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July 3, 2009

Taarein Zameen Par?

Filed under: education, nature, personal, social change, times of india — neosurya @ 09:39

Our media is weird – on one end, it says that failure to succeed should not be considered as failure in life. At the other end, it encourages lack of responsibility. I will use a movie and a news article as an example, though my rant is about media in general.

Many folks consider the movie Taarein Zameen Par to have opened the eyes of parents towards  proper rearing of children, and in general how society should be tolerant in its measure of skill. But even in this movie, the boy Ishaan had to “win” a painting competition to become truly accepted by everyone. Some of my friends tell me “This is a movie.”,  “The masala has to be there for the message to go across”, “The movie has to run”. Unfortunately, this is the problem. If a movie would not succeed if it showed a failing hero, a real life individual has no chance. Fact remains that in India, every real-life individual has to win to survive.

And, this expectation of society for successful people is not wrong. Each society defines a guiding standard in order to distribute its resources. For example, there is a price for every product – the good items are expensive and the ordinary ones are cheap. This is not just true of our times, it is true across history. History never had a time where lack of hard work kept you materially rich.

A problem arises when sections of the same society insist on largesse. I recently saw this article in the Times of India (3rd page, Bangalore edition, July 3 2009) about a student who had consumed poison because he was to appear before a disciplinary committee. The article headline says: “a scared and sensitive youth, had been warned earlier, but continued with his reckless ways“. This fellow was a student leader and accused of drinking alcohol on the college campus thrice. I fail to understand how he could be sensitive and scared. Adamant would be a better word. Drinking on campus is also encouraged by most movies I have seen recently, including the incredibly successful “3 Idiots”.

An excerpt from the article:

Education has become a commercial commodity. Neither the giver or receiver of the information is emotionally attached to each. It has become very robotic how we relate to each other in an educational institution. What we need is emotional attachment. Teachers should make an effort to get emotionally attached to the student and vice-versa. Otherwise, it becomes very mechanical. Teachers would think, he is just there because he is paid and student because he has paid for the education, so he can get away with anything. When it comes to suicide, it must be triggered by an over-arching reason. Besides the stress faced in college, the student may have also been going through family problems, and all his pent-up emotions may have triggered the chain of events.


He should have been counselled first. It should not have gone to the extent where he committed suicide. Maybe he had the impression he was going to be dismissed, that’s why the extreme step. What happened was inhuman and too big a price to pay for such a petty offence.

So, if education should not be a commodity, will you be OK if one is not guaranteed to get a job after the education? If education should be also responsible for handling family problems, who would pay for such education? These are questions the popular media chooses to conveniently ignore. A few salient aspects:

  1. Education has been diluted to such an extent that almost every tom, dick and harry can get a degree without batting an eye.
  2. It is becoming very popular to demand guarantees for everything without taking responsibilities: jobs for everyone without hard work, education for everyone without fee, security for everyone but no sense of discipline.
  3. Dilution of individual capacity to work hard and succeed. A “system” should not provide anything beyond allowing you to work to the best of your potential.

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