World Terrorism and USA

When Aylan Kurdi fell in the sea, he was too young to understand the consequences. The boat was overcrowded, but as short as the memory of a toddler is, he was not concerned. He was hungry and had already cried several times but in this boat filled to brim with refugees there was little else in the name of food. Aylan didn’t see nor did he understand the wave which toppled his boat. All the passengers, including his  parents, were shocked till the time there instincts took over and they all began desperate efforts to swim. Sea was too turbulent for that. Sixty people, including Aylan , his brother and mother died that day. They were all running from Syria, once their homeland, ruled by a despot but at least peaceful.Today Syria burns, its fires have already consumed about 500,000, many more have been crippled and many others have finally found peace in the depths of  Mediterranean ocean.

Iraq and Syrian civil wars forged ISIS, Russian conquest and Afghanistan tribal wars consolidated Taliban, denial of rights of equality to Tamilian population gave birth to LTTE. In fact, in almost all cases, terrorism is fathered by conflict.  Since the dawn of modern age, history bears witness, that the big powers have fanned the conflicts for their own petty interests. Balkan was initial venue of big power games, which ultimately ended in World War I. Middle east and Asia became another centre of rivalry of USSR and USA. Uncountable have died and are dying because of repercussions of the USA’s policy of containment of communism. Even more unjustified was the wars that were fanned for mere petroleum.

The penchant to create conflicts to gain some strategic advantage, to get some material gains, to topple a legitimate government is not new. As I have already told, this greed caused World War I and did not cease even then. Use of violence against State to topple or oppose an unjust rule is also not a new phenomenon. However, terrorism, which is use of violence against innocent citizens of a country  to create fear, or to gain some limited objective is a recent thing. It has been used by Palestinians, LTTE, and Islamic terrorists throughout the world. This new type of terrorism appears to be a direct result of emergence of indirect control by all powerful nations and an assumption that the government and people of the State are identical. Unable to actually harm the state, the terrorist organisations rely on sporadic acts of violence. They do so to remain popular, to create terror, to project their relevance to their followers, to keep an issue alive, and to force the State to retaliate thus alienating more people to terrorist cause.
The largest irony in this sorry state of affairs is the role of the most powerful nation of the world. I say irony, because the role of USA in fighting terrorism is filled with contradictions. It is the largest democracy in the world but it has supported limited, powerless and despotic governments throughout the world without impunity. It has largest army, but it has never shied from using guerillas and mercenaries against it’s adversaries and for toppling unfriendly regimes. USA’s foreign policy is anti terrorist, where it seeks to create a global solidarity to fight this menace, but in almost all cases terrorist activities at a place are a result of direct and indirect actions of USA. It recognises terrorism of Al Qaeda, ISIS and Taliban but fails to realise how its old ally Pakistan is breeding ground of terrorisms of worst sort.  
A few examples of how American actions breeded terrorism would suffice.  Taliban was formed by the militias USA helped to fight Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan. Al Qaeda was formed by Osama bin Laden who was once supported by USA. Palestinian terrorism is a direct result of forming a Jewish state in Muslim homeland and then supporting every transgression by Israel. ISIS was formed in the aftermath of Iraq invasion and attempts to topple Syrian government. Communist militias in Coloumbia were a product of USA’s support to efforts of minority government in that nation to purge communists. The list can continue for many more paragraphs.
On the other hand, USA has killed Osama Bin Laden, it toppled Taliban government , its continued presence in Afghanistan is the only reason why Taliban has not returned to the country.  It is bombing ISIS strongholds and is sharing vital information about various terrorists throughout the world. It is forming and leading coalition of the nations of the world against terrorism.
Perhaps the biggest lesson the world can draw from history is to understand that any dishonest intermeddling in affairs of other people will eventually prove disastrous. By dishonest I mean presence of either unjust means or unjust goals while taking a decision. Being completely fair, respecting wishes of other people, supporting democratic governments and democratic values unconditionally and checking spread of fundamentalism are indispensible if we want to contain and eliminate terrorism.
We also need a world, where one or two countries, no matter how powerful, can easily dominate will of any other country. Though sovereignty has become a grund norm in international law, its direct and indirect violation through overt and covert means continues. In most cases terrorism is outcome of denial of nationalist aspirations. In a situation like this fundamentalism readily fills in the ideological space, giving rise to terrorism. International bodies must be made more democratic, representative and powerful. Security council has been immasculated by the veto powers of five permanent members. It has failed to take action against countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan that promote terrorism as an instrument of state policy.
USA would have to realise that if it truly wants to fight terrorism; it will have to support true representative democracy in all the nations and all the organisations of the world. Policies during Obama administration have been promising, Iran and Cuba, old arch enemies of USA were extended a friendly hand. One can only hope that the future governments of USA would bring these policies to their logical culmination.

 

How to Study Part 1

How to become a topper?

It is a question that often perturbs many people. They fail to understand that why despite hard work and countless hours of study they can’t get success. We all know such people who seem to study very less but achieve a lot.

Some of us are born intelligent. Some of us are born lucky. A few of us were fortunate enough to get education in most premier institutions of the society. Few of us has excellent well qualified parents who groomed them from the very childhood.

Others are not so fortunate. Most of us had seen really poor teachers in our colleges and institutes. The kind of education that we got was not up to the mark. And in many cases the support from the parents was negligible.

However, even those students who have not had the luck stars shining upon them can and will achieve success. They would do so, if they can create an optimal mixture of hard work, correct procedure and techniques.

I have qualified quite a few examinations in my life. I have also been with various achievers. I have seen many toppers and students who succeeded. Believe me, when I say this, that you can succeed.

The difference between those who succeed and fail is not of talent or intelligence. In most of the cases it is the difference of the quality and quantity of efforts they put in to achieve their success. Consider a singer, extremely talented, who squanders away his talent in drinking and hardly practices his ragas and vocals. Consider another musician who is lesser talented but is hard working. he daily practices his vocals and works hard to master the intricacies of music. Who is more likely to succeed?
Obviously the hard worker.

You must have all heard the story of the turtle and rabbit. The slow and steady wins the race was the moral of the story. The slow and steady still wins the race. Moreover, if the slow person can get some good guidance and work intelligently , he may even get fast. He may even win by a very wide margin.

Research also shows that a mediocre student who works consistently and with focus is more likely to succeed than a brilliant one. It is more likely that the brilliant one would lose his interest and would stop working altogether.

So, how can a student, a mediocre one at that, excel?

There are various steps involved in achieving such mastery. They are related to study techniques, time management and personal management.

I would deal with each of these aspects in a separate article. This time it is the turn of time management.

Most of us have made timetables. These timetables have more often than not failed. They have made us sorry. Eventually, most of us have given up making timetables all together. What is the purpose of making a timetable when one could not follow it? Right?

No! Definitely wrong. A failed timetable is better than no timetable. Firstly, making a timetable makes you aware of your goals. Secondly, daily making a timetable makes you realise how precious and limited the time is. Hence, having made a timetable, you are less likely to waste time, than when you don’t have a timetable at all.
Thirdly, successful timetables begin with a failed one. Our mind is like any other muscle. The more you practice it the better it gets. When a person continues to make a timetable and doesn’t give up his efforts to follow it, a day comes when he actually starts to follow it. Lastly, timetable gives you an idea that you have various tasks at hand and thus to actually be successful you would have to do multitasking.

Therefore, my dear friends, don’t give up on timetables. Even if they fail, they give you something. When they succeed, they give you a lot.

It is expected that timetables fail, but it is not necessary that they would fail. There are many ways and tricks by which you can make your time management more effective.

What are these tricks?

The first rule of making a timetable is to begin with a light one. Most of us make a time table that is difficult to follow. They cramp as many things to do as possible in a single day. They overestimate their capabilities. They think that they would achieve success on the very day they create the timetable. These notions are actually harmful. Success motivates and failure discourages. If you make a timetable that is bound to fail then it is quite possible that you would not make it again. Thus you would not manage the time and severely reduce your effectiveness.

The right thing to do is to begin with a reasonable amount of time to study. Say 4-5 hours. The hours of study should be chosen when the possibility of disturbance is minimum. If you chose the time of study to be 5 pm right when your friends come to call you for playing a cricket match, or when your mother would ask you to run some errands, then you may not be able to say no. There goes your timetable.

The place of the study should be a spot which is as far as possible from disturbance. Some of us may not get such spot in our homes. We may go to a library or a park. Or we try to do the best in the circumstances that we have.

While studying , it is very important to keep your mobile phone away. You have to realise that without a decent job, all your friends, girlfriend will go away. You are not the PM of the country. Even if you don’t pick up the phone for a while , no hell would break loose. Mobile phones and laptops and television sets are usually nagging disturbances.

You may say that you use your mobile phone to study. It is better if you don’t. At least not in your home at your study table. However, if you really have to do, then keep your phone in flight mode, and prepare a goal you have to reach. Without a target to keep you out, you may drown in the world of mobile, only to realise later that your timetable is ruined.

Another important precaution is that one should not fix an entire 5 hour block for studies. It is not humanly possible. Studies have shown that humans can keep their concentration up for a maximum period of 40-50 minutes. Thereafter, they begin to loose interest. This is why periods in schools hardly exceed 1 hour. So, an ideal session of study should be of 40-45 minutes followed by a 5-10 minute break.

In the break it is advisable that you should not use your mobile. You may get lost and exceed your target. Rather, the best thing to do is to drink water, go to rest room, do some exercise and stretching to keep your blood pumping and eat some fruits or whole grains. Eating fruit and whole grains is preferable to eating sugar, or glucose. Sugar and glucose and sweets give an instant dose of energy, followed by an energy slump. As the energy slumps strikes you ,you start to feel fatigue.

After 4-5 session this is the period of a long break of about half an hour.

This way of studying is called POMODORO technique and is one of the best methods to study.

The timetable should not only contain the time allotted for studies but should also contain the targets set to be achieved. For example you should not only think that you would study from 9-9:45 pm. Rather you must also make clear the target you would like to achieve in these 45 minutes. The targets should be SMART. Specific, Measurable, Action oriented , realistic and timely. An example of the target is that I would revise the today’s political science lecture and would learn all important concepts. Another can be that I would remember all the important dates of the freedom struggle from year 1900-1947. Thus the targets should be such that you can measure whether you were able to achieve them.

If you don’t fix targets then you may spend your entire time of studying without achieving anything. You may sit for 10 hours but gain nothing. Before you sit down to study you must begin with an end in mind.

You must not be discouraged if you could not succeed in first few attempts. It will eventually come. I know it is not easy. Something and other always keeps us from fulfilling our duty. We all find that our will power is not strong enough. To make time management even more successful, it is necessary to understand how will power works. That is a very vast topic and would be dealt in subsequent articles of this series. As of now it is sufficient to understand a few things. First, self control begins with self awareness. Try to think of how we control an animal. We observe. We find out its habits and schedule. We gather knowledge about its food. Our instincts are also somewhat feral in nature. To control them we have to observe them and then to creatively use this knowledge in our favour. Observe, the times when you are most likely to give up on your timetable, things that lure you most, people who make it difficult for you to continue with your commitment and thoughts that haunt you when you study. By observing yourself you would know how you function and it would be easy for you to control yourself. When you begin to feel like giving up, try distracting yourself. Try taking a short rest just before the moment when you can no longer continue.

Another trick that has proved helpful is meditation. Regular meditation for as little as 5 minutes a day has shown to strengthen those areas of our pre-frontal cortex that is involved in self control.
Neuroscientists have discovered that when you ask the brain to meditate, it gets better not just at meditating, but at a wide range of self-control skills, including attention, focus, stress management, impulse control, and self-awareness. People who meditate regularly aren’t just better at these things. Over time, their brains become finely tuned willpower machines. Regular meditators have more gray matter in the prefrontal cortex, as well as regions of the brain that support self-awareness.
Meditation increases blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, in much the same way that lifting weights increases blood flow to your muscles. The brain appears to adapt to exercise in the same way that muscles do, getting both bigger and faster in order to get better at what you ask of it. So if you’re ready to train your brain, the following meditation technique will get the blood rushing to your prefrontal cortex—the closest we can get to speeding up evolution, and making the most of our brains’ potential.
Here’s how to get started:

1. Sit still and stay put .
Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground, or sit cross-legged on a cushion. Sit up straight and rest your hands in your lap. It’s important not to fidget when you meditate—that’s the physical foundation of self-control. If you notice the instinct to scratch an itch, adjust your arms, or cross and uncross your legs, see if you can feel the urge but not follow it. This simple act of staying still is part of what makes meditation willpower training effective. You’re learning not to automatically follow every single impulse that your brain and body produce.

2. Turn your attention to the breath.
Close your eyes or, if you are worried about falling asleep, focus your gaze at a single spot (like a blank wall, not the Home Shopping Network). Begin to notice your breathing. Silently say in your mind “inhale” as you breathe in and “exhale” as you breathe out. When you notice your mind wandering (and it will), just bring it back to the breath. This practice of coming back to the breath, again and again, kicks the prefrontal cortex into high gear and quiets the stress and craving centers of your brain .

3. Notice how it feels to breathe, and notice how the mind wanders.
After a few minutes, drop the labels “inhale/exhale.” Try focusing on just the feeling of breathing. You might notice the sensations of the breath flowing in and out of your nose and mouth. You might sense the belly or chest expanding as you breathe in, and deflating as you breathe out. Your mind might wander a bit more without the labeling. Just as before, when you notice yourself thinking about something else, bring your attention back to the breath. If you need help refocusing, bring yourself back to the breath by saying “inhale” and “exhale” for a few rounds. This part of the practice trains self-awareness along with self-control.

Start with five minutes a day. When this becomes a habit, try ten to fifteen minutes a day. If that starts to feel like a burden, bring it back down to five. A short practice that you do every day is better than a long practice you keep putting off to tomorrow. It may help you to pick a specific time that you will meditate every day, like right before your morning shower. If this is impossible, staying flexible will help you fit it in when you can.

Don’t be discouraged if you find it difficult to meditate. Even if you turn out to be bad at meditation you would get better at self control.

Time management can be made even more effective if we follow a simple time management plan. Most of our plans are short sighted and overambitious. If we keep many things in our mind at the same time then we would find it difficult to focus. So I would suggest you a simple yet very effective plan. This plan is borrowed from best selling book “How to Become a Straight A Student.” I hope that you all would like it.

This system requires two pieces of equipment.

1. A calendar: It doesn’t matter what type of calendar, and it’s not something that you have to carry around with you. It can be Microsoft Outlook or iCal on your computer, a cheap day planner, or one of those advertisement-laden freebies they hand out at orientation. It just has to be something that you can reference every morning that has enough space to record at least a dozen items for each day.

2. A list: Some piece of writing material that you can update throughout the day. This you do have to carry around with you, so make it something simple, like a sheet of paper ripped out of a notebook each morning.

The Basic Idea

Record all of your to-dos and deadlines on your calendar. This becomes your master schedule, the one place that stores everything you need to do. The key to our system, however, is that you need to deal with your calendar only once every twenty-four hours. Each morning, you look at it to figure out what you should try to finish that day. Then, throughout the day, whenever you encounter a new to-do or deadline, simply jot it down on your list. The next morning, you can transfer this new stuff from your list onto your calendar, where it’s safe. And we’re back where we started.
That’s it. Pretty simple, right? The whole system can be summarized in three easy steps: (1) Jot down new tasks and assignments on your list during the day; (2) next morning, transfer these new items from your list onto your calendar; and (3) then take a couple of minutes to plan your day.
Now, we’ll examine these steps in a little more detail. In particular, we need some strategies for how to plan your day each morning using your calendar and what to do when unexpected events interfere and turn that plan upside down (trust me, this will happen more often than not).

Update Your Calendar Each Morning

This is where the magic happens. Every morning, spend a few minutes to update your calendar and figure out what you should try to accomplish. This is the only serious time-management thinking you have to do for the whole day, so the demand is pretty reasonable. This updating process should proceed as follows:
Find your list from the day before. It will probably look something like this.

Todays Schedule

• 10:00 to 12:00 Class

• 12:00 to 1:00 Lunch with RAHUL

• 1:00 to 1:45 Government reading

• 2:00 to 4:00 Home Work

4:00 to 5:00 Laundary

• 5:00 to 7:30 Polity Constitution reading

Things to Remember
To study mathematics, quadratic equation

Revise words copy

To appear for test.

Wash clothes
Don’t worry too much about how this list is formatted; we will discuss that shortly. For now, focus on the “things to remember” column, which contains the new to-dos and deadlines that were jotted down throughout the day.

Transfer these new items onto your calendar. Write the deadlines on the appropriate dates, and write the to-dos on the days when you plan to complete them. Following our list you would choose a day to do laundry and jot down a reminder under that date, and choose a day to appear for the test and jot down a reminder under this date. You can move these items around on your calendar as many times as you want, so don’t worry too much about which date you initially choose for a new to-do. However, try to use some common sense. For example, if Wednesday afternoon and evening are packed with meetings and work, this might not be the best day to schedule doing your laundry. Similarly, if you have a big test Monday morning, don’t schedule a lot of annoying errands for Sunday; you’ll need your concentration for studying. If something is not especially time sensitive, such as revising word copy from the example from above, don’t be afraid to put it on a day far in the future, at a point when you know you will be less busy—such as right after a competitive exam.

Next, move the to-dos that you planned for yesterday, but didn’t complete, to new days on your calendar. If you could not do laundry on the day specified then transfer it to a next day.
At this point, your calendar once again holds everything that you need to get done. Now it’s time to figure out your plan for the current day. Go ahead and trash yesterday’s list—it’s served its purpose—and grab a fresh sheet of paper to use as today’s list. Divide it into two parts, as shown in Figure 1, and label them Today’s Schedule and Things to Remember, respectively.
Next, look at the calendar entry for the current day. It will probably contain a handful of appointments and to-dos. Your goal is to figure out how much of this work you can realistically accomplish. You might be tempted to simply copy all of these tasks into your Today’s Schedule column and then treat it as a simple to-do list for the day. Don’t do this! If you want to avoid getting overwhelmed by your work, you need to be smarter about your time.
Here is what you should do instead: Try to label each of your to-dos for the day with a specific time period during which you are going to complete it. Be honest. Don’t record that you are going to study for three hours starting at three if you know that you have a meeting at five. And be reasonable about how long things really take—don’t plan to read two hundred pages in one hour. For simplicity, group many little tasks (errands that take less than ten minutes) into one big block (for example: “10:00 to 10:45—mail letter, return library book, buy new deodorant, fill out transcript request form at registrar”). Leave plenty of time for breaks. Give yourself an hour for meals, not twenty minutes. And, if possible, end your day at an appropriate hour; don’t try to fit in work right up until sleep time because you need to be able to unwind and relax. In general—though it may seem counter-intuitive—be pessimistic. The truth is: Things will come up. Don’t assume that every hour that looks free in the morning will stay free throughout the day.
Remember, the goal here is not to squeeze everything into one day at all costs, but rather to find out how many of the tasks listed for the day you actually have time to accomplish. If you can’t fit all the to-dos into your schedule for the day, no problem! Simply move the remaining items onto the calendar entries for future dates. You can deal with them later.
Your final step is to record the tasks you will have time for into the Today’s Schedule column of your list. As shown in Figure 1, label each task with its time. That’s it. You can now reference your list throughout the day to remind yourself of what you should be doing and when.
But here’s the important point: The specific times on your schedule aren’t set in stone—they’re more of a suggestion. As we will discuss shortly, you will be free to move tasks around throughout the day, depending on your energy level and unexpected events that may arise. The main reason you break down your to-dos into time slots is to help you avoid the common student mistake of overestimating your free time. Many well-intentioned students use a simple to-do list to keep track of their daily obligations. But without time labelling, they have no idea how much they can actually accomplish, leading to an unrealistic plan. A twelve-hour day seems like a large amount of time, but when you account for meals and classes and meetings and breaks and socializing, your schedule suddenly becomes a lot tighter. The equation is simple: If you overestimate your free time, then you are likely to put off work until it’s too late. And this leads to all-nighters, panic attacks, and shoddy performance. A realistic sense of time is arguably one of the most important factors in succeeding as a student. After a week or two of time labelling your to-dos, you will be well along your way toward developing this crucial trait.

Use the List During the Day

As you move through your day, use the rough schedule recorded under the Today’s Schedule column to remind yourself what you should be doing. Keep in mind that the student lifestyle is, generally, quite unpredictable. Things will always come up at the last minute. Work will take longer than expected, your roommate will point you toward some absurd Web site that immediately demands an afternoon of your scrutiny—you know how it goes. Some friends may come for movie. So adjust your time labels as many times as needed. But don’t procrastinate excessively! The list you constructed in the morning should contain a reasonable amount of work, so if your schedule doesn’t become too unexpectedly crazy, you should be able to accomplish most, if not all, of these tasks. In general, if you’re completing most of what’s on your list at least five days out of seven, then you’re as productive as any student realistically needs to be. If not, don’t worry—the next article of this series would deal with the issue of how to avoid procrastination.
Remember, your list also serves another important purpose. During the day you will probably encounter various new to-dos and deadlines that need to be scheduled. For example, a professor might announce the date of an upcoming exam, or a friend might give you the date and time for an upcoming study group. The key is to get these obligations out of your head as soon as possible so your mind is not unnecessarily cluttered. Jot down a quick reminder on your list, in the Things to Remember column, as soon as they occur. This takes only a few seconds, and then you can forget about them. The actual scheduling of these tasks will take place the next morning; all you have to do for now is scribble a few words on a piece of scrap paper.
Remember, to-dos and deadlines that exist only in your mind drain your energy, distract your attention, create stress, and are more likely to be forgotten. When you’re working, you should be able to concentrate on working, and when you’re relaxing, you should be able to enjoy relaxing. But you can’t devote 100 percent of your energy to any activity when you have important reminders bouncing around in your head.
Few students have the energy to schedule every new piece of information that comes along during the day. Think about this for a moment: If it’s the middle of the afternoon, and you are hungry, and everyone is just getting up to leave at the end of a long class, when suddenly the professor yells out a notice that a paper topic is due the following week…you’re probably not going to have the energy to stop packing up, take out a calendar, think about what steps are involved in coming up with a paper topic, and then schedule each step on the appropriate days. It would be nice if you did, because then you could purge the deadline from your mind and be confident that it’s safely recorded in your calendar—but this is unrealistic. And it violates our original criterion that any time-management system should require only a few minutes each day.
That’s the power of the “things to remember” column of your list. You can’t expect yourself to be able to think seriously about time management at all points during your busy day. But the act of pulling out a piece of scrap paper from your pocket and quickly jotting down “anthro paper topic” requires minimal energy, no thinking, and barely any time. You don’t have to consider when to begin working on the paper topic, what steps are involved, or how many days it will require. You simply scribble down three words.
The key is that the list is a trusted piece of storage. You are confident that tomorrow morning, when you’re doing your only time-management thinking for the day, you will see that reminder and record the appropriate steps in your calendar. Because of your list, the deadline will not be lost. It will be scheduled.

Restarting After a Period of Neglect

To date, I have yet to have successfully followed any time-management system without interruption for longer than two months. I try, but inevitably I hit a rough patch. Typically, this happens during the few days following a really busy period—I’m so exhausted from the intensity of the preceding work that I find myself unable to even mention the word “to-do” without breaking into a cold sweat. This happens to everyone, and you can expect that periodically it will happen to you too. Don’t fear these occasions, and don’t let them make you feel like a failure. They’re normal.
The key point is that these lapses are temporary. After a couple days of swearing off my calendar, I always find myself growing uncomfortable with the increasing number of obligations that are free floating in my mind. Before I know it, I’m back into the swing of using the system again, and no worse for wear. The same will be true for you. Once you have learned the power of feeling organized, you will have a hard time going long periods without it.
Fortunately, the system described here is adaptable to these periods of neglect. If you skip a few days, all you need to do upon restarting is to dump all the to-dos and deadlines free floating in your mind onto a sheet of paper and then push these back onto your calendar for future dates.

I hope that you would sincerely follow this method of organisation. It is breathtakingly simple and yet astonishingly effective.

This is it for this article friends. I wish you all best wishes for your future careers. May luck and hard work be with you.

How to Write a Good Essay

An article to help Judicial and Civil Service Aspirants

First came the sound, then came the word and then the speech. With time, speech was no longer sufficient to express complexities of the new world. To overcome this limitation writing was invented. It was borne out of necessity of communication over long stretches of time and place. Written words took various shapes and forms becoming epics, poems, stories , treaties and essays.Be as it may ,robbed out  of their facade, every written or spoken entity is a communication. Every communication, by its very definition , involves the one who communicates, the thing about which communication is made and the person/persons to whom communication is made. Success of communication is measured not by how embellished the words are and nor by  how beautifully ornamented the writing it, but by how effectively it can communicate the subject matter  to the intended audience.
The first thing to remember about writing an essay is that they are but a form of communication. Their success and failure is gauged solely by how well can they express their central idea.
I had a friend, a person of exceptional intelligence, one who got through his tireless hard work,procured an early admission in institute as prestigious as an IIT. Despite his intelligence, despite his prowess at numbers, his pen didn’t fetch him respectable marks in the competitive examinations. I happenstance came through one of his practice essays, and found it full of mistakes that were presumable made by him in the examinations as well. Later I realised, as I read more and more of essays that the reason why people fail to get respectable marks in the essay is that they fail to realise that every essay is essentially a communication.
Every communication should focus on the subject matter of the communication and on audience. It should concentrate on making audience appreciate the subject matter. Unfortunately, most of the essays just don’t do so. They do not focus on the audience , who is our case is also our examiner. They do not try to make things interesting for the examiner. Any thoughts and concerns  towards likes , dislikes, ease and preferences of the examiner are conspicuous by their absence. These essays are written without any objective. They lack structure, they lack organisation , they lack planning and worse of all, in most cases , they lack the central idea as well. Without a subject matter to give soul and bereft of a structure to act as a body, it is hardly a surprise that these essays fall like an ill arranged pack of cards.
The first question which the author should ask himself or herself is that what is it that he/she desires to communicate. In speech the desire to communicate is natural and effortless. We hardly think, except in high stake situations, before giving shape to our thoughts. We think as we speak and speak as we think, neither pausing nor reviewing the content of either the speech and thought. People do almost the same thing when they text each other. Essay is different from speech in as much as that it is purposeful and deliberate. When asked to write an essay about a certain topic, it is essential to ask yourself, before putting the pen on paper, what is it that I want to communicate to the audience on this topic. What ideas do I want to drive home to him? What is the end that I seek to achieve by this writing exercise?Instead of asking these questions we do is that we ask about what we know of the topic and how can we transfer maximum of our knowledge to the paper. We lack the wisdom to discern facts from ideas.  In such cases where focus should have been on the audience, the focus, by habits of long standing remains on the speaker. Where emphasis should have been on the idea that is to be communicated and the most effective means at disposal to do so, the thrust remains on the knowledge of the author. Where the sequence of events should have been from thought to the words, more often than not, thoughts are sacrificed at the altar of words.
Tip 1. Before starting to write ask yourself these questions and answer them sincerely. 
        1. What is the topic? 
        2. What do you want to communicate about the topic to the examiner? In other words, what are your key ideas upon the topic? Are they new and novel enough to attract attention? Are they powerful?
        3. How would you arrange your thoughts in the essay, chronological, based on importance, based on place and so on? How would your essay proceed from one key idea to the other?
        4. Is your arrangement optimum to forcefully drive the idea to the examiner while at the same time remaining interesting and lucid enough?
        5. How would your conclusion be an exposition of your idea?
Unless you have answered these questions, it is unwise to start writing.
Just don’t support the topic rather write your own thoughts about the same.
Quick tip:- Spend at least one fifth and preferably one fourth of the time allotted for the essay for thinking and organising your essays. 
Another common mistake is to write essay in the way answers are written. Answers are a test of your knowledge, essays are a test of your expression. Answers are structured by the demand of the questions, essays are organised as per the necessity of communications. Marks in an answer would depend on how well the aspirant knows the subject and how effectively he can transfer the knowledge to answer sheet; marks in an essay are proportional to the power of the idea sought to be communicated and eloquence and lucidity of communication itself. While it would be ridiculous to ignore the importance of stretch of one’s knowledge in an essay, the marks in an essay are not at all directly proportional to the knowledge of the author. This highlights that essays are not answers and it is preposterous to write the one in the way other is written.
Yet another mistake is to learn some essay and reproduce it on paper. While it may prove to  be an efficient exercise when the words required are limited and the topics are few in numbers. When it is not so, the strategy falls upon itself. The exposition in such cases lacks sincerity and the language of the essay falls in contradistinction to remaining body of copy.
An essay should be a structured presentation of ideas related to the topic at hand. Whatever may be the topic the essay must always begin by asking question as to what are the ideas and how would they be presented. Let us say we are given a topic ‘Cleanliness is Godliness’. There can be two approaches to start writing this essay. One can either start the essay by introducing the importance of cleanliness, and then continue with listing all the reasons that support the statement and end by highlighting the importance of cleanliness. This is indeed what most of us would do. The problem with this approach is that it produces at best an average essay. There is nothing new, nothing interesting. Structure is simplistic. Essay in such  cases becomes lukewarm tasteless soup which at best fetches average marks and at worst becomes a reason for failure. If you notice, in this case the focus is not the audience but the author, the emphasis is not on idea and structure but knowledge.
What many aspirants fail to understand is that the examiner is not asking them to support the statement. The aspirant is not expected to support the topic of the essay by all means possible. He is required to produce his own thinking over the topic. The thinking of the aspirant may even differ from the topic. One should not be afraid of presenting one’s ideas unless they are fundamentalist and prejudiced. So long as you are treating the topic analytically , judiciously and fairly, so long as your statements are supported by arguments and examples, it hardly matters whether you support the topic or not.
Other approach would begin by asking oneself about the goal of writing the essay. What do I seek to achieve by this essay? Every one of should seek a personal answer to this question. My answer for such an essay would be that by this essay I want to show the reader the meaning and importance of terms cleanliness and godliness and there similarities and differences. The second assessment should relate to the ideas that I want to expound in my discourse. Your ideas would be different to mine. My ideas are,cleanliness is not limited to physical cleanliness; godliness lies in worship of humans, cleanliness is the worship of humans; god and sensitivity  to cleanliness are product of civilisation and growth, spiritual progress of an individual is linked to his self control, but godliness can not be reduced to cleanliness, thus though cleanliness is integral part of being godly , godliness is something much more and much important. Next step should be concerned with organisation of the ideas. The main idea is to arrange the ideas and facts in a manner which is easy and interesting for the examiner to understand.
Organisation of ideas is perhaps  the most difficult and most important part of writing the essay. Every idea, in a long essay, would have sub ideas and arguments and those sub ideas and arguments would in turn be supported by devices such as description, comparison, exposition, narration, contrast, examples, cause and effect and so on. Organisation would usually follow the three parts of introduction , body and the conclusion. However, each of these parts can be divided in sub parts.
In Judicial Service examination, the kind of essay that the aspirant is required to write ranges typically from 300 words to 1000 words. Since there are only a fixed number of words to spare, the essay cannot waste words. Writing for writing sake,that is for filling pages, repeating the  same idea over and over again is perhaps the worst thing that an aspirant can do. Even Introduction of the essay is not an exception of the rule. Most of the aspirants would simply rewrite the question in the introduction. This is fallacious.
Introduction should, firstly summarily propound the main purpose of the essay, secondly, be interesting and novel enough to coax the examiner in reading the entire essay, should begin with force. It does not mean that the essay should begin by a formal and uninteresting statement.  It can begin by a fact, a couplet, a quote and so on. In fact, such embellishments to the introduction when they are integrated to with the theme of the essay go on to elevate the essay from the realm of the good to the zone of the excellent.Be what may, the introduction must be integrally related to the general body of the essay.In civil service examinations since the essays to be written are longer and since more is at stake the author may make introduction a bit more critical and analytical. He may also include a question in the introduction. For example. “Are those who, by the misfortune of their circumstances, are devoid of the means to keep themselves clean, are also bereft of goodness and god?”
Tip 2:- Dos and Donts for the Introduction
    1. Never repeat the question in the introduction
    2. Introduction should summarily indicate the purpose and the objective of the essay
    3. Introduction should be eye catching and interesting. Remember the first impression is the last impression. 
    4. Introduction can have a fact, a couplet , a quote and even a question to stimulate interest of the reader. 
Body  of the essay is perhaps the most important part of the essay. Body must have an intelligent organisation and systematic presentation of ideas. Intelligent organisation means that the ideas and the facts should not present themselves haphazard manner. They must be organised on the basis of content, time, location, theme and so on. The exposition of ideas should also be systematic, which means that every next idea should logically follow the previous one. Basic ideas should be presented first and complex ideas should be presented subsequently. The ideas should be supported by the facts, arguments, narratives, personal experiences, examples from the lives of other great men, examples , comparison , contrast etc. The ideas in the body must not, therefore , be naked. Every idea or a sub idea which needs a separate argument or example to support it should preferably be written in separate paragraphs. One thing that the examinees can do is to begin every idea in the essay with a heading. Using heading gives an impression of ease and organisation. Two things that are a must for the essay. Whenever an idea starts to get more complex , divide it in sub ideas and write them in smaller paragraphs. Now if you are among those who write before they think then more often than not you would find yourself writing long complex paragraphs. Such paragraphs are often skipped by the examiner. Have pity on him. Take a pause and think before you write each paragraph about the idea you want to propose and the methods you would use  to substantiate them. It takes hardly 30 seconds but goes a long way in increasing the effect of your essay. More importantly different paragraphs should not come out as a rapid fire of arguments and ideas. They should be different in writing style. Say you have used population facts from data in one paragraphs, in next paragraph using the data from the same source would make it tepid and repetitive. You may use narration or examples or comparison. In one paragraph if you begun with a statement , in next you can begin with a question. The essence is that try to bring in variation in the paragraphs.
Tip 3:-  Things to keep in mind while writing the body of the essay.
    1. The body should be divided in separate paragraphs.
    2. Each paragraph must contain a separate idea or sub idea that requires a separate example or argument in its support.
    3. The ideas in the body should follow each other logically and should be organised systematically.
    4. Whatever may be the method of organisation the same should be followed throughout the essay.
    5. Various ideas in the body can be preceded with topics. 
    6. Take a pause before writing each paragraph and think about the idea you want to propose and the means you would use to support these ideas.
    7. Bring in variation in different paragraphs. 
Let us take the example of our essay in question. My ideas on this topic were : godliness lies in worship of humans, cleanliness is the worship of humans, god and sensitivity  to cleanliness are product of civilisation and growth, spiritual progress of an individual is linked to his self control, but godliness can not be reduced to cleanliness, thus though cleanliness is integral part of being godly , godliness is something much more and much important. Since my basic theme is to show that though cleanliness is an important part of godliness but godliness is something much more than mere cleanliness I would perhaps begin by citing fact that about 22% of India Population is below poverty line. In the introduction itself I would ask question whether these hapless humans can be condemned for blasphemy for their lack of cleanliness. I would again ask, that those who have been given enough, if they indulge in unfair and dirty practices can they be called godly. Now I want to divide the body of the essay on the basis of themes.
  1. The first is definition where I would propose that cleanliness is not related merely to bodily hygiene ,
  2. then history where I would show that morality, cleanliness and god all evolved in course of civilisation,
  3. then comes comparison which includes similarity and differences
    1. in this part I would argue why cleanliness is godliness and
    2. why is it not so
    3. and write my remaining ideas
  4. The problems in attaining cleanliness and godliness
    1. This is the place where I link the phrase with the current affairs
  5. and at last I would write the conclusion.
    1. Solutions
    2. Inspiration
    3. Hope
Since the theme of essay is philosophical the conclusion, to be appealing , should be inspirational. Notice how definition and history come before comparison. Notice how history follows definition and not vice versa. What would have happened if I  had not followed this systematic expounding?
The last part of the essay is conclusion. Conclusion in essays, as against in an answer , is not required to establish a particular point of view. Thus, repeating the topic in the answer hardly pays. The conclusion should be a summary of the views but it should be must be much more. It must contain solution, hope, wish, inspiration and so on. Please refrain from arriving at pessimistic conclusions. For example in our essay , a conclusion that says ,”Hence cleanliness in godliness.”, will not get good marks. Similarly ,writing that no matter what human beings do they would always remain filthy, inhuman and horrible creatures , is not advisable
Lastly , after ending the essay ,it is of paramount importance to revisit it. Usually in course of writing an essay, we are so overwhelmed by writing , atmosphere of examination, pressures of time , etc. that we commit silly mistakes that could have been easily avoided by using some caution. Failure to use a ‘s’ after verbs following singular noun in simple present, using ‘ed’ after a verb following a did, superfluous article, failure to capitalise, unnecessary capitalisation, forgetting to write a word and so on. These are some errors that could be avoided upon a revisit. These blemishes reduce the impact of an otherwise powerful idea, what worse, they reduce marks.
Tip 4: Conclusion
  1. Solutions to the problem
  2. Hope and wish for a better future
  3. It should inspire or motivate
  4. Should not contain negative and pessimistic views.
  5. Should not contain the topic.
  6. Revisit the essay and do minor corrections
Writing good essays, which for our limited narrow purposes are the essays that fetch marks is not limited to knowing about the physical structure of the essay.  To cultivate a panache, a flair and a style of the writing, the same should be done as often as possible. It is similar to exercise. To develop a physique, a person must consciously work on his body. Likewise, to be a good writer, you must not only write, you must be conscious of your own writing. You should be aware of the flaws and shortcomings of your own writing, your struggle to express yourself. You should review your own essays and if possible engage in peer review. In long run regular conscious writing practice, revisit and peer review would qualitatively increase your writing potential not only in essays but in general. For examination point of view, it is advisable to make a copy of essay. Write down some nice quotations, some very important facts, some beautiful couplet or some great idea about a topic in the booklet. Keep them short and manageable. Dedicate a portion of the booklet to tough words that you came across but didn’t know the meaning of, the interesting phrases and beautiful expressions that you might have read.  Visit this copy once a week and on the day when you do so, also write an essay. It also helps to note down important topics that might be asked in an examination and write some very short summary points, ideas and facts beneath them. So long as the ideas and facts are short enough to remember and revise in less than 3 hours, you are good to go.
Language of the essay should be simple, without errors and powerful. Tough and complicated words should be used only when it is required. If you make your essay too tough to read , you are making life of examiner tough, who would return the favour in kind.  Does it mean that the aspirants should shy away from using tough words even when the need so arises? No! Necessity and not embellishment should drive choice of words. If a word is needed , it must be used. Sentences should not be monotonous and should vary in a paragraph. Are words anything more than being containers for the idea? Since they are not, every prudent man would use only those words which would express his idea in most lucid , interesting, simple and effective manner. Perhaps, the flow of the language is even more important than the choice of the words. It really pays to avoid grammatical and spelling mistakes in the essays.
Long term habits:-
  1. Work on grammar. 
  2. Make a copy of facts, quotes, words ,expression and possible topics
  3. Read various things
  4. Write consciously , at least once a week, being aware of your own writing.
  5. Review your essay and copy after a week. 
  6. Use simple but flowing and powerful language.
  7. Use variation in sentences
Lastly, there is no substitute to reading. All great writers were invariably voracious readers. The repertoire of reading should not be limited to the books related to competition. Cases help, but they are not enough. Editorials, stories , novels, articles and memoirs, read them all, do not shy away from reading. None of us are good writers from our birth. We all learn writing . Work sincerely and regularly and see your success touch your feet.

American War of Independence

Colonies on Atlantic coasts were growing exponentially and in the atmosphere of relative peace and abundant resources they  were thriving too. Truth be told, 3000 miles of sea was a distance too large to overcome. Australia, Canada and U.S.A were destined to be either free or self governing, it was only a matter of time. The distance and diversity of population made development of patriotic feelings towards the King and the crown difficult. From the very beginning the colonies were governed loosely. They were bound by British law in theory but were allowed substantial autonomy in practice. Despite the fact that colonies were rarely, if ever, taxed, they were a source of huge profit for Britain. Main source of profit was the trade. Navigation Acts made it difficult for the colonies to trade with any country other than Britain. Following Mercantilist policies, Britain imported cheap goods and exported manufactured products, making substantial profits in the process. The colonists, though not happy with the arrangement, tolerated it. because firstly they could smuggle the products easily on the vast Atlantic coastline and secondly the ongoing French Indian war allowed them to make huge profits. Once the war ended, Britain tried to assert control. It tried to check the smuggling and imposed Stamp taxes on colonies. Stamp act was subsequently repealed but the King George and PM Lord North could not understand the gravity of the demand of the colonies. There were three main demands. First was the demand of freedom of trade, second was the demand of representation and third was the demand of no taxation without representation. To show its right to impose taxes, Britain increased duties on tea. These tea boxes arriving from britain were sunk in sea in what became known as Boston Tea Party. Yet again the Gov in Britain reacted and imposed military rule in Boston. It declared the colonists demanding freedom of trade etc. as rebels. Thus it left these representatives no option but to rebel and rebel openly. In the second Continental Congress, the colonists declared their independence. Entry of France, turned tables against Britain. Eventually, in the treaty of Paris, Britain accepted the independence of the colonies.
American revolution is aptly called a revolution in as much as revolution means a radical qualitative change in the society. It falls short of being designated revolution in as much as a revolution implies victory of the oppressed against oppressor. It was not a war of exploited and ruined colonies against their imperial master. It was a war to win the right to trade and the right to impose taxes. For all the words , the revolution did not abolish slavery. Thomas Jefferson himself owned slaves. The revolutionary features of the war lie in the formation of Constitution, Division of Power, Bill of Rights and establishment of First republic. It was for the first time an independent Judiciary was created anywhere in the world. The ideas of enlightenment thinkers like Rousseau, Hobbes, Locke, Baccaria and Montesquieu were put in practice for the first time. The longevity of the experiment and its success has guided many other democratic transitions throughout the world. American revolution was the first light house for the ships of democracy in darkness of absolutism.
 This is my take on the topic. Please correct me if I am wrong

Genesis of an Ideology

The elements of ideology
I was once a marxist. There I got interested in common features of ideologies which are used by organisations and which cosmetically appear diverse enough. I found some elements common to all ideologies that are used by organisations.

1. An enemy:-
For an organising ideology there must be an enemy. A figure, a situation, a religion, a class, a group of people, a ghost, an evil to be afraid of. This enemy should be identifiable and hence relatable.
2. A vision:-
This is a dream of a future which would come when the enemy would be defeated. This shhould not only be an enemy free future, it should be something more. It usually is a collection of many good things ppeople want. Like prosperity, development, peace, dignity, self growth and respect.
3. A conspiracy:-
Usually but not necessarily found in organising ideologies. The conspiracy sshould be of the enemy. The conspiracy should be non verifiable. There should not be any way of proving it wrong. It should appear true and should be such that it could easily explain various things. This can be a conspiracy of jews, muslims, upper castes, bourgeoise, protestants.
4. An appeal:-
This is an appeal to join others to the ideology. In the ideologies it is usually shown that the enemy can not be defeated without active participation of a large group of people and that the side of the ideologues would win as soon as sufficient numbers have joined or would not win unless sufficient numbers have joined it.
5. A fundamental belief:-
This fundamental belief consists of a core belief that forms the very logical and rational basis of the ideology. The beliefs can be more than one. It can be belief in class struggle, superiority of German race or Hindus, belief that the aryans were invaders. Organisations usually try to prove that their belief is scientifically establishe.
6. A negation of other ideologies:-
It consists of an outright denial of the truth of other ideologies. Ideologies insist on the fact that only what it says is truth and that there can be no other truth in any other ideology. The belief of the the ideology should be such that it is impossiblee to negate it but it is always possible to support it.
7. Insistence on monopoly of the interpretation of ideology:-
The organisations insist that the only true and correct interpretation of the ideology is the one coming from the seniors of the organisation. I suspect that all the ideologies are formed from the interplay of human fears, whatever those might be.
8. Emphasis on moral virtue rather than ideological rigour. In many cases to boost one’s theoretical and arguing position, the adherents of the ideology take a moral stand. The moral stand persuade the gullible. This is done to show that there is a difference between understanding and realising the ideology. Those who have moral stand claim to realise the ideology. This moral position has additional virtue of diverting attention of people from theoretical weakness. Moreover ideology is always presented by the organisations as a comprehensive all encompassing world view. Thus a moral stand becomes imperative to this claim.

Despite these apparent characteristics, ideologies have the potential of sweeping our world. They can, for better or worse, change our outlook for ever. They can cause revolutionary changes.

In my opinion, various factors cause our dependence on ideologies. One is our inability to see the world except as a model. To interpret the world and to understand its meaning, humans as intelligent and conscious observers of the world, continuously, consciously and subconsciously form models. They can not see the world except in terms of these models. When these models pertain to specific domains of knowledge, they are mostly academic. Weber’s bureaucratic model is an example. These models are generalizations and they seek to understand a particular phenomenon. This write up is itself a model. When the models are subjected to rigorous standards of observation, critical analysis and cross checking, the models are scientific. Newtons gravity, Einstein’s relativity, Darwin’s evolution are all examples of scientific models.

When the rigour of cross checking and observation is not strong enough and the model is essentially based on some a priori assumptions, the model is an ideology.

Moreover, we hardly know everything about the world. Understanding the true meaning of different phenomenon requires careful thinking and analysis. We are seldom equipped or ready to conduct such analysis. In such cases we use heuristics and biases to answer the complicated questions. We substitute the questions. What caused defeat of germany, the answer readily comes is the jew. The answer doesn’t require much thought. The question stands substituted in psyche as how much does one hates jews.

Thus formation of ideology necessary involves substitution of what we believe for what we ought to know. Hence, ideologies, especially the organisation forming ones involve heuristics and substitutions. In these ideologies social approval substitutes critical analysis. Thus the adherent is not only usually wrong, he never realises that he is wrong.

Given apparent shortcomings of the ideologies in knowing and understanding the world, it is clear that to remain a progressive force, the ideologies need to grow. Organisation acts as a supervening circumstance and creates huge inertia. Thus growth of an ideology in the sense of qualitative and revolutionary change is impossible. The ideologies grow with organisations only in breadth. With organisation growth, the leaders get little time to think and create new ideas. Hence, ideologies become regressive and stagnant. They get entrenched. Moored in societal customs of organisation. Same ideas get expressed again and again. At a later stage the very existence of top leadership depends on support of their ideas. They become even more reluctant to change the tenets.

The job of creation of new ideas is done by new factions which break away. It is also done by now disillusioned disgruntled followers. Hence, it is the break in organisational continuity that results in creation of new thought. However, since the new factions are also formed on the basis of earlier beliefs, they also contain same systematic weaknesses. Thus, entire vicious circle restarts as the seeds have been sown again.

We, therefore need a new kind of system and a new kind of organisation rather than the traditional top down.. We also need a new kind of ideology. What I mean by that, I would discuss in other write ups.

Our Visit To Shahdara Slum,Delhi

Our visit to Shahdara Slum

Today, Mr.Harshit, Mr.Kapil and Me went to see Shahdara Slum. We had read a study about the Delhi slums and we thought that these slums would need our greatest effort as an administrator.

Our vehicles were a Hero Honda Activa and Royal Enfield Thunderworld. We encountered highly congested traffic all the way to Shahdara. This was partly a result of metro construction and partly an outcome of deteriorated roads. We must add that piquant traffic sense of Delhites contributed its fair share to these unsolicited and annoying traffic jams.

When we approached the slum, an obnoxious smell welcomed us. It was the staunch smell of Ghaziabad open drain. We wondered as to what could make these persons live in a surrounding as trying and as grueling as this one. We saw unclothed, unkempt and underdeveloped children playing in mud and dirt before battered and weathered namesake of houses. Houses made from tin, polyethene and paper. These houses, for us, represented the tenacity of human survival instincts and ingenuity of human mind which could make this place, a settlement.

We found that the majority of houses were occupied by Mohammedans. The Sachar Committee Report which was an abstract conceptualization, before us, became a concrete, hard and unpalatable reality. Not surprisingly, these slums also enshrined the eternal Indian principal of ‘Unity in Diversity’. There were other houses, they were occupied by the poor and the marginalized Hindus of various castes. There were people from Bihar, U.P., West Bengal and Rajasthan. We found that the unifying bond of poverty traversed beyond caste and religious identities. We wondered if the unity of this great nation has been preserved and created by this omnipresent and abject poverty. The lesson was clear. Poverty has no religion and no caste. We learned that prosperity divides and poverty unites.

Like a pimple on an otherwise immaculate face, the slum had chosen a particularly conspicuous and yet an invisible place for itself. Sandwiched between Karkardooma Court on one hand and Shahdara SDM office on other, the slum showed how limited is the reach of our institutions, how easy is it to ignore these slums. The Ghaziabad drain separating the slum from the city created a divide which was not only physical but also institutional and structural.

Our conversation with the residents revealed that the epitome of underdevelopment, this slum was not a conglomeration of hapless and unfortunate persons. The slum lived and breathed with a unity which could perhaps only be found in primeval tribal societies. There was a sense of oneness. When they breathed, it was one soul of social organism breathing through so many bodies.

We found how we, the privileged ones, shared common concerns of livelihood, growth, and comfort with them. We also discovered that we had our own share of doubts, our own set of fears, our own dreams, and our own nightmares. We also saw that how undernourishment of the body, the constant quest of bread, quenches the thirst and need of creativity. When a man is denied the bodily need of food clothing and security, not only the soul but also the body is dwarfed. It creates pygmies of the body, mind, and soul. The slum,unfortunately, makes an animal of a man.

We all felt that the world is unjust and perhaps we are on the wrong side of justice. There is a slum in every part of this city, but more significantly, our visit taught us, that there is a slum in every one of us.

Click Pure Crystal Fountain Pen: Beauty with Substance

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           I feel a certain pleasure and pride in introducing and reviewing Click Pure Crystal. For quite some time I have been searching for affordable “made in India” fountain pens, I could recommend to anyone. I guess I have found one more such pen. I have been using this pen for three days and without a glitch

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As you can notice, the pen is fully transparent. The gold-colored clip and cap ring give the pen a classy appeal. Perhaps its me, but the design of the clip is coolest thing about this pen. The clip reminds me of Egypt, Pharaohs and Pyramids. The golden aura of the pen matches with the dual tone nib. Inner rings of the piston look like whirlpools and threads give me a feel of sporadic clouds in an otherwise clear sky. It is a pen I wouldn’t be ashamed of carrying. The pen weighs around 14 grams. Which is fairly light. The body is made of transparent resin. The great thing is that there wasn’t any of that obnoxious odor of resin, unless the pen was smelled from very close quarters.

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I feel that the pen can be fully disassembled, though I couldn’t dare to try it. I don’t want a blot on this beauty. Close inspection of section also reveals that the pen boasts of a threaded nib unit. Nib is a dual tone one marked with sagacious words,’Iridium Point Germany’. Section ends with a gold ring and immediately the nib starts. The finish of the pen is really good for its price. What startled me is the fact that apparently a good amount of brainstorming has gone in designing this pen. Take for example the fact that the pen comes out in merely two turns. Or the fact that the cap posts very securely. Or the good news that they have made the section substantially thicker than Pilot 78G or the Chelpark Sona or Click Majestic Crystal. Thicker section ensures a comfortable grip and the fact that the pen allows secure posting further permits the pen to be used by hands of every size.

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The pen writes an Indian fine. It lays down a smooth and wet line. There is a little drag but my experience suggests that it will go away. The thicker section and smooth transition from body to the section with light weight makes this pen a delight to hold and write with. The piston filler mechanism means that the pen can hold a decent amount of ink that will last far more pages than a cartridge. I was happy to see a plastic finned feed rather than an Ebonite feed. It means that the feed will offer good buffer and there won’t be problems of burping and leaking. I used this pen with Click Majestic Crystal which has an ebonite feed. At the end of the day where the Majestic’s cap was smeared with ink, the Pure Crystal’s cap was as clean as glass. Moreover, I didn’t see any cap hole. No drying! That’s good!

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Overall for a pen that costs less than say 5$ it is a really good value for money. It is in same league with Camlin Elegante and Chelpark Sona and better than many other costlier mass-produced fountain pens. If you want a fine piece of Indian Fountain Penmanship with very little strain on your pocket then gooooooooooo for it!!!

Good day!!

Gama Revolution: Pen for executives


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“Dark am I, yet lovely, daughters of Jerusalem, dark like the tents of Kedar, like the tent curtains of Solomon.”

Song of Solomon(1:5)

2015-01-08 15.40.30Black like the last night of the “Nightfall” of Issac Asimov and dark like coal tar with a clip flowing like milky way from the infinite darkness of the infinite space, this is an extremely gorgeous  and attractive pen. This pen reminds me of the black coat of a lawyer, which means nothing but business. This classic Cigar shaped design with a continuous flow from barrel to section, the uniformity of the design and the monotone steel coloured nib and the steel clip, speaks of nothing but business. It is a pen with Executive looks.

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It is a design full of gravity and wisdom. The more I think about it  the more I find that it is a very well thought of design for a hand-made pen. What we find is not mere art, not mere uniformity of and seductiveness of curves. Rather we discover efficiency.

The Revolution is a regular size pen. The cap comes out is exactly 2 and a half turns. The clip is quite tight but due to its unique curved design it gets in a shirt pocket effortlessly but firmly and comes out equally easily.Word Gama is engraved with a cursive italic font at around middle of the barrel. Usually one would not even notice it. When one does, it just adds to the beauty of the pen. Where the cap comes out in just few turns, the section takes a lot many turns to come out. This has been done apparently to avoid any leak when the pen is being used as an eyedropper. The pen is almost as heavy as Pilot MR. However, in case of ebonite, the weight is more uniformly distributed. Therefore the centre of gravity lies at almost middle. Ebonite pens usually feel better than pens of other materials. Same goes with this pen. What I also notices is that the construction is sturdy. The walls of the section and barrel are really thick.The nib is large. Only a tad smaller in size than the section. Moreover, there is no step from section to barrel. The uniformity of the transition and the size of the nib makes it possible to hold the pen from almost any place. The section is thick enough to be held comfortably and not too thick to hold. The pen feels substantial but not humongous.The pen posts firmly and securely. Not using the pen even up to 24 hours I didn’t notice any drying.

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I chose a fine nib. I like fine nib more than medium or broad nibs. This nib is good. It is a JoWo nib.  It looks classy and is outright beautiful. It does not skip even while writing fast. It does not fail. It doesn’t dry easily. On scale of nightmare;scratchy;correctable;smooth;super smooth; and ooolalalaaaa!!!, I would call it smooth. The nib is smooth and fine. But less smooth than say a Schmidt fine and a Lamy fine or a Pilot medium. What you feel is not feedback. It feels as if the pen has some affinity with paper. However, going by reports of some of my fellow FPN members the report of M nib is excellent. You may preferably go for medium if you want a nib that writes super smooth. However, even if you go for fine I won’t say that you got a bad deal. I have been using this pen for three weeks now and I have had no issues with it. In fact the pen is being used ever since I bought it.

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While writing you would surely enjoy it. That is the best part. The pen feels like ‘The Pen’. Good balance and good grip. Posted or unposted the pen feels just right and looks seriously beautiful.  Good pen for long duration of writing. The pen offers little flex. My fellow member Anup Ji had to once use pliers on the nib!! Yes! It’s that hard. Thankfully that also means that you can’t damage the nib by normal wear and tear. Which is a good thing.

Being a triple filler, the pen offers a lots of variation in filling. The pen takes standard converter, standard international converter and comes loaded with a Schmidt K-5 converter. The pen can also be used as an Eye Dropper. I have used this pen with all these options and they all work as they should be. At present the pen is being used as an Eyedropper.Because of advanced threaded nib, I never faced problem of burping or leakage in this pen. Which is a very good thing.

For around Rs. 2000/- I got a very attractive ,prim and proper , executive looking pen which is very strong, sturdy and durable. I also got a three in  one filling system and a nice Jowo nib. I got a pen that can be used as an Eye Dropper and will not face burping issues. I got a schmidt converter. I think the deal is really a great value for money.

Here comes the score board.

Looks:- 4.5/5

Build:- 5/5

Engineering:-4.5/5

Nib and Writing:- 3.5/5

Balance:- 5/5

Value for Money:- 4.5/5

Conclusion:- This is a really nice pen. I got this pen with my son’s name engraved. I am very sure that he will use it. The pen has the potential of lasting for a very long time. I am a happy and satisfied user.

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Thou shall wineth with a———Spear: A practical fountain pen

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Spear is an Ebonite fountain pen by a Chennai(India) based company ASApens. I purchased it from their website.Like my two previous purchases of the same brand I am quite pleased with it. This is a review and not an eulogy, but all things said and done I really liked the pen.

What I am going to do here is to review the pen and also compare it with Athlete side by side.Please pardon for the poor photographs.

It is a German twin of Athlete, better educated, better trained and better skilled with almost the same height and personality. Hand crafted with Ebonite, the pen, like Athlete is a pleasure to hold with almost perfect balance, practical average sized section and nice length. The cap of both the pens flush in the Barrel and it is difficult to see the line where the cap and the barrel touch. The clip of both the pens is supported by top cap screwing in. The finger stopper is present on section in both pens.

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In looks they differ in two things. First the ASA engraving on the barrel is far more pronounced in Spear. Truly speaking it is visible but not aesthetically as pleasing as was in case of Athlete.Secondly in spear the pen takes a larger number of turns to come out. Which is something that I don’t like. But it is a minor issue with an otherwise wonderful pen.

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You will pay 25$ for an Athlete and 35$ for the Spear. For this difference of 10$ you will get a qualitatively different nib and feed system. Athlete has simple IPG marked, Iridium tipped monotone steel nib. This nib was apparently made in Taiwan or somewhere near I guess.It has a fairly simple ebonite feed and an eyedropper filling system. A few FPN members had issues with the nib. Though most of them reported that the issues were easily resolved. Personally, I loved the nib and it has been my favorite for the sheer simplicity, efficiency and elegance.

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But, the Spear offers 10 breather hole German Jowo nib and a Jowo feed and Three in one filling system. The nib looks more like a space gadget with 10 holes than a spear. The nib attracts the attention of bloody everyone around. No one has seen such a thing. It looks sci fi. I don’t know why Jowo thought it proper to use 10 holes and not our old favorite one hole but I am glad that they thought something like it. Man, it looks cool!!! Holding a fountain pen sometimes, in this age of Rollers and ballpoints looks antediluvian, having a pen with 10 breather holes always help. I have used this pen with the converter and as an Eyedropper. So the filling system pretty much works.

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Now, I will discuss the most important part. The writing experience. The Jowo nib is shorter to Athlete #6 nib. So you will have to hold the pen a little higher depending upon the hand stance you use. The nib is sturdy and has been very securely fit. It can not be removed with normal force. I hate using abnormal force. So I have not yet been able to disassemble the pen.The tines, like all Jowos have been so properly placed that the chances of their alignment getting disturbed are pretty low. Athlete has always proved to be a wonderful writer for me though the nib needed a little tweaking every now and then. Spear has its own advantages. It is smoother. Typical Jowo smoothness. The nib is M but with Pilot blue I use, it wrote more of a Lamy F and less thicker than Schmidt M. However what I found was, surprisingly, that the Athlete is a lot wetter than Spear. Thus if you try to draw a very fast straight line you will find no skipping in Athlete but in Spear you may find some skipping.  Having said that, I conclude that the nib is superb. I loved writing with the pen given its great balance and superb smoothness.

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Would you prefer Spear or Athlete, the choice is yours to make. Personally, I liked the spear a lot, I mean for say 1200/-INR I got a lot. I have paid more and have been lesser satisfied. But, for me, its a personal opinion, the pen does not threaten to push the Athlete in oblivion. Perhaps someday I will fit a Bock/ Jowo Friction fit with my Athlete and it will become my dream pen. But till that day comes, Athlete is,for me, as precious as the Spear.