The cabinet’s approval of 10% quota for economically backward upper castes is both baffling and ill- timed. Personally speaking, I would be elated over any such approvals which would benefit the economically downtrodden. However, this move is nothing but a political gimmick played the government in view of the upcoming elections.
If the purpose of the central government was truly to support the economically weaker upper castes, why was it so that the announcement was made towards the end of the winter session leaving no room for discussions in either of the houses.
The cabinet’s decision is in direct contradiction of the 1992 ruling by the Supreme Court where it was stated that the mere economic backwardness is not enough to provide a community with the quotas. The court on other occasions also mentioned that along with economic backwardness, historic injustice in terms of educational opportunities must also be proven to gain the quotas.
This whole process brings us back to square one where it is obvious that even on cabinet’s approval, the decision might run into the courts and might never see the light of day. Now I am sure that many of the esteemed members of the cabinet, owing to their legal backgrounds must be aware of this fact. Despite having full knowledge of the same, the cabinet giving a nod to the proposal is nothing but a shout for political attention and appeasement politics.
In Andhra Pradesh, amidst the growing demand for reservation for Kapu community, the AP assembly unanimously passed the resolution supporting the 5% reservation for Kapus. By doing so we fulfilled one of our key electoral promises during 2014 elections. However, the centre is yet to act on that and make that into reality even one year past the resolution. A commission was established and a scientific study was conducted regarding various socio-economic indicators of the Kapu communities. This gives a clear indication that it’s not the welfare that the centre is interested in; neither in AP’s case, nor in the current 10% quota case.
I have always been in the favour of supporting the downtrodden across the communities. However, that should not come at the cost of disturbing the system and hurting the sentiments of other communities for mere electoral gains. There is a systematic method of providing social justice and this move by centre doesn’t appear to be achieving that.
A short but remarkable life. That’s probably the best way of describing the life and times of Mr.Srinivasa Ramanujan. Mr Ramanujan is a figure that needs no introduction. His contribution to mathematics is indeed pathbreaking and his genius, mesmerising.
Today, as we celebrate his 131st birth anniversary, it fills me with immense pride and awe to just observe the kind of contribution he made to the modern mathematics in a life that was cruelly cut short at the young age of 32.
It is really a marvel that Mr Ramanujan was able to scale the heights of academic world with no formal training. It was purely his zeal and passion for the subject that brought him such widespread glory. Ramanujan has always been a figure whose life has intrigued me and inspired me to a great extent. I’ve happened to read a lot of publications on him and one thing that they all mentioned in common was about the gem of a character he possessed. Described as a shy yet pleasant personality, Ramanujan was a one of a kind gentleman.
A lot has been spoken and documented about the works of Mr Ramanujan. His contributions to mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series are things that we all are aware of. However, I want to highlight something that in my opinion made Ramanujan the success story that he is.
It was while reading up on his works that I came across this gem of a letter which marks the first interaction between Ramanujan and his mentor, British mathematician Mr. G. H. Hardy. The duo would later go on to forge a great friendship and a great professional bonding to give some of the most iconic mathematical works to the world. The letter reads as follows:
I beg to introduce myself to you as a clerk in the Accounts Department of the Port Trust Office at Madras on a salary of only £20 per annum. I am now about 23 years of age. I have had no University education but I have undergone the ordinary school course. After leaving school I have been employing the spare time at my disposal to work at Mathematics. I have not trodden through the conventional regular course which is followed in a University course, but I am striking out a new path for myself. I have made a special investigation of divergent series in general and the results I get are termed by the local mathematicians as ‘startling’.
Just as in elementary mathematics you give a meaning to when is negative and fractional to conform to the law which holds when is a positive integer, similarly the whole of my investigations proceed on giving a meaning to Eulerian Second Integral for all values of . My friends who have gone through the regular course of University education tell me that is true only when is positive. They say that this integral relation is not true when is negative. Supposing this is true only for positive values of and also supposing the definition to be universally true, I have given meanings to these integrals and under the conditions I state the integral is true for all values of negative and fractional. My whole investigations are based upon this and I have been developing this to a remarkable extent so much so that the local mathematicians are not able to understand me in my higher flights.
Very recently I came across a tract published by you styled Orders of Infinity in page 36 of which I find a statement. that no definite expression has been as yet found for the number of prime numbers less than any given number. I have found an expression which very nearly approximates to the real result, the error being negligible. I would request you to go through the enclosed papers. Being poor, if you are convinced that there is anything of value I would like to have my theorems published. I have not given the actual investigations nor the expressions that I get but I have indicated the lines on which I proceed. Being inexperienced I would very highly value any advice you give me. Requesting to be excused for the trouble I give you.
I remain, Dear Sir, Yours truly,
The most remarkable things that I found in this letter was the precision, confidence and humility with which Ramanujan wrote. There is a lot that we as individuals can learn just from this letter. It is astonishing to see polite yet strong demeanour that Ramanujan displayed here.
Probably it is this character that propelled him to such great heights.
In a country that has only one eye surgeon for every 1,00,000 individuals, appropriate eye care and immediate attention to vision related issues is vital.
The rational behind Sujana Foundation’s initiative of Vision Care Centres was simple; to provide world class eye care infrastructure to beneficiaries living in remote areas.
A significant portion of eye problems can be corrected or detected at primary level. This can result in substantial savings in terms of time and resources. To address this issue, the concept of Vision Centre / Primary eye care centre was initiated in the year 2002. These vision care centres were successful in providing eye care to around 50,000 people which is a matter of immense satisfaction for me. As on date 144 such facilities have been established in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Through these Vison Care Centres, we aimed to provide better access to systematic eye screening along with increasing awareness about refractive error related visual impairment and blindness. These centres were instrumental in identifying people with blinding conditions and helped in taking preventive measures at the early stages.
What We Achieved
A vision care technician trained by LV Prasad Eye Institute was given charge of each of these Vision Care Centres which was instrumental in providing quality eye care at door steps of the entire population. These centres were also instrumental in identifying the eye defects in the early stages and provided patients with timely assistance which is a matter of immense satisfaction for me. Apart from just providing care, I feel educating people is also of utmost importance and these centres did just that where the patients were given timely sessions in order to understand healthcare in a deeper level. It is a matter of great happiness for me that these centres were instrumental in providing timely and efficient eye care to about 50,000 people.
In the coming days, we aim to extend the coverage of these vision care centres and will try to provide state of the art eye care to more people across the state. By employing technicians who are locally trained, Sujana Foundation is also creating waves in the field of skill development and employment.
Benjamin Franklin once famously said, “Tell me and I will forget, teach me and I will remember, involve me and I will learn.” No other statement describes the concept of e- learning better than this. Although the traditional classroom learning has been prevalent for quite some time, in my opinion, E -learning is the way to go if students are to adapt to the ever-changing technological landscape.
E- learning is indeed a revolution in the field of education. It provides the children with an interactive medium for learning which encourages them to question, understand and implement concepts in real time. This was the primary goal for me when Sujana Foundation initiated the Google Future Classrooms (GFC) concept. I wanted children from government schools to have access to state of the art technology for learning concepts in a dynamic environment.
The Google Future Classroom project wanted to inculcate the following qualities in the children which would help them a long way in future:
One of the most exciting aspects of a digital classroom is the interaction it enables. The content is designed in such a manner that students get an opportunity to pause, question, practice and implement the concepts then and there. This is something that lacks in a conventional education system and I felt the students needed to be exposed to such an environment of learning.
Presentation of the content both by the educators as well as the students is the heart and soul of the e- learning system. In our Google Future Classrooms, we took utmost care to ensure that the whole learning process is as enjoyable as possible for the children. Content in the forms of videos, audio messages, interactive quizzes and tasks that stimulate their creative side were presented to the children. In response the students also showed tremendous improvement in the communication skills which they honed at classroom through their presentations.
The flexibility that a digital classroom offers is second to none. The instructors and students can be connected to each other without the constraint of being physically present at one place. Also, the students can replay the videos of the classes as and when required which further enhances the experience of learning. This was one of the key requirements for our classrooms as we wanted to provide the students with best experience of learning along of instructors from around the world.
Tracking and Assessment
Every learning module requires a perfect tracking and assessment for successful completion whether it a classroom based or digital based. A student can benefit only when he successfully clears the assessment. The tracking of progress in digital classrooms was set up in such a way that the students would get feedback in real time. This enabled them to efficiently learn and grasp the concepts and rectify their mistakes in a better way.
The Google Future Classrooms that we initiated in the first phase across 12 locations was a great success which provided a great boost to our foundation and a lot to look forward towards phase 2.
“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down and can never score.”
- Bill Copeland
Often we come cross words which stay with us for long and define who we are. For me, these words by Bill Copeland have been a guiding force and in a broader sense helped me in setting up my goals for society.
The vision of Sujana Foundation is clear. For as long as I remember, I wanted to partner with the beneficiaries directly in creating sustainable solutions and achieve the impact through mutually agreed change initiatives. I wanted the beneficiaries of the initiatives that I took to be directly in touch with process and ensure they are at the receiving end of the best of services that the foundation wanted to provide.
To carry on with my objective, I identified the areas where we as a foundation need to work on. Sustainability has always been the keyword for me in whatever endeavour I have undertaken. Hence Education, Healthcare and Entrepreneurship which will not just brighten today, but also shape up tomorrow were taken up as our primary initiatives. Sujana Foundation over the last decade has crafted many initiatives which provided the beneficiaries the access to quality education, better healthcare and opportunities to grow as an entrepreneur.
Education- Google Future Classrooms (GFC)
The goal of initiatives in this area was not just to bring up the literacy rate but to provide access to world class digital education to children. In this digital age, it is extremely crucial for the students to be well versed with the digital trends and technological advancements that are happening at a rapid pace. To provide the best digital education to the students of government schools through Digital Classrooms, Sujana Foundation partnered with Google and named the initiative as Google Future Classrooms. We worked towards providing the children with best resources such as best systems, high quality sound systems and connectivity. The purpose was to make these sessions highly interactive. Hence, the modules were also customised so that the teaching isn’t unidimensional. A lab model was set up where each of the students were provided with ‘Chromebooks’ and high-speed internet for interactive sessions. The purpose of this initiative was simple; provide access to quality and interactive education. It has been reported that students learn and grasp only 40-50% of the concepts if taught in a traditional atmosphere whereas an interactive atmosphere enhances the experience and their grasping capabilities. I wanted the students to imbibe traits like critical thinking and creative approach which would provide them with great foundation for their future.
We identified some government schools where we could set up our Google Future Classrooms which would enable the students to learn by being connected, involved and challenged. Schools in Ponnavaram, Jammavaram, Vellanki, Kanchikacherla, Ibrahimpatnam, Kondapalle, Paritala, Mullapadu, Pendyala, Nandigama, Palaparu and Lingalapadu were selected to carry out the first phase of our education initiative.
The students in these identified government schools were trained with the help of Google Apps for Education (GAfE). The aim was to cater to 6 different learning spaces for students to develop qualities to investigate, create, collaborate, present, develop and interact in them.
In the coming days, Sujana Foundation will be taking this initiative to more schools so that more students can benefit from the interactive education under Google Future Classrooms program. In my view collaboration both at a global level between countries and at an individual level between humans holds the key for sustainable development which is one of the key objectives of our foundation.