Category Archives: motivational stuff

Make reading a part of your daily routine

Reference: The DNA newspaper, Mumbai print edition, June 25 2017, Sunday. (Rya Jetha: (The writer is a 17 year old Indian-American, currently studying at Bombay International School)

Note: Although this article may not be directly to the topics of this blog, namely, math or the kinds of levels of concentration, memory power and retention required for intensely competitive Math exams like IITJEE, RMO/INMO (of Homibhabha/TIFR), it certainly suggests the benefits of good reading habits, which directly impact the development of the intellect and overall personality of a person/student of any age. I only mean to share this “feeling” or “opinion” of mine…) – Nalin Pithwa.


What’s In It for you:

  • Reading facilitates interaction between our own experiences and the world beyond our own.
  • Reading allows us to create an image for ourselves that is intimate and personal.
  • Reading gives us the opportunity to rekindle the bond with ourselves that is neglected and wilting.


Our brains are perpetually fed with images. Images of skyscrappers billowing flames, images of celebrities strutting down the red carpet, images of scrumptious Mediterranean food platters. Images, images, images. Everywhere. On billboards as we navigate through the intersections and flyovers of our city, on our social media feeds, on television, on newspapers covers. With the tentacles of the media being ever more agile and developing finer capillaries by the second, nothing is left to imagination.

What about creating the image? What about allowing our brains to somersault, cartwheel, and back flip once in a while? How do we periodically escape the reality impressed upon us, where our brains are spoon fed and mollycoddled by our circumstances? How do we give ourselves the space to be active creators, and not dormant receivers?

The answer is reading. Fellow teenagers, I bet you just rolled your eyes, thinking “easier said than done!” I couldn’t agree more. Who has the time or inclination to read when there are standardized tests to rigorously practise for, laps to swim, tracks to run around, places to be and people to meet? It doesn’t strike me as particularly surprising when teenagers regards reading as a pastime belonging to a previous era, a time when minutes elapsed slower and free time was available in enviable abundance.

Apart from the obvious advantage of reading —- expanding our vocabularies and knowledge, improving focus and enhancing writing and comprehension skills —- I see another benefit to reading critical for teenagers in the 21st century. Reading facilitates interaction between our own experiences and the world beyond our own. Reading allows us to create an image for ourselves that is intimate and personal —- an ability we have lost as thousands of visuals assault us on a daily basis. Sidetracked by the hyperactivity of the world we live in, we lack a connection with our own experiences  and creativity, and reading gives us the opportunity to rekindle the bond with ourselves that is neglected and wilting.

Teenagers are both victims and beneficiaries of the overwhelming bombardment of the 21st century. Instead of suffering from the onslaught of sensational news and enduring the blitzkrieg of our social media feeds, how about we acclimatize ourselves to a different kind of bombardment…of suspense, of plots, of twists, of complex characteers and vibrant settings! The possibilities are endless, and I assure you, the vibrancy and exhilaration is unparalleled by any Snapchat filter, Buzzfeed article or Trump meme. How about exploring the Taliban agenda in A Thousand Splendid Suns, or viewing the world through the lens of a migrant in The Sympathizer, and Americanal, or experience the trauma of World War II through the perspective of a blind French girl in All The Light We Cannot See, or delving into the history of The Gene, or exploring British occupied Burma in The Glass Palace, or living the psychological tension in The Girl on the Train. Take your pick!


On my part, if you are interested in Math and Physics, you can try reading some of the following books:

  1. The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan by Robert Kanigel,
  2. Men of Mathematics by E. T. Bell, this is the book which had inspired (to some extent) John Nash, Jr., as a boy, and he later on became a Nobel Laureate, an Abel Laureate, whose life inspired the Hollywood movie, A Beautiful Mind. The movie in turn is based on the biography ” A Beautiful Mind” by Sylvia Nasar; you can buy these books also from Amazon India or some other place.
  3. Taming the Infinite: The Story of Mathematics by Ian Stewart.
  4. A Brief History of Time: From Big Bang to Black Holes by Stephen Hawking.
  5. The Physics of Superheroes by James Kakalios.
  6. Physics for Entertainment by Ya. Perelman;
  7. Surely, you are joking, Mr. Feynman!
  8. Sherlock Holmes, (Unabridged complete works) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,
  9. Super Memory: it can be yours by Shakuntala Devi,
  10. P. G. Wodehouse ! (This is, of course, for light reading and besides, who can forget The Inimitable Jeeves, the Empress of Blandings, and Bertie Wooster? 🙂 🙂 🙂 )
  11. S. Chandrasekhar, Man of Science, by Radhika Ramnath,

(I will try to suggest more such literature later, although, you can find many many like these on your own…)

– shared by Nalin Pithwa.

All 30 candidates of Patna’s Super 30 crack IITJEE Advanced 2017!

(This piece of news is also a bit dated, but v v inspirational)

(Reference: DNA newspaper, print edition, Mumbai, June 17 2017, Education section)

Patna: Mathematician Anand Kumar’s Super 30 has once again created a record as its 30 out of 30 candidates cracked the IITJEE Advanced Examination (2017) results which were announced last Sunday.

“I am happy that my 30 out of 30 candidates have cracked IITJEE Advanced this year. Now time has come to give Super 30 some much needed expansion. We will now organize tests for selecting students in different parts of the country and give all the details on the website,” the Super 30 founder said.

Talking to media persons after the results, Kumar attributed his yet another success story of Super 30 to the hard work and perseverance of his students and said that its time to expand his famous Super 30 in the country.

Kumar’s Super 30 provides free coaching along with lodging to students of underprivileged sections of the society.

Super 30 has completed its 15 years of journey during which it has sent 396 out of 450 candidates to IIT. Kumar said adding that it coached 450 candidates in 15 years, 30 candidates every year.

Among the 30 students of Super 30 who have cracked prestigious IITJEE Advance 2017, there are wards of landless farmer, egg seller, unemployed father.

There are several inspiring tales that have emerged from the Super 30 coaching institute this year too.

Be it the story of Kevlin, son of an unemployed father, or roadside egg seller’s son Arbaaz Allam, a farm labourer’s son Abhishek, they all stand tall having overcome the stiff odds of poverty and deprivation to make it to IIT and become an inspiration for several others like them.

Kevlin’s father Deepak is unemployed. He teaches yoga to people, but still his earning is not enough to make both ends meet. But Deepak knew that the only way to get out of the life of poverty is through education. Tears of joy continue to roll down his cheeks as he sits with mathematician Anand Kumar.

“I had heard of Super 30 almost 10 years ago and since that day I dreamt of seeing my son here to realize my dream. Today my son has realized it,” said Deepak.

Arbaaz’s father sells eggs in Bihar’s Biharsharief district. But he never lost heart. He always aspired to be at the top to change the course of his life.

“Anand Sir made me feel confident about my abilities. He boosted my confidence. Now, I think it is a matter of a few years when my father will not have to sell eggs braving the chilly winds of winter nights. I will also have a house where I will live with my father and mother,” said Arbaaz.

Kaushlendra Kumar of Nalanda is a landless farm labourer. Kaushlendra is proud of his son Arjun Kumar and Super 30. Arjun proudly recounts how his journey from a village school devoid of even basics took him to Super 30 and now he plans to step into IIT. “It is due to programmes like Super 30 that make even students from underprivileged sections dream of IIT. Now after engineering, I plan to go in for UPSC,” Arjun said.


Hats off to Prof. Anand Kumar and his team !!! From Nalin Pithwa.

Who wants to be a mathematician

I wish that there were official programmes like the following in India too:

APJ Abdul Kalam : How to manage success and failure

It is examinations &/or results of examinations time in India. Especially, the ruthlessly, mercilessly competitive, intense IITJEE Advanced…

So, here is some advice for a life time from our revered, adored APJ Abdul Kalam. Actually, this advice applies to all adult stages in life…

Message for students: Ms. Sumita Mukherjee, Principal, Ryan International School, NOIDA

“You can lose everything, but not education” :

Ms. Sumita Mukherjee, Principal, Ryan International School, NOIDA, talked to DNA, (Mumbai, print edition, May 19 2017) about  the growing concern of peer pressure among young students, the importance of sex education in schools and more: Excerpts from the interview:

How can one help students struggling with peer pressure?

There are a lot of students dealing with performance and peer pressure. It’s very common among teenagers. First of all, we need to identify such students in our schools, and then understand their issues. Recently, we identified a Class 12 student in our school who was brilliant till Class 11. He suddenly stopped coming to school regularly. We called up his parents and what we got to know that the excuse he had given to them was that nothing important was happening at school. We asked the parents how they can take it for granted. We talked to him and realized that he was going through peer pressure. We told him about the challenges of life and convinced him that he can’t give up on his future like that. Now, he attends school regularly. So, we need to handle such students very carefully and it is also the responsibility of parents to approach the school immediately when something like this happens.


Any message for students?

You can lose everything in life, but not education.


Shared by Nalin Pithwa.



Announcement: Scholarships for RMO Training

Mathematics Hothouse.

Udaipur boy achieves perfect score in JEE Main

(Nashik’s Vrunda Rathi secures first rank among girl students nationwide)

(Ref: The DNA Newspaper, print edition, Mumbai, April 28, 2017, Friday, Education Section, author: Ankita Bhatkhande; E-mail:

(Reproduced here for the express purpose of motivating my own students/readers of this blog-NP.)

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) released the results of the JEE Main exam on Thursday. The exam was held on April 2 in offline mode and on April 8 and April 9 in the online mode, across 113 cities in the country. Out of the total 11.86 lakh aspirants for Paper I, around 2.20 lakh students managed to qualify for the JEE Advanced exam scheduled for May 21.

The cut-off for the general category is 81, which is lower than the predicted cut-offs (95-105) depending on last year’s cut-off for the general category (100).

For the first time, the All India Ranks (AIRs) were declared along with the JEE Main results. Kalpit Veerwal from Udaipur scored a perfect 360 with AIR 1. Nashik’s Vrunda Rathi stood first among the girls in the exam.

Veerwal, whose father Pushkarlal, works as a compounder has appeared for his Class 12 boards from MDS Public School in Kota. “We are extremely happy with his success, and we are looking forward to his success in the Advanced exams,” said his  mother, Pushpa.

Rathi, a student of Nashik’s Loknete Vyankatrao Hiray Arts, Science and Commerce, and IITian’s Pace, said she is now looking forward to a career in research.


(with inputs from Simran Motwani) thanks to DNA and team — N.P.


IITJEE Mains 2017: Inspirational: Hard work and grit pays off

Reference: The DNA newspaper, print edition, Mumbai, Education Section, April 28 2017, Friday:

(Reproduced here on my blog with the express purpose of motivating students and parents alike; readers of my blog)

Dhananjay Subhash Chandra, son of an auto driver in Thane has cleared the JEE Main 2017 exams with a score of 291 out of 360. Attributing the success to his father, Subhash Chandra Tiwari, Dhananjay said that he is now preparing for the JEE Advanced and aspires to get into IIT Bombay. “My father struggled very hard to make ends meet for us. I am happy that I could make it this far and aim to do even better in the Advanced exams,” he said.

Congratulations Dhananjay and to your dad! And, also congratulations to DNA for such a true, motivational story!!

-Nalin Pithwa.

Safeguarding children from digital addiction — Kiran Bajaj, Principal, Greenlawns School.

Reproduced from The DNA newspaper, print edition, Mumbai, date April 17 2017, Monday; authored by Kiran Bajaj:

(From the Principal’s Desk) (The writer is Principal of Greenlawns High School, Mumbai.)

Generally, the word addiction brings to mind habits such as smoking, drinking or gambling, but in today’s digital age, addiction is more connected to technology. A child  could get addicted to iPads, television, or any kind of “screen”. Children develop an uncontrolled habit of indulging in certain activities even when they are warned that doing those things are not good for them.

Children are slowly becoming digital addicts. These days, some kids don’t just play with electronic toys but make it a part of their lives. Children carry their smartphones every where including the washroom as they feel disconnected from their social network without their phones. Today, young addicts include three year olds who scream when they can’t have their tablets to play on, or secondary school children who can’t quit “WhatsApping” or posting messages on Facebook, and others who compulsively play online games.

Toddlers are becoming couch potatoes almost as soon as they have the pram. No two children are alike and different children perceive the television medium differently. Studies have shown that watching TV at an early age does form a habit and that it has potentially damaging effects on their health. Some children watch TV while eating dinner, while doing homework, doing chores, etc. To prevent children from becoming couch potatoes, parents can encourage children to play board games, outdoor activities and socialize with friends.  Try to make the alternatives really fun at first, to help your child transition into watching less TV.

Families can help prevent addiction when there is a strong bond between children and parents, and a lot of parental involvement in the child’s life and discipline. Bringing in new games, books, and other activities will give children something better to do with their time while at home. For younger ones, simple sticker books and colouring books will keep them entertained for hours. Art and craft activities encourage children to use their imagination, as well as learning toys, puppet theaters, anything that gets your child thinking rather than just watching.



Nalin Pithwa.

PS: Thanks to DNA and Kiran Bajaj !

Some words of advice for students and parents and teachers – from Sudha Murthy

Life isn’t just about getting a degree: Sudha Murthy

(Reproduced from today’s, April 3, 2017 newspaper, The DNA, Mumbai (print)edition just to share with my readers/students. There is no other purpose in reproducing this interview here.)

(Comment: Though not directly related to the express purpose of this blog, it does matter a lot. Read and think about it!! )

Educationist, celebrated authorand Infosys chairperson Sudha Murthy speaks to Laveena Francis about India’s education system:


What are the lessons you learnt as a teacher?


The first thing is that you should make children love you first, and then they will love your subject. If you are not smiling, if you are extremely punishing, or if you never bring confidence in them, then they won’t like your subject as well. Secondly, you need to have a lot of patience in class. Not all students have the same pace while studying, somebody may be a slow learner. You should always remember that you are paid for the last candidate and not the first candidate. These are the two important learnings that I found as a teacher.


If you were to be part of a committee to design a school syllabus, what are the elements you would include, and exclude?


I would like to include History in a proper way. It’s not just about the wars. It’s also about how people lived. We have to tell the facts without hiding anything. We have to accept whatever has happened in the past. The quality of acceptance that happened in the past should be known to children. I would also want to include yoga, because yoga is a good exercise for both physical and mental health. And, of course, a sport. Any sport which the child likes. Playing at least one sport should be made compulsory.

Stitching, drawing and yoga are a must, as they help in the later part of life.

Usually, stitching is associated with females. But, it’s not like that. Boys also stitch very well. Manish Malhotra and Rohit Bahl are one of the best fashion designers. Stitching is nothing to do with men or women. It’s a kind of creativity according to me. And, excludes the excessive use of computers.


Do you think community service should be made compulsory in the education system so that children learn it from the very beginning?


Community service shouldn’t be a lip service. Children should go to a village and see the lifestyle of villages. It should not  happen that they are sitting at home and talking about helping. They should go out and see how others suffer, and then they will learn sensitivity from the have-nots.


But, how do we instill sensitivity towards humanity and the environment among students?


One needs to explain it. It’s the duty of both teachers and parents. I used to exercise with my students. Apart from teaching Computer Science, once in a while I used to take them to orphanage and tell them to see how people live and then count their blessings.


The race for marks has stripped the joy of learning. Students are result-oriented and barely focused on the process.


It would be very wrong for me to comment because I really don’t have any responsibility of children now. So, I can afford to sit and talk.

As a mother, I did not bother about marks. I would tell them, “Children, look, do not worry much about the marks, learn to love the subjects and it will remain with you. Of course, it’s a mad rat race now. It takes a toll on the students, parents and teachers. Life is not about getting a degree. There are so many ways one can live, but we never bother about that. We generally want our children to be either engineers or doctors. And, now, computer engineers. Not all are meant for that. I feel good education and the art of learning new things is more important. I think children should have the love for knowledge more than the love for marks. They should have a love and thirst for knowledge.


What kind of ambiance would you suggest parents create in their homes for their children to learn and grow?


Parents should sit with their children. Studies should be made interesting. Explain everything to them in a simpler way. Buy less for children. Don’t buy them things before they even know they need it. Children should look forward to buying new things. Parents have to under-go 10-12 years with them. It’s like going to school. And, don’t compare. Don’t say, look at the neighbour’s son, he does so well, or look at your own cousins. Don’t do that. A child is like a bud, every flower has its own beauty, so please allow them to bloom.


The importance of pursuing offbeat courses such as art, music, animal training etc.


They should pursue something only if they like it. I see so many RJ’s, they are all engineers, they are passionate about music, but parents say, “first you become an engineer, start earning, and then we’ll see. So, if you have a passion, follow the passion.


Your advice to students and teachers.


Normally, I don’t give any advice because it is not my nature. I always say make life meaningful. Make life colourful. Make it enjoyable. Don’t make it like a curse. Make your work enjoyable. You should look forward to going to school or college.

Teachers should have patience and should be smiling. Don’t punish or use harsh words, after all, they are children. And, don’t be judgmental.


By the way, for teachers, I would recommend the book “Secrets of Good Teaching” by Viney Kirpal. I love of one of the gems that Dr. Vikram Gadre, Prof. Dept. of Electrical Engineering, IIT-Bombay explains in an essay in that book —- “teaching is like gardening”.

More later,

Nalin Pithwa.