Sunday, June 29, 2008

When illiterates Decide What to Teach "100% Literate Kerala"

The Unwanted Controversy
By P.C. Menon

For the last one week or so, the streets of Kerala are agog with the agitation launched by the youth wings of the opposition parties. Khadi clad men run around pelting stones and the policemen make merry with sticks and teargas shells. Broken foreheads, bloodstained shirts, shouting young men fleeing from the police and the men in khaki wielding their wares in self-defense and in counter-attack, all steal the show in the visual media. The ruling and opposition parties blame one another for this calamity.

It all started with the introduction of a text book in the 7th Class for Social Studies. The book is supposed to contain all "modern thoughts" meant to reform the students, according to the Education Minister and the party that supports him; the opposition comes from all those who are not in power – political parties, religious groups, and some social organizations. More are threatening to join the fray. The youth wings of the ruling party are getting ready to defend the Government in their own way. The funny thing is that not many have seen or read the book; those who support or oppose the book generally act on hearsay. Nobody really knows the worth or 'unworthiness' of the book. The struggle will end only when the book is totally withdrawn, if we can believe what the agitators say.

I was fortunate enough to get the first three chapters of the book through internet. I have made a thorough study of the contents and, with my 32 years of teaching experience and more of the political atmosphere existing in Kerala, I am bound to say that this is a thoroughly unwanted controversy. For one thing, the book doesn't fulfill any of the requirements of a teachable text; secondly, the presence of such a book in the State Curriculum in the 7th Standard is not going to make much of a difference in the social atmosphere of Kerala or the academic brilliance of the student. This is especially true because the student is assured of 100% pass up to the 9th standard and in SSLC, one seldom fails! (Little wonder why we can claim to be 100% literate so easily, and then show no sign of it beyond the claim!)

The only effect that this book is likely to bring about is a major tear in the social fabric, a severe breakdown of law and order. Peace in the State will be terribly disturbed as the followers of Gandhi have discarded Sathyagraha and Ahimsa and have taken themselves to the streets; the followers of Marx are already famous for their militancy. Other groups who are more vociferous and villainous have offered to add fuel to the fire. The policy is to go to the street, attack the policemen, get beaten up and complain about police atrocities. How long will this continue and what will be the ultimate fallout? Not even God knows in God's own Country!

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Kerala This Week, Ver 2.02, 2008

I have heard that long ago, a Communist Government in Kerala, under the pretext of fighting feudalism and "muthalalis", declared that all paddy field should be owned by the workers, and went on to divide paddy fields. The result was that agriculture as an industry became very disorganized, failed to succeed in Kerala, and over the years many farmers have committed suicide and paddy fields have largely remained underutilized.

While the politicians continued to capture the heart of the workers by portraying that its all the fault of the rich and affluent farmers and ofcourse the opposition parties, decades later, the current rulers of Kerala are not far away from repeating the same kind of..shall we call it lack of sense? Or inability to govern intelligently? The current state of the farmers and the paddy fields is simplified for you very well here. But ofcourse, its all FOR the sake of the poor and needy people of Kerala.

More recently, our political leaders decided that their hard battles against the "rich and powerful" have yielded great results. Now that the poor are no more poor according to the communists, they have decided to take-over the Golf Club in Trivandrum - the rationale: its time that the sport is not limited to the affluent, and the poor and downtrodden should also get a chance to swing as well. But more importantly, the club will also be an ideal venue to host party meetings and a perfect party spot for district committee leaders and panchayat members to conduct their drinking binges. So why not?. Are we, their donkeys, ever going to protest?.

Well, I guess nobody would have protested, not even the impotent opposition parties, had it not been for the clumsy way in which the golf club take-over was attempted - once again displaying why our political leaders need to have minimum education, even if its just to do something really silly and atrocious.

The other "thing" thats keeping our leaders occupied and the people entertained is the "text-book issue". In their efforts to transform Kerala into a totally communist state, the leaders have decided to revise the state board textbooks and add chapters that highlight communist values, allegedly, so that the "next gen can grow up understanding the values better". But again, due to the lack of education, the guy in charge of executing the work didnt probably understand the difference between communism and communalism. That has set off a series of protests, hartals, battles, etc., between religious leaders, student leaders, and the political maestros of the state. Interestingly, nobody protested when our CM was, again allegedly, caricatured as a "father-figure", once again in a class V text book!

Picture Courtesy: Outlook India

Taking public-private partnership to a new low, the government has decided that we dont need Police in Kerala anymore. Instead the red brigade will administer their version of peace-keeping and ensure lawlessness. Even the commissioner will henceforth work according to their instructions, it seems. This applies to the press as well, while the "saadharankar" can watch and be entertained as usual.

Blaming the weatherman, once again, the electricity department and the KSEB have decided to re-introduce power-cuts in the state again. While the rest of the world has become educated enough to rely less on rains (including neighbours TN who harness even wind energy), 100% literate Kerala, along with its 100% illiterate political clan, are all set for darker days and nights. After all we dont have big factories or industries to run. In fact, the power-cuts will encourage our fastest growing industry - crime and theft.

Overall, we are in for the good times. Ofcourse, we asked for it, right?.

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