Changing my approach towards drawing

I personally believe that one of the most defining times for a person is that spent in school/college. The experiences one has during the same end up giving shape to the outlook they have towards life in general. Apart from the person themselves, two sets of people add (or remove) filters to our views. These are our parents and teachers. What I am about to share with you is how my lecturers in college gave me a more positive approach to learning in general.

I have generally been a good learner. I was able to grasp most aspects of what I had been taught in school/college, struggling only in mathematics. Of course with more time and practice, mathematics would become something I could wrap my head around. One aspect that I would often neglect was drawing. Since I had opted for Science after my Tenth Exams, I had to study Biology which involved generous amounts of drawings. I confess to taking mom’s help in doing most of the tougher drawings, and opting for a different question to answer in the exams.

However when it came to Engineering, I literally had no way out. I managed to scrape through my first year’s drawing exams with average grades, but received a probationary pass grade in the second year. Honestly speaking, that was my lowest point in college. It wasn’t a subject like Mathematics, where I knew that with more practice and better understanding I could cover up. Drawing required a different approach to it, while mine was that of neglect, and in most parts fear.

When my faculty advisor called me for counselling after the grades were out, I was fully expecting to be rebuked. I had spent most of semester not preparing for the subject. During the exams, I had completed my drawing sheet in nearly half an hour, in a three hour exam slot. I had drawn what I could, but that was not enough to get me even passing marks. When I did attempt to finish the remaining of the questions, I ended up using the eraser so much that I had large smudge and small tear on the sheet.

Instead of bemoaning how miserably I had performed, she and another lecturer first asked me as to what I felt the reason was. When I explained that I felt that I didn’t find it useful, and considered a rote activity. After letting me say my side of the problem, they showed how a different approach was required. In a previous counselling session she had appreciated my logical & problem solving skills in programming. I was asked to approach drawing in a similar manner. While I did have to memorize some of the drawings, the larger part of the syllabus didn’t require rote memorization. Instead, if one approached it as a problem as to how the views of an object if viewed from a different angle, then I would have to process those changes. I would have to factor in which surfaces would get hidden, which would now become visible, and how these will interact with the change in viewing plane.

I will not get in to more technicalities of it. What I do appreciate is that instead of asking me to do what every other student does, or just go by rote memorization, they changed my approach towards the subject in a manner that would make it more interesting, and in turn challenging. I retook the subject in the next semester, and was able to get above average scores in the exam. To be honest, more than the exams, I was able to use the drawing skills in my projects in much more useful manner (than just clearing exams). For this, I will remain thankful to these two lecturers who took out time to change how I approached drawing in general.

This post was inspired from Housing.com, for how optimism  & positiviry can be found in any aspect of life.

Where do you answer Nature’s call?

What do you do when you have to answer Nature’s call? No, you do not wonder how Nature managed to get your number and call you up on the cell. Nature’s call is when you feel the urge go to the toilet. Typically this would mean you going to the toilet to empty yourself, but there are so many people who have no toilet to go to. Which is why they end up urinating and defecating in the open near some roads, fields, or vast open lands.

Based on the joint estimates done by WHO and UNICEF in 2010, 15 percent of the people in the world defecate in the open because they don’t have access to a toilet. Indians make up 60% of these numbers. These are people who are exposed on to unhealthy, and unsanitary conditions on a daily basis. This impacts not just their own health but the health of the babies born in such areas. This impacts the future of our nation.

2.4 million children die under the age of 5 in India every year. 20%-25% of these are on account of diarrhea. The relationship to sanitation however has been made clear. If you look at India’s Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC), then Infant Mortality Rate reduced by 4 infants per 1000. This clearly shows that with better sanitation and access to toilets, more children will live to fulfil their lives. Not just that, children who lived the first year of their lives in areas with better sanitation grew taller.

How does poor sanitation and lack of toilets affect health? It is simple. Defecating in the open can cause fecal matter to mix with the river’s water supply. The same water that will be then used in their homes for washing, drinking, and cooking. Not all people go to isolated fields or river banks to defecate. Children in particular are known to defecate near their houses. This causes an influx of flies and other germs in the vicinity of the home. On account on poor sanitation, the same hands that were used to clean or remove fecal matter may not be clean enough to prepare food, or wash clothes, and can lead to transmission of diseases.

This leads to a direct impact on the economy of the nation as well. Due to the lack of proper sanitation India faces a loss of 2.4 trillion INR every year, or a per capita loss of 2180 INR. Out of this, the largest chunk of 1.74 billion INR is spent on health (checkups, treatment, medicines and such). Of this, the poorer families suffer the most. Sometimes they lack the necessary funds to treat the illness of their children, or must suffer wage loss while they do so.

Sanitation and toilets are the basic rights of everyone. It is also something that we take for granted most of the time. Something that is as basic as a toilet or latrine is actually something that is out of reach for a large population of this country. This lack of facilities is not only affecting their daily lives by having them go away from their house to defecate, but also leads to many diseases. The severity is such that many children will not live beyond the age of 5. It cannot be stressed enough that it serves as a fundamental right of all citizens.

For my research on this, I mainly used two papers at the Indian Sanitation Portal and the Water and Sanitation Program.

Domex, HUL’s flagship sanitation brand, currently runs the Domex Toilet Academy (DTA) programme. Domex Toilet Academy was launched on 19th November 2013. It aims to become a sustainable and long-term solution to provide sanitation that benefits the local community and helps stimulate the local economy. The Toilet Academy makes toilets accessible and affordable, while promoting the benefits of clean toilets & good hygiene. Our effort has resulted in bringing the change in the villages of Maharashtra and Orissa and we aim to build 24000 toilets by 2015 in rural areas faced with the problem of open defecation.

You can bring about the change in the lives of millions of kids, thereby showing your support for the Domex Initiative. All you need to do is “click” on the “Contribute Tab” on www.domex.in and Domex will contribute Rs.5 on your behalf to eradicate open defecation, thereby helping kids like Babli live a dignified life.

Written for the ‘Toilet for Babli’ at Indiblogger. 

Checking out Kotak’s Jifi

Banking is a necessity. Where else would we store our hard earned money for safekeeping, or withdraw from when we need to spend it? Digging up the earth and storing money in a deep pit, and doing the digging again to recover is too ancient. Besides, there is always the chance that someone might easily take it from there, or it might suffer damages from the elements. This is also why I like to be updated with the latest in banking, for the convenience it offers.
I don’t remember when was the last time I went to a store to make my phone bill payment. If I want to order some pizza home, I do it online. Utility bills are taken care of online. Banking has evolved to something more than just a means to store your money. This is why I am keen when it comes to new facilities and features to banking. I decided to check out Kotak’s Jifi which offers some new features.
Zero Minimum Balance:
As much as I like saving money, sometimes you have one of those cash crunches at the end of the month (because you had a tiring fortnight that required multiple helpings of eating out, and purchase of new books that you would eventually get down to reading), this helps.

Social Banking:
By linking your twitter account with Jifi, you can operate your account via twitter and hashtags. I was skeptical about the security, but they have a dedicated secure server and all the info is via Direct Messages and not tweets, which keeps it private. Most of the available functions are pretty common these days (cheque book request, balance details, etc.). The feature that caught my attention is the ability to find the nearest ATM, when you’re hard pressed for cash and someone won’t accept cards. Just send them a DM and they will send you the address of the available ATMs in your area.
While this is a good facility, I don’t see myself using it much out of fear that someone may see my details on the cell. I know that I can protect my cell with a password, but I use it frequently which makes a password tedious for me.

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Friend Referral:
When friends or family join Jifi via a referral from you, you get bonus points that can be later redeemed as 1 INR worth each point. Based on a maximum of 25 Referrals per year, you can collect (and redeem) 6250 INR worth points. Which is an added bonus.

Transaction points:
This isn’t a feature that is new or limited to Jifi. Different banks have different manners of executing this. In Jifi you get 25 points for transactions above 500 INR, with a maximum limit of 1800 points a year. So this is 1800 INR bonus for us, which is nice.

Banking Application:
This offers the same facility to operate your bank account via mobile (as is the norm with banks these days). For reasons mentioned in Social Banking, I will not be using this.

Platinum Debit Card:
This is helpful when you want to make large purchases (like electronics) or are travelling and might need cash. The card gives you a higher transaction limit by which you can withdraw 50000 INR daily, or spend 2 Lakh via swiping for purchasing. Additionally there is insurance for card loss and misuse, so that adds a later of security.

Account availability:
While the account is easy to open, and is done online via a friend’s referral or through the Kotak Jifi website (https://www.kotakjifi.com), it is currently limited to select 12 cities. Now this is what prevents me from opening an account, since my city is not a part of the list (Bangalore, Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Chennai, Coimbatore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai and Pune). In this case I think that they should have started with more cities and covered a larger customer base. They’ll be adding more cities soon, so will have to wait for when I can get an account.

Since it is free to open an account (and you get joining bonus points), I am looking forward to open an account when I can.

 

I came to know about Kotak Jifi via Indiblogger, and have written this blog post for it.