I sometimes wonder if the “father of western philosophy”, French philosopher, René Descartes had any gender complexities in mind, when he was talking about “Cogito Ergo Sum” (“I think, therefore I am”) in 1637 in his Discourse on the Method? Some of my thoughts in this regard emerge from the idea that the history of knowledge and history of creative writing, in essence, has been the canonized history of men as intellectuals and as thinkers. Therefore, when Fundamatics requested me to write an article on what it means to be a woman academic in IITs, the floodgates of emotions were thrown open, bringing me face-to-face once again after several years with the Cartesian notion of Cogito Ergo Sum.
India’s rivers and aquifers are drying. ~70% of our food is produced from unsustainable groundwater irrigation, and groundwater is rapidly disappearing. This has serious implications for continued economic growth. On one hand, there is widespread public and political concern about India’s water. Recent campaigns by major spiritual leaders like Isha Foundation’s Rally for Rivers and the Art of Living’s River Rejuvenation campaigns have attracted massive support. There is clearly an economic argument for addressing India’s water crisis – it has been estimated that the Cauvery riots of 2016 resulted in a loss of Rs. 25,000 crores and the Chennai floods a loss of Rs 15,000 crores. Yet, on the other hand, the trajectory of the country toward a doomed water future seems to be accelerating, not slowing down.
After a tepid release of ‘Diamonds are Forever’ in 1971, Sean Connery is reported to have vowed that he would ‘never again’ play ‘that’ role. Yet, in 1983, there he was again, suave and swashbuckling as ever, Agent 007 in the rather cheekily named ‘Never Say Never Again’. Although Sean (may I call him Sean?) took more than a decade to realize the error of his ways, I learned this precept right at the start of my entrepreneurial journey.
A decade ago, when I was just a tiny cog in the wheels of a large consulting firm, I swore off consulting forever and decided to start a ‘real’ business, manufacturing and selling products.
GREAT Foundation was born in the classrooms of IIT Bombay. I had joined the HSS Department in 1974 to teach English. Aged 24, I was no social worker; just another idealistic young person who had joined the teaching profession out of love for the vocation. My life’s mission was to teach and help students. I had no vision, not even a career path. Then things happened. The very first class I went to teach was that of SC/ST students selected into IITBombay on reserved entry as it was then called. Meeting the poorly clad students with stars in their eyes was a new experience. Until then I hadn’t even known that there was a class of people called the SCs and STs. 1973 was the first year that students in this category had been selected into an IIT. Their selection had been mandated down to zero marks in the JEE by the Indian government eager to turn the wheel of caste inequality full circle, quickly.
October – November, 2017
Like the goddess Durga who stands out majestically during the nine days of Navaratri, this month we focus on women with an identity of their own, who have reshaped and overthrown the patriarchal norm. While the economic empowerment of women across the world is one of the most remarkable revolutions of the past 50 years, yet the question remains if access to power equates to actual power? In this issue, we delve into this question and many more through a fascinating mix of memoirs, articles and essays by our alumnae who reflect their own diverse life journeys. We also explore the changing relationship between women and power in public and private spheres through fascinating stories of alumnae achievements.
I grew up in Bombay, and as all true Bombayites, always had aspirations to get into Bollywood – that glamorous movie business! I actually even performed in a movie, a small 5-minute dance on a patriotic song, as a child actor. The movie, alas, was a flop the minute it screened, but the song would come on Chhaya Geet every 15thAugust and I would pretty much be the laugh of my friends on the 16th. This movie incidentally is nowhere online – not even on YouTube! It hit me hard that my dashing looks were probably not going to be my ticket.
In most large companies, we barely know most of our colleagues – we see only the professional side of their personality (if we’re lucky) during the typical work-day. We may learn more about them during office parties and off-sites, sometimes with assistance from ethanol. The process of forming deep friendships (or enmities) usually takes a long time, sometimes many months or even years. Travelling with them is one way to accelerate this process, to its bitter end perhaps? As I’ve mentioned earlier, Mark Twain was no doubt prescient when he noted, “I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.”
Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE) teamed up with IEEE Smart Villages to electrify the centuries old Linghsed Monastery and the Lingshed School. The entire project was documented by National Geographic as part of its Breakthrough Series, featuring top innovations of this century that will change the world we live in. The DC (direct current) Solar Micro Grid concept engineered by GHE was showcased as the breakthrough innovation that GHE has implemented to bring access to energy to more than 38 villages in the remote mountain communities of Himalayas, impacting the lives of over 15, 000 people.
Why do volunteers quit? Is it the lack of enthusiasm and commitment? Sometimes it is a poorly managed volunteering experience that leads to volunteers falling out.
I have been a volunteer for as long as I can remember. Starting at nearly 5 years of age, when my parents used to take me to medical camps, to until recently, when I just finished a 2-year volunteering project with a Foundation in Angola, Africa working with street children.
It is generally acknowledged that there are many things seriously wrong with our system of education. Otherwise we could not have become so corrupt or so incompetent. Of course it is possible to argue quite convincingly that because we are so corrupt and incompetent, we have produced the present system of education. But then it is the usual question about the precedence of the egg or the chicken. Whatever that may be, and we will leave it to the sociologists to argue, and analyse it interminably, surely there is little doubt that the education we get these days is far from satisfactory. Particularly deplorable is the situation is what we call as higher education which may be defined as any programme of education which follows the 10th class.