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Farming in 'A' Forms with and without hazards Jack Gibson "What," asked the Headmaster, "is this that I hear of you introducing gambling into A form Geography lessons?" "Well," I replied, "I don't know what you've heard. But if anybody has given you the impression that I'm teaching games of chance, or taking unfair advantages of the dear boys, then you have been misled." His grave expression relented. "In fact, of course," I added, "I do happen to have found a way of adding to the inadequate income of a schoolmaster," (he beamed) "but I don't quite see how you could use it in History." (His face fell again) "It is like this," I hastened to explain. "You know that the modern idea of education is to escape from 'the tyranny of the classroom,' and to try to put our pupils into closer contact with the realities of life. Well, to get through the School Certificate unfortunately they have to learn something, and we can't spend all our time climbing mountains or swimming in rivers. So I have tried to bring real life to the classroom. I say to the boys, "You are all wealthy people (they get much more pocket money than I used to when I was their age), and you may invest your Rs. 5 in farming operations anywhere in the world. If you plant your crop at the correct time, cultivate it properly and harvest it when it should be ready, you will make a profit of 20%. If you make mistakes you will lose.' They have been given, or can have found out for themselves, all the information necessary to carry out these operations successfully. This, I am sure you will agree, is not gambling, 141 Rose Bowl January 2014 and to convince you here is a description of the sort of thing that happens: Self: (choosing someone who is not likely to bankrupt me in the first operation) "Vedniti, what about raising a crop of wheat on the Prairies? How much would you invest?" Vedniti: "Rs. 5, Sir." Self: "Very well; when will you sow your wheat?" Vedniti: "In March." Self: "Now, that is very unfortunate for you, for the soil will still be frozen stiff, you will be unable to cultivate it, and you lose your Capital." With Rs. 5 in hand I am prepared to risk someone more likely to know the answer, besides which continuous failure would damp their enthusiasm, so I say to Raja: "How much would you like to invest in Canadian Wheat?" More cautious, and I regret to say, less confident, he replies, "One Rupee, Sir.' He sows his wheat correctly in April and harvests it at the right time in August, so I offer him his 20% profit. Raja: "Two annas." Self: "If your accounting is as inaccurate as all that, that is all you will get!" Feeling that what businessmen call profit motif has now been whetted and I can risk making a bit more for the bank, I turn to Virvijai and suggest that he should raise a crop of rice in Dehra Dun. Self; "How much will you invest?" Virvijai: "I don't wish to invest." Self: "The Government cannot allow capitalists to hoard. Their capital must be fruitful. I shall impose a levy of Rs. 5 as a lesson to you." Virvijai : "Sir!" Sel : "You know what General Naguib did with the landowner in Egypt. You're lucky to get off so lightly." Moolgaokar had already lost Rs. 5, when he said he would like to invest in Doon rice (he had just looked up the dates while he thought I wasn't watching). He said he would like to double or quits. I agree this has a sound of gambling about it and indeed I did not allow it, but pointed out that a farmer would be lucky to make a profit of 100% on his investment, and told him that he might however invest the sum necessary to recover the Rs. 5 by making a profit of 20%. It took him and his neighbours sometime to work out what capital was needed, but eventually he offered to invest the requisite Rs. 25. Self: "Can you give me a cheque?" Moolgaokar: "I'm afraid I am overdrawn, Sir." Self: "Well, when you are a farmer and wish to borrow money from your bank, you will find that they demand a security. What can you offer me?" Moolgaokar: "How about my shirt, Sir?" Self: "That is a traditional final pledge, and I will overlook the fact that yours is worn rather thin and ink stained at that. Hand it to me." Moolgaokar removed his shirt and deposited it on my desk. He sowed and transplanted his rice correctly, but the calculation of percentages had upset his memory for dates, and he was obviously uncertain

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