Recently, I had the opportunity to interact with our maid. Most of the people in this 'partially civilised country' might think that's not the best person to interact with, but I have my own ways. She is a 32-year-old, lean woman with four kids to her credit. In our interaction, she expressed her desire to educate her children and although she did not say this directly, she wanted me to tutor them. She has two girls and a boy. One girl, Seema(almost 16) assists her in the job and the rest of the children study.
As quoted by her
"Sarkari School Mein Bachho Ko Aise Hi Pass Kar Dete Hain. Meri Beti Saatvi Mein Thi Pichle Saal Par Usse Kuch Nahi Aata Tha. Teesri Class Ki Kitaab Bhi Nahi Padh Paati Theek Se (They promote students to the next class for no reason in government schools. My daughter is in 8th grade but she does not know anything, she can't even read a 3rd-grade textbook.)" This was what our maid told me. It was shocking to know that Rekha, one of her daughters, who studies in 8th standard, cannot read a Hindi textbook prescribed to 3rd standard students. Rekha always used to complain to her mother about the apathy of the teachers in the municipality school, following which, her mother got her admitted to another school which is operated by the state government.
Image courtesy- pinterest.com
The new school, she says is reasonably good for her studies. But the question here is - Hasn't she wasted the six most crucial years of her academic career? How will she cope up? This is not a made up story. It is true in all respects and surprisingly enough. It's ubiquitous! This is the fallacy of our Indian development model. Firstly, the government fails to provide quality education in its schools. Secondly, it uses the card of reservation of 49.9% seats in the central university, further deteriorating the quality of Indian graduates because the people applying from the reserved categories are more or less economically backward and academically, have a poor grasp of the most core and fundamental concepts, just like our maid's daughter. Now just imagine if she applies from the SC/St category and even gets a college in the central university, will any company be willing to recruit her given the fact she is way too far regarding the knowledge of her counterparts?
I am Not Against Reservations, nor am I of the opinion that our maid's daughter should not apply for a college, my point here is - if you improve things at the grass root levels, it will create a more holistic environment for development at the macro level.
The government keeps bragging about encouraging students to study. They give Rs 500 per year for a girl child studying in school. But what is the use of this money if she drops out in the middle just because she couldn't cope up with the studies because of the shortcomings of the system? Corruption also is indeed the principal reason for this painful situation. The Chautala scam where The CM of Madhya Pradesh and his son were accused of selecting teachers against a hefty amount of money. The Mid Day Meal programme - An endeavour to provide the most unhygienic meal on this earth (not to forget rats and the cockroaches) to the future of this partially civilised country are nothing but examples of our miserable situation. Besides, I have this personal problem with the ever expanding military expenditure of countries across the globe. It might look judicious to spend billions of dollars on nuclear power/development programme, but if more than half of our population cannot generate enough funds to survive, then what good are the nuclear weapons for? Well yes, you could always drop one on the Indian Parliament. That would make a judicious use of it. I come from an economic standpoint feel that it is primarily because of people like our maids that our economy is functioning. We can study in government funded universities (like Jamia Milia, Delhi University, etc. are just being). The fee to these universities is around 5k to 10k per year which is less than half of what a law graduate earns as stipend! If these people, the low middle-class income, who constitute more than half of our population, were to hold their savings with themselves and not deposit them with the banks, the market would crash, businesses would go bankrupt and banks would have no money to lend. Likewise, the government treasury would decline(because of an economic slump) and universities like the JNU, DU, Jamia Milia Islamia, GGSIPU, etc, would either stop functioning or would charge a huge fee. This would happen because the so-called low and middle-income class" constitute around 40% of the bank deposit and if you take out 40% liquidity from the market, then may God save our gracious country.
This is precisely why I feel that it is the responsibility of all of us, who are fortunate enough to be born in a family of reasonable means, to repay the society, to educate at least one individual with limited or no education.
This comes with a disclaimer. If you have an urge to go to some random NGO on some random day and click some random photos with innocent looking children who are already undergoing a process of being educated under the aegis of the NGO, then you are just a narcissist (because I know you would post those pictures on facebook and try to project yourself as the next Mother Teresa /Michael Jackson). However, If that desire to illuminate India comes from deep within all of us, I would think, rather I would BELIEVE that INDIA IS CHANGING.