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There is deep anger, anguish and sadness in India today following the death of a 23-year-old woman who battled bravely for life for a fortnight after being brutally gang-raped in a moving bus in New Delhi. The picture above is of the many candlight vigils that were held in the nation’s capital to mourn the tragedy and demand that the law and order system improves in India. Young India is crying for change and the vision of the poet Rabindranath Tagore’s “Where the mind is without fear…” is yet to be realised.

Dear readers,

In keeping with the spirit of our times in this Age of Information and the Internet, we are pleased to announce a change that we trust is for the better.

After two years of publication as a quarterly print edition, Change for Better, from this issue onwards, will be published as a monthly, Internet edition with weekly updates, free of cost. This change has been necessitated by our resolve to reach out to as many people as possible and engage readers in a stimulating exchange of thoughts and ideas. We wish to retain our focus on possible solutions to India’s most pressing problems and issues of sustainability, values and development. Most certainly, we will miss the brilliantly produced issues by our founding-editor, Mr. Bhanu Kale, but it was only a matter of time before the print edition gave way to internet in this age and time. 

The internet represents the digital era which has revolutionized and transformed our lives in unpredictable ways. It is continuing to do so and we are yet to grasp the full potential of this wonderful child of the human mind. In the domain of the written word and printing technology, the internet offers numerous advantages over paper and ink such as speed and immediacy of communication, interactivity and the potential to reach the world at large in an instant.

Our focus in this issue is on enabling rural India to realize its vast potential which has remained trapped in backwardness. Imagine the scale of change that could be witnessed in the world’s second most-populous nation if the 750 million people living in our 638,000 villages walked shoulder to shoulder with those of us living in towns and cities. This would not only help address the problem of poverty that has gripped some 300 million people in rural areas, but would also address the problem of poverty-induced migration into our cities. Former President of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam says that this dream of inclusive growth can be realized through a model of development that empowers clusters of rural areas economically. As examination of Dr. Kalam’s ‘Pura’ model is the dominant theme of this issue. We welcome your feedback on this model through comments and observations that can be posted on this website for the benefit of all.

Promoting entrepreneurship across India is one of the critical elements of Dr. Kalam’s model.  Ms. Ritu Goyal Harish's article on the Bangalore-based mentor to many entrepreneurs, Ms. Nandini Vaidyanathan, is in keeping with that thought. Vaidyanathan calls for a mindset-change in Indian society which will allow the youth to try and fail and succeed in the pursuit of their dream of becoming "employment-generators and not employment-seekers" as Dr. Kalam puts it.

The galloping cost of education worries parents across India today. To what extent is the astronomical cost of school and college education justified? Or is it part of the falling values in Indian society where we have taken to worshipping Mammon and have embraced corruption as an acceptable vice? In his essay ‘My Magical School’, the eminent social activist Dr. Abhay Bang who has done remarkable work in community health initiatives among the poor in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra, recalls his school days in Wardha. Education was not confined to the walls of the classroom and the school followed the principles of Nai Taleem (Basic Education) as propounded by Gandhiji. What is astonishing is its similarity with the "project-based learning" methodology in many schools today which charge high fees for this approach to education. This essay was originally in Marathi and moved the eminent, Pune-based science educator, Mr. Arvind Gupta to tears. He undertook to translate the essay from Marathi to English and we are happy to bring it in this issue.

What we are inside shows through our words and actions and therefore a nation and its people need to be rooted in strong, lasting values. Inner Space in this edition features the unforgettable commencement address by the great American writer and philosopher Will Durant, six decades ago. This address is timeless in its value to younger generations on the threshold of life and therefore finds a place on our pages.

While writing these thoughts, my heart became heavy with grief and anguish as news came in of the tragic death of the young, 23-year-old victim of the brutal gang-rape in a moving bus in Delhi, a fortnight ago. Her heroic battle for life and her untimely death has put us all to shame. As psychologists and experts tell us, rape is not a crime of passion but an act of violence. It has a lot to do with misogynist attitudes in a patriarchal society, the struggle by women for empowerment in a post-liberalization environment, inadequate safety and security on our roads and the urgent need for police and judicial reforms in India. We will re-visit these issues in a future edition.Meanwhile, do write to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your feedback on this edition, thoughts and suggestions.

Wishing you all a change for the better in the New Year!

Abhay Vaidya
Editor

 

About Us: Change for Better is published by Maharashtra Knowledge Corporation Limited (MKCL). Now in its 12th year, MKCL is the largest provider of basic computer education in India with a chain of over 5,000 franchises.

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