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My female representation endorsement of female victory, spirit: Artist Rekha Rodwittiya

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Rekha Rodwittiya

Artist Rekha Rodwittiya, whose art is “free, feisty, feminist and more” and yet is the “everyday woman”, consciously placed the female figure at the centre of her work “as an endorsement of female victory”.

An ongoing exhibition here looks back at her repertoire that celebrates collective female histories — and alters the politics of the gaze that rests on women.

Rodwittiya’s exhibition, “[email protected]: Transient Worlds of Belonging”, at the Sakshi Gallery, explores the ideas of womanhood. It does so through the autobiographical lens of the artist, who positions the female form in her work as unrelenting.

“I see the female figure as being emblematic of being a life-giving force through the centuries. The unflinching gaze and the frontal posture of the female protagonist demands that the viewer is obliged to participate and engage with her presence,” the 60-year-old artist told IANS in an email interview.

“Stark and arresting in demeanor, these figures with their unrelenting gaze stand… free, feisty, feminist and more.”

In response to a popular statement made by art historian John Berger on the gender dynamic in artworks — “Men act and women appear” — Rodwittiya said she abhors the “gaze that suggests consumption” and that her attempt is to bring out accountability in the gaze.

Calling herself a proud feminist, Rodwittiya rewinds her life for one to better understand the personal politics that governs her art.

She recalled the nights she spent as a child, listening to her mother and aunts talk about their lives “lived with independence and courage to stand up for what they believed in”, which became the “lullabies” for Rodwittiya’s feminist belonging.

With a non-conformist upbringing, “unfettered by restrictive boundaries of community affiliation and religious” diktat, the artist, born in Bangalore (now Bengaluru), knew from the age of five that she would paint.

She said that, when asked how it feels like to be a woman in India, her answer is that she views herself as “empowered” — an inheritance “precious enough to not be squandered”.

Through her easily-identified, bold style of painting, Rodwittiya brings alive the ordinary through this lens of the cultural self — something especially visible in her 1995 seminal work “Songs From the Blood of the Weary” created for a Geneva exhibition commemorating 50 years of the United Nations.

“As a feminist, it isn’t the theoretical pedagogic that I wish to engage with in my art. My content is culled from the life of the everyday woman… It is through the lives of the ordinary that we best witness any ideology.”

A former student of London’s Royal College of Art, Rodwittiya commends the indomitable spirit of women.

“The female figure as a central image is neither accidental, nor arrived at by chance in my work. It is consciously placed as an endorsement of female victory — as a totemic trophy of the self for the self — to reinforce the embodiment of the female spirit as a vital axis to life itself,” she explained.

On the #MeToo movement rising to a fever pitch in India, the widely-exhibited artist, who has previously argued on social media that “men from cultural spaces of authority, who have behaved sexually inappropriately with women, (be) held accountable”, said the movement is a stage for everyone.

“Power hierarchies of all types must be questioned. The #Metoo movement is everyone’s stage to celebrate this emboldened moment of truth and freedom, through stories of survivors, and to work for the change.

“Sexual harassment and oppression must be viewed as criminal acts and legislation (to deal with this) must not only be structured, but also implemented with visible results for all,” she stated.

[email protected]” will run till November 30.

(Siddhi Jain can be contacted at [email protected])

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Kids with family support more likely to stand up to bullying

There is a lot of research on bullying, but very little on the extent to which family factors affect whether bystanders will intervene if they see bullying

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INDIAN-MOM

New York, Nov 13 : Young people with good family relationships are more likely to intervene when they witness bullying or other aggressive behaviour at school and to step in if they see victims planning to retaliate, suggests new research.

The findings, published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, found that kids who were already excluded, or discriminated against by peers or teachers, were less likely to stand up for victims of bullying.

“There is a lot of research on bullying, but very little on the extent to which family factors affect whether bystanders will intervene if they see bullying,” said study lead author Kelly Lynn Mulvey, Assistant Professor at North Carolina State University in the US.

Peer interventions are very effective at stopping bullying and preventing future aggressive behaviours. However, these interventions are fairly rare, according to Mulvey.

For the study, the team examined 450 sixth grade students and 446 ninth grade students who completed a survey aimed at collecting data on their relationships with family, peers and teachers.

They were also given six scenarios, each of which dealt with a specific aggressive act — physical aggression, cyberbullying, social exclusion, or rejection by a group, intimate partner violence, social aggression, such as teasing or mean-spirited gossip, and exclusion by a former friend.

For each scenario, students were asked to rate the aggressive act on a six-point scale, from “really not OK” (1) to “really OK” (6). Students used the same scale to judge the acceptability of intervening.

The results showed that the stronger a student reported ‘good family management,’ or positive family relationships, the more likely a student was to deem aggressive behaviour and retaliation unacceptable, and the more likely they were to intervene in either case.

“The study tells us that both home and school factors are important for recognising bullying behaviour as inappropriate and taking steps to intervene. It highlights the value of positive school environments and good teachers, and the importance of family support, when it comes to addressing bullying,” Mulvey noted.

IANS

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India’s higher education system needs drastic changes to address tech-induced challenges

Further, India’s GER for the male population is 26.3 per cent and 25.4 per cent for females. The GER also varies across different social groups — 21.8 per cent for the Scheduled Castes and 15.9 per cent for the Scheduled Tribes.

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As the world stands on the brink of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, powered by a wide range of new technology breakthroughs such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), advanced robotics, Internet of Things IoT), Cloud computing and 3D printing, major changes are expected in the labour market globally.

There will be reduced demand for middle-skilled workers doing repetitive tasks and increased demand for more highly-skilled workers — and also low-skilled workers doing non-routine work. While many developed countries, such as the US and Japan, as also several European economies, are already experiencing this polarisation, the labour market is also hollowing out in many developing countries, although at a rate slower than the developed world.

In the case of India, this polarisation can be seen in the organised manufacturing sector, where the share of high-skilled occupations in total manufacturing employment increased by more than three percentage points, while the share of middle-skilled jobs decreased by 6.3 percentage points from 1993-94 to 2011-12. Looking at the impact of technological progress on various manufacturing industries, the capital-intensive industries, such as automobile manufacturers, have a greater probability of adopting advanced automation and robotic technologies, compared to labour-intensive manufacturing industries such as textile, apparel, leather and footwear, and paper manufacturers.

Further, in the services sector, particularly in the IT sector, e-commerce, banking and financial services and health care services, there is a huge potential for automation technologies, which would increase the demand for skilled workers and reduce the demand for middle-skilled workers.

However, in India, over 80 per cent of the working population is engaged in low-skilled jobs in the unorganised sector. These low-skilled workers aspire to join the middle-skilled workforce in the organised sector to raise themselves from poverty. However, the changing nature of work due to technology advancements in the organised sector prevents their upward labour mobility and any improvement in their incomes.

Addressing these challenges requires reforms in India’s higher education system. The institutes of higher learning should shun dated teaching methodologies and redesign the course curriculum by understanding key market transitions amidst the technological advancements. This would enable the country to create a workforce which could be placed in the positions demanded by the companies in the digital era and thus bridge the skill gap in the labour market.

However, looking at the current state of higher education in India, one can see that it is not just the quality of the system which needs to be improved. There is also much to be done in terms of the number of students enrolled in the institutes of higher learning. The Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) in tertiary education in India is 26.9 per cent, which is lower than that of China (48.4 per cent), Indonesia (27.9 per cent) and the Philippines (35.3 per cent), among others.

Further, India’s GER for the male population is 26.3 per cent and 25.4 per cent for females. The GER also varies across different social groups — 21.8 per cent for the Scheduled Castes and 15.9 per cent for the Scheduled Tribes.

There are also wide variations in the number of colleges for higher education across different states in India, with the lowest number of seven colleges in Bihar for every 0.1 million of eligible population to 51 in Telangana and Karnataka. The top eight states in terms of highest number of colleges are Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh, which have 28 or more colleges per 0.1 million of the population. The disparity in the distribution of the colleges is also seen across different districts in these states, with the top 50 districts having about 32.6 per cent of the colleges.

In addition to the inequalities existing in the access to institutions for higher education, another issue is that a majority of the students are enrolled in undergraduate level programmes, compared to the Masters and the Doctoral programmes. Moreover, at the undergraduate level, there is a low pass-out rate — out of 2,90,16,350 students enrolled at undergraduate level, only 6,419,639 passed-out in 2017.

It is imperative for the country to address these issues given that the Indian system of higher education faces multiple challenges of low gross enrollment in its colleges and universities, with predominance of students settling on undergraduate studies, along with various socio-economic inequalities existing in access to higher learning. Further, emphasis must be placed on increasing the number of students who pass out of the colleges/universities, along with increasing enrollment numbers.

The technology-induced skill gap which the Indian economy is facing across different sectors is bound to widen with the current higher education system. Change has to be brought from outside the existing constructs. Improvement in the teaching methodology from the traditional lecture courses, accreditation of online courses, along with redesigning the course curriculum to be more industry relevant are some of the ways the technology-led changes in the labour market can be dealt with.

(Amit Kapoor is chair, Institute for Competitiveness, India. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at [email protected] and tweets @kautiliya. Deepti Mathur, senior researcher at large, Institute for Competitiveness has contributed to the article)

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Tips for glossy hair this winter

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New Delhi, Nov 12: Winter demands extra attention when it comes to hair as the chances of dullness gets higher so make sure you are following some regimen properly.

Monisha Bhatia, Head of Education, Kérastase India lists some ways to get glossy hair:

* Choose a shampoo and conditioner formulated especially for your scalp and hair type. We recommend getting a personalized hair and scalp diagnosis by hair experts at a nearby salon.

* Washing your hair too frequently can strip it of its essential oils. Make sure you condition your hair every time you shampoo. Condition your hair from mid-length and ends and rinse well. Masks can help repair what styling and environment take out. Dry your hair by squeezing it gently without towel rubbing it vigorously which causes breakage and strips away shine.

* Use a clarifying shampoo (not recommended for coloured hair) but not too often. Between the products we apply, the oils we secrete and the dirt and grime we pick up in our everyday lives our hair sometimes need a little extra help in cleansing. That’s when clarifying shampoos clean out all that unwanted stuff and leave your hair looking fresh and new. Follow up a clarifying shampoo with a deep conditioning masque.

* Use products that contain oils which will make your hair look shiny and improve texture and smooth the frizz. Products containing oils infuse your hair with moisture, prevent split ends and improve strength and smoothness of your hair over time.

* Don’t blow dry your hair when its dripping wet.

* Take your vitamins (Biotin, zinc & B-complex), antioxidants and eating right (whole grains, eggs, avocados and legumes – best sources for B-complex vitamins) to enhance the health of your hair and restore shine.

Steps by Kama Ayurveda in-house Ayurveda doctor Natasha Sharma on how will you get you glossy, shiny hair.

* Hair oils are key to long, lustrous, shiny hair with enviable texture. It is an integral part of traditional Indian lifestyle and generations of women have relied on the natural benefits of oil to keep their hair strong and healthy. Warm hair oil and massage into the scalp to nourish and strengthen roots, as well as improve blood circulation.

* Use natural, gentle hair cleansers and conditioners to remove product build up without stripping the scalp off its natural oils.

* For a quick fix, take two to three drops of organic coconut/sesame oil and apply to damp hair to tame fly aways and give it a shine.

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