the University at Buffalo. The study surveyed more than 800 adolescents for sleep quality, cyber aggression, and depression, each phenomenon connected to the other. Cyber victimisation has emerged as a unique form of peer victimisation and a major mental health concern among teens who are digital natives. And yet, we keep telling ourselves that today’s teenagers are just fragile or obsessed with their looks—such blame games only making the diagnosis and treatment of teenage depression more challenging.
Covid-19 has further endangered the future of 600 million children in South Asia, according to UNICEF. In India, school closures have impacted 247 million children enrolled in elementary and secondary schools and 28 million pre-school children in Anganwadi centres. The Childline India Helpline received almost 4.6 lakh calls in just 21 days around the beginning of the lockdown. There was a 50% increase in the number of calls pertaining to instances of child abuse. Nearly 10,000 of these calls were intervention cases which required Childline staff to reach the children in need of support. Of these, 30% of calls were related to escalation in violence, child sexual abuse, child marriage and child labour.
The lockdown and the consequent economic distress made children vulnerable to exploitation, sexual abuse, violence, child labour and trafficking. Being away from school has also disrupted their daily routine and support system outside their homes. Other factors such as staying indoors all day long and adapting to online classes have increased the sense of isolation among children, leading to anxiety and depression. An increased exposure to screens and to online abuse has also severely affected the mental health of adolescents. As of June 2019, only 40% of the population had access to the internet, making it extremely difficult for students in rural areas to join online classes, which only added further to their anxiety levels.
These statistics bring us face to face with some uncomfortable questions. What then is being successful? Does being successful in terms of examination results ensure the absence of defeat forever? Does success in terms of professional laurels mean the exclusion of failure altogether? Does success in terms of seemingly perfect relationships mean the complete absence of fear and insecurities? Does a great career mean a smooth ride throughout with no rough seas ever?
The answer—whether you like it or not—is that none of these are mutually exclusive. Success and failure are the two sides of the same coin. Therefore, we need to train our children to not hanker after a utopian world where only “success” exists. Rather, right from an early age, let them get acquainted to the thorns just as much as the roses. Let us teach children to deal with failure as a stepping stone to success and to handle success not as an end in itself. Let us not force them with unrealistic expectations and provide them the time and space to grow at their own pace. Let us enforce discipline by setting examples instead of instructing them. Let us encourage an atmosphere where disagreement and debate can happen without abuse and violence, without any shame or fear of being judged. Let us stop body-shaming ourselves and our children and take pride in the people we are. Let us promote healthy food habits, but also bond over a pizza and favourite TV show on the weekends.
A recent advertisement by a popular tech startup, which made news after it was acquired by an edu-tech giant, shows how with its advanced courses in coding, children as young as six years old will be able to create apps and bring about much-needed change, including solutions to complex problems like fixing the earth and environment. The company has also generated much controversy over fake claims of facilitating a kid who learnt coding with the firm and found a high paying job at Google. The company is also facing allegations of corporate surveillance, as a result of which, several of their videos have been taken down.
This enterprise is a minor embodiment of the present modernization project unleashed by corporate capitalism which aims at creating a technologically-empowered high-functioning population of children and enabling them to become high-earning teenagers, besides, of course, high expectations from their career trajectories as adults. What these corporate giants capitalise on is the modern parents’ dream of having such “tech-geniuses” with the lure of assured money and fame. In India, it is not uncommon to use “science and technology” as tranquilising shots for the universal anxiety of parents about the future of their kids. The hidden agenda amidst all of this which deserves our scrutiny is the dangerous mission of these edu-tech giants of corporatizing education and presenting the early learning of technology as palatable to both adults and children.
Can we really burden our children with the responsibility of finding solutions to problems that generations of modern adults have failed at? Is it right to lure such young minds with dreams of “greatness”? Yes, the future of a nation and its people depends on how its children are trained and taught, but does intelligence only restrict itself to the learning and application of mindless technology? In the absence of a proper humanitarian backing for education and technology, we find our computer algorithms to exhibit the same biases as human beings. As corporate capitalism takes over the world, ordinary people stand at serious risk of having their behavioural and psychological patterns exploited by corporate giants to benefit their scheme of making profits. We need to stop falling prey to these fads that are slow-poisoning our children into growing up too fast. Instead, let us think of why, in spite of all these gadgets, most of our children do not feel happy and secure. How can we dispel their insecurities? How can we extend genuine support and make them feel loved, irrespective of their academic and non-academic performance? How can their self esteem, and problem solving abilities be fortified?
Here, we may consider borrowing a few pages from the manuals of parents in countries which rank high on the index of the happiest children in the world, namely Finland and the Netherlands. Dutch parents choose schools which lay more stress on children imbibing social skills rather than over academic achievement. Dutch parents abstain from using cars and have their children bike all year round. Dutch parents also encourage their children to express their opinions and preferences and negotiate their case in a very democratic way from as early as the age of three. Meanwhile, Finnish children practise sisu, an attitude of not quitting when faced with a challenge, whether it is for putting together a difficult puzzle or resolving a dispute with another child. In Finland, toddlers also carry their own plates and cutlery to the dirty dish cart after eating meals. These are the ways in which they learn independence from a young age.
We don’t even need to go that far. If we take a stroll through our own history, we find that under the Gurukul system, all shishyas, irrespective of their socio-economic status, co-inhabited dormitories with basic but equal amenities throughout their student lives, and grew up learning not only academic and administrative skills, but also social and life skills, which made for holistic education. The system also taught them to nurture nature, look after the community, and manage all their daily chores independently. As a result, this system not only created more complete and confident individuals, ready to take on life under all circumstances, but also instilled a sense of discipline, communal responsibility, social equality and brotherhood among pupils drawn from different strata of society.
As parents, it is not only our duty to help our children grow with the right facilities and amenities, which we fiercely compete with other parents to provide our kids with, but also to help them grow with the right attitude. Most children, especially in urban areas, are growing up with a looming sense of ennui and a lack of direction. Everything, from gadgets to books to chores to relationships, becomes “boring” after the first test drive and it’s time for the next adventure, leading our children and young adults to precarious experiences like substance abuse, promiscuous relationships, multiple sexual partners, an over-the-edge style of living and so on. Besides that, there is a general sense of taking everything for granted as material things are more readily available to children today. From this stems an infectious trait of ingratitude towards health, opportunities, relationships and the environment. And when parents surrender to this attitude, they are not only pushing their children further towards a world of alienation, loneliness and misplaced goal posts, where the latest gadgets are their ambitions and social media profiles are friends, but also contributing heavily towards weakening a nation which needs its human resources to take her to newer heights tomorrow.
We need to work towards helping our children grow into industrious and patriotic individuals who can build a stronger, more vibrant and more inclusive nation, instead of turning into a brood of app-making clones pursuing only what is fashionable and monetarily gratifying. Why don’t we involve our children in nation-building activities like being a part of the army, police, hospitals, social welfare departments, flood relief operations, the spastic society, rural development centres, culture departments, tribal and minority development departments, women and child welfare departments and other such areas? It can do well to have children do at least six months or a year of mandatory hands-on service for any of these sectors where they stand to benefit from understanding the woes of the have-nots or their brethren who fight daily battles for their survival and identity. This would instil in the Gen Z some gratitude for the gifts they take for granted and often squander at the altar of misled fancies.
Education that does not build character is hardly worth its name and success that doesn’t teach you to handle failure isn’t worth pursuing. Success is not a skill you can acquire, it is a by-product. If life skills—just like technical skills—are soundly internalised, there is no reason why success can ever elude our children. And this success would be far more holistic and meaningful than scoring a 99.99 percentile in the classroom.
The writer is founder and editor-in-chief of Tribe Tomorrow Network. The views expressed are personal.
Dutch parents choose schools which lay more stress on children imbibing social skills rather than over academic achievement. Finnish children practise sisu, an attitude of not quitting when faced with a challenge, whether it is for putting together a difficult puzzle or resolving a dispute with another child. In Finland, toddlers also carry their own plates and cutlery to the dirty dish cart after eating meals. These are the ways in which they learn independence from a young age.
How UPSC exams are getting lost in translation
For many Hindi-medium examinees, the Civil Services exams are a tougher game to win, thanks to misleading, incomprehensible or incorrect translations in the question papers. The UPSC must pay attention to this issue as it ultimately impinges on their right to equal opportunity.
The constitutional bodies which play an important role in the smooth running of Indian polity are—besides the government—the Election Commission, the Supreme Court and the Union Public Service Commission or UPSC. The UPSC mainly conducts various examinations for the Indian civil services, the ‘steel frame of India’, and has been doing its job as the guardian of merit efficiently as well as impartially. It is worth noting that, barring a few exceptions, UPSC, unlike other constitutional bodies, has been free from controversies and has earned a good reputation. However, for the past few years, questions are being raised on UPSC’s Civil Services Exam (CSE) by Hindi-medium candidates. Even in the recently concluded CSE preliminary exam, the Hindi version of the question papers were marred by controversy. As it is something which affects around 40% of the total candidates appearing for the preliminary exam (PE), it would be significant to understand the issue and its probable solution.
It is well known that appointment to the various premier posts of the Indian Civil Services, like the IAS, IPS, central Group ‘A’ services along with Group ‘B’ services, is done by the UPSC through CSE. But for the last few years, clearing these examinations has become insurmountable for Hindi-medium candidates. It is understood that the CSE question papers are prepared in English, and then translated into Hindi and other Indian languages. However, in the recent CSE PE, it has been alleged that, in more than 40 questions, the questions translated to Hindi were either misleading, incomprehensible or simply just wrong. The practice of translating English question papers to Hindi was followed in the past too, but now either the process is more dependent on technology or the proficiency of the translators is not up to the mark.
Technology can be used for translation in a variety of ways. One is machine or computerized translation, colloquially called ‘Google translation’, where the English text is typed on a computer and is translated to Hindi. But, in this sort of translation, the words and sentences are not able to convey the correct meaning many times and the usual errors of the translation procedure creep in. The reason behind this is the difference between the syntax of English and Hindi. For example, in English, the order of words in a sentence is usually ‘subject+verb+object’ (e.g. Ram goes home), while, in Hindi, syntactically, the order goes ‘subject+object+verb’ (e.g. Ram ghar jaata hai). With simple and short sentences, the machine mostly translates correctly, but for complex and long English sentences, the Hindi meaning is often compromised. Consequently, Hindi-medium candidates have to pay for this.
Another limitation of machine translation is that the meanings of the translated words may be ambiguous and misleading. The principal reason for such ambiguity is that word meanings often derive from their cultural contexts. For example, I have often seen the English expression “Big Brother” translated in Hindi to “bada bhai”. Now, ‘Big Brother’ is borrowed from George Orwell’s 1984 and has a negative connotation in the English lexicon, where it signifies a person or organisation exercising total, dictatorial control over others, intimidating and bullying others or controlling others’ thoughts and behaviour and limiting their freedom. On the contrary, the Hindi term of “bada bhai” is used in a positive sense, since in the Indian context, the elder brother is often a guardian or a mentor. The famous Hindi story, “Bade Bhai Sahab” by Munshi Premchand is an illustration of this sentiment. Another example can be seen in the English term “hot potato”, which means a controversial issue or uncomfortable situation. However, it’s Google translation to Hindi is simply “garam aaloo”, which is not even remotely close to the original meaning! Although the UPSC has tried to overcome machine translation errors, such misleading translations are still found now and then, giving Hindi-medium candidates a hard time.
Using technology in translation has one more disturbing dimension. It seems that translators, hired by the UPSC or other agencies conducting competitive exams, take recourse to various popular online dictionaries like shabdkosh.com, instead of standard dictionaries such as the “e-Mahashabdkosh”, an online dictionary website hosted and maintained by the Department of Official Language, Ministry of Home Affairs. An example can be drawn from a question asked in the CSE PE this year, where the English word “delivery” was translated to “paridaan” in Hindi. As per e-Mahashabdkosh, given the context in which the word “delivery” was used, the translated word should have been “vitaran” or “supurdagi”. It must be mentioned that the word “paridaan” is not only not in frequent use in Hindi, but is also a bit misleading in its meaning.
One can argue that, if the Hindi translations are confusing or misleading, the examinees should look at the original English text. But it must be understood that time is short during the PE and it is not possible for a candidate to repeatedly match the Hindi and English texts. Moreover, the problem is not limited to unintelligible, confusing and misleading translations. Many times, the intended meaning of the original text is completely lost and a false meaning appears. A classic example of the same was seen when the famed “Civil Disobedience Movement” launched by Mahatma Gandhi was translated in the PE-2020 as “Asahyog Andolan” (Non-Cooperation Movement) instead of “Savinay Awagya Andolan”.
Such unintelligible, confusing, misleading and incorrect translations not only lead to wrong answers but also consume a lot of the candidates’ precious time, entangling them in the labyrinth of mistranslated words. This creates further stress on them in an already trying examination and, as a consequence, for no fault of theirs, the Hindi-medium candidates lag behind in the exam results.
In an examination where every single mark counts, inappropriate translations deprive Hindi-medium examinees of the Equality of Opportunity, a fundamental right given by the Constitution of India. Such translations are a reason for the recent decline in the number of successful Hindi-medium candidates. It also must be noted that most of these candidates come from weaker sections of society and generally belong to the SC, ST, OBC and EWS categories. Thus, this is a grave injustice done to these examinees. I, on behalf of some such candidates, wrote a letter to the chairman of UPSC, and the fact that this letter went viral on social media and was covered by several newspapers describes the relevance of the issue.
The UPSC must understand that for good translation it is necessary that machine translation is minimised and translators have a sound command over both the source language and the target language as well as a reasonable understanding of the subject matter. Thus, the assistance of qualified scholars should be enlisted for this purpose, as one of the committees of the UPSC itself has recommended. The UPSC also needs to understand that familiar and comprehensible words should be used in question papers so that candidates do not have to grapple with the language unnecessarily.
One hopes that the UPSC, an organisation with the highest integrity and exemplary professionalism, will rectify the issues related to translation, sooner than later, as it is also contrary to the spirit of the Constitution.
The writer is a professor in the Department of Hindi, University of Delhi, and has taught in various universities in the United States. The views expressed are personal.
The UPSC must understand that for good translation it is necessary that machine translation is minimised and translators have a sound command over both the source language and the target language as well as a reasonable understanding of the subject matter. Thus, the assistance of qualified scholars should be enlisted for this purpose, as one of the committees of the UPSC itself has recommended.
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