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Sunday, Aug 02, 2020 13:15 [IST]

Last Update: Sunday, Aug 02, 2020 07:33 [IST]

Improve Sarkari schools

Window Seat

Mrinal Chatterjee
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, Niti Aayog 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.
Odia Journalism Day
Many historians opine that Madala Panji (A chronicle of the Jagannath Temple in Puri. Though the actual date of starting of Panji is not known, but it is believed that it might have started from 12th to 14th Century AD. ) could be taken as the first instance of journalism in Odisha, as it systematically chronicled events related to Jagannath Temple, Puri in particular and Odisha in general.
Some also believe that Kujibara Patra deserve that distinction. In 1769, the Mahant of Kujibara Math in Choudwar, Sadhu Sundar Das circulated a periodical called the Kujibara Patra. This palm leaf periodical of irregular frequency included homilies on social and religious issues. It also included news items based on political, administrative and socio cultural matters.
The birth of print media owes to the Christian missionaries, who came to Odisha on February 12, 1822 according to the Government Gazette. However, the first book in Odia, The New Testament was printed and published by Serampore Baptist Mission Press in Bengal in 1809. Thus the beginning of print in Odisha, as in several parts of the world was rooted in the propagation of the holy word. 
The Christian missionaries established the first printing press in Odisha (at Cuttack) in 1837 known as Cuttack Mission Press to print the New Testament and other religious books. By this time, however, rapid development in publication of non-religious, general interest and text books had taken place in other states of India with adoption of Lord Maculay’s educational policy in 1935. Spread of Western education infused a spirit of learning. Odia was adopted as the court language in 1839 after prolonged demand. All this created an atmosphere conducive to publication of books and periodicals. Cuttack Mission Press brought out the first Odia journals Gyanaruna (1849) and Prabodha Chandrika (January, 1856) and few more. Their circulation was restricted to Cuttack, which was then the sociopolitical hub of the state. Gyanaruna closed down after few issues but Prabodha Chandrika continued for three years. It was basically a religious-literary magazine, aimed to propagate Christianity, which also contained few news items - from Britain, other states of India and Odisha.
The first Odia newspaper, in the real sense, to be published was the weekly Utkal Deepika by Gourishankar Ray on August 4, 1866. That is why it was later observed as Odia Journalism Day.
It was born at a time when Odisha was beleaguered with many problems. A devastating famine (Na-anka Durbhikha) was underway, which wiped out one third of the population Odisha. Odia language was under attack. Odia literature needed a strong fillip. The society weighed down by superstitions and badly needed reform. A nationalist movement was slowing taking shape. It was in this critical juncture that Utkal Deepika took birth and it played a very significant role in sociopolitical life of Odisha. It brought the plight of common people to the notice of the concerned authority. It constantly highlighted the impact of the famine and suggested measures that should and could be taken.  It strived for the development of Odia language and literature and protection of Odia interests. It fought for the amalgamation of outlying Odia-speaking areas, which remained scattered under different provincial administrations by launching a vigorous campaign. In many ways it was much ahead of its times. It contained almost all the constructs of modern journalism. It tried to engage with people’s issues. It encouraged people to write letters to the paper regarding their problems.
Utkal Deepika continued publication till 1936. Gourishankar Ray remained its editor till his death in 1917 March. Nilamani Vidyaratna was the editor of this paper after Ray’s death. Vidyaratna was associated with  Utkal Deepika till his death in 1923. After his death, the paper gradually lost steam and finally closed.
In its 70 years of existence Utkal Deepika provided a strong foundation for Odia journalism.
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.
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.
Dr. Mrinal Chatterjee a journalist turned media academician teaches at the Eastern India campus of Indian Institute of Mass Communication, located at Dhenkanal, Odisha. He also writes fiction and translates poetry. An anthology of poetry that he translated has been published last month.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi