NONSENSE-PROOFING –PART TWO
Modern India is part 3000BC, part 8th and 9th centuries, part early 19th century and part 21st century but in such a non-uniform hotchpotch pattern that it’s impossible to properly understand and analyze the vastly different mindsets and linked lifestyles!
Official incompetence—the “chalta hai” mindset– is a contagious 19th century mindset that the kids unwittingly absorb as they grow up. In much of Rural India daily life is still bullock cart paced for lack of opportunities for earning and for making use of human skills. In urban India kids are under enormous pressure from eternally tensed-up parents to perform in schools as if that alone is enough!
Whether it’s the unregulated sale and over use of antibiotics, or the disease burden that kids carry with them once they get used to the neighborhood thanks to climate change, and low hygiene sense, or the stonewalling by the government when it concerns the rights of its citizens to universal and equitable healthcare, we see only gold old ways of getting things done as in our forefathers’ days–inefficiency, ineffectiveness, blunder and clumsiness.
I shall illustrate this with a single revelatory example. It’s revelatory because it affects the fate of 10.5 crore Indians, 70% of whom live in rural areas, and of whom over I crore of persons are aged 80 or above too!
During the Budget speech of 2015, the FM offered a revival of Varishta Pension Bima Yojana (VPBY) and then set his eyes on the large amount of money lying as unclaimed amounts in PPF and Post Office Savings Schemes. He proposed to set up a committee to ensure that this amount was used for the welfare of senior citizens.
The committee was set up but it hasn’t met except twice and not taken any decision till date!
Free India is decidedly heavy footed and slow-paced as if by design in the implementation of the many policy initiatives and the projects that have been launched with fanfare.
REAL vs. UNREAL
The Brave New India that is consciously projected by the powers that be is not the real India at all when you get down on the ground. Gender and skin tint discrimination is a given here and no one seems have the clout to opposite it. Characterlessness is a hallmark of the real nation on closer scrutiny.
Kids also learn it from the adults they come across!
Pretend, for instance, to be a deaf and dumb person and then do a series of visits to all public offices across India. You are going to see thousands of officials, bureaucrats and even menial public servants taking it easy, preparing fraudulent cash vouchers or bills for claiming higher expenditure and filching minor things from the office. Every half hour coffee or tea sessions come and go with regularity.
SELF DEFEATING ELECTION PARADIGMS—AND KIDS:
One of the most important deficiencies in Indian family life as far as I have been able to observe it at close quarters is that no brainstorming session or family discussion ever tends to take place under any roof as a habit. It’s the obligation of the parents to help the kids understand adult behavior through news carried over the media. Most parents keep such discussion strictly to themselves and their colleagues, and never involve their kids in such discussions at home in an informal ambiance.
This inclines the kids to blindly imitate the adults without properly understanding the right and wrong issues involved.
Take the case of elections.
The Election Commission spends a huge amount on conducting elections and for ensuring that they are not rigged but still the eventual result is not much satisfactory. A growing kid reads about the 30% criminally minded MPs making laws for the nation and gets the message that being an MP has nothing to do with being honest and patriotic at all.
Bribery and violence hallmark general elections and these get echoed on school and college campuses also in ample measure. The kids are just imitating their own grownups. Similar to the fringe outfits and smaller mushroom parties splintering the votes in a general election, fringe groups among students fall readily in to the trap of politics for the sake of politics and vitiate the atmosphere on campuses making teaching virtually unthinkable.
If you ask the teenager of today why he behaves in a low brow manner both at home and on campuses his answer will be that he has imbibed this lesson from the grownups around him. College campuses today are much inflected by totally un-academic thought streams, demeanor paradigms and furious debates on many anti-national notions.
Student unions get formed solely to promote the political outfits outside the campus and not for fighting for the less fortunate among the students or redressing the shortcomings in the learner community or even for ensuring the wellbeing of the students themselves.
All the Indian mass media bring us a Niagara of information about what is NOT right in the country as a whole every morning and our kids also get to read about all this.
The inference that you and I can derive from this is that unless and until the grownups in this country are poised for a mental transformation the kid generation can’t be saved from nasty behavior in public and in private life.
SOCIAL PROCRUSTEAN BEDS AND KIDS:
Public life in India is composed of much deliberate hypocrisy as you and I know very well. Rahul Gandhi’s mindless attack on the NDA government is one classic instance of such hypocrisy as practiced in the Parliament. He knows that very little of the black money stashed away abroad can be unearthed ever precisely because these amounts went away from India during the License and Permit Raj of the 1980’s, when the Congress ruled the country.
Such hypocrisy can be seen endlessly repeated in improvised weddings, contrived appointments, and managed promotions, lubricated business transactions and dishonest deals with foreign companies too. The recent attempt of the TN government to get Rajiv killers released is also an illustration of the all-too-commonplace Indian hypocrisy!
Social barriers such as caste and community differences are also mostly pretentious and externally imposed. Such barriers are tight to a dangerous extent and anyone that dares to cross them is killed for “honor”!
Everyone is aware that honor killings bring shame to the whole nation but no one is willing to get it abolished.
The sense of being in a hierarchy of some kind is so deeply rooted in daily life that anyone that retired from a high status position and willing to go out for voluntary work is looked at as an oddball of some kind. West of Gibraltar this kind of voluntary activity by well-educated individuals in society is quite common.
At the post office you may see a former CEO helping a blind woman send a letter. On the roads you may come across motherly women offering knick-knacks to children passing by. Beggars value-add their own presence on the roadsides with some music they produce on a harmonica or on a fiddle.
When we bring up kids in such a social ambiance it’s quite difficult for them to learn to think openly and independently. If the parents have been public servants the kids also think that getting into public service is the most desirable thing to do. Open thinking habit is part of education of course but our schooling conventions don’t encourage such lateral creative thinking.
Thus the incompetence of Generation A passes onto incompetence in Generation B without much change!
EXTERNAL TEMPTATIONS IN EDEN FOR KIDS:
Wrong food is the first temptation for all kids. Home cooking, somewhat like breast milk feeding, is no longer in vogue in many townships and cities, with whole families huddling into a vehicle and consuming food from the roadside eateries in the country. This leads to our kids growing up on mostly junk food, liberally spiced with Ajinomoto or MSD.
Wrong educational nurturing is the next one. Too much emphasis on the vernacular of the State in a pluralist nation gives the kid the wrong message about the priority that he needs to give any second language. Thus most kids have no interest in reading in a global language.
Moral Class sessions used to take place in many private schools till recently. However the intention behind this –character formation along sensible lines- was grossly misinterpreted by vested interests and thus these ceased to teach basic etiquette to learners at the right time during their formative years. To add insult to injury Christian private schools in the country, which have been rendering exemplary service to the people in almost all States no matter the level of economic backwardness there, were called conversion centers too.
Science sessions must, as you will agree, be part theory and part practice an observation and analysis. But across the nation scientific thinking is given the goby as if this is deliberate. Instead all kinds of unscientific subjects –astrology and palmistry for instance–are sought to be taught in universities too. India is not globally famous for being a science giant at all of course but today you and I need to think clearly logically and scientifically for earning our daily bread. Technical education needs to be taken a few steps further quality wise if we are to compete with developed nations in industry.
Politics offers another temptation to plastic pliable minds here. False promises are liberally given to catch our kids young and trap them in the political activism realm by party leaders. By the time the young man or woman discovers that these promises were false and wrongly intended, it is often too late in the day! I worked in a college where a large number of boys had to appear in courts of law every week for criminal activities .The explanations they gave me was they would become ministers in the future!
Going abroad to the Arabian Gulf –and returning to India as an NRI swimming in US dollars–was a powerful dream for young men during the 1970-2000 period but the Gulf Dream has largely dissipated now.
KIDS GROWING IN A JUNK MINDSET:
The blackest sin being committed within households is that the kids are brought up with a narrow minded mindset. They are not encouraged to think big in any manner at all.
All the communities that are locked up within the Reservation Privileges Clause are naturally inclined to think ONLY of landing a public job of some kind and then settling down! Many surveys have brought out the fact that those that aspire for wonderful jobs abroad are almost wholly children from unreserved communities.
Injecting the community/ caste mentality into one’s own children is viewed kindly by most parents. Infusing the kid with own faith a few days after its birth—when the kid is not able to think for itself– is also seen as something good.
I am not questioning the good intentions behind these but only the lack of parental maturity! Both these boomerang at times as the kid grows into adulthood and the parents are viewed as the culprits!
Gender discrimination is also injected into the boys in particular and then the girl kids. This is definitely unadvisable.
Encouraging or conniving at the party activism of the kids at school when they ought to acquire basic survival skills is also certainly bad.
THREATS TO KIDS TO MAKING IT THROUGH:
The chances of a typical Indian young man or woman making it through with not too many physical and emotional bruises to the natural end of life are slim in many States. If the man or woman is a whistle blower and honest to the core it’s likely that the person shall get murdered. If it’s a girl she may get heckled, molested raped and killed too!
The all-pervasive “Chalta hai” mindset whitewashes this of course but what it really signifies is that the Indian Citizen as such is most unsafe in his own nation at all times through the year.
In this respect alone, if not also in many other aspects, India way back even behind the Sub Saharan States! Having to live with Neanderthal ways is yet another problem that the really high caliber persons in this country get to face sometime in their life.
The greatest sin a human being can make is to get born in a country with not only an over populating tendency but also one that also remains deeply splintered over groups, clans, tribes, castes and communities, if not also a host of vernacular languages that are mutually unintelligible. The scenario gets aggravated if there are far too many political pressure groups on the one hand and on the other if the national leaders lack a clear destination sense and clear focus. Daily life is a big risk with 1.71 crore mongrel dogs on our streets too!
The disastrous mistake then is to make do with the life that is given and to jostle through the melee to make oneself heard. Lack of parental awareness, text-based rote -learning oriented learning at school, communal prejudice and hatred, lack of parental skills, too many temptations, plus a surfeit of junk food and junk notions take away the inherent creativity and uniqueness of the individual in a large measure over the years.
Our kids are in this truly unenviable situation!