The week that has passed by saw several murders, rapes, theft, corruption charges and other offences reported. Such negative news has become so common that we yearn to see or read positive news.
Schools administered/owned by State governments/local bodies are ill maintained. The infrastructure available is poor. The children in such schools are deprived of quality aids and tuitions. The State’s responsibility to impart free and quality education thus still becomes a far cry.
Most such schools mentioned have no safe drinking water or clean restrooms. Girl children from remote villages also become unable to go to their school during their menstruation period for want of clean facilities. Despite repeated emphasis for a safe and hygienic environment in schools, conditions in public schools are still pathetic.
With such poor infrastructure and poor quality of education imparted, the students of such schools do not develop any sense of belongingness with their own institution. The alumni of such schools, except very few, distance themselves once they pass out and settle elsewhere.
It is in this context that the act of Tejas KN is to be appreciated and widely publicised. Even as public schooling now means only lucrative private schools with national and international branding and not State-owned ones, it is heartening to see some of the teachers and officers of the Education department slog against all odds to give quality education to the underprivileged children studying in such schools. The Madras High Court has rightly clarified that when they were comparing the salaries of doctors with teachers, they did not mean the school teachers but college professors.
If only we want our country to progress, we must provide an education to the underprivileged inculcating a sense of belonging, a bonding with the roots that will make them proud of being in their village, town or city.
Aspirations of success/affluence now leads children to only dream of the land beyond India’s shores.
Whether it is the Midwest, the West or the Far East, all these countries are attracting the cream from among our youth. We still do not recognize and appreciate those within our shores.
Let us tell our children that the likes of Kalpana Chawla, Indira Nooyi, Sundar Pichai and Satya Nadella have renounced our country. They are no more Indians. They have taken the naturalisation oath, the pledge of allegiance, and sung the national anthem of the United States of America for their benefits. I do not belittle them, they have a purpose, meaning and have helped many back home in India. But they ought not to be our children’s role models.
Instead, the likes of Amartya Sen, the late Abdul Kalam, the 16,500 men and women who worked under Isro’s K Sivan as the Chandrayaan-2 team, the doctors working in primary health centres all over the country and in various government and local body hospitals, the teachers who work in remote villages, and our dedicated staff at all levels of the Centre/State administration working round the clock for a safe India should be our role models.
—The writer is Senior Advocate, Madras High Court