Friday, February 25, 2011

Joint Statement: Global Wave of Action for Education

Around the world students, pupils, teachers, parents and employees have been protesting against the increasing commercialization and privatization of public education, and fighting for free and emancipator education in the past decade.

This year will see people unify this struggle on the international and global level for the “Global Wave of Action for Education.”

Many of us use the “International Student Movement” as a self-managed platform initiated to exchange information, to network and to co-ordinate protests at both the international and the global levels. We strive for structures based on direct participation and non-hierarchical organization through collective discussion and action. Anyone who identifies with the struggle against the privatization of public education, and for free and emancipatory education can join and participate on as well as shape the platform!

Some of us have already met and networked during the following occasions: 10 years of “Bologna-Process” in Louvain la Neuve (Belgium) on April 25-29th 2009, G8 University Summit in Torino (Italy) on May 17- 19th 2009, Bologna Burns in Vienna (Austria) on March 11-14th 2010, Bologna keeps on Burning in Madrid (Spain) and the “European Education Congress” in Bochum (Germany) on May 25-30th. 

What are we struggling against?

• The effects of the current economic system on people and education systems:
 - Tuition fees or any form of fees which exclude people from accessing and equally participating in education
 - Student debt
 - Public education aligned to serve the (labour) market
The so-called Bologna-Process (as with its counterparts around the world) is aimed at implementing education systems that primarily train people in skills serving the labour market. It promotes the reduction of costs for training a person, shortens the length of time spent studying, and produces under-qualified workforces.

 - Turning education into a commodity (like all other aspects of life)
 - (Increasing) influence of business interests on basic budgets for public education
 - (Increasing) budget cuts on public education worldwide
 - The “privatization” of public funds with the subsidization of private educational institutions
 - The commodification and exploitation of labor within educational institutions

• We stand against the discrimination and exclusion within any educational institution based on:
 - Socio-economic background (education systems are currently set up so that people with less money can’t participate equally)
 - Nationality
 - Performance
 - Political ideologies and activities
 - Gender
 - Sexual orientation
 - Religion
 - Ethnic background
 - Skin colour

• We stand against the prioritisation of research towards commercially valuable patents rather than open knowledge freely available to all! Public educational institutions are increasingly forced to compete for private sponsorships to do (basic) research; at the same time private funds have the tendency to be invested into research promising to be profitable (leading to a decline in funding for areas of research which may be important but not deemed economically lucrative). On the basis of profitability, educational institutions and participants are deemed ‘excellent’ and often fulfill the criteria to receive additional public funding.

• We stand against the prioritisation of income-generating research grants ahead of education and basic research activities for the army within educational institutions:
 - No research specifically for military purposes
 - No recruiting and advertising activities for the army

What are we struggling for?

 - Free and emancipatory education as a human right: education should primarily serve the individual’s interest to be emancipated, that means: to be enabled to critically reflect and understand the power structures and environment surrounding him-/herself; education must not only enable the emancipation of the individual but society as a whole
 - Education as a public good serving public interests
 - Academic freedom and choice: freedom to pursue any educational discipline

 - Free from monetary mechanisms of payment by participants and any kind of discrimination and exclusion and therefore freely accessible to all individuals 
 - Sufficient funding of all educational institutions, no matter if deemed profitable or not

 - All educational entities/institutions should be democratically structured (direct participation from below as a basis for decision making processes)

Why on the local and global level?

The impacts of the current global economic system create struggles worldwide. While applying local pressure to influence our individual local/regional politics and legislation, we must always be aware of the global and structural nature of our problems and share our tactics, experiences in organizations, and theoretical knowledge to learn from each other. Short-term changes may be achieved on the local level, but great change will only happen if we unite globally.

Education systems worldwide do what they are intended to do within the economic and state system(s):  select, train and create ignorance and submission. We unite for a different education system and a different life.

We stand united against any sort of repression by governments worldwide directed at people involved in the struggle for free and emancipatory education.

~ One world - One struggle ~ 
P.S.: The content and the images presented in this post, are property of International Student Movement and Spring of Resistance. SimplyJITH supports the cause and this post is a voluntary effort to express support. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Coming Soon: SimplyJITH Character Institute

Dear Patrons,

2010 was a year for immense learning and new horizons, for us at SimplyJITH. In addition to our various programs and their affiliated projects, we have been working hard, to create a platform for youth,  for them to understand the importance of values, and moral wellbeing. We wish to lend a friendly support and facilitate the flowering of immense potential that every youth has, in order to successfully navigate through the turbulent and disaster-prone, yet very promising period of youth and beyond. I take this opportunity to express my deep and heartfelt gratitude to each and everyone for their valuable contribution in this effort. 

It gives us great pleasure to announce the launch of SimplyJITH Character Institute. Adding to our existing array of programs, this effort of ours will strive to mold youth as a perfect blend of academic excellence and value education for character well-being. We are honored to receive your continued patronage, which inspires us to strive towards even higher standards of human excellence. 

An Enterprise is only as successful as the society it serves. We, with each effort of ours, engage in a mutual learning model, and encourage our patrons to support us with your feedback and valuable opinion.  It has always been our endeavor to enhance living experience of our patrons and ourselves. As we step into 2011, we look forward to providing you with a bouquet of learning opportunities through our efforts.

May I wish you and your family a year of peace, prosperity and good luck!

With best wishes,
Abhijith Jayanthi 

- from SimplyJITH Garage

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Spiritual Fears

Today, I wish to discuss about fears of our spiritual self. Before I proceed, it is important to clearly differentiate between fears of our spiritual self and the usual fears of our mind. I wish to put forward, a simple exercise for this purpose: To begin, please go to a calm spot where you can sit quietly, breathe deeply and think about what is making you feel fearful, examine your fear(s). Is it the fear of losing a job, not being able to pay bills, being thrown out of your home or of someone harming you? These are the fears of our mind, solution for such fears is simple: One needs to identify each of his/her fear and then consciously make an effort to face them. This post will be of little or no help for such fears. Rather, while you were thinking about various fears, if you have had this situation, '....I am well off in regard to every necessity in my life i.e. a suitable job, enough monetary resources to meet one's needs and pleasant living experience, yet I feel a lacuna within myself, that needs to be filled...for embracing happiness and I fear....', these are the fears of the spiritual self. Please read on, I hope this post will be of some help to you.

I wish to talk about an important concept which will give us a better outlook about the origin and a possible solution for such fears of our spiritual self. Just as gravity plays a vital conceptual role to explain various aspects of physics in the material world, it does so in the spiritual world as well. When one is not well grounded spiritually, he/she is floating in mid air, and is susceptible to be thrown by a strong breeze towards one side for a moment, and onto another side the next moment. This irregular motion of our spiritual selves,  will subject our mental and bodily selves to many collisions, which will effect our momentum towards life, thus reducing our vitality and happiness. Hence, it is essential for us to understand the importance of spiritual gravity and work towards being well grounded spiritually.

The method of approach for such an exercise is simple. Ask your spiritual self if the thing you fear has actually happened or if you are projecting something you are afraid could happen. Next ask yourself how realistic that fear is. The purpose of this exercise is to remind yourself of the many times your fears haven't come to be, but have simply resided in your psyche, haunting you like the monsters that were under your bed or in your closet when you were a child.

It is noticing what you have been through, that is the primary focus of this process. Take a look at each event that is now your past, understand how you dealt with people who were in your life in the past. Take time to count them and understand where you stand in regard to each of such events/people, and where did you leave them at. The necessity for such an exercise, is as simple as understanding how one can find something, at the same place where he/she has lost it. To be spiritually grounded, one needs to settle each element of fear/doubt to rest. To achieve it, we need to understand and appreciate the fact that, we in our life, have left many actions and emotions incomplete, allowing them to float around, we need to work towards a possible closure for each of such be grounded spiritually. 

A big part of this exercise is to learn that the answers to what influences our present lie in our past and to enjoy our present, we need to respect our past and put it to rest with complete dignity. This is actually a very good remedy to stave off fear of hypothetical future situations. The next time you have one of those moments when fear overtakes you, I hope you'll try my suggestions to look at what is making you fearful, consider it and work towards a possible closure (which will allow you  to let it go) so that you can focus on what is really important -- making the most of your day.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Open Letter : Curator - Museum of Past Memories

The Curator,
Museum of Past Memories.

Dear Sir,

When I was a kid, I was forgive is a divine gesture, but I was never told when I shall need it, and more so in what circumstances it is an option that I may exercise. During my turmoil over the past year, I knew that things were not as idyllic as they appeared on the surface. I observed the signs of impending doom not because I was so much more perceptive than others, but simply because I had the opportunity to spend time with myself. 

Through my journey of discovering myself better, I understood most of us live - both physically and emotionally in a very restricted space of our possibilities. We all have potential reservoirs of life to draw upon, of which we do not really know.  After going through each memory, I have realized everyone of us decide and act upon a particular issue, with the knowledge we have, to the best of our ability. This indeed, was a great learning, I realized why I did not understand the way people acted/reacted earlier. Anecdotes often present us with lessons, that nature wishes to bestow upon us. Earlier one day, as I was looking at my reflection in a hand held mirror, it slipped my grip and fell to the floor. With a quick jab the mirror broke, into tiny shards. I realized how each piece was able to forgive me and yet reflect me the way it did earlier. I have understood that, to seek inner peace, it is essential to forgive others.

Today, as we sat at Zitouna Mosque, my friend talking about the Tunisia struggle for democracy said," ...If they are willing to go, we can forgive our leaders because the past cannot be corrected, but how can we forget the pain that they had put us through? ..." This statement has given me the path I needed. I have come to realize that forgiving does not necessarily erase our bitter past. My soul seeks healing, and forgiving  what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. So, I will have to forgive others and forget (release) memories associated with them. I realized that I have to release memories of my past for seeking inner peace. Allow me to fan my tiny inner spark of possibility into a flame of achievement. Please release the memories of my past and set my soul free.

Yours truly,

Place: Tunis, Tunisia
Dated: June 2010
cc'ed : Dad

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sacred Spaces

Were there times you felt that you needed some space? Actually, we all need some "space," some time to ourselves and some place to recharge our batteries and renew our spirit. When we look at it, we are all occupied with our usual aspirations and challenges, that we tend to forget the deeper meaning of our existence...our attempt to be at peace with ourselves. 

It is important to realize that there are three facets to a well developed personality i.e. mind, body and soul. In  our daily routine, we tend to focus on one or two of them ignoring the importance of striking a balanced approach towards all the three. It becomes essential that we seek time for self, immerse in understanding ourselves better, thus reconnecting with our inner selves.

In such an attempt, we are making an effort to look within us, thus  reaching out to the greater thought. Thoughts are never owned by one single person, rather thoughts have no limitations in regard to space and time. Methods of telepathy showcase how thoughts can reach beyond boundary definitions, while the emotional turmoil one passes through, when he/she is deeply involved with a collection of thoughts, speaks of their power to control us and subsequently define our actions. In our attempt to reconnect with ourselves, we are essentially, gaining greater control of our thoughts, and thus gaining control over self. 

In ancient times, places where one could reconnect with self were considered sacred and were often found in nature – a grove, a hill or valley, or a mountain.  But you don't have to go outdoors to find a sacred space.  You can create a sacred space right in your own home. It doesn't matter how small your living quarters are, even a corner of a room can do.  A sacred space is an area where you can sit and contemplate, or let your mind wander and relax, ponder, and dream.  You need to let go yourself, to pursue a thought, follow a thread. Such an activity will help discover yourself better, thus establishing a greater connection with self.

Your sacred space is where you shall seek answers to strike the right balance amongst the three facets...where you can find yourself again...where you shall find your peace. 

Monday, February 07, 2011

Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji

Often we find interesting lessons to pick up, from unexpected quarters. In this post, I wish to record lessons I picked up, from the Hindi movie Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji, which I happened to watch today. For the uninitiated, and non – Hindi Speakers, Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji is a 2011 Hindi film directed by Madhur Bhandarkar. 
Anyone who’s looked at how men and women react to a similar situation can’t help but notice the way men and women think and prioritize differently. Each gender has its favorite clich├ęs and there’s a similarity in attitude which is ever-present but hard to pin down.  The movie aptly brings out the point that a trend of reverse sexism started to take hold these days, and that most of the women use men for their personal gain, and regard such an exercise as socially acceptable, and such behaviors are perfectly justifiable regardless of how they play with someone else’s emotions. Added to which most of the average men are foolish enough, and allow themselves to be used even when they have faced consequences for doing so earlier. 

Today, it is unfortunate to notice that there is significant percentage of women out there who have no ethical conflict whatsoever with the idea of using men for favors while motivating them with false hopes of intimacy. Amongst all of us, more so, women of today, there is a growing deficit for good intention, leading to deficit in character. Added to which, such beings especially women, have limited aptitude, to think beyond the “As far as I am concerned, they're all lucky to be able to spend time with me, and they deserve to pay for the privilege” attitude.  

When we speak of emotions, there are no victims; rather all of us are volunteers. We volunteer ourselves to seek, pursue and live an emotion. Every volunteer deserves respect for his commitment.  There is a need for our actions to reflect our true intention. One needs to treat everyone’s emotion with due respect, and reveal their true intention through their actions. For women amongst the readers, I urge you to realize that the dangers (of a complete social breakdown) we face are real, and with power comes responsibility, allow your actions to truly represent your intention. Be woman enough, to stand up and live your true intention. For men amongst the readers, especially for those, whose fail to realize that they are being used, and yet continue to volunteer themselves to live a false emotion, please understand that a hand shake needs two hands, and not one; and that if you are to live a true emotion, everyone’s actions need to be true to their intention, and you do not do it all alone for free. 

P.S.: This post is a reflection of my understanding on the subject presented in the movie Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji, and does neither represent opinion of the Director, nor any member associated with the film. Additionally, this post is not a promotional exercise for the movie, but a sincere record of my understanding.