Monday, July 02, 2007

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke

Once in a while, an event of such significance and rarity happens in Kerala that turns the tide on our problems and deserves our appreciation. And today, I salute the parents of the students at Sacred Hearts College at Thevara. Of late, we have criticized ourselves for losing our nerve against hartal strikers, head load workers, militants and generally goons. In this light, the few that brave their bodies, swallow their fears and face these violent elements are heroes for the rest of us. In yesterday's incident, several parents banded together and fought off student activists who were intent on disrupting the students' entrance examination at Sacred Hearts College. This show of strength highlights several welcome developments.

First, violence is being shown the door. The attitude that political change must come at whatever cost, even if the cost includes our children's education, is slowly seeing its end. For those of us who lament that such incidents are isolated to good schools run by progressive managements, I say, so be it! And that leads to my second point.

Keralites are quickly realizing that quality education comes at a price. And that's a price that people are willing to defend, physically if necessary. There is a world of difference between a degree from a private insititution and a public institution and people are paying up for that difference. This is a welcome change from the days when government schools beset with campus politics and often-postponed exams were the only option, even for people with money to spend. After all, what was the sense in providing free education to people who would fork out millions on weddings but cringe at the sight of college fees?

Sacred Hearts College has been a pioneer in many respects; it is one of the few educational institutions that has been covered by the media for its efforts to tackle student activism. And it is extraordinary in a landscape pitted with mediocre establishments simply because it stood up for itself. That's all it often takes to provide a quality education.

As a non-resident Keralite, I have long had a dream of returning to Kerala. Many have called me idealistic. Many have called me naïve. Yet, incidents like these show me that there are others out there and of all places, in Kerala itself, who appreciate the value of education and want to raise their children in a healthy society. If we band together, there's nothing any goon can do to prevent us from seeking the best in life. And that is what any democracy should aspire for its people - the freedom to pursue happiness. Ironically, that is the viplovam, the revolution, the people's movement that Kerala's leaders have missed for its people till date.

P.S. Are you a student, parent, alumni, teacher or administrator at Sacred Hearts College at Thevara? Share your thoughts.


PCM said...

Well done. You have highlighted a news item that appeared in the smallest letters in the newspapers. What the parents did is the NEED OF THE DAY.
Generally, these strikes and demonstrations go down as irresistible evil simply because of the callousness of the public. The attitude of "why should I interfere?" allows these goons to have their way. Strikes, wherever they are enacted, are found as a convenient device to shirk one's own duty for the time being. I mean, in schools, colleges and offices the employees enjoy it as a 'lucky holiday'.
Education, as you said, comes with a price. Whatever comes free has no value. Those thousands of students who go out of Kerala seeking better educational facilities must be praying within their heart to have such facilities in Kerala. The Government also should realize that money spent on children's education outside Kerala is money lost to the State.
After all, no one craves for a professional degree purely to serve the people. Those who get admissions in the FREE Quota also bargain in the marriage market and look forward to 'extra money' in the profession.
The scenario, now in Kerala after the negotiations with the Managements, appears to auger well for professional education. The Govt. gets its quota, the mgmts get their money through selling 50% seats. Let's hope things are turning in the right direction.

abhishek said...

Thank you professor. I am surprised why this issue doesn't receive more attention in the papers. These parents have done what most are afraid to do.
But this is a good beginning. If I had to guess, colleges like Sacred Heart will grow into outstanding institutions for the nation. It certainly has the potential.
I keep hearing about how religious and political leaders talk about how our present day education does not include the teaching of "values" a.k.a. dressing properly. Instead of focusing on something as frivolous as the Kerala youth's clothing, we should be teaching them to stand up for themselves and grow some backbone.

PCM said...

Please don't be over-enthusiastic and over-confident. This is perhaps the first rebuff that the Party got, and they will soon find ways and means to circumvent this. They will start raging against the religion, community and what not. The parents have at least their decency to lose, which the youth wings haven't.

andy said...

This initiative of parents is an overdue recognition of several things including the existence of a world outside Kerala. As a non-resident Keralite, I too share your pain. I have however given up the vision of ever going to Kerala for "settling down" after understanding first hand from my daughter (who relocated there post marriage) the prevailing situation. There is no scope for any quality employment or career prospects in Kerala for our children at present or in the forseeable future. The politicians are short sighted and spent time fighting Coca Cola and such futile battles.

There is a price to be paid for all good things in life and the most precious being education. This is still not realised in India. Even Supreme Court has said that educations should not be viewed from profit motive etc. How can we expect the cream of the country's youth to go for education as a career if that does not give you a good living. For e.g. does an IIM professor get even half what a IIM fresher gets in his first employment. These contradictions need to be ironed out.

Bobby said...

The problem that we have in our country is that our politicians who make the 'golden rules' are not educated. They will never un derstand the value of education because all they need is power and for them power came without education. "knowledge is power' for many of us, but not our government. We have a highly educated president who is struggling to make a difference!
There are not many good schools, but we defenitely have ( had) many good teachers. If we want our kids to do well, these good teachers must stay. Violence and threats have driven many off....

PCM said...

bobby's comment brings us to another facet of the issue. First, the creed of dedicated teachers is about to be an extinct variety. Once upon a time there used to be teachers who never bothered about their salary. They considered imparting education a noble profession. But now, the situation is that most educational institutions are not capable of attracting talent in the profession of teaching. The reason is that it is not lucrative, as many other professions are. If a person is really good, he will get a job that reaps money. Only mediocre talents who are not good enough in a job will come to the teaching profession, in the absence of anything else.
Secondly, the excessive overbearing arrogance of the uneducated in the field of Education is destroying the supremacy that Kerala once had in the field. The uncultured illiterate boys of the youth wings decide what is best; the ministry has to toe the line.The culture of the Left parties opposing all private investments - in education, public health, real estate, retail business, consumer products, building infrastructure, etc. - is soon going to take the toll in Kerala to bring down whatever the State has achieved.
The fate of Patibel and the recent obstruction to levying toll on the newly constructed overbridges are classic examples of the crowd taking over and blocking all progress.

Here you will find said...

I am not a student, parent, alumni, teacher or administrator at Sacred Hearts College but what you make reference to on this post is a universal concern (admittedly with an assortment of shades). Thanks for this! :0)

abhishek said...

"There is no scope for any quality employment or career prospects in Kerala for our children at present or in the forseeable future."

I think that is a valid sentiment to have when you look at the level of violence in Kerala. Yet, I believe we're missing something. As Mosilager pointed out in another post, "Where did our backbone go?" Of course, it's somewhat convenient to say this while I live and work outside Kerala. But, I wonder why there has been no imaginative solution to this issue. There has to be a way around these problems out there. This blog is partly targetted at finding those answers.

wanderlust said...

I am not related to Sacred Heart in anyway, but am really glad to know that something of this sort happened there. Thanks for letting us know.
At the same time, I wonder why none of the newspapers gave it much coverage. When there is a disruption, there is enough and more hype about it. Such things need to be highlighted more.
As a professional who has been in Kerala throughout, sometimes I feel the scenario is changing slowly and steadily. But we have miles to go.
If our generation can impart these values and aspirations to our children, instead trying to change the mindset of these senile politicians, our state would surely go a long way. Having said that, if you ask me, i'd rather my kids studied outside Kerala :-)

Smrithi said...

Kudos to Abhishek!! Awesome article!!

shruti said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
shruti said...

Hi Abhishek ..A very nice read . Its true that only some stand up for what everyone of us should stand up for and then although they get idolised for it I sometimes wonder whether the message that they are trying to send to humanity is getting across at all , sometimes even at the cost of their lives .

I do beleive that in some small way every little thing helps and one should do his bit without fretting whether he/ she will be able to impact the change at the scale they wanted . Failure is actually not trying at all and letting things be the way they are because of that voice of false reasoning that says what can we possibily do? ..we are too small in the scheme of things .

In order for world , humanity and india to progress it should be our endeavour to go back to our roots or whereever we feel comfortable and try to set things right . Its a chain reaction which generally takes place where the efforts of one generation or individuals are reaped by those who come after them but one plugging of a gap can prevent the pipe from leaking for so many futures to come as well as set an example in history to inspire the generations to come .

Idealism is a very abused word and is critised because we look at personal gain and not in terms of the gain of humans and humanity .
Lets each of us ask ourselves what did I do today to make the world a better place and however dark it seems I will never give up because for me failure doesnt exist , it is not seeing things in the right light .

Anonymous said...


I am basically from kerala now running a company at BNAGALORE. I love my state, but alas,,, it will never develop because of the following fundamental reasons.

1.Most maayalees are negative thinking maiacs,who find fault with everything, dont work and enjoy when their fellow beings are facing trouble.

2.Malayalees are people with severe work attitude problems, they will not allow any industry or develoipmental work to happen in the state at any cost.

3.Malayalee love corrupt and evil people and support those who destroy. The political parties, other NGOs who strike almost daily are the reflection of the same.

4.Malaylee is self hypocrite, non-trustworthy and ego maniac, a small elevation in position will inflate his ego so high that he creates a strong wall of negative thinking around him.

5.Malayalee will cheat. This is proven all over the world. Many places in India and gulf don't prefer malaylees because of this.

6.Malayalees are sexually perverted people.It is a fashion now in Kerala to have extramarital affairs in families secretly...

7.Malayalee will never deleop because of unlimited strikes and bandhs. There is not a single day in Kerala without strike and bandh.

8. I personally request forward thing thinking people to get out from this nasty place so that you can make a career and don't end up as negative thinking moron of future.

From a Truth Teller of Kerala

Malayalam writers said...

This is really nice post. politics is so deep in the blood of keralites. sometimes (very often) it goes like madness.

Jyothi Rajan said...

Dear Anonymous,

I was going through your (rather intense) disapproval of Keralites and I was struck by how much you had in common with the points that you listed out(and with your obvious lack of grasp of basic spellings. Its Bangalore for heaven's sake!!And I shudder to think about the 3 different spellings for Malayalis, not even one of them correct).

1. You proved that you yourself are a negative thinker with the belief that most Keralites are negative thinking maniacs. You obviously spent your time to list down their numerous faults. So I believe your not quite averse to finding others faults as well.

2,4 and 5. Having been born and brought up almost entirely in the U.A.E. I know for a fact that Keralites are the most preferred employees there. How else could you explain the fact that a major chunk of Indian emigrants there consists of Keralites. And if you could rack up your brain a bit(a seemingly impossible task in your case) you would be able to recall that one of the greatest Indian Presidents was an honest and down-to-earth Keralite who went by the name of K.R. Narayan.

6. Keralites are sexually perverted people???And it is the fashion in Kerala to have extra-marital affairs???!I really don't know which magazine you are subscribing to but I advice you to get it revoked. Extra-marital affairs and sexual delinquencies are not confined to any particular state or religion.

7.Not a single day without strikes and bandhs! Really?!!!I think you should come out with your own book of facts!!

Whether you read this comment or not, I hope the others who have visited this forum will think twice before taking your comments at face value. They were nothing more than the unintelligent babble of a person without the ability of rational thought. Kerala, like all other places has both its good and bad sides. But if we residents ourselves become so disheartened and dismissive can this state honestly get better? There are always a 1000 people to be negative. But the winners are the ones who chase the rainbow till the very end to find the hidden treasure. I hope that I've been able to satisfactorily answer Mr. Anonymous.

Terms of Use and Disclaimer