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.
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