I easily get distracted by my mobile phone,

I’m in Class IX. I easily get distracted by my mobile phone, and as a result, my homework remains incomplete. How do I handle this?

You are capable of doing well in your studies. You have identified the factors affecting your work. Mobile phones, television, social media etc. Must be used only to keep yourself connected with society. They should not take control of your activities. If you have the determination, you can control your usage. Fix your goal and aim to achieve your best. It is healthy to set your own targets to avoid anxiety and stress. To reduce distractions, the most important thing is to plan work – make time for everything. Allot time for television and mobile phone. Keep your mobile phone away from the place of your study.

Self-discipline is very important. Visualise your goal, and imagine how would feel when you accomplish that goal. This will motivate you.


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What is the clipper route?

Clippers were 19th Century merchant sailing ships that sailed mainly between England and China, Australia and New Zealand. They were fast sailing ships, equipped with multiple square rigged sails supported by three masts. These ships gained in prominence because of the booming tea and opium trade between England and China. The route plied by these ships was called the clipper route.

The clipper route ran down the Atlantic Ocean, rounded the Cape of Good Hope and then went from west to east though the Southern Ocean. The ships took advantage of the Roaring Forties, the strong westerly winds that blow between the latitudes of 40 and 50 degrees in the southern hemisphere. It was the fastest route available between Europe and Asia before the opening of the Suez Canal. The ships would continue eastwards on the homeward journey from Australia and New Zealand along the Southern Ocean, sail around Cape Horn in South America and another 100 days from there back to England.

The ships plying the clipper route faced dangers like turbulent weather at Cape Horn and huge waves and icebergs in the Southern Ocean. However, ship captains still preferred the unsafe route as it offered fast passage.

The clipper route fell into disuse as a trade route with the opening of the Suez and Panama Canals. Moreover, streamships gradually phased out clippers. Though clippers were fast, their speed was largely determined by winds while streamships were more reliable in sticking to their schedules.

Today, the clipper route remains the fastest sailing route around the world. So it is popular with sailing enthusiasts, especially for modern circumnavigation attempts and yacht races like the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race and Volvo Ocean Race.


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What is the significance of the code AII3 in animation films?

Pronounced A-one thirteen, it is the number of a classroom at the California Institute of the Arts in the U.S. CalArts is a private university founded by Walt Disney in the early 1960s. It is where legendary animation film makers learnt their craft. The mysterious code A113 figures in every Pixar film in some form or the other. The popular shows The Simpsons, American Dad, South Park, etc. feature this number. In Finding Nemo, a scuba divers camera bears this number. The Toy Story trilogy has two vehicles with license plates bearing the number A113. In Monsters Inc. it is the classroom number of Scaring 101.

It is the moviemakers’ way of showing their gratitude to their alma mater which shaped their career. Directors who passed out of this university have churned out incredible box office hits.


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My problem is that my parents fight quite frequently

I am in Class X. My problem is that my parents fight quite frequently. I fear these fights are going to affect my Board examinations. Please help me.

For every student, a calm and comfortable environment to face examinations, especially the Boards, is important. Although the reasons for the fights and disturbances in your family are not clear, at this juncture it is necessary for you to stay focussed and do your best. It is not easy to manage your emotions when there is so much of disturbance. If you have not communicated your feelings to your parents, have an open conversation with them. Do not get involved in their conflicts but inform them that you are getting disturbed. Be clear on your goals. Visualise yourself doing well in your examinations and see how you feel. This will motivate you to prepare well. Do not study in a place with any disturbance. Choose a place and time to study better. Do your best and do not give up.


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I want to spend my time studying and having fun with my friends

I’m in Class X and I’m the school captain. I am fun-loving person. But after becoming the school captain, I have not been able to have fun with my friends. Since I must ensure that students follow rules, my friends have begun telling me I’ve changed. I want to spend my time studying and having fun with my friends. Please help me come out of this problem.

 It’s a challenge to balance fun and responsibility. It is a learning process and very essential as you grow up to become a leader. We play different roles at different phases of our lives. Everyone has their individuality and we need not give up on our self to fit the role. We have to learn to make the shift. It will be a challenge initially but when you are able to make the shift, you will be able to manage it without much difficulty. It is not necessary to compromise on the time you have with your friends. At the same time, you also seem to have the capability to be the school captain. Be clear on your roles. Do not confuse your duties with your fun time. Cordial communication can help you manage the role and also focus on your studies. There is a time for everything and take a positive approach to deal with it. When there are additional responsibilities, you must manage your time effectively. Prioritise your work and avoid procrastination.


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I’m a boring friend to many, I wish to change

I am in Class X. My Boards are approaching, and I’m facing a huge problem. I like a boy in my class. I confided in my friends about my feelings. But, somehow, a few other classmates came to know of this and started teasing me about this. I tried to convince them it was not true. But the boy stopped talking to me and is trying to avoid me. I am disheartened. The friendship between us is gone. I feel bad. What should I do? Also, I am intimidated by students who are popular. I shy away from speaking with them. I’m a boring friend to many, I wish to change.

In your teens, getting attracted to others is very natural and you need not feel bad about it. What is important is that you take care not to lose your focus because of such distractions. The teasing is just a passing phase. Do not take it seriously. Have an open conversation with the boy and help him understand your feelings. Make an attempt and do not worry much about it. Stay calm and do not over-react. Do not feel inferior to anyone. Each of us has our own strengths and weaknesses. Focus on your strengths. It is good that you want to change. Self-motivation is very important to make a positive people. To be part of groups, you should have common interests. It is okay to be flexible and accommodative so long as you are not compromising on your principles and values.


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I do not see satisfying scores in Maths

I’m in Class X, and my Boards are nearing. I have been doing my best for my examinations, but I do not see satisfying scores in Maths. Though I prepare well, I get very tensed and confused while writing the examination. How can I overcome this?

Examinations are important, especially in Classes X and XII. To do well in your examinations, you need to be relaxed and confident. Although you are well-prepared, fear pulls your confidence down and contributes to your bad performance. Do not study till the last minute. Practise sample papers and sit for model examinations to develop confidence. Do not worry about the results. Visualise model examinations as the Boards. It will help build confidence and reduce anxiety. Take time to find out where you are going wrong and initiate steps to not repeat the mistakes. Practise breathing exercise and meditate for a few minutes every day to stay calm and focussed. Remember that these are among the few examinations in your life. A healthy diet, regular physical exercise and good sleep are every important. Self-motivation and hard work will help you do your best.


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What is the career in Horticulture?

Stumbling upon a calm oasis of green in the middle of a bustling metropolis can be oddly comforting. Maybe that’s why even sprawling cities such as New York and London cherish their green spaces. With toxic air pollution choking these green lungs, there is a pressing need for horticulturists and conservationists. Professionals specialising in growing plants (both edible and ornamental) are known as horticulturists. Depending on your interest, you can work in landscaping and design, maintenance, research and conservation, and irrigation. If you can imagine a work-day surrounded with the beauty and charm of greenery, the field of horticulture has a plethora of opportunities.

How it works?

From developing manicured lawns and designing water systems to growing hybrid and exotic varieties of flowers, there’s a lot to horticulture than just gardening. Here’s a list of some of the branches in this field:

Garden design is part of horticulture. Garden designers and conservationists aesthetically improve green spaces by landscaping. They also develop and maintain heritage gardens, grounds and other green spaces.

Arborist care for and manage trees by overseeing planting, pruning and tree removal. Like arborists there are also specialisations in growing fruits and flowers. For instance, florists are experts in flowers – they are the ones who grow beautiful and exotic varieties of flowers and experiment with hybrids.

Forestry technicians help manage, develop and conserve woodlands. They improve the quality of natural areas and forests.

Irrigation engineers create and develop watering systems for different landscapes, areas and projects. These projects can range from agriculture and crop irrigation to dams, drainage systems and canals, as well as commercial and residential projects.

Conservation and research involves coming up with new ways of cultivating plants using greenhouses and other methods, and developing their resistance to pests and protecting plants.

Required skills

  • A passion for plants and the environment

  • Creativity and attention to detail

  • Problem solving and critical thinking skills

  • Communication skills

  • Research orientation


Horticulture professionals works access a gamut of organisations, from government agencies to research department at universities. Some jobs emphasise the technological aspects of research and science, while others are more hands-on in nature. Those interested in garden design can work with landscape construction companies or a curators and consultants in botanical gardens. Those keen on maintenance and development can work as plantation managers overseeing the operations of a plantation. Aspirants inclined towards research can find opportunities in government agencies, horticulture societies and universities.

What to study

Educational requirements for a career in horticulture typically include a Bachelor or Master of Science (B.Sc or M.Sc) in Horticulture. An engineering background – Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech.) or Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.) in Civil Engineering – is needed if you want to work as an irrigation engineer.


  • Annamalai University, Tamil Nadu: B.Sc in Horticulture

  • University of Calcutta: M.Sc Agriculture (Horticulture)

  • INDIAN Institute of Technology Bombay, Delhi, Kharagpur, Kanpur, Roorkee and Madras offer B.E. and B.Tech in Civil Engineering

  • Institute of Horticulture Technology, Delhi: Certificate courses in Production Technology of Cut Flowers and Open Glasshouse Supervison, Fruit Production, Year Round Vegetable Production


  • Cornwall College, University of Plymouth: B.Sc (Hons) Horticulture (Garden and Landscape Design) and B.Sc (Hons) Horticulture (Plant Science)

  • SRUC Scotland’s Rural College, Edinburg: B.Sc (Hons) in Garden and Greenspace Design and B.Sc (Hons) Horticulture

  • The Royal Horticultural Society, the U.K.: Level 1, 2 and 3 qualifications in Plant Growth, Propagation and Development; Garden Planning, Establishment and Maintenance; and Practical Horticulture

  • Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the U.K.: Diploma in Horticulture – three years.


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The gangs spread rumours that a boy liked my best friend

I’m in Class VII. First, let me tell you about my school. There are these so-called “gangs” – people with a “crush” on others – and then the “normal” people who hate these things. I belong to the latter category. This year, my best friend and I ended up in different sections. So people from the “gangs” took her in, even though she didn’t want to. The gangs spread rumours that a boy liked my best friend. She didn’t care about it until that boy actually told her he was interested in her. I have been sad ever since. Please do help me. I don’t know what to do.

You are in your adolescence and this is the stage when you understand and explore relationships and develop friendships. Be mindful of the situation. Understand your feelings and emotions. Introspect as to why you are upset. What is your friend’s reaction? Are you feeling intimidated? Are you being possessive about your friend? Do not develop the fear of losing your friend. Do not develop the fear of losing your friend. Have an open conversation with her. It is a transition stage and do not hesitate to seek help from trusted people. Be focussed. Be open to making new friends. Develop hobbies and ways to keep your mind and body fit. Do exercise and have a proper diet.


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I am too distracted by mobile phone

I’m in Class IX. The problem is I am too distracted by mobile phone that I cannot concentrate on my studies. I am trying to distract myself by studying, drawing, reading books etc. But after a few minutes, my mind automatically goes back to the phone. I am worried about my future. Please help me get out of this addiction.

I appreciate your keenness to change your habit. In order to avoid your distractions, it is essential to take control of your actions. Instead of totally avoiding the use of mobile phone, develop the self-discipline to use it sparingly. Make rules about using it. Fix your goal and work towards it. Appreciate yourself whenever you make progress. Self-appreciation helps you get motivated. Do not allow yourself easy access to your mobile phone; keep it away from your place of study. You could even switch it on only for a few minutes every day. Avoid installing unnecessary apps. Do not force yourself to this change; rather enjoy the process. Visualise the good results you will achieve when you meet your goals – this will help you be motivated.


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I am good academically and I am also very serious all the time

I am in Class VIII. I am good academically and I am also very serious all the time. Even if one of my friends tries a prank on me or teases me. I take it very seriously and threaten them that I would complain to the teacher. Even my parents have told me that this is my childhood and that I should have fun. I want to, but because of my behaviour, nobody wants to talk to me. I am also scared that if I change my behaviour in any way, it would affect my academics. Please help me change my behaviour without it affecting my academics and to get my friends back.

You seem to an excellent student. Do not fear losing friends because of the change in your behaviour. In fact, when you are in good terms with your friends, your relationship will improve and you will be happy. Your academics will not get affected as long as you do not lose your focus. Teasing for fun can be taken in the right spirit as long as it is not abusive. Being over-sensitive even for small things will irritate others and will also give room for more such situations.

Here are a few suggestions to handle your sensitive nature:

  • Self-comparison: Love yourself and be clear about yourself

  • Mindfulness: Being aware of the situation is very helpful.

  • Acceptance: Be open and accept the situation. By doing this you become resilient.

  • Perspective: Do not judge situations. Look at it from different perspectives without being narrow-minded. This will help you think with a positive attitude.

  • Daily journaling: Write down your feelings every day to help you manage your emotions. You will meet people with different cultures and lifestyles. Be clear on your values and limitations. Learn to be firm yet flexible. It is natural to have such feelings, but we must take steps to manage them properly.


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I’m friends with a girl, but many seem to think we’re in a relationship

I’m a Class IX student. I’m friends with a girl, but many seem to think we’re in a relationship. What can I do? Please help me.

Friends play a very important role in your life. During your teenage years, you become close to your friends, irrespective of your gender. What is important is the way you develop friendships and be clear on your boundaries. You are the best judge of your behaviour. Whenever comments are passed, just introspect if you have created the opportunity for those comments and avoid it the next time. It is a also phase when you explore relationships. Learn to manage your emotions in a healthy manner. To develop social sensitivity is also very important. Being over sensitive is not good.


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What can you do with a peace and conflict studies degree?

“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?” – Mahatma Gandhi.

War is the horrible, brutal, senseless annihilation of humanity. Whether it is for land, water or oil, nations, communities are constantly resorting to violence against each other. The aftermath of these bloody confrontations often leave behind a trail of destruction – communities uprooted from their homes, scarcity of resources and countless innocent lives lost.

One doesn’t have to look far to see the remnants of war. The beautiful Kashmir valley lies ravaged as tensions between India and Pakistan refuse to die down. Look at the plight of the Rohingya community, chased out of their homeland they are living in pathetic conditions in parts of India.

Strong policies to promote peace and peace-keeping are the need of the hour. And that’s exactly what the field of peace and conflict studies hopes to achieve. An emerging field in India, conflict studies equips you to understand the politics of war and its effect on the people. It charts out the problems of the people in conflict zones and helps in coming up with policies to promote peace.

So if you are interested in working ‘world peace’, this field will help you in achieving your goal.


With a Master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies you can work an understanding of conflicts are need in government agencies such as the ministry of foreign affairs and international organisations, such as the UN and NATO. Peace and conflict experts are also in demand in non government organisations working for the communities affected by war or engaging in peace-keeping activities. A background in peace and conflict studies can also help media professionals such as war correspondents, who cover conflicts. Other opportunities are in fields of aw, international relations, human rights, and public administration.

How it works

Peace and conflict studies encompass a wide range of issues from war and humanitarian intervention to peacebuilding and international cooperation to sustainable development and social justice. Peace and Conflict Studies is a relatively new and still evolving discipline that has gained a large amount of attention in the past few years. This is due to various trends such as globalisation, the expanding role of the United Nations and other international institutions focussed on peace and security, the growth of international NOs of all types, and the increasing prominence of armed conflicts, terrorism, and environmental issues in media coverage around the world.

Required skills

  • Research orientation

  • Analytical skills

  • Critical thinking skills

  • Communication skills

  • An interest in history

  • Knowledge of current affairs and international relations

  • Willingness to work in conflict zones

What to study

While you do not need any particular degree to work in the field of international relations and conflict resolution, an academic background in conflict studies is recommended. Many colleges and universities in India and abroad offer post graduate courses in Peace and Conflict Studies. These courses can range from a short-term diploma to a full-fledged master’s programme of two years.


  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Guwahati: Master of Arts (M.A.) Peace and Conflict Studies.

  • Nelson Mandela Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi: M.A. Conflict Analysis.

  • Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, Symbiosis International University, Pune: Violence, Conflict and Peace Studies courses.

  • University of Mysore: M.A. in Peace and Conflict Resolution; DIPLOMA IN Gandhian Studies.

  • Department of Peace and Conflict Study and Management Sikkim University: M.A. Peace and Conflict Studies


  • University of Oslo, Norway: Master’s Programme in Peace and Conflict Studies

  • Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Graduate School of Global Studies: M.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies.


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All my friends receive a lot of pocket money, but my parents are very strict

All my friends receive a lot of pocket money, but my parents are very strict and question me when I ask for money. How can I always expect my friends to spend for me? Though they are good, and willingly contribute for me, there is this one boy who keeps calling me kanjoos (miser). How do I handle this?

Money can be a sensitive and personal issue for many. The concept of pocket money is to help you learn how to manage your money and be aware of your boundaries. Every family has its own boundaries and it might not be healthy to compare and value friendship based on anyone’s pocket money. I agree that it can make you feel uncomfortable when friends keep spending for you. Never forget that crossing boundaries will create problems in any relationship. Your parents could be concerned about the way you spend money since they have their own limits. Although your friends are ready to spend for you, it is not good to entertain it always or get carried away by it. Never get exploited, and be open in your communication with your friends.


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I don’t have any friends and they say I’m a nerd

I’m in Class VIII and I’m very good at studies. I’m part of the Under-14 table tennis team and I also participate in all the dance programmes at school. I don’t have any friends and they say I’m a nerd and that I don’t know anything other than studying. What should I do to gain their trust and friendship?

Appreciate your talent in sports, dance and academics. You are a multi-faceted person. In spite of your talent and performance in various fields, it is not clear why your friends call you a nerd. It does hurt when you do not have friends. Sometimes, the way we behave and communicate with friends could affect our relationship. Take time to analyse your behavior. Have an open discussion with your friends to find out why they feel so about you. To gain trust, it is important to make them understand that you care for them and also show it in your actions. Be open to changes for developing trust among friends. Also remember not to lose your self-esteem to gain their confidence. Be ready to listen and also respect each person’s interest.


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