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Window Seat: Improve Sarkarischools

2/08/2020 at 7:00 AM

Recently a major English language daily in its editorial exhorted to incentivise better services at private schools, which as per a study by Central Square Foundation educate almost half the country’s children. Releasing the report, Amitabj Kant, CEO, NitiAayog said, “Though enrolment has increased exponentially in private schools, the learning outcome have stagnated for a decade now. They have to really focus on learning outcomes as that are critical.”

On the same day in the same paper, another story looks at the condition of schools across the country, (obviously, mostly sarkari schools) and quotes a report of NCPCR (National Commission for Protection of Child Rights) saying 22% of school buildings are old or dilapidated, 31% school buildings have cracks in structures.

The question that has often been asked: are we not neglecting the education sector? Are we spending enough on education? We are not. “India ranks 62nd in total public expenditure on education per student and measures of the quality of education (pupil-teacher ratio in primary and in secondary education,” IMD said. As per the Economic Survey, the country spent 3% of its total GDP on education in 2018-19 or about 5.6 lakh crore.

Sarkari schools are lagging behind because we not doing enough in this sector. Incentivising services at private schools will not yield any tangible result, except promoting corruption and crony capitalism. Improving the infrastructure and teaching quality of the government schools will help. Hope, the New Education Policy will look into this aspect.


During the extended lock down period when wearing a mask is a norm- among several things my wife misses wearing her lipstick. I fail to understand why ladies (and I am given to understand some males also do) wear lipstick! It is no inconvenient to eat wearing lipstick. But ladies have been wearing lipstick for the last 4000 years, much before mankind knew that the earth is round.

The first people to wear lipstick were likely Ancient Sumerians- some 4000 years ago. Crushed gemstones decorated not only their lips, but eyes and face as well. Lipsticks in some form also caught on in ancient China with beeswax, and in Ancient Greece, where courtesans wore berry-derived dyes on their lips.

The popularity only grew in 16th-century England, where a bright white face and hyper-crimson lips were worn widely to steal Queen Elizabeth’s look. It was used only for courtesans and actors and considered uncouth to be worn by the general public.

By the 19th century, the first commercial lipstick made of deer tallow, castor oil, and beeswax had been made in France — and lipstick absolutely took off. The US quickly caught on, applying lipstick with a brush rather than a tube. In WW2, lipstick was scarce, and started to be packaged in plastic and paper tubes. The first long-lasting, no-smear lipstick was also invented during this time!

In India the trend of ladies chewing beetel to make their lips red has been an age old practice.

Now, why am I writing about lipstick of all things? Because, 29 July happened to be Lipstick Day (And in a queer coincidence: 29 July also happened to be International Tiger Day) and I just culled the information that the annual turnover of Lipstick companies is about One Lakh Crore rupees.

Obviously the Lipsticks must be cursing Corona which made wearing a mask a norm. However, necessity (and business opportunity) is the mother of invention. Some enterprising fashion consciousness designers have created masks with lipstick marks printed on the mask at the right place. Those ladies who cannot even think moving outside without wearing lipstick now can wear this. My wife has bought one.

Golden Grass Rakhi

Sabai(Golden Grass) has been a source of livelihood for many in tribal dominated Mayurbhanj district. In earlier times primarily Sabai grass was used to make ropes for cots (khatia). Now plastic ropes are used. Now Sabai grass is used to make handicraft items including rakhis and it continues to be a source of income for many in Chitrada, Kuliana area of Mayurbhanj. These rakhis are made By MayurbhanjSabai Farmer Producer Company – “MayurShilpa”.

(Photo: TaranisenPattnaik)

If you want to promote eco-friendly rakhis this year, buy it from ORMAS office near Stewart School, Bbhubaneswwar. These handmade rakhis made from sabai grass are priced between Rs15-25.

Sabai grass occurs naturally in many places in India including the forest regions of Odisha like Malkangiri, Kalahandi, Keonjhar, Sambalpur districts and regenerates freely, if undue biotic interference (fire, deforestation, soil-erosion etc.) doesn’t take part place. In Mayurbhanj, however, people cultivate this in lands unfit for growing any other crop.

These grasses are used for Paper making, cattle fodder, matting, ropes, thatching, and in manufacturing, baskets, and handicraft items.

Deomali Theatre Festival

Koraput-based Nandanik theatre group is holding 5th Deomali National Theatre Festival 2020 on 2-3 August 2020. This is a part of their 3 day Foundation Day celebration beginning 1 August.

Founded in 2014 by Sourav Gupta, who teaches mass communication in Central University of Odisha at Koraput andhis wife Monideepa Gupta, Nandanik committed to the promotion of the art of Theatre. It has produced several classic and contemporary plays in Odia both by adults and children and has organized national level theatre events in collaboration with SangeetNatakAkademi, New Delhi and Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre, Kolkata. It has  catapultedKoraput to the theatre map of India.

This year, because of the Covid situation the festival has gone online. The plays will be streamed on facebook.

The plays to be streamed are Mime drama by Mimic, Kolkata, Nayeeka in Odia by Nandanik, Koraput, SujanerGolpo in Bangla by AshoknagarNattyamukh, Dhruvaswamini in Hindi by Black Soil Theatre, Wardha, Terav in Marathi by AdhyayanBharati Agro Theatre, Maharashtra, Bali in Telegu by Janapadam Theatre Repertory, Hyderabad, Devigarjan in Bangla by Kathok Performing Repertoire, Howrah, Chandaluni in Odia by Nandanik, Koraput.

Enjoy the plays. Watch it on www.facebook.com/nandanik.koraput

Tail-piece: Guru-Gyan: Doubt and Faith

In the time of Corona doubt on one’s faith and faith on one’s doubt have increased.


Journalist- turned –media academician MrinalChatterjee lives in Dhenkanal. He also writes fiction and plays. mrinalchatterjeeiimc@gmail.com

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