Saturday, 31 December 2016

10 amazing, rarely known facts about India that will fill you with surprise and pride


A couple of years ago, leaned back in my chair I was totally focused on building a program in my office’s desktop computer crucial to the end of the day delivery when, suddenly, a group of volunteers from my company’s cultural department emerged from the corner of the hall and lured everyone’s attention by making an energetic announcement.

It was a surprise quiz of 10 questions on ‘facts about India’ in which the person answering first and correct will get a chocolate packet for every answer.

At the end of the quiz I found that 2 people in the entire hall had all the chocolate packets and about 70-80 people including me were standing puzzled with straight faces.

Don’t worry! I didn’t care at all about the chocolates but the thing which bothered me was I didn’t know the answer of a single question.

There are many of us who fall in situations like these and think that they could have done better here apart from their regular assignments. This can happen to anyone in school, workplace or even sports field.

If you are one of those people then this post is for you, however, if you are not read it anyway! J
Well, these are some of the opportunities that must be used to instill a remarkable image of yours in the mind of people. The people can be your colleagues,teachers, professors, and bosses, vice presidents of your company or even your soccer coach.

Excelling at such situations gives you an edge over others. Believe me or not, thereafter, those 2 guys (chocolate winners) were in the good books of the upper management people of my company.

We have so much information around us (internet, books) yet we find ourselves puzzled in a surprise quiz conducted anywhere.

Facts are infinite and it is extremely difficult to remember each and every one of them, but, it has also been observed that with the knowledge of a handful of facts by our side we can become a person of interest among others.

Surprise quizzes or competitions have become a common thing lately in schools, colleges or workplace. The knowledge of facts can be a great opportunity for you to stand out in such situations and exude an outstanding charisma in the eyes of your seniors, colleagues, professors etc.


There are so many posts shared on social networks, some of them offer quotes, few offer motivational proverbs , some of them even quote influential people but a very few provide genuine, real facts necessary to grow awareness about the country or the world we live in.

Hence, in this post I am listing down some amazing yet rarely known facts about our country.
(using these you can conduct your own quizzes J )

These rare facts have been accumulated by me through some serious reading over a period of time and  I would love to share all of them with you. Therefore I have complied them in two episodes rather than one so that I can elaborate a bit on each one of them.


Continuing from above, following are the first 10 very rare facts which will certainly grow your knowledge bank and give you a kick right away when you start reading them –

1.
  
Though its final issue came out in 2013 still it is the longest running children magazine of India. Chandamama exhibited grandparents’ way of story-telling which made it a sole destination of teaching moral values and imparting wisdom through mythological fables. 

The highlight of Chandamama was the perpetual fable of King Vikramaditya and Betal (white ghost) which is considered as the major factor behind the popularity of Chandamama.

2.


Madam Tussauds was founded in the early 19th century by Marie Tussauds who was a wax sculptor and after around a hundred years, the father of the nation became the first Indian whose statue got sculpted and put for display in the year 1939. 

Well, we all know that Mahatma was a great leader but his charisma led him to Madam Tussauds, which too under the British rule, surely enhances respect for him in our hearts.

3.


The National Library of India was created in 1836 and is considered as the largest library in India. It is situated in Kolkata, West Bengal and contains around 2 million books. 

It also might interest you to know that at the time it was created, the library was open to be used without any cost for poor students. 
A hidden chamber without any gateway was discovered in 2010 with archaeologists speculating it to be a chamber used to punish criminals during the British rule. 

4.

‘When you have faith nothing is impossible’ this proverb materializes itself when you hear that City Montessori School was started with only 5 children in a rented building in 1959 by a husband and wife Jagdish and Bharti Gandhi.
 The City Montessori School also held the Guinness book of world record of being the world’s largest school in terms of number of pupils in 2010-11. Currently, the number of enrolments is said to be around 52000.

5.


Takshila University situated in current day Pakistan is believed to be the first International University of the world. Its origins date back to 7th century BC and is said to be destructed around 5th century AD. 

The University had approximately two thousand teachers and invited students from the countries such as Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Greece, China etc.  Researchers have found out that different subjects were taught to the students in this University. Some of them were Mathematics, War Strategies, Grammar, Astronomy, Medicine, surgery etc.


6.


A.H. Wheeler Company was founded by a Frenchman Emili Moreau with the first bookstall opened in the year 1877. The first stall was opened in Allahabad and a century later the company is still headquartered in Allahabad from where most of the distribution takes place. 

A good thing about it is that it is now a completely Indian owned firm. According to the data on the Internet, it contributes a major portion of the Indian railways revenues coming from sales of books.

7.



With the length of national highways totalling more than 100,000 kms and numerous expressways opened, India has the largest network of roads in the world. 
There is another speculation that it has the second largest network of roads not the first.

This large network can obviously be attributed to the vast size of the country adorned by roads like Golden Quadrilateral and Grand trunk Road.

8.


The Holy Bibles stands the best-selling book of all time. It holds the Guinness book of world record of being the largely sold book hitherto. This big number is a positive indication that there are so many people around us who believe in God and through God believe in humanity. 

9.




 Nalanda University had more than 2000 teachers and because of its popularity in terms of knowledge and academics, it would attract scholars from many surrounding Asian countries. 

Historical evidences reflect that the University existed for about 800 years and according to the archaeologists, it was destroyed by the Turkish Invaders. 

Its library was so huge that it burned for 3 months before destroying to ashes. In 2006, the then president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam propounded the idea of reviving it, as a result of which, it began its curriculum in the year 2014.


10.


Avakasikal written by MK Menon and published in the year 1980 holds the record of the longest running novel in India. it is divided into 4 volumes and runs through approximately 4000 pages. The author took around 10 years to complete this masterpiece.


With this fact you have reached the end of this post. It’s the time to wrap up. 

I hope that you enjoyed knowing the facts written in this post. Also, I do promise you that the part II of this blog post will be out soon containing many more interesting rare facts.

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Thursday, 22 December 2016

20 books of different genres one must read in his/her 20s to move one level up in smartness & wisdom

You must have read various articles on Internet about books belonging to a specific category such as fiction, drama, sports, biographies, business & management, self help etc. However, in this blog post I am taking a holistic approach and  listing books of different genres all together.
Moreover, it is a collection of not only high-rated books but also some good books which have not been rated to their potential.
One must read these books in their twenties in order to develop shrewdness to face one’s upcoming life of thirties and forties with prudence, therefore, sit tight for another fifteen minutes and get familiar with a very cool collection of books from different genres.

Here we proceed with our first category -
Self Help (god helps those who help themselves)
1. Tuesdays with Morrie

This is the first book I have kept in this category because I am certain that it is capable of making you fall in love with self-help books.
This book is about a student who meets his fatally sick teacher after nearly twenty years and visits him every Tuesday to take life lessons.
You might fall into tears by the time you reach the last page of this book.
2.  Mega living - Robin Sharma
If you are interested in overcoming the negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones then go for this book.  You can read this book to connect with the positive energy around you and learn to maintain a calm head.
Well, this book surely imparts great wisdom and hope; it is the best teacher you can bring home to teach you how to improve your life.
3.  Make yourself unforgettable - Dale Carnegie

By simply reading this book till the last page, one will get to know how a few petty things in human's disposition obstruct him/her to become a person of ‘Class’.
Well, the word 'class' is often taken for granted but it requires a lot of effort to develop. Moreover to be a person of 'class', you do not have to strive to develop qualities  but quit a few negative habits of yours.
4.  The Seven Habits of highly effective people - Stephen R Covey
The book will help you deal with your professional and personal problems. The author has demonstrated a few short accounts neatly and cleverly which really captivate your interest.
5.  Who will cry when you die? - Robin Sharma

The book contains lessons in 101 chapters to improve your life . I recommend this book to the people who are going through a rough patch in their life or the people who think that good always passes a great distance away from them.
By reading this book, one can know how to maintain a happy state of mind by focusing on the minor details of life which one often ignores.

Fiction 
(truth is stranger than fiction because fiction is obliged to stick with possibilities) 
Visit bx-zone.com, an online used book store on which you can sell used books to people around you.

6. Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Canon Doyle

Who doesn’t know Sherlock Holmes and his accomplice Dr. Watson? The characters created by Sir Arthur Canon Doyle. Sherlock Holmes stories become intriguing when he solves each mystery with foresight and extraordinary astuteness with the help of Dr. Watson.
This book can also be picked up by the beginner readers to strengthen their interest in reading.
Once you develop an interest in it, 221B Baker Street will be the only address on your mind.
7. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
A cult mystery-thriller novel by Dan brown, although, majority of the people have seen the movie The DaVinci Code, still I would say this book is a must-read. The book is about the character Robert Langdon who gets entangled into a mystery where his life as well as a thing capable of turning the world upside down is online. 
If you are in college then this book can help you spend your entire year or semester break reading.
8. Angels & Demons - Dan Brown
This mystery-thriller marks the beginning of the character of Robert Langdon. A container tantamount to a nuclear weapon gets stolen which, after 24 hours will trigger itself and leave behind a trail of destruction. Now, Robert Langdon will have to save the world by using his brilliant knowledge of symbology.
9. Inferno - Dan Brown

It is the most recent novel of Dan Brown which features his main character Robert Langdon the fourth time.
The antagonist in the book develops a virus, which if spread, is capable of affecting the population of the world. Now, Robert Langdon with his experience and knowledge of symbols has to find the virus and save the world.
The book is characterized by several twisting events and is capable of holding you spellbound till the last page.
10. The Scarecrow - Michael R Connelly
A crime reporter and an FBI agent try to catch a serial killer who is always a couple of steps ahead of them and commits crime under the nose of law enforcers.
Once you start reading this fiction piece by Michael Connelly, you won’t have to put an effort to build interest in it, the book will lure your attention from the very first page.
Fiction Drama 
(the course of true love never did run smooth)
11. The Lowland - Jhumpa Lahiri


This book tells a tale of two brothers, born a few months apart with completely different mindsets. One of them locked in his beliefs and the other being dutiful. The story takes a dramatic turn when one of them dies leaving behind his wife whose misery brings a sense of responsibility in the heart of another towards her.
12. The Kite Runner - Khalid Hosseini
This tale of an unlikely friendship between two boys in the country of Afghanistan is very endearing. If you have a friend with whom you share a very strong bond then this book will certainly touch deep in your heart.
13. The Blue Umbrella - Ruskin Bond
A humorous story of a little girl who in exchange of her pendant gets a beautiful blue umbrella due to which everyone turns envious of her especially the shopkeeper of her village.
This is a very light book and is a perfect one which you can read to your kids during bed time.

Biographies 

(Work till you get yourself a biography from the world)

14. Che Guevara - Richard L Harris
The biography of the Argentine leader who travelled through Latin America in his twenties and became a rebel seeing the condition of the poor in the continent; the one who dethroned the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in Cuba along with Fidel Castro.
Know the journey of the iconic face you often see imprinted on a lot of t-shirts.
15. The Warren Buffet Way

We all know Warren buffet who made his fortune from stocks. I know one cannot be another Warren Buffet by reading this book, but,  if you are looking to create wealth through investing in stocks then this is a great read.
You surely will get to know the approach of Warren Buffet to investing, his portfolio in the peak years of success and much more.
16. Wings of Fire - APJ Abdul Kalam


This book must be read by every Indian or someone who has a vision of doing big in life. It is the autobiography of the missile man of India, a man who stands a true inspiration for every Indian. It is believed that everyone who reads this book takes something out of it.
Business & Management 
(A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business)
17. Zero to One - Peter Theil

The progress has come to a stand-still and globalization has impersonated it. Peter Thiel has beautifully delivered this message through this book.
If you have plans of starting an enterprise of your own now or many years further then you should have one copy in your collection.
18. 6 hours MBA - Louis Coutts

Get this book and take a superficial look at the basic concepts of management before diving deep into the world of entrepreneurship. Also, this book is for every professional to spread awareness about management at his/her designation level and certainly not restricted only business guys.
19. Romancing with the Balance Sheet - Anil Lamba
Whether you are an engineer, a teacher, an entrepreneur or a shopkeeper, learning basic finance not only helps the organization, you are working for, at your level but also helps you achieve personal financial growth.
 This book is not restricted to accountants or commerce students, but it should be read by every professional. The book teaches you about the basic concepts of balance sheet, Profit & Loss and also few concepts which can help you in taking personal financial decisions.
I highly recommend this book.
New Age
(Believe that the dawn is coming)
20. Target 3 Billion

India’s economy is largely dependent on agriculture and crops are cultivated in farms situated in villages; based on this fact this book analyses if the potential of the people living in villages is harnessed then India will become the world’s largest economy much faster than expected.
The analysis and the motivation provided in the book is fabulous and is surely going to captivate your attention towards the power of natural and human resources found in the rural areas.
With this we come to the end of this post. Hope you enjoyed it!!
           HaPPy ReADiNg !!

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Tuesday, 13 December 2016

What do we need from our educational system, top-scorers or successful human beings ?


How many of us fear going to school or how many of us were afraid of going school in our childhood? A question often considered as normal which has been running down from ages and unfortunately is marked by indifference.

But have we ever pondered over it? It is considered to be a very general phenomenon that when a kid of 9th grade doesn’t score good in exams his/her parents tend to go tense. As a matter of fact, the whole blame shifts towards the child, inevitably, he/she is termed as a non-performer and is often grounded.

We have seen several movies conveying the message that every child or human is a unique creation of god and is blessed with a special talent.

The movies add to the message that there is a need to harness that talent, nurturing it so that every child can find his way up for himself.
Majority of the population of our country have seen these movies, enjoyed them, but only few could assimilate the message.
The education system is a major contributor to the economic development and statistics indicate that it is expanding rapidly but yet at the grass root level there don’t seem to be much difference.
Girls in rural areas still have to fight to go to schools, and if some kids are privileged enough to go to schools their fates are often sealed from day 1 by this very system.


An Anomalous Situation
The education system instills fear in the kids of competition rather than developing an ability to cope up with it. It creates a dark world around them in which the average life span is just about 17-18 years.


I happened to overhear a conversation between 2 teenage students and their chemistry teacher outside the classroom of a private school which could demonstrate an example of the lines written above–


Teacher – “Why couldn’t you two score good in chemistry in the recent exams?”
Kid 1 – (Silent with head bent down in shame)
Kid 2- “Madam, I have a hard time in comprehending the concepts that is the reason why I couldn’t score good grades.”
Teacher – “You have been saying this for a while; the real problem is you do not want to study. Only you two out of the entire class flunked in chemistry which is unacceptable.
 One day, all these bright students are going to make it big, they will have great jobs but you two will struggle all your life.
There are only next two years for you to study hard, you would jeopardize your future if you didn’t work hard enough in these 2 years.”



The teacher simply, in the end, put fear in the minds of students instead of instilling hope and wisdom without realizing that she has become a channel of discouragement.

The teachers and parents do not know that they have been acting as a conduit of this system passing on tension to kids.


A brutal division


The current education system divides students into winners and losers on the basis of grades. This brings pressure on the students and instead of expanding their minds it is nipping them in the bud.
Are grades going to decide that a kid’s future is going to be dark or bright?
Can grades seriously judge a kid’s ability?

The parents and the teachers should ask these questions to themselves in the first place. Awareness of the answer to such questions is going to expunge the darkness lurking in the corners of our minds.

It is probably the time to think that their life is more than the grades.
The teenagers tend to become reticent under pressure and parents feel that their future is on a slope. This mindset needs to be addressed.


Significance of the word ‘Education’
There is a need of finding ‘the actual meaning of education’ and imparting it to kids rather than channeling all their energy towards achieving grades and spoiling the attitude.

The most important lesson needs to be taught to the education system first that books are a source of inspiration, an ocean of knowledge, a guide to the expansion of mind but not a machine of scoring excellent grades.

The teacher is the owner of the class and every child is important instead of revving up the engine from the very first moment the class starts , it is now the time to take a step back and check what is going wrong with the non-performers

Around 50% of the non-performers can be transformed to perform well just by keeping a placid disposition with them and motivating them that they are not heading towards darkness.
Moreover, if we look at a few examples around us then we find numerous cases in which some people who did very well as students and who scored so-called ‘excellent grades’ throw their parents out of the house in old-age.

These are the same people who failed at keeping their incomes intact and often find themselves in a financial crisis in their forties or fifties.

The high-scorers are also among the people who cannot even contain their urge to break a traffic signal. They lack courage to do what is necessary.

Scoring good grades in school or college is great but the world demands more, the education system has to address the mandate to enable children to score well in humility, courtesy, expansion of mind, tackling arrogance, compassion and thinking pragmatically.

Competition coupled with the mindset of education system is introducing malaise in kids at a very early age. There is no use of teaching lessons against caste, creed and race if they are not implemented properly. The implementation is important.


The underestimated subjects


How many schools give importance to moral science in addition to other subjects? It is a subject of utmost importance and has been suppressed to an extent of becoming diminutive.

Every day of the students should begin with imparting moral education to them, on the contrary, it is taught only half an hour per week in the current education system. A change should be brought in here.

We talk always about morals and values but the system itself doesn’t pay much heed in teaching them to students, rather, it is throwing more and more kids in a race.

Students should be taught to maintain balance between studies and co-curricular activities, which I believe, are very necessary for overall development of the kids.

It is time to overhaul the sports infrastructure in schools and colleges as well and encourage students to take part in different types of sports.

Many schools and colleges put ‘sports’ at the bottom of their priority list, however, they forget that ‘sports’ is very necessary for brain development and mental skills and is an education in itself.
The work has to start at the grass root level for creating good sportsmen. We cannot simply wake up after four years and grumble at the medal tally in Olympics. It has to begin from the base level.


Conclusion
Concentrating in subjects such as sports, moral sciences and general knowledge is equally important as focusing on Math, Science and Social science because they are the forces necessary for overall development of kids and probably necessary to turn them into good humans.

We need leaders at every level of our infrastructure; leaders free of corruption, full of compassion, loyal, trustworthy and good in a crisis. To make this happen, the education system needs an overhaul.

To begin with, it has to stop classifying students as winners and losers on the basis of grades. The students need to be treated as assets not as liabilities which have to be paid back in the form of top scorers.

May be it’s the time to think on finding significance and the real meaning of the word Education!


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