Illiteracy and Us

I do not have to mention why I am choosing this topic to let my heart out. Illiteracy has been one of the most devastating devils that challenge India. A nation of many states and a master of many trades, even today, India has not been successful in holding the bastion of “unity in diversity”. This bastion sits on her brow like a burden, causing her decrepit frame shrink, pine and fragment bit by bit. It drives all soul, all courage, all pride and all life, giving her the appearance of someone too old to bear the burden and anxious to pass it on to her progeny. But alas, the progeny is not of one mind. All her progeny has the same goal- glorification of the mother, but all have their own idea of fulfilling this dream.

Let us begin from our most accessible examples, the Delhi School of Economics, which is the pride of Asia. Take a look and you get a glimpse of a magnificent building with great infrastructure that exists to construct great futures. Parts of the building are being renovated every now and then so that the genius brains of our country may have access to everything they need to make a bright career. Everything of value must be at their disposal. And indeed, it is.

But my concern is for the multitude of children loitering over there, children who do not even know what a school is for. These are the children of the daily wage earners who are employed for construction and renovation. Set in the heart of the university area, at easy distance from all good colleges of the University of Delhi, majorly Hindu and St Stephens, the sight of these children with their running noses catches no attention. I need to specify that it attracts attention of neither the teachers, nor the students. One needs to question: How are we portraying our nation to our own citizens and to foreigners? What kind of elitism are we gloating over when we refer to this alma mater, fondly called as D-School?

The reason for selecting this particular example is that we expect the youth of our nation to look after its welfare through a more encompassing glance. All other examples, which are equally embarrassing and equally despicable, might not seem as glaring as this one. One is conscious of the significance of light only when one knows what darkness is like.

This is just one example. Ours is a nation that offers myriad such examples. One only needs to start looking for them and they flood around you in all their unashamed ugliness.

Every year, we read in papers the number of schools being opened and to be opened as election agenda. But the need is to make people know the value of education. The need is to punish all parents who bargain and negotiate the childhood of their children in child labour. The need is not to blame it all on the Government. How much can a Government attend to when the nation is ravaged by terrorism every single minute? The need is to give a wake up call to the ever increasing population.

Let the Government be elected to battle that which we in our own individual way fail to do- battle terrorism. Let us do what we can individually; we can fight illiteracy. It is easier to teach illiterates than maniacs.

There might be few houses today that do not have full time domestic help. With increasing urbanization, everything can be bought. But if we, as responsible and educated youth, encourage such tendencies to become an epidemic tradition under the pretence of advancement, we know where we are heading as a nation. It only amounts to individual achievement and satisfaction. Now, put in contrast to this personal satisfaction, the wrong done to hapless children who work as domestic slaves and gather neither education, nor progress. This damage is not the fault of the Government. I do not say that the Government is all right. It has its own flaws and weaknesses, but it is important to remember that this Government is a body of human beings, prone to human vices. It is not super human being descended from above to make policies for our benefits. It is a large body, so it has a huge bundle of accusations. We, as citizens, are individual family units and we have our own share of responsibilities to fulfil.

Once illiteracy is eradicated, and everybody realizes his rights and duties, there won’t be any need to write such articles and circulate them online. The whole notion of doing this exercise is to target the literates, because illiterates do not have access to these facilities.

Poornima Gulati

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