Person of the Week: Shobha Diwakar

Dear Readers,

We are starting a new interview series where we ask few questions to people who are making a difference, it can be big, it can be small it doesn’t matter what matters is their contribution to our society. It can be anyone from any walks of life and from any country. Please, do send us suggestions of people whom you think we should interview for this series.

ShobhaD

Dr. Shobha Diwakar lives in Jabalpur, India and retired as the head of English department at C.P. Mahila Mahavidhyalaya, Jabalpur. She has published many research papers, stories, poems and essays in national, international and online journals. She contributes regularly to writerslifeline and Indian Periodical. Dr Diwakar  servers on the Advisory Board of www.writerslifeline.ca and editorial board of CLRI (contemporary literary journal India) for poetry and short story section.

  1. Tell us something about yourself? 

I grew up as a child in a very loving joint family where love, comfort and traditional values were lavishly showered. It was a much secured environment where the entire family got together to pray in the evenings, light the arti, study together, play pittoo (7 tiles), cricket, hide and seek, “gilli danda,’ or stick and stone, even marbles, simple card games, learnt classical music, played tabla, harmonium, and the tanpura, besides watering the garden. In fact, as children we also started a library from which our neighboring friends borrowed books.

Since I enjoyed a very happy childhood the discipline, ideals, morals and values inculcated in my early life are deeply ingrained in me. Apart from my entire family, I am  thankful and indebted to all my teachers and guardians who have greatly influenced my life in one way or the other. They have always encouraged me to participate in dramas, concerts, carol singing, elocution contests, and state level debates, right from KG to my college life, for which I have won many prizes. During Shakespeare’s centenary celebrations, I was highly appreciated by the British visiting team in college as personifying Sir Toby Belch’s character from Twelfth Night, and Shylock, from Merchant of Venice. Later when an American team visited our college, I was chosen as the lead singer of the American National Anthem

I have always been a very dedicated, diligent, conscientious and a hardworking student, which has brought me honors. I passed my Board exams in flying colors with distinction in 4 subjects. Held merit position in BA and won the gold medal in PG by standing 1st in order of merit from the University of Jabalpur. MP

 Lastly, I would like to add that I hate wasting time by watching TV daily soap operas, instead I prefer to read good books, or pass my leisure time in writing, tapping my toes to some good western or classical, semi classical songs, which I adore. I love listening to Jim Reeves, Nat King Cole, Pat Boone, Elvis Presley, Connie Francis, Cliff Richard, and old time favorite instrumentals like Tequila …all old beautiful Hindi  songs sung by Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Geeta Dutt, Sehgal, Talat Mehmood, Mukesh… and others… and gazals…

  1. How has interest in fields of art and social sciences changed among students in your experience as a teacher?

Well, I retired about 8 years back but as a teacher for those long years I have noticed the gradual dwindling of students’ interest in studies, whether arts or social sciences; their aim being only to pass the examination by mugging up notes, or getting married according to their parents’ wish… education for such students is just a pastime and a passport for marriage… there may be exceptions to the rule.

Graduating and obtaining a plain B.A. degree, leaves the students frustrated as this alone does not prepare them to strive forward and stand on their own feet because they do not learn any skills at the college or school level to support themselves. Even after completing post graduation / M. Phil/ or Ph.D., students cannot become independent as there is immense unemployment. On the other hand, if the students learn some art, visual or the performing arts, they stand some chance. There is a wide scope in learning western or Indian classical dancing, learning classical, instrumental or vocal music, drawing or painting for they can run hobby classes and earn albeit, on a minor scale to meet their daily needs.

The TV has become a great attraction for parents as well as children. Talent shows such as Sa Re Ga Ma, Indian Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, Dance +, Jhalak Dikla Ja, India’s Best Dramebaaz, India’s Got Talent,( besides a host of other reality shows), offer free facilities to those who excel in these  arts / skills. Selected participants avail lodging, boarding, get free air tickets for parents/ relatives to visit them, besides tutors and coaches to sharpen their talents have become top priorities. The result is, surrounded with glamour, and name, parents feel proud of their children, as do the children who are becoming precocious,… dropouts from early school and college life to earn money and fame. The ad mad world is no less responsible for this drastic change where very, very young babes, toddlers, kids of all ages, adolescent children are ‘used’ for promoting products.

  1. What would you like to change in the present education system?

Rote system of education that undermines the students’ intelligence and the examination pattern, which demands writing, mugged up answers.

 Lessons selected are long, dull, drab and uninteresting. There is no dearth of good one act plays, humorous essays, short stories, poems that can be included in the text whether Hindi or English to create interest in the students. Although Grammar is important, I have noticed too many repetitive pages of it are prescribed after every chapter in some form or the other, which the students find boring and avoid paying attention to. I feel if supplementary English and Hindi is introduced, as before, it can solve this problem.

 Lastly, in order to develop soft skills and make students’ independent, interdisciplinary fields of study should be introduced from the grass root level. Apart from the traditional art and social sciences course options available at the BA level, choices such as short hand, animation, writing skills, script writing, copy editing, photography, art of public speaking, debating, dramatics, dancing, gardening, landscaping, philatelic, agriculture, horticulture, and book binding techniques, need implementation. This will enhance attendance and interest of students who come from the villages… or from ordinary families, to establish themselves after graduation. Skill development is therefore the turning point. Joining classes outside to learn these arts is a very costly affair and not many can bear the brunt.

  1. What is the mantra you live by?

 Milton rightly wrote in Paradise Lost:

The mind is its own state, and in itself

 Can make a heaven of Hell or Hell of heaven

Happiness comes from within and not from without…. “Seek, and ye shall find,” is my motto; as well as to lead a healthy, disciplined, active and a god- fearing life… always keeping the interests and demands of my family uppermost..

For me it is always:

Lead kindly light amidst the encircling gloom,

Lead thou me on,

The night is dark and I am far from home

Lead thou me on….

  1. What is your message for our readers?

There are crossroads and boundaries everywhere. Ponder awhile on the pros and cons of  life and opportunities that flash before you. They come but thrice. Knock at it as you target your goal with hard work, patience and perseverance. Without struggle, you cannot achieve your feat.

Be positive; drive away all negative thoughts. Bridle your whims and fancies. When in doubt listen to that little voice inside…, your conscience or your inner voice. It can never go wrong. Stop. Look. Proceed… only then accelerate. Use your brakes and clutches God has provided you with…. Pray everyday not just when your exams are on your head.

 Keep good company, revere your teachers and mentors, and respect your parents and their infirmities just as they did yours when you were young. Count your blessings and keep Lord Mahavira’s precept in mind, “Live and Let Live.”

 

9 Comments

  1. I appreciate Dr. Shobha Diwakar as a literary critic and poet and particularly for her faith in the ideology of live and let live that she describes in this interview. She is sincere and scholarship as well as friendship without sincerity is an empty vessel. Being away in Canada, I never met and talked to her even over the phone, but have read her write-ups in Writers Lifeline, and elsewhere. I am impressed, mainly because there is the strong element of sincerity in her writings. Indian Periodical deserves thanks for bringing such a person to the main light of readership.

  2. This interview provides great insight into education as a foundation for better living. Bravo.

  3. I am deeply humbled by your support , guidance and this moving comment on my writings . Praise coming form a great internationally recognized poet laureate like you dr gill has not only encouraged me to concentrate on my writings but also a hope that i may meet you someday to be enlightened on world peace
    regards sd
    I also thank MA Rossi for liking what i feel about the lapses in modern education

  4. Preeti Jain says:

    I cannot agree more; the impact that education has on all of our lives should be held at upmost importance. The ideas on what to change in the education system would better provide for future students. I agree with Dr. Shobha Diwakar that learning and teaching go hand-in-hand. What needs to change in today’s education system is a way to help develop student’s interest in thinking in the areas of their choice. Living in today’s technological world, many students are simply focused on getting the work done with the help of online resources in minutes. Relying most of their student life on readily available resources from an early age is hurting the students by burying their talents and, in many cases, students are not even aware of the talent they possess. By bringing awareness through her writings, Dr. Shobha Diwakar is certainly making a difference in the communities near and far.

  5. thank you Preeti for collaborating my ideas and bringing out this fact that because of technological advancement the trend is to cut, copy , paste. There is no need for students to work hard, apply their logic and intelligence so long as they can scrape through

  6. . I agree with most of what dr diwakar has written about the lapses in today’s education whether colleges or schools and would like to add that the system has been made tiresome with constant interference from parents who keep meddling with the school/college authorities over flimsy matters; also there is too much political interference in the field of education and the way the institutions are taken to task over flimsy matters is disgraceful . i agree there are some teachers who might be frustrated and not mentally fit to be teachers but then who is responsible for inducting them ? The reservation policy
    Exams are no longer exams they have become ladders to top and claim jobs by hook or by crook by any means. Bihar Toppers!! Sushma

  7. Sunita Jain says:

    Very well written, all should understand d importance of education, instead of fighting for reservations, Today passing is like joke those deserving r disappointed seeing their results as they know that even after getting such good marks they will get admission or this reservation policy will take their place. Its high time something should be done to get d education system back into shape.

  8. What Dr Shobha says is very true and sensible. Without mincing words she has clearly shown how some positive changes can be brought about not only in the education system but also in one’s life. She’s an extremely sincere and a very hard and honest worker with an extremely positive attitude. Dr Shobha likes to get to the root of complicated issues before taking a decision or jumping to conclusions which I feel is a great quality. Her work, be it a poem or a short story usually have a deep meaning although they appear to be very simple. Congrats Dr Shobha, not only for your views but all your work. You are an admirable lady!

  9. thank you ms.sunita jain and ms. anu for your very, very apt comments and realization that education is not going uphill but downhill not only because of discriminating factors like reservations but also because of too much political and private involvement of those who think they know best . i even blame parents for this lapse . They blame teachers if their wards are not good at studies and shunt the burden on teachers while most of the time they themselves do not pay attention to their child’s work and prefer to send them to coaching classes . I daily see tiny tots with bags hung across their shoulders tromping for tutions, whether school going or college going . Education system needs to be revamped and only highly qualified people should be appointed to chalk out the syllabus whether at college or school level. The examination system is simply an eyewash

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *