Primary Education In Mother Tongue: A Disservice To Indian Children

There are lot many things that do a disservice to Indian children. One among the top contenders is the misplaced zeal of promoting primary education in mother tongue. It affects not just the childhood but remains a handicap throughout the life of the child – affecting him/her in every sphere.

Once in a while, the issue of primary education in mother tongue will crop up. Each time, everybody but for the parent will speak in the favour of the mother tongue. Now, it is the turn of the New Education Policy (NEP) to re-start this debate. No prize for a correct guess about what NEP is promoting – primary education in mother tongue.

The purpose of education in India

Education serves multiple objectives. Few start right at the top – to know one’s potential and all such in philosophical realms. We, in India, have a rather straight-forward transactional view of education – get a better job/to improve prospects of a white-collar life/do better than the parents. In short, crack JEE/NEET, excel in a rote fest.

Now, with this two-word purpose of education – JEE/NEET, how and where does primary education in mother tongue fits in? The Central Government has proposed that entrance tests will be held in regional languages. Great. But, after getting admission what language will the medicine/engineering students study in? The Central Government has proposed that IITs will start teaching in Hindi. Even greater.

Now, come the ultimate questions. Will Google recruit an IIT engineer that has studied only in Hindi? Will Ivy League universities abroad give additional marks to the students of the vernacular? Would medical fraternity worldwide (even an Indian pharmaceutical company for that matter) open up the flood gates of opportunities for a doctor who prescribes only in a local language?

The single word answer for all the above questions is NO. Well, when there is no opportunity, apart from applying for a Government job, on what basis is the Government or for that matter all the so-called subject experts promoting primary education in mother tongue.

Everyone including the Supreme Court will pass the order that mother tongue is the best medium to teach a child. The irony of the situation is that this order would have been passed in English and the children of all these education experts would be highly deficient in communicating in their respective mother tongues. A bunch of hypocrites.

Parents know better

Wouldn’t the parents know that their children will learn better in mother tongue? Intentionally, no parent would want to put their children in a disadvantageous position of learning in a foreign language. Nobody would want to dole inferior treatment to their mother tongue. Yet, every parent in India wants their children to study in English medium school. Why?

What do parents see all around them in society? Persons with English background cornering all the privileged and coveted positions, considered in better esteem, have a better chance to rise in economic and social hierarchy etc. Why would any parent not want a similar profile for their children?

So, what do parents do? Enrol the child ASAP in an English medium school, running away from the promised misery of the vernacular school. Why blame them? They are only trying to try their luck at the perverse incentives laid down by a dysfunctional society that looks down at people who studied in their mother tongue.

Yes, some exceptions have excelled and reached newer heights even by studying in the local language. But that is what they are – an exception. And, after reaching their top positions, no prizes for guessing what language will their children be studying in. Nobody would want to be an exception to the norm, but the norm.

The ship of primary education in mother tongue has sailed

If there was a time for promoting regional languages of India, it was right after 1947. The first decade of Independence, maybe the second decade, but after that with each passing year, it is becoming only an uphill task of promoting the vernacular. Now, it is impossible, if not next to impossible, to imbibe primary education in mother tongue.

The politicians screwed up India’s language policy after Independence. The Indian language experts aided them in the destruction of the local languages by being prude, self-absorbed, lacking innovation and refusing to change with times. What do you call “internet”, “computer”, “mobile” in any of the Indian languages? There lies the answer to why Indian parents choose English as the medium of instruction for their children.

It is better if we, as a country, admit our folly and let go of our notion that primary education in mother tongue is good for the child. It is surely good for the child, but for the adult that the child will grow into, it is a sure-shot recipe for disaster.

The constructive option would be to adapt and adopt Indian English as our own language. The sooner it happens, more useful for Indian children, more beneficial for India, more practical than continuing with this time-wasting pointless debate raised by an out-of-sync with the times’ NEP.

What would be your views on this subject?

PS: I am a stay-at-home father to six-year-old twin daughters, neither an educationist nor an expert. The above thoughts are an expression of parenting is having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.

Indian English Should Be Taught To Indian Children

‘English is a funny language’, this is an oft-repeated quote whenever my daughters study English with me. As a matter of fact, there is nothing funny about the language. It is just that the English language transcends logic and common sense when it comes to pronunciation, spellings, grammar and whatnot. This makes me propose that Indian English should be taught to Indian children.

I suppose all of us have learnt our English in schools. At that age, we would not have been able to ponder over the absurdities of what we are being taught by our English teachers. And, the teachers are in the profession of teaching what they are taught to teach. So, the saga of the Queen’s English keeps perpetuating, no matter how silly and ridiculous.

The Unscientific Language

How does one teach English to Indian children? LSRW is all hogwash. Except for an extremely tiny minority, children do not get to listen and speak English as their first step to learning this language. So, the phonetics makes an entry with alphabet identification, writing and reading, in that order. So far, so good. Now, slowly the eccentricities of the Queen’s English will start showing its tentacles.

The pronunciation of “C” will keep changing as per the whim and fancy. “G” will follow suit immediately. “I” and “E” are enough to drive a sane person crazy. “Y” and “O” decide to join the fun. Try teaching the spelling of “Two”, “To”, “Too” / “Four”, “For” scientifically to the child. How about “One” or “Eight” for that matter? We haven’t even reached the silent alphabets, homonyms, “Cough/Dough” etc.

You will say that English is not a 100% phonetic language. Everyone knows it. What’s the big deal? Well, it is not a big deal as an adult. Try telling it to children – Indian children. Our mother tongues i.e. Indian languages are all nearly 100% phonetic (most letters are consistently pronounced). Comparatively, English is only about 75% phonetic.

Why should Indian children be subjected to the strange and senseless way of learning a language in their growing years? Why cannot we make it simple and easy for Indian children to learn English by just following the phonetics? Speak and read as is written, and write as is spoken and read.

This is the big deal.

Adapt and Adopt Indian English

The educationists and prudes will scoff at the idea of any changes in Queen’s English. First and foremost, they will claim that there is no need to change. It will be termed as an un-wise and un-called for. It will be said that any change in English will be detrimental to the prospects of Indians, as we will end up being the only ones with the changed pronunciations, spellings, grammar etc.

Today, who would be the largest mass of people using English globally? We, Indians. If we are the biggest users, why cannot we make it to our liking and preferences? There is, at least, one more version of English doing the rounds – there is English (UK) and there is English (American). Why cannot we have English (Indian)?

We use every kind of Hinglish words while speaking. All sort of spellings and short forms are a part and parcel of our social media communications. But, when it comes to teaching to our children, we bow our heads to Queen’s English. Why should that be?

How many Indian children are going to read classical literature of the variety written by English-born writers? If Indian children go abroad for further education or work in call-centres, the only two instances wherein the Queen’s English might be required, they are more than capable of learning the different version.

The only issue to Indianizing English is that each region of India will claim to have its own pronunciation, spelling and grammar rules. To be honest, even this is fine. India is a diverse country and each region should have a say in what is taught to their children. The Indian educationists can put up a broad list of changes within which each region can pick and choose.

Focus On Indian Children

As an adult, we accept and live by the norms and the traditions that we are taught in our childhood. We do not question the practice and the routine assuming that this is how things happened in the past, take place in the present and will keep occurring in future. There is no need to suspect or mistrust the obvious. Our needless and foolish deference to British English falls in this category.

It is a hellish experience for Indian children to learn English in its current format. Simply put, it is stupid. Teaching Indian English will make the lives of our children easy and learning enjoyable. Plural of a ship is ships, but the plural of sheep is sheep. There is no fun in telling a child that English is a funny language.

The sooner we have Indian English, better for Indian children, better for India.

What would be your views on this subject?

Please do not start the primary education in mother tongue debate; it is even a bigger disservice to Indian children.

PS: I am a stay-at-home father to six-year-old twin daughters, neither an educationist nor an expert. The above thoughts are an expression of parenting is having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.

Reclaim Open Spaces For Children: Car Parking

Children lack access to open spaces to play, have fun and live their childhood. Everyone agrees that open spaces are important for a wholesome and enriching childhood. But, the key ingredient – open spaces are in short supply. So, what can parents do about it? How can parents help the children to run around and well, be children?

It is a hard task. On the face of it, parents can say that children do not have access to open spaces simply because there aren’t open spaces around. What can they do about it? It is the Government’s responsibility to ensure the availability of open spaces and make it accessible to children. That’s all. The buck is passed and we, as parents, can have the satisfaction of having done our duty.

I also thought like this. What a single person or a group of people can do for a civic amenity? Then, I happen to look around. You also look around wherever you stay. Can you locate the open spaces? Actually, they are right outside your house/below your apartment/round the corner. Ok, they may not be huge but there are open spaces all around us, good enough for children to play and enjoy.

Where and what are these open spaces hiding in plain sight robbing the children of the opportunity to indulge in their childhood? If there are open spaces all around us, why cannot we see them and make it available to our children? Well, these open spaces have been taken up by a certain thing that has come to rule our lives.

Cars

Walk the area surrounding your house/apartment. We may or may not find the trees and bushes, or the stray animals. However, we are sure to find lots and lots of cars. The parked cars, stationary and lying idle, not going anywhere. These cars, in the process of going nowhere, take up lots and lots of open spaces.

All of us are aware that cars are hazardous when they move. Cars cause pollution – air and sound, traffic snarls, road rage, accidents etc. Yes, the cars on their own do not do any of these, the people driving them do. Similarly, when the cars are parked, they don’t do any good either. Again, it is not the matter of the cars per se, but the people owning the cars that create the issues.

A car owner shall not allow any play involving a ball in the vicinity of the parked car. Actually, a car owner shall not allow any play equipment to come near the car for the glasses may get broken.  Even worse, a car owner shall not allow a child to touch the car or even come near for the car may get scratches. Leave aside football/cricket, even tag/hide and seek are not allowed when a car is parked.

The car does not just occupy space as per its dimension/size when parked; it actually occupies space as per the car owner’s whim and fancies to keep the car unscathed. And, this space is much larger than the physical size of the car. After accounting for this mental space of the car owner around her/his car, there aren’t any open spaces left for children to play. Rather, even stand and talk.

Car Parking

One might say that cars are a required evil. But, how can even the parking of cars be evil? Per capita land availability in Indian cities is abysmal and that gets further compounded by cars parked indiscriminately, everywhere and anywhere. Why a dedicated underground parking lot is not considered a mandatory requirement to buy a car?

Some people might get offended by the idea of compulsory underground parking that it is too expensive and not a practical idea. For that matter, aren’t cars pricey enough to deserve a covered and committed parking? Why are cars parked on road-sides like stray animals and they can’t even be shooed away? Be it RWAs or commercial establishments, cars will be chaotically strewn around.

Have you ever tried speaking to a car owner about moving her/his car so that children can play? We try, the responses have been stares and outright indignation. For the car parked in front of our house, the truant owner removes the entity in question mumbling under the breath. For other cars parked in the lane, we are told to mind our business and not disturb the resting place of the prized possession.

If the cars have a utility to be driven, why can’t it be parked unobtrusively when not in use, without trampling upon the right of open spaces for children?

Reclaim open spaces

Imagine the open spaces that would be available for children to play and fool around if there are no cars on the ground except for moving on the roads?

Imagine the sounds of children revelling in joy and banter as compared to the ghastly silence of the parked car. Both of them vie for the same space in India and the car wins outright, as of now.

Along with children, imagine the space available for trees and plants, shrubs and bushes, if not for the idle cars lying around?

All the above and more are possible if we reclaim open spaces for the sake of children from cars.

What are your thoughts about the availability and accessibility of open spaces for children? Have I tried to over-simplify the problem by blaming the cars? What will it take for children to reclaim open spaces that are rightfully theirs?

Asterix And The Chieftain’s Daughter: Parenting Lessons

The latest book in the Asterix series “Asterix And The Chieftain’s Daughter” is full of parenting gems and wisdom. The comic book is as enjoyable as always and the parenting counsels are a pleasant addition. It has been interwoven with the narrative so brilliantly that the reader barely notices them, yet the impact is hard-hitting and remains with the reader much after s/he has completed the story.

The book is about Adrenalin, the teenage daughter of the defeated Gaulish chief Vercingetorix. Julius Caesar wants to capture her. For Adrenalin’s safe-keeping, till they raise an army, her two foster fathers bring her to the little Gaulish village, we know so well. Vitalstatistix orders Asterix and Obelix to keep a watch on Adrenaline. However, the girl, who is a bolter, has other ideas. We are also introduced to Blinix and Selfipix, the teenage sons of Unhygienix and Fulliautomatix.

The above context, which could have been a regular Roman bash-up story, which it is; and in addition the author also gives parenting lessons. Some parenting advice is mentioned explicitly and a few of them are embedded throughout the storyline.

Here we go:
  • Violence won’t get you anywhere with children. Remember, talk and nothing else.
  • The teenage years are a difficult time. Be gentle and don’t upset the kid.
  • It won’t do the parent any good, over-parenting the young like that.
  • The main thing is that the child gets plenty of character.
  • All that really matters is our children’s happiness.

The above is mentioned clearly. The below requires a context and we have plenty of it in our daily lives.

  • Her father told her to resist conquest and to be free, and that’s what she did…in her own way.

The parents can wish and have ambition for their children. The children, in turn, should be free to have their own interpretation. The parents’ desire to having a safe and sound future for their kids can be fulfilled by children in ways and means that parents may not have even imagined. And, that has to be actually fine for parents.

  • I am not wearing girls’ tunics.

Girls do not have to wear pink. Boys do not have to wear blue. The identity is not shaped by what is worn by norms and traditions, but by what is carried by self-belief and conviction. The parents can get bound by gender stereotypes; however, there is no such need for kids to be shackled down to. And, that has to be actually fine for parents.

  • Wherever I go, Alesia breaks out all over again, I can’t take it anymore. / I’m so over people using me and my torc to start wars.

The kids are not the means to further the hostile cause for the warring adults. For that matter, the kids are not the means to further any type of cause for any kind of adults, even well-meaning ones. The children have to be free to choose the cause of their liking, and even not to choose, should they want to. And, that has to be actually fine for parents.

  • Blinix and Selfipix have no interest in their fathers’ battles and vocations. They actually fancy exchanging their trades.

The parents’ task is to give exposure to their kids, enable them to think and act. The parents’ have to facilitate the kids to grow up to be the individuals with their own judgement, identity and application. The kids are not the means to further the parents’ reasons, leave alone the vocation. And, that has to be actually fine for parents.

  • What are the Gauls like? A throwaway society, they consume and then boom, they throw away.

Remember, what is broken is not repaired by people who have been party to it and allowed it to rot to reach its current stage. The adults do not, always, get it right. The kids have a stake in tomorrow’s society and the world for they are going to inherit it. The children may not have a charitable opinion about the social order they are growing up in. And, that has to be actually fine for parents.

I am sure that there are more parenting lessons in “Asterix And The Chieftain’s Daughter” than what I could muster above.

To be honest, it is not easy to imbibe the above lessons in me. As a first step, I have kept the book away from my twin daughters’ reach. They are sure to ask uncomfortable questions about me and my behaviour basis their interpretation of what they read in the book. They have every right to do so. I am doing a soul-searching to arrive at potential answers and show perceptible changes in me. After all, parenting is growing up together.

Never had I thought that apart from the usual dose of fun and laughter, an Asterix comic would have so much to offer in parenting lessons.

Please do read “Asterix And The Chieftain’s Daughter” and share your thoughts.

Open Spaces For Children In India: A Myth

What is the ultimate joy of being a child? What should be the perk of being children? Where and how children get to live their childhood?

Few more questions. What is the most blissful for an adult in watching over children? What is it that delights adults, which a child engages in? For adults, what would be their childhood memories?

These are no trick questions. Think hard. A hint – All the above questions and even more questions that you can think of, similar to the above, has a single answer. Irrespective of who you are, where you are, varied social/economic class, the answer remains the same and yes, again an only answer.

For me, the answer is children in their natural surroundings, exploring, interacting and playing with other children, oblivious of the world around, just being children and having fun. There cannot be any other answer.

A child is not going to remember gadgets and toys, clothes and gifts when s/he grows up. A child is surely not going to recollect when s/he first saw the mobile and the countless mind-numbing screen time s/he had. But, a child is surely going to remember the experiences and the events that s/he has lived through; outside the home and more so, with other children. Come to think of it, these are the memories of your childhood that you still carry with you.

By default, these memories and experiences will have a common thread – open spaces. There is no exact definition of these open spaces. They can be a playground, an empty plot of land, a vacant parking lot, a gully/road with less vehicular traffic, with/without shade, but open nonetheless and also, safe and secure for children to mingle and goof around without adult/parental supervision.

Importance of open spaces for children

Open spaces and children obviously go hand-in-hand. Childhood connotes freedom and being self, uninhibited and natural. What better place to express this, than open spaces? Not just outside the confines of the four walls, but also beyond the endless directives of overbearing parents/adults?

Open spaces expose a child to all kinds of environs and interactions. It gives an opportunity to children for hands-on and experiential learning that no amount of simulated and artificial set-ups can ever do. And, yes it is free of cost, available any time of the day, never stocked out, fresh and novel every time and a lot more.

I can go on and on about the importance of open spaces for children. But I suppose, each one of us is aware of it and that’s not the point. The point is that even though all of us know about the benefits of open spaces for kids, all of us are blissfully unaware about the conspicuous absence of the open spaces, anywhere and everywhere, for children to express themselves.

Where are the open spaces?

Try to recall open spaces for children in any of India’s cities of today. Try harder. Come on, there has to be at least one, hidden somewhere, in the neighbourhood, in the ward/locality, or maybe in the entire city/state/country. Sigh, I cannot find any. You are lucky if you have found one for your child.

Mind you, similar to a spontaneous childhood not amenable to exacting adulthood, open spaces do not fall in the realm of adult understanding.

A playground is not an open space. It is not accessible to children across age-groups/it may not be free. More so, most of the playgrounds have now been taken over for some sort of sports coaching or the other purposes.

A park is not an open space. Do not believe me. Try visiting any large-enough park that is open from dawn to dusk. The trees will be taken over by swarming couples in dire needs of privacy. Surely, they are no places for children to be left alone. A community park is a shared resource between the retirees and children. Retirees do not like to have any kind of disturbance in their eternal chit-chats. The result – children of all ages are driven out from the parks or caged in one corner.

A play-area of a gated community is not an open space. Yes, it is open and accessible, but selectively. It is not within reach of the children of maids and drivers working there, children cutting across social and economic strata. This is a must-have condition of open spaces – kids getting diverse and heterogeneous exposure and not a mono-culture of ivory towers.

Vacant plots and parking lots, empty roads and by-lanes hardly exist in today’s urban India. If they do, they are not safe and secure.

Options, Choices, Future

In such a scenario wherein open spaces for children in India have turned into a mirage, what could be the options, the choices that we could have made and have actually made? What does the present herald about the future of open spaces for children? I have written about this in the second part to the current article. Publishing soon.

What are your thoughts on the open spaces, rather the absence of it, for India’s children?

Reopen Schools And Colleges. Lockdown Everything Non-Essential.

The Government of India has opened up everything in COVID-19 Unlock, except for schools and colleges. The Central Government, which presided over all the aspects of Unlock, has handed over the decision-making for reopening of schools and colleges to the State Governments. They, in turn, are dragging their feet over how and when to reopen schools and colleges.

From the peak of 95,000 + cases, the current daily case-load has dropped below 50,000 cases. Yet, few Governments have dared to reopen schools and colleges. The second wave of COVID-19 infections is expected sometime after Diwali. If schools and colleges do not reopen, now, even when the cases are down by 50% from the peak, reopening has no chance to happen when the cases soar again.

This would mean that almost the entire academic year would be lost for the students in terms of not able to attend schools and colleges for in-person teaching. In such a grim scenario, what could be the option to salvage the situation? Is it possible to ensure that a generation of students does not miss out on the essential learning outcome of an entire year?

I propose: Reopen Schools and Colleges. Lockdown Everything Non-Essential.

The detractors will say that it is a silly/ridiculous/impractical suggestion with no saving grace. As a parent, a citizen and a human being, I am convinced about the feasibility of my suggestion. I argue as given below to support my proposition.

Is Education Essential or Non-Essential?

In the Unlock, the Government of India started reopening essential services in decreasing order of priority. Hence, the iterations of Unlock 1.0 to 5.0. Now, with everything else open and only schools and colleges remaining closed, how is the Central Government viewing the education? Is it essential or non-essential? Surely, it cannot be later.

Let us compare the criticality of education vis-a-vis other sectors already reopened. Restaurants, malls, hotels, theatres, non-essential shops like garments, electronics etc. are open. The public gatherings of all the denominations are allowed. The Bihar state election too got conducted in the middle of the pandemic. How would you rate the importance of all these as compared to education?

In fact, the logic of essential/non-essential can be flipped to gauge the significance of education. The Government considers the education to be of the utmost consequence, that it does not even consider to reopen schools and colleges. By keeping them shut, the Government is admitting that education is the most valued aspect for the country and it cannot be risked.

Everybody agrees that education is vital for the future of the country. Then, why not walk the talk?

Adverse Impact on Economy/Jobs

The critics of the suggestion to shut down everything non-essential, to reopen schools and colleges, will say that the economy will be devastated. They will say that an enormous number of jobs will be lost. They will say that the GDP will contract, the share-market will collapse, the investors’ will lose confidence in the country etc.

Look at the actual picture, as on date. Share-market has regained all the 2020 losses and is inching northwards. The forex reserves of the country are at a record high. The GST collections have crossed the psychological 1 lac crore mark in October. Even with most of Q1 2020-21 lost in a lockdown, the GDP contraction was limited to 24%. As per Government projections, it will turn positive soon.

The Government has announced the Atmanirbhar Bharat package amounting to 10% of the GDP. The RBI has drastically reduced the interest rates. EMI moratorium has been backed up with interest waiver. The Government is so flush with funds; it is going around paying Diwali bonus. With so much going for the economy, it can surely absorb the shock of a few months.

Everybody will agree that the economic losses are transient and the economy will recover, as it has done already. More so, the Government has stepped in to support livelihoods and will keep doing, as the situation demands. However, the learning outcome loss for students cannot be bridged. It is gone forever unless there is a zero academic year.

Nobody Wants a Zero Academic Year

Ramesh Pokhriyal has already said that the Government will not allow a zero academic year. He is right. Not just the Government, the schools and colleges, the parents and most of all, the students do not deserve a zero academic year. Now, if that is out of the question, what should be done about ensuring the learning outcome for all the students?

Please keep out the charade of online learning from the discussion. If quality education can be had from watching the screens, let’s dismantle the schools and colleges. Has online learning ensured that no child is left behind? Is access to online learning been fair and equitable? Has the Government made even any effort in this direction?

BTW, if online learning from home is so effective, the JEE/NEET should have been conducted with students at home. Why should the exams be away from home when the study is fine being at home? The Government would say that this is silly/absurd/impractical. If that is so, so is the step to not own up to reopen schools and colleges.

Everybody will agree that the Government is treating physical attendance in schools and colleges arbitrarily, as it suits its objectives.

Reopen Schools and Colleges

The children have the right to proper education. It is dreadful to rob the children of their chance to excel in future. To make matters worse, the children do not even know what they are losing out on. For sure, no parent would want to see their children get promoted irrespective of the learning outcome.

Is it right to focus on today’s economic gain at the cost of tomorrow’s knowledge loss?

It is time to get our priorities right. Let’s reopen schools and colleges. Lockdown everything non-essential.

PS: European countries did precisely this. In their first COVID-19 lockdown, they started unlocking with educational institutions. Now, in their second lockdown, they are shutting down the rest, but not educational institutions. They know that education is essential and they walk the talk; not shy away unlike our Government and us.

Parenting Is Having An Opinion, Getting Involved And Trying To Better

I have written about LSRW, lockdown for children below 10 years, reopening of schools etc. I have no domain expertise to comment on any of these issues. Such topics are not usually on a parenting blog. However, I do write on these subjects. Why? For me, parenting is also about having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.

Parenting is change

Parenting brings change to parent’s lives. The physical routine changes. The financial calculations change. The priorities change. Most of all, the freedom to do things change. Is that all about the change? There has to be more. Yes, parenting also changes the perspective of looking at the world around us.

Would these changes be limited to the four walls of the house? Would the change be limited to within the family? Then, it cannot be termed as a change. A change has to be universal/complete across all the spheres of life, for the entire being, to classify as a change. The changes brought forth by parenting fall in this realm.

The changes encompass all the aspects of the child’s upbringing. It covers the wide spectrum of subjects till the time child becomes an adult. Whatever is related to the child or whatever the child relates to, either way, is parenting for me and hence, a candidate for change. After all, parenting is growing up together. And, to grow is to change, to change consciously.

An adult cannot change unless s/he has a stake in the new game. To have a stake means to have a view, to have a belief, to stand up for. Once a person has an outlook, a person cannot remain indifferent any more; a person will get drawn in. It is for these reasons that I say parenting is having an opinion and getting involved.

Making the world a better place

A parent wants a future for the child that is better than theirs. Is this future limited to a certain status of academics/finance/social hierarchy etc? The future surely includes all these aspects and hopefully goes beyond, as well. The generations to come will live a more inter-connected life and cannot go on in a bubble/cocoon unaware of the world around them.

We have been polluting our planet and degrading our society as if there is no tomorrow. Climate change is a real existential threat and so is our hatred and extremism. The child of today will be able to live a life tomorrow only if the earth becomes habitable, society becomes tolerant, and mankind becomes kind and accommodative.

How is this going to happen? Leave aside happening, how is this going to even get started? Surely, not only by focusing solely on JEE/NEET but also by working together constructively on all the aspects that affect kids and their childhood. Of course, it goes much beyond and covers all aspects of our adult life on this planet.

This is my interpretation of making the world a better place for children to live and lead a life of purpose. Everybody will have their own version of a change for the better. Everybody’s methodology to achieve change will be different. However, one thing will remain constant for everyone. That is, having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.

Well-intentioned as the only criterion

In this journey to trying to better nobody is a know-all. Everybody learns along the way, by trial and error, by moving back and forth. An only qualifying criterion is a person having an intention to bring about a positive change in the immediate surrounding and the world at large.

Of course, one need not be a parent to have the mind and heart in the right place. But again, it requires having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.

You will not be taken kindly

This is the most difficult and tricky of all. You have formed an opinion, want to get involved and surprise, surprise, you will be snubbed. You collect all the details, apply your mind, come up with a plan and more often than not, the service/product provider would be unreachable for feedback/comments. And if you do get through, they will not take any interest; worse, you will be rebuked for taking the initiative.

Somehow the domain experts in child’s learning seem to think that the parents’ role is limited to paying the fees. Any active involvement further, other than volunteering, is strictly discouraged. The parents are made to believe that their child is in good hands and they have done their parenting duties by handing over the child to them.

This is the scenario that dissuades the parents to play an active role in the day-to-day upbringing and development of their child, apart from the payments and the logistics. This further gets accentuated by the society in denial. Seemingly, there is no need for change. Or, if a change is required at all, change at such a pace that it won’t make any difference to the status quo.

Come to think of it. There is actually no incentive for having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.

The only one that will keep you going is a relentless desire to make tomorrow better than today. I could have learnt this lesson without parenting as well. Nonetheless, now that I have learnt, I have to keep going.

What are your views on having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better?