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CHARMAHATPUR, INDIA, March 23, 2017: For a teenager, Sarjana Biswas has rather modest ambitions: finish school, go to college and become a government healthcare worker in her village.
But for young girls like Biswas in India’s eastern state of West Bengal, even these would have been impossible dreams just a few years ago in a district plagued by a high rate of school dropouts, early marriage and human trafficking.
Thanks to a state program to keep young girls in school with cash incentives, coupled with efforts by land rights advocacy group Landesa to teach land literacy, girls like Biswas are daring to dream and plan for better futures.
“My sister got married when she was 15 years old. I didn’t want to get married that young,” said Biswas, 17, as she examined runner beans in the small vegetable garden that she helps tend to at the village community center.
“I have learned that girls should not get married so young, that we can also own land and cultivate what they want, earn and not be dependent on anyone,” she said.
Nearly 70 girls like Biswas, aged 11 to 18, are enrolled in Landesa’s Girls’ Project that teaches them how to cultivate a small vegetable garden in their family plot.
Alongside, they learn about the importance of education, the problems of early marriage, the benefits of nutritional food, financial literacy, and their rights – including land ownership.
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Partnering with the state, the program has reached more than 48,000 girls in over 1,000 villages in West Bengal’s Cooch Behar district, helping reduce child marriage and school dropout rates, and preparing the girls to stake their claim to their own piece of land some day.
Bordering Bangladesh, the area is largely populated by poor farmers and migrant workers, and is a hotbed of trafficking. Young women and men are tricked into traveling elsewhere in India and to the Gulf region to be commercial sex workers.
West Bengal accounted for more than a third of India’s trafficking victims in 2016, official data showed.
Girls who have been through the project, which was launched in 2011, are more likely to stay in school, marry later, and have an asset in their name, said Sumit Gupta, chief revenue officer in Nadia district where Charmahatpur village is located.
“These issues are all linked to poverty, and landlessness is the biggest indicator of poverty. So using land literacy and land ownership to address these issues is a practical approach, and it has worked,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“We want to see these girls be independent and live with dignity. For that it’s important they know their rights and the importance of land ownership,” he said.
West Bengal has a checkered history in land reforms. It was among the first states in India to enact a land reforms law as early as 1955, to give land to poor tenant farmers and to impose ceilings on land holdings.
Yet it has been slow to implement measures to redistribute land. About 70 percent of the state’s rural households do not own land, higher than the national average of 56 percent.
The Girls’ Project, which is being scaled up to reach 1.25 million girls, aims to bridge the gap for women.
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Girls learn to grow vegetables or fruits – even timber – in a corner of their family plots, so they can supplement their meals, as well as add to the family income, or set aside some money by selling some of the produce.
Their efforts are complemented by federal and state schemes for poor adolescent girls. The girls receive 750 rupees ($11) a year from the state toward their education, and 25,000 rupees ($380) on turning 18 if they are still in school and unmarried.
Despite a law banning girls from being married before the age of 18, nearly half India’s girls are married before that age, according to UNICEF, the U.N.’s children’s agency.
Staff at the community center have stopped about half a dozen child marriages in recent years, said Pinaki Haldar, Landesa’s state director.
“Girls, particularly in rural areas, are seen as a burden, and are married early because the dowry that is demanded of the parents rises with older girls,” he said.
“Educating girls on land impacts their thinking, their life, and builds their confidence. Even if she doesn’t get much of an education, she learns to be independent, and also gains some value at home,” he said.
My home, my land
State chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who won an election in 2011 largely on the platform of supporting the rights of farmers and villagers over land, is a champion of land rights.
She introduced the ‘Nijo griha, nijo bhoomi’ (my home, my land) scheme that allocates plots of about 2,200 sq feet (204 sq meters) to each landless rural family, so they can build a small home and cultivate the rest of the land to sustain themselves.
More than 200,000 families have benefited so far. Some have daughters who have been educated about land rights and farming.
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At the community center in Charmahatpur, about a dozen girls who have finished school for the day inspect cabbages, beans and spinach growing in the small garden in the back. They chatter and giggle as they pull out weeds and check for pests.
It took a while to convince parents about the benefits of the program, said Dilwara Mondal, the supervisor.
“Earlier, parents would stand by the door or peep through the window to make sure we weren’t corrupting their daughters,” she said.
“Now they send their daughters willingly. They can see the difference it’s made to them, and to their lives.” (VOA)
OṀ KALMASHARAHITABHŨMYAI NAMAH:
OṀ (AUM) -KAL-MA-SHA-RA-HI-TA-BHOO-MYAI— NA-MA-HA
ॐ कल्मषरहितभूम्यै नमः
(Kalmasham: Tainted, blemish, dirty, sinful, wicked, foul, dosha, opprobrium, stigma; Rahita: Absent, devoid of)
Kalmasham is the opposite of purity; it means impure, contaminated and defective. The word is used in several senses such as: defective, fault, sin, dosham, tainted, vice, crime, disrespect, abuse, evil and contamination. However, it is also used in a technical sense in certain fields of knowledge. In Vedic literature we see words like pavitram, and pavitrata in the opposite sense of kalmasham. We, as Hindus, see everything as pure and equitable with God in an implied meaning that every atom at the microscopic level is part of the Supreme Power (Bhagavān). Having this knowledge and understanding, Hindus see the presence of God in living as well as non-living objects and have a pavitra meaning- kalmasharahita bandham.
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In Vedas and Purāṇās, Lord Shri Ramachandra Murty is portrayed without any defects and His marriage with Sīta was described as kalmasharahitam. He was glorified as the one who strictly observed the 'ekapatnī vratam' meaning-'one wife as a life partner'. Even when Sīta was abducted by the demon- Rāvaṇa and he kept her in his palace for a year, Rama did not look at another woman. The same credit goes to His consort and wife Sīta, who came out of Agni (pyre of fire) as a shining diamond proving her chastity and kalmasharahitam to the world. Our sacred literature is full of these incidents. Our dharmaśhāstrās explain that what is kalmasham is that which brings defection to one's purity. They advise purity in our thought, speech and actions.
God Ram and Goddess SitaGetty Pictures
There are many relationships we have as an individual. Some are pure and kalmasharahitam, as opposed to other relationships, like extramarital affairs. The relationship between husband and wife; brother and sister; father and daughter; parents and children; between siblings; teacher and student; among friends; and last but not least, between a devotee and his desired, beloved and personal god are considered kalmasharahitam.
ALSO READ: Celebrate Holi In The Land Of Krishna
As a country, we have never waged war against another country with the intention of occupancy and robbing their wealth, or to convert them to our religion. We do not have that kalmasham on our hands or in our hearts.
Our land is 'Kalmasharahita Bhūmi'.
Xander Schauffele held off the late challenges from the chasing pack, none more so than Rory Sabbatini of Slovakia — who got without a single stroke of the American — to win a gold medal in the men's individual golf tournament at the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.
It was a huge victory for the 27-year-old at this point of his career. Despite often being amongst the favorites in the latest golf odds, the San Diego-native is yet to win one of golf's four majors — The Open, The Masters, The USPGA and The US Open — and he will certainly be hoping that he can use this triumph in Tokyo to push on next season.
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With nine top-10 finishes in 18 appearances at the majors, six of which have been inside the top five (including finishing second at the 2018 Open and 2019 Masters), Schauffele is making a bit of name for himself as a nearly man in the sport's biggest tournaments, and that it is a duck he will certainly be hoping to break sooner rather than later.
Whilst not a major, winning an Olympic gold medal in golf is not to be sniffed at, and it is the kind of victory that the 27-year-old might just have needed to give him that boost to kick on and finally get his hands on one of the major trophies — even though he will need to wait until next year as the recent Open at Royal St. George's in Kent marked the end of this year's major schedule.
Some golfer's may have played down winning the men's tournament at the Olympics, but for Schauffele, whose grandparents live in Tokyo, taking the gold medal back to the United States with him was at the very top of his priority list.
Olympic GameGetty Pictures
"I really wanted to win for my dad. I am sure he is crying somewhere right now. I kind of wanted this one more than any other," Schauffele said after his one-stroke victory.
"You are trying to represent your country to the best of your ability and then you add family stuff on top of that. I'm probably going to have a nice call with my grandparents tonight.
"Everyone is back home watching. I was feeling the love from San Diego and Las Vegas this whole time. I'm a little speechless right now, quite honestly."
Form and momentum are key in the game of golf, and whilst this is a victory that has come somewhat late in the season, when there are no majors left to vie for, if Schauffele can just carry on playing at the top of his game for the remaining month or so, perhaps even landing a second TOUR Championship in the last tournament of 2021, which he will now likely be tipped to win on the best golf predictions sites, then there is no reason why he can't bring his current form with him into next season.
The Masters is up first, taking place in mid-April, and the prestigious Augusta National hasn't been too bad to the American over the last couple of years, as he finished second in 2019 before scuppering the same position late on to finish tied for third this year. If he can keep up the form that resulted in him winning gold at the Olympics, then he may just find himself being fitting into that sought-after Green Jacket.
It's fair to say that it's only a matter of time before Schauffele lands his maiden major triumph, and there's no doubt that scooping a gold medal at the Olympics will have only helped his cause!
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Today, e-learning is one of the best alternatives for studying despite quarantine restrictions. Still, it has its own flaws, which are noticeable during the long-term experience. From one point, students learn to be independent and prepare their homework without extra help. Usually, everyone can buy essays for sale online and prepare for classes efficiently. And from the other point, online learning demands the highest responsibility. Let's find out why the face-to-face educational process is still more productive.
1. Too many distractions.
Needless to say that staying at home and learning are the biggest incompatibilities. When you get ready for your class, you often forget about how clean your house is or whether you have enough food for the day. In e-learning, the reality is that students should take care not only of the studying process but housekeeping as well.
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2. Not enough help from teachers.
The teacher's work during e-learning is to present the material and make it easy to understand. Still, this might be challenging for both sides. When the teacher sees that most students can get along with it, it is easier to pay attention to one or two from class who hasn't progressed much. Otherwise, while the subject is difficult for most of the class, it is almost impossible to dedicate attention to each while explaining the material better.
3. Less communication.
That feeling that you are far away from your friends can't leave you. Even if you don't have enough time to build strong friendships, studying in class helps students gain better results. Healthy competition plays a significant role in education, and everyone who stands for e-learning only should consider this aspect.
4. Access to online materials only.
When students write their texts or work on other assignments, they need to have more than Wikipedia. Studying in campus libraries is much more fun than sitting in one place to look for necessary information. Beside the traditional references, you can get feedback on your drafts.
Less movement with e-learning brings both positives and negatives in students' lifestyles.Getty pictures
5. Lack of individual approach.
E-learning is all about individual learning. Indeed, you can connect to your teacher or classmates online, but still, the schedule makes strict boundaries that you can't text or call them in late at night. When students are in class, a teacher can spread their attention to the whole audience and see how every student perceives material simultaneously.
6. Staying mostly at home.
Less movement with e-learning brings both positives and negatives in students' lifestyles. On the one hand, you don't need to spend hours driving on public transport or being stuck in traffic. And also, you don't have that vital time to prepare your mind for studying. On the road, we listen to audiobooks or read traditional ones, observe life, and think about further studies. This is the way our brain gets ready for classes, so it is less stressful for students to learn when they arrive at class.
7. Higher electricity bill.
Yeah, paying more for internet and electricity consumption is one more disadvantage of e-learning. When you study in class, you can use a public school Wi-Fi connection and charge your laptop in there as well. And while staying at home, you need to think about how much time you spend studying not to increase your electricity bill. Even if you pay for an Internet connection even when you don't study at home, electricity use significantly increases while you start e-learning.
Due to current epidemic measurement restrictions, many schools consider e-learning as one of the best variants to make education available for everyone. Still, e-learning can be a challenging affair for most students and teachers. To cope with it, they need to achieve new skills and apply them to the new reality.
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