“When will our young begin to partake in society? In politics? Are they prepared? Or are they indoctrinated?“‘, Usha Pandit asks.
People often ask me: Why are you so political? Aren’t you afraid? You’ll end up in jail. You’ll end up dead. And Imran Khan answered it for me brilliantly when he was elected. He talked of how people took pride in being non political, and argued “gair siyaasi toh jaanwar hote hai! “ I love the animal kingdom analogy.
Should teachers be apolitical? Are higher institutions places for young adults to put their heads down and engage in academic study with no thought of what the political scene out there is? Is politics divorced from their social, economic and academic lives? Are they supposed to vote at 18 without discussion, reflection or awareness? From what sources is the young adult supposed to glean knowledge and wisdom? A sold, biased, enslaved media? I think not. Political study must be a part of a life curriculum in high school in conjunction with history, economics, and ethics. If we wait for a government to introduce this curriculum and bare their own duplicitous nature, it’s going to be a long wait for Godot.
If you have watched Animal Planet, you would be familiar with the wildebeests, the deer or zebras that stand in mute silence and watch the lion tearing one of their own apart. A kick of just 6 hooves would have killed the lion. But they choose to run away or stare in paralysed silence, fearing for their own lives, despite their numbers in thousands. You get the drift….
Democracy was created to give every citizen the reins of leadership and self rule. Aristotle rightly said that the best route to slavery is through selfishness and cowardice. Standing in the birthplace of democracy in Greece a few years ago, I listened to our guide talk of a system of how they picked lots from the entire male population (women’s liberation still needed more struggle) to choose their ruling leaders. They took turns to rule. Those who refused to partake, had to do so on the pain of their lands being confiscated by the state. To think of what we have reduced that egalitarian (patriarchal) Aristotelian vision to, is unbelievable.
When the voices of dissent are considered anti national, when a terrorist bill pronounces you guilty until you prove yourselves innocent, when all you have to do is call a group of people terrorists and muffle all questions, and muzzle all voices, and kills octogenarians in captivity, when a state is put under a cloud of house arrests and curfew indefinitely, when the leaders sell crores of national assets, when NPA is the euphemism to write off lakhs of crores in debt even as the poor farmers owing the bank a few thousands hang themselves, when the State buys super expensive spyware to snoop into its own key citizens, the crime list is endless and we want our youth to be sanitised and become flatlining doctors, engineers, teachers and make fat incomes. Is this the purpose of education? To create weak, self centred, vulnerable citizens, fearful of authority? That exactly is the sub text of what we have been telling them for two decades of their lives with our stance on “pacific neutrality”, no matter what positivity stories we cloak it in.
When will our young begin to partake in society? In politics? Are they prepared? Or are they indoctrinated? By parents, religious leaders, news channels, social media having had no real debates that need data, povs, dissent, historical evidence, study of human psychology and outcomes, consensus building? Or are we so happy they are normal kids who dress up, party, quib, be teeny boppers and steer clear of the “heavy stuff”. Are they supposed to transition miraculously when they get jobs and become thinkers and socially aware crusaders?
Or will they, like the dumb water buffalos be silent, scared, acquiescent, bleating, and ready to take flight…..
So high school teachers and Heads of higher learning out there when you get critical about the state of education and everything else in this country, know you are contributing to its continuity in banality or toxicity in the future even as you get distracted and euphoric over those Board results, school rankings, and by speeches you make as experts on public platforms on reforms.