Election in a bye-gone era

When Kochunni Master campaigned for the elections in my parliamentary constituency way back in the 80s, he never asked the people to vote for him. He would rather, tell the electorate why they should not vote for his opponent, Prof. Achudhanandan, a popular columnist, an electrifying orator and above all, a distinguished professor of Physics in one of the prestigious universities of Kerala. If Achudhanandan goes to Parliament, Kochunni Master would argue, the citizens would be deprived of their regular Sunday treat of listening to the professor in the local town hall. With masterly dialectical reasoning that is delivered with the prowess of a flawless language, Prof. Achudhanandan would intellectually dissect the most contentious social and cultural issues of the times and, with wit, sarcasm and political pun would rip into the idiosyncrasies of his opponents, week after week. And to lose a professor who has, time and again, produced many of the country’s finest scientific minds, Kochunni would remind his audience, is a direct disservice to the younger generation. And if all these are not good enough reasons to keep the professor away from parliament, a compassionate Kochunni would ask the citizens to at least show some concern for his health which is not fit enough to withstand the extreme cold and heat of Delhi and would thus insist to desist from voting for him.

When Kochunni asks the voters not to vote for his opponent, professor would in turn, ask them sarcastically, why they should vote for Kochunni, and for good reasons. With his well-known trait of mixing up facts and figures, Kochunni would add the much needed laughter to our otherwise humour starved parliament, professor asserted. “When once asked to Kochunni why the Malayali nurses are coming back from the gulf in large numbers”, professor informs the audience with a smirk that is hardly concealed “the answer of our Master was that the mothers-in-law in Kerala want to be nursed by their nurse daughters-in-law!”. “ And to a reporter’s query whether Kerala should demand for nuclear plant, he resorted “ yes, yes…such trees are good for our state’s climate!”.  And this grip of Kochunni over the English language is only matched with his abundant skills in “ Kalari Payyatu” and a huge lung power to go with it…which, the Professor felt, would make Kochunni a great ambassador of both the martial art and the renowned art of sloganeering of the state, which would be in ample display in the portals of parliament.

While the candidates demonstrated great ingenuity in the styles of their campaigns, the participation of their supporters in the entire election process showcased an amazing degree of variety and distinctiveness. When one set of supporters organised street plays to drive home a political message, other one converted a huge wall into a canvas for political graffiti… and the entire city wore a festive look. Parodies of hit film numbers that spared none in the political hierarchy, marches in party uniforms to the tunes of bands, caparisoned pachyderms mounted with party symbols and flags to the  accompaniments of traditional Panchavadyams ( set of five musical instruments)…. the list of colourful cavalcades is long and mesmerizing.  And when the season is one of celebration and mass bonhomie, it also afforded the young and the stylish to flaunt themselves in their fineries, a beauty pageantry of sorts. In this magnificent Mela of sound, music, dance and theatre, a panoramic view of that gigantic democratic process, wherein the voice of every citizen echoed its august presence, was in display in all its grandeur… filling every heart with pride for a young nation and ushering in hope to an assured future.

The day of the polling started early with long and winding queues dotting across the booths… with the young, the old and the infirm… all lined up with keenness to exercise their franchise. Voters were ferried to and fro by fellow citizens and the party enthusiasts kept themselves busy explaining how to mark our preference in the ballot paper and how important it is not to waste a single vote. And everybody listened and agreed. The occasion was serious and solemn and all took it that way, a date with the Indian democracy.

When the results were declared, the winner and the vanquished, both rejoiced and hugged each other and wished well to one another accepting the verdict of their master, “The People”.  And the people celebrated the victory of the democracy… because every vote counted.

 

Yours

Narayanan

Advertisements

February 25, 2019 at 12:05 am Leave a comment

Follow the sequence

After a hectic week of work overload, my wife was lazing last Sunday without attending to her routine morning chores, meaning, disinterested to prepare her usual mesmerizing breakfast for the three of us.  A considerate husband that I am, I offered my services to fix a quick meal and suggested to dish out “Upma”, a semi-solid savory, which when properly prepared is at once tasty and wholesome.  My wife quickly accepted the gesture, not because she had any great faith in my culinary skills but honestly believed that the recipe would keep the pangs of hunger at bay till lunch time, a reasonable enough duration for her to shake off the fatigue and drape the apron again.

I, at once, set out to the task of churning out the Upma….cut the vegetables, smashed the coriander and other spicy essentials and placed the pan on fire, half filled with water. Stirring steadily the boiling water with all the ingredients in it, I poured down the Semolina (Sooji), the base material, leaving the salt to be added at the end of the process.  As the mixture bubbled up and transformed into a more solid state, a lavish dose of ghee was splashed over the hot concoction, the aroma emanating from which, drew my wife to the kitchen. When I reached out to the salt bottle, my wife opened her mouth aghast. She at once was furious that I have not sprinkled the sodium when the water was still boiling.  I tried to reason with her that it can always be added to taste at the end and that the sequence doesn’t really matter.  And I was terribly wrong!  How much ever I tried to mix the cooked stuff with salt, it refused to spread evenly, leaving a small portion heavily salted and the larger one, bland and tasteless. On the whole, my tryst with cookery that day ended in unbridled disaster with even my pet doggie, who otherwise instinctively obeys all my instructions, just refusing to even sniff the stuff, served to him warm and with much generosity.

It is only then that the importance of the correct sequence dawned on me with much force and it is just not confined to order of a recipe preparation. In the usage of the language, a jumbled up sequence of letters could make the “sacred words on the shore” a “scared sword on the horse” and a “tender heart” could become a “rented hater”. And if you mix up the order of your dressing, it could spell more catastrophic than the wardrobe malfunction…the shirt would precede the vest and you may well end up wearing the underwear over the pants, a ‘la Spiderman!!!  Correct sequencing, both in matters of words uttered and attire worn are of paramount importance, to sound sensible and to look human.

And while dealing with the machines, sequence would well mean a choice between task well accomplished or a disaster invited.  I cannot, while driving, change the gear before pressing the clutch nor can stamp the accelerator without releasing the break. And to follow a set of instructions in a preset order, a Standard Operating Procedure is critical and non-negotiable in almost all arenas of human enterprise- be it in aviation, in medical care or in developing software.

The nature too adheres to a well set order and it is repeated with clock like precision. The chirping of the birds precede the sunrise, thunder follows lightning and the trees shedding their leaves proclaim the advent of winter.  Flowers blossom when the bees hum, fishes multiply just after the rains and frogs croak in anticipation of the monsoon. There is enchanting beauty in this well orchestrated symphony, a flawless rhythm of sequence and a profound melody of orderliness.

Just as in nature, human societies too are preserved and nurtured by a strict compliance to order and our well-being and progress is guaranteed only when sequence become sacrosanct. Early years are dedicated to education while the middle life is spent in acquiring wealth and in supporting the family. The years for reflection and counsel are reserved for the later part of the life when one is looked upon for guidance and support by the younger generations. Childhood and adolescence are followed by formal wedding and marriage precedes companionship and family life.  This sequence in human life has ensured order and continuity in society, ensuring stability with security, and endow purpose and meaning to our existence.

But sadly today, we find an onslaught on this time tested pattern of our earthy sojourn as orders are recklessly scrambled and social fabric fatally destroyed. “Live-in” is one such fad wherein youngsters live as wedded couples without entering into the vows and commitments of a formal marriage. They seek to enjoy companionship without responsibility and decide on mutual congruity only after a long spell of living together. Paranoid to face life as it comes, they prey for instant gratification rather than for life-long commitment that is based on true love and understanding. Putting the coach before the engine, this behavior destroys the lives of the people involved and eats on the vitals of the society and the social order. A great scourge and a threat to civilization, it is absolutely essential that this tendency is purged to its roots and normal human behavior is strengthened so that generations to come would have a family to fall back to and a culture to be proud of.

Human life is designed to achieve a higher purpose and should not be reduced to a blind game of cards, shuffled at whim. Otherwise, life would be a tasteless waste, much like my botched up Upma!

Yours

Narayanan

January 15, 2019 at 11:49 pm 7 comments

A day@a publishing house

@8.15 AM: Sweta is fast hopping the office stairs to reach her desk on the second floor. “Morning, Sweta!” greeted Rajashree from the right corner workstation just as she was stepping in to her cubicle. Both of them are members of the core team assigned with the task of publishing an English language series and for the past one and half years, they have been working twelve hours a day, six days a week…. After all, there is a deadline to bring out these twenty-four high quality language textbooks which would be the flagship series for the company the coming year.

@9.30 AM: “We need to have a critical writing exercise for this unit to reinforce gender understanding and for the usage of the new vocab that is being introduced here.” Sweta was at her convincing best with her publishing head who is reluctant to go with her on this play “The Bread-Winner.” She had in fact, prepared the outline for the exercise and being a Ph.D. holder herself on Somerset Maugham’s plays, she is more than sure that “The Bread Winner” offers great scope for critical writing tasks. Saraswati, the publishing head, finds Sweta‘s point persuasive and the exercises quite innovative and puts her stamp of approval. Sweta walks out triumphantly, having won a point of view on literary merit!

@11.00 AM: The in-house illustrator, Kaustubh is spreading out his drawings on to the table and the entire editorial team has milled around him to scrutinise each one and pass judgements. This is the fifth time Kaustubh has re-drawn the entire set of eighty-four illustrations that is to feature in book –VIII and has marshalled all his skills to make each of them vibrant with life. “Great job, Kaustubh … this is what we know you are capable of” the publishing head lavished her praise as she flipped though them, one by one. Kaustubh let a sigh of relief for having at last okayed his labour of last two weeks.

@1.30 PM: The sales head calls an urgent meeting of the key editorial staff to bring to their notice the latest CBSE missive on the need to include Indian cultural lessons on English textbooks! They get into a huddle and create a taskforce to plan out the lessons to be included, book by book. The guiding principle for selection of lessons in Indian culture is prepared and circulated and in the next one hour, a grid is ready on the lessons to go in each book!! WoW!!

@3.00 PM: The digital team has prepared their presentation on the animations created based on Augmented Reality. These animated characters create a riot on the screen and dovetailed with the textbooks, they are a great visual aid to the learning process. Each animation is supported with crispy voiceovers and the unique combination of text, sound and visuals gives every child a 360° learning experience that is just hard to replicate. Kudos, the digital team, this is one of its kind, a sure winner, a game changer and the approval for it is instant… the extended round of applause is definitely an indicator.

@5.00 PM: The editorial team has assembled at the first floor to review the progress on the project and there is a palpable tension in the air. The books have to go to press in about three weeks and there are many a loose ends still to be tied. The teacher App support, for which Sharmila is the head, is garbling with technical issues and it is decided to dedicate a full time App developer for the project. The manuscripts for books five and seven are still being fine-tuned and an urgent telecon with the authors is fixed for tomorrow morning. The In-Design pagination team is waiting for the final sets of illustrations and the four cover designs that are short-listed need to be finalised by next Monday. Shoba is assigned with job of coordinating these tasks and ensure compliance by Friday next!

@7.30 PM: A tired Sweta walks into Suchi’s cubicle who is finalising the activity sheets for Book IV. “We are putting everything into these materials so that the children get the best but what if….” Her eyes fell on the worn out NCERT books that is staked on the left side of the table. She lazily picked up one of them and flipped it through and just could not contain her anguish at the sheer variance in the quality of the books she is currently working on and the one she is now looking at.“ This is not done. Hope our labour of love does not go down the drain and in the garb of low-priced books, our children are not denied quality textbooks.” The pain and desperation in her voice is hardly to be missed.
“We will continue to do our good work Sweta, and any number of circulars expounding the merits of these books is no substitute to quality learning materials.” Sweta couldn’t agree more.

Claimer: Characters in the piece are inspired by hardworking publishing professionals and any resemblance to any one in real life is definitely not a coincidence!
Yours
Narayanan

May 25, 2017 at 10:59 pm 9 comments

Telephone-Then and Now

My father worked in a private company that made him travel and be away from home for extended periods of time. Even when he was in town, we would leave home by around 7.30 in the morning and would return back well after the Sun has eclipsed on to the Arabian Sea . All through the day, he would remain totally incommunicado to any of us and we would just presume that everything is fine if we did not call us on the neighbour’s home phone, the only one available in the radius of 1 km. There would be panic if there is a call from father and everybody would fear something drastic has taken place and look for cover. So a phone call was always something to be dreaded for and farther you are from the instrument the merrier you would be. Anyway, the bulky black bomb like thing which we called the telephone was not always a pleasant sight to look at.

But we cannot help feel the wind of technological progress that the country was swept with when at last in the early years of 1990s we got a phone connection in our home.  By this time the static instrument has also gone on a transformation and started appearing in lighter and sleeker dimension and in a slew of attractive colours- red, blue and white. And it was a sparkling white telephone that arrived into our living room and when the lineman, who would install the thing and make it ring, did the first testing call, there was a plethora of emotions all around- from one of awe from my grandmother to a sense of pride in my mother and a hardly surprised excitement in me. The arrival of the telephone was such a landmark event that we decided to throw a party, comprising of vadas, idlis, kesari ( sweet dish) and a steam coffee to all our neighbourhood families  plus an added offer to make one free call to any of their local contacts ( you know you pay heavy to make outstation calls!) Everybody was happy to relish the food and announce it through the free telephone call to their cousins. Since you have long enjoyed the privilege of receiving calls in others telephone, it is only basic decency that you extend the same courtesy to all. No sooner my father announced others to use our home telephone as their very own, the more than willing crowd milled around him to jolt down the telephone number which they could share with all their near and distant relatives  as their new contact number which they could use to reach them 24×7.

 The arrival of the new telephone brought with it the constant presence of one of the many neighbours in our home and at times the living room would be so lively that we could mistake it for a mini amphitheatre. In fact, the calls received by our friends were so regular that we would know who would get a call during a particular hour and that person would arrive fifteen minutes in advance. This, though an infringement into the privacy of our home, nevertheless spared us of the effort needed to run to their home and inform about the call that is on hold for them in our house.  But the bonhomie and the affection that we silently enjoyed in this phone service stayed with us, long after the telephone stopped ringing for the neighbours as they themselves became proud owners of the communication tool.

But the advent of the mobile phone was so over-aching, that it made the telephone look a crude primitive tool useful more as a decorative antique piece than a functional instrument. And the entry of the mobile into every pocket made anyone instantaneously contactable and thus all very important. The grammar of ringtone revealed the personality of the mobile owner while the size and feature of it only served to add up to his social standing. If by any chance, in the year 2000 you did not have a mobile, maybe you were either treated as a recluse or that you owe people lots of money that you would like to remain non-contactable, either ways, not a very attractive situation to be in. Soon the mobile proliferated and became indispensible and with it began an ever increasing number of calls from sundry tele-marketers who think that you could buy whatever they had to sell. Add to this the smses that clog your in-box and you are the most vulnerable person who could be approached by anybody for, well, anything.  And with the mobile, you cannot lie for not attending a call by being away as it is always supposed to be with you and the closer your contact you are expected to take the call in the first ring. Oh, how the mobile has transformed from a technology marvel into a necessary nuisance that the modern man cannot do without, however hard he may try.  

The white telephone in our home stayed with us for over twenty years and each time it went out of order, it was promptly repaired, polished and re-instated. But in the last ten odd years, I would have changed my mobile at least half-a-dozen times and still I am seen as very conservative. My servant has the latest version of the touch-screen iphone while I still fiddle with the buttons to make calls! I never fathomed that I will be judged by the version and price tag of my mobile than anything intangible that people care two hoots about. Oh, let me change my year old handset in a week’s time before it becomes a redundant technology and an eye-soar for my colleagues and friends. Oh my dear mobile, how unfaithful I am to you but believe me, I am not alone in this game of infidelity.

 

Yours

Narayanan

February 26, 2013 at 4:22 pm 2 comments

A day without the internet

Nostalgia is usually referred to the fond memories of quite a distant past in one’s life but in a world where technology and gadgets seem to set the pace and purpose of our lives, I tend to become nostalgic of a very recent past. It was a time when internet was not yet a word found in the dictionary and being “Mobile” was a liberating state, often because of the two-wheeler, that allowed you to hop from one place to another. In that bygone era, I could hum a favourite number to my heart’s content as I enjoyed a cool shower in the bath without being rattled by the out-of- the- tune ring tone of the mobile. I also could drive my car relaxing in the serene pleasant morning weather without being jolted out of my wits by the SMS alerts. While on a holiday, I could enjoy a trek to the remote mountain shrine without having to look for an internet access point to check my official mails and merrily spend on my credit card without being reminded of the burgeoning amount I owe each time I swipe the plastic. Those days seems now to belong to an alien planet but the desire to revisit such a life remains pretty strong.

And when the internet connection at home was not working one Sunday morning, I thought my deep longing for freedom from the virtual world was about to be realised. But by the end of the day, I was in total disarray and disoriented with the lives around me that the very thought of another day without internet access sent shivers down my spine. Because on that fatal Sunday, I could not do the following:

1. The customary Sunday Skype chat: No internet also means a communication break-down with friends and family members who are spread across the globe. With Skype I could video chat with each one of them for hours on end and topics would range from the silliest to the more meaningful ones and none really cared to hang up as no one really paid for the service. And when I was not signed-in on Skype, I had upset a plethora of people that ranged from a niece who wanted to share the picture of her fiancé and get instant approbation from me to my mother who is keen to keep track of the Sunday menu at his son’s home situated some three thousand kilometres away.

2. A presence in the Facebook :  Your earthly existence has no meaning if you do not have a presence on the facebook and if you are not signed-in your fb account, it could trigger a panic reaction among your contacts. From a mild SMS message to trans-continental calls on to the mobile to confirm that nothing has gone untoward, the enquiries that were made to me on that Sunday easily surpassed the entire personal messages that I have so far received in the year. And when your wife and daughter are also vanishing on the fb, you have the added responsibility to assuage the feelings of their anxious friends and it would call for all your convincing skills to rise up to the occasion. I would never again face a scenario thrown up by not being in facebook!

3. Online ticket booking : Sunday is the time when you check-out the best options for your holidays and book the cheapest tickets available before they get dearer or worse still, sold-out. With internet off the air, an opportunity to plan and budget your trip was gravely missed on that Sunday, the last one before the day of departure.  And when your family come to know of your faux pas in making timely arrangement for their holidays, the Sunday could verily turn into a sorrowful day with each one reminding you of their prophetic statements “I told you so”.

4. The online games of the children:  In a house where there are no PlayStation or X-boxes, online gaming are the much sought after recreation, more so on a Sunday.  And when there is an insurmountable road-block to fulfil such trivial desires, I too felt very hapless. Next time there is an internet break-down, I am afraid that I may have to shell out wads of currency to get that black thing with lot of consoles connected to the TV.

5. Old movies on Youtube:   When you can watch the movie released yesterday on the television, there is no way you could watch decades-old films and relieve your memories of yesteryears other than, of course, on the Youtube. With anything from silent to black and white pictures loaded into it, it is the ultimate blessing for the movie bluff and when on a Sunday you are denied the pleasure of watching your childhood superstars gyrating to bygone foot-tappers, you wish you were working on a Sunday.

And other less important things that I missed out on that fateful Sunday were the online money transfer, the official mails from colleagues who worked the previous night, the customary log-in to my  WordPress account to check from which part of the globe people visited my blog etc etc.

Oh internet, how indispensable you are to the modern man!

Yours

Narayanan

June 22, 2012 at 9:11 pm 1 comment

Sheer Anand!

To experience and to be established in the indescribable and the indestructible joy of the self- which is beyond the grasp of the senses, the mind, and the intellect – is envisioned as the supreme goal of all our spiritual journeys. To facilitate man to achieve this extolled state, great personages has, from time to time, chartered many paths of austerities and penance, devised various methods of rites and rituals and codified them into great religious traditions . The faithfuls who unflinchingly followed their tenets were vouchsafed of a glimpse of that bliss and its very source.  And those who thus tasted its nectarine essence went on to also describe it as the supreme unsullied truth which is but pure consciousness.   Just as the sun cannot be separated from its heat and light, all these three attributes- of Truth, Consciousness and Bliss- are integral to that ultimate knowledge of the self. An experience of the unalloyed bliss is not possible without being established in the fullness of truth and being in total integrated awareness. Thus the three dimensions of its nature is divinely expressed as Sath-Chit-Anand,  Anand being the quintessential bliss.

Such an oceanic bliss is reserved only for the highly evolved souls but for many of us, ordinary mortals, sports and games are more easily accessible sources of joy.  Children as most happy when they are playing and adults take delight watching their favourite players in action and all enjoy the excitement and thrill of a keenly fought match. When many of the out-door sports excite our senses and give us that adrenaline rush with every twist and turn of the contest, there are other games which challenge our cerebral faculties and the joy experienced in playing and watching them are more sublime and hence truly elevating. The game of Chess is the emperor in this category where intellectual prowess, analytical skills and strategic thinking, all need to be simultaneously marshalled and deployed to outsmart and outwit the opponent with every move on the square. And when Vishwanathan Anand displays a complete command and dominance over the world’s best brains in the game, we get a glimpse of his brilliant mind and with every emphatic win at the highest level, he confers immense pleasure and joy, so true to his name.

Vishy Anand is a phenomenon that defies any analysis and he completely and fully is a self-made master. In a country which has never before produced a player of any consequence in the game, Anand was to become the first Grand Master from India and that was just a beginning of a glorious saga. He has taken on all the great players of his time, including the two Russian chess icons, and has beaten each one of them. From being the only one to dominate in all the three formats of the game to winning the world championship title five times ( so far), Anand’s achievements are simply mind-blowing and are the stuff that dreams are made of that inspires an entire generation to pick-up the nuances of the game. When all these stupendous feats are accomplished without the moral backing of a gaming history back home, Anand stands as a lone colossus of unparalleled achievements. The unassuming and composed nature just adds beauty to this towering personality and his demeanour at the pinnacle of glory is a lesson in modesty. Anand is as much a joy to hear and listen to as it is to watch his game.

But in a country that has a single-minded obsession to just that game of the willow, Anand’s historic contests and win in Moscow got drowned in the noise and scandals of the IPL. When the world keenly watched and dissected his every move on the board, back in India, there was scant coverage and media buzz about the event and a general public apathy and ignorance about the battle being played out for the world championship title. Even after the win, the enthusiasm and thrill among the masses was found awfully inadequate and hardly reflected the monumental nature of the victory.  When the nation is unable to differentiate between the manufactured thrill fuelled by semi-clad cheer leaders dancing with aging film stars and the genuine crowning glory of a sporting legend, there indeed is a deep malady and a crisis of character that demands immediate attention.

Chess is a game that is played in over a hundred countries of the world and if at all there is an Indian sports personality who is recognised and admired the world over, it undoubtedly is Vishwanathan Anand. But for a country that hardly acknowledges any sport other than cricket, a game played in about twelve countries (and that includes Canada and Netherlands!) and hardly qualifies to be termed an international sport, Anand and his achievements are just footnotes to be referred only in the passing. In any other nation, such a person would have been projected as its most priced procession and would have become its face for the world. But we would brook none of these.

The nation is known and remembered by the contributions of its citizens and if we fail to recognise our true legends and honour them for their excellence, we may soon be left with only mediocre to cheer for.

Yours

Narayanan

June 4, 2012 at 12:27 pm Leave a comment

Class(room) wars

Indian classroom

I, till the other day, felt that my primary school days were quite lacklustre and didn’t offer anything for me to feel proud about, but not anymore. There were some distinct features in the ambiance of that school which I always overlooked but struck me like a thunderbolt only when I looked deeper into the school system that my daughter is presently part of. The school where I went itself was not a great piece of architecture, to say the least.  With leaking roofs, uncemented floors and creaking doors, the building resembled more like an abandoned titled mansion of the nineteenth century than a functional school where everyday five hundred children assembled to pick-up elementary lessons in language, science and arithmetic. While the holes in the roof allowed copious amount of sun’s rays to penetrate into the classrooms throughout its day’s journey, in the long monsoon months of Kerala, they also let down sheets of water that wetted the books and cleaned the slates of the children sitting below with their umbrellas open.  The benches on which we sat were more like see-saws that, when the boy on the right got up, the one on the left invariably went down and the whole classroom was always rocking. Three pieces of black-painted wood was stuck together to form the blackboard and when the teacher found it hard to make her writing on the board legible, children found it easy to convert it into “fixed stumps” for a quick game of cricket. The classrooms were separated, not by brick walls but by thin sheets of garden-fence material which again spotted holes of various sizes all over it. Peeping through these holes, a child in class three can check-out what is in store for him a year ahead and the child in the other class can always recap what he studied the previous year. And when teachers let the children read their lessons themselves to indulge in an exchange of pleasantries with each other, the sounds from the classrooms mingled and reverberated as one great voice of learning.

But in this school the only common factor between myself and my friends were the books we carried and the uniforms we wore. Each of us came from different social background; our parents had varied levels of education and did different jobs, we practiced different faiths and our economic statuses were too disparate and why, even the languages that we spoke at our homes were not common.  Yet, in the school, we learnt the same lessons, shared the same facilities, played together and fought with each other without a thought of our obvious differences back home. While my father was with a reputed British tea company, Benny’s parents were teachers, Dinesh’s father a businessman and Rajendran’s mother worked as a maid in my house. And yet in school, all the four of us sat in the same bench.  Though most of us walked to our schools, Dinesh always got dropped in his father’s car and Benny accompanied his mother in the town bus. And each time I got a scolding from the teacher, my mother would invariably come to know of it, thanks to Rajendran’s mother.  Rajendran benefited much in his studies by being in the company of studious Benny and the rich Dinesh often shared chocolates with the rest of us. As we grew up, we took different paths in life and parted ways but wherever we are today and in whatever occupation, we all cherish a shared childhood.

As I look at my daughter’s class today, I am disappointed by the almost monolithic backgrounds of these students with variety and diversity, that was so much a given in my school days sadly missing. They all are children of the upper middle class families, their parents work for large corporations or multi-nationals, talk in a common anglicised lingo and live in high-rise apartments. Their world is occupied by TV sops, tinsel idols and a host of identical online activities and they all possess a common disinterestedness about the lives and struggles of the less fortunate. They live in their own cocoons in a world infested with facebook , twitter and i-store  where  the likes of Rajendran have no place.   In the scheme of things of these private schools, a decent education is the sole preserve of the economically advantaged children and if the parent belongs to the wrong side of the divide, it is almost blasphemous to aspire to send his ward to these glorified portals of learning.

That’s why the Government thought that it would be a great idea if twenty-five percent of the seats in these schools are reserved for children from economically weak families so that classrooms become more egalitarian and these children too can avail a modicum of quality education. The highest court of the land concurred with this ideal and now private run schools are legally obliged to set one-fourth of their seats for pupils from weak sessions of the society.This ruling is definitely not to the liking of either the school management or to the neo-rich parents. The schools complain that these children will not be able to do well because they don’t have a supportive environment back home and hence will bring down the over-all performance of the school.  And the parents say that in the company of the ill-behaved and slanging brats from the slums, their children will be spoilt beyond redemption and with hygiene standards among them being low, they argue that their children will even be put to health hazards. These arguments are marshalled with such force that they seem to acquire a legitimacy to keep the schools out of bounds for the poor.

This contracted thinking among the elite class betrays a mindset that revels on the status of exclusivity and believes that class destinations are their birth right and therefore need to be guarded zealously. For them, the ideals of inclusive society are more fit for academic discussions than for practical application and preservation of the status quo is the most desired goal.

Who will have the final say in this classroom war and  a share in the nation’s progress is now anybody’s guess.

Yours

Narayanan

May 23, 2012 at 11:45 pm 8 comments

Older Posts


Recent Posts

Categories

Most popular

Chronology

May 2019
M T W T F S S
« Feb    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Blog Stats

  • 14,620 hits

previous posts

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 31 other followers