Sunday, February 09, 2014

What did I do? The Initiative

Finally after completing my Masters I got a chance to see around and observe how my society looks like. Its not that I did not care about my society earlier, its just that I was waiting for the right time when I would be able to contribute to my society with dedication. I read an article sometime during my bachelor's which said "We provide funds to IITs, NITs and other government colleges so that these sharp minds can develop their skills without spending much and later SERVE THE SOCIETY", I don't remember who wrote that article and today I won't criticize our education system. The fact lies here- The amount I spent in four years of my engineering is almost equal to the amount one spends in a year in a private college. So someone paid for my education, someone invested in me- WHO? (I don't care) but WHY (yes WHY?), I asked myself this question and the lines from that article stuck my mind. It might sound filmy or funny but it is what it is, that's how I felt and that's what I thought.

India has the second largest population in the world and the kind of history my country is associated with, I cannot refrain myself from the fact that there would be problems. Many problems have been solved but plenty of them exists even after more than 60 years of independence. Yeah sure you will now blame the government for it but someone might blame you for choosing that government and that would end up in a never ending BLAME GAME.

I will just quote a small personal experience. Last month I was on Skype with my parents and I saw a young girl (probably 12-13 years old) sweeping the floor of my house who incidentally walked in front of the webcam. I asked my Mom "Who is she?". She replied that the young girl works in the colony and cleans everyone's house. I was curious and I asked the girl "How are you working during the day time? Don't you have to go to your school? Do you even study?", and the girl wasn't expecting this question. She was stuck with silence while my Mom spoke "She studied till class 8th and now she works to earn some income for herself and her family". I thought- Really Mom!! Is that the reason you would give me. I know it was true but I felt disgusted by my Mom saying that without even thinking that she is entertaining child labor. I know she is educated enough to realize that it is wrong but I felt my Mom conveyed the helplessness of that girl. But wait, who is helpless here? My mom? NO! Rather she has a feeling that she is doing good by letting the poor girl work and earn some money. I know money is important but still my Mom was wrong. Being a educated citizen she should not have entertained child labor at the first place. This is what I concluded. What my Mom is doing and several such families do is a CRIMINAL OFFENSE which is not judged by "helplessness".

But who is wrong here? The girl's family is poor, they cannot afford the girl's education and they need money ( yes you might call them helpless here) plus they are not educated enough (or aware enough) to THINK that their child deserves a way better future. I am a kind of person who thinks "What did I do?" and in this case as my parents were the subject, I had a question "What did my parents do?"

Now just keeping that question in my mind, I was reminded of a very similar example. One of my college's senior (Harsh Vardhan Singh), who once made a short movie which was selected in the Cannes Film Festival, used some of the uneducated/poor/underprivileged kids (who belonged to a village/community called "Bihari More" near NIT Durgapur's campus) for his movie. After returning from the Cannes Film Festival in France, he felt guilty of using these kids for his movie. He asked himself "What can I do?" and now he runs a group called BMEP (Bihari More Education Project) through which these poor kids are being educated. BMEP is not any organization or NGO or something, it was just an INITIATIVE of Harsh bhai and his friends and all the volunteers of BMEP (who teach these kids) are students of NIT Durgapur. The novel concept of BMEP was appreciated and encouraged by everyone associated with NIT Durgapur. Now the Alumnus of our college raise funds to provide books+bags+shoes etc to these kids, our college has given the permission to use the classrooms to teach these kids, good students among these kids are being admitted to good schools. A lot of good things are happening through BMEP, and everyone involved (especially the volunteers who are undergraduates and devote their time to teach these kids) is so selfless (NOT HELPLESS).

Now coming back to the girl's scenario working at my home back in India, are my parents really helpless to let that girl sweep my house and do nothing about it? NO, my parents simply did not take any initiative. But what initiatives I am talking about?
1. My parents could approach a school in the locality and ask for her admission. Some schools do have provision of lower fee/no fee for such kids.
2. My parents could have contributed an hour everyday to teach the girl.
3. If money was a hurdle in her education, my parents could have supported her education. (We can spend lakhs of Rupees on jewelery, food, clothes etc but we cannot spend Rs.500 or Rs. 1000 per month to support a child's education. That does not make any sense to me. Not at all).
4. Her parents could be educated/ made aware of the fact that child labor is illegal or in worst case could have been forced to stop it.
5. My parents could have simply thought that this girl also deserves as good a education as they have given to their own daughter.

To bring any change in India is very demotivating because very few would support you. And trust me at times the most difficult things becomes convincing your own parents. "Arrey beta kaha inn chakkaro me padd rhe ho". People plan to save money for next two months to buy a watch/ go on a tour or spend in one form or the other on themselves. I too have such plans for my saving but I have also planned to save for the education of that girl and she will start going to school from the next session :)

By no means I am concentrating on government policies for poor kids or NGOs or anything. By all means my question remains "What did I do?" "What did you do?" and the answer is "Look what BMEP is doing". I am not aware of the scenario of India as a whole, I only see things and people around me, I only see problems and solutions around me, I only learn from my experiences and from people around me. And so I try to do what I am supposed to do rather than bitching about the government or any third party.

The story of the girl I shared applies to so many kids in India and the story of my Mom applies to almost all of us ( the so called educated class of society, the "above average" income families but excluding people like BMEP volunteers). Things does not seem real until you do it, until you TAKE THE INITIATIVE. And things look so simple just after you take the initiative and you feel so good from within. Trust me on that!

I recently started my initiative called "Happy living, Healthy living" for the BMEP kids through which they would be taught the benefits of sanitation and how health creates wealth. I have never been so excited and never felt such satisfaction from within. And let me tell you THE ONLY TOUGH TASK OF MY INITIATIVE WAS TO TAKE THE INITIATIVE.

So the point is, there is solution to every problem but the problem of not finding the solution lies in not taking the initiative. Why can't everyone be his/her own government? Why can't I and you make our own 5 year policies? Why can't we allocate a portion of our funds for the betterment of our society? Why can't I simply try to stop/oppose if something is illegal? Why can't I educate/spread awareness among the people I meet in my day to day life? Why do I just see things happening? Why am I so helpless? DARE TO ASK YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS!!

I support each one teach one. And why not? If I earn Rs. 30,000.00 a month, cant I spend Rs.1000.00 a month on a child's education? If you cannot, then just give me a breakup of where you are spending these Rs.30,000 a month. Ohh well who am I? Why would you share the breakup of your expenses with me? Why would you send Rs.1000.00 on someone you don't know? After all you earned every bit of that money through your hard work and by all means you deserve to spend it on yourself. Isn't it. If your answer is YES then sorry this post was not meant for you and sorry to waste your valuable time. Go and do Facebook my friend, you don't belong here.

Thank you for reading :)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good one Shanky. Keep it up..