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As I walked down the streets of the slum where I teach, I saw the live paintings of real India in its rawest form; where a low-income family thrives with five kids; where an LED TV is a higher priority than computers (for kids); where spending money on marriage, property or bike is more important than on education; where the girls are born out of series of unplanned pregnancies in want of a boy-child, and are brought up only to be married off as soon as possible; where the mothers are to bear the babies and cook food; where the boys are mostly involved in local gangs, putting boundaries on their sisters, with no achievements in life and where the fathers are burdened with an endless list of daily expenditures.

I realise that all the articles on “women empowerment and education” that I have been reading and writing so far make no sense to this massive section of the society. To people here, admitting their daughters into a nearby local government school is all that takes to educate them. The mid-day meal and government funds work as a strong incentive for most families for sending their kids to school. The parents are willing to come to school to enquire about the various funds that government gives them based on caste and category, but not to check their child’s progress. After coming back, if at all they go to school, the daughters must participate in household chores. Forget Algebra and Geometry, learning basic addition and subtraction is a devil’s task for them.

Nonetheless, after the commencement of this naked truth, my realization of the importance of the role we play in the society gets even stronger with each passing day. In a country where such a large proportion of our society is still in so much darkness, crimes are bound to happen; bad governments are elected; particles of corruption can smoothly run through the blood of people in power and position; and so much more. It’s like the passive smoking phenomenon in which “the one who shares the air with that of the smoking person, also shares its side effects whether he smokes or not”. So if we want a healthy and safe life for our families, we need to make sure that we are not breathing in an intoxicating air. The implications of illiteracy are larger than life!

And the sooner we realise it, the better! Please leave any comments if you have.



Note – The article was originally featured on Women’s Web.






The abitily to think like that is always a joy to behold


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