Anarcho-environmentalism allegorised

The name Anaarkali in the present context has many meanings - Anaar symbolises the anarchism of the Bhils and kali which means flower bud in Hindi stands for their traditional environmentalism. Anaar in Hindi can also mean the fruit pomegranate which is said to be a panacea for many ills as in the Hindi idiom - "Ek anar sou bimar - One pomegranate for a hundred ill people"! - which describes a situation in which there is only one remedy available for giving to a hundred ill people and so the problem is who to give it to. Thus this name indicates that anarcho-environmentalism is the only cure for the many diseases of modern development! Similarly kali can also imply a budding anarcho-environmentalist movement. Finally according to a legend that is considered to be apocryphal by historians Anarkali was the lover of Prince Salim who was later to become the Mughal emperor Jehangir. Emperor Akbar did not approve of this romance of his son and ordered Anarkali to be bricked in alive into a wall in Lahore in Pakistan but she escaped. Allegorically this means that anarcho-environmentalists can succeed in bringing about the escape of humankind from the self-destructive love of modern development that it is enamoured of at the moment and they will do this by simultaneously supporting women's struggles for their rights.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Doing Maths instead of Pouring Milk on Shiva

MahaShivratri is a public holiday and so Rani Kajal School in Kakrana had officially no classes. But the students of class eight there decided to use this free day not to pour milk on Shiva like millions of others did but to do Mathematics. The Madhya Pradesh Government has reintroduced board examinations at the class 5 and class 8 levels this year after a long hiatus and so with less than a month left for those to begin the students are naturally on tenterhooks. Mathematics as always is the most difficult subject. So there was a five hour maths class facilitated by Ishaan, who is Subhadra and my son. He is in class eleven currently but ever since he was in class nine his mother has sent him to the school in Kakrana or the one in Sakar run by Amit and Jayashree to spend a week after his own final exams teaching the Adivasi children there and also enjoying himself with them.

This year before going to Kakrana he asked me what he should teach. I told him to teach the students of class eight maths and clear their doubts so that they could do well in the impending examinations. Earlier, Sandeep, Swapanda's nephew, Arjun and I have done some maths teaching off and on whenever we have spent a few days there. The big problem is that Kakrana is so remote that there are no good teachers there to teach maths properly. Despite many appeals having been sent out, so far no young student has agreed to intern there and provide maths and science education to the students for a few weeks or months. So now with the board examinations just a few weeks away, the students decided to make the most of Ishaan's expertise. They put in two hours each day in the evening after dinner and they took advantage of the Shiva holiday to put in a marathon math session.
The texts prepared by the Madhya Pradesh Board adapted from the books prepared by the National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT) are well designed with good problems to test the understanding of the students. However, in the absence of good teachers these texts are not taught properly and so most children aren't able to comprehend them well. The whole government school system and most private schools too promote learning by rote even for maths in the absence of good teachers. No wonder then that millions of people in this country pour milk on Shiva which they find to be a more meaningful activity than learn maths from incompetent teachers.

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