By Sampriti Biswas
Edited by Michelle Cherain, Associate Editor ,The Indian Economist
A newborn brings infinite joys not only to its parents but to its entire family. The infant is loved, cherished, protected and nurtured with utmost care, diligence and profound love. Everything is ensured that is supposed to usher in a rosy future to their devoted, doting child. So from a very young age the child leaves for a play school or a nursery to ‘learn’ her good manners and habits and start on a quest for achieving ‘education’ which is synonymous to many as acquiring knowledge or wisdom.
A decade back we saw such toddlers leaving for play-schools at two and a half or three years of age but now children as young as eighteen months are pupils there. So by four to five years of age they are ready as if magically for formal schools. Some schools even accept kids at three years of age in nurseries. So the era of stiff, ironed clean and immaculate uniforms start. With strict discipline these children ‘learn’ day in and day out. Children in standard KG also have unit tests and they struggle to keep up their class performances. Their parents sweat out from the tension of the horrendous experience called the ‘parent-teacher’ meeting. They are constantly vigilant over their kid; his diet, his books, private tutors and expensive monthly check-ups are just some of the contents of their constant attention. All this is done, endured with the ardent hope of witnessing the child’s great ‘career’ in the future. So the apple of the nuclear family’s eye grows up bringing in more and more ‘successes’ each passing day for his or her family to savour.
The child must be the envy of the neighbourhood, the shining beacon of hope for the parents who toil probably sixteen to eighteen hours a day to afford the tuition fees of the extremely good private school of their child. And in return, the child leaving his childhood silently behind, carries the burden of his school or tuition bag, without complaining. The music and art classes’ follows suit and of course playing in a park with friends is a great luxury one cannot afford. Mediocrity is a great sin which can never be forgiven. The end of year report cards must be spotless mentioning only excellent grades or even better superb achievements like all-rounder or prefect or tennis star etc. Hence this is the way the much adored child grows up. The acclaimed, well advertised health drinks are a must for the boosting up of energy for these geniuses and who cares if they cost a lot. The child’s farther can keep his eyes closed if he needs a new pair of shoes or if his tired wife needs a cook. An unseen burden of expectations is wordlessly showered on the child’s young shoulders who struggles to keep up with it. He’s hence a prisoner since birth. His marks should be astronomically good enough to allow him to pursue a much sought after course in a reputed college. And after that a post graduate degree or a doctorate from a foreign university is much needed; the icing on the cake. So the family’s quest to achieve the ‘best’ for their child continues for more than two decades. Lo! Our child has indeed grown up into a fine man; who cares whether of fine character or not. He is well furnished with impeccable grades. He might not decide to come back to his ‘third world’ motherland, to his tattered parents who have probably by now have spent every dime of their savings for his education. But he is a focussed, hard-working, global citizen working in a top tier multinational company. He is not ‘selfish’; he does send dollars to his middle class parents at the end of every month. He is now a prisoner of great ambition; hungry for more recognition and green bills.
Thus we see a generation who has great achievements in their kitty yet aloof, cold and lonely to their very core. They fail to lead a balanced life; without true relationships or time to pursue hobbies etc. But the vicious cycle of transformation of a newborn to a so called accomplished man continues. What if his parents die a lonely death with the neighbours conducting the funeral rites, they bask their glory of ‘signed deals’, increase in profits and climbing higher ranks. The motherland suffers the irreversible damage of losing her meritorious children who could otherwise have helped in her development; the brain drain affects everyone adversely.
So can we blame them for not nurturing patriotic feelings or being blind to societal needs? For only thinking about themselves? No the blame should be on the ambitious society. One day these very people had lost their childhood to the demanding society, its pre-set norms and measures and so when their turn came they too looked away from the society’s needs. They no longer feel it is their duty to be involved in the matters of the country, to look after the aged or seek remedies for the many problems plaguing the society. On the contrary all they are concerned about is their golden careers. They were taught to do so since their birth, since their training started in the ambitious schools.
It is high time to review our entire education system as a whole. We have already manufactured enough super robots with 99%-100% marks. But true visionaries are really rare. So our pre-conceived notions related to the measures of true knowledge and wisdom needs to change. That academic excellence is desired but not beyond being human and forgetting other important responsibilities. That one is born to live and let live in a kind, peaceful and meaningful way. As author Chetan Bhagat rightly puts it, “There won’t be any power-point presentations on one’s last day.”
Sampriti is a M.Sc student of Economics at the University of Calcutta. She has her specialization in International Trade, Economics of Finance and Political Economy of Development. Currently, after the completion of her final (fourth) semester examination, she is busy writing both fiction and non-fiction on a diverse range of topics. She writes book reviews and short stories for her blog (www.bookwormscorner1.