Friday, June 26, 2009

Random Thoughts in the Rains

You know when it's the monsoon when you go to Marine Drive and the water comes rushing out of the sea and drenches you completely. Or, you walk into your office building and suddenly find that carpets are laid out in the elevator. Or just when you are about to walk into a building, you find hordes of people without umbrellas waiting at the reception for the rains to subside, and in the meantime, cast envious glances at the few sensible who walk past them armed with umbrellas. Or you walk into a coffee shop and find a bucket lying there with umbrellas in them.

So after a lot of dilly-dallying, after teasing us with is-it-going-to-rain or is-it-not-going-to-rain-instead-only-drizzle sort of showers the past three to four days to a week, the rains have finally arrived in Mumbai. I woke up in the morning amidst the soulful sounds of rustling trees swaying in the crisp morning rainy breeze and raindrops pouring on them and coming down vigorously in the hillock outside my window. And thankfully, it poured cats and dogs. That also meant I had to take out my umbrella on my way to work, probably get wet a lot by the time I reach office since, you know, umbrellas don't really work in Mumbai rains (you get wet pretty much anyways). It was also nice to see students back at Wilson College at Chowpatty; it ain't a pretty picture when it's deserted during holidays; I always prefer schools and colleges buzzing with activity. I, somehow, feel that that is a very pretty sight. It reminds me of my school and college days where we were so carefree and with little or no responsibilities, attending lectures in the morning and making plans for, possibly, every evening of our college lives. Now, I don't even remember the last time I went to a cinema to watch a movie....

Coming back to rains, it subsided here and there during the day-time, but for practically the better half of the day, it poured. But come rain or shine, Mumbai never stops. Buses were crowded, even more so because it was raining, people for short distances prefer to take the bus instead of walking and getting wet. But I always wish I could get off the bus whilst going to office, even momentarily, cross over to the other side of the road on Marine Drive and just sit on the parapets and let the sea water splash itself against me. This is a joy that you can have only in Mumbai. It's a privilege. Nature is at its lushest in Mumbai during monsoons.

But the biggest irony is that people still complain. People complain when it's too hot and doesn't rain. Then, when it rains, people complain because they say they get wet. When it's hot, people complain and say they wait for the winter. Then, when winter comes, people complain, say its too cold and wait for the summer.


I have hopes from our new minister of human resource development, Mr Kabil Sibal. Unlike his predecessor who made a mess of our education system by his populist measures of cast-based reservation, Mr Sibal looks like someone who is determined to bring about a change. Some of his measures look very radical and unheard of, like abolishing the Std X exams. But if I am correct, he wants to make it optional; abolish Std X exams for those who will graduate from the same school after Std XII. I think the proposal needs to be studied carefully and its pros and cons need to be looked into, but its definitely an out-of-the-box suggestion and we can surely study it.

The other thing that he needs to look into is standardising education boards and curriculum across the country. The presence of multiple Boards like SSC, ICSE, CBSE, etc do not much serve any purpose, I feel. They should be merged into one and text books across the country should be standardised. For one, this nonsense of a 90:10 quota system, presently proposed in the state of Maharashtra, would end and all students, irrespective of whichever education board they come from, stand an equal chance of getting into a college of their choice, and secondly, it will make the choice and lives of parents easier when it comes to selecting a particular board to send their children to.

Adequate provision in the curriculum must be given to local languages, even make them compulsory except perhaps for those students who move from one to state to another at a very later level, but there should be one education board and one curriculum, irrespective of whether you are in a school in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore or even Guwahati.

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