Friday, February 17, 2017

My Motivation

My Motivation
Hailing from a typical rural background, I had an opportunity to witness dynamic twists of students and youth in my area. The abysmal paradigm of pupil in my village provoked me many times. Many of them either dropped out or their career went awry mainly owe to the family circumstances or due to low exposure to sublimed thoughts. It was a usual sight most of they ended up with the conventional boundaries of career.
This mis-links were apparent; lack of nutrition, no effective parenting, defects in educational approach. There were exceptional cases where people broken their boundaries to fly above limitations. It was through right vision they provided with at some point of life. Education is globally hailed as a catalyst to remove darkness. But right education must be offered to ignite minds of young children. A right mix of nutrition, effective parenting, motivated teaching and skilling is required. It is a participatory approach to ensure overall development of an individual for long term benefit of the nation.
I happened to see, my people are limited in employability skills like Communication, IT and parents, parents are consistently failing in their role to build the career edifice of their children. At the utmost despair, teachers still revolve around the conventional wall of education.
Even though from an ordinary family background, I had the fortunate to interact with some great minds at my undergraduate times. Eventually, my thoughts drowned into the nuances of life and career, which made me to be philosophical. I realized that our premises and nurturing have a critical role in the overall development. Beyond, a practical spirituality moved me to a more elevated direction.  It is an added advantage to be blessed with a mentor. The need of the hour is an ideal mix in education to bridge the prevailing lacuna. Our education ideology needs to be the mutual existence of effective parenting, nutrition, equal opportunity to education, skill based learning, and aptitude oriented career selection. The teaching fraternity, course content and methodology of learning also to be in par with this objectives. I am passionate to work in this direction.
Career Interests
Currently I completed my doctoral thesis and work with the skill development mission of Govt. of Kerala. I had a unique opportunity to meet thousands of students and youth where I utilized my space to sow seeds of development thought. However, beyond mere reading, our philosophies must be backed by scientific evidence. Such scientific strategies and interventions can create catapulting effect among youth. This requires more exposure and guidance from right people. Working with people/organization in this line will help me to spearhead changes in education sector with much vigour. 
Being an individual working in this sector and passionate to introduce change, developing new scientific methodologies and adopting emulating success stories can have a pivotal impact in the education system. It is not as special cases, but as widely accepted model. I firmly believe that Vision India Fellowship will be a guiding force for me.
If I am not selected

If I am not selected, I will remain in this sector and continue with my pursuit for excellence. I will find more time to read, listen and travel to see changes in the education sector. Whatever I observed and imbibed will pass over to others. I will keep my priority to do a post-doctoral programme from a reputed university abroad. Surely with an intention to back to my community and work for the betterment of my fellow beings.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Currency Crisis and E- Money


The idea of e-currency has high relevance in this time. Amidst chaos and uncertainty over currency availability Government should explore new avenues to materialize the concept of a cashless economy. Though the intention of Narendra Modi to control black money is well-appreciated, it seems unprepared and Thuglaqian.  

Availability of new two thousand rupee notes without any security features will create an oil to fire situation for a vulnerable economy. If the intention of Modi was to curb black money, he should have banned all the high denominations rather than printing and distributing currencies of two thousands. Even though Arun Jailtely boasts of his preparedness, situation theses days unravel the pathetic condition. Government had to issue more Swipe Card Machines to SMEs owners even in subsidized rates, Banks also have to waive the fee incurred for the device to an extent.  If you look at the new currency, the sign is by the new RBI Governor Urjith Patel, former head of one key division of Reliance. If it was a prepared move Government had to anticipate the crisis and issue sufficient currencies of low denominations through ATMs and Banks. It is a genuine reasoning that the poor become the victim of new decision. Augmenting of restriction to issue currency is not because of security reasons but because of lack of availability. Floating of new counterfeit high denominations also cant be summarily rejected. 

The idea of e-currency altogether looks Utopian for a country like India, however we have to press for it at any cost to get rid from the bad state of the economy majorly owe to black money. the Swipe Card Machine is not a rare seen, which can be effectively linked to the Jan Dhan accounts which in turn can enhance the effectiveness of transactions. Service of banking correspondent can be used to an extent to help people to do away from phishing and scamming. The current move of Government must be see in this direction especially when citizens are provided with Rupay card. 

Even though the task of making people used to the e-devices is a Herculean task, considering the long-term growth and prosperity of the country, it has to be triggered. If we can achieve zen Jan-Dhan, if we are able to penetrate zen mobile, this also can be possible by calculated steps. All the money is accounted and transparent through the e-way, the cost incurred for banking, hassles, hoarding of money and various other technical and physical barriers can be effectively controlled. Technologies like block -chain with more advanced security features may provide better services to citizens. It is a fact that e-money makes more convenience and security both physical and financial to people.  

I vouch for the idea and wait to see this dream in the immediate future ! 

Malayalee has got invitation for the World Youth Summit

Kerala Youth has got invitation to the World Youth Summit in Washington DC by the World Bank. This rare opportunity is for Paul V Mathew from Kochi. The World Youth Summit is to be held between November 14-16.  Theme of the Summit is “Rethinking Education for the New Millennium”. Distinguished personalities from all countries will attend the event. Paul will represent Indian Team in the Summit. Invitation was for individuals of exceptional quality that have demonstrated their passion to rethink education for new millennium and their potential to be a future leaders in the Subject. The World Bank document says. 

Paul has submitted his doctoral thesis at the School of Management Studies, Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) on the subject Sustainable Destination Management. He works with the Additional Skill Acquisition Programme (ASAP), Department of Higher Education, Government of Kerala. He was also associated with Kerala Tourism as the State Team Leader of Responsible Tourism Initiatives.  

Being the Founding Chairman of Green Life India Innovations Network, a non-profit organization works for social resilience, he had a unique opportunity to attend Discover India - Bharath Darshan - Jagriti Yatra, National Youth Summit – JAM, Gramya Manthan, Community Radio Summit by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, National Broad and policy Consortium, Ministry of Telecom, National Environmental Summit etc. in various parts of the country.



Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Kerala Education - A Background

HISTORICAL ADVANTAGES
Historically Kerala has lots of advantages.  Kerala ranks high amongst other states and in par with some of the advanced countries in the world in various socio-economic aspects.  It is a fact that Kerala occupies an enviable position in terms of human development especially health, education and women empowerment.  It is reported that Kerala had an indigenous system of education embracing traditions, religion and caste even during the pre-British period.  Education system centered in royal courts, temples and families of aristocrats, artisans and peasants had a pivotal role in the development of people. Researchers found that educational facilities have been quite widespread in every region during the end of 18th century (Nair, 1989).  The fact itself gives a view on traces of education development in the state; in 1951, the literacy rate of Keralities was 40.47 % against the national average 16.67%. 
The developmental history of Kerala in the field of education is replete with the generous and farsighted visionaries of the erstwhile princely states of Kerala, Christian missionaries and the various other religions, especially the Christian minority.

Royal patronage
The history of education in Kerala can be traced from the Sangam period (3rd Centry).  Kerala happened to witness a cultural and academic revival about 800 AD with the re-establishment of Chera power under Kulasekhara Varma. He established Padasala (school) and Salai (Kalsasala/college).  The temple universities and the libraries attached to it called the Sabha Mutts were centers of Vedic studies and learning of subjects like the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Mimamsas and Vyakarana. Earliest versions of the Muffs were founded by Adi Sankara and it became a Centre for specializing in higher branches of learning. Apparently, this Gurukula system of education attracted a large number people to these centers. The Ay rulers in the 9th and 1oth centuries were instrumental in providing educational facilities along with building temples*.
The rulers of Kerala were greatly convinced about the modern education and inclusive approach towards learning. Travancore (South), Kochi (Central) and Malabar (South) were under various rulers in the early period.  Way back to 1817 the Queen of Travancore Gouri Parvathi Bayi in her royal rescript under the advice of the Resident Colonel Munro declared that "the state should defray the whole cost of education of its people, in order that there might be no backwardness in the state”. The first Reform Bill in 1832 paved the way for English medium education in Kerala.
From the second half of the 19th century onwards government started intensively involve in educational reforms and policies.  During the reign of Dewan T. Madhava Rao (1862-1874), government framed an ambitious education policy and constituted a fund to establish government schools, central vernacular school, Taluk  level schools, and teachers training institute. He also encouraged private agencies to start schools and set up a text book committee to translate and write books of all kinds (Aiya 1906).
The Raja's Free School established by Sri Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma in 1834 gradually became the Maharaja's High School and later the Maharaja's College (1866), which is the nucleus of the University of Travancore (Kerala) established by Sri Chitra Tirunal Balarama Varma in 1937.  The reign of Sri Mulam Tirunal Rama Varma (1885-1924) was a giant strides in the field of education especially in the wake of the Hunter Commission. The principle of free primary education and the new education code made pivotal changes in the system.  Also, in the absence of a University, the Govemment entered into agreement with the Benares Hindu University and Madras Government to reserve seats for the students from Travancore in Medical and Engineering Courses. When the state witnessed an unprecedented increase in the number of the educated unemployed, His Highness' decided to initiate Training Corps and Teaching Residential University.  An English School was opened at Mattancheny in 1818.  Similarly, the Royal Kingdom of Cochin in 1845 established a school which was upgraded to a college in 1875 and in June 1925 the college acquired the name Maharajas College.
When the Colonel John Munroe assumed charge as the Dewan of Travancore, he played an instrumental role in the abolition of slavery in Travancore in 1813.  In the same year, Maharani Gouri Lakshmi Bai (1810-15) of the Travancore granted 16 acres of land, 500 rupees in cash, and timber for the construction of college buildings on the banks of the Meenachil River. In in 1817 the CMS College came into existence.  Among the colleges started in the Malabar region, the Zamorin's Guruvayurappan College established in 1879 is the oldest.
The Malabar Christian College (1907); the Union Christian College Aluva (1921); the St. Berchmans' College, Changanacheny (1922); St. Teresa's College, Emakulam (1925), the first women's college to be opened in the private sector; the Sacred Heart College, Thevara (1944); SD College, Alappuzha (1946); St. Albert's College, Ernakulam (1947); and Sree Kerala Varma College, Trichur (1947) provided fillip to the higher education sector of Kerala.
Missionaries
The beginning of the 18th century of Kerala was witnessed by the vibrant presence of Christian Missionaries. Their efforts to attract the backward classes and the depressed communities and the special attention to spread English education attracted the entire section of the society. The London Missionary Society (LMS) in the South, the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in the central and northern areas; and the Basel Mission in Malabar region played a significant role in the social uplift of the society.  Governments also encouraged the missionaries to establish schools and promote English education across the state.
Social Reformers
Beginning of the 19th century also witnessed by multitude of reform activities particularly by Christian community. Rev.Fr. Kuriakose Elias Chavara, the man behind the concept "a school along with every church" made a revolutionary change in the educational panorama of the state, which subsequently taken up by all the Christian churches.  The resource mobilization initiatives by the Catholics "5 percent extrication" where each housewife of the parishes was instructed to handover one handful of rice per day (roughly equal to five percent of the consumption expenditure) to the local church once in a month to support the educational endeavors of church catalyzed the establishment of schools.
It is also worth mentioning the social and religious organizations like The Nair Service Society (NSS) founded by Mannathu Padmanabhan in 1914 for the socio-economic progress of the Nairs; Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam founded in 1903 by Sree Narayana Guru; and the Muslim Educational Society (MES) by Dr. P.K.Abdul Gafoor in 1964. They established schools, colleges and other educational institutions in different parts of India which contributed for the inclusive education of the state.
It is imperative to note that education policies of state was pro-poor and inclusive from the very beginning.  In 1859 itself, the Government started its first school for girls at Karamana in Trivandrum. Also, in order to promote girls education government abolished the fees for girls in schools. In 1865, government started initiatives to providing educational facilities to the backward and depressed classes in the state.  Another important educational effort initiated by Madhava Rao for the educational development was the introduction of 'proverty' (village) school scheme in 1871.  According to this scheme, one school in every poverty (village) was started. Vernacular schools separately for girls were organized in 1867 which removed the reservation on the part of the parents to send their daughters to mixed schools. 
It was in 1895, the government for the first time in the state took a determined effort by giving grants to schools for backward communities (Aiya 1906). The introduction mid-day meals scheme was a big relief to local people.  The decision in 1936 to provide lump-sum grants to depressed community students was widely welcomed. Further, the report of the Educational Reforms committee of 1933 and Education Reorganization committee of 1945 and the subsequent decision to declare primary education free and compulsory in the state in 1955 provided a great impetus to the education movement in the state.


THE DEMOGRAPHIC DIVIDEND
When the whole country is blessed with the demographic dividend, Kerala is in the verge of losing this charm.  Currently, half of the population in Kerala is young.  The dividend will become a disaster to the state sooner or later.  It is a fact that in Kerala more students are in high school than at primary levels and the ageing population gives us a disturbing trends.  The elderly population in Kerala is leading with a tremendous increase of 10 percent in 2001.  It is predicted that the number of elderly in Kerala will reach 7.2 million or 20 percent of the population in 2021 and 37 percent in 2051 (Rajan, et.al., 1999).  The average age of Kerala’s population at 33 years has already surpassed the 29 years projected for the country by 2020.
According to Economic Survey 2014-15 due to substantial fertility decline in the south during the last two decades, the south is ahead in the demographic transition compared to the north.  It calls for the state to actively pursue policies to garner the benefits of the demographic dividend to the already bulging labor force and to prepare for surge in various other social and economic demands of the society.  In this context it is worth noticing to be reminded of the statement “the industrialized countries became rich before they became old, while developing countries will become old before they become rich” (Kalache et.al, 2005).
THE FOREIGN DIASPORA
Ninety percentage of Kerala's 23.63 lakh diaspora are in the various Middle East countries. It is found that the United Arab Emirates has attracted 38.7 percent of the Kerala emigrants and Saudi Arabia accommodates 25.2 percent Malayalis.  Kuwait and Qatar also have good number of Keratitis.  Among the countries outside the Gulf region, the principal ones are the USA and the United Kingdom.   The Kerala Migration Survey-2014 reported that about 19 percent of households in Kerala had an emigrant.  Further, it pointed that the migration still continues mainly because of the state’s inability to provide suitable jobs for the increasing number of educated youths (K C Zachariah and S Irudaya Rajan).
Though the rate of migration is in the increasing pace, the return also in increase.  The number of return emigrants (REM) to Kerala in 2014 was 12.48 lakhs, which is about 52 percent of the number of emigrants. The corresponding numbers were 11.50 lakhs in 2011. The economic downturn and regional unrest in the Middle East expedite the reverse exodus of Kerala workforce to their homeland.  As Kerala aims at creating a state of efficiency, competitiveness, services and market delivery in education by 2030, it becomes a pressing need to make the human resource efficient. This makes the government to take care of the returned.
UNEMPLOYMENT COUPLED WITH UN-EMPLOYABILITY
The dual challenge of unemployment and un-employability is a cause of concern for economists and policy makers.  Though Kerala is known for its literacy, the employability rate is not very heartening which is generally below twenty five percent. The State Skill Development Report reported that the current population of Kerala, based on the census 2011 is 3.33 crores. Out of that, 2.82 crores are literate. The literacy percentage in rural areas is 92.92 and that in urban area is 94.99. About 84 lakhs are in the age group of 6 – 25. The urban population has registered an increase of 92.72%, whereas the rural population has decreased by 25.96% during the last decade.
The employment rate, as per National Sample Survey of India, is 12.6%.  It is unfortunate to learn that more than 50% students have been failing in BTech. examinations conducted by universities in the state. Adding worry to this fact, employability of this category is staggeringly below 20%.  Kerala has the highest rate of unemployment among the big States in the country.  It is thrice the national average (2.3 per cent). Also, unemployment rate is higher in rural areas as compared to urban areas, and joblessness is evident with females. It’s hard to realize that the rate of youth unemployment (between 15 and 29) is 21.7 per cent in rural areas and 18 per cent in urban areas. The unemployment rate of women is 47.4 per cent whereas 9.7 per cent of men. The reports state that about 43 lakhs of persons, out of a total about 240 lakhs of adults, are currently registered with the Employment Exchanges in the state seeking employment.  At the same time, a study done by the Gulati Institute of Finance and Taxation in 2016 reported that over 40 lakhs (4 million) migrant labor are in Kerala with an annual arrival rate of 2.35 lakhs.  It was estimated that a sum of Rs 25,000 crores going outside the state each year as wages to the migrant workers.  It also a gives us a caution to do away from the attitude of aversion to vocational trades, as people always love to embrace professional degrees like medicine and engineering ignoring their aptitude and interest. 

It is equally important to note the demand-supply mismatch of skill in the state.  As the service sector contributes to around 60% of the State GDP, and more focus is required in the traditional Industries like agriculture, manufacturing and construction, it becomes a dire need of skilled man power who can meet the skill requirements of the industry. The State Skill Development Report says that “there is a severe mismatch between the talents and skills, required by the Industry and skill-sets possessed by the population. This results in majority of the people being educated but unemployed. Hence Kerala needs to focus on skill enhancement if it has to effectively cater to the demands of the Global economy and in the process move to a stronger economic position in the country”.

Friday, July 1, 2016

GET ADDICTED TO LIFE





It was exactly a month ago when one of my colleagues visited my house.

While conversing, he opened his wallet and offered me a small leaf.  Further, he said; ‘Shall we try it? It will give you a mesmerizing experience’.  

Immediately, my mind travelled to my college days and the poor fate of my class mate. A brilliant and glamorous member among our cohort, one day he was tempted by such a situation. That single incident whirled him into a euphoric world, but he never came back.

All efforts to bring him back were in vain. It is still vivid in my crystal memory; the hospital veranda and the gloomy downcast face of his parents.

I whispered, “I am addicted to Life, not to addictions”.

World No Tobacco Day

It is sad to know that millions of people are succumbing to this temptation. I happen to see many people argue vehemently that even if they do not enjoy this habit, they may become a victim of various other illnesses, without deciphering the truth. 

When we observe World No Tobacco Day on 31st May 2016, World Health Organization (WHO) reminds us certain mind blowing facts of Tobacco.

Key facts
·         Tobacco kills up to half of its users.
·         Tobacco kills around 6 million people each year.
·         More than 5 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while more than 600,000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
·         Nearly 80% of the world's 1 billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries.

Theme of 2016

“Get ready for plain (standardized) packaging of tobacco products”

The Biggest Public Health Threat

WHO, says that tobacco is an epidemic which is the leading cause of illness, poverty and death.

Studies invariably prove that there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke as it contains more than 4000 chemicals, of which at least 250 are known to be harmful and more than 50 are known to cause cancer. 

In adults, it causes severe cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and lung cancer and in infants sudden death where as in pregnant women, second hand smoke leads to low birth weight. WHO, reported that almost half of the children regularly breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke in public.

Not Scold but Handhold

If we look at the statistics, it can be inferred that majority of tobacco users are not aware about the risks associated and the ways to quit.  For instance, smoking is emerging as one of the major reasons behind vision loss. However, only 10-20% people are aware of the same. 

At the same time, most of the smokers want to quit. Experiences reveal that counseling and medication can more than double the chances of success for a smoker who is trying to quit.

No to Tobacco Always

There is hardly a day when our attention is not being caught on the menace of drug trafficking. 

As per the GATS India report, Kerala is having an overall 21.4% of tobacco users, out of which 13.4% are smokers. The current level of exposure to second hand smoke of adults is 41.8%.

Recently, in the wake of the Assembly Election 2016, oncologists and public health experts in Kerala jointly called for all the political parties to include tobacco control as a public health measure in election manifestos. They cautioned that tobacco is the villain behind 40% of cancers in Kerala.

Though the tobacco tax revenue of Kerala is Rs. 315 crore, the actual costs are around Rs. 1,514 crore a year, according to reports. It is also reported that ban of liquor has created a high demand for drugs and also subsequent increase in the availability and the use of stronger and more dangerous drugs.  It is the high time politicians and social activists deliberate on these matters.

It is a heartening move on the part of the government to make 85% pictorial health warnings mandatory on both sides of tobacco products from April 1, 2016. Graphic warnings persuade people to quit.

The experiences of hard-hitting anti-tobacco advertisements and graphic pack warnings which include pictures show that it has prevented children from taking to smoking and has made a large number of smokers to quit. 

When you see the smile of your charming kid and their vibrancy, remember to teach them the ill effects of tobacco. It may begin as a try for leisure, which can lead your child to eternal gloom.

Ensure that your child has taken the no tobacco pledge too. Let us be vigilant that none of us and our family members are in the evil clutch of tobacco.

Published in the Dentcare Magazine, The Dentcare, May Edition (English)