Helping parents tap the hidden potential in their children #LearnNotEducate

As a parent, you might be open to letting your child explore alternative careers, but there are so many options – how do you know, which is the right one? As a parent, I have faced this dilemma. My child wants to try every available performing arts or sports but if she plans to take it up as a career, I need to help her find her focus.

With similar thoughts in mind, Sejal Ray started Virtuosokidz  .Sejal is a computer engineer and has a BA in Bharatnatyam. She has performed and won prizes at many competitions in district and state level. Let’s talk to her today and understand more about Virtuosokidz.

Children started studying on their own. They started being more considerate towards others

 What is virtuosokidz?

Virtuoso Kidz has been started with a view to bridge the yawning gap between parents and their kids by having tie up with like-minded people and later starting a separate blog on WordPress. This has been done with a two-fold view of connecting the two groups and also allowing both students and parents to shed their inhibitions on so called “taboo”topics. An alarming number of students commit suicides in India due to exam related stress. This makes it imperative for parents to take cognizance of the situation and do what’s best for their kids. A major problem Indian parents suffer with is thelog kya kahenge syndrome. At such times it becomes essential to pick up your child and accept that his talent has his copyright and it is EXCLUSIVE! If he is a naturalist, a writer, an engineer or a lawyer in the making the first step to good parenting is “Acceptance.” Far too many parents have unwittingly become the cause for their children to become failures due to their pushing them towards fields that were never their calling.

How and when did you decide to come up with virtuosokidz?

I got to know about this programs through a magazine and I got my children to participate in those. I saw amazing results in academics. The concentration level went a level up!  They started studying on their own. They started being more considerate towards others. This made me think – how would it be if this kind of difference can be made in children’s lives?  Why not take this up and multiply the impact by making it available for more and more children? This in turn will have an impact on parent’s lives too!

 How is it different from other aptitude tests?

There are two parts to my program

Mid brain activation. This provides high level of concentration, memory, focus to kids as part of the programs. Besides this, my program provides weekly assignments that help to develop bonding between children and their parents, enabling them to share all that is important with their parents, overcome fears and gain inner strength.

Psychometric test – The test provides the overall details of personality of a child based on the behavior, interests and attitude. My program also provides various modules of one to three months based on the inputs of the psychometric report. The modules offer actionable solutions.

How will it help a child decide his future?

A part of the report talks about the potential career opportunities for a child/individual based on the personality, interests, behavior of the child. This gives an insight into the probable areas that can be considered for the future of the child.

What kind of research and study has gone into coming up with this site?

I got my kids undergo this program. Then I got trained and started conducting classes and actually experienced the changes children go through during the mid-brain activation program and hence conducted 3-4 batches of this program.

Similarly for finger print analysis and psychometric analysis, I actually got this done for 25-30 children and got feedback from parents which were amazing. I also contacted many such trainers who are involved with these programs to find their experiences. I did go through a lot of material on net to find out the views and opinions of larger set of people. This all supported me in coming up with my own website.

Virtuoso will be a one stop solution for parents for anything linked with the mental health of children

What is the future vision for Virtuoso

I want to make this website a one stop solution for parents for anything linked with the mental health of the child. I plan to have information of many more programs on my website that is linked with happiness of children. I also wish to have counselors register on my website and have all kinds of counselors and psychologists on the website.

For more information about VirtuosoKidz you can connect with them on

Facebook page –

Email id –

Contact no – 7083962457

How to be a qualified IELTS trainer #LearnNotEducate

Why be an IELTS trainer you ask? Here are some interesting facts that will help you understand the importance of this field and the reason why it can be a lucrative career option.

  • We are a land of diverse languages and yet we are second largest English speaking country in the world! Second only to USA!
  • Another interesting fact is that nearly 3 lakh students go abroad every year for higher education.

During the #BlogchatterProjects I met Piyusha Vir who is a CELTA certified English trainer. She explained that CLETA was the certification required for teaching English as a second language.

Celta certification is required to teach English as a second language

I caught up with her for more details about the course and here is what she had to say –

Tell me a bit about yourself?

After a long stint in the hotel industry, I quit my job and turned a full-time writer in 2015.

Since then I have written and published various articles and short stories on many websites and magazines including,, MyCity4Kids, WomensWeb, and LBB Delhi.

I recently completed my CELTA certification for teaching English as a Second Language from University of Cambridge.

How and why did you decide to get a CELTA certification ?

I saw the need for writers and even, non-writers to improve their English language skills. Communicating in the English language isn’t one of the strengths for most Indians. During my interactions with other writers, I realized they may have brilliant ideas for their stories but their expression lacks finesse. This is why I decided to teach English to writers, but I needed a formal certification to make sure I was using the right techniques and methodologies. That’s when I did some research and found out that the CELTA qualification was the best and the most respected one. With this qualification, I can choose to be an IELTS trainer too.

What are the requirements for this field?

One needs to be a graduate in any field. Applicants wishing to apply for the CELTA course need not have studied English language at college or university level. Of course, they need to have exceptional English language skills.

How can one go about it?

One can take the CELTA as a full time, part time or online. In India, at present, only the full-time option is available. To apply, one needs to register and send a request directly to the authorized centre. 

Are there any institutes or universities giving structured courses in it?

In India, British Council is the only approved centre offering this course. It is as per the standards and course guidelines set by Cambridge English Language Assesment, a part of  University of Cambridge.

Any tips for those looking to pursue this course?

Anyone looking to take the CELTA should be well aware what they are getting into. It isn’t an easy course. Even the application process has three stages. The course is really intensive and draining. You won’t be able to pursue it along with any project/job/course.

What are the career options after finishing this course?

There are many career options post CELTA. One can choose to teach at schools, colleges, set up their own coaching/tuition centre, or even coach IELTS and TOEFL candidates. CELTA is just like any other professional course. They do not offer any placement service/assistance and one is expected to look for jobs independently. 

You can connect with Piyusha for more information on her blog, Twitter or Facebook page. She even has a free course for those who wish to learn English on Skillshare.

Blog –

Twitter –

Facebook –


An innovative way to make Maths lovable – Smartick Method

Smartick helps the child to understand concepts, improve calculation skills, concentration and mental agility.

How many of you dreaded Maths in school? I know I did! I found it extremely boring and unimaginative. The whole tables, and equations and BODMAS etc. etc. made my head hurt and I always looked at ways to not do Mathematics.

I don’t think it was to do with the understanding level of the subject, but the whole boring and insipid approach made all the difference in my outlook towards the subject. I can say this confidently today, because I have experienced the transformation.

Today, I am going to talk about a new concept that is revolutionizing the way Mathematics is learned! I came across Smartick Method, when I got a mail from them to try and review it. The moment I went to their website, I knew this was going to be different and I instantly agreed.

What is Smartick Method?

Smartick is a unique online learning platform that lets a child learn at his own pace. It focuses on self-learning; thereby helping the child to understand concepts, improve calculation skills, concentration and mental agility.

What methodology do they follow?

Smartick goal is to make maths fun. They have created a healthy mix of traditional and new approaches towards learning maths. They use best traditional learning methods inspired from Japan and Singapore combined with studies from top research centers and universities like Harvard and the University of Chicago.

How does it work?

Smartick Method is designed in such a way that the child needs to spare only 15min a day! Isn’t that cool? Before smartick, making my daughter to sit for studies was a task, but now she is the one who reminds me about her daily smartick session!

Once the login is created, the child can start accessing the modules. Initially smartick offers random questions to understand your child’s level. Based on the results of the first 3-4 days, smartick daily sessions are updated. So you don’t have to worry, if x,y,z has been taught to your child or not.

My Review

My daughter is in love with Smartick! She is eager to do her daily sessions and understand her mistakes and improve. I have seen an increase in her concentration levels. As I get daily updates about her performance, I am attuned to her progress.

There is something called as smartick Brain games which is motivating and interesting. My daughter not just finishes her 15 min session, but also enjoys doing the Brain Games and virtual world access after the session.

As all the details are captured in a separate parent login, I can access it and view it anytime I want and help my child understand where she needs to improve.

This is completely self-learning based and hence I never have to sit and explain her questions or concepts. She watches the tutorials and works on her pace.

The report not just focuses on the number of correct answers but also takes into consideration her speed at solving them and her logic and reasoning.

Best Things that I liked

  • It’s just 15 min in a day, something that a child can easily do
  • It is designed for children from 4-14 year old.
  • This is an online platform, and they do not follow a school or state syllabus. The focus is on improving the child’s concepts, speed and accuracy.
  • It is accessible only on screens bigger than 7 inches.
  • Smartick complements the school curriculum and is aligned with the Common Core Standards and NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) standards.
  • Smartick is powered by the latest Artificial Intelligence technology: ability based, your child progresses at his or her own pace, building self-confidence, avoiding frustration, and developing a positive attitude to math.
  • The child works on mental calculationand algebra while also developing problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Smartick includes logic exercises that help children improve both in logical reasoning and reading comprehension.
  • Gamification elements help children be engaged and improve their concentration levels. All games in Smartick are scientifically designed to reinforce cognitive skills: perception, attention, memory and logical reasoning.
  • Referral program: Tutors/parents can benefit from a 27 dollars discount if they recommend a friend. And the new friend that subscribes will receive a 25% off the first subscription they buy.

Smartick is powered by the latest Artificial Intelligence technology: ability based, your child progresses at his or her own pace,

My suggestion

This is a paid subscription, however if I go on a vacation or do not have access to a computer for some time, there is no way I can pause the subscription. They should introduce that feature. Apart from this I can’t think of anything!


If you are thinking about giving a gift to your child this Christmas or New Year, gift them knowledge and world-class education with Smartick Method. As a mom who has seen her child enjoy Smartick Method, I would highly recommend it. Right now, Smartick has a gift for children registering in New Year week, do check it out!

Career in Cricket- An interview with former Indian cricketer #LearnNotEducate

Have you ever wondered if a career in cricket is a viable option? Cricket or any sports needs tremendous dedication and focus. It’s not something that happens by fluke. I caught up with Snehal Pradhan, a former Indian cricketer to understand what it means to have a career in Cricket.

interview with snehal pradhan about career in cricket

Tell us a bit about yourself

I was born and bought up in Pune and did my BSc in Microbiology from Abasaheb Garware College. In my third year, I was selected by Western Railways through sports quota and I started playing for Western Railways cricket team.

I worked in Mumbai for 9-10 years where we worked for half the day and the rest of the day was when we practiced cricket. We also got official leaves for tournaments. I had good facilities and good players, which kept me in the game, otherwise after BSc, I was thinking of doing my MSc as I had to think about a career. This opportunity helped me to continue my game while earning some money.

In 2015 I decided, I had to move on to the next phase of my career.

I had been writing a blog, side-by-side with my cricketing career, but then I realized I was liking it and decided to put a bit more effort. An editor saw my blog and approached me to write for their website which I did intermittently, so when I quit international cricket, I took to writing full time. Since then I have been a freelance sports journalist and in the past 6-9 months, I have also started my YouTube Channel – ‘Cricket with Snehal in Hindi and English’ where I am doing cricket tutorials.

For how many years have you been playing cricket?

I made my debut in under 16 and under 19 Maharashtra. In 2005, I was part of under 21 India tour to Pakistan and In 2008, I made my debut for India at the age 21. I played International cricket and represented India for about 3 years, spread over 10 games. The last international game was in 2011. I continued playing domestic cricket and represented Maharashtra for around 15 years, from 2000-2015.

When was the first time you played cricket?

I don’t really remember. My parents tell me that as a kid, I would just pick-up whatever was around and imitate the cricket shots that were being telecast on TV. I always played with the neighborhood boys and boys in school. That’s how I started playing cricket. When I was in 8th std, my family introduced me to Shubhangi Kulkarni who was a former India captain, and she introduced me to the Indian cricket team,  and that’s how my cricketing journey started.

How did you decide to take it up as a profession?

I always wanted to take cricket as a profession. Earlier cricket was under Woman’s Cricket Association and it wasn’t feasible to take it up as a full time profession. Cricket is now under BCCI.

BCCI took over only in 2006 and my journey started in around 2000. We weren’t earning anything back then but then the Western Railways opportunity came up and that is why I could continue playing cricket semi-professionally, where I worked half-day and the rest of the day was for practice.


Was there any resistance at home or from the society?

Thankfully there was no resistance from home and I come from a very open minded family. Both my grandparents were well-educated and open-minded and they always encouraged me in my choices.

From society – There was this one percent people who would come up with resistance in small things like, when I was in 7th std and was training at a club in Pune, they never had a girl there and they didn’t want to show that there was a girl, so they asked me to tuck my ponytail in my hat, so that it isn’t obvious!

Then once when I was working in Mumbai and playing a club level match, I was the only girl in the team and the opposition refused to play with us, citing a reason that they won’t play with a girl. My coaches, the boys with whom I have played were always very supportive.I have a theory that those who have support, only they make it to the ground.

Cricket interview with Snehal Pradhan

What does it take to be a cricketer?

Taking up cricket as a profession is not easy. It means a lot of sacrifices. Right from highschool, summer vacations meant a lot of training and practice, so no vacations as such. The trainings are hectic as you need to get up early in the morning. My parents too were supportive and have put in a lot of effort. My dad dropped me off and picked me up from the training center, at times I used to cycle for around 10 km to reach my training center.

Working and training meant getting up early and directly going to the ground for training, catch some lunch enroute and then go to work. The daily schedule was from morning 6am to evening7pm. It was difficult to manage. Now most of the Indian cricketers have full time contract, so they can afford to not work, but it wasn’t so earlier.

Monsoon is the only time when there are no tournaments, so life is scheduled around cricket season.

Can girls think about taking cricket up as a career?

Now it is much more attractive to take up as a profession. When I was playing, we were under the Women’s Cricket Association, pre BCCI days. We were not paid for playing state level and there were not many facilities in terms of travel and stay. Now, it’s under BCCI, so girls who start get BCCI facilities, they travel by air, get paid for playing state level. If you are selected for the Indian Cricket Team you get paid well. So things are much better and lucrative to make cricket a serious career option.

One down-side is that there aren’t many government organizations that offer jobs in Woman’s Cricket. It’s only the Indian Railways that offers you a job, which you can keep even after you stop playing cricket.

Any tips for those looking at taking up cricket or any sport as a profession?

– Give it everything. Cricket is not a sport that you can excel in with half-hearted efforts. It’s not something that can be done while managing other things. Be completely focused on your game.

– Right from your training days, treat it like a professional athlete would treat it.

– Be passionate about the game

What are the career options available after retirement?

BCCI is coming up with more women focused courses that a cricketer can take. For eg: you can do courses for being a coach or a strength and training coach.

Apart from this you can be

  • Umpire
  • Sports Journalist
  • Scorer

Any advice to the parents of youngsters who are keen on taking up sports as a career?

This is a sport where parents will have to be supportive and involved in their child’s progress. Right from dropping children to their training, to funding their equipment, right food, right sleep habits, everything needs to be provided for and monitored. Parents should however take a backseat on the field. Select a good coach and let the coach take the decisions. Sometimes the parents are too involved and that hampers the child’s growth on the field and off the field as well.

This is an interview in the series of #LearnNotEducate. This is a way to highlight satisfying alternative careers and busting myths related to traditional courses. If you follow an alternate course, and wish to be featured on my blog, fill in this Google Form and I will get in touch with you.

Music as a promising career – Interview with Priti Talwalkar #BlogchatterProjects

Singing or music has come into limelight with all the numerous singing competitions that have the capability of making someone a star overnight, however what goes behind the success is what we are here to see today.

I met up with Mrs. Priti Talwalkar, a professional classical and light music vocalist to understand what it takes to be a singer! Having a great voice is just half of the picture. Read this interview to understand the passion and the effort required to be a trained singer. An alternative career, that if followed with passion and dedication can give you money and fame.

Aachievements of Priti

When did you start learning singing?

I started learning music in 6th std from Mrs. Swarada Sathe. After Visharad I started learning Jaipur-atrauli gharana gayaki from Smt. Manik Bhide (senior disciple of Smt. Kishori Amonkar and a great singer of jaipur Atrauli gharana). I completed sangeet alankar under guidance of manik tai and smt. Mukta Bhide. Presently I am learning from pt. Bhalchandra Tilak, another stalwart of jaipur gayaki.

When did you decide to make it your career?

I always liked classical music the most and after 10th I decided to pursue music besides my college studies. I opted for arts so that I could focus on music properly.

Are there any professional degrees or exams for being a well-trained singer?

There are graduation, post graduation degree exams at the university level. One can do PhD after M.A in music. There are institutions like Gandharv Mahavidyalay where these exams can be given externally.

What are the future prospects in this field?

Future prospects in this field :

  • Job as a Music teacher in schools, university.
  • Private tutions or teaching in private institutes.
  • Performing artist in classical, light music.
  • There are other opportunities like playback singing, singing for albums, jingles, etc.

What are your tips for the parents of such students?

Parents should realize the ability of the kids and encourage them to acquire proper training. Help them get over the stage fright by making them sing whenever there are opportunities. Parents should treat this career equally important as any other career like doctor, engineer, etc.

What should a student keep in mind when choosing singing as a career?

According to me one should like singing very much and be passionate about it. With the help of the guru (teacher) try to find out whether you are ready to become a singer. Competitions, exams, singing in front of the audience will help to improve.  This can be a full time career. Proper training and riyaz are the most important things to become successful in this field.

If you follow an alternative career or know someone who does, fill up this google form

I will be glad to feature you in my upcoming series

Are we raising a generation of escapists and cowards? My reason to start #LearnNotEducate

A bright student kills herself when court passes directive supporting National level entrance exams for medical

Every hour one student commits suicide in India

The most shocking was the Rayan International murder, where a XI standard student murdered a small child just to postpone his exam and parent teacher meet!

What have we come to? Is it easier for children to be murderers than face an exam or Parent Teacher Meet? Is your personal life, so immaterial that you prefer giving it up than standing up and finding second chances? Have we made our future generation so weak and a coward? If this is the coming generation how are they going to face the many challenges that life throws at them?

Questions like these and many more were hounding me since I read that article and it made me wonder if we have messed up our kids future in the name of ‘no pressure childhood’

We seem to be swinging like a pendulum – from too much pressure to absolutely no pressure. Is this really a workable solution?

Child’s Exposure

The current system of no exams, no punishment, no negative words and no failing, though established with good intentions seem to be working adversely. No exams mean the child has no idea of how well he is doing. No Negative remarks mean the parents have no idea if they need to help their child in a certain subject. I certainly don’t support corporal punishments or failing a child, but regular feedback good or bad is essential for the child to develop. Introducing vocational courses in school level and a possible option of making that a field of study from high school itself might help in easing the pressure. The child will be exposed to a variety of field of education apart from the traditional 8-9 subjects taught in school.

Parental Responsibility

We can’t just sit back and say “We have been paying enough fees to the school so the responsibility lies with the school to educate my child” We are paying for quality education, but if the child needs extra support in certain subjects we need to help. Not every child will be a topper, we need to accept that and let them blossom at their pace. A child might have talents in other areas – be it dance, singing, elocution, sports or craft. As parents it is our duty to let them explore and help them be the best version of themselves in whichever field that interests them. Not expecting the child to be an all-rounder and ensuring that he/she gets enough time and exposure to follow their passion might help in creating world-class sportsmen, musicians and toastmasters.

Everyone need not be a Doctor or an Engineer

This has been amply proven in the past few years, when many engineers have turned authors or musicians. I am not saying a child will figure it out when he is a kid, but as parents if the child chooses a different profession than the main-stream careers, we need to be supportive of them. Saturation of  a few traditional course is not only going to create intense competition in that field but will also inhibit a child. Dignity of labor should be ingrained right from childhood. An environmentalist or a pet-trainer is an equally respectable profession as an engineer or a doctor for the simple reason that we need them and they help a society function, just like any other profession.

World is their oyster

Instead of everyone running in the same rat-race, lets help our children blossom. See the international curriculum where there is equal focus on learning vocational and non-vocational courses. We need a change in mindset and a strong belief that talent and intelligence is not limited to bookish knowledge and 99% marks. As seen in the past – World Leaders, Entrepreneurs and even Sportsmen haven’t scored an A in the exams but have been an A-lister in life!

If you know someone who is following a satisfying alternative career or you are doing one, do fill the form below. My goal with #LearnNotEducate is to showcase to the children and their parents that passionate people can create amazing lives – a bad result is not the end of the world.


UBUNTU and the Patterns in Indian education system

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Today I saw a Marathi movie – UBUNTU. While I had planned another post today for writetribe the urge to write about the movie was such that I canceled the scheduled post and started writing this one. The movie is about a topic that I am passionate about – Education. I believe everyone should get some kind of education that will help them lead their life with dignity. I am not solely for bookish knowledge. Any work that can later get you a livelihood is education for me. But the choice to leave the school books and learn the skill should be the child’s choice and not a burden.

UBUNTU movie poster

The movie UBUNTU starts with a school in a really small village where getting a meager 35 children to attend school is a big problem. The teacher is shown striving hard to keep the school running. As per the government guidelines a school with low attendance points towards non-enthusiasm of students to learn and hence the school will be shut and those interested in learning should go to the nearby village. While someone from a city might think logistically this arrangement makes sense and if parents really want their children to learn they will send the students to nearby village. The reality is not that simple.

Just a month back I was a part of conversation relating to schools in rural India and those discussions coupled with the movie put forth a Pattern. A vicious circle that needs to be attended to now, to have a future generation that is inquisitive, educated and visionaries. I personally know atleast three villages which are facing this problem of having to shut down the local primary school for lack of students.

  1. Most rural primary schools teach in vernacular language. Parents who can afford to send their children to the close-by towns prefer sending children to English medium schools.
  2. The students who do go to these local schools are children of really poor backgrounds and the only reason bringing them to school is their will, free meals and a hope that they might be able to create a better future as compared to their parents.
  3. The parents of these children are least interested in education as they believe after primary they will have to shell out money to educate the children, which they don’t have. They prefer having another farm hand instead of an educated, but useless family member.
  4. The education of maths and science for them is limited to daily calculation and street smartness.
  5. The parents who do know the importance of education, cannot afford to send the children far off. My maid doesn’t want to go back to her village as there is no school and she can’t send her small children to far off schools.
  6. The government can’t afford to spend on schools where there are no children.

So while all the adults think about logistics and economics, the children miss out on an independent and respectful future. Is it really necessary that our children only read, get good marks and become engineers, doctors or mathematicians? Don’t we need clever farmers, specialists in animal husbandry, poultry or florists? Why can’t the rural schools have freedom to decide their curriculum or part of curriculum that will also teach children life skills? Everyone might not be a scientist or a doctor but every child will have some skill that can be crafted. This way the parents will relate the education, to immediate source of livelihood and not wonder if education is necessary. Is it time we looked at alternate education systems developed by people like Sonam Wangchuk to keep our rural children in school?

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge 


Hindi Medium – A reality check for parent? My review

I recently went to watch Hindi Medium. I didn’t have many expectations as I expected the movie to just glorify Hindi Medium education and be all preachy. But I was in for a surprise. The movie focuses on a lot of core issues that the new age parents are facing, when it comes to their children’s education.

Hindi Medium starts with the most common worry that every parent of a 3 year old undergoes – Getting their ward admitted to one of the best schools in the locality. The movie beautifully showcases the parent’s good intent of ensuring that their child get’s the best that they can offer, however it can be over zealous at times. As the movie is putting forth a thought, they ensure that the movie remains light and humorous while focusing on the core issues that the parents face when it comes to school admission. It touches upon many societal perspectives that we can easily identify around us, one of them being, ‘English communication is directly proportional to your status in society.’

The casting is perfect with Irrfan Khan and Saba Qamar being the financially well-off, struggling with English parents. The movie is a situational comedy and it nails the many ugly truths related to education in our current society. Mithu (Saba Qamar) reads about the “list of top 5 schools in Delhi” and is obsessed about putting her daughter there. The probable ridicule, embarrassment and social stigma that she might have faced is left to the viewer’s imagination through various subtle indications like when she convinces her husband (Irrfan) that their daughter should be educated in the most prominent English School, or when she comes face to face with her ex-college mate who is an alumni of a famous school in Delhi.

Another useful point that the movie makes is, ‘how education has been turned into a money making business.’ Right from counselors who will help groom the child and their parents for the interview, to professional writers who will fill forms and fashion designers who will help pick the right clothes for the school interview. “Schools don’t prefer children of shopkeepers” is another dialogue that portrays the current admission criteria where the school screens the applications based on many unwritten conditions. Being financially well off to pay the school fees is not good enough, the parents and their professional background too is expected to be meeting expectations.

Though the second half of the movie is typical and preachy, it hits the right notes when it comes to putting forth the current problems. It also showcases the other end of the spectrum with RTE quota’s , its misuse and how the RTE children end up being a misfit in schools that are carefully crafting their image of being a school for future leaders of India. Do watch this family entertainer. A refreshing movie which makes each one of us introspect.

A night under the stars – Stargazing with JVP

Picture Credit- Pixabay

On April 20, this year with a doubtful mind I pressed the send button for fund transfer to JVP (Jyotirvidya Parisanstha) an association of amateur astronomers and a non-profit organization. A cousin of mine is a member of this organization and she suggested the place as a night outing for my older kid. I was super excited about this new experience and immediately went about coaxing my husband for the same. Surprisingly, even he agreed without much ado and so I made up my mind. However, by the time I got around to making payments I had a million doubts – late realization, you might say 😛

It was a star party, with Lyrids meteor shower and sounded like a great experience, but as I had never attended a star party I wasn’t sure about what to expect! Also as this was an overnight star party I wasn’t sure how well would my younger kid co-operate. It was an open farm, so I was also worried about the mosquitoes. Questions like place to sleep, food available, what if they got bored, were swimming in my mind and at a point I even mulled over cancelling the seats, however there was also this thrill of the unknown which I couldn’t conquer and so with a duel mind and a confused heart we set out for the star party on 22nd April.

We reached there around 8pm and realized that there was an educational session starting from 7pm, which we kind of missed. When we reached there, there was an interesting on going session about constellations in the sky and popular stories about the same in various cultures. It was a wonderful session as the sky was the canvas and all we needed to do was look to identify these interesting Nakshatra’s and constellations. There was a group of high school students too for this star party and they were one of the most interested and clued in audience. While I was fascinated by the stories and tried to listen in with rapt attention the same wasn’t true about kids. They got bored in the next 10 minutes and kept roaming about the farm and pestering my cousin, (who thankfully was happy to entertain them!) This was followed up with star gazing using telescopes. This was an interesting aspect for my older kid as she was seeing a telescope for the first time. We saw Jupiter and Saturn with their moon’s and my older kid who had recently studied about solar system was thrilled to see them. As this was being done on a farm, we were strictly asked to use no or minimal lights.

After a short break for dinner we got back to star gazing with telescopes. Thankfully by this time, my younger kiddo slept without much problems and that was a boon for me. Next up were some presentations about man-made satellites sent up. A detailed infotainment cum presentation about spacecraft Cassini’s journey was shown. It was because of this that I realized the importance of Cassini Mission and the importance of 26th April for astronomers. Do watch this beautiful video for more.

By now it was already past 3am and with two breaks for tea, almost all the enthusiasts were wide awake and rearing to go. This was followed with astro-quiz and astro-antakshari. The boisterous high school kids were rearing to go and it was a fun session to watch.

Things to Know

JVP – this is an astro enthusiast group and they have programs all year round. You could enroll as members and enjoy various activities organized by them.

Star Party – While this was a star party with Lyrid meteor showers, there was hardly any shower to be seen, so that was a damper.

Where- Abhyankar Farm, Nasrapur (Approx. 41 km from Pune, depending on where in Pune you are located.)

Budget – 500 + transport for non-members

Things to have – Google Sky Maps, laser pointer, warm clothes (it gets damn chilly post mid-night and this is in summer!)

Fun things for kids – My kids were too young to enjoy this thoroughly but the other students who had come for the party, seemed to have enjoyed the experience to bits. Recommended age – 10+

How I became a Chartered Accountant?

The ultimate degree in the world of Finance is CA. Being a Chartered Accountant is a dream for many young commerce undergrads, however, a very small percentage of it gets to make this dream a reality. One of the many reasons for drop outs from CA courses is that not many know the extent of hard work and determination required to complete the course. For some, they do not have the temperament required. Wouldn’t it be great to have a clear picture about such courses before you get into it?

Here is Shruti Chiplunkar, a CA who completed her course in 2016. She walks you through her journey of becoming a CA.

C.A Shruti Chiplunkar

  1. Explain your journey from 12th to finally becoming a CA

I completed my Class 12 from Vidya Mandir College, Bengaluru in March 2011. I cleared my CPT in June 2011 and started preparing for the next level. Thereafter, I cleared my IPCE (Integrated Professional Competence Examination) in May 2012. I did my articleship with a CA firm in Bengaluru from August 2012-2015.I cleared my CA Final Group 2 in November 2015 and CA Final Group 1 in May 2016.

In these 5 years, there have been many happy and not-so-happy moments too. While the hectic class-work-study schedule takes a toll on our mind, the articleship period also helps us to foster new friendships, learn the way a business works and also prepares us to enter the corporate world.

2. What prompted you to take up CA course?

The Chartered Accountancy course is well known for its maintenance of high standards, both professionally and ethically. It also mandates us to do a 3-year articleship to be eligible for writing final exams. The reputation of the Institute, along with the study-as-you-work model interested me. Also, my keen interest in management and economics prompted me to take up this course.

3.  Any role models or inspirations?

Definitely! Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam is a powerhouse of inspiration. Remembering his quotes actually helped me motivate myself and overcome my failures.

My role model for all times is Ms. Uma Venkitraman, my Class 12  Business Studies teacher. She not only taught us commerce, she also taught us to look beyond the realms of bookish knowledge. She has been with me through my happy and sad moments. Whatever I am today, is only because of her.

4. How different was the actual study material than what you had expected?

I took up CA after my 12th and did not go the graduation way. So when I initially had a look at the study material for the Common Proficiency Test (CPT), I felt it was much tougher than the Class 12 syllabus. Also, when I joined the course in 2011, I had to actually get hold of the hard copies of the books to have an idea about the subject(s). But these days, it is all available on the ICAI website. I would advise students taking up the course to go through the online study material beforehand.

Moreover, I realised later that the Institute also conducts Management and Communication Skills Programmes for CA students – surely a wonderful way to connect with your peers and overcome communication obstacles. So, there is more to the course than the actual study material published.

5. Students wishing to take up CA should be ready for….?

Smartwork and Determination! If your hardwork is channelized through a consistent schedule, you can manage things smartly, in case of CA exams. The syllabus is not only very huge, it is also dynamic – The Companies Act 2013 has come into effect, GST will be implemented next year, there are various Rules, Court judgements etc. So it does take effort from our side to keep up-to-date with the latest changes.

Why I am stressing on determination is that, I am of a view that CA exams are a mind game – either you conquer the exam fear, or the exam fear will conquer you. There is no intermediate option. A single failure should not shatter one’s hopes. Definitely one can take some days off to introspect as to what went wrong with the exams, but the very important point is to accept it and strategize for the upcoming examinations. People can show us sympathy, or even encourage us, but the determination to achieve our goals must come from within  – and this holds good in every aspect of life.

On a lighter note, be ready to slog, folks!!

6.  What was your study schedule?

I started studying around 4 months before CA Final. Initially I started with a schedule of 5-6 hours a day, since it takes time to adjust to a new study pattern. I had made a schedule of preparation of all 8 subjects for the first 3 months. I gradually increased my study pattern from 6-8-10-12-13 hours a day before the exams began. The last one month was devoted only for revision and mock papers.

Since the syllabus is too vast, it is very important to revise and keep in touch with the subject; otherwise all the hardwork is of no use. It is also equally important to read the study material and manuals given by the ICAI. It is crucial for understanding the concepts.

I would take up two subjects in a day- one practial oriented and one theoretical; This helps in breaking the monotony and also freshening up the mind.

I can conclude by saying – there have been mentors, my wellwishers, there have also been people who criticized me; but my heartfelt thanks to all of them for building that Never-Say-Die attitude in me.

This post was originally posted on PAL