THERE was a news in leading newspapers that a Collector Anand Kumar’s daughter Gopika is studying in a village primary school at Erode district of Tamil Nadu. The photograph shows the girl sitting on a wooden plank and learning the alphabets. University gold medalist Anand Kumar has also been awarded Silver Medal for path-breaking work in the field of land reforms. Anand Kumar himself did his primary and middle schooling in a village government school.
Without asking him we can say that he also wants his daughter to become an IAS officer or senior officer in any field. It is supposed that on the basis of his experience he knew that studying in a small village school with lesser facilities, children can get lot of practical knowledge of life and society which they cannot get in expensive public schools.
Radha and Radhiya are the two faces of the same name. Radha is learning the art of living in an English medium air-conditioned school. She also learns how to earn her living through the internet by reading books. On the other hand Radhiya still sits under a tree on a wooden plank and writes ka, kha, ga with a limestone stick and recites loudly. Radha learns tables but she cannot memories them. While sitting on the wooden plank Radhiya moves up and down according to the tables, she keeps repeating them loudly in a rhythmic and melodious way. It is not only Radhiya’s song but a group song. The atmosphere around the school echoes with the sound of two-one za two, two-two za four, two-three za six till twenty tens are two hundred.
There is a big burden of books on Radha’s back. But Radhiya’s bag is very light, no tiffin box or water bottle, just one slate and two thin books and no home work. She plays a lot on reaching home. She learns all the household chores like sweeping the floor, fetching water, and making chapatis, serving food to her father and playing with her younger brother, while helping her mother.
When Radha grows up to be a big officer she will not have the knowledge of worldly things like cooking food, looking after the house and so many other useful things. Radha is an only daughter of a rich father. She is like a beautiful flower decorated in the living room of her father with a collection of good books. Radhiya is like wild flower. She plays with her brothers, sisters and friends in open air. She plays in the rain, sings and dances, fights with her siblings, and learning to share things with them. She can face shocking incidents and natural disasters with equal ease. On the other hand eastern breeze sweeps Radha and western breeze withers her.
Collector Anand wants his daughter Gopika to study with the Radhiyas, Ramiyas, Raziyas in the village government school so that she learns the true lessons of life. He wants his daughter to become a capable and successful IAS officer, social worker or professor and therefore, he wants her study in a place where life is like an open book.
I remember, few years back I asked Sri Anant Kumar Hegde, MP from Karnataka, whether he is going to bring his wife and daughter to Delhi. He said, “I want that my daughter should go to village school up to her ten years age. After that I can bring her to Delhi, not now.” I could understand his view and effort. I appreciated his stand.
Shri Anand Kumar is definitely an aware and responsible citizen who has great foresight. He must have realised this during his school days, those children who study in convents or expensive schools lack practical knowledge of life. He must be deriving from his own experiences while making and implementing schemes for the development of women and children and villages in his capacity as Collector. Therefore, he is making his own daughter study in a primary village school.
The difference between school, building, medium and infrastructure is creating a huge gap in the society. Highly educated Radhas have to depend upon many Radhiyas for everything. Radhiyas are self-sufficient, they do not depend upon anybody, but Radhas are. The whole education system is being made fun of.
To remove this wide gap in the society, I had started a unique programme as the Chairperson of Central Social Welfare Board. We had planned an educational tour for 40 girls, where 20 girls from public school and 20 girls from government schools had to stay together, eat together, sing and dance together for 4 days. We did 40 such tours. We tried to mix the girls nicely and when we got the result of the tour they were pleasantly surprising. They were such that they could erase all the differences in the society and spread a feeling of friendship and togetherness and equality. We requested the government to make this a permanent project in curriculum of schools.
It is very essential that Radha and Radhiya sit together and understand each other.
Whenever we remember the incident of Queen of France, we always have a great laugh. According to legend, once during famine, hungry and dying people reached the Queen’s palace. When the Queen tried to find out what happened, her officer remarked that people don’t have bread to eat, they want bread. Quickly the Queen said, “If they don’t have bread, tell them to eat cake.”
It is surely a funny incident, but we have to be alert that future Indian society should not become a laughing stock.
Modern education system is hell bent on making such Radhas who are not aware of their own surroundings. They have food from outside as they are unable to cook food.
Moreover, the Indian officials on higher post who are not aware of the society will not be able to make laws and schemes for the betterment of mankind.
In short, we all should take a positive note from Anand Kumar’s actions. We should fill the gap between the two groups of the society and this is possible only when everybody gets uniform education.
(The author is senior writer and former Chairperson of Central Social Welfare Board.)