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Archive for March, 2007

How often obstacles befall us and we start grumbling. We’re out blaming others, our family, our job, our friends…. well, name it… for things we’re not able to do. We seldom realize it might be something within us that is acting as a roadblock, preventing us from going ahead, achieving our goals.

The other day when I was stuck (you remember my posting “is this writer’s block?), my head was spinning like I don’t know what. I kicked everything out on my way; my office chair flitted at a hit; and I had it for a bruise. It’s my blog’s doomsday, I thought. Crushed in the egg?

I didn’t lose hope however. A short break, a retreat in my study, I sat back quietly; meditated; and tried to figure things out. I stretched my arms; and my legs; and giggled. I just followed an old friend’s advice. Minutes later, and it’s no magic, I felt the nervousness dripping down as the sweat dried up.

You know what? Over-commitment; my watch was against me. I came back late from office. I’ve been breaking my head about the next item for my blog. Turns out I had to attend to an urgent call; not only that, but had to rush to the supermarket for some sundries. Oh! You can never turn down your wife. Can you? Should you? My mind was jammed; mental clutter, you’d say?

Flexibility and contingent planning are vital in such situations. Rather than becoming frustrated, disappointed or distressed when problems arise, we better look at them, from another angle, in serenity. The solution may be there, staring at you.

So just keep cool; shrug; deal with them as though you expected them; stay calm, take a fresh look; and get back to your business. Above all… stop blaming the world.

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Survivor of the gallows

He came out from behind the bars yesterday. In a blue-black suit, smiling, with inquisitive eyes looking for his mother who had supported him throughout his 20 years plus imprisonment. Reporters, friends and supporters from overseas were at the Richelieu prison’s gate early morning to greet him. His old mom, in her seventies, embraced him, like never before, her hands trembling, tears rolling off her eyes. « Don’t cry mom, don’t cry », he uttered in a low voice patting her shoulder gently.. « I’ll be with you now mom…for ever…am liberated at last ».

Yes, Sam is free. He’s settled his debt to society. He was sentenced to death penalty for the murder of somebody who happened to be his love rival in 1985. He lingered in the corridors of the gallows with the only hope that his sentence would be reviewed. He had appealed. Night and day he’d pray. Each morning brought new light, new hopes; each day was a new day, a day of rebirth. And he counted the days for nearly five years. The Lord had certainly listened to his prayers ; He didn’t let him go empty-handed. Man is nothing, Sam had placed all his hopes in the hands of the Almighty. His penalty was commuted to 20 years’ imprisonment without remission.

From then began another struggle, a struggle for remission. Depending on the gravity of their offence, prisoners who behave well are usually granted remission. Sam is the kind of guy who never loses hope. He is strong and mature. He knows how to go about. He didn’t lose hope. Convinced that he had a point, he fought for a remission. But this was never granted.

In prison he became reconciled to his plight. What would he do during the 20 years? He wouldn’t just sit down and mourn. That won’ t drive him anywhere. He decided to organise himself. He dedicated considerable amount of his time reading and praying, to strenghthen his morale and spirituality. He took courses by distance learning. The authorities facilitated his endeavour. Not every prisoner is like him. He was one of another breed. Journalism and writing was the field he chose to study. In 2003 he wrote his first novel « Condamné Amour » wherein he relates the circumstances of his conviction and imprisonment. He wrote another book « Enfances Brisées » two years later. He’s also been a resource person in the prison’s educational sessions.

Sam is a practical man. He knows society would look down on him when he’d be out. He didn’t wait for his liberation to act. Already from the four walls of his cell he had carefully planned his life ; what he’d do when he’d be free. With a diploma in journalism which he obtained from his prison compound, with the experience he gathered from the publication of his books, he knew the way was open for him. The local media have approached him already. He’d need some time before setting himself to work.

Conditions in the prison compound are harsh. Sam’s well aware.He’s determined to bring his contribution to improve the lot of his fellow prisoners. He’d been by their side, many of them. He’s seen them in all their forms. He’s aware of their plight. He wants to do something for them. He wants to show that there’s hope. All’s not lost. They can recover. Like him. Faith in the Lord is all that they need. That’s his conviction.

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When angels break…

A pupil of standard six, hardly 11, brandishes a cutter at his teacher in the school compound in front of the school personnel and other pupils. A teacher is intoxicated nearly to death by a couple of pupils who introduced chalk powder in his bread when he was out. College students decide to stage unlimited protests against management for insufficient facilities. Yet another group of students walk out as the Minister of Education moves to deliver his speech on the occasion of the Independence and republic day celebrations. Do these sound normal?

Every action has an opposite and equal reaction, says a simple law of physics.

Our schools have lost the aura of my times in the 60’s when discipline and order were, not only enforced, but seen to be enforced and maintained. You couldn’t go to school in loosely worn clothes, long ruffled hair or with any ornaments. You had to be smart, even in shabby clothing, hair neatly combed, and observe the rules otherwise the Head Teacher would summon you in his office, and in serious cases your parents, and reprimand you or even expel you for repeated misdemeanor. Teachers too had to behave well. Male teachers had to wear a tie at least, no jeans, stamped clothing or T-shirt. Once in the school compound no body had the right to move around or leave without permission. No outsiders were allowed, except on strict business and with the consent of the Head.

It’s quite different nowadays. Not much restriction on clothing or appearance, the child has a mobile, and he’s the son of Mr. Influence. Just hit a child, and you’ll see; the whole world will fall on you. Child bashing; attempt at angels’ rights, they’d say. Does anyone dare talk about their responsibilities? We used to have classes of morals and religious knowledge; no more or not enough now. The teacher has to be wary of his belongings or at the turn of his back he’d meet with a surprise, an unpleasant one of course.

Aggressiveness and violence have become commonplace. We’ve also heard of school children waiting for their teachers on the streets to settle scores. The schools have high fencing and guarded rust-proof gates, yet any Tom, Dick and Harry can access, no questions asked. We live in a democracy. Education, or let’s say schooling is free. Bus fares are free. Do we really care about the quality?

When angels rise up, it means there’s something. If we don’t act in time we’ll go in history for complacency. A lot has been said about the rights of children. Have they been initiated on their duties and responsibilities as good citizens? Parents, government, socio-cultural organizations, the Ombudsman for children, all have their share… of responsibility. Now or it may be too late.

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It happens only in Mauritius

What if you went to bed one night to wake up the next morning only to be told that education is absolutely free? This means you won’t have to pay the college and university fees for your children. The primary schooling is already free. You scratch your eyes and touch the blanket and the bed or the bedside table, to make sure you are in your senses.

And what if you woke up another morning and you learnt this time that your children will travel free to school. You won’t have the trouble to count the coins every morning for the bus conductor. And that’s not all. Your grandpa or grandma or your dad or mom past 60 would wander wherever and whenever they feel like without a single cent in their pocket, except for their food and shelter. They’d just have to show their pensioner’s card no questions asked.

Kidding? Dreaming? No, that’s absolutely true. It happens only in Mauritius. Provided you are in the elections periods.

In 1976 the Labour Party managed to entice the population with a free education promise. The bait worked.

In 2005 the rejuvenated Labour Party, came out with a promise of free transport to all school children and old age pensioners. This was estimated to cost around Rs 600 million (20 million USD). Peanuts, they said. We prone equal opportunities and want excellence in our education. No child should fail on account of pecuniary handicap. The hook was well baited again.

The popular impacts of such pertinent pompous proposals are far-reaching. Once in power the Government has to live up to its promise willy-nilly, although the economic pointers are on red. In no time the honeymoon turns into nightmare. The honey becomes bitter day by day as the people start paying the price of such bounties. You can no longer keep track of the price jets.

But when your children have studied for five years for the School Certificate (SC) or seven for the Higher School Certificate (HSC) and the time comes for the final examinations, you have to pay the exam fees as required by Cambridge. You now learn that the fees have gone up and you have to pay a lot more than you expected with your constantly depreciating rupee. On top of that the government has removed the 50% subsidy on such payment.

That’s the hard fact the people are facing today, and the reason for the sustained protest marches. Tens of hundreds of people, students, unions, political parties and socio-cultural groups have joined in to stage protests. They are asking to meet the government. A protest march held on the 9th and another one on 23rd March heralds what it’s going to be like when the movement gains momentum as the pressure groups keep the pot boiling through radio talks and poster campaigns.

The Government has already made it clear that nothing is going to make a difference. The new policy of cutting down the 50% subsidy on the exam fees was announced in the presentation of the last annual budget and everybody is aware of it. It’s only when the deadline for payments is approaching that the outcry has surfaced. In a spirit of compromise and understanding with the lower income groups the government has agreed to maintain its subsidy to those whose total family income does not exceed Rs 7500 per month (approx. 250 USD). Others will have to pay the full amount.

In a gesture of further compromise Government has just announced a 25% subsidy to those families with a monthly income higher that Rs 10000 (USD 300). Perhaps people will have to wait for the next elections to have a waiver. Who knows what the bait will be like this time. But the rallye scheduled for 30th March is being maintained. It would be another May 1975, they say.

Health is free. Education is free. Transport is free to school children and old age pensioners. A student will certainly go up to the SC or HSC free. But he may become a failure for want of exam fees, if their parents can’t afford. Despite Government’s initiatives to facilitate financing of the exam fees through soft loans at preferential rates and some companies even offering advances to their employees whose children would take part in the exams, there is still widespread reticence. This means another claim for a free ride. If only it were the eve of the elections. How long can we afford such bounties? Even the most developed countries haven’t ventured that much, I’m sure.

But that’s welfare state in Mauritius.

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Take the test by clicking the question at the bottom of this post and find out your type. Just for the fun of it.

My result:

You Should Be A Poet

You craft words well, in creative and unexpected ways.
And you have a great talent for evoking beautiful imagery…
Or describing the most intense heartbreak ever.
You’re already naturally a poet, even if you’ve never written a poem.

What Type of Writer Should You Be?

source: http://www.blogthings.com

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The study of weather and its impact on human, animal and plant lives has always fascinated man. Scientists and researchers over the world are always on the lookout for clues towards better understanding and forecasting of weather systems for a more sustainable use of the resources at hand. Specialized and concerted efforts are imperative for the achievement of probing results.

The implications being global, the United Nations passed a convention on 23 March 1950 and created the World Meteorological Organization which became its specialized agency a year later. Since then World Meteorological Day is celebrated on that date every year on a particular theme. This year’s theme is “Polar Meteorology: Understanding global impacts” and is being upheld by the International Council of Science (ICSU).

Everybody is now aware, except those who don’t want to. The world is suffering from the phenomenon of global warming with the consequence that weather systems are behaving awkward. Cyclones have become more intense and hit areas where they seldom did. Studies and reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicate that during the last century the earth’s global temperature has risen by 0.6oC and it is forecast that the rise would be of the order of 1.4 to 5.8oC by the year 2100.

Observations have revealed considerable changes in the polar environment. The effects of the shrinking sea ice are yet to be evaluated, but it is certain that marine ecosystems and the Polar species will be in danger. Sea level rise is another concern for scientists who believe low lands might be washed away and some small islands might disappear in the long run.

We might not be living by 2100, but the next generation should have no reason to blame us for inaction. That’s why researchers from different spheres of specialization, meteorology, oceanography, hydrology, glaciology and others will be working together during the International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008 to carry out observations and collect crucial data from the earth’s Polar Regions. They believe this will provide useful information to enable them better comprehend the global impacts of climate change.

Let’s be optimistic and wish our scientists the best of luck.

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“Water, water, every where…nor any drop to drink,” (The ancient mariner).

Water covers two-thirds of the globe. Yet, for many, it’s a scarce commodity. In some parts of the world, to a great extent in Haiti and the rural sub-saharan African regions, people, mostly women and young girls, have to walk hours and miles before they can have some water for their households. Very often such water is polluted and therefore unsafe for drinking. Children in tender ages are the most vulnerable. Reports suggest that about 1.1 billion people (nearly one-fifth of the world’s population) lack access to safe drinking water. About 90% of deaths arising from contaminated water consumption involve children under the age of five.

Have we ever reflected on the extent of impact of such scarcity on the education and development of people? Let’s stop a while on the theme of this year’s World Water Day: “Coping with water scarcity”. Let’s save that small drop to make the difference.

World Water Day celebrated on 22nd March was designated by the UN General Assembly in 1992 “to draw attention to the critical lack of clean, safe drinking water world wide”.

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