Interview with Journalist, professor and a writer Subodh Jha
Category : Interviews
Subodh sir it is a privilege to have you on board. Thank you so much for taking time and answering my questions.
- Can you please introduce yourself to the world of language and literature?
Ans. I begin with my greetings to the fellow litterateurs and the practitioners of English Language Teaching (ELT). I am basically a man of literature. A poet, reviewer, translator, editor, documentation editor and writer of research papers on literary topics and or authors. I am also an ELT expert and have written a number of books on English language Teaching (ELT). As far as my academic credentials are concerned, I was a science student till intermediate level. After securing first class in I.Sc. (Bio), I opted for English Hons, for the simple reason that my natural love has been literature. I have been writing poems from my school days both in Hindi and English, many of them have been published in reputed journals and anthologies. I did B.A. Hons. in English Language and Literature in 1984 and M.A. in 1986 from BRA Bihar University , Muzaffarpur (Bihar). I was awarded Ph. D. for my work on F.R. Leavis. The title of my thesis was “THE CONCEPT OF SIGNIFICANCE’ AS AN AESTHETIC AND MORAL CATEGORY: A CRITICAL ASSESSMENT OF F.R. LEAVIS’S LITERARY CRITICISM. I worked for over a decade in a college in Nepal – Nuwakot Adarsh Multiple Campus, Battar, Nuwakot in various capacities – lecturer, Assistant Campus Chief and Campus Chief (Principal)_from 1991 to 2001 till I joined Hindustan Times (Patna edition) as a correspondent. I left Hindustan Times in 2003 to join as a lecturer in Magadh University, Bodh Gaya. Presently I am working as Associate Professor, Department of English, S.N. Sinha College, Jehanabad (Magadh University). I have written a number of books and research papers in addition to developing syllabi and textbooks for NCERT, SCERT (Bihar), SIERT (Rajasthan), IGNOU and NERIE –NCERT (Meghalaya). I have also been writing reviews and research papers and articles constantly and consistently.
- When did you start writing and what did you begin with?
Ans. Well, I started writing poems and reviews since my school days, to be precise when I was in class IX. After post graduation in 1986, I turned to writing papers on literary issues and authors. I also wrote on how to translate and did some actual translation work as well. I also wrote features on burning issues in Hindustan Times (Patna edition). My series on the condition of schools in Patna made the honourable High court (Patna) take suo motu cognizance and ask personal appearance of the three education secretaries – Primary, Secondary and Higher education. This happened in 2002 . I have also done documentation of several works, programmes and projects conducted and/ or organized by various agencies such as UNICEF, Valid International etc.
I turned to writing on ELT in 2006 when I was invited by SCERT, Patna to draft BCF (Bihar Curriculum Framework) and curriculum and thereafter Textbooks from class I to class XII. Since then I have worked for NCERT (New Delhi), SIERT (Rajasthan), IGNOU (New Delhi), NERI –NCERT (Meghalaya) and BBOSE (Bihar) for developing curriculum and textbooks and study material.
- Would you tell us about your poems?
Ans. Well, I have written a number of poems both in Hindi and English. Most of these poems are on human relationship and man’s helplessness on several occasions. You can also notice in some of my poems a voice of protest against the established norms and rituals as they come in the way of human urges. The title of some of my poems in English include ‘TOMORROW AND TOMORROW’, ’PORTABLE ETERNITY’, NAILED THROAT’, ’MEMORY –PRESSURE’ , ’MIGHTY THREAD’, ’WHIRLPOOLS OF SENSATION’, ’TAILORED INTIMACIES’, ’AN OBLIGED MAN’, ’THE HOOTER’, ’KITCHENED DESIRES’ ’ELEMENTAL DRIVES’, ’WILL THERE BE RESURRECTION?’, ’FEMALE EDITION OF HAMLET’ , ’CLEOPATRAN BEAUTY’, ’I MUST GO, MY LOVE!’, ’THE DEVIL TIME’ etc. You can have a look on a few poems.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow
Tomorrow tomorrow and tomorrow
Don’t induce into me
The concept of dusty death;
They enchant me
To an uncharted land of divine bliss
That could have been mine right now
But that is denied!
I deserved it
For the deeds
Lodged in an unredeemable past;
But that could be
Only when tomorrow comes by!
Yesterday, today and tomorrow converge
In the myth of my personal life
Which is also the myth of universal life!
Time is continuous with soul
That dies not;
Time will die when death die
But soul, my soul –
My personal-universal myth
It is a continuity
In which a divine will dwells!
No no no! We can’t part ways!
Can’t be submissive
and follow the dictates
which our heart admits not!
True, the odds are against us
We might not ever meet
In the lane of institutional knots!
But does it matter?
Your longings in my veins mount
And I often feel drawn
In your laky eyes
And get drown’d!
Oh! What’s this mighty thread
That pulls me up
And splits apart
In the air with CARE!
the memory- pressure
mounted suddenly and
the pulsing ache
surged deep into me!
With smouldering lead in my eyes
I shored the gulf of three years
To the seeding-centre that
paddled my adult dreams
Amidst the hissing breath
of the June winds
only to nurse me as
a staring frown
upon the unparented patterns
Of our sleeveless surroundings
Should I refool with them now?
Or make a starved protest
against the devouring system
On a grey chariot of Charted flames?
- You have written on human relationship. What do you think of modern day relationships?
Ans. See, relationship is not a word; it is a feeling, a realization. If you feel or realize from the bottom of heart, you will be true to relationship. However, the present generation fed on ‘everything fast’ usually has little regard for such relationships. There are some people even in this age who care for relationship but they are very few in numbers.
- What do you think about cheating in relationships?
Ans. Cheating in relationship, in my opinion, is a sin. This is the worst thing a man can do. However, cheating has become very common even in the most intimate relations today.
- How important is physical intimacy in a relationship?
Ans. Physical intimacy has its own importance. It strengthens relationship. It may not be everything but it truly is something.
- How many books have you written or edited? Tell us about your books in detail.
Ans. Well, I’ve written four books in addition to the Textbooks that I have written or edited for NCERT (New Delhi), SCERT (Bihar), SIERT (Rajasthan), IGNOU and NERIE –NCERT (Meghalaya). I have also edited about 40 books and journals both in private capacity or for different agencies. The books I have written include Inspiring Days (2009), Issues in Education at Elementary Level (2013), English Language Teaching (2015) and English Language Education (2015).
The first book Inspiring Days: A Guide to innovative comprehension (ISBN 13:978-81-7719-066-9) is a collection of essays with activities. Written jointly with Dr. Binodanand Jha and published by Pinnacle Books Private Limited (New Delhi) in 2009, this book is about 15 such days that have incontrovertible historical and cultural significances. These days include Independence Day, Republic Day, Teacher’s Day, Literacy Day, Children’s Day, Gandhi Birth Anniversary and Kabir’s Birth Anniversary. The festivals included in the present selection are Dipawali, Vasant Panchami or Saraswati puja, Eid, and Christmas. The treatment of these festivals is more rational than ritualistic. Inspiring Days also contains topics of general awareness. These include Science Day, Environment Day, Population Day and International Women’s Day. These lessons are meant to acquaint the children with the world and environment around them.
The strength of Inspiring Days lies in two facts. The first is related to content. There is no dearth of essays and literature on the topics selected in the present collection but there is hardly any significant work that seeks to assort them together for children. The second distinguished strength, which is of greater importance, is related to approach. Inspiring Days is not the usual collection of essays, giving only information. Its deliberations are activity based; it is a practical book about observing inspiring days in a creative way.. Hence, it contains several activities at the end of every chapter. These activities are addressed more to the teachers than to the students as the teachers are supposed to play the anchor role for the group activities suggested in the selection. These activities are merely suggestive, encouraging the teachers to use their imagination and introduce any activities that they think can make the celebration meaningful and inspiring. Inspiring Days, therefore, is not a mere reading exercise. It strives to create environment for learning through creativity. This is the distinguished strength of this book.
The second book Issues in Education at Elementary Level (ISBN 978-93-82120-06-3) is jointly with Dr. Awadesh K Mishra and K. Anowarus Sadat. Published by Lakshi Publishers and Distributors (New Delhi), this book focuses on the issues that the teachers at the elementary level come across. We all know that the elementary school provides a smooth transition from informal learning in the home to a formal learning experience and lays the foundation for future, successful learning in school and in life. Issues in Education at Elementary Level tries to promote an understanding of the language characteristics of learners, language usage, socio-cultural aspects of language learning, language as a process and the functional use of language across the curriculum. The objective behind this approach is to ensure that the teachers move away from the conventional focus on language as a subject, which emphasizes its grammatical structure rather than usage. You can say that this book is a sort of resource book for the teachers and teacher educators at the elementary level in different states.
Issues in Education at Elementary Level ,therefore, is a very useful attempt to equip the teachers with the necessary understanding of the teaching learning process and the learning strategies needed at this level. The teachers and teacher educators at the elementary level will benefit immensely if they go through the book seriously.
I must admit that there are so many issues and topics which need serious attention at the elementary level. It is not possible to include all these topics in one book but we have tried our best to incorporate as many topics as possible and do justice with all of them. Our aim in the present book has been the inclusion of all those aspects of education that make teaching-learning activities quite effective and meaningful.
The third book English Language Teaching written jointly with Dr. Meena Sehrawat is published by Lakshi Publishers and Distributors, New Delhi ( ISBN 978-93-82120-65-0). The book comprises Six units, touching upon different components of D.El.Ed. (Diploma in Elementary Education) syllabi implemented in different states. We have made attempts to present the concepts as lucidly, interesting and practical as possible. We have avoided dull monotonous theoretical discourses by incorporating activities, elaborate examples and sample frameworks wherever needed. At the end of each unit, we have summarized the main points of the unit under the heading Let’s Sum Up. Review questions have been given after Let’s Sum Up. Each unit has elaborate list of references which have either been used in any way or are useful for further detail readings. We have encouraged teacher- trainees to go through the material on their own, learn from their mistakes and arrive at an understanding of concepts and approaches but here teacher educator might act as guide and facilitator. They should focus on linking concepts with classroom transaction, analysing existing textbooks and materials for English, developing tasks and activities for children, and trying them out first in simulation and then in schools during School Experience Programme(SEP).
English Language Teaching seeks to incorporate every item needed at D.El.Ed. stage. However, special emphasis has been laid on the pedagogic skills, inclusive education, and language across curriculum along with CCE concerns. The reading material consisting of several extracts on the various topics listed in the syllabus are either taken from authentic sources as they are or rewritten and adapted, as the need be. We expect that the teacher-educators will support the teacher-trainees in understanding the concepts, practising skills and strategies while transacting. They may go beyond the material to get additional information and design activities to supplement it.
The fourth book English Language Education again written jointly with Dr. Meena Sehrawat and published by Lakshi Publishers and Distributors, New Delhi ( ISBN 978-93-82120-72-8) is the continuation of our previous book English Language Teaching. Together they constitute a complete package for two year D.El.Ed. courses in different states of the country. Both these books offer a lot to the students of the D.El.Ed. courses – both in terms of knowledge base and pedagogy. We have taken special care to address the issue of transaction in the classroom. Needless to say that English Language Education like English Language Teaching is in tune with The National Curriculum Framework (NCF) 2005.
The NCF 2005, we all know, places a major concern in school education on quality and child centred approach. It emphasises on the need to connect the knowledge to the world outside school. Textbooks have already been developed and implemented inschools in the backdrop of NCF 2005. The developments in the field of education have necessitated the restructuring of elementary teacher education curriculum to keep pace with changing demands and challenges of the society, school education and changing role of a teacher. Both English Language Teaching and English Language Education strive at ensuring this goal of the NCF 2005.
English Language Education includes an extensive unit on Comprehensive and Continuous Evaluation (CCE). The book comprises altogether five untouching upon different components of D.El.Ed. syllabi implemented in different states. Like English Language Teaching in this book too we have made attempts to present the concepts as lucidly, interesting and practical as possible. The same framework has been used in this book.
- Would you like to tell us about the books you have edited?
Ans. Well, I have edited altogether 40 books and journals. The most important being Literature, Culture and Language Education (ISBN 978-81-906622-8-4) published by Lakshi Publishers and Distributors, New Delhi, (2011). Co-edited with professor Dr. Awadesh K. Mishra and Dr. Mazhar Asif, this book ‘raises several issues regarding importance of culture and contextualization in the field of language education, incorporation of literature, culture and technology in language education, and so on, in the North East Region (NER). The relevance of this endeavour lies in the fact that language is not only a tool for communication and knowledge but also a fundamental attribute of cultural identity and empowerment, both for the individual and the group. Similarly, tteaching of literature cannot be separated from teaching culture. Literature, Culture and Language Education comprises 22 papers including mine entitlrd ’Selection and Exploitation of Literary Texts for Language Teaching’. The major hypothesis of my paper is that selection of literary texts and its subsequent exploitation for language teaching is a very important task and it requires a very careful consideration. I provide some practical suggestions for this task of selection and exploitation of literary texts from my experiences in Bihar. In this paper I have observed that the introduction of literary texts must be from the familiar to the unfamiliar, from the simple to the complex and from pleasure to instruction, from speech to aesthetic considerations. The objective is not to impart information or knowledge but to develop effective communicative competence that again depends on the development of four language skills namely listening, speaking, reading and writing.
Other important works include Pedagogy of English – II, D.El.Ed. – O.D.L, (2014: SCERT, Bihar, Patna) , Pedagogy of English – I, D.El.Ed. – O.D.L, (2014: SCERT, Bihar, Patna), Vidyalaya Netritva Vikas. A Handbook (2014: NUEPA: New Delhi), self learning Material (SLM) for class X (Bihar Board of Open schooling and Examination, Patna), Self learning Material (SLM) for class XII (BBOSE, Patna), English Language Proficiency and Pedagogy. BSTC (D.El.Ed.) – Second Year (2016: Rajasthan State Textbook Board & SIERT, Udaipur, Rajasthan), English Language Proficiency and Pedagogy. BSTC (D.El.Ed.) – First Year (2014: Rajasthan State Textbook Board & SIERT, Udaipur, Rajasthan).
I have also edited some journals. These include nine issues of Edu Explorer, a journal of education (ISSN 2320-060X ) published biannualy by Education Foundation (New Delhi), three issues of Bihar Journal of Sustainable Development, (2005, 2006 & 2007: DAGAR, Patna. Besides, I have , two books on Jagjivan Ram – Babu Jagjivan Ram: Ahead of his Times (2007) & Remembering Babujee: Hundred Years of a Visionary (2008). I have also edited a book Patna Multi-Hazard Disaster Management Response Plan, Earthquake Information Cell, PRDA, Patna (2007: Disaster Management Cell, PRDA, Patna) and several other books and documents for diffrent agencies.
- What made you write books on ELT? How important is ELT in modern world?
Ans. As I told you earlier it was in 2006 when I participated in workshops on developing Bihar Curriculum Framework (BCF) and thereafter on developing curriculum that I realized the needs of writing good books on ELT. My experiences of writing textbooks for Bihar (class I to class XII, D.El.Ed. & B.Ed.) as member coordinator and Resource person (SCERT), BBOSE (Secondary & Senior Secondary level), NCERT (primary, upper primary levels and B.Ed), NERIE – NCERT shilling (elementary level), SIERT, Udaipur, Rajasthan (D.El.Ed) gave me greater exposure and helped me write reference books and study materials on ELT.
- When did you get published first?
Ans. I was first published when I was in graduation. This was in Career & completion Times. My arguments under the column “For & Against” were judged the best on four occasions. However my first literary publication was when I was in post-graduation. Two of my poems “Tomorrow and Tomorrow” and “Portable Eternity” found place in an anthology entitled New Talents in Indo English Poetry. Since then it has been a regular feature.
- What are your hobbies apart from writing?
Ans. My hobbies include reading, participating in seminars and workshops, playing and watching cricket, movies and social media.
- How do you manage your writing time?
Ans. The more the pressure the more prolific I become in terms of writing. Whenever I think that I’l do a particular writing task slowly when I am free that task remains neglected, Since I have been a journalist, so I understand the importance of deadline. Give me a deadline and I’ll complete the assignment Of course, for it I have to sacrifice many things. At times, I complete the task at 3-4 am.
- Who is your favourite writer and why?
Ans. My favourite writer is D.H. Lawrence. I like him because of his attempt to capture the rhythm of blood. His delineation of the complex relation between instinct and society is very faithful and captivating. Another writer whom I adore is Jane Austen. I like her for graphic details of the upper middle class society to ensure our encounter with basic truths of life. Among poets, my favourites are William Shakespeare and John Donne.
- What are your upcoming projects?
Ans. I am working on two upcoming projects – one is a book entitled “Challenges of Teaching Language and Literature in the Age of globalization”. Several papers have been assorted and edited by me for this book. Another project is a book on F.R. Leavis.
- How will you describe Subodh in one sentence?
Ans. Subodh is thoughtful, caring and loving.
I wish you enlighten many more souls in the days to come.
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