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The Potter and the Pot

What is the difference between a beautifully created earthen pot and a handful of wet earth? They may weigh the same; they may have same structure within. Yet, latter can be of no price, while former can be priceless. What's the difference? The difference is the hands of the potter – The hands that give shape to the lump of wet clay.

Isn't it same with a student, and a mentor? A student in originality is just like a wet lump of earth. He has potential, but yet it is just a lump of earth for the world. It takes a mentor - the potter in our story - to increase the value of this student manifold. No wonder, almost every successful person in this world has credited a mentor in his or her life, for what he or she could achieve.

Remember those times when you were a child - a small child of 2-3 years? Ever since you have started formal schooling, be it Kindergarten, or primary education. Definitely, some faces will flash before your eyes. Faces, that you remember that smiled at you when you solved a mathematical sum right. Faces, which were angry when you did not do your homework. Faces, which were hopeful when you were to give various examinations. These are the faces; these are the people that have shaped your life as you know it today.

Actually, it needn't even be the times when you were 2-3 years old. Right from the moment when you came to existence in this world, your mother, your father have been your mentors - directly or indirectly. Even when you were in the womb, you were inheriting a part of wisdom that was present in and around your mother. The great literary work Mahabharata identifies this as well - Abhimanyu learning how to break the "Chakravyuha" when he was in his mother's womb.

One actually has a lot of potential in him or her - good, and bad. As much as one's own attitude determines his or her future, is what role his mentor plays. Actually, the attitude itself can be the result of the way one has been guided. We'll again take the reference of Mahabharata. Dronacharya, Bhishma, were the same for the Kauravas and the Pandavas. Yet, one Shakuni was a significant difference between our perception of Duryodhana as a villain and Yudhishthira as a hero.

When we come back to the present, the concept and the relevance of a mentor has been the same, yet the forms are varied. In this digital world, the boundaries of mentorship have been expanded, and are continuously being expanded. We have our teachers guiding us through various media - in the classroom, via a webcast, through recorded videos, etc. A lot of systems that do not even involve the classroom delivery model have started to become of use for students like a mentor - in a sense that these systems challenge students on various academic parameters, tests their abilities, gives them feedback accordingly, lets them know their areas of strengths and weaknesses, and a student can make use of all of these at a time of his convenience.

The government and the society at large have also recognized this very importance of mentors in students' lives, and have taken quite a few ambitious and inspirational steps towards it. The government has undertaken various programs under the initiative "Education For All". There have come up few special mentorship programs such as "MentorMeIndia", where knowledgeable youth of India is helping teenage students with their experiences, their guidance. The indications are that we can be positive about a good future - of our country, of the world. Let us respect our mentors, and let us make a promise to ourselves to mentor a young protégé when we are up to it.

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