A penny for your thoughts, Mr Mahindra

Dear Mr Mahindra

Thank you for reaching out to Shobharam, the dad who cycled 100 km+ over three days so that his son could sit for exams. It is great that your company’s charity wing will take care of his studies.

On your charity Shobharam said, “If a child can study without the worries of roti-kapda-makan, his and the country’s future will be bright.” Fact. His words likely echo that of hundreds of thousands of parents around the country. What his words also seek is perhaps not charity but a government school.

At day’s end, how many children can you, or well-intentioned men like you, reach out to? It must be frustrating because there are hundreds of thousands of fathers who are suffering the same way as Shobharam, post-Covid even more so.

Here’s an idea. How can you make it possible for you to work ON (not with (cronyism), not for (privatisation)) state governments to ensure working schools in villages? Advocacy for up-and-running government schools. Choose a state, and work on the govt of the day, consistently, continuously, till the state resurrects what was once India’s good project: the sarkari school. After all, the men and women who really made the country’s steel structure were all moulded by the government school system.

You know what happens. In the name of a school, a building is built perhaps on 100-days-work funds, and then it sits idle. For rooms don’t make for a school. What does it take for a school to reach a child? Charity is all very well, but when there is a right to education, it should actually be a right and not hang on the chance that a well-meaning individual will step up to the cause.

Simply want to seed a thought. How long can this country depend on charity to educate our children? It’s a faulty patronage system you will agree. From the education cess to the decades-old limp ask to increase outlay for education, little has changed because governments have only ever sought investment from private players to come eat off the pie of schools and colleges: a demand that will never fall in this poor country of the young. In the bargain the government school framework has been all but dismantled.

Shobharam’s young son is a lucky kid that his father was spotted by a reporter and an editor somewhere chose to play up the story. But how many must depend on luck to complete a basic school education?

I repeat Shobharam’s words: , “If a child can study without the worries of roti-kapda-makan, his and the country’s future will be bright.” He speaks for all parents out there. He speaks for the idea of government schools. Think about it?

Regards

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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