C for Corruption – a Blot on India!

Corruption is no doubt a global phenomenon. There have been many instances of corruption all over and thanks to the media many were exposed.

Today, with technological advance and an alert print and visual media, things have become a lot easier for exposes. Whistle blowers too have played a vital role in informing us about corruption.

The Transparency International, a leading anti-corruption watchdog, published its Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for 2011 on 1st December 2011. In this index they actually name the least corrupt to the most corrupt countries in a scale from 10 to 0. While the top slot with 9.5 rating goes to New Zealand, they are closely followed by the Scandinavian countries of Denmark and Finland with 9.4 as their score. The ignominious last two places go to Somalia & North Korea with the lowest 1.0 scores. Where does India figure in the list? India is 95th (out of 183 countries covered by the index) with a 3.1 score. It is worth pointing out that in 2010 we were at 87 with 3.3 score and have dropped 8 places, thanks to the innumerous corruption scandals involving the ruling governments in both the Centre and the States unearthed.

On 8th December 2011, Bibek Debroy and Laveesh Bhandari have touched a raw nerve when they calculated the figures that the corrupt earn in India – a mind blowing Rs. 92,122 crore ($18.42 billion) which works out to 1.26% of the GDP! In their book aptly titled, “Corruption in India: The DNA & RNA”, Debroy who is a professor with Delhi’s Centre for Policy Research and Bhandari who heads Indicus Analytics, monitoring the performance of the Indian economy, lists out the various public services that are plagued with the mire of corruption. This includes industries of transport, real estate, illegal mining, government procurement, agriculture, forestry and logging, fishing, registered manufacturing, electricity, gas and water supply, construction, trade, hotels and restaurants, railways, storage, communication, and banking and insurance. Well, reading the exhaustive list, it occurred to me that it would be a lot easier to point out where corruption does not happen in this country than the other way around! It is sad that India’s economic growth is undermined by corruption that permeates the entire warp and weft of the nation.

Today, though there are anti-corruption laws, they are toothless and powers that be can easily circumvent them, break them with impunity, sneak away through loop holes and walk out of prisons & courts with ease. Coming out of prisons, they target whistle blowers (we have had so many – Manjunath Shanmugham, Shehla Masood, Niyamat Ansari – just to mention a few names that cannot be forgotten) and meticulously eliminate them, leaving no traces. RTI activists find themselves at the receiving end.

Where does all this leave us? Surely the need of the hour is a strong Lokpal Bill which will ensure stringent punishment to those who indulge in corruption of any kind. Let us all support it in every possible way. Let us hope that we are able to chain the monster of corruption and signal the awakening of the giant that India is – thanks to her man power, resources and timeless national values. Let’s remove the blot on this land which has “Satyameva Jayate” (meaning Truth alone triumphs, from the ancient scripture – Mundaka Upanishad) as its motto.

I want to end this post on a very optimistic note borrowing the immortal lines of John Keats in the Ode to the West Wind.

“The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”

Sharing Resources

This post is dedicated to all Teachers. In this 21st Century education scenario, there is so much material that is available on the net. My purpose is to share these resources with you so that you can enrich your teaching as well as provide your students a fine learning experience. After all you are dealing with the digital age learner!

Here is a long list of websites you can look into for resources. Each website has other links and you can go on and on into an exploratory journey into how materials can be used in your classroom and weaved into your lesson plan. This and some creativity will surely be a magic wand for you to look at classroom activity and resources in a new light. Explore and make interesting learning connections for students!

http://www.teachingideas.co.uk/ Good teaching ideas for Primary 
http://docs.google.com/View?docid=dg3mtjfp_12fq9wkn&pli=1 Teaching ideas which can be used across the curriculum 
http://english-avenue.com/index.php  Printable ESL Kids activities 
http://www.ei-india.com/  ASSET exams and other articles on education & teaching 
http://teachingenglishgames.com/  100s of ideas to make EFL / ESL teaching easier & fun. 
Multiple Intelligence – finding out about you. 
http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/index.html Concept to Classroom. Tapping into Multiple Intelligence
http://www.chariho.k12.ri.us/curriculum/MISmart/stndunit.html  Multiple Intelligence integrated units 
http://www.chariho.k12.ri.us/curriculum/MISmart/tools.html  Multiple Intelligence teaching tools 
http://www.visuwords.com/          Online graphical dictionary 
http://www.manythings.org/  ESL with CALL computer assisted language learning 
 http://www.learnnc.org/        K-12 teaching & learning
 http://www.earobics.com/  Helping readers reach
 http://www.cdlponline.org/  For reading & life skills
 http://www.nationmaster.com/education.php  Link to Revision Checklist: Population dynamics and general
http://www.tutor2u.net/  For economics and Business Studies
http://www.thetimes100.co.uk/ Teaching business studies by example
http://www.sitesforteachers.com/ A comprehensive list of sites for teachers
http://teachers.teach-nology.com/ A web portal on the best sites for teachers

If there is any link that is broken, please let me know via the comments column. I will endeavour to give you the correct one. 

An Icon to Emulate

2012 will dawn soon without the remarkable services of an Icon who is stepping down…Do you know whom???
His name springs to any Indian’s mind when you speak about the Delhi Metro.
Ever heard of E Sreedharan, guys & girls?
So what about him? Many people step down…This stepping down is different. He is turning almost 80!
And he is still working? Yes…
That is why he is an Icon. I write icon with a capital I because in a great nation like India where there are billions of people and where there are hardly few whom the young like you can look up to (thanks to our netas and babus), here is one who made a difference by being in within the system and remaining unaffected by the system.
The Wikipedia page on Mr. Sreedharan speaks of an astonishing anecdote: “In 1963, a cyclone washed away parts of Pamban Bridge that connected Rameshwaram to mainland Tamil Nadu. The Railways set a target of six months for the bridge to be repaired while Sreedharan’s boss, under whose jurisdiction the bridge came, reduced it to three months. Sreedharan was put in-charge of the execution and he restored the bridge in just 46 days.”
An engineer with the Indian Railways, he was the architect behind the successful commissioning of the Konkan Railways. When there were hardly any links connecting the commercial capital of India – Mumbai – with the southern states of India, a 760 kilometre railway track was conceived, crossing many mountains, rivers and streams, along the Konkan Coast. With over 2000 bridges and a maze of nearly 100 tunnels, the project was a mammoth one given that it would be over undulating terrain. Truly an engineering marvel!!! It was executed in such a clinical way that it took only about 7 years to complete it. Mr. Sreedharan felt it could have been completed about a couple of years before but for the Harshad Mehta scam that shook the financial edifice of the country at that time.
From Konkan Raliways to head the Delhi Metro was an even more challenging affair and that too to remove the travel woes of the people in the national capital Delhi. Now as he steps down, he leaves a void – one that no one can fill in!
What is the success of Mr. E. Sreedharan? What can you emulate from him that can make you too successful?
On extensively reading about him, methinks it is this acronym: INSPIRE. In fact his middle name is INSPIRE! And pray, how does he INSPIRE?
Innovate: Sreedharan innovated in every field possible – financial, technological and managerial. At a time when the practice was to use only money from the government treasury to fund projects, he innovated by raising public bonds for funds! This is just one – his professional life is replete with such practical innovations.
Nurture: He nurtured the spirit of togetherness in his team. He practised and stressed on the fact that it is imperative to work towards common goals and the paramount one was of the well being of the society at large. 
Spiritual: Sreedharan clarifies that being spiritual is not religious. It is the respect and empathy you have for every living thing in this universe. “The essence of spirituality is to make a person pure in his mind and his thoughts.”
Professional: He is very professional and believes that to be successful in professional life one must have certain attitude and commitment to values. Sreedharan achieves timely completion of projects by dividing the project between sub-managers and giving them each a deadline and reviews daily progress reports. He also meets with top staff and consultants on a weekly basis. Every department displays a digital board that displays the date of completion of the next target. For him, ‘work is worship’ and he is known for his consistency and deliverance throughout his entire career tenure.
Integrity: Donning a crisp white shirt and an affable smile, Sreedharan is the epitome of everything that is punctual & honest. In the six decades of yeoman service to the nation, there has not even been a single instance where his integrity seemed questionable. In a world getting increasingly devoid of integrity, he is confident that a change will happen. In fact, he has gone a step ahead in that direction, forming a group of like-minded people to launch the Foundation for Restoration of National Values (FRNV).
Role Model: In his professional as well as personal life, Sreedharan is a role model. He walks his talk. It is said that he was offered lucrative jobs globally, some even about sixty times what he earns, yet unfazed, he stood by his passion and ideals. Such role models are very hard to come by. Very rarely do we come across role models who radiate remarkable success as well as impeccable character and virtues.
Enthusiasm: Passion for what one does is what generates enthusiasm. Sreedharan brims with vim and vigour. It is this that gives him the focus to go on even at a ripe age of 79!
And when he steps down from the top job as Managing Director of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, the nation salutes him – for being a trend setter, a change agent and more importantly a wonderful role model for youngsters to emulate.
So what are the lessons to learn from the life of this man who takes on high-tech complex projects, but leads a simple lifestyle? He is said to be a vegetarian and a frugal eater who doesn’t consume milk products.
Innovate, think and take the untrodden path.
Nurture in yourself the spirit of teamwork for common good.
Spirituality provides you the right kind of values to succeed.
Professional ethics determines your success as a leader.
Integrity gives magnetic charm to your personality.
Role Model – be one and practice what you preach.
Enthusiasm is infectious & generates focussed work.
You will be an employee in the near future. I sincerely hope that ES will INSPIRE you too to be a transformational leader and who knows, an ICON, too!!!
(I am proud to say that I share two things with this great Icon – he is from Palakkad in Kerala and studied at Government Victoria College, Palakkad – Me too!!! J)