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Teachers Without Passion for Teaching
It is disturbing to hear that even after 66 years of independence, possibly the greatest challenge India faces now is the failure to educate its citizens, especially the poor. According to the current statistics, teachers in India get paid five to six times the amount of money that an average Indian makes leading one to conclude that “whatever may be the source of the problem of low teaching efficiency, the blame cannot be placed on any alleged lowness of salary of school teachers.” Arguably nothing has harmed the Indian education system more than the move by the government to stop recruiting regular teachers and move on to contract teachers. It cites the reason of high salaries paid to teachers that has forced the encouragement of this arrangement. I remember the observations of a famous educationist, who in the course of a seminar for teachers went on to comment that today many are teachers by chance and a very few by choice. This more than sums up the current education scenario! Teaching calls for a sense of compassion, acceptance, interest and insight for developing students’ potential. When teaching is not seen as a passion but just another listless vocation that affords one a monthly salary, need anything be said about the dedication of the teacher? Be that as it may, but the fact remains that this system has only helped in ‘filling vacancies’ with the student being the biggest loser. Likewise, there are so many issues that dog the teaching fraternity that if addressed to its fullest could alleviate the problems of the teachers, which, in turn, could prove beneficial to the students. Unfortunately, no serious efforts have been made. However, teachers alone do not contribute to the sorry state of affairs in our education system today. Most of the schools in India do not have the necessary infrastructure and lack basic amenities. Classes being conducted in dilapidated structures and the absence of proper teaching staff compound the problems. In spite of the implementation of the RTE Act, which enforces free and compulsory education to all children between six to fourteen years of age, the rate of school drop-outs is alarmingly high. In the quest for achieving cent-per-cent literacy in the country, we forget that we are compromising on quality education. It would have been better to have had the Prime Minister conferring with the teachers and understanding their problems, rather than have a pep-talk with students on Teachers’ Day.

Better Drainage System Will Prevent Floods
The floods in Jammu and Kashmir have been the daily headlines for some time now and many people are found discussing the floods. The blame game also made its presence when the government or nature was blamed for the catastrophe. First of all, nature cannot be blamed for this. We should be ready for such calamities and find out the best solutions possible. We need to improve our surroundings, not destroy them. If we try to destroy nature, it will destroy us. Secondly, we should develop our drainage system and maintain it properly. Maintenance seems to be more difficult than development. A proper garbage disposal system has to be in place. The garbage should not make its way into the drains and to the corners of buildings. Rains carry the accumulated garbage to any corner and to all possible places. I have witnessed some low-lying areas getting flooded during the high tide in River Ganga, and within a couple of hours there is no trace of water during the low-tide period. The lives are affected for a very short period, but there is no panic and no disaster. The properly maintained drainage system is the reason behind it.
U A KIRAN, Usgao

Let Us Learn to Live in Communal Harmony
In a unique gesture of inter-religious harmony, it was an inspiring sight to see Fr Peter Cardozo with his Agonda parish troupe singing bhajans at the various sarvajanik Ganesh idols along with the Hindu community. Bhajans are Hindu devotional songs with music based on classical ragas and talas expressing love for the Divine. There was none more qualified than Fr Peter, an exponent of Western music and also someone, who is well-versed in Indian classical music, to show the way. Indian classical music, just like its Western counterpart, has the rare gift to lift one’s heart and soul in unison towards the Supreme Being. I had a guru, Prof Ramrao Desai, who was not only an exponent of Indian classical music but an epitome of simplicity and love, truly a man of God who cast a magic spell on his shishyas (disciples). Among our Catholic priests the Pilar fathers, like Fr Cardozo, are in the forefront to promote Indian classical ragas and their fusion with Western harmony. Fr Glen D’Silva, the director of the Pilar Music School, who also taught me, is an MA in Indian classical music and has his own compositions dedicated to Jesus Christ in Indian classical style. He received much acclaim when he recited 11 verses of the Krista Purana at the XVI Bhakti Sangeet Samaroh held at the Kala Academy. Fr D’Silva makes a strong case for the introduction of Indian classical music alongside Western harmonies during services in our churches. Fr Peter Cardozo’s gesture may have its share of critics, but let us remember that the Catholic Church reminds us that “we cannot truly call on God, the Father of all, if we refuse to treat in a brotherly way any man/woman, created as s/he is in the image of God.” Further, “the Church reproves, as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination against others or harassment of them because of their race, colour, condition of life or religion. The Church ardently implores the Christian faithful to maintain good fellowship among the nations and to live in peace with all men/women so that we may truly be sons/daughters of the Father who is in heaven.” Hats off to Fr Peter! In these times when we are witnessing a vicious attempt to polarise religious communities, such little gestures will go a long way in lighting a candle that may help dispel the forces of darkness.

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