Tag Archives: literacy

BOOK REVIEW: INSIDE THE HAVELI BY RAMA MEHTA

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Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

    ‘Inside the Haveli’ is a novel written by Rama Mehta. For this novel Rama Mehta was conferred ‘Sahitya Akademi Award’ in the year 1979. The story of the novel revolves around a young girl from Mumbai, India. She gets married to the son of a former Indian prince and post-marriage she relocates to Udaipur, Rajasthan. This book was first published by Gulab Vazirani in 1977. The initial price of this book at the time of publication was Rs 40. The book completes in about 264 pages. But before I move ahead let me tell you a few things about author Rama Mehta.

    Rama Mehta was born in Nainital, India, in 1923. She rose to become a top sociologist, lecturer and even a novelist. Her non-fiction writings include The Western Educated Hindu Woman, The Hindu Divorced Woman, and ‘From Purdah to Modernity.’ One of the first women to be appointed to India’s Foreign Service, Rama Mehta was forced to resign from her position upon marriage. She died in 1978. The novel has received several compliments. Some are as follows:

    ‘A wonderfully interesting account … women should not miss it; neither should men—John Kenneth Galbraith, Canadian-born economist, public official, and diplomat.

    Says novelist Anita Desai, ‘I remember the surprised delight with which I first came upon Rama Mehta’s novel and encountered the freshness of her prose, the simplicity and tenderness of her evocation of an ancient and traditional way of life, and the understanding she brought to it.’

    Throughout her life, the principal theme of Rama Mehta’s writings was the position of women in tradition-bound but rapidly changing India. For, in addition to her three novels, she wrote a number of sociological books about the contemporary Indian woman including The Western Educated Hindu Woman and The Hindu Divorced Woman. And, just before she died in June 1978, Mehta completed a study of women in the Hindu nuclear family. It is, therefore, appropriate that her last novel, Inside the Haveli, should have won, though posthumously, that year’s Sahitya Akademy award for the best Indian novel in English.

    In essence it’s a modern classic about an independent young woman’s struggle to hold on to her identity in a traditional world.    The book in no manner has a very engrossing storyline. As mentioned earlier it is about Geeta, an educated and vivacious Bombay girl, who marries into a conservative family and abruptly finds herself living in purdah in her husband’s ancestral haveli at Udaipur. Faced with this and even certain other age old traditions that threaten to snuff out, her independence and progressive views, Geeta puts up an unnoticed fight to maintain her modernity that she has always lived by.

    It is always tough for an author to churn out a novel without a piercing story line, which Rama Mehta has done quite successfully. She has detailed it so very well that one gets to feel as if she was part of the family and has lived with them for a duration of time only to write this novel.

    Some other important characters apart from Geeta in the novel are Ajay Singh, husband of Geeta; Pari an old maid; Lakshmi another maid; Vijay Geeta’s daughter and Sita Lakshmi’s daughter.

    The novel depicts the beginnings of a social change in the life of the women from Mewar who continued, until 20th century, to practice the system of purdah long after Hindu women discarded it as an out-moded custom. It gives a detailed account of old Udaipur. Something like they eat in Silver thalis.

    In that manner ‘Inside the Haveli’ is an excellent novel about a young, college-educated girl of Bombay who marries the son of an ex-prime minister of the former princely state of Mewar and comes to her husband’s traditional haveli in Udaipur.

   The moment she steps out of the train, Geeta the main protagonist gets the biggest shock of her life, for not only is her face instantaneously covered by her women relatives and maid-servants who take complete charge of her, but she, also, immediately finds, herself, engulfed in a pattern of life which is totally alien to her modern upbringing in Bombay.

    As soon as she reaches “home”, she is further shocked by the realisation that the men and women live in different parts of the huge haveli, without any contact with each other. Indeed, life inside the haveli is governed by an impossibly rigid etiquette of dos and don’ts, and for her, as for all the other women, there is no life outside the high walls of the haveli.

    The youthful Geeta finds herself unable to reconcile with the idea of spending the rest of her life in purdah. But at the same time she sees no escape from this out-dated way of life, for her husband is too deeply rooted in his traditions and too deeply attached to his parents to take up a job in some other city.

    Moreover, she gradually comes to realise that, in spite of their exacting demands of conformity with the family tradition, her parents-in-law are essentially warm hearted and generous.

    Slowly and painfully Geeta finds herself adjusting with the life in the haveli with the thought of merging her identity and that of her children in the tradition of her husband’s ancient family.

    But in the process she succeeds in initiating certain reforms for the women of these ancient havelis by starting literacy classes for them and by sending the female children to school. Her women relatives, of course, oppose her plans, but her father-in-law, realising that with the end of the princely era, the old pattern of life could not possibly continue for long, supports Geeta’s attempt to make the women less dependent on the havelis.

    It is a fascinating novel in which the author has succeeded in conveying the essence and feel of a world which is fast disappearing.

    Jeewan Niwas is the centre-stage around which the entire clan of the ruling class, Rana’s stay. Traditionally these families have also served the Maharana of Udaipur, who was like God to them. They all seem to be together but yes there are internal rivalries too.

    A change of mindset is in the offing when Geeta is blessed with a daughter and celebrations break through. Lakshmi their maid leaves the haveli on some misunderstanding. Thereafter her daughter Sita is brought up by Bhagwat Singh ji’s wife who is Geeta’s mother-in-law.

    There is almost a chapter on young Sita’s wedding who is daughter of Lakshmi. The scene is very emotional and well described. It gives a vivid description of such marriages.

    Author has crafted some original and interesting words such as, ‘twig fire lit in a earthenware pot,’ than you have butter lamp’ and ‘fire-hot rotis’ to name a few.

    Overall it’s a very slow moving book, but well detailed with precise punctuation and simple language easy to understand. The book doesn’t sink in you unless you complete it in five to six sittings, nor does it have any recall quotient barring a peep into the havelis this is because of the faint story line. It has too many characters difficult to remember especially when it’s not a very happening book.

    You can pick up this book to understand what really goes on inside a haveli. I would give it eight out of ten for it meets the purpose for which it was written.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

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Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

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IS LITERACY RATE OF INDIA BEGINNING TO DRIVE INDIAN POLITICS?

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    The working definition of literacy in the Indian census since 1991 is as follows: Literacy rate: The total percentage of the population of an area at a particular time aged seven years or above who can read and write with understanding. Here the denominator is the population aged seven years or more.

    At the time of independence in 1947. India had a population of approximately 390 million. This got divided as follows after partition: 330 million people remained in India, 30 million in remained in West Pakistan and another 30 million in East Pakistan.

    The literacy rate of independent India in 1947 was 12%. By around 1950-1951 it had increased to around 18.33% with a population of 35 crore as you can see in the (literacy and population) table below. As compared to 1947 the current average literacy rate of India as per 2011 census, is 74% when the world average is 84%. Of the big states of India some laggard states are below 8% and some above by 20% as compared to the national average of 74%.

LITERACY RATE OF INDIA POPULATION
YEAR PERSON MALE FEMALE YEAR CRORE
1951 18.33 27.16 8.86 1950 35
1961 20.3 40.4 15.35 1960 43
1971 34.45 45.96 21.97 1970 54
1981 43.57 56.38 29.76 1980 69
1991 52.21 64.13 39.29 1990 83
2001 64.83 75.26 63.67 2000 101
2011 74.04 82.14 65.46 2000 117
        2015 124

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    In the early stages of independent India. Nothing else mattered than the sweet hangover of the freedom struggle and the newly formed Bharat Mata. That wheeled Pandit Nehru to rule for almost 17 years, as the longest serving Prime Minister (15.8.47 to May 1964). During his tenure the literacy rate rose from 12% to around 25%. The major event that shook India then was the Chinese aggression in the year 1962.

    India was an unquestioning country then. Just rising from the dust of the long colonial rule. And during that period, there was little or no political resistance to the Indian National Congress. That had spearheaded the freedom movement, and most iconic political leaders that mattered then were from this party.

    After Pandit Nehru expired post India-China aggression in 1964 the vacancy was filled in by another firebrand Congress leader Lal Bahadur Shastri. Who, served the country only for around 19 months and expired in Tashkent, part of the erstwhile USSR and today’s Uzbekistan.

    After Shastri’s sad demise. The mantel was adorned by Nehru’s daughter Indira Gandhi. Who, ruled for eleven years from 1966-1977. The three major events during her tenure, happened to be the liberation of East Pakistan and creation of Bangla Desh in 1971 followed by a full blown battle with Pakistan in the same year and declaration of emergency for the third time in India, and this time for internal reasons. Indira Gandhi started at an average literacy rate of around 32% in 1966 but in 1977 when Congress lost, the literacy rate had crept up to around 40%. It was for the first time Congress had gone out of power since independence. And in a manner it took literacy rate to jump by 28% (12% to 40%) to throw out a long standing ruling party at the centre. This goes to prove that literacy rate one way or the other increases the political appetite of the citizenry.

    In the Indian scenario increase in literacy rate has made voters change their minds. That has demanded for a dispensation of a different nature to govern the country. Indira Gandhi had imposed ‘emergency’ in the year 1975 when the average literacy rate was around 40%. This made her lose the general elections and gave entry to the first non-Congress government headed by Morarji Desai in 1977.

    When the average literacy rate of India was around 30%. India could see. In some states, certain state and regional parties gaining ground such as the Dravidian parties that have dominated since 1967. DMK routed Congress in 1967 and in 1972 MGR split DMK into AIDMK. Such incidents clearly dawned an era of new politics.

    Some states of India, such as Kerala and Tamil Nadu have always been ahead of the average Indian literacy rate. In the 2011 census as against the average literacy rate of 74%, Kerala was at 94, Tamilnadu at 80%, Maharastra at 82% and the big laggard states were Bihar at 62%, Jharkhand 66%, AP 67% Rajasthan 66% and UP 68%

    Bihar witnessed JP movement when the literary rate was between 35-40% and Lalu became the Chief Minister of Bihar in 1984 when the literary rate of Bihar was > 45%. In U.P. Mulayam Singh became the chief minister in 1991 and Mayawati in 1995 when the state literacy rate had crossed 45%. Signalling, the thinking minds wanted a change from two national parties, Congress and the BJP. In West Bengal too Congress ruled till 1977 but when the Bengal literacy rate rose to around 40% it was taken over by the Communist rule. And when literacy rate went passed 52% the voters even rejected Communist Party that was getting irrelevant and pulled out Trinamul Congress from the stable of Congress.

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    The literacy rate map below shows how certain states maintain their lead in literacy rates. Where, one would find a distinct differentiation within the political set ups of states such as Kerala and Maharastra with that of Bihar and Jharkhand.

2011_Census_India_literacy_distribution_map_by_states_and_union_territories.svg

INDIA WHEN ABOVE 64% AVERAGE LITERACY RATE

    India decided to open up when the literacy rate had gone past 52% in the year 1991 when wide spread reforms were announced. And, as the literacy rate went up, ethics in politics came down. Perhaps, thinking minds made politics much more competitive- resting on the theory of ‘survival of the fittest.’

    Beyond 2001 when the average literacy rate had just crossed 64%. India saw a sea change in terms of, all the four estates. To begin with the first estate (clergy) now tampers with politics without fear. Second estate (Bureaucracy) has become irresponsible, subservient, corrupt and even callous towards the general public. Third estate (Commoners) is perennially pained but have become more knowledgeable and demanding. And the fourth estate (Press and Media) have become all powerful. Yet they remain the saving grace of modern India

INDIAN POLITICS AT 74% LITERACY RATE

    At 74%, politics of India doesn’t remain the same and is deluged by the heft of thinking minds. For in the recent past it attracted grandstanding of agitations, like ‘India against Corruption’ where revered activist like Anna Hazare had to take the centre stage.

    Besides, even the mind space of an Indian voter has got more and more complex. Because of which we could see for the first time. A political leader of the stature of Narendra Modi, to create space in voters mind traveled 3 lac km across 25 states, addressed 473 big public rallies with 5827 public interfaces, including Chai pe charcha and 3D broadcasts. More so. BJP fought more under the banner of Narendra Modi than BJP, like presidential election. In Delhi elections we saw AAP party following the new ‘volunteer’ cult to create tailor made space in voter’s mind that wiped out BJP and Congress. In J&K also it was a star struck and out-of-the-box variety of a political campaign. It was an expensive opportunity that forced BJP to abandon relevant political-IZMS just to form the government.

    As we move towards 100% literacy. The route to State Assembly and Parliament will become more and more arduous. Political Parties will have to change their tone and tenor to address 100% literacy in all their political communication and behaviour. Where, corruption, scams and VVIPSM will have no place. What will simply matter is performance. This indeed will effect hoodwinkers under the garb of individual politicians.

*

By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Share if you like it

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases. Should you wish to donate for the cause the bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

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ARTICLE: THE HYPE OF #LITERACY AND DILEMMA OF #EMPLOYABILITY

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DEFINITION OF LITERACY

    Literacy, as defined in Census operations, is the ability to read and write with understanding in any language. A person who can merely read but cannot write is not classified as literate. Any formal education or minimum educational standard is not necessarily to be considered literate.

    (UNESCO) has drafted a definition of literacy which is, “the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, compute and use printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society.”

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    The National Literacy Mission defines literacy as “acquiring the skills of reading, writing and arithmetic and the ability to apply them to one’s day-to-day life. The achievement of functional literacy implies (i) self-reliance in 3 R’s-reading, writing and arithmetic, (ii) awareness of the causes of deprivation and the ability to move towards amelioration of their condition by participating in the process of development, (iii) acquiring skills to improve economic status and general well being, and (iv) imbibing values such as national integration, conservation of environment, women’s equality, observance of small family norms.”

    According to the latest report released on 31 March 2011 the literacy rate of India has increased to 74%. This means a decadal growth of around 10 %.

BUT CAN MERE LITERACY GUARANTEE EMPLOYMENT?

Is the moot point, as literacy only provides general ability to read, write and a sense of better awareness, but jobs, require deeper and varied skills that need to be created. In the recent Times Ascent edition of 27th November, I read; in the just concluded PAN-IIM World Management Conference held at IIM-KOZHIKODE our HRD Minister Smriti Zubin Irani harping on some appreciative facts about India as a routine lullaby.

    That India is one of the world’s largest democracies and according to some studies 57% of our population is under 30. Our average age is expected to be less than China and the US by 2050. This means more workers, or in other words, a demographic dividend. India has a large pool of workforce that is predominantly English-speaking. 4.4 million Graduates join the Indian job market annually, so there is no shortage of skilled workers in our country. So be it.

    But then do we have appropriate jobs for all as she has not spoken about those unpleasant figures of unemployment. ILO indicates sluggishness in the job market over the last two years where jobless rate could be around 3.8% this year which sounds optimistic. On a more historic note the unemployment rate has been hovering around 6-8 % on an average over the last decade or so. So, can one say, each time when literacy levels have gone up unemployment hasn’t come down?

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    This necessitates, we should take up skill building on fast track. Which horrifyingly comes up in India at a later stage of our educational system. And considering, the alarming school dropout rate of 40% with more girls facing the brunt, this should start at secondary school level.

CAUSE OF SYSTEMIC WORRY

    It is worrying to see, important ministers making isolated parroted statements in coveted milieus like IIMs and IITs, where even otherwise everything is hunky dory. And it goes without saying the stark reality continues to remain as it is and nothing much has changed on the ground. So the big question is how will the additional annual workforce of 4.4 million per annum be adjusted in the job market, and what is the road map for creating such jobs each year. Time has come when at least 74% of the literate Indians would want to know end-to-end on how these jobs would be created, before one brags about the English speaking workforce of 4.4 million and the young India. The central point therefore is the job-creators and the workforce creators of India need to meet on one platform to align, which is still missing.

    In any case most IIT and IIM graduates or post graduates won’t remain unemployed, rather would be gainfully employed. But what is more worrying is the lower end of the pyramid that will bear the brunt of unemployment.

    Considering the present unemployment rate. HRD minister would have done well by initiating a dialogue with those states and departments where huge vacancies are lying unfilled, especially teachers and police constables. The low hanging fruits. Which I guess is also the baby of HRD ministry. Needful to mention teacher appointments in some states have been subjected to scams, and appointments cancelled subsequently.

INDUSTRY INTERFACE

    One of the biggest sources of employment in any country, with India being no exception is through business and industries. Where, according to the World Bank we are still at an agonizing 142 in the ease of doing business out of 189 countries. And time taken for registration of a business is currently at 27 days that needs to be cut down to one day, as in Canada and New Zealand.

    Government intends to go online on approvals, for over 200 state and central permits by April next year which is laudable. Currently 81 state level clearances and another 133 at the central level are being put on line and out of these more than 50 relate to railway ministry, alone. But the big question remains; whether we can set up industries at a pace matching 4.4 million jobs a year, which will only increase by leaps and bounds. The answer as of now is no and that necessitates searching for other alternatives. And so; where is the MEA proposal (Ministry of External Affairs) if we were to export our workforce to various aging countries about which our Prime Minister talks so often? And which new countries have been identified where our young English speaking workforce can go and work safely with proper work permits and visas, in a safe manner. I guess, the two distinguished ladies Sushma Swaraj and Smriti Irani should meet on this agenda and at least identify the countries, and if for some reason it happens to be Germany, Smriti should not think of replacing German by Sanskrit.

THE ROUTE AHEAD

    For brand India, literacy to full employment will be a long and arduous walk, considering its size and scale. Where, premier institutions such as IIT and IIM should also brainstorm to show the way out. And we will have to figure out other avenues also, where I guess PM Narendra Modi’s team needs to come together on one platform.

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

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Share if you like it

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases. Should you wish to donate for the cause the bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(CAN BE BOUGHT FROM ON LINE BOOK STORES OR WRITE TO US FOR COPIES)

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