Monday, November 14, 2005
Thought for Elders on Children's Day
Jawaharlal Nehru was not just the first Prime Minister of India and an erudite, socialist, Anglophile politician; but also had a great fan following among children, much like the current President Abdul Kalam. And, for that reason, his birth anniversary is celebrated in India as Children's Day.
It's a day when children are willingly let into a world where normally the writ of adults run. Thus, in schools and colleges, children swap places with teachers, they sit along side professional radio jockeys and go live on air, they hold centrestage in mock legislature and court proceedings. In short, for one single day, the elders willingly lend their ears, let the kids speak, let them be what they are, or what they want to be.
Most children have whale of a time on Children's Day. They do on other days too; until the fetters fall on their gay abandon; until they are structured subliminally to conform to societal stereotypes -- by, who else, elders. Children's Day, should have its share of heightened level of activities for them, but it's also a day for adults to ponder over their role in shaping children's future. How much of a good role model are we -- more importantly the celebrities and public personalities -- to the children?
Children are easily characterised as "tomorrow's citizens", "the future of the country", etc. But how much of time and effort are we investing in them? More often than not they are taken for granted. "O, they will grow up," is one ubiquitous adult remark about children. Of course, they will, as long as they get something to eat when they are hungry.
Children who are lucky to have the three basic needs -- to be fed, to be clothed and to be housed -- fulfilled, miss two equally important things: 1) caring for their emotional well-being, and 2) plenty of inspiration and role models.
The mind of a child in today's fast-changing world is hardly understood, most importantly by their own parents. Very few children -- blessed though they may be in all basic necessities, comforts and even luxury -- have a rocksolid foundation of good ideals and values in their very own homes. It is on this foundation, the child, when he grows up, falls upon when he is faced with crises, to draw, not just comfort, but resilience to spring back to life. Not surprising, many seemingly well-qualified elders stumble, wobble, collapse and rot away in times of crisis.
Role models, how many we have? And sadly today we have to ask, how genuine are they. For, there have been far too many instances of well-placed personalities and celebrities -- inspirational figures one day but -- stripped off their aura and plummeting to doom -- the next day. With crooks and criminals, in their original garb and also in disguise, abounding in multitudes, for a child to be inspired is a serendipitous chance.
This day belongs to adults to as much as to children. A day for the elders to stop and ponder, while kids make merry.