October 2nd is celebrated as Gandhi Jayanthi. Gandhiji is the symbol of humbleness and from October 2nd to October 8th is “Joy of giving week”. This week is also the week of Poojas, the famous Durga Pooja. We spend lots of money for Celebrations and all other festival related things like shopping, outing etc. We get joy and satisfaction while doing all these things, but have you ever experienced the joy in giving or helping the needy.

The “Joy of Giving week” is a “Festival of Philanthropy” that aims to become a part of Indian ethics with the week celebrated every year covering Gandhi Jayanthi. The week engages people through “acts of giving” i.e money, time, resources and skills. 

Now a days in most of the TV channels we can notice an advertisement in which a boy gave away his lollipop to his underprivileged counterpart. It is really a touching one. Recently a rural school boy from our Islands was helped by his classmates (Vitala Public School, HopeTown) by generating a huge amount is a touching example of “giving”. Giving is not only for the rich and giving is not only about money. Giving can be in terms of spending time or other forms also. Research shows that people spending time and helping others makes them happy. Opportunities to give and help others are everywhere. If we just look around us, someone somewhere needs our help in some form. Someone needs to know that they are loved. Someone is struggling financially and there is something we can do to help if even a little. Someone may simply needs a hug or wants to be just heard.

Giving, taking, earning etc are human impulses, and we wouldn’t be human without them. We live in a beautiful planet. Having been bestowed by the universe with the powers of logical thinking and emotional nurturing, it is as humans not just our duty, but our honor to be able to preserve this abundance and being ‘giving’. Everyone seeks joy in their ecosystem- be it animals, birds, fishes or us. So why not use our ‘power’ to thrive in our environment while letting others do so in theirs. We often get gripped in “Futility thinking" which plays a very vital role in our decisions. Giving money to help the poor is, we say, just drop in the ocean. We focus on those we cannot save rather than on those we can. One more aspect also affects our mindsets which the psychologists calls as the bystander effect—if I hear someone calling for help, and I am the only one around, I am more likely to help than if there is someone else with me who also hears the call but does nothing. Unfortunately, when it comes to our world of giving, there are many who do nothing. Subtle shifts could help us to overcome our psychological barriers to giving. Just as seeing other bystanders not helping makes us less likely to help, so knowing that others are giving makes us more likely to give. The more people talk about what they give, the more we can expect others to give or even pledge.

It might cost us time, money, stepping out of our comfort zone or sacrificing our needs, but rewards of giving are priceless. When we give, we reap the joy of seeing a bright smile, laughter, tears, joy and gratitude. Giving is one of the best ways to share our joys, love and gratitude. The Holy Bible says that it is more blessed to give than to receive. 

You too can make the “Joy of Giving week 2011” a memorable one in your life. It is not important what is given, how much is given, to whom it is given- what is important is giving! Everyone could have a different definition of ‘giving’. If you can say like this, I ‘gave’ today by smiling and being polite to a person inspite of rudeness. These acts of yours will definately brightened a moment in someone’s life. ‘Giving’ can be as simple as this . Just ponder upon that when was the last time you gave someone a gift, compliment, your time or anything? How did it make you feel? Think and decide. It’s time to do your bit and spread the Joy of giving.

Bency Joy
PhD Scholar in Psychology

Fifth of September is celebrated as Teachers Day in India. India has a tradition of giving a special status to teachers. The word “GURU” is itself so exalted; the place of a teacher is something even ahead of GOD. The teacher is only next only to mother and father. We have a long standing tradition of revering our teachers. “Guru Devo Bhava” has been the basis of our system of learning and our society has always looked up to our teachers to guide in both words and deeds. Their invaluable service in educating younger generation, moulding their character and nurturing good values have contributed to the cause of nation building. Throughout the ages, in our history, a teacher has been regarded as a role model who shows students the way to become good human beings and infuses a goal and a mission for life in them. It is the teacher who moulds the lives of students and gives the light of knowledge and ignites young minds. A good teacher can only give and give. Teachers are considered as sculptors, as they can shape the society from being a good one to a great one. The question arises here that whether still such traditions exists in our country. Times were, when the teaching profession was held in very high esteem. It was a matter of pride and honor to be a teacher. Things have changed radically.

It’s now time for the teaching fraternity to ponder upon the loopholes that have been developed in the system of teaching and learning. From my personal experience as a teacher I have learned that teaching is about relationship as well as pedagogy, and more to do with inter personal communication. To a far extend a teacher can only make a remarkable change in maintaining the positive meaning of the phrase “Guru Devo Bhava”. A teacher has to establish positive vibes with his students and should feel the delightful chemistry being generated with the relationship. A teacher can make his classroom rocking with immense flow of knowledge by eliminating all the resistances coming in midst of the teacher, teaching situation and student.

Teachers are expected to provide considerable freedom to the children to develop their fullest capacity as well as inspire students to imbibe socially relevant values and attitudes and affection. Promotion of critical thinking and concern for others in the budding minds has assumed the highest importance in the present day context of competition and globalization. The importance of the role of teachers in this regard needs reiteration. Teachers must provide opportunities to students to observe, question, enquire, debate and arrive at conclusion to create new ideas. A teacher, beside the duty of an educator and scholar to provide learning settings to enhance cognitive development and intellectual achievement, it becomes apparent that non-intellectual factors also deserve teacher’s attention. Creating an emotional and caring climate is conductive to high quality learning and also very challenging for the teachers. Each individual teacher creates a learning climate either through formal or informal interaction with students. The quality of relationship set up between teachers and students, or within an institution is referred to as its climate, the way the students feel about it. Teachers either inside the classroom or outside the classroom, exert a great deal of influence on establishing a good quality teacher-student relationship. Teachers who take the time to develop positive relationships with their students will see improvement in their students both academically, behaviorally and emotionally.

It is easy to make simple things difficult but difficult to make complicated things easy. It requires good teaching style, effective communication skills and appropriate soft skills to make difficult things easy and enjoyable to learn. The process of learning must be enjoyable. It must not be dry, boring and painful. It is important for a teacher to remember two pedagogical processes.

(i) A teacher should be capable of making movement of the molecules in the mind of his students and light the spirit of renewal in their hearts. Getting knowledge that is inside the student to move out, facilitating inward discovery and help students to unlock the treasure ie to make them creative.

(ii) The next part is imparting knowledge from outside into the student. Conductive environment and making students interested, eager to learn, teachers proficiency in teaching skills and knowledge in the subject will help the teacher to achieve this target easily.

Apart from these , some teachers teach for mere getting salary. For them teaching is like any other job, a profession rather than a passion. For them teaching is only a means of earning livelihood. Some teachers are obsessed with recognition and are always ready to follow any shortcut route to achieve their target. They crave for awards recognitions, titles, colleague recognition, and honors. The highest categories of teachers are those who win respect-respect of their students, parents, colleagues and respect of the society. They are passionate about teaching and are loved by their students.

The time has come for all the teachers to introspect and see within themselves, where they belong. Each teacher should ask this question to their inner self that, “Am I a good teacher? Have I won the respect of my students?”A good teacher is a friend…A teacher need to be kind, trusting and friendly towards his students.Let’s hope for a future where our teachers become GURUS by teaching students passionately and rule in the class, not as a dictator, but rather ruling the hearts of the children. It is the language of hearts that is best understood by students leaving a lasting impression on their minds. 

Bency Joy
PhD Scholar in Psychology

On the verge of penury, a poor man gets a new leash of life when he comes to know that he is rich by three and a half lakh rupees.

Moosa, an illiterate Mazdoor, who toiled for electricity department for 15-20 years as a DRM, and finally got regularised a couple of years before his retirement was surviving hand to mouth in a small hut in Nayapuram. He had commenced construction of a small house with whatever he got as his retirement benefits. With the onset of monsoon and empty pocket, he realised that he could neither complete his shelter nor feed his family. 

A shy and introvert by nature, Moosa did not approach anybody. Most of his life, with a family of seven members, he was habituated to survive on peanuts. But this time, his concern was the half-complete house under construction and the dilapidated state of his hut.  

With no other option left, he decided to approach Humane Touch, a voluntary organisation working in his neighbourhood, which had constructed a house for a poor family last year. He sought their help in completing the construction work. They did go and see Moosa’s house. They were shocked to learn that a man who had been in service could not even complete construction of his house. They enquired about the retirement benefits. 

When Moosa informed Abdul Razak, President Humane Touch, Nayapuram and Abdul Aziz, Secretary that he had got Rs 160000/- as retirement benefits, when superannuated on 31st July 2010, both of them were surprised. All the money went into the construction work. They asked Moosa to show his service records. On verification, they found out that Moosa had been paid only leave encashment and GPF. His gratuity and commutation of pension was due, which he was unaware of. His monthly pension was yet to start.

Moosa was unable to explain. He had satisfied himself that his regular service was for a short period and was totally ignorant about the benefits he was entitled to. Aziz could not take anymore. He took the papers and approached the pay and accounts department and account section of Electricity department. 

The system got activated and in a matter of ten days, the whole issue was settled. He got his gratuity, commutation of pension and his arrears of monthly pension up to May 2011. He got a cheque of Rupees Three Lakhs Seventy Five Thousand.

It is not a sin in our system to wait eternally for the benefits to reach the susceptible and illiterate labour force, but it is a sin of great magnitude to keep someone in ignorance and darkness about the service benefits. 

Our efficiency does not lie in serving the upper crest of the society, but by taking care of those who lie in the lower level of our social strata.

If Moosa had not approached the NGO, or the NGO had not approached the department, the family, already in destitution would not have even known that a huge amount was lying somewhere due to the indifference or negligence of some officers. It is still a mystery why the poor man was kept in dark about the benefits he was entitled to. 

The intervention by Humane Touch at the right time made Moosa richer by three lakh rupees. The construction work has started again and will be complete in a couple of weeks. Moosa is a satisfied man now, who was unbelievably saved from the brink of indigence.

Dreams have no limits and dreaming is an easy task. The hard part is working it out and making the dreams alive. All of us dream and very few are able to keep their dreams alive. Do you have a dream you've given up on or are you close to giving up your dream? Well, before making a decision to quit, take a few minutes to consider what that means.

We all have hopes and dreams. Some people dream small while some dream big. Some of us who won't allow our self to be disappointed and refuse to fail at anything. But unfortunately we also refuse to challenge our self and because of that, we'll probably never achieve something truly great. Nothing great ever came easy. We dream in vivid color and big pictures. The downside to dreaming big, though, is we face huge obstacles every day. Those obstacles threaten to knock us back, steal our momentum, and break our spirit. Sometimes we just want to throw our hands up and walk away; we want to just quit the whole thing. In that exact moment two types of people are made: those who give up, and those who keep clawing, scratching, and scraping until they achieved their dreams. 

If you want to be the individual who keeps clawing, scratching, and scraping, here are some thoughts to keep in mind along your journey. Hopefully they will provide some encouragement in those times when your dream seems out of reach.

SELF BELIEF: The only way we will ever achieve our dreams is to really, truly believe in our self. Self belief doesn't mean that we simply fool the rest of the world, projecting confidence and self-assurance in public. Self belief runs much deeper than that. It means every night when our body touches the mattress; we have a smile on our face. An inner voice should come out saying that I did everything possible to follow my dreams from the moment I woke until those last moments before sleep. Again in the morning, we must say to our self, "Today might be the day I am finally going to achieve my dream." And we must mean it. Unless we really mean it, unless we really believe that, we've already defeated ourselves, we can’t achieve. So don't allow any room for doubt as a half-effort will only get us to the halfway only.

POSITIVE ATTITUDE: The road to achieving our dreams will certainly be a thorny and rocky one. Nothing worth doing is ever simple or easy. But if we keep a positive outlook, we'll overcome hurdles and roadblocks. Never consider the roadblocks which we encounter as dream-ending catastrophes. If someone tries to knock us down or tell us that our dream is too far out of reach, smile and thank them for their thoughts. Always keep a good distance from such type of negative attitude people. Normally when people get frustrated or depressed, they get hung up on little issues which gradually develops into big time wasters. Always keep our spirits high and avoid the company of negative, defeatist personalities.

INCLUDE EVERY DAY. Get in the habit of thinking about the dreams every day. This doesn't mean day dreaming or staring into space. This simply means staying focused on the dream and moving atleast a small step towards the goal. The more comfortable we get with thinking about our goals and dreams every day, the easier it will become to fit a daily step into our schedule. 

FIX LONG TERM AND SHORT TERM GOALS. Make a list of all the important steps we need to accomplish on the way to achieving our dreams. Classify the steps into long term and short term goals. Consistently revisit that list on during the journey. Tick off the goals as you accomplish them. This is a great motivator as well. Once we see how much progress we're making, we'll begin to realize how achievable our dream really is. Everything is easier to accomplish when broken down into pieces. So chunk one big dream into ten little dreams and then we will realize that grasping the big dream is much easier as earlier pursued.

GET INSPIRED. It encourages us knowing that others have traveled a similar path and got to the end. Find inspiration in others who have achieved similar dreams before. Their success can spur us to keep focused and working. Books written by great peoples about their life experiences can reveal us about the secrets to their success. We can also apply some of their lessons to our own experiences which can be very inspirable for fulfilling our dreams. 

FOCUS ON PROGRESS: Practice makes a man perfect is all that we are hearing from decades. One thing is true with practice that it always makes progress. If we keep practicing at anything we'll get better at it. Perfection is an unrealistic standard. Don't let your progress go in vain by focusing on perfection. Each day, work towards honing a skill that will help to achieve your dreams. That may mean taking a course, joining a club, or finding a like-minded group to practice with. Those around us will help inspire the desire to practice and improve. 

SELF MOTIVATION: Self-motivation can be difficult, but it is absolutely essential if we want to keep moving towards our dreams. Nobody knows us better than our SELF. Formulate a habit of acknowledging your achievements daily. Catalogue all the achievements of the day and mentally built up the confidence that we can achieve whatever we want to achieve in our life
Take the journey in achieving the dreams as a fun part. Don't ever let anyone tell you your dreams are too big or too unrealistic. The biggest obstacle in achieving the desired dreams is the lack of comprehensive commitment. Total dedication is needed in every sphere of life. Our dreams may end up in smoke and signify nothing if not followed up with positive and consistent action which produces real results. So whenever we want to achieve something big, just pack up the bags and start the journey towards success. 

World Environment Day was first celebrated on 5th June in 1972, and has since become an important vehicle through which the UN stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and encourages political attention and action. In the face of continuing deforestation (currently estimated at 5.2 million hectares worldwide per year) nothing could have been more pertinent than this year’s theme of ‘Forests: Nature at Your Service’ which underscores the intrinsic link between quality of life and the health of forests. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has named India, for the first time, as the global host of World Environment Day 2011 on June 5, for “embracing the process of a transition to a Green Economy.”
Environment is what we live in and breathe in. It is as much of our own creation as it is of nature. 
The five sacred elements which make the environment live-able are water, air, fire, earth, and our spirit or senses. Our relationship with them helps us to live in harmony with nature and in peace with ourselves. Air, which is so essential to survive, represents our mind and knowledge. Fire symbolizes energy of the sun as well as of our bodies, which should be used for healing and protection and not for destruction. Clean and pure water is sacred to life and is like our emotions which can cleanse with love or devastate with rage. Earth nourishes life and stands for our bodies and we must take care of mother earth as we take care of our bodies.
Our senses or spirit represent our core values of ethics and responsibility as protectors of the earth and her people. This circle of the elements of life helps us to remember to consider the whole, and not merely, a part of a problem or solution.
Alas! We seem to have lost our minds, dissipated our energies, ruined our emotions, ravaged our bodies and torn our moral fibre beyond repair. Why else (in our insatiable greed) would we turn the free bounties of nature into sale-able commodities, and ravage its treasures like marauders? 
Life became possible on earth because it had an atmosphere conducive to sustain living beings. But for us it became the proverbial goose which laid just one golden egg each day, enough for its owners to live comfortably. Greed overpowered common sense and we killed the goose to get all the gold at one go. This has left us gasping for fresh clean air and panting for clear drinking water, let alone other basic necessities of life. 
Of course, we love to talk of global warming, climate change, carbon foot prints and bio diversity, but care two hoots about protecting our forest and now, even, agricultural lands. We love to construct special economic zones over fertile land. Industry wants to prosper on empty stomachs. As for our green cover, we do not mind recklessly pulling down trees to make way for broader roads, and bigger residential/commercial establishments. How does it matter to us if our summers are becoming hotter and winters cooler? We have our cooling and heating gadgets in place and to hell with the majority of those who cannot afford them. We systematically pollute and deplete our natural water resources, and then cling proudly to our bottled mineral water. We have also created exclusive oxygen parlours where one can breathe fresh air for a price. So, as traders we are par excellence, and having corporatized the free gifts of nature, we are bleeding her to death.
A love for our environment cannot be created merely by introducing Environmental Education as a compulsory subject in schools. It has to become a way of life to be inculcated from infancy through the influence of family and society. Only if we could encourage our children to love and appreciate nature as much as the laptop and iPod; help them to realize the importance of trees by making them plant and nurture at least one; teach them to conserve resources by simply turning off the fan, light, tap when not in use; instill in them the dignity of labour by making them do small household chores; develop their taste buds to savour delicious but healthy food; and teach them to be sensitive by loving, sharing, and caring for others!!
As far as the fifth element of senses is concerned, actions and not rhetoric are needed. Only if we can change (in letter and spirit) the ‘i’ in the word happiness to ‘y’, then You will gain precedence over I, your concern will be above mine, and all will become fine with the world.
On this World Environment Day let us do our bit to improve the surroundings in which we are living, by being a little more loving, a shade less angry, a bit more tolerant, and a pinch less arrogant in our actions and behaviour. Coupled with this, small individual actions like tree-planting drives, community clean-ups, car-free days, outdoor nature trips, saying no to tobacco and smoking, will go a long way in making our blue planet green. (CNS)
Shobha Shukla - CNS
(The author is the Editor of Citizen News Service (CNS). She is a J2J Fellow of National Press Foundation (NPF) USA. She is also the Director of CNS Gender Initiative and CNS Diabetes Media Initiative (CNS-DMI). She has worked earlier with State Planning Institute, UP. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., website: http://www.citizen-news.org)