Regularly Irregular!

Regularly Irregular!

For over five decades now, the legendary R K Laxman has captured the sentiments of the city on the front page cartoon piece "You Said It." For millions of Times of India readers across the country and even abroad, the daily dose of Laxman’s patented brand of humour, represented by the celebrated "common man," sets the day in motion.

On Wednesday, Laxman depicted a huge queue of people and as usual the common man was a silent spectator while a bystander explained, "Elections are over. This ‘Q’ is of those who want to complain their names didn’t appear in the voters list!" A prominent lady from Thane, a dedicated social worker who requests anonymity, says that hundreds of Thane residents would also like to join the queue – herself included! Ironically, prior to elections, our friend had actively participated in various events aimed at citizen-awareness regarding elections, including the Maharashtra Election Watch held at the Indian Merchants Chamber on March 07, 2004. But on the day of elections, when she went to every polling booth in the vicinity, her name was not found. She was shocked and disappointed, to say the least, more so because she has never skipped voting in a single election since she began voting decades ago. "What surprises me is, how can the names disappear from the list unless someone deliberately deletes them?" she asks, puzzled.   The problem is, such irregularities are amazingly regular and therefore give rise to suspicions of sabotage. Indeed, it is frustrating for citizens who are deprived their basic right of voting, and incidents like these make one feel that the very purpose of democracy is defeated. Sadly, instead of accepting their mistake, the election officers conveniently blamed the citizens for the faux pas. What would the officers say to such cases where someone who actively participated in educating the common man before the election found herself out of the list, in spite of taking all precautions? Thankfully, our democracy is rather strong and in a population of over one billion, a few cases of booth capturing and poll rigging cannot alter the results. Our deprived friend hopes that "the elements behind such reckless actions realise that such it is useless and the powers that be take adequate measures to ensure that this large scale irregularity does not repeat itself." Amen.

Values Added  
Hasat Khelat Gamadi Jamat, (learn while playing), a unique 15-day workshop, aimed at instilling values in small children, aged three to five, was conducted in the city last fortnight by Shweta Phadke, who teaches at the Saraswati VidyaMandir’s pre-primary section. Held at the basement of Phadke Wadi near Gadkari Rangayatan, the workshop began on April 28 and lasted through May 12.

Every morning, the workshop would begin with recitation of Slokas. Throughout the workshop, the children were taught strong values to help them grow into wise and mature individuals. They were taught to pray and be respectful towards elders. Using examples of the Sun, trees, water and air, the kids were told that they should be thankful for the gifts of nature. There were story telling sessions, which comprised of stories with moral and ethical values – the objective was to discourage negative attitudes like greed, dishonesty, impatience and violence while encouraging virtues such as endurance, love and hard work. Then there were innovative competitions that tested their physical skills in a fun manner. For instance the kids were asked to pick up biscuits using their mouth while their hands were tied up. Many couldn’t do so standing or sitting, so they decided to digress from the tried and tested and lied down on the floor to accomplish the task given to them. In one section, participants were encouraged to share their knowledge and the little ones surprised the instructors with their grasp of facts. Four-year-old Omkar Nivalkar from Bhagwati School shared his knowledge of five different types of germs.     Parents seemed pleased with the outcome of the workshop. One parent, Mrs Gupte said "My child has opened up and has started interacting with us."

Playtime is a wonderful opportunity for children to learn and build their self-confidence and self-esteem. Research says that while it may appear that all children are doing is playing for fun, it is actually a much more important part of a child’s developmental process because it uses all of their senses. The workshop relied on the basic instincts of children – that of playing – to help them learn something useful.

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