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The Quest for the Meaning of Life


Disconnected in a Connected World

A new drug has recently been making its way around town, turning its consumers into addicts. After enslaving the adult population, it has now turned its attention towards the younger generation. Do you know what I’m talking about? It’s nothing but smartphone addiction.

It all began with the empty swings in the park. The playground is now less crowded than it used to be. COVID-19 had a definite impact, but our children have not ventured outside their homes even after COVID-19. Why should they when they have their friend Mr. Ring-Ring at home?

To keep the kids entertained, we’ve designed their lives so that they can’t eat without watching a YouTube video or sleep without playing a mobile game. Worse, children now have access to the internet and the dark corners of social media, where they are exposed to inappropriate content for their age. Are we denying our children the opportunity to experience childhood?

With so much dependence on smartphones, we are raising an army of human robots devoid of human touch, healthy lifestyles, emotions, and feelings. They turn out to be overly smart, dishonest, selfish, and competitive, with little or no regard for the well-being of others. But are they the ones to blame?

Children follow in the footsteps of their elders. But what can be done when the older generation themselves, cannot live without their smart toys?

This reminds me of a recent conversation I came to know about –
M – Rahul!!! Finished dinner?
R – Not yet Mom.
M – Look at the time. What are you up to now?
R – I’m with the boys’ mom. I’ll eat soon.
M – Don’t lie to me. Finish dinner now and then do whatever you want to.
R – The boys are waiting for me, Mom.
M – You are finishing dinner now, or do you want me to come up to your room now and take away your phone?
R – No ma. Give me 5 mins. We’re just wrapping up this group call. I’ll TTYL.
M – OK (Thumbs up)

You’ve probably guessed by now. This is not a typical conversation. The mother and her son are texting about dinner while sitting in the same house; the son is on the phone with his friends. This is where the world is heading. With a smartphone in hand, the entire family has retreated into separate rooms to stay connected with the unreal world, forgetting about the people who live with them in the same house.

We have already lost a lot due to our smartphones without even realizing it –

1. Falling attention span –

Did you know that people’s attention spans are getting shorter? According to Dr. Gloria Mark’s research, average screen attention was 2.5 minutes in 2004, 75 seconds in 2012, and 47 seconds in the last five years.

According to research, young adults aged 18 to 25 check their phones 56 times per day, or every 15 minutes.  This is largely due to the constant flow of information we face daily. Our phones are flooded with notifications, some of which are useful but many of which are not, so it is critical to be mindful of what distracts our productivity.

2. Negative impact on relationships –

With the increased usage of WhatsApp and SMS, we have reduced the number of face-to-face interactions with the people around us. We have lost the ability to read faces and to understand feelings through quivering voices. Nowadays, true intentions and feelings are hidden behind various emoticons that don’t even come close to expressing what one is feeling. We’ve started living in a world that is far from reality.

3. Increasing mental health issues –

Excessive social media use has been linked to depression caused by comparison and feelings of inadequacy. There has also been undue pressure to conform to a particular way of life or standard. This is because someone’s reality is frequently compared to another’s polished bright lifestyle. However, what one fails to understand is the reality behind the scenes of the bright smiles.

So, how do we step out of this addiction?

1. Acceptance and self-awareness –

The first step towards self-improvement is admitting that you need to change. The next thing to do is to figure out the level of addiction. Ironically, several apps on the internet can tell you how much time you spend on your phone. If you spend more than 4-5 hours per day on your phone, it’s time to reconsider your lifestyle.

By beginning to monitor your usage and determining when and where you spend your time, you can become more aware of how you spend it and decide what is important enough to allow as a distraction. You could also try a digital detox weekend to see how you’d do without your phone.

2. Reduce usage of infinity pool apps –

Dopamine is known as the “feel-good hormone,” and it is the hormone that motivates you to do numerous activities. Authors of the book “Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day” discuss how certain apps are like infinity pools and can steal the dopamine meant for doing difficult tasks. Infinity pools are apps that entice you with constant engagement, making it difficult to leave. An example is the never-ending reels on Instagram and YouTube. They provide you with never-ending content with a single swipe of your hand, and you don’t realize that with each swipe, you are swiping away hours and extinguishing your dopamine secretion.

3. Replace with healthier habits –

The best way to break a bad habit is to replace it with a good one, and the best way to stop spending time on the phone is by using it for something else. The next time you feel your phone is drawing you in, pick up a book instead or start a new hobby that does not involve the internet. Do you require a short break?  Try going for a short walk without your phone. There will be a sense of loss at first, but this is how you will eventually gain freedom.

While our smartphones allow us to stay connected to the world 24 hours a day, they also take away our real world without our noticing. It is our responsibility as adults and elders to steer clear of this addiction and set good examples for the younger generation.

There is a Tamil proverb that translates to, “Even too much nectar is poison.”

It’s high time we break free from these 5.5-inch cages and enjoy the sweetness of the nectar in limited quantities.

About the AuthorCA. R. Shruthi

Shruthi Rajaram is a Chartered Accountant and Certified Fraud Examiner by profession, and a writer by passion. She currently holds a prominent role as an Internal Auditor in the Banking and Financial Services space. In her free time, you can find her face inside the pages of a heavy book. She is an active writer and writes across various social media platforms. She is interested in topics of Human Psychology, Mindset, Biases, Habits, and Personal Development. She believes that there are no limits in life, and if there are, they are there only to be broken. Her long-term ambition is to write a best-selling book and be a member of the writing staff for a thriller television series.

She can be reached on: @ or @


Though many of us have grumbled about not getting along with either the younger or older generation, have we ever wondered why this happens? Have we ever thought about why we are unable to relate to both these generations? Is it just the age we live in? What is this generation divide all about?

We all have feelings that we encounter on a daily basis. They add colour and purpose to our life, making it intriguing and fulfilling. Emotions, whether they be joy, sorrow, rage or love, have a significant impact on how we perceive and engage with the outside world. We experience extreme joy and excitement on occasions, and sadness or angst on another. Emotions have a significant impact on how we feel, think, act, and interact with others. Understanding our emotions makes life’s journey more rewarding and joyful by assisting us in making sense of who we are and of the people around us.

The term “generation gap” describes the differences and occasionally, the misunderstandings that take place between persons of various ages. Every generation has its own values, beliefs, and life experiences. Conflicts or disagreements between older and younger people can result from this. Each generation may perceive the other as either being out of touch with contemporary culture or lacking in their regard for our rich traditional practices. Acknowledging and accepting these distinctions can foster greater inter-generational harmony and partnership, enabling all people to share knowledge and collaborate for a better future.

Have you realised that emotional divide is another factor contributing to the generation gap? The emotional bond that we form with someone also determines the distance we feel from them.

In January 2023, I visited one of the tourist spots known as PARAMBIKULAM. The place borders both the states of Tamilnadu and Kerala and is home to many plants and animals. Parambikulam is a reserve forest and serves as one of the major water sources for both states. We were staying nearly 30 kms away from the dam and we were taken on a jungle safari to visit it.

The safari took us through a dense forest, after nearly 5 kilometers, we suddenly came across a small settlement of families. The next 25 kms were again through the dense forest with no human beings in sight. My thoughts, after travelling 30 kms, were still with the people in the settlement. All I had noticed were a few small houses, a temple, a small school probably for the kids there and a football ground. I felt EMOTIONALLY connected with them, and empathized with them – how terrible it must be for them – should a medical emergency arise, they have to travel to the nearby town called POLLACHI which is 50 kms away.

A few months later, in April 2023, I travelled to another place called MIRIK, a two-hour tedious journey from Siliguri. The road was literally a two-way track through a steep ghat section. I saw few settlements throughout the journey. They had no development facilities. I did not see any school or primary health center. All the residents between Siliguri and Mirik need to travel to either of these places in case of an emergency. Once I reached Mirik, however, I had forgotten about the people I saw during my journey. I enjoyed the pleasant weather, and was very eager to explore the place, its culture, its food, and way of living.

Once I returned to my hometown, I reminisced about both these trips, and I suddenly wondered – WHY WAS I NOT IN THE POSITION TO EMOTIONALLY CONNECT WITH THE PEOPLE ON MY WAY TO MIRIK AS I HAD DONE ON MY PREVIOUS TRIP?

After a lot of introspection, I realised that it was due to the emotional connection I felt with the culture and people in Parambikulam.

Every now and then I meet a lot of new people. As a Chartered Accountant, I have several opportunities to regularly talk to elders and youngsters alike – who are either my clients, professional acquaintances or articled assistants. In life as we age, we find it hard to understand the young more and more. We choose to blame the generation gap and move on.

We give so much importance to the intelligence quotient (IQ), but we never try to understand our own emotions. As we grow, we must mature, and as we go around interacting with people of all ages, we must adapt to their varied emotional needs.

The fact that I was able to connect emotionally with the local people (who were essentially my contemporaries) and was unable to do so with the other people (who were either younger or older than me) made a dent in my emotional quotient (EQ).

I believe that our profession demands that we equip ourselves to match the younger generation to stay in the competition – especially in the understanding and use of technological advancements. But no one has taught us how to stay emotionally connected with the younger or older generations. No one has taught us how to understand their emotional needs.

A quote that I read somewhere by the American journalist and social-political activist, Gloria Steinem comes to mind, “WE NEED TO REMEMBER ACROSS GENERATIONS THAT THERE IS AS MUCH TO LEARN AS THERE IS TO TEACH”

We are so very eager to teach when someone approaches us; we never get into the emotional need of the other generation. How beautiful would this world be if we stop, empathize, and try to understand each other EMOTIONALLY rather than hastily labelling these encounters. Until we start making an effort, the bridge will never get built.

About the AuthorCA M. Maalan Bharathi

Maalan Bharathi is a practicing chartered accountant from Coimbatore. He enjoys speaking and has spoken to students on a variety of subjects. He is pursuing several certifications in emotional intelligence since he is fascinated by understanding human emotions. Under the pen name “underage optimist”, he has written a variety of pieces because he loves to write so much.

He can be reached on:

Choices and chances are pre-connected dots!

Since my childhood, I have wondered why my life is different. Is that the same doubt everyone has? Though we have distinct physical features, we hate comparison. Though we can see the path taken by successful people, we hesitate to follow them. Are we obsessed with being unique, or at the very least, safeguarding our originality? Our originality oozes out with the choices we make or the chances we take.

The favourite formative years:

With love and respect for the superstar Rajinikanth which is an integral code in every South Indian’s DNA, I remember my favourite line from a song featured in the famous movie ‘Padayappa’ which translated means, “We cannot choose either our parents, our physique, our birth or our death”.

The lyricist concludes by elucidating that the only choice we have is to ace the art of living the life we want.

The events of the past may appear faded in the albums but are still fresh in my memory. From an innocent kindergarten kid, I struggled through primary school with more than my fair share of an inferiority complex. The transformation came in the secondary school where I became bolder, only to reach my first milestone of rejection and failure in the higher secondary. Looking back now, these were my formative years.

The bud-to-blossom phase:

I vividly remember that Saturday evening, it was 2nd April 2011, I was on study leave for my 10th standard board exams, my eyes reluctantly glued to the screen of old CRT computer monitor, while everyone around me sat on the edge of their chairs/ sofas/ stools staring with bated breath at the television screen. The quiet was pierced by Ravi Shastri on the commentator mic, “Dhoni finishes off in style. A magnificent strike into the crowd! India lifts the World Cup after 28 years! “

For the very first time, I witnessed my 47-year-old dad transform into a young 19-year-old teen reliving the exhilarating event of the past. The joy and ecstasy on the faces of my father and brother made them appear to be siblings rather than father and son. I realised that such moments are a rarity and thrust away my biology books to vociferously join them in the celebrations. For a split second, I dared wonder, how would it be if I could do something which would be so life defining and exciting for my father. That moment and my thought is forever etched in my mind.

From a kid who had a singular goal of getting single-digit rank in term exams and revision exams, I started dreaming of becoming a responsible citizen. I started dreaming of wearing a doctor coat, a lawyer coat, a camouflaged police uniform, a civil servant and what not!

I prepared for the 12th board exams like a beast with subject books being my only priority. I ignored my health – both physical and mental and lost the race by a few marks. This setback in my higher secondary taught me the invaluable lesson of the need to have a Plan B with Plan A. This event brought about a very important paradigm shift, both internally and externally. Though the scent of flowers is inherent within the bud, the fragrance spreads only when the flower blossoms. Likewise, our core values and purpose emerge only as we mature.

First chance to make own choice:

I followed my gut and joined the National Cadet Corps. I was now straddling three disciplines, studying as an under-grad, I was also studying to be a CA and was an NCC cadet. My well-wishers advised me that I would be, “A jack of all trades, and a master of none”. My inner voice kept telling me, “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but often times better than a master of one”.

NCC was a decision made by choice, and CA was a decision by chance. Both have worked and shaped my nature. I am gratified that while I may not have become a Dhoni, I am Abi who is able to stand up for her own.

Decisions by choices make us and by chance mould us:

The decisions made by choice and taken by chance mould the individual. The former teaches us the importance of structured planning, being proactive and having systematic approach towards our goal. The latter teaches us the value of being bold enough to go with one’s gut feel, embrace a highly uncertain (and at times risky) outcome, the fine distinction between responding and reacting.

The choices we make and the chances we take always revolve around our core values and purpose. The universe aligns the decisions taken by chance with those made by choice. Makes one wonder when opportunities fall in one’s lap at the right place and time, in the larger scheme of things, is this a coincidence, magic, or just pre-connected dots!

About the Author: CA Abirami K, ACA, B.Sc Maths (Comp. Application)

A qualified Chartered Accountant working at a prominent bank as Relationship Manager in mid-Corporate Group. While pursuing graduation in Bachelor of Mathematics with Computer Application in PSG College of Arts and Science, Coimbatore, her interest toward accountancy prompted her to become a Chartered accountant. During her under-grad days, as a sergeant with the NCC, she led her contingent as Parade Commander. She represented her college for Best Cadet competition in Republic Day Training Camps.

After working with a software major for 1.5 years, her amiable nature made her switch gears to choose banking sector. Her belief in fitness (both physical and mental) sees her actively participating in marathons, while cycling extensively on weekends. She is part of the ‘Smiles that Shine’ on Sunday mornings through HAPPY STREETS, an event which encourages the public to come out onto the streets to socialize every Sunday morning through a wide array of activities. She has recently enrolled as a volunteer teacher with an NGO called U & I.

Wisdom from a humble farmer

In the words of the Agro Scientist, Masanobu Fukuoka, “The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings!”. Six years ago, I realised that plants and trees fascinate me more than debits and credits! And I shut shop, surrendered my Certificate of Practice and plunged into full time farming. Looking back, each day on my farm has been one of learning, and awakening.

Here are a few life-lessons I gleaned from my farm and my life in it:

1. Search for light:

The coconut trees on my farm grow tall on their own accord. Despite being a motivational speaker, not once have I given them a motivational talk on growing tall! They simply don’t need it. They grew not out of inspiration or competition, but out of their search for light!

Contrary to what most people think, we don’t need competition to grow in life! What we need is a constant search for light – the light of a higher purpose or meaning! Once we realise this, and once we find our higher purpose, we step out of the rat race and stop squandering our energy in comparison and competition. We can then channelise all our energy towards living our purpose!

2. Spread your roots:

Looking at the height of a coconut tree, most people would wrongly assume that the roots of this tall tree are really long and deep! “How else can it hold such a mighty tree intact?”, one would wonder!

It was when uprooting some old, barren trees that I awakened to reality! The roots of the coconut tree do not run very deep, but they run very long! The roots of one tree intertwines with the roots of another tree, thereby creating a strong web of roots! Together, they stand tall!

Being the social animals that we are, we can weather storms only if we have a strong support system! Begin spreading your roots on breezy days, so that they sustain you on stormy ones!

3. The trees speak:

My dad often tells me, “Spend enough time in the farm, and the trees will speak to you!” As a novice farmer, I brushed it off as insanity. But as years rolled by, and as I began spending enough time in the farm, the trees indeed began speaking to me!

In other words, as I began spending a lot of time in the farm, I began noticing even the minutest of details! I noticed the tint of the leaves, the moisture (or the lack of it) in the leaves, the size of the coconuts, the number of buds, etc.

If you want the trees of your profession to speak to you, please spend enough time there – both quantitatively and qualitatively.

4. Pinch the buds:

One practice that shocked me during my initial days of farming was pinching or removing the buds off baby plants… I considered this a sheer act of cruelty, until I was taught the science behind it. If a baby plant bears a lot of buds, much of the nutrients we give the sapling (baby plant) go towards feeding and sustaining the buds. And that results in nutrition deficiency which adversely impacts the growth of the plant. Until the plant grows tall and strong, growth should be the sole objective!

In our quest for growth, even early rewards or recognition can end up stunting our growth! Find the buds stunting your growth, pinch them off ruthlessly – even if it pains a little. You will then grow into a mighty tree!

5. The cows always know:

One legend that fascinated me as a novice farmer was that no coconut or coconut leaf has ever fallen on a cow! I have heard the elders in my village swear by it, “It has never happened! The cows always know intuitively, and they move away!”

The cows in my farm graze under the trees for at least eight hours a day, and I’ve never seen a coconut fall on a cow! Seems like they always know! I have however heard of plenty of incidents of coconuts falling on homo sapiens!

Reflecting on this, the only practical answer is this: the cows always know because they are always in the present moment! They are not thinking of sleeping or returning to their sheds while grazing…

If life throws lemons at you, you can make lemonade out of them. But if life throws coconuts at you, you need to learn to dodge them! The coconuts of life keep falling on us because we are lost in countless distracting thoughts… If we too learn to be 100% where we are, if we learn the art of mindfulness, then we too shall always know!


A Zen master once kept pouring tea into an overflowing cup and the baffled student remarked, “Master! The cup is already full, you cannot pour more tea into it! Doing so will only cause a mess here!” The wise master then replied, “Precisely my point! If you are so full of yourself, how can I pour wisdom into you?”

Friends, nature is brimming with wisdom. If we can stand humbly and mindfully before it, it has so much to teach us! May we intertwine our roots and grow together in search of light!


About: Mr. P. Shandip Sabapathy,

Shandip Sabapathy, a Chartered Accountant by qualification, is currently a full-time farmer by passionate choice. Out of his fervent passion to study the human mind and behaviour, he did his Masters in Applied Psychology at Barathiar University after which he earned a certification on Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. He has contested and won numerous speech contests conducted by Toastmasters International, USA and has addressed over 1,00,000 people in the last decade. He is a faculty member at the Coimbatore branch of SIRC of ICAI since 2014 and mentors CA students to help them achieve academic excellence. He is the founding mentor of Chaplin Speakers Club, a public forum exclusively for students. He loves to read, travel, learn, and share knowledge.

He can be reached on :

Are We Doing Charity The Right Way?

Of the many quotes I love, the following three have created a great impact within me:

1. Expectation is the root cause of all mental agony.
2. What goes around, comes around.
3. Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is giving!

I understood the true meaning of the first two quotes when I read a story about a saint in a book. Back in the 1970s, a saint was sitting with his disciples near a water body, discussing various topics. A businessman, who was an ardent devotee of the saint, came there. He said, “Guruji, this year, I made an enormous profit in my business, and I want to donate some of it to you”. He placed a huge bundle of cash at the saint’s feet. The saint looked at the money and then glanced up at the businessman. He once again looked down at the bundle and then up at the businessman who stood with folded hands in front of him. Reading the thoughts that were running through the businessman’s mind, to everyone’s surprise, he suddenly picked up the money and hurled it into the water.

His disciples were stunned but did not react as they knew that the saint had done this for a purpose. On the other hand, the expression on the businessman’s face immediately changed. Containing the streak of rage that ran through him, he asked the saint in a pained voice, “Guruji, how can such an enlightened soul like you do this? The money could have been used for various developmental activities of the ashram. Why did you throw the money into the water?”

The saint calmly looked at the man and asked him to summarise all that that happened. The businessman narrated the events. The saint asked him, “Did I receive the money from you?” to which the businessman replied, “Yes, you received it from me”. The saint then said, “As soon as I received the money from your hands, it became mine – to do whatever I would wish to do it. Why then are you still attached to it if it is charity?”

The businessman realised his mistake. Although he had physically parted with the money, he was still attached to it mentally (subtly). The saint had helped him realise that true charity is the one done without any attachment. The businessman apologised for his ignorance. The money was retrieved from the water, dried and then used for the intended purposes.

This story created a deep impact within me at a time when I was going through a particular phase in my life. Very often, we meet people who come to us seeking some assistance. We help them and feel quite pleased and regard ourselves as being their benefactor of sorts. After reading the story I realised that whatever one gives, it must be done wholeheartedly, without any expectation in return. The Universe is a meticulous accountant, it will keep a detailed account, tally and give it back in some other way. Our problem is that we expect it back from the same person whom we helped, and when there is no reciprocation, we feel let down.

Eventually, I did witness this pattern in my life. Whenever I share knowledge or help someone, I might not get anything in return, but later whenever I require assistance, the Universe will beautifully arrange the situations around me to make it happen. The two important aspects will be: (1) It might not be from the same person (whom) I helped earlier (2) It will not come back as soon as I helped/ shared. It takes its own sweet time, just to test my patience and detachment level. Ultimately, by the end of the day, I will have received what I need.

At times, one sees people publicise their deeds of charity. I feel it contradicts the third quote “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is giving”. Once I was talking to one of my mentors who revealed a different paradigm to this quote. He said, “There can be another way of interpreting this quote. It does not literally mean that you must keep the deed as a secret from other people. There can be deeper meanings – the left hand refers to the ego and hence one is not supposed get into the egoistic feeling while donating. Also, when the wrong doers make so much noise regarding the wrong, the doers of good need to make noise about the good that they are doing! This will inspire others to do good and the positive noise will help drown the negative noise! However, the doer of good needs to ensure that he does not feed his ego by portraying himself as a benefactor”. This conversation with my mentor, along with the above story made me realise the profound lesson that if we are detached from our actions, we will not be disappointed or disheartened in anyway.

So, let’s be reassured that:

1. Expectation is the root cause of all mental agony.
2. What goes around, comes around.
3. Do not let your left hand (ego) know what your right hand (soul) is giving!

Our ancestors have said, “Generally whenever something is given, it’s quantity is reduced, but the one thing that multiples even when given is knowledge”. Hence with the above reassurances, let us share whatever we know with an open heart and let us make this world an insightful place to live in. Have a beautiful day.


About: Mr. Lakshmanan,

An Engineer turned Chartered Accountant who secured All India Rank-2 in CA Intermediate exams, he is a Chartered Accountant by profession and a speaker by passion. He is fascinated with the idea of integrating automation in workspace and works actively to do so. His passion to share knowledge and help people around him has led him to start various significant initiatives and virtual groups. He has addressed many CA students regarding improving their study techniques and personal productivity. He loves to read books from various genres, including self-help, biographies, and spirituality. His ability to decode and simplify concepts by applying humour and interesting stories makes him a sought-after speaker.

He can be reached on :

Building A Better India – Is School Education Enough?

It is often said that the best gift we can give our children is Education. Indians have taken this adage to a whole new level with Indian parent’s, especially the belly (read bulging middle class) of India becoming obsessive about education. The picture below is self-descriptive and explains the Helicopter Parenting well.

Education has thus emerged as one of the largest industries in the country, and with commercialisation of education, rote learning without stress on the holistic development of the child has become the norm.

Education to most of us in India has been about gathering as many fancy degrees as we can. With the imbalance between good schools and our population, parents have also quite justifiably mostly focused on academics. Unfortunately, somewhere in the rat race, the core of Education, Knowledge and Learning, has got lost.

‘You can impose a certain discipline on children, dress them into a certain mould, lash them into a desired path, but unless you can get their hearts and natures on your side, the conformity to this imposed rule becomes hypocritical and heartless, a conventional, often a cowardly compliance’ – Sri Aurobindo

As a young mother, I was pretty much the same, but the entire paradigm of education changed for me when we moved to London, UK for a couple of years and I was introduced to the Montessori system (founded by an Italian doctor). The irony is that I was introduced to it by a Japanese friend – An Indian parent introduced to an Italian system by a Japanese in the UK.

For readers who are new to Montessori, this method of teaching was introduced by Italian physician and educator, Dr Maria Montessori. A paediatric doctor, she would often observe children in her care. Soon she developed the material and method to educate children with learning difficulties and later on went on to teach low-income mainstream children. She noted that given the right environment, free choice of education material, uninterrupted work and freedom of movement and activity under limited adult supervision resulted in better learning.

I was intrigued by the system and attended numerous sessions. The key difference was the mixed age classrooms where the teacher played the role of a facilitator and let each child operate at their pace without force-fitting a curriculum. The children were free to explore the various activities in the classroom and had the liberty to pick any activity they liked. The activities / materials have been designed keeping the learning needs at various ages / stages of development, e.g., motor skills at an early age, being independent at a slightly later age and social and cognitive skills as they turn 6-8 years old. The focus is on discovery and invoking basic curiosity in the children. By doing this, the Montessori system prepares them to be life ready and better individuals.

Outside of what parents impart at home, children spend considerable time at schools which forms the building blocks to shape them and in turn, the future of our society. While it is not practical to change our education system, I think it is important that we imbibe some of the aspects of alternative systems such as Montessori which can lead to an overall improvement in our society.

In my experience as a mother, following are the key attributes which the current education system does not stress enough upon:

1. Independence – Dr Maria Montessori famously said, “The greatest gifts we can give our children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” A task completed on their own not only gives them a strong sense of accomplishment, but it also increases their confidence. Everyday activities like choosing their clothes, dressing up, eating on their own, cleaning their cupboards, cleaning up after meals, etc. can help instil a sense of independence. It is worth all the wait and patience, to see the child tie the lace and their eyes light up on their achievement.

2. Responsibility – One of the biggest failures of our incumbent education system has been to celebrate individual success with lesser regard to collective achievements. This has led to a callous approach towards familial, societal, environmental responsibilities. There are multiple attributes of the Montessori system which promote a deep sense of responsibility and social awareness. E.g., (i) Children are trained to clean up their surroundings and ensure the activity area is returned to its original state before they embark on a new activity, (ii) With the mixed age classes, older children are trained to support and guide younger children with their activities, (iii) Every day, one child brings food for the entire class promoting a sense of sharing and caring. A lot of large problems faced by India could be eradicated if we start preparing children from their primitive years, e.g., cleanliness, social harmony, sharing, etc.

3. Empathy – Joint family system naturally leads to strong sense of empathy amongst individuals. Nuclearisation of families leads to undue focus on children, with empathy being one of the biggest casualties. Strong societies are always built on strong empathy. I would recommend workshops with less privileged kids, children with special needs, visits to old age homes, orphanages etc. to be made part of the cur-riculum. Parents and schools should encourage the habit of giving and charity for the needy.

4. Decision making skills – Parents at home and teachers in the school tend to micro-manage everything a child does during a day. In the Montessori environment, every day, the child is required to choose an activity that they want to do. Once chosen, the child organises materials required to undertake that activity, completes that activity, and then keeps all the materials back in their respective place. This cycle repeats every time a child wants to do an activity. This entire sequence of choice, orderly execution, completion and winding up instils number of qualities – decision making, ability to operate on their own and being organised.

5. Curiosity – Children by their very nature are very curious and the present education system tends to suppress their curiosity by force fitting a curriculum. Rishi Kanad or Newton later would not have discovered the Laws of Motion if they did not have curious minds. There should be sessions where speakers from various walks of life take workshops on a variety of topics like current affairs, art, music, history, space science, mythology, business etc.

6. Environment conscious – This is really need of the hour with the clock ticking away. Explaining waste management, minimal and optimal use of plastics, farming (a lot of schools do take children on farming trips to show them the laborious process to grow food and empathise with the farmers) will make the children better citizens of the world.

In a nutshell, the education system should also focus on Emotional Quotient (EQ) and not just on Intelligence Quotient (IQ). High EQ will help children face varied situations more holistically, teach them empathy, resilience and build confidence. In the primary years, the education system should focus on equipping the children with ability to understand their feelings and ways to cope and deal with them.

This news piece was so heartening to see post the World Cup match between Germany and Japan. I would really like to believe their schools have done something right to instil this habit in their citizens.

About: CA Ankan Gupta Rastogi,

A Delhi girl by heart living in Mumbai for the past 10 years, she now loves both cities. Chartered Accountant by profession she works with a CA firm for the past 10 year. She is a good listener, people friendly and likes to mentor her juniors. She likes reading non-fiction and Indian mythological books and watching documentaries on various subjects. She constantly strives to contribute to saving the environment in her own small ways, from curtailing unnecessary purchases, to instilling the habit of reuse in her children.

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