Meeting with the futures of India

Posted: September 29, 2013 by Ankur in Writes...
Tags: , ,

Location- somewhere at the back of Chennai central

Passing through hectic streets of Chennai with horrid noises of MTC buses and autos, silly slangy fights infront the TASMAC shops, hotels along the road with hoardings indicating outlandish names, “Samudra view palace” ( though sea shores were miles away), walls with paintings of political leaders riding horses and with swords portraying them as someone not less than super heroes who descended down on the earth as saviors of mankind, food stalls making all attempts to attract customers to sell their stale idlis and steaming sambar and confused tourists dragging big trolleys down the potholed road in search of an affordable lodge, I landed up in a dark alley. That was the land of scrap dealers, hardly visited by any normal person. It was late and most of the shops were closed. But from a distance I saw a feeble light flickering at some corner. I ambled a little distance and saw something interesting which provoked my slow paced steps to gain some speed. I saw a lea n dark complexioned man, may be in his mid forties, hammering a piece of iron plate. Aside him, a small girl was sitting over a pile of card boards, dressed in a sky blue frock, may be her school uniform with few visible patches near her shoulder that had not been mended properly, the plaits of her hair were hanging down and were reciprocating with the movement of her head which played a pendulum infront of a small lamp. I gazed at her for few minutes and discovered that she was studying something and was helping her father too. After her father flattens a plate, she replaced it with next. I went close to her, stooped to know what actually she was reading and found that she was solving numerical from her mathematics book…. I smiled, looked at her for a while but she was not paying much attention. She may have assumed me to be another customer of her father. She kept on solving the numerical, counting with her little fingers, which was a little dark may be because of those rusted iron plates. I felt a little grieved when I saw those tiny fingers which were meant to work with color pencils and color papers toiling with rust and hammers at this tender age. Excited, I asked, “What is your name?” “My name is S.Meena, anna”, she replied with a special childish lilt in her voice. “What’s your ambition, cutie?” She chuckled and lifted her head, eye brows arched and looking up into the sky and replied with a blush, “I want to become a pilot, anna”.

Location- Howrah-Chennai mail

Train had just boarded Visakhapatnam… After a heavy biriyani meal, I was standing near the door to inhale some fresh air that rushes in as the train gathers some momentum, when suddenly my eyes fell on a small magician wearing a tattered white shirt, a brown shorts, a pair of torn school shoes whose sole was opening its mouth every time he took a step, entertaining the entire bogie with his tricks. He made flowers appear from his handkerchief, showered glitters from an empty box, bringing out the same stick unbroken from a pipe which he turned and bend thousand times. After his performance, he went to each seat with a small box expecting mercy and pity for his few beautiful acts that everyone enjoyed. But to my surprise, those people who were watching him a minute ago were all either deep asleep covering their face with newspaper sheets, became busy on phone or hurried into the toilet as if they had just realized that their bladder was going to blast seeing the kid app roaching. He succeeded only in filling the tin box with few coins that made noise, but not enough to fill even quarter of his tummy. Disappointed, he returned to the door and waited for the next station where he could catch another train back to his home. I gave him a ten rupee note but he wasn’t ready to accept it at first. Rather he inquired me if I had seen his performance and accepted the amount only when he was convinced that I watched him from a distance. I was attracted by his attitude and honesty that made me gaze him with more interest. “What is your name Mr. Magician?” “I am Ravi” he replied and soon got busy packing his bag. When I saw few books inside his bag, I started inquiring about him. He said that he is doing his eighth class in a government school in his village. His father serves tea in trains to feed his family which comprises of a diseased mother and four grown up sisters. That helpless father wants the boy to work to earn something for his family. But he was always very interested in studying and even tops in his class. So, everyday he use to go to school in the morning hour and after returning from school, he gets engaged in his work till evening… I was listening to him tight lipped when the train whistled abruptly, as it arrived at a station. All the thoughts that were mounting in my tiny brain imagining about the struggle he had to undergo each day came to a halt. He got down the train and waved me bye…the train roared again, acquiring speed. I shouted out of the running train, “Ravi, what’s your ambition?” “I want to become an IAS officer…..” he replied with confidence, his eyes were sparkling. 

India is a nation where millions of newborn babies meet their doom in some dirty corner of a government hospital due to the lack of attention and medicines which costs more than their father’s entire month wage. Here thousands of kids, though were made to attend the primary schools with the facility of mid-day meals, sleeps starving the whole night waiting till next day to fetch some food. And citizens of tomorrow dwelling in the dank slums, deprived of proper education and guidance not because government policies failed to reach them but because government educational policies do not act as a helping hand to fill the stomachs of their family… They are forced to strive hard for not for better living, just for survival… Work as domestic servants, work as labors in hotels, industries, constructional sites carrying tones of loads on their shoulders which are supposed to carry school bags and lunch boxes.
This is the actual situation of poverty and education in India, entirely different from that which is shown in the movie, “student of the year”. Yes, here thousands of Indian juveniles do compete, not for any student of the year trophy but for food, cloth and education. Here we don’t find masculine figures coming schools in Mercedes with biceps popping out of their tight branded shirts and gorgeous ladies roaming around in bikinis, but we find malnourished lean boys feeling their stomach with the half boiled rice and dal served at school and the young girls fighting hard to a get piece of cloth to cover their body. The actual situation is ghastly. 
In such a gruesome scenario where someone meets kids like Meena and Ravi, trying to lighten a small lamp of dream in a hopeless community, working hard to tear the dark clouds of illiteracy by their sword of wisdom, he is surely going to get addicted with pride, enthusiasm and inspiration.
During my plights through the slums, I have interacted with hundreds of kids living with a dream of becoming doctor, engineer and administrative officers someday, though in empty stomachs. But the question is that
“Till how long will they fight for their dreams with unfilled stomachs?”
“Will Meena and Ravi ever reach their destination?”
… Till the age of ten…twelve or say fifteen…then, then will they be able to continue their higher studies? No, I don’t think so….poverty and hunger will gradually squeeze out all the dreams out of their mind and throw them into the dark lanes of future where they have to fight for a single penny. Few years latter Ravi will be forced by his father to take the job for the whole day leaving his school. After some days he too will forget that he ever attended school and liked to study. His dream of becoming an IAS officer will soon disappear into the foggy horizon of a dark future. And Meena…our aspiring pilot will be forced by her father to marry someone who can take care of her entire family. She will cry, shout and protest but will finally acquiesce to her father’s decision. Just a year after her marriage, our future pilot who wanted to fly high will be pulled down to the earth by the weight of her swollen belly that will be carr ying the desires of a 
self-centered man of this patriarchal society.
Educational policies of the government should include proper attention to the kids and their families. Economical upliftment of their families can drag more juveniles into the schools and make them take education seriously. Along with mid-day meals, provisions for supper should be made; packed cooked food should be given to them at the end of the school time in afternoon. Along with the primary education government should start focusing on higher studies. Though primary education will make difference in their life but helping them to pursue higher studies to fulfill their dreams and come up as skilled professionals in different field is very essential. Primary education can never help them in getting a white collar job that will result in the development of their family status and shaping of the next generation which is going to follow them. If government really wants to make its educational policies effective and bring changes in the long run, it should start working out on higher and professional studies of young Indians rather than imparting only the primary education, enabling them to write their own name to the most and either rendering them unemployed or working as a daily waged labor. 
P.S. let’s take an oath to help millions of kids like Meena and Ravi achieve their goal. Let’s be a part of their struggle. Many of us lead a better standard of living. So we don’t realize how lucky we are because we have everything we want. Graphs and studies show that literacy rate is improving every year. But let’s wake up… let’s start reading between the lines of the study statics. A vow made to help at least one of such kids who lives in optimistic dreams of professional jobs and respectable standard of living, when we start standing in our own legs may give renaissance to another generation. 

Kids like Meena and Ravi always makes me feel that “INDIA IS SHINING”. Hope to meet Pilot Meena and IAS officer Ravi in future…

Amit Singh

International Maritime Academy

  1. NEERAJ RAHI says:

    excellent work

  2. Anand says:

    oh u opened my eyes Mr.Amit .. u r good with ur words…

  3. Eleena says:

    All I can say….I can anticipate ur future..:)

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