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By Rukma Singh
Amidst the unending political turmoil dotting the landscape, and air filled with silent fear and feelings of insecurity, are three young men who have left all their worldly fortunes to impart education to the students in Kashmir.
They have decided to give their life to creating awareness in even the remotest areas of Kashmir, so that the unfavorable political climate doesn’t serve as an obstacle to the young, talented minds.
Mubeen Masudi graduated from IIT Bombay, and like all IITians, secured his future by getting a job with a great package. He further went on to clear CAT and got admission in IIM Ahemdabad. But the monotony of a 9-5 job didn’t interest him. He wanted to make a difference. He wanted to bring awareness about educational opportunities in Jammu and Kashmir. Fortunately, he met two other IITians who had the same thought processes. They are Imbesat Ahmad and Salman Shahid from IIT Kharagpur.
The team went on to fight all sorts of challenges, from the need to convince their families to the monetary requirements of setting up an entire institution, and founded RISE. RISE is a first of its kind institute in Kashmir which offers specialized mentoring and coaching to aspirants of JEE-(Mains/ADV).
To leave a secure future and embark on a selfless journey such as this demands a lot of grit and dedication. Even the devastating floods in Kashmir did not disengage the team of RISE.
In conversation with NewsGram, the team shared its journey, future aspirations and long term goals. Read on.
NG: On this entire journey of graduating from your respective institutions to going ahead and setting up the institution, what kinds of difficulties have you faced?
RISE: One of the most major issues was lack of awareness. But that was something we were already prepared for, we realized and knew that the awareness about IITs or any prestigious institutes was low in Jammu and Kashmir. We didn’t expect a great response in the beginning itself.
But I think the most challenging and unfortunate incident was the Kashmir floods that happened in September 2014. We faced huge monetary losses and were on the verge of bankruptcy. At one point we thought we might have to close the institute. But the bigger problem that we faced was that because of the floods, there was a gap of two months. There was also a change in schedule. The board exams that happen in October had to be postponed to March. Hence, the entire plan got messed up, and the results weren’t as great as we had expected. As compared to the results of other schools and institutes, our results have been the best, there is no comparison whatsoever. But as per our own expectations, it wasn’t great.
We had expected to send atleast some students to IIT this year. But that couldn’t happen. Even though we had some brilliant students, the floods, the subsequent two month gap and change in schedule took a toll on us.
NG: How long did it take you to recuperate from the losses that came about with the floods?
RISE: We started functioning after two months from the day of the floods. During the first month, the institute was under 15 feet of water. The ground floor that had a library of 4000 books was destroyed. So during that time, it was inaccessible.
It took us around 5 days just to take the books out and throw them. Another 15 days went into cleaning the place. After that we restarted classes on the first floor which wasn’t submerged in water. However, there was no electric supply for a month. But we couldn’t waste any more time, so conducting classes was necessary.
The entire renovation went on till January. The after-effects still exist. We couldn’t start the library. But the basic functionality was restored by January.
NG: How did you go about creating awareness about your institute and your ideology in a region like Jammu and Kashmir? What was the method of campaigning that you adopted?
RISE: It’s not that there is zero awareness here, but yes, there’s minimal awareness. We did a number of seminars across the leading schools. We started writing in newspapers as well, about IITs and such institutes, how to prepare for them and other things that come under general counseling. That somehow helped us spread the word.
NG:Did you also need to talk to the parents of these children to convince them, give them adequate information or address their reservations?
RISE: We have a procedure in place for everything. We select the students through a test which is free of cost. We don’t disclose the fee of the course. Then through the test, we get to know who all have qualified. After that, we speak to the students and parents individually so as to understand who has the affordability and who doesn’t. The fee we charge is much lesser than what is charged in Delhi and Kota. But the idea is to not give any discounts to people who can entirely afford it. The revenue that we generate from there helps us give huge discounts to those who have financial problems.
There are a few students who are actually studying free of cost. For us, talent is the priority. If the child is talented, we’re always ready to give him/her the required boost. We don’t let money come in the way.
NG:Are the economic conditions of the students’ families the only concern that requires to be addressed?
RISE: No. The financial aspect is binary in nature. Either people can afford it or they cannot. The main issue comes in terms of the approach. Students here focus more on board exams. So that is where we face the highest resistance and that is where the role of counseling comes into picture. We’ve to make them understand that they’ve to manage your board exams and entrances simultaneously.
NG: In India, our education system is based more on marks than aptitude. In such a scenario where students are forced to run behind marks that allow them to meet unrealistic cut-offs and make it to good colleges, how did you manage to convince the students to also pay attention to entrance preparation?
RISE: On our journey, we realized that mindset is a function of awareness. If a person isn’t aware of the kind of opportunities that exist after class 12th , and the tough competition that there is to avail these opportunities, then s/he’s obviously more likely to concentrate on just board exams. In such a case, if a person is made aware, s/he might start preparing beforehand.
Once we had two to three batches and several success stories, we made sure that the seniors who got into their dream colleges came and shared their experiences. These students were also a part of our seminars that we conducted across schools. This year, one of our students, Aqsa, made it to St Stephens (Economics). So when we’re talking to younger students, we make sure she comes along. Aqsa shares her story, her experience, when to start and other such necessary details, and also answers the queries of the students.
When students see someone from among themselves going ahead and carving a niche, they are bound to get motivated. They feel, ‘If she can do it, why can’t I?’
NG: We all know the stereotypes associated with Arts and Humanities. In terms of academic preferences, what’s the situation in Jammu and Kashmir like?
RISE: See, the issue is, we aren’t as developed as the rest of India. And India isn’t as developed as the rest of the world. In the rest of the world, liberal arts are preferred and given equal importance. But in India, the preference immediately goes down. So in Kashmir, the preference goes down further. It’s also dependent on the kind of economy we’re in. 40 years back, everyone wanted to be a doctor or an engineer.
We, in Kashmir are easily 20 years behind the rest of our country. So right now, majority of the students are going for Medicine or Engineering.
In 2011, however, Dr Shah Faisal got the first position in the UPSC exam. Since it is a small place, everyone prefers a government job. So since then people also have started expressing the desire to prepare for civil services. But primarily, engineering and medicine are preferred.
NG: Do you see a gender based gap in Kashmir, in terms of the participation in the field of academics, primarily Engineering and Medicine?
RISE: In huge institutions like IITs, the number of girls per class ranges between just 20-30, which is in contrast to the hundreds of boys who take admission.
In Kashmir, if you look at the middle and upper middle class, there’s actually better representation of girls as compared to the rest of India. It’s something that isn’t very easy to believe. It sounds strange, but that’s actually the fact.
However, when it comes to coaching for IITs etc, there are lesser girls. But that does not represent the general education scenario in Kashmir. If we go into medical coaching, there are actually more number of girls than boys.
NG: Do you think that the backwardness of education in Kashmir is solely because of the political turmoil?
RISE: It’s a vicious cycle actually. When education isn’t a priority for the government, it shows in the results. Students don’t get into prestigious institutes. When that happens, their juniors have no source of encouragement. That results in a cycle where students are chasing mediocrity, and the upcoming batches adopt the same habit.
We face a huge lack of role models here. In Kashmir, a student is most likely to think that because none of his seniors got through IIT, he won’t either. Hence, most of the students end up in the private colleges that have mushroomed in the last decade.
NG: What are the further plans that you’ve conceptualized for your institution?
RISE: This year, we’re doing something really grand. With the help of the Directorate of Education and J&K Bank, we’re conducting a talent search exam across Kashmir, for classes 10th to 12th. The aim is to identify talented students across various classes and streams and then provide them with mentoring and counseling based on their aims and aspirations.
For example, If there’s a student in class 12th in Commerce who is very talented, but does not know what exactly the meaning of CA is, then he’ll never become a Chartered Accountant in his life. That is the situation here. People finish their masters in commerce but still don’t know who a CA is.
If that student is connected to a CA in class 11th itself, then his/her chances of becoming a CA are greater.
We’ve raised money for this through J&K bank, and formulated a team of counselors and experts. We’ve conducted this test for 9000 students as of now. We even conducted it in Gurez, which is a stone’s throw-away from the LoC. So, the idea is to have a homogenous group of around 50 students from different fields like Journalism, Civil services, IIT and MBBS aspirants etc within the next ten days.
We hope that this timely guidance helps them achieve their target. Our goal is to conduct this test for 15, 000 students across Kashmir. The entire process, right from the test taking to the counseling, will be free of any kind of costs.
NG: Talk about your long-term goals.
RISE: Honestly, there are a number of institutes who are doing better than us when it comes to teaching, mentoring or offering resources. We don’t claim to be the best institute. But because of the cost and location of these institutions, they aren’t easily accessible to everyone.
Kashmir is a place where the education system is neglected. It’s as bad as it can be. So the idea is to develop a product which is beneficial to the student community, such that it also reaches the other end of the digital divide. Once that product is developed, we’d look for ways to efficiently replicate it. It’s not just about Kashmir. Even in places like Delhi and Bombay, there are untapped pockets with a lot of talent but lack of opportunities in terms of educational resources. Our aim is to reach these people.
Divorce is a hard fact in someone's life because it can affect all aspects of life like social, economic, and living status. Conditions become tougher if you have children. Recovering from divorce is also a painful process but good thing is that it is possible to get through it and place better in terms of both finances and emotions. The impact of divorce on finances can be life-lasting but taking precautions and thorough investigations of options can help a lot not only to save unnecessary costs but also some other hidden areas where you weren't aware. Following are some tips to save money during a divorce.
1.Avoid advice from everyone
People like your friends, family members, colleagues, neighbors, etc. will start giving unsolicited advice during the divorce process when you discuss it with them. They will share their own experiences and horror stories and advice on how to handle financial issues during the divorce process. Get advice only from those you trust. In this regard, attorneys or financial experts are the best options to save money during the divorce process.
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2.Consider your spouse
It can be challenging for someone who has started the divorce process to think about the soon-to-be ex-spouse's best interests and financial wellbeing. While making decisions about assets and finances, considering not only your interests but also your spouse's interests can help you to reduce divorce process time. You can save your own and your spouse's money if you spend less time in such negotiations because times spend with the attorney will also be shortened.
3.Goodbye to the joint bank account
You should close all joint bank accounts which were in use of you and your spouse especially credit base account. Block major and supplementary credit and debit cards. Your spouse can use it and you can suffer heavy financial loss. Closing of all joint accounts should be the first step to cut down financial loss during divorce proceedings.
4.Open a new checking account
In continuation of the previous point, open your new checking account. This will help you in terms of not only building up of financial history but also your credit record. Credit history will be helpful if you apply for a loan or any other credit facility. This financial history will let you control your money during the divorce process. If your bank account is not a joint account but you own it, then make sure that your spouse was not using supplementary debit or credit cards. If the spouse was using then block it immediately.
Divorce can include many additional and sometimes hidden costs along with routine costs. This can bring more stress and worries to your life. Saving money can help you to fight such financial status. Force savings every month in this regard can help a lot. You can do this by opening a savings account and setting up a debit order from your checking account.
Recovering from divorce is also a painful process but good thing is that it is possible to get through it and place better in terms of both finances and emotions.Getty pictures
6.Keeping track record of the expense
You may not be interested in maintaining a record sheet of your expenses during your married life. If so, then you should start now. Analyze your bank statement critically because expenses can be out of control now. Review your daily cost of things and make critical decisions to cut down unnecessary costs.
7.Chalk out budget
Ideally, a proper budget should be chalked out to control expenses and save money during the divorce process. Select important segments/areas of your lifestyle and allocate a budget to each of them. After allocation of budget, stick to it strictly every month. This can be problematic in the beginning but become easy when you become used to it. By doing this, you will also be able to manage your savings account by allocating money.
8.Own health insurance
Medical emergencies and different health issues can be sudden or without any notice. So, it is necessary to have a health insurance plan in order to not only pay bills of medicines and lab tests but also an unexpected expensive hospital stay. If your health insurance has previously been covering your spouse then it is advisable to set up your own health insurance plan. This can help you to save money.
9.Amendments in your will and beneficiaries
If you have already decided about your will beneficiaries then it is the right time to update it. Now your divorce is under process, so, the content of your will and beneficiaries should also be significantly changed. This is much needed because it is possible that now you have children and who you like to allocate your property and saving especially if the children were not present when you drew up the will.
10.Change power of attorney
Many people assign power of attorney to their spouses during the marriage. Now it is essential to update and end the power of attorney and signing authority given to the spouse. This will help you in terms of legal and financial matters.
11.Apply for online divorce
Advancement in technology has made it easy for everyone to save time and money. Now in the United States, it is easy to apply for a divorce online. You can save time and attorney fees by downloading all the required divorce documents online. You should not worry about which document and how downloaded because many local court websites can give detailed information about how to file divorce online and which documents are needed.
12.Make use of the mediator
It is extremely helpful to use the mediator to decide terms and conditions between you and your spouse. Although an attorney is needed in certain matters of divorce use of a mediator will help you in saving attorney fee
Many spouses are very conscious about expensive assets and luxuries that are going to be distributed among spouses after the divorce. So, they make decisions to splurge on these luxuries. It is advisable not to splurge as the cost of divorce proves may be past your expectation.
14.Do it yourself (DIY) divorce
Many people are unable to afford the cost of attorney and mediator, so, they now try to handle things by themselves as much as possible. The rate of divorce and its cost is increasing day by day. This factor making "do it yourself (DIY) divorce" popular. DIY spouses are using information given by some attorneys who are offering free consultation on their first meeting.
Disclaimer: ( The article is sponsored and hence promotes some commercial links)
Gone are those days when people, sports enthusiasts, and governments lined up to host the Olympics. Hosting the Olympics, once seemed to be an immensely prideful event, but it has now transformed into an economic burden. Host cities grapple with a plethora of problems which mainly include construction delays, cost overruns, security issues, and environmental concerns.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has more or less aggravated the problems. The Winter Olympic Games are scheduled for 2022 in Bejing, China. Furthermore, Paris and Los Angeles have been recently nominated as the hosts for the 2024 and 2028 Olympics Games respectively. Both cities have held the Games on two occasions previously, with Los Angeles hosting as recently as 1984. Simply submitting a bid to the International Olympics Committee (IOC) costs up to millions of dollars. Host cities typically have to spend $50 million to $100 million in fees to a slew of consultancy agencies, event management companies, etc.
Hosting the Olympics is more costly than the bidding process. For instance, London spent $14.6 billion for hosting the Games in 2012. On the other side, Beijing spent a lavish $42 billion for the Games in 2008. Meanwhile, the Russians spent $51 billion dollars on the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Making, it the costliest Olympic Games in the history of the Olympics.
Governments of host cities and bid teams love to brag about the legacy of hosting the Games. But the hidden costs of such a massive project is too evident to hide. Such megaprojects require additional employment, as well as subsequent improvement of the pre-existing facilities and public infrastructure. Most of these projects are fraught with costs overruns, shoddy work and a lack of long term vision.
According to a study conducted at the prestigious Oxford University In England, by Danish geographer Bent Flyvbjerg and American journalist Allison Stewart, which looked into the individual economic parameters of hosting the Summer Olympic Games between 1960 and 2012. The findings were astonishing, they found out that the Olympic Games overrun the initial cost estimate with 100 per cent consistency. No other megaproject is this consistent regarding cost overruns.
Athens, in particular, seems to have been the tipping point. The city pridefully hosted the Games in 2004, which ended up costing them €9 billion (a whopping $11 billion at today's exchange rate). The offset of the Games was in disguise the onset of Greece's tumultuous years. The country now is in total disarray, with sky-high unemployment rates, failing economic apparatus, record levels of homelessness, all among the grandiose venues built for the Games.
The conclusion is simple, hosting the Olympics is an extravagant affair. If not planned properly, it tends to result in a severe economic crisis for the host city. If the host city lacks facilities and public infrastructure to support the excess crowds pouring in, not hosting the Olympics may be the best option.
Indian wrestler Ravi Kumar (57kg) and Deepak Punia (86kg) enjoyed fruitful outings at the Tokyo Olympic Games as they secured semifinal berths in their respective weight categories at the Makuhari Messe on Wednesday.
On the opening day of the wrestling competition, Ravi Kumar defeated Bulgaria's Georgi Vangelov 14-4 on technical superiority to reach the last-four in the men's 57kg category, while compatriot Deepak Punia overcame China's Zushen Lin 6-3 on points to advance to the semifinals.
Ravi Kumar will take on Nurislam Sanayev of Kazakhstan in the last-four, while Punia will be up against David Morris Taylor of the USA.
Earlier, Ravi Kumar had won his opening-round bout by technical superiority against Colombia's Oscar Tigreros to secure a quarterfinal spot. Competing in the Round-of-16 bout against the Colombian wrestler, the 23-year-old Ravi Kumar, who is making his Olympic debut, showed no nerves as he dominated the bout to win by technical superiority (13-2).
Ravi Kumar landed attack after attack and went 13-2 up, winning the bout by technical superiority with minutes to spare. In wrestling, building up a 10-point lead over the opponent results in a victory by technical superiority.
India's 86kg freestyle wrestler Deepak Punia showed no signs of the niggle that had forced him to pull out of the Poland Open Ranking Series in Warsaw in June, as he defeated Nigeria's Ekerekeme Agiomor on technical superiority to secure a quarterfinal berth.
He got his Olympic campaign to a fine start as he was in control from the start of the bout and hardly ever allowed his Nigerian opponent any room to maneuver his moves, finally winning with a 12-1 on technical superiority.
Punia, who had also suffered an elbow injury just before the Games, was slow at the start but came into his own as the bout progressed, inflicting takedowns at regular intervals to earn points.
The Indian wrestler eased into a 4-1 lead at the break and extended his lead comfortably in the second period.
Punia, the silver medallist from the 2019 world wrestling championships, then set up a clash with China's Lin Zushen in the quarterfinals and defeated him 6-3.