Saturday, 29 November 2014

This was the exact reaction that I got from my friend, when I was speaking to her about enrolling in the KBC, KOMMUNITY BRILLIANCE CONTEST – A Family GK Quiz as part of the Powai Fest, 2015. Pressing to understand better I pushed her with curiosity ‘WHY’ and she obliged

“That is tough.”
“But it is important to be aware “, I retorted

“But you have every information needed on the internet at the press of a button, why spend energy knowing it”, she reverted. She even added, “why a GK Quiz… why create more pressure on children… a simple drawing, singing, art n craft competition is fine…….”

The reaction made me reflect, what was I missing here? Is it old fashioned to believe that GK adds to the knowledge bank and helps an individual grow in confidence… helps in developing the most envied “STREET SMART’ personality…betters a person in general.  

Here are a few benefits of the old fashioned General Knowledge that still bring value in this fast changing world:

General knowledge makes starting conversations easy
General knowledge and current affairs are instant conversation starters and can help you in those typical awkward moments of silence. The boundaries of conversation extend much beyond core areas of interest allowing one to start conversations with virtually anyone and everyone.
Get better grades in school, college and competitive exams
Whether it is a long and dull school essay or prep for an upcoming debate, general knowledge helps to enhance academic knowledge. Students in school and college are in many ways, expected to know what is making the world go around. A high level of general knowledge will passively yet directly affect grades in school, college and even competitive exams.
General knowledge helps you take better decisions in life
The importance of general knowledge and current affair spans beyond being able to shoot off answers or start conversations. General knowledge makes you street smart and helps to take well informed decisions.
Impressing someone with general knowledge is a given
A smart personality and good body language definitely score more than a buff body and curvy figures to impress anyone. Good physical characteristics may be useless if one doesn't know what to talk about or how to sustain long chit chats.
Importance of general knowledge for parents: Helping your kids fare better in school
Handy on General Knowledge would not only make your conversations easier with the new age children but it will help gain respect with your child as well with his/her friends, doing wonders to your child’s confidence and performance
Interact effectively with people from different cultures
In the today’s world where global citizenship is the new age shift, hands-n-GK can give an edge in breaking the ice and gaining momentum. Having general knowledge about different countries and geographies is known to help kids to form a perspective about the world and a culture that is different from their own.
General knowledge helps you keep up with the latest trends
Apart from the fact that general knowledge has multiple practical uses it can also make one trendier. Current affairs is an integral part of the general knowledge domain and skimming through magazines, newsletters and websites can keep one updated on the latest trends and all the other things that can keep one bubbly and youthful.
Imagine going to a party without knowing the steps to to PSY's Gangnam Style.
Refine your sense of humor with general knowledge
Having a good sense of humor is possible if you have good observation skills and if you know lots of trivia. You will be able to crack a joke or play a pun on a word easily if you can weave in a fact or two and use it in satire of a situation you are in.
General knowledge will help you have an opinion
Opining is not always about telling someone what you think or whether you like or dislike something. It involves subtleties of making an informed choice, taking a side, manipulating and maybe even cajoling someone to do something.
Enhance your public speaking skill with general knowledge
The importance of general knowledge percolates deeper than just being able to be a good conversationalist. There mere fact of being armed with well rounded knowledge can give a speaker's confidence a solid boost before and during a public speech.
General knowledge increases creativity and innovation
Academic curriculum may not be enough to increasing creativity and innovation in children and adults alike. Everyone learns the same things in school and college. What makes people different from each other is the extra knowledge they have.
Quest for general knowledge: Makes for an excellent hobby
What will you possibly do if you are feeling bored and you don't have a laptop or a smartphone in sight? Get even more bored, is possibly one of the top answers. Your quest for general knowledge will make you look forward to just picking up a newspaper, book or a magazine and spending hour after hour reading a habit well desired.
What can I say…old fashioned or not, we owe it to our children to help start this invaluable habit early on in life.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Parent Education - The Mantra for Parenting Success

The Current age parenting can be very demanding and competitive:

Some of us feel anxious that our child may be ‘lagging behind’ – “My child is scoring in 90s but she doesn’t understand that is not good enough”.

Some of us feel we are not providing sufficient opportunities – “I know my child is a genius I wish I could send her to a better school I am sure she would then outshine everybody”.

Some of us work long hours and struggle to fit in time with our children and this makes us feel guilty – “My son would have surely won the competition only if I had more time to help him”.

Some of us are overpowered by the intense nature of the attachment between parent and child. Anger, pride, frustration and love provide a powerful cocktail of emotions resulting in everyday power conflicts.

Some of us see our self worth in our children’s success

Some of us judge ourselves based on our children’s behaviours.

In the process of coping with these everyday parenting demands,

We have forgotten what it’s like to be the child and what it is like to be parent to the child.

We have lost the empathy for our own children and how it must feel for them to be dependent on us.

We have forgotten the art of listening to our children and being there for them.

We have forgotten that the children are constantly watching us and what we do really matters to them.

As per the experts the children’s cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development is affected by not what parents desire but  

Who parents are - their intelligence, temperament, attitude, behaviour

What parents know - about child development and normative child behavior

What parents believe – their attitudes toward childrearing

What parents value - education, achievement, obedience, interpersonal relationships

What parent expect of their children – achievements, moral values, attitude, manners

What parents ultimately do - their parenting practices and overall parenting style

Research suggests that parenting styles have a tremendous influence on children:

Parenting based on warmth and firm discipline results in self-control, self-reliance, and exploration in children;

Parenting based on coercive and harsh discipline and lacking in warmth results in distrust and withdrawn behaviors in children;

Permissive, uninvolved and indulgent parenting results in worse self-control, self-reliance, and exploration in children.

Judgemental parenting can result in defiant children lacking in self confidence and self esteem

More recently, in a groundbreaking comprehensive study, researchers found that family characteristics and parenting (e.g., sensitive caregiving, cognitive stimulation, and positive involvement) in the first years of life predict pre-academic skills and socio-emotional development and behavior throughout the school years. In fact, the estimated effects of parenting are often larger than the estimated effects of early childhood education to foster positive child development. Family environments typically account for greater variance in children’s outcomes, reflecting the indisputable fact that parents remain their children’s first teachers, and what they do matters for children.
This puts a bigger responsibility on the parents and the big question is with the current age family structures and economic pressures “ARE THE PARENTS EQUIPPED TO RAISE THEIR CHILDREN AS BALANCED PERSONALITIES”

As per most experts having authority on child development, parent education as ―a process that involves the expansion of insights, understanding and attitudes and the acquisition of knowledge and skills about the development of both parents and of their children and the relationship between them is becoming a key critical component of the success of children in this highly competitive age.‖
"The parent-child relationship is one of the longest lasting social ties human beings establish," said Kira Birditt, lead author of the study and a researcher at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR). "This tie is often highly positive and supportive but it also commonly includes feelings of irritation, tension and ambivalence."

As parents it is our duty to rid our relationships with our children from irritation, tension and ambivalence and provide the right environment for the growth of their unlimited potential. Let’s not feel shy, let’s reach out and find support.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Happy Father's Day!!!

“Fun, Toys, Jokes, Protection”


“The most reliable person in my life”

“Will always be by my side, when I am in trouble”

“Cannot see tears in my eye?”

“Has made me who I am”

“Has taught me my life’s toughest, but the most important lessons”

“Most simple straight forward person, my role model”

“My strength to face anything comes from him”

These are few of the impulsive answers that I got when I posed the question, “What comes to your mind when you think of your father”.

 Honestly father is one role in our society that gets underplayed on the emotional scale as the expressions  that come to our mind when we think of our father or any father are: like a rock, strong, strict, keeps me in line, please don’t tell him as he will get mad…….

These emotions though may sound harsh are the ones that truly keep us in check.  From day zero father is a hand that we hold that is synonymous with strength - a person who carries us on his shoulders so that we never lose sight of our dreams, provider – who makes sure all our wishes are fulfilled, guide – who bargains love to be the toughest teacher so that we graduate well in our lives.

Today when I reflect I can’t stop wondering where does the boy, who turns a father get all this strength from to live a life of responsibility with full commitment and conviction and never ask for anything in return other to make him proud……That’s the least that we can do for the person who provides the wings for our dreams.

Plan a game of ball or go for a long drive or watch a game together or take him out to his favourite joint, or a fishing trip or just simply say thank you to the person who lives his life only to protect the happiness of his child.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Healthy Brain For Life

In today’s world where performance is measured by test scores, culture is learnt in isolation from the television, hand eye co-ordination is perfected by playing on the electronic devices, information is gained from Google and health is gained from junk food we just seem to be raising a generation abundant in conflicts, a generation that is sitting but not moving, a generation that is learning but not applying, a generation eating but not healthy. With the competition growing fierce and the need for academic excellence clubbed with out of box thinking becoming a mandatory requirement for most to stand out in the herd, we seem to be applying the wrong strategy by inculcating bad eating habits, lack of self motivated learning and lack of physical exercise resulting in alarming health issues like obesity, diabetes, vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiencies.
As per Philippa Norman MD, MPH:
Within a child's brain, a biochemical process of learning is occurring, that parallels the classroom experience. Making connections, finding meaning, and solving problems are learning tasks that require lightning-fast electrical impulses between areas of the brain.  Formation of memory requires physical growth and reshaping of networks of brain cells.  So that wonderful experience - when the lights go on and your child says, "I get it!" - is a neurochemical process as well as an academic one. By nourishing the brain with healthy food and water, you will optimize the internal environment, enabling students to truly engage in the classroom environment and achieve their potential.
In short she says we need a healthy brain for life.
As per most experts health and well-being of children has a direct impact on the academic performance of children. Health of children is very critical not only for the children to reach their achievement goals but also for a country to advance economically and culturally. The formula for the healthy brain as recommended by most experts is:
Healthy food + Good Physical exercise = Healthy Brain
Healthy food not only comes from a well balanced diet as most of us know but also comes from good eating habits. As agreed by pediatricians and experts the most important meal of the day is the breakfast. A lot of children in their laziness to rise early and rush to get to the school/college tend to miss their breakfast resulting in a day filled with fatigue and underperformance. Breakfast as the name suggests breaks the night long fast, which when skipped continues the fast resulting in unnecessary stress on a developing body. Some studies show that children, who eat breakfast have higher math and verbal fluency scores and perform better on standardized tests.  The breakfast-eaters pay better attention, behave better in class and are less likely to be absent, late or see the school nurse. The motto is Rise n Shine - have a healthy meal – take on the day with a happy smile
Good food needs good exercise to make it work. A good 60 minutes of exercise daily directly impacts the behavior and development of the brain as follows:
  • Increased oxygen flow to the brain
  • Increased brain neurotransmitters
  • “[Increased] brain-derived neurotrophins that support neuronal differentiation and survival in the developing brain.” Neurotrophins assure the survival of neurons in areas responsible for learning, memory, and higher thinking.
Physical exercise not only optimizes the functioning of the brain but also improves grades, self confidence, self esteem, flexible and fit body always ready to take on challenges.
Well being insights such as these can help monitor the health of our children better. Please join us on 8th June to attend the pediatric talk to get a perspective on role of vitamin D and vitamin B12, the effect of their deficiency, symptoms, precautions and cure. Let’s all take a step towards the healthy growth of the children.                                                                                                                                                     

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Psychological, Emotional and Behavioural Development of Young Minds



Sometime ago, when I had to attend the PTM at my daughter’s school, she again threw a tantrum at the kind of dress that I was supposed to wear to the school. I had laid out an ethnic Indian dress and my daughter wanted me to wear a western dress on the pretext that I would look very old fashioned and she would not fit in with her friends. This behavior had now become a very common scene at our home. Every time I would decide to wear an ethnic dress to the school my daughter would simply start crying. On this one occasion I had decided not to give in to her demand and wore the dress of my choice. I tried explaining to her that the dress did not define my personality but I myself did….that she needs to respect my desire as well….that she needs to be proud of our national ethnic dress and not look down on the people wearing it….that it was absolutely not an acceptable behavior to throw a tantrum if things didn’t go her way…. Unconvinced with my explanations, skeptical of the impression she would make at the school and fearing that her friends would laugh at her, she rode in absolute silence in spite of all my efforts to cheer her up. Once at the school, to her pleasant surprise her best friend commented: “Aunty you look so lovely”. She looked at me with a sheepish smile and filled her stride with a little more confidence. Then after, she had completely forgotten about the dress. On the way back, I happened to ask her: ‘Was it that bad?’ and she replied ‘Ma, I am sorry, I shouldn’t have behaved the way I did and you really looked good’.

From day zero, our children are constantly forming impressions, opinions, creating an emotional outlook and a psychological profile strengthened by cognitive training, language learning, social skills and strong influences of physiology and the surrounding environment. The biological, psychological and emotional changes that occur in the children as they grow from being dependent to autonomous is what the experts refer to as child development, which is also responsible for the behavioural development in the children

Parents have a vital role in the emotional and psychological development of their children. Parents can help their children learn how to express their feelings through instructing, modeling, and guiding them in applying the skills of emotional management. A parent, helping children with their feelings can both help them feel better and reduce behavior problems. Children who are able to manage their emotions often experience positive feedback from others and are more successful in everyday life. Parents are important for their children’s emotional development not only because they are attachment figures but also because of their cognitive and emotional expertise to instruct their offspring on the use of emotion labels, appraisals, expressions, and strategies. As it is said the roots of all development primarily start at home- the parents must understand that by being attentive to their children, respecting the differences of opinions, nurturing their self-esteem and modeling the right behavior, they can make a world of difference, to their children.

 According to psychologist Jean Piaget, children are like "little scientists" and that they actively try to explore and make sense of the world around them. Keeping in line with this belief Piaget described the cognitive development of children to involve processes based upon actions and later into changes in mental operations. A company that supports this kind of cognitive development is SmartQ with their unique methodology of tickling the curiosity of the young minds.

Since the optimum development of children is a critical requirement for the future, ‘The Commuknitree’ brings Dr. Anureet Sethi to address the topic of ‘Psychological, Emotional and Behavioural Development of Young Minds and Role of Parents’ at the ‘Back-to-School Event’ for community empowerment.
By teaching our children to recognize their feelings and express them by regulating their emotions, we can create strong individuals, who can solve problems independently and make effective contributions to the society.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

It Takes A Village To Raise A Child

All of us adore our children and want to give them nothing short of the world. This is easier said than done. The increasing economic burdens today, require both parents to work in order to fulfill the ever growing needs of the children, let alone their wishes and whims. The changing family structure puts an additional demand on parents to be spending more time with their children. The concerns of a safe environment also contribute to the challenge of raising a child. The one child policy that most parents follow these days leaves the children with nothing to desire for, creating a void and craving self worth.
While the changing needs of the society are posing a challenge for the parents, the role of the schools and teachers is also becoming difficult. The teachers who have been trained to educate the children are not only finding it difficult to cope with the academic changes on an everyday basis but are also finding it challenging to deal with the children's physical, social, emotional, and spiritual needs, which are driven by the explosion of knowledge in our society and require our children to be trained in wisdom and skills beyond academics.
At homes the parents are over burdened with more than one responsibility, are time starved and find themselves ill-equipped, due to the constantly changing trends, to raise children single handedly. Schools on the other hand are bogged down by the bottom lines and meeting the prescribed academic standards that they promote only the top achievers in a limited few categories and in turn leave a whole lot of children behind and disenchanted. Then why is that the all-round development of children is limited to the realms of homes and schools?
In order to raise a child who is nurtured and supported in all areas: physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and spiritual—so that he/she may become an independent, responsible, resilient, healthy, happy, kind, gracious, balanced, empathetic, compassionate, cooperative, collaborative, and contributing member of the world, it is very important to develop assets in children other than academic credentials. To list a few: the children need to feel the commitment and love for learning, they need to feel the support from their environment to be able to act and flourish, they need to feel empowered to contribute to their communities and realize their civic and social responsibilities, they need to develop positive identities filled with passion, conviction, self esteem and sense of purpose, they need to be able to differentiate right from wrong and operate within the boundaries of positive values, they need to develop social competencies to be able to work in a team and respect the diverse cultures in the world.
Today, raising children is about building strong whole people who can achieve real world victories in real world scenarios. This requires educating parents about new technologies, child/youth pertinent contemporary trends, psyche/pulse/wavelength, enabling them to better understand their children, have more effective conversations, become children's buddies and help their children to make right decisions. It also requires equipping the children with quality educational practices, apply knowledge and develop skills to solve problems and build solutions, inspire and aspire the children to build virtuous cycle of positive values with motivation from real world winners, providing insights into the current career trends and possibilities, developmentally appropriate resources and support that awaken and guide children as they discover the importance and explore the wonders of love, service, and beauty as a means to respecting and helping themselves, others, and the world.
A tall order like this cannot be accomplished by parents and teachers alone. A large percentage of children's waking hours are spent in environments where learning can, and does, happen. Keeping this in perspective the wealth of resources in our local communities is simply waiting to be unleashed. The businesses, service providers and the neighbourhoods in our communities can be mobilized to build community based safe and resourceful network of valuable "Social Capital", which parents can draw on to create a positive impact on their children. We at 'The Commuknitree' believe that by bringing a village of resources at the doorsteps in our communities we can enable 
Close-knit local network of support, services and opportunities, which will give families everything needed for  their children to succeed,
Local mentors and role models, who will have a positive influence on kids,
Friendly neighbourhood Supplementary platforms and Opportunities,  which will help validate attitude and behavior of children, build their self confidence and awareness, help them discover and utilize their full potential without fear of failure,
Participation in community projects, which will help the children to become responsible, skilled and make them feel "They belong".

Though an old proverb "It takes a village to raise a child" seems to be the need of the moment in our quest to develop young minds of the future.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014


How can a trophy or an award go beyond being an object of happiness for the winner and the winner’s family?
Let’s imagine that it inspires and motivates others to walk the path of victory and achieve dreams.
Let's imagine that it acts as a springboard for many to achieve feats unimaginable, conquer their fears, overcome their weaknesses and enable the feeling of “I CAN DO IT TOO”.
Let's imagine that it creates a virtuous cycle of passing the baton of the intent of victory.
Let's imagine that it makes the community a better place and everybody in the community a better citizen.
Let's imagine that it embodies a strong character that becomes a role model for many.
Let’s imagine it DARES TO ACHIEVE.
Isn’t this the reason that the halls and corridors of the schools and important offices are lined with the people from history, who have achieved feats beyond human reason, to inspire us. But why do they fail to do so? Why do many children feel I am no Gandhi, how can I do what he did? How can I be Graham Bell he discovered the telephone because there was no means of communication then. Why is it that the children are not being able to relate with the achievers of the past and follow in their footsteps? Is it that the children are undermining their achievements.........?
The simple answer is NO! It's just that the reasons or the circumstances of the achievements in the past seem unrealistic and difficult to relate with for the children in today’s world. It's easy for them to put the achievers from the past on a pedestal and shower gratitude on them, then impersonate them.  
Today when the past reasons for achievements and victories are constantly becoming obsolete there is need for children to derive inspiration from their current environment. It is easy to feel connected and understand the impact of actions, behavior and attitude with examples that are more recent, even better if the examples are peers who are making a difference in the same environment as their own.
HALL OF FAMEs, all the over the world have been a source of pride and inspiration for many aspiring to walk in the footsteps of their role models. The aspirants strive hard to fulfill their dream of induction in them. The reason is the HALL OF FAMEs capture the recent story and promise to carry forward the legacy of achievers.
We at 'The Commuknitree' strongly feel that by introducing the concept of the HALL OF FAMEs at the community level and rewarding actions based on behavior, attitude, and manner will not only help the children in the communities to strive for victories but will help them differentiate the right from wrong and build stronger selves. 
The COMMUNITY HALL OF FAMEs can be used not only to applaud the accomplishments of children, who have achieved victories, but channelize these victories on a day-to-day basis and motivate all the children in the community to strive for strong characters and achievements manifold. By recognizing accomplishments beyond academics, the COMMUNITY HALL OF FAMEs can help  broaden the outlook of the communities, appreciate many talents in children and help groom them into well rounded personalities by giving every child an equal opportunity. The intent should be to harness skills that require confidence, time and effort and use the good will of our communities as faces of parents, care givers and experts to motivate the attempts and efforts made by the children.
We at ‘The Commuknitree’ are very excited in anticipation of the time when all the children will aspire to the COMMUNITY HALL OF FAMEs by building a stronger self.
As quoted by Malala Yousafzaia, a 16 year old girl from Pakistan:

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”   

Let's make the voice of every child count and let's make their victories count too.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Happy Mother's Day

Today is the day when I scurry around

Thinking of you more often now

I remember my promise that I made

To spend more time for our sake

My guilt knows no bounds, so I plan it all                                                                                                     

I want to be the first to call 
A beautiful card that says it all
A rose that brightens up your heart

Luncheon at that uptown place
A day full of shopping fest

Display of my hidden talent

A Hand cooked dinner to top it all

A hug and kiss to end the day

An apology to come your way

Mum you are always on my mind

It’s just that I don’t have the time

I know you will give me another chance

To live my promise one more time

But already am not very sure

So I feel blessed, that there is ‘Mother’s Day’

To help express my loving thoughts


Let's not hold back. Let's go all out and show our mums how much they mean to us. Lets make it very special for the person who fills the strength in our actions and the conviction in our dreams.

I am sure all of you have planned something nice but don't forget the HUGS, the KISSES and lot of QUALITY TIME.


let's share it all and celebrate the spirit of this day.......

Thursday, 8 May 2014

The Changing needs of Education

“In 2070 when there will be an extreme shortage of water …..we will all have to shave our heads and be bald… we will not be able to wash our hair…..there will be no need for barbers or hair stylists…..the only two places where we will be able to live will be the poles due to their melting ice ….. as the poles will get crowded we will fight and push each other out into the space…..we will have to carry parachutes with us all the time in case we have to make an emergency landing…..or make spaceships our means of transport to beat the crowd…..we will have to find ways to harvest water deep inside the Earth’s surface…..else a 35 year old will look like a 90 year old…..and we will all wear masks to look beautiful…..” 
These were some thoughts that my 9 year old shared with me about the future of our world.
Her words brought a smile to my face but some elements of her conversation rang a warning bell, suspecting the capabilities of our current academic system to cope with the needs of the fast-changing world in the 21st century. To inculcate skills for ones who may work in low earth orbit travelling in space ships or thousands of feet under the sea level in search of water, performing jobs yet uncreated is difficult to grasp.
Even if we don’t go as far as 2070, the expected average age of an Indian in 2020 is 29 years. This makes one wonder, how is a population of 1.2billion and growing going to make itself employable?
Some optimistic people may argue that 2020 is farfetched. Then in today’s world where knowledge and service are the two economies expanding across all industries horizontally and vertically and when employers are looking for employees who have not only mastered core subjects, but are flexible, deal with change maturely and can learn new skills quickly, the question is:
Is academic excellence measured on the percentile scale the best way to judge a person’s caliber in this fast changing world? 
The expanding knowledge and service economies make communication, collaboration and creativity as mandatory skill requirements for future.
The changing environment, like the Arctic vortex, tsunamis, frequently happening flash floods, make it critical for us to enable our children to think about the future challenges and requires them to master the subjects fundamentally to be able to re-build the world when required.
The everyday shrinking world requires our children to be ‘globally competent’, understand cultures and show empathy.
The crunch in supply of jobs owing to mere numbers requires our children to develop entrepreneurial skills way early in life.
The BIG DATA trend fueled by the Internet of Things (IoT) requires our children to discern, aggregate and synthesize information in ways we cannot yet imagine.
The growing consumerism and constantly changing living standards and the divide amongst the fellow beings require our children to be self aware, steadfast in their beliefs and walk the path of happiness without begrudging.
In the face of such unpredictable and dynamically changing world we need to rethink, how our children are taught. By teaching the integrated way of approach, where they apply the knowledge gained with the help of life skills like problem solving, decision making, communication, creativity, flexibility, team work, empathy and self awareness to contribute to their communities, we can divert their attention from television and video games and make them enterprising, independent, strategic thinkers, who reach their highest potential, contribute to the world and realize self worth.
Today the toughest job lies with the parents, who need to raise the children of the 21st century, who will operate in jobs beyond our imagination. The lack of our insight into the future and the limitation of our knowledge from the past limit the growth of our children and clip the wings of their dreams from taking flight.  
The Commuknitree is a first of its kind initiative that intends to address this concern by creating community level platform/s to empower parents with the information to enable far reaching growth of their children.
For more information, visit