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No Country for Young Kids


We as a country have numbed down. The politicians, out of their own wily designs call it a resilient spirit.  They fool us out of their obvious incompetence, and confuse us with a helpless courage with which they credit us. What we are is a citizenry which has lost all hope, and which is as trivial and useless as the leaders that govern it. A soldier was killed in UK and it created a global furor, with the UK PM condemning the incident and the governments across the world coming in solidarity.  The following week six soldiers were killed and we greeted the news with our usual silence. It is not only about the governance, and how far in their incompetence the leaders will go; It is about how far we as citizens will go. The killing of soldier was not only marked by the PM of the country coming in to condemn it and getting visibly engaged right till the funeral. It was also marked by thousands who came out on streets to grieve the dead soldier. We are a dead society led by a dead leadership. We treat things which others across the world find condemnable and worthy of society-wide disgust as usual and then do not seek answers from the leaders.

It is neither our innocence nor our nobility which keeps us quiet. It is our shallow selfishness as a collective which kills us as a nation. On Thursday, my five year old was out to her dance school. She was late to return by thirty minutes, as it turned out, on account of the School Van breaking down. I went out in Pyjamas downstairs to her school, which was walking distance from the residence. I walked with a deep sense of remorse and guilt of not being able to drop her myself to the dance school and an unnerving fear. However, she turned up at the door right then, with her smile and two ponytails, dancing on that beautiful head. My worry, guilt and nervousness were washed away by the sudden sense of relief. My daughter came back, angelic and smiling, but soon I was to learn of twenty three kids who were to never return home from their school.

In the evening, I watched the Television and was hit hard on the consciousness with the News of twenty three kids who died of poisoning of Mid-day Meal served by the government to the kids in the government school.  The midday meal was initiated by TN government, though some say inspired by few schools in Saurashtra, in 1960s later on adopted by many states and mandated for by the Supreme Court in 2001. The scheme essentially provides food to kids when they attend the schools. The schools in turn get the food from the NGOs, many of them being second refuge of scoundrels, the first being politics. The scheme was introduced and let to be run on its own without monitoring and governance. That is where a money-making opportunity was discovered by the people. The relatives of the school authority provided the ration, often of dubious quality which was paid for through government subsidies. The pattern is common across the country without any centralized, well-monitored procurement of food grains and other ration which is used for preparing the food for the poor unsuspecting kids. The scheme has been fraught with scams for long, which included poor quality food, government provided ration being diverted to private traders. The leadership as usual, runs the who hog of insensitivity, from thwarting the well-meaning directives of  courts as interference into policy making, then bound by regulations and stuck in the middle by public visibility implementing it, and thereby claiming the credit for it, and the allowing the scheme  to wither away and ending in a squalid mess by exemplary administrative sloth and disinterest.

We can blame the government and then go again in 2014 voting for the candidates basis the caste and religious waves. Are we such self-centered idiots who are left with no trace of conscience left in our conduct? Our kids do not understand religion or caste, and they are doing before they could understand anything because we understand nothing but religion and caste. We are a decaying society not because of poor governance, but because of our own stupidity which allows this poor governance to propagate. Market surveys show that kids education and kids product are a high potential market. Not because the kids are going to walk into the malls with loads of cash and spend it on themselves, but because we as parents are going to try to provide them with the best that we can provide. But that is about things, what about the country that we are going to provide to our kids when we are long gone? Are we going to let our kids be ignored by the governance, getting them dead, maimed, raped in the country simply because they cannot vote. To protect the young, all living beings bring out all the weapons which nature has made available to them-vote is our weapon, aren’t we going to close our eyes and think of the twenty three dead in Bihar school and Gudiyas of the world and then think of our own kids before approaching the ballot box? Are we going to listen to what the kids with their big, loving eyes ask from us or are we going to listen to the frenzy created by caste-leaders and religious leaders? We owe this to our children. We must remember, to quote Oscar Wilde-“Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.” Will we be forgiven by our children for the world which we leave for them? We embrace our kids closely as we watch the father of a girl breaking down on Television, remembering who his daughter asked for two rupees before going for school and could never return from the school to get it from her father, and we are sad and guilt-ridden with uneasy conscience, but is that enough? For how long do we live with shifting responsibilities and denials? Are we going to demand election manifestos to spell out what plans in concreted framework terms they have for our kids, or are we going to still allow our own fears  and insecurities to dictate our actions?
 

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