Celebrating, what?
Ranjita Biswas | @twfindia | 03 Sep 2018
Celebrating, what?
Did you know India has been independent for 190 years? And all this time you thought this 15 August the country completed 71 years of freedom from the British. Or, that Gandhi’s death anniversary is on October 2. Birth and death – they are a part of life, isn’t it; so how does it matter? Have stomach for more? The last British Viceroy was Lord Canning, not, sorry, Lord Mountbatten. And Mother Teresa was freedom fighter. Laugh or cry?

You can do both because when you laugh too much tears run down your cheeks. BTW, these answers were provided by students of some leading colleges in Kolkata. It was in response to a casual questionnaire put up by an English daily on the eve of 15 August this year. Unintentionally perhaps, they also provided the readers a lot of mirth.


But once the tears of mirth dry up, it is the absurdity that catches up and makes you sad. Is our education system to blame that such basics are out of bounds for most of today’s students? Since the responderswere from higher education institutes in the city, it was even more bewildering. They say that to get into good institutes these days you have to have ‘tuition’ in every subject. So it stops there, the scores the aim? What kind of generation is growing up, ignorant of, or not caring to know, about their own country’s legacy?  You ask around and people of the older generation, teachers, observers of social trends et alcontend that the curriculum mostly does not put emphasis on current socio-cultural history which actually, impacts perceptions of the country they belong toverallo.


Perhaps the rot has been set for quite some time but you do not know because you have become a ‘senior’, out of sync with ‘modern’ times, when celebrating the Independence Day means a holiday for an outing with friends in a popular café or a noisy mall. Or a date perhaps?   Nothing wrong there but not being aware of the whole occasion, the sacrifices of a generation which has made it possible to enjoy this freedom is inexcusable. Whose fault is it? The whole system of so-called education that rotates around getting high marks and obtaining admission into premier institutes? Teaching staff? The ambience at home?    Is it fair to only point fingers at the new generation of students who would rather busy their fingers on the cell phone screen than know all this fuddy-duddy things ?Difficult to answer. But something is definitely wrong that makes the young so disconnected .


I sat, uninvited, in an auditorium of college on College street. Actually it was the sound of music, a combination of drums, chant-like singing that drew me there on way to attend another event. A dance dramawas being enacted. It was beautiful; the women dressed in tasteful, muted earth-colouredsareeswere dancing gracefully, the men were equally impressive in their head gears and dhotis playing the drums and the singing, interspersed with Sanskrit slokas was riveting. And there they were, students of the institute celebrating some annual function –I didn’t know what, dressed to the heel and chatting and giggling and disturbing those who wanted to enjoy the lovely performance. Tentatively I asked a few where the troupe came from- local, or from outside Bengal? Nobody could answer. They were simply not interested. I had to leave for time constraint, though I didn’t want to. I climbed down the steps of the century-old Sanskrit College, once again wondering why things have become like this?