It is result time again and Facebook timelines are flush with congratulatory messages, announcements of new heights conquered, parents made proud, teachers being thanked, etc. Percentages in eighties and low nineties are now average, with only those near a cent percent being celebrated. A teenager who scored 86% was expecting to be met with joy at home but was instead chided for not getting that extra 4 %. Such is the pressure at many homes that children are running away from themselves. Many of them turn into robots to comply with a system that believes in running a formula year after year.
The situation is so grave that Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose to raise the issue in his weekly musing, Mann ki Baat. The problem lies at home, the problem lies in the belief that there is no future beyond a career as engineers, doctors, civil servant, or corporate managers. Aspiring parents who have loved their children unconditionally till the time they learn to walk suddenly turn into monsters who are to be pleased only and only with grades and school. Thankfully, there are parents who understand about the joy of living and not always believe in putting their hildren through a pressure cooker but they are few and far between.
The scorching streets of Kota in Rajasthan bear testimony to the heartless ambitions that drive a two thousand crore tuition industry. Tutors are given rights to judge, shame and reject young minds who lack the emotional intelligence to understand the environment they are in. Over 70 children have killed themselves unable to take the pressure. A bright 17-year- old became another statistic when she jumped off the fifth floor of a residential building. In a five-page suicide note, she apologized to her parents for not living up to their expectations. Among the thousands lauding academic excellence, only few stand out to say it’s alright not to know the Pythagorean Theorem. The mind of the young sometimes shuts down under pressure. They feel alone in a crowd when challenged, an unkind word will make them run miles away. Their hearts and minds are still undergoing change and are vulnerable to the ripples outside. Most learn to live under pressure turn into tiny commandos of life, yet at the very opportunity they fly! This maybe explains the flights from our exalted IIT’s and medical colleges.
The new government of Assam and the new chief minister, Sarbananda Sonowal – who also got a mention in the Prime Minister’s Maan ki baat, where the education crisis was talked about – must rise up and understand the problem the young minds are going through. His leadership is essential to diffusing the pressure cooker situation that is a reality of today. He promises thousands of more jobs, but these will not necessarily be the kind ambitious parents are looking for. But would he care to create opportunities for the ones who are less inclined to academics? Will tourism take off? Will IT infrastructure improve? Will there be peace to foster cultural growth so that we see musicians, dancers, writers take wings? Will opportunities that one is truly passionate about take off? There are too many questions but answers never readymade. They never will be till each house, each parent decides to look within and answer.
Karma Paljor is Business Editor, CNN IBN