Breaking the Education Barrier

Posted By: Rupa Gulab|Dated: June 8, 2012

When Barack Obama became the 44th President of the USA, I cheered so lustily that I was on throat lozenges and unpalatable salt water gargles for the next few days. Frankly, I didn’t care if he would be a good, bad or indifferent president – all I wanted was to see a different shade of colour in the White House. I love it when ridiculous barriers are broken!  I cheered even louder, however, when India’s Supreme Court upheld the Right to Education act where 25% of seats are reserved in certain categories of schools for the economically weaker section.  Just in case you’re curious, I was prescribed cough syrup for the next two weeks.

The Education Barrier

Even so, I know for certain that it’s not going to be a bed of roses. I grimly predict that some affluent parents will warn their children not to mingle lest they pick up germs and other filthy things – it’s sad isn’t it that all the money and the education in the world cannot make some human beings act like, well, humans?  Laughably, this attitude is from people who hire the parents of the very same children to cook their food, keep their houses spotlessly clean, drive their cars, tsk.

I also predict that not some but very many children in the economically weaker section will go home weeping after school and have emotional scars that will take years of expensive therapy to heal.  It’s only natural when a child of the driver of the Indian economy and a child of the driver of his car share the same space but not the same resources. Consider the expensive iPad versus the pocket-friendly Akash tablet (if and when Akash actually does work without glitches). Perhaps I’m being facetious here, but can Angry Birds really bridge that gap?

While we’re about it, let’s also consider the negative attitude of a few of India’s ridiculously expensive schools where students are routinely taken to villages in Thailand to hose down cows to make them (the students, not the cows) more balanced. Why Thailand instead of equally needy villages in India? Perhaps this has something to do with inflated travel and lodgings bills that are presented to parents – and teachers in charge of the trips getting free tickets?  With the RTE in place, would such indulgences be possible?

Finally, do you really believe that the government (whichever government happens to be in power) will cheerfully honour its promises and pay the fees for the reserved seats without tedious amounts of paperwork that will straggle into the next century?

So yes, I do have some fears about the reservations. But I’m biting my tongue. Mainly because the good that will eventually come out of it will outweigh the bad. Make no mistake, this is a revolution even though it’s not trending on Twitter. And despite the fact that it’s a bloodless revolution, some children will get hurt by the attitudes of nasty affluent parents, insensitive teachers and apathetic governments. That, however, is a price that must be paid.

Rupa Gulab

Rupa Gulab is a columnist and the author of Girl Alone, Chip of the Old Blockhead, and The Great Depression of the 40s.

The views expressed above are those of the author, and not necessarily representative of the views of the Mahindra Group.

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  • Ramakria

    Respected Author
    well done really thought provoking and shows your good side of Humanity .Yes all Indian citizens deserve chance to get Educated and  then ofcourse compete for JOBS .India will really be a country of opportunities and hope if we can impart the RTE act .
     I know we are 1 billion plus country ,but hopefully we will be able to allocate resources and give all Indian kids a chance and the day that happens ,it will be wonderful
    Thank you and  you made to think as soon as I read it .

  • Narendra Kapoor

    Well, I appreciate the views expressed but how many of us follow such feelings in our real life situations. Many of us can share this burden by opening up elementary / primary school education facilities at village level ( education at the doorstep) and solve this problem. There are 6 lakh villages in India and no proper infrastructure for school level education. All of us will have to look into this problem with an open heart, just by    making reservation will not give us the desired result. All the stakeholders must come together with an honest attitude to achieve this objective of educating every one in our society. 

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