The world, as we see every day, is getting increasingly complex. In addition to the decades long concerns over armament race, climate change and diplomatic mistrust, reign of anarchy in the name of religion in certain parts of the globe has marked the recent period.
Twelve-year-old Sarojini goes to Ambedkar School in Bengaluru. Her feisty Amma works as a maid and cares about her daughter’s education deeply. Sarojini is fine with the school and its inadequacies till her best friend, Amir, moves away from their area into a better one and starts going to Greenhill, a posh private school. Things are not the same between them any more, Sarojini feels. And so, she decides that she must go to Greenhill too. Or bring back Amir to Ambedkar School.
The Panchatantra is a testimony to the rich tradition of the oral story telling culture of the subcontinent. Handed down over centuries, kids over generations have been brought up on a wide variety of tales from it, with each story underpinned by a moral message. Animal characters are central to the narrative, further enhancing the appeal of these stories to young minds.
Roopa Pai parses the Bhagavad Gita for younger readers in this new volume from Hachette whose back cover exhorts interest by declaring ‘It’s one of the oldest books in the world and India’s biggest blockbuster bestseller!’ Keeping with the hyperbolic tone of the cover that insists that the young person is missing out on something mementous, Pai opens the book by addressing the eager reader with this observation.
This little school in Bhopal, 28 students strong at last count, is one among several such efforts in different pockets of India to make a difference to the way children learn. In this book, the prime mover of Anand Niketan Democratic School, Pramod Maithil, shares the story of the school’s journey so far, starting with why the school was set up in the first place.
School education is a significant part of one’s life span that endeavours to impart critical thinking, reasoning and logic among children. Within the paradigm of school education, science as a discipline is a dynamic, expanding body of knowledge covering ever new domains of experience.
Sowmya Rajendran’s The Boy Who Asked Why is an apt choice for a child’s first view of our society and its flaws. The book is meant for children aged 6 and above and is a very simple yet powerful introduction to India’s caste system, hierarchies, discriminatory practices and their repercussions over time. The Boy Who Asked Why is the story of Bhim, born to untouchables in British India.
The blurb at the back of Subhadra Sengupta’s A History of India for Children clarifies that it is sufficiently updated with the relatively recent approach to the study of history. ‘History is … about how ordinary people lived—the houses they lived in, the food they ate, the clothes they wore and what the children studied in school … it is the story of our past.’ Such a sensitization has also marked the rewriting of history textbooks in schools.
It is so difficult to achieve a combination of the ancient and the modern, the historical and the imaginary, the authentic and the innovative. But in The Last Kaurava by Kamesh Ramakrishna we have it. In it, the Mahabharata comes alive with a twentyfirst century zest.
Ben Antao has tackled the birth of Goan Independence with humour and an unrepentant pen. That politics is money is unquestioned in this novel. That politics is business is also boldly stated. And with the events in this tale taking place in the early 1960s when, for those of us who were raised in a more idealistic time and were led to believe in statesmanship and leadership (Kennedy, Gandhi, Churchill et al), and in altruistic nation-building in a post-WWII era, this book comes as a bit of a shake-up and a wake-up call.