Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The last 'obscene' day of school

This is Mumbai - not Bihar!
Std X prelims are over. It's the last day of school - an emotional moment in the life of a 15 year old. As per tradition, kids are inking farewell messages on each other's uniforms. They are doing this outside the school - in a student's building compound.

But the fact that boys and girls 'embraced' each other and wrote messages like 'I love you' and 'I will miss you' apparently irked members of the society where this was happening. They complained to the school authorities, who came rushing and took the kids to the principal's office in a rickshaw.

Principal Ajit Kaul, to punish this 'obscene' behaviour, slapped teenager Bilquis Chhapra. This he admits to - and find nothing wrong with. The girl, on the other hand claims she was dragged by the hair and slapped several times more.

This incident took place last week in suburuban Mumbai - not rural Bihar. It is strange and disturbing to see such a medeival definition of 'obscenity' in a co-ed institution!

Even stranger is the fact that the other parents are siding with the principal and justifying his action! They are demanding Bilquis and her family should apologise. Probably under pressure from the school management.

Thank God the girl's parents appear to be standing by her , at least.

Aapko takleef kya hai?
Honestly I don't see that any offence was committed.
a) The activity took place outside school
b) If the kids had something shady in mind they would have gone to some deserted/ dark corner. Why would they risk being 'caught' hugging in broad daylight in a building compound where some of them lived?

Had girls been writing 'I love you' to each other - no one would have cared. But the fact that boys and girls did so is being made out to be obscene. Hello! 'I love you' does not always mean 'I lust for you' !!

The principal later said he was upset because the students showed 'disrespect to the school uniform'. Well, I remember writing on friends uniforms when we passed out of school - what's the big deal? You're not going to wear it anymore so you write messages and make it something to preserve forever. A sweet memory of your school days.

Lastly, whatever the offence - and I do not even consider this to be one - a school principal is out of bounds when he SLAPS a 15 year old girl.

It is extremely traumatic - and demeaning - for a teenager who has probably never even been slapped by her own parents.

Perhaps he was feeling 'helpless' because school being technically over for the girl he no longer had power over her. The correct thing to do would be to express displeasure and simply summon her parents.

If he really had the students 'best interests' at heart as he claims - at least the man should have spared a thought for the impending board exams. What state of mind will Bilquis be in now? Will she really be able to concentrate on her studies??

Were principals born middle-aged?
I am drawing conclusions based on news reports - perhaps there is more to things than meets the eye.

But one thing's for sure, teachers and principals have completely forgotten what it was like to be young. Many of our educators have serious issues - arising from frustration with their low-paid jobs. They are unable to manage their own low self esteem and resultant anger.

They harbour extremely negative perceptions of everyone and everything around them. Especially yeh aajkal ke bachche (kids these days)

Educators prefer to see students at a superficial level and find them 'oversmart' and 'disrespectful'. And instead of winning their hearts and minds by inspiring and stimulating them, they decide it's time to show 'who's the boss'.

All that does is make young people somewhat fear - and mostly jeer. And the disinterest-defiance cycle continues.

P.S. The biggest irony is that the school where the incident occured is called 'Children Welfare Centre School'. Some welfare!


  1. Ironically for a country that got its independence through non-violent means, we resort to violent displays of emotion when we have to confront something that doesnt fit in our definition of 'right'. Shiv-sena doesnt like Valentines day - they burn and ransack shops. Communal hatred is displayed through riots. Children are taught manners and discipline through slapping and beating.

    This issue of the principal beating the student is just a reflection of that 'taking law into ones hand' mentality. Even our movies reflect this mind-set.

  2. Hi Rashmi

    Me a first time visitor to ur bolog. This z a good post...
    Will visit regularly...

  3. this took me back to my school days, many years back in small town in kumaon hills.
    we were hostellers and were under the gaze of warden and school principals 24 hrs almost.

    i was meted out special treamtment as one of the seniors, hailed from same hometown as mine, had a pretty bad reputation in the eyes of authority. i was constantly picked up for having long hair to wearing jeans.. and my slightly rebelious attitude didnt help either.

    what i have learnt over the period of time is that teaching profession doesnt get the right people. their way of treating children and their outlook on life is so orthodox and narrow that incidents like mumbai school get repeated ( many go unreported). more dangerous issue is that this lot produces more people like themselves, no wonder the rise of fundamentalism and narrow regionalsim is the order of the day.

  4. Wow. This blogspot simply rocks.

  5. it's sad tht principals n teachers are given the liberty to do such stuff...n realli, if the parents don't mind thn y shuld the principal hv any probs?
    it's jst so weird how certain ppl react.
    anyways, well written.

  6. I felt exactly the same when i read about this incident some months ago. Where are the real 'teachers'? Many teachers now-a-days are just frustrated souls who vent their anger on helpless students. I've experienced such things with teachers during college days. One day they're nice and smiling at you, the next day they have a fight at homw with their husbands/wives and the anger comes out all on us!! teachers like this should be fired! And this was a principal! it shows at where we stand where our educational institutions are concerned. we definitely lack infrastucture but at least we can hope to have better human beings surround us during those formative years.

  7. it happens at all levels.

    i got slapped for raising hand and answering one so called difficult question! many more...

    its a question of survival these days...!

    @Educators prefer to see students at a superficial level and ......, they decide it's time to show 'who's the boss'.

  8. Anonymous12:17 PM

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