Thursday, 26 January 2017

Damn literacy and schooling.

Damn literacy and schooling. And damn the power that it gives us over others rooted in other skills and learnings like weaving and farming.

If those skills were the token of reference, rather than literacy, we would be the 'illiterates'.

But we know to manipulate and position and secure ourselves.

The weaver's son. the farmer's son, the potter's son are now all ashamed on their skills, and all want to be our clerks.
Sridhar Bhaskarla No, in my view, it is not either damned literacy or schooling which are making the weavers, farmers or porters to feel ashamed of. It is the damned lack of 'dignity of labour' in our country. How can we expect it to be part of the society which itself has institutionalized thick impassable borders across occupations and selectively attached indignity to them? 

Aparna Krishnan simple economics. and a schooling that ingrains that wielding the pen is superior to wielding the plow. 

Jagga Lalgudy Then there is this news that the most educated girl from the village will hoist Republic Day flags! 

Aparna Krishnan Thats the game. Not the weaver or potter who work and serve with skill and effort.
Demi Isaac Same thought I had when I tried to plough with a pair of oxen. The farmer who taught me was so skilled and made it look so easy. But what a skill... I felt so incompetent in the skill which my guiding light Thiruvalluvar placed as the foremost skill in civilization.
Aparna Krishnan And we have impoverished the, Financially and in self confidence. It is a great crime.
Demi Isaac Indeed it is.
Kalvapalli Karthik Ma'am, are you doing anything to stop children from going to schools in your village.?
Aparna Krishnan Why would I ? I encourage them to, and I teach them every evening. I would have to first restore the disappeared village economy, and all odds are against that. Till then let them despise their own skills and train up as literates and do whatever they can to earn two meals.
Aparna Krishnan The fact is that we have a generation of unemployed schooled youth now.
Ramesh Chakrapani Why not both? Everyone should get a basic education but that is no reason to ignore skill acquisition.
Aparna Krishnan sadly schooling as it is structured celebrates literacy over all other skills. it is inbuilt into schooling, as pottery and other skills cannot be learnt in the confines of a school.
Ramesh Chakrapani Perhaps it's time to shake up the schooling formula with some life skills.
Ramesh Chakrapani Carpenters, farmers, masons, plumbers, et al are considered skilled labour in the West. We think of only software engineers and accountants as skilled. :))
Aparna Krishnan we need to address the situation here. i needs deep creativity - and imo questioning the rationale of schools itself.
Raghunandan Tr Our country has the most magnificent array of skills. Pottery, weaving, jewellery, carpentry, painting, you name it, we have it. Sadly, we have always, since centuries, devalued these. I think our education system should be tuned to have equal emphasis on both mental and physical skills.
Aparna Krishnan Not structured education. Its very validity as a universal value needs to be questioned if these skills are to come into their own Raghu. A weaver needs 10 years of apprenticing at the feet of a master weaver to reach that atge. And that cannot happen in the structure of schooling and exams - however much we tinker with it. The thacher learns the skill on the roof with his father - helping learning.
Aparna Krishnan Sunny Narang, what is the kind of time that learning at the feet of a master artisan entails ?
Raghunandan Tr I see your point there. What I was thinking of is that such intense apprenticeship has to be recognised and incorporated into the formal system as well. Leaving it as unstructured will keep such moves at the margin. That is how skills are lost.

I am
trying to learn some skills myself and I find it very difficult to convince people to teach me. Why do you want to learn? Do you have a business? How old are you? These are the questions that are asked.
Aparna Krishnan They have no value for their own skills. That is the greatest tragedy. Yes, practically speaking we need to organize certificates for them maybe, and make it formal. But if i could i would burn up all certification .. But yes, we need to incorporate somehow, I agree.
Sunny Narang Aparna it depends from skill to skill . Take a weaver . Not every weaver is equal. Some are born brilliant and take to the skill and its qualities of detail and design beautifully and become master-weavers . There are hierarchies among the same tradition and between traditions. A ikat saree weaver is much more in demand than a towel weaver . And women in many tribal and rural traditions in North East , all weave or in Kutch all embroider . Traditional skills and processes have their own complexities , just like an engineering or science .
Sunny Narang Same with farmers . There are different Jatis of vegetable growers in North India called Saini and just wheat farmers like Jats who have more land usually but the joke is that a Saini can make more money from an acre than a Jat can from 7 acres !
Sunny Narang Same with potters , sculptors , making a diya or matka is a different skill set from making idols . There are combination of design, skill, process traditions and innovation , whole systems of knowledge getting lost. The whole literacy project has nothing to do with real skills . Indian literacy is the biggest joke on the planet when it gets to production .
Sunny Narang We create ONLY Babus and Nerds . Look at Germany, there you cannot do an engineering degree without a factory internship . We have differentiated theoretical and experiential knowledges . Germany is the Number 1 manufacturing and design system on the planet, they have a training , mentoring system for thousands of trades . We need to get master artisans and farmers in each region to be made instructors with the right facilities and theory and modern understanding integrated . Thailand has done this effectively. Indians only know now on how to copy, then just copy , China in integrating health systems, Thailand in craft systems and Germany in manufacturing and skill systems.
Sunny Narang Despite Chinese Communism , its acupuncture and other herbal systems have been flourishing . "In 1958, at the beginning of Mao's Great Leap Forward campaign, the practice of Chinese medicine again experienced more changes. Mao revealed his vision of zhong xi yi jiehe, which translates as the "integration of Eastern and Western medicine." His idea was to insert some of the rigor of modern science into Chinese medicine's future development. This led to a search for 2,000 Chinese physicians highly trained in Western medicine to attend special seminars dedicated to the study of Chinese medicine over a two-year period. Only about 200 physicians graduated from this program, a possible testament to the fact that the study of Chinese medicine was difficult. Many of these doctors became top administrators in the 1980s and 1990s, as China once again sought to open its doors to both Eastern and Western thought after the tumultuous years of the Cultural Revolution. Mao's integration policy also led to the establishment of TCM in in- and out-patient departments in hospitals and TCM education was restructured to include some Western medicine instruction. Many patients turned to TCM treatments when Western therapies were not successful. After the People's Republic of China was founded, the preservation of China's traditional herbs became a priority. There are an estimated 4,000-5,000 medicinal herbs growing in China of which 1,000 are commonly used. Measures have been taken to research their optimal growing conditions and to stimulate production. Some herbs are now grown systematically on plantations, as opposed to forest collection, with many of the large-scale enterprises following good agricultural practice (GAP). Other advancements made in the last century include modification of the dosage forms. Chinese medicine is now available not only as traditional decoctions, but also in the form of pills, tablets, capsules, granules, suppositories, creams, lotions and suspensions. This provides a more accessible and user-friendly form of medication. Other Chinese medicines are prepared for intravenous use in hospitals.

Some notable achievements which have resulted from the combination of Eastern and Western medicine during this century include the setting of fractures with mobile willow twig splints after determining the nature of the break using X-rays; the use of acupuncture anesthesia during surgery; and the performance of taijiquan (better known as tai-chi, a traditional Chinese exercise) to build up the body's immunity and help prevent certain chronic illnesses. Health statistics have shown that the practice of both Western medicine and TCM has grown rapidly. According to the 1991 Chinese Health Statistical Digest, the number of Western-trained doctors soared from 3,800 in 1949 to 1.1 million in 1991; and over the same period, the number of doctors practicing TCM rose from 27,600 to 362,600. The number of hospital beds provided for both systems has also risen. Hospital beds available for TCM increased from a mere 220 in 1949 to 188,200 in 1991, while those for Western medicine rose from 84,400 to 836,360. A three-tiered system - a blend of TCM, Western and integrated medicine - has emerged which offers patients better healthcare choices than any one of the systems alone. As Chinese medicine gains more popularity in the West, China will continue to move forward with research and education. This will further TCM's development and practice and serve as an important resource for those who wish to share in its bountiful benefits."
Sunny Narang It is a point that was recently made by the British business lobby group, the CBI.
It warned that the UK's traditional educational route, of A-levels followed by a university degree, was not the only path to a good job and could help deepen a skills cr
isis in the UK.
The CBI called for more earn-as-you-learn schemes, supported by companies, alongside traditional degrees - and cited Germany as one of the leaders in vocational education. Germany's vocational system has been around for decades and is deeply embedded in society. A university degree does not have quite the same cachet here that it does in many other developed countries.
Youngsters who are not qualified for or interested in going to university can join a programme in which they work part of the week for a firm that pays them and teaches them relevant skills.
The rest of the time they spend in school.
Chambers of commerce and industry bodies are involved, to ensure that the work and the teaching are matched.
After their apprenticeships, the trainees often have jobs to walk into, in sectors including electrical engineering, sales and marketing, shipping and agriculture.
Roughly two out of three young Germans go through this system.Advocates of Germany's vocational training point to the fact that despite the global recession, the number of young Germans out of work remains low.Countries that combine school and work-based education, such as Germany, Austria, Denmark and Switzerland, may help young people into jobs, but in older age, these workers' skills can become obsolete, says the influential Munich-based Ifo Institute.
Knowledge is also limited to the operations of the company that trains them.
Yet with a crisis that has hit growth and the job prospects of many young people across Europe, for the apprentices at Siemens, this system offers hope.
Rhys says he is confident of his own future, thanks to the technical training he is getting.
But he says that back in Britain - where 960,000 people aged 16 to 24 are jobless - many of his friends face an uncertain future.
Sunny Narang OTOP stands for ‘One Tambon (meaning sub-district) One Product’. It is a local entrepreneurship stimulus program which aims to support the unique locally made and marketed products of each Thai tambon all over Thailand.

OTOP drew its inspiration from
Japan's successful One Village One Product (OVOP) programme, and encourages village communities to improve local product quality and marketing. It selects one superior product from each tambon to receive formal branding as a "starred OTOP product", and provides a local and international stage for the promotion of these products.

OTOP products cover a large array of local products, including handicrafts, cotton and silk garments, pottery, fashion accessories, household items, and foods.

So far a number of product groups have been classified for promotion; these include food items and beverages, textiles and clothing, woven handicrafts, artistry items, gifts, household and decorative items, and non-edible herbal products. These cover traditional items made in village communities, each lovingly crafted with the inimitable flavours and style of their localities.

Different regions are noted for specific types of products. Highlights of products from different regions in Thailand include:

Superb handicrafts, particularly carved wood, silverware, specialty paper products, ceramics, bamboo baskets, cotton fabrics and silver jewellery from hill-tribe minorities.

It is a tradition in the Northeast for villagers to make two sets of clothes - everyday work clothes and high quality silk items created with outstanding skill for special occasions like weddings and festivals. These latter items are being selected as OTOP products. Silk and cotton fabrics, especially tie-dyed mudmee designs. The most famous are Lai Khid and Phrae Wa silks. Other items include reed mats, baskets woven from water hyacinth and triangular pillows.

Traditional handicrafts of bamboo and bai lan, great earthen pots, Dan Kwian and Koh Kred pottery and terra cotta items.

Famed for its fruits, fresh and processed, as well as bamboo and rattan baskets, reed mats and mudmee fabrics.

Batik fabrics, woven products from lipao, bulrush and panan pandanus, mother-of-pearl inlays and carved wood products.

illage-made OTOP products are selected for promotion because of their quality and export potential. Many of the silks and Benjarong ceramics, for instance, are works of art, intricately and lovingly crafted by hand.

The project has strong government support on many levels -- identifying potential OTOP products, providing advice on production, quality control, packaging and designs that make them even more attractive to domestic and export markets. The entire OTOP product cycle comes under the supervision of a National OTOP Committee, with regional and provincial level committees to assist in identifying, developing and grading OTOP products.

By its very nature, the OTOP project comes with its own set of challenges. In traditional societies, villagers would make products either for their own use or to be exchanged, bartered or sold to neighbours. These grassroots products are made during spare time, when farming or housework has been completed. Hence, production capacity and the ability to supply the volume of products required by buyers instantly becomes an issue.

With the introduction of OTOP, village communities are faced with the complex realities of trading beyond borders -- the issues of meeting deadlines, quality control, production capacity, design preferences and marketing challenges. Not all OTOP products in the past were of export quality.

Fortunately, many government agencies have been providing these village communities the necessary support. For instance, the OTOP Task Force of the Department of Export Promotion (DEP), Ministry of Commerce, develops activities that will assist in exporting OTOP products, such as the display of selected products at trade fairs in Thailand and overseas, as well as participating in in-store promotions and Thailand Exhibitions in other countries.

While the OTOP project aims to increase village incomes, the government is also offering a choice -- to go into OTOP production full time with plenty of government assistance. Major government agencies provide support: the Interior Ministry's Department of Community Development works directly with the villages to fine tune their products; the Industry's Ministry's Department of Industrial Promotion plays a key role in product development, skills training and quality control; the DEP's Product Development Centre employs teams of designers to work with villagers to create marketable designs and packages for their products.
OTOP stands for ‘One Tambon (meaning sub-district) One Product’. It is a local entrepreneurship stimulus program which aims to support the unique locally made and marketed products of each Thai tambon all over Thailand.
Sunny Narang OTOP online
Jatujak Weekend Market (For examples of good websites of the famous Jatujak Weekend Market, please visit or or
Baan Tawai Market Village, Chiang Mai
Market Village, Hua Hin
Small OTOP corners in some major department stores or in the duty free sections of international airports at Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket .
Thailand Export Mart in Bangkok
Export Promotion Centre in Chiang Mai
Sunny Narang Komakkambedu, Sridhar , Mahesh , Manohar we in India need just to learn from the above Integrative Health from China, technical and engineering skills from Germany , Crafts and Textiles support from Thailand. And Thailand had 50 million tourists last year compared to India 7 million.
Aparna Krishnan But Sunny, Ayurveda has interestingly proved viable both in terms of results and economics from our work in one small village. It has also dovetailed into local systems smoothly. It is replicable, but no idea on how to take it further.
Sunny Narang For replicability you need passionate and trained people with integrity like you, which is not replicable easily ;-)
Aparna Krishnan Every other skill is bitiing the dust with the march of modernity, and the hegemony of schooling. The bamboo weaving, the pottery, the rope making, and even the thatching. We watch helplessly.
Sunny Narang Well that depends on temperament to temperament . You do small intense experiment like yours , or set up I-AIM, or work with government and policy , or do awareness raising and media work .
Rahul Banerjee Even though China was and still is ruled by a Communist Party the country was under a state capitalist system that has morphed into an oligopolistic capitalist system and it was never a communist society even though it did have rural communes within the overall centralised system. However, these communes did have scope for artisanal skill development but that has got eroded lately. In india the informal artisanal and agricultural sectors need to be provided with subsidies to ensure a decent livelihood and the move to sustainable practices but presently this is minimal as most of the state support is going to centralised corporate systems.
Aparna Krishnan there are possibilities in India. but a death of imagination. in the corridors of power, and of late i am beginning to think maybe in us also out there. Some new ground needs to be broken. 30 years ago the local communities served the local population with pots and stoves and winnows and brooms. Those worlds needs to reinvented, maybe in another form. Today the potter himself uses aluminium vessels, like the weaver wears polyester shirts. When i went to the potter village to ask her to make me a big mud vessel with an iron pipe fitted in to serve as a sink, she did her best to dissuade me. She needed the work and money, but that was not her main concern. She kept telling me to go to Damalcheruvu 10 km away and buy a granite sink and use that as 'that was best'. Finally she made it for us. The sadder sequel is that after it served us for ten years, and cracked, I did not have the youthful energy to pursue this argument and demand again, and now we have a black granite sink the Nagesh procured like everyone else in the village. Modernity is such that most succumb, sooner or later. And in the scheme of things all out efforts also seem like flailing at windmills.

No comments:

Post a Comment