Jawaharlal Nehru must be a sad man today. Wherever he is.
Over the years since his death, we have celebrated this day with unparalleled gusto, energy and pleasure – because we celebrated not just our first Prime Minister’s birthday but the glory of children – the one fraternity he was most attached to.
Growing up, enjoying festivities in school always made us feel special. A day which was truly ours – that applauded the joys of being a child. A day which promised a future of untouched dreams, of confident achievements, of an environment which made our growth possible.
It was a special day and we savoured it year after year.
Unfortunately, today, I think differently.
What is it that I am guaranteeing for my kids. What is it that I am gifting them as legacy? What is it that I am creating for them. Let’s try and paint a picture.
- Anti-pollution masks to wear to school. That is if they go to school at all.
- Air purifiers to keep them contained in a room.
- No outdoor activities
- Nebulizers to assist in breathing
- Understanding of pollution reading faster than multiplication tables
- Antibiotics and nasal sprays for a healthy growth
- Malls for family outings
- Air-conditioned set ups for dust free settings
- iPad and television as alternatives to running, football and cricket
- Home assignments (because of school closures) rather than class work
- Scare of every other person in visibility
- Bodyguards and maids to tap every minute of their schedule
- Harassment and rape as acceptable vocabulary
- Suspicious thought process which hardly trusts
My mind startles up in irritation as I spike up the above list. Really! Is this the winter I used to look forward to while growing up? Or a childhood that I am a veteran of?
My winter till a few years back was a diverse picture all together –
- Morning walks with my parents
- Cycling on our colony roads
- Athletics day in school
- Enhanced outdoor activities
- Treks from school to nearby locales
- Picnics and educative trips organised by school
- Weekend drives with family
- Eating by the roadside – hot jalebis and dhoklas!
My mind yet again startles up in irritation. I do not wish to continue. It isn’t worth it.
As children’s day approaches – It is this grim situation that we are gifting our kids. A future where even going to school or not gets determined by a message sent at 8 pm a day before by the school authorities. Where activities in school are contained to classrooms!
Welcome to your future, my children.
And as much as I lament and cry, it is me and my kith who are answerable for this mess. I wish we were more aware of what an environment means. I wish we were more responsible when we adopted technology, automobile and automation. I wish we were more cautious when we destroyed greens to build high rise buildings for our luxury. I wish we were more thoughtful when we abandoned all humanity to attack men, women and children. I wish we could envisage what our short-term gain could create for the children we produce.
It is difficult to find immediate solutions – after all, the destruction is massive and very thought through. We let it seep in over many years. Nevertheless, if we begin cohesively and unanimously – some damage can be resurrected.
Till the time, we, the people and the government do not work in tandem to let strict laws come in, very little can be achieved. Number of cars per family, transport pooling, waste management, electricity rationing and secure travel are some concepts that need implementation.
After all, it is always easy to stand and shout in a crowd, but to take actually stand and adopt vigilant practices – is another ball game.
Time to think and act.
Till then – Lets just wish on paper – ‘Happy’ Children’s Day!