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Delhi to Have Full-Fledged Schools on Lines of NSD

There should be one centre that can cater to two-three states

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Right now, students from across the country have to come to NSD in Delhi and first learn Hindi. Wikimedia Commons

Stressing that the National School of Drama (NSD) in the capital was committed to opening three new centres across the country, besides doubling the duration of its one-year courses at its already existing regional centres in Bangalore, Varanasi and Sikkim, Suresh Sharma, Director-in-Charge, NSD told IANS that the school had already appealed to the Ministry of Culture for the same.

“This assumes paramount importance as people whose mother tongue is not Hindi should be imparted training in the language they plan to work in. Right now, students from across the country have to come to NSD in Delhi and first learn Hindi. There should be one centre that can cater to two-three states,” Sharma said.

Besides this, the school also plans to start a one-year course in writing for theatre in Maharashtra. “In fact, as an experiment, we held a workshop in Pune that started last year in October,” he said.

Sharma believes that these centres should not be ‘regional’ in essence, but in fact operate on the lines of IITs and IIMs.

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This assumes paramount importance as people whose mother tongue is not Hindi should be imparted training in the language they plan to work in. Wikimedia Commons

“The idea is to have full-fledged schools on the lines of NSD in Delhi.”

All set to organise the 11th-edition of Bal Sangam from November 9-12 at its premises, he said that theatre and folk performances are a great learning medium for exploring and sensitising children towards different contemporary issues.

“Such activities and festivals are a wonderful platform to not just perform, but learn, travel, and share. NSD believes that theatre makes a person sensitive towards issues and an active participant of society as it boosts powers of communication. Theatre brings in all these qualities and if children are introduced to this wonderful, they become better human beings,” Sharma noted.

Talk to him about the fact that non-metros seldom get to witness quality theatre and he asserts, “Earlier, the Bharat Rang Mahotsav used to be organised only in Delhi and satellite towns. However, things changed from last year and the festival travelled across the country. In fact, this year too, we plan to take it to places like Dehradun, Nagpur, Jorhat and Tejpur. This holds true for ‘Summer Theatre’ too, which was restricted only to Delhi. Last year, shows were held at diverse places like Patna, Benaras, and Aurangabad.”

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Stating that NSD, wanted to take its activities beyond Delhi too as the capital and other metros like Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore, are quite active as far as theatre was concerned, he added, “It is in smaller towns that we need to get theatre to. We want to do that through workshops, shows, theatre festivals, technical training workshops in coming times.”

Lamenting that corporate support for independent theatre was limited to a handful of groups doing commercial English work, Sharma, who has been active in the theatre scene for more than three decades now, asserted, “It’s done as part of their CSR. Support needs to be given to groups who are doing excellent creative work and boast of a vision. The commercial ones can still survive tickets. The ones who really need support are the groups in smaller towns, doing. If they get, I am sure the condition of theatre in contemporary times will undergo a sea change.”

With his next production, based on Jallianwala Bagh, Sharma plans go on a large canvas. “It may be staged at Ferozeshah Kotla and the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, if possible.” (IANS)

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How COVID-19 is Reshaping Education in India?

Learning has shifted to virtual mode during the pandemic

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Education during the times of the pandemic is being delivered virtually. Pixabay

If there is one thing we have learned from the Coronavirus outbreak is that the future is unpredictable. In order to survive and thrive in the ever-changing world, we need to become more adaptive and innovative in every aspect of life. The wake of COVID-19 has coerced businesses, governments, education institutions and students, and almost every collective body to reinvent the ways they do things.

Schools and colleges were the first institutions that were locked down as soon as COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in India. This had an adverse effect on education in India. Amongst the additional concerns of learning of students, the virtual mode of delivering education has come to aid. Many online learning and training platforms in India have come forward with discounted or free access to their trainings. This is so that the school and college students could still continue learning courses of their syllabus as well as other necessary skills while staying at their homes.

E-learning has become a preferred way of learning among Indian students over the past couple of years. Though, it is still an optional way of learning for the Indian learning population. However, the sudden and unfortunate COVID-19 outbreak has turned it into a necessary mode of learning. It is allowing students to keep up their learning whether it is for school exams, semester finals, or competitive exams for college admissions, and jobs. E-learning is letting them study at their own pace and thus making productive use of their time at home.

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E-learning has become a preferred way of learning and education among Indian students during the pandemic. Pixabay

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Many schools and universities across India are also turning to online modes to deliver classes and lectures to their students. With support from technology, parents, faculty, and students, these institutions are making sure that the education is not hampered. They are continuing the classes online by live broadcasting or recorded videos, sharing homework and assignments over emails, and even helping students with their doubts through video mode. This mode of teaching and learning is not only limited to basic subjects but classes like physical education, yoga, dance, photography, and many more are also being taught through the same.

To fight this pandemic, a lot of universities across the world like Stanford University are also contemplating and planning to conduct ‘take-home examinations’ (Source), that is, arranging the examinations such that the students could take them from their homes only. This hasn’t been implemented in India yet; however, with the rising number of cases across India, the institutions may need to plan a similar mode of teaching and evaluating the students.

And, not just examinations, with the uncertainty around how long this situation may persist, students especially college going students may even miss out on doing industrial trainings, finding internships, and placement opportunities. To tackle the same, universities could make students aware or also arrange online internships and job fairs wherein the students could apply for the opportunities online. The corporate industry is equally affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and is switching to offline mode of hiring at the moment and are open to work-from-home options until the situation persists.

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Online Examinations or ‘take-home examinations’ are being conducted for students. Pixabay

The Indian education system has shifted to the online mode of education and all the stakeholders including educational institutions, teachers, students, and parents are welcoming it with open arms. Although this is so as to continue the teaching and learning until the pandemic situation lasts, the stakeholders are also learning and exploring new and efficient ways to continue the process of learning. This makes it highly probable that this mode of education would continue and there will be new such innovations in teaching methods even after the situation has improved.

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Someone has rightly said, “Problems are nothing but wake-up calls for creativity”. This unfortunate outbreak has propelled our education system to reinvent the way education is delivered and received. These difficult times are teaching us to be resilient in the face of hardships. Education in India is being reshaped out of necessity. We could either succumb to the changes or choose to see this as an opportunity to learn as well as teach the students various new skills like agility, adaptability, creativity, problem-solving, forward-thinking, flexibility in learning and performing various other tasks.

About the author: Sarvesh Agrawal is the founder and CEO of Internshala, an internship and training platform (internshala.com)

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Delhi Govt Issues Advisory for Spraying Pesticides to Deal With Locust Attack

Delhi government will also run awareness programmes regarding the same threat

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The threat of locusts is increasing in North India. Pixabay

To deal with the attack of locusts in the national capital, the Delhi government has issued an advisory for spraying pesticides, Cabinet Minister Gopal Rai said on Thursday.

Rai said in view of the increasing threat of locusts in north India, the Agriculture Department of the Delhi government will run awareness programmes to make the people and farmers of Delhi aware of this new threat.

“Also, the Delhi Government has issued advisory on spraying pesticides and its quantity,” Rai tweeted.

The circular was issued in order to prevent a probable attack in Delhi by a swarm of locusts, which are reportedly present in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

“All concerned authorities are hereby advised to take preventive measures to control and eradicate the locusts to avoid devastating effect on standing agricultural and horticultural crops, vegetation, plants, gardens, orchard etc. in Delhi,” the circular said.

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“Also, the Delhi Government has issued advisory on spraying pesticides and its quantity,” Cabinet Minister Gopal Rai tweeted. Wikimedia Commons

It directed that awareness programmes be organised for the public and farmers to prevent and control any such invasion by locusts in Delhi.

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“As the swarm usually fly in day time, and rest during night time therefore the locusts should not be allowed to rest especially during night,” it said.

The circular added that the authorities may carry out spraying of insecticides or pesticides during the night.

The chemicals suggested for spraying were Malathion 50% EC; Malathion 25% WP; Chlorpyrifos 20 % EC; and Chlorpyrifos 50 % EC. (IANS)

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National Capital Delhi Makes a Gradual Comeback

The city of Delhi has slowly and gradually reopened

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Shutters are lifted and shops spruced up as Delhi's markets open after two months as lockdown restrictions are eased. (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)

Signs are being spruced up and prayers performed as shops in the Indian capital open their shutters after two months with the gradual easing of a stringent lockdown.

Markets were allowed to reopen recently after the government signaled economic activity must resume, even as the fight against the COVID -19 pandemic continues. Traffic is humming on once-deserted streets as buses and auto rickshaws have been given the go-ahead to operate.

However, people in the city of nearly 20 million — one of the worst-hit in the country — remain hesitant about venturing out as cases of coronavirus touched record highs in recent days.

Shop owners, hoping to slowly emerge from the economic pain imposed by a weekslong shutdown, have instituted new rules to cope with the pandemic.

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Though markets are open, they are seeing few customers as people remain wary amid the COVID 19 pandemic. (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)

“We’ve restricted it to three people at a time for browsing, and then we have new checks and measures in place where we first check the person’s temperature, we give them hand sanitizer and we have started giving everyone a pair of gloves as well,” said Rajni Malhotra, owner of Bahrisons Booksellers, a 65-year-old landmark in one of the city’s most iconic markets.

The city is only partially open — shopping malls, restaurants, schools and colleges still remain closed and offices can only have limited staff.  Even in markets that have opened, only half the shops open every day to avoid crowding. Delhi accounts for about 10% of India’s infections.

“We have a twofold challenge — to reduce the transmission rate of the disease, and to increase public activity gradually,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in an address to the country two weeks ago. “Coronavirus is going to be part of our lives for a long time. But we can’t let our lives revolve around it,” he said.

Shop owners even sanitize customers’ purchases to reassure people still wary of entering markets. Among those that sold some goods is a store that sells kitchen equipment — in Delhi, like much of the world, cooking and baking have been therapy for some of those confined indoors.

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A customer turns up to buy baking tins — in Delhi, like much of the world, cooking and baking has been a therapy for people confined indoors. (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)

However, a sense of unease remains as once-buzzing markets see only a sprinkling of customers, who mostly visit shops selling groceries and other essentials.

“There is this feeling that complete your work fast and then return home,” said Aparajita Pant, a city resident who had come to buy food for her pets.

“Earlier one would like to linger around, there are so many interesting shops here but as of now, there is that cautious approach, at least in me,” she said.

That is not good news for some shop owners. Not a single person had walked into Leena Mehra’s shop selling handicrafts and silver jewelry during the first two days.

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Most customers head to shops selling essentials like groceries and medicines. (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)

“It’s depressing. We have to open the shop, we don’t have any choice,” she said.

“We know it is difficult for us to sell this product to the consumer because right now the mindset of the people is not at all in this direction, but we will try,” she said.

The pandemic has left its mark on a city whose love for shopping and being well turned out made it a retailers’ paradise.

“One would take more efforts to get maybe a little better dressed, but now you come here, avoid jewelry, avoid wearing even a watch, I am not even wearing my earrings,” Pant said ruefully.

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Shops display signs asking people to wear masks and take precautions as new rules are put in place to cope with the COVID 19 pandemic. (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)

Even budget accessories and clothes being sold from small stalls tucked in the market’s narrow lanes have few takers. That is disappointing for low-income workers who say they desperately need to start earning again.

“Everybody needs money. If customers don’t come and this atmosphere persists, it will not be easy to face the problem created by this pandemic,” said a despondent Lucky Arya, as he helped set up a stall to sell summer clothes.

The wait for customers is also long for auto rickshaw drivers waiting on sidewalks.

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Auto rickshaw drivers don’t see too many customers as most people still hesitate to venture outside. (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)
 A once-familiar sight as they skillfully negotiated their way through Delhi’s often chaotic traffic, they too have been scarred by the pandemic because of new rules allowing only one passenger instead of the customary two to ensure social distancing.

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Mohammad Parvez Khan decided to brave the city’s sizzling summer temperatures to ply his auto rickshaw even during Ramadan because his savings were running out.

“Only we know how we passed these last two months,” he said.

“Every day, when I fasted, I prayed that let the coronavirus go quickly, and may everything come back to how it used to be,” he said. (VOA)