Saturday, November 4, 2006

stamped Impressions
Look after childís need, not greed
Reeta Sharma

Tej Kaur Bhullar (right) with her mother
Tej Kaur Bhullar (right) with her mother 

A stark reality stares us in the face about youth in India. We can largely divide the youngsters into three categories. In contrast to the 50 per cent of them who live in utter poverty, 30 per cent have access to unearned and excess money.

Only 20 per cent are pursuing goals in focused and constructive manner, irrespective of the fact whether there have money or not. In fact, there are very few children from this class who have access to unearned money. It is children from this class who are leading a life that is productive.

There is this couple which makes loads of money from a business venture. Their only son has been literally brought up with money. Today he hasnít completed even Class X but the parents arenít worried much about his education as they say that "he is going to inherit our business". Besides showing lack of responsibility, the boy shows no inclination to handle his parentsí empire. His favourite pastime is to hold all-night parties with liquor flowing.

Then there is another family whose two boys have also not completed their education because their parents drilled into them that "seven generations can survive on our land and property".

Youngsters who are fed such assurances often lead a luxurious life sans responsibilities. They are prone to addictions like consumption of liquor and drugs, driving around in luxurious cars often without a licence and breaking traffic rules with glee. If poverty generates ignorance, excess and unearned money generates a class of children who are much more dangerous threat to society than the poor.

What is alarming is that it is the parents who are the real culprits. With so much exposure about such problems in the media it is hard to believe that these parents do not realise that they are destroying their children. The entire blame goes to the parents who have never instilled discipline in their children and made them responsible citizens. They have created a lawless class which has been let loose on society.

Then there are thousands of examples where parents have used money to buy second-rate diplomas and degrees for their very average children from abroad. Those who have failed to reach these insignificant foreign institutions are acquiring similar tags within India from institutions which have no standing.

The scene in rural areas is much worse. Villagers are shackled either by casteism or superstitions. Children in villages suffer from a poor education system or no system at all.

No wonder a majority of children, from rural as well as urban areas, today begins to dream about a glamorous life, whether their parents can afford it or not.

Against this depressing background is a shining example of an 11-year-old girl Tej Kaur Bhullar, daughter of a police officer. Not only is she excellent in studies but she has also come out with a collection of poems, Rhymes of Childhood. She has not only displayed keen observation but also deep sensitivity. Her first poem is on traffic rules in which she speaks of the danger of using mobile phone while driving.

"Mobiles off, seatbelts on, donít worry for a missed call on the phone". Similarly her poem, The Cruel Tsunami, is a childís soulful cry as well as an earnest prayer bidding it bye-bye forever. Her poems depict the innocence of a child, as she talks about nature, animals, other children, parents, siblings, God, her pet, monsoon, Independence Day, etc.

Shy and rather unassuming, Tej says her mother motivated her to write more and more after she chanced upon some of her scribbled poetry on her study table. "I had no idea that I could write poems till my Mom encouraged me. Then my father also began to ask me, ĎHave you written any poem today?í My teachers also published my poems in the schoolís newsletter. How I write I do not know but they just come to my mind," Tej tells hesitantly.

If parents were to take this kind of interest in their children, there is no chance of their going astray. Tej certainly belongs to a well-off family but her parents do not encourage excessive consumerism in children.

"Children who get used to buying expensive goodies or are being showered with them without any pressing need, do not learn to respect money. I make sure that my children get only what they really need. Our major concern is to keep them gainfully occupied," says the proud mother.