Sunday, June 6, 2010

Panch Parmeswar- nautanki adaptation- review

The troupe of Atul Yadav – Swarn Rangmandal, regaled the audience once again at NCZCC, Alalhabad today evening with the staging of the adaptation- in the nautanki form- of the Premchand classic – Panch Parmeshwar. The troupe has had an international experience and has done quite a bit to establish the nautanki form of drama on the international stage.
The nautanki is a north Indian form of the folk theatre genre and is characterized by dialogues in rhymes interspersed with dance and songs, tumbrel being the chief musical instrument. Premchand’s stories never have had a truly psychological critique, as far as I know. This has always intrigued me as to how one of the greatest story tellers has never been tried to be analyzed on the emotional and psychological aspects. Panch Parmeshwar in my view is not a story of mere good/evil, or change of heart of a character. It is the exploration of the psyche of a judge, psyche of any responsible person in the society, the social codes of living and their effect on our decisions and, this is what that makes it a great work of art , one that traverses time and space.
I must say the nautanki style normally is not suited to express the psychological aspect of a story, but then the unique characters in every of Atul’s plays- the sutradhar, the nat & nati- perform this role of commenting on the goings-on just like the chorus in the Shakespearean dramas. The stage-background gave a rural ambience to the drama and, music and light coordinated well with the actions on stage. Kudos to the troupe’s performance.
Skand Shukla

Monday, January 25, 2010

Coaching syndrome

What was once considered a stigma, that is, attending private coaching or tuition classes, is turning into an essential activity for students. A multi-hundred crore business has arisen across the country that includes, besides the coaching institution, boarding, lodging, publishing and advertising business. Many coaching centres for the entrance-tests to engineering/medical colleges help their students get admissions in the formal schools alongside, in which attendance is a mere formality. Thus the schools provide them +2 certificates and the coaching centre imparts learning.
Crass commercialismThe growing attraction for coaching classes reflects the dissatisfaction of parents with the educational outcome of schools. Marks in examinations have become the sole criterion to judge a person’s abilities. While a regular school’s goal is to prepare students for examinations and the life beyond, for coaching centres, examinations are the sole goal.
For the rising middle class, success at the entrance tests of engineering/medical colleges is a gateway to prosperity and a higher social status. This attraction has grown to the extent that a callous attitude towards the formal school system is being bred. Students even attend coaching classes in their school uniforms and follow the lessons being taught in these classes rather than in their schools.
The coaching centres are a huge financial burden to parents. Students in rural areas, small towns and those who cannot afford coaching, are at a disadvantage. The poor kids have no time for outdoor games or extra-curricular activities, and a spoon-fed generation of “fragile learning” is being raised.
Teachers in these centres can be of two kinds — untrained teachers, who might know their subject and problem-solving tricks but have no knowledge of child/adolescent psychology; and trained teachers, who though formally employed in some school, teach at these centres at the cost of their duties in school. Both are jeapordising the students’ future.
With the coaching institutes acquiring the status of a parallel schooling system, the formal school system might get subverted. Various measures are required to counter this decline.
As the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) 2005 recommended, education should be for nurturing multiple intelligence in order to fructify the full potential of each child. This has to be supported by a constructivist approach to learning and a flexible, scientifically designed student assessment system.
Performance should be portrayed in a portfolio revealing his/her total being. This can include domains such as life skills, academic/non-academic and vocational subjects, personal qualities, etc. Schools should conduct target-based teaching after identifying the aptitudes of students.
Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra have put in place regulations for the coaching business, yet they need to be strengthened and complemented with pedagogic and examination reforms. Of these reforms, the foremost should be the one prescribed in the National Policy of Education 1986: “The first task is to make it [educational system] work. All teachers should teach and all students study.”

The Link to the article- 

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Love’s Labour Forever Last

It has been almost sixteen years since I passed out of the University, and eighteen, since I passed out of my teens. It isn’t such a long time- but perhaps it is – looking at the Valentine brouhaha. This day’s fame was still unheard of in my student days in a non-metro city and individual emotions could be privately celebrated without caring a fig about the moral police, if only one could somehow manage to dodge the family members.

The closeness between the two genders in terms of physical space was not much appreciated and girls pillion-riding with a non-relative did raise eye-brows. But falling in (puppy) love, which happened ever so often, was fun. The mere presence of someone from the opposite gender permeated the atmosphere with a certain indescribable excitement. All those formative years spent in a single-gender missionary school made the opposite sex seem a little strange. The identity revealing cell-phones and the caller i.d.’s were still a few years away , and one could have the pleasure of hearing one’s flame’s voice over the basic phone without getting identified. Being identified involved the risk of rejection by one’s secret love, and so, remaining incognito could let one have a ray of hope alive forever. Indelible are the memories of the split second exchange of furtive glances, the stammering first conversation, those unsaid rendezvous of the neighborhood grocery shop, the university library and the lane near her house and; the goose-flesh one had when she got touched accidentally while handing over a book or a pen. Those ingenious tricks to somehow get acquainted to her , the begging help from one’s sister, friend’s sister and class-mates for this favour and; those deliberate checking of the bicycle chains and petrol in the scooter while waiting for her to pass by was permeated with a sensibility and an emotion of which romance is made of. Do today’s valentines riding the fast lane of life , fraught with increasing calls of competition , casual inter-personal relations, decreasing spans of attention and, living in times when genders are not so strangers to each others, possess the same sense of romance as we did, I wonder!

The present generation must be experiencing romance in its own way, I am sure. But, perhaps, the celebrations of love should not be limited to a single day. Instead, the Valentines Day should be an occasional episode in the general drama of love.