June 2009

Excerpts from chat with Nachiket Mor (ICICI Foundation for inclusive growth)

A good book to read: John Hold- “why children fail?”

Net enrollment at primary school level (06-07) – 92.75 %.

ASSET Test- When on this test students were asked the question ababab/ab = ? Most students answered that it is equal to “1111” & When asked what is the formula of steam – most students across India answered that “Steam has NO formula”.

Teaching is an art and a skill, you have to learn it. you don’t need a formal educational degree for it.  You should know how to make the child understand the concepts.

Skills have benchmark- I have demonstrated to you a certain school level.  Standards as per subjective relativity. Therefore, every teacher should know the standards.

Cognitive resonance reduction – all things look good in retrospect.

Incomplete contracts Theory – Tells about the difference between what i should evaluate a person on and what the person thinks he should be evaluated upon. The best people in the organizations are the ones that do more than what contract says (i.e. what they are supposed to do).

Poverty action lab website of MIT. Sewa mandir schools.

55 lakh teachers are in India.

There is a well known theory that says that What you teach other people you retain 90% of it. Then why is that the   teachers fail in tests on the level of students they are teaching even after teaching for 5 yrs ? There should sure something fundamentally wrong somewhere.

Kids must get out of this nonsense-a black parent south american foundation.

1. Standardised tests

2. Inclassroom support

3. Head master as school leader

4. Strengthen public schools

5. Regulate private schools – structure, pressure & support.

Parents participation in performance of child in school-fixation on ranks, who can reproduce, emphasis on competition.

Reaffirm to the child that his knowledge has a value – parent can be involved.

Frustrated in learning stuff that is well below his mental level.


For Last mile delivery – codify & creates stringent rules. For any large system to run successfully some rules have to be there.

For e.g. Jet airways has pretty stringent rules.

Moment of truth score- ask branch client right outside the branch just one question ‘how did he like the bank?’

Taj hotels-smile,crumbled paper

Starbucks-high quality service- A Waitress at Starbucks – “Mr.mor you look sad what happened ?”

It is a conversation that you need to enter in with your customers and not just a simple service. You have to create a culture of respect, of humility and of value-add that you are bringing to the customer’s life by serving him.

Teaching is a volunteer activity.

‘No child left behind’ program by George Bush was a fantastic initiative. But he did not execute this in the right manner.

When asked on how do you think changes can be brought about in big organisations ? He said that ” Changes take their own time to happen and for every one to embrace them. Therefore, Take baby steps.  If today is even iota better than yesterday than be happy that the change is happening. Don’t expect too much to happen in a short while.”


May 4,2009 – Its 7 am in the morning, my first day of the TFI institute. We have been asked to dress in loose clothes and bring with us a bottle of water and a cap.

Well we reach the AV room where we are briefed about the day’s activities –
Session-1 – A connect-with-atleast-one-child session followed by
Session-2 – a debrief on what happened during the first session.

We started our day with reciting the Vaishnav Vajan (which spells out the qualities of a good human being).
The lyrics of the song are –
Vaishnav Jan to tene kahiye
Jay peerh paraaye janneyray
Par dukkhey upkar karey teeyey, man abhiman na anney ray
Sakal lokma Sahuney bandhey,
Ninda Na karye kainee ray
Baach kaachh, Man nischal Raakhey, dhan-dhan jananee tainee ray
Samdrishi nay trishna tyagee, par-stree jaynay mat ray
Vivihva thaki asatya na bolay, par-dhan nav jhaley haath ray
Moh maaya vyaayey nahin Jeynay, dridth vairagya jana manma ray
Ram-nam-shoom taalee laagee,
Sakal teerth seyna tanma ray
Vanloohee nay kapat rahit chhay,
Kaam, Krodh nivarya ray
Bhane Narsinhyo tainoo darshan karta kul ekotair taarya re.


Speak only as godlike of the man who feels another’s pain
Who shares another’s sorrow and pride does disdain
Who regards himself lowliest of the low
Speaks not a word of evil against anyone
Blessed is the mother who gave birth to such a son
Who looks upon everyone as his equal,
Lust he has renounced
Who honours women like he honours his mother
Whose tongue knows not the taste of falsehood
Nor covets another’s worldly goods
Who longs not for worldly wealth (or fame)
For he treads the path of renunciation
Ever on his lips is Ram’s holy name
All places of pilgrimage are within him
He has conquered greed, is free of deceit, lust and anger
Through him Narsinh has godly vision
And his generation to come will attain salvation.


We were divided into groups of 10 people each and were told to connect with atleast one child we met. One of the fellows asked our facilitator that “how would we know whether we have connected with a child? “. To this our facilitator responded by saying “you will know that when it happens”. So we set-out on this journey to connect.

We were then taken to the Shivaji nagar bus stand. Here we were asked to pick out one item (without actually having to choose the item-we had to put our hands in the bag and pick up any one item we got) from a bag that contained crayons, story book, scissors, lipstick, nail cutter,etc. We were supposed to use this one item to connect with the child. And well so we all set-out on our journey – A journey that had a fixed goal but no one way of reaching that goal.

I wondered to myself – “what an amazing way to start a new journey ? !!!”

But I was apprehensive – what if parents think we are trying to do with their kids?, its so easy to ask to connect, but then how do we do it ?, a story book is what i have got, what if these children don’t understand english ?, what if the children run-away seeing a huge bhaiya like me?.

So I walked towards an Anganwadi where children who cannot afford education or are orphans from neighbourhood communities are taught by a local teacher on the roles of government. These children get to eat khichadi at 12 noon and are then sent back home.

The experience at the small-one-room Aanganwadi school taught me in a hundred different ways how love had no language and that even while speaking in english i was able to connect with a crowd of 15 6-7 year olds. And when I left the school all children unanimously said – “Welcome” (i taught them that whenever i say “thank you”, you all need to say “welcome”) and they also asked me “bhaiya phir se aana” (please come again!)

Debrief Session

Like me, others had also there own beautiful experiences to share. We could clearly see our apprehensions, our presumptions melting away when we heard everyone’s experiences.

The movement is launched…