Thursday, March 29, 2007

Meet the Polgárs

Some people are born geniuses. Or so we would like to believe. Not just in terms of intellect, but in every field of human endeavor, we find a few extraordinarily talented people who seem to have been born with that special gift.

László Polgár would not agree. He knows that experts are made more than born. László, a chess teacher, home schooled his three daughters - Zsuzsa, Zsófia, and Judit. Zsófia went on to be an international master. Zsuzsa and Judit went on to become grandmasters.

What we learn form the Polgár experiment and numerous other studies is that motivation plays a key role in learning. And the key to motivation is what is called ‘Effortful Study’, a process of continually tackling challenges that lie just beyond ones competence. This, it turns out, is the secret to genius.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Stray city

Not long after my first post on Bangalore’s stray dogs, an eight year old was mauled to death by a pack of stray dogs. Last week another child, a four year old, was killed while playing outside his house in a neighborhood not far my office in CV Raman Nagar. One would imagine that two such incidents in as many months would cause a rethink among the so called animal rights groups in the city. But that was not to be.

Instead they stick to their position that neutering is the only humane solution ignoring all evidence to the contrary. In spite of years of animal birth control efforts by government funded NGOs, Bangalore today has a street dog population of 76,000. And then they go on to put the blame on inefficient garbage disposal and ‘illegal’ meat shops. While proper garbage disposal is in itself a pressing concern, it’s definitely not the right solution to this problem. Deprived of the garbage which is their main source of food, the hungry dogs would resort to attacking people before finally starving to death. As for the reference to illegal mutton shops, the intention is clear to anyone who would bother to think for a moment.

It is fair to say that the methods earlier used to put strays to sleep where indeed cruel, but a stubborn instance on keeping the dogs on the streets makes no sense. The only solution is to put all the stray dogs to sleep in a manner that will not cause then undue suffering. One can only hope that another child does not have to die before the government decides to amend those provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act which prevent the culling of stray animals.