Monday, 5 May 2014

Parenting Style - Just Beat It

Somebody gonna get a hurt real bad.
                                                                                             – Parents

India, as a society, is peculiar. Every nation is, for that matter. But here, they range from illogically funny to outrightly strange. It will take a lot of time to delve deeper into explaining the previous statement, not that I don’t have it. So let me keep that as another topic for an article. The guru-shishya (teacher-student) relationship has been a long cherished part of our culture. One more such relationship is that of the parents and their off-springs, the peculiarity being the parenting style of some.

One fine day, I was at home watching one classy episode of Shaktiman on a Saturday afternoon. Suddenly, the TV was switched off and before I could recover from the trauma, I felt a hard blow on my cheeks which left me off balance for a moment. I had taken some extra rupees and bought some temporary tattoos which were a fad in those days. This was the reason I overheard while I lay in my bed, pretending to sleep, sobbing to cover up my guilt and recovering from the traumatizing slap. (To save me some pride, let us assume this was a hypothetical story just written in first person.)

Anyway, what I have tried to highlight here is a very effective and efficient technique employed by a lot of families in the country to keep their children in check during their early moldable childhood. A unique parenting style – just beat it. There is a law or something that prevents Americans from beating their kids. And for me personally, a couple slaps were my sleeping pills in those days.

Based on my observations of a lot of my friends, it is safe to assume this was a widely practiced method to discipline the non-suspecting kids. When a friend didn’t come to play in the evening, we knew exactly why. We observed a minute of silence, out of solidarity, for the fallen soldier. After the customary beating, we were treated with a warm glass of milk by the soft-hearted one in the family but only after an imposed let-me-see-if-he-learnt-his-lesson-first period of time. Guilt-ridden, a soft purring ‘sorry’ was forced out of our mouth and the lost love returned.
The very same principle was applied by the teachers at school until the government came cracking down on capital punishment. I hold a record of my own of being beaten up, in some way or the other, only once although at every school I have been to. Now that I look at those moments, they weren’t any less fun when your friends were alongside you. Itni khushi, itni khushi. I’ve been hit on the knuckles, stood outside in the sun, been barred from the class and other creative punishments, but never without a friend accompanying me :D

‘Go stand in the corner’, ‘stand up and keep standing’ were some of their favorite punishment templates, ready to use. The dreaded wooden scale was their go-to tool for the crime and some idiot always had one at his disposal, just eagerly waiting for the teacher to call out, myself being one sometimes. The wooden dusters were the backup. And I’ve tasted one from my own scale ironically.

I like to think that these physical hits toughened us up, kind of. It provided the teachers with the same thrill serial killers experience maybe. Just maybe. I haven’t been beaten up for quite some time, so it may be out of fashion now, I don’t know. The next generation will be a bunch of weaklings for all I could imagine.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Can An Individual Make A Difference??

I was having my dinner, the usual tasteless hostel food, just shoving the food down the esophagus somehow, convincing myself of its edibility. I overheard this conversation. There was a lot of logic-less mumbling about the political scenario of the country, but the gist is here. It was fascinating.

“I think BJP has a very decent chance to form the government this time around.”
“AAP has a pretty solid principle too. They should be given a chance at the center.”
“Nothing matters man. Congress has been fooling the voters for years. The idiots will vote for them again I am sure.”

These are some very common line of thoughts among an average Indian these days. Even those with no idea of the number of states this country has, participate in debates showing off their intellectual prowess concerning politics and national issues. A decade long Congress supporter backs them. The AAPtards then come forward and count the scams Congress government was involved in during their term. The BJPites then shout out loud the recent debacle AAP government faced in the national capital. Everyone points a finger at everyone. These are the pseudo-intellectuals at work.

Poverty, corruption, education – some of the major issues most political parties base their pre-election manifestoes on. These are brought up in every debate, are part of all contesting candidate’s promises, and are the major points of the current government’s report card. All governments, especially those of the developing nations like India must tend to the said issues.

Let’s, for a moment, assume that the government can’t be expected to deliver on its promises, any government for that matter. In that case, can we, as individuals, contribute positively towards these issues ?? Now, I am skeptical if the answer to this question is a ‘yes’, but it is most certainly not a hopeless ‘no’.

It may surprise you if I tell you that things can be made better by an individual. Yes, just one person per person. Corruption creeps into the system the moment you take out your wallet to bribe the traffic police officer who just pulled you over because you weren’t wearing a helmet. When you offer a candy to a toddler just to make him repeat the newest word he learnt, well that’s corruption, just an adorable version of it however. Ask yourself once, do you really have the right to accuse the government of multi-crore scams when you were involved in your own mini versions of it ??

Poverty in itself is not the root cause to be devoting a huge fraction of the budget to. Unemployment, unbalanced social structure and some factors eventually lead to a person being poor. If someone promises you the eradication of poverty, he’s lying to your face. Just reset the poverty line and you have eradicated poverty, on paper at least. It requires an aggressive approach aimed at the root causes that lead to poverty. On a larger scale, of course, governments are required to implement a well thought plan in place. Providing property rights, extending economic, financial help are some ways to tackle poverty. Instead of offering money to the poor child on the traffic signals, give him a book and teach him something that might actually help him. Help him put up a stall on the roadside and teach him to feed himself. If you do, you’ve just now created a job. Poverty will take care of itself now.

Education is a birth right of every individual. An individual can help just one child acquire basic education, and he has contributed immensely. A lot of NGOs and even some government programs have been implemented for this specific purpose. Approaching these organizations to offer your help and support is one step towards the larger goal.

Bragging about your knowledge of the issue plaguing the nation and not once proposing a way to tackle them, well that does not make you a better citizen. I think it’s time now to take responsibility for the country we all have been neglecting so far. The government will always be there to be blamed.
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