Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Educate to Donate (or vice versa)

      In today's Indian society parents are willing to shell out money for their kid's bright future. And the educational institutions are very much ready to cash in on this opportunity.
      Whether it's Government or non-Government, the institution will make no hesitation in asking money irrespective of their accreditation and status. I remember talking to a school teacher of a well reputed Government aided school in my childhood. Me and some of my friends in our inquisitiveness asked why their school takes donations from parents to which she answered: "I know you little kids want to put everything straight and are very much aware of such things happening but, this is how the system works and nobody can challenge it" ('System' a very important word whose meaning we didn’t understand then in the closed environs of our school but has now become a staple in our day-to-day language). This teacher further pointed out that the aid they get from the authorities is totally spent in the salaries of all the teachers and non-teaching staff. There are no funds left for development, sports activities and other works. Now if this is the case with Government aided institutions then you will very much know how private institutions beat the heat. But this brings up a very important point of 'Does one evil kill another evil?'

      If this is the situation with schools one will wonder what about higher studies? The situation here gets even worse. Those who get admissions based on their marks should consider themselves lucky because if not you got to shell out a hell lot of money. The average medical parent (it is parent not student because it is ‘Baap ka paisa’) spends approx. 30-35 lakhs, the normal engineering parent spends from 2-15 lakhs, a premium engineering parent (aeronautical, petroleum etc.) may spend up to 20 lakhs and for MBA……… you do the guesswork. With the number of graduates coming out of technical colleges increasing to over 7,00,000
 in 2011 from 550,000 in 2010, this is surely a big industry in India.
     Consider a situation wherein the parents of a certain student know that they have to pay donation. The entire family comes to the college together as if they were on a family picnic. Now there are two types of parents:
·         We can spend money type- They have bigger bank balances and will come in a concentrated group of mother, father and sibling. Will be in very decent clothes and either the mother or father will surely be wearing glares. They can spend as much as you ask them and will not shy away from showing their status.
·         We have no other option type- They don’t have higher spending power and will try to do the usual compromise with the admin of the office. They will either be only the father accompanying the student of the entire extended family (cousins, uncles, aunts etc.) with them. They will come in the simplest of clothes and wear little or no ornaments.
      The reception in a college will always guide them towards the admin of the office and students coming for an enquiry for the amount of donation without their parents are not always welcomed. When the parents enter the office and turn around to get their chairs the admin officer will x-ray scan them and estimate how much donation they have to pay within a split second. This is a spontaneous process and they have mastered it really well. The parents will try then to relate and get out every possible ounce of influence to befriend the admin (who can never be fooled). When it is the time for disclosing the amount the very cheerful admin gets dead serious and lowers his /her voice to tell the amount so that unimportant students roaming outside might not get a clue of the price asked. Once a price is finalized the parents say that most unnecessary statement: ‘Sir, please take care of our child. We are leaving him in your care.’ To which the admin smiles and says that he is his own kid and assures them not to worry at all. But in reality the admin and the student actually do not come together on friendly terms for the entire duration of the course and sometimes will fail to recognize each other in case they bump into each other someday. After the meeting you will find the not so rich father in one corner of the college scolding his wife for wearing too much jewelry or his son for opening his mouth for no reason.
      At least now-a-days there is less anxiety due to the fact that you can directly approach the college for donation. A few years ago when everything was done through agents and speaking in the college office about donation was a big taboo knowing that you have been coned of your precious savings was a real heartburn. The word donation itself evokes a lot of humour among students. When students make new friends in college they do ask how much the other got in their entrance exam. If the marks are low they directly ask the other ‘Management? ya 2nd/3rd round?’ If the answer sounds like a good deal they say ‘Sahi re!’ else they tell of a certain cousin who got it done in a much smaller budget. I remember how when I was filling my centralized admission form I had struck a friendship with the guys of another college standing in the line with me. We saw a guy with his father standing outside the line and showing their documents to one of the official after which we started dubbing their every sentence.

      Sir we had contacted you about the admission, remember? Oh, yes! Have you brought the money? Here it is Sir (unzipping the bag and removing out a few docs).Oh shit, Papa! We brought the wrong bag. The bag containing the money is at home. What do you think this is a joke or something? I am an official in so and so college. Now you have to double the amount in donation and that too at my residence up to so and so date.

Donation is really a subject of gossip in colleges and ways to pay it will get hi-tech in a few days. I can imagine a college banner in the street in a few years from now asking you to download their mobile app to pay donation through net-banking. 

      I have told you about the vice in the title of this post. Now let’s check the versa in it. Yes my friends the most important lesson of them all (but which gets least attention) is the art of giving. There is a lot of scope to improve someone’s life if we have the will to do it. Actually it is very difficult to teach grown-ups about charity and let me tell you frankly that I (an unemployed person) have not done much to improve someone’s life. But I do believe that I will do something for the poor in my life-time. Having said this it is still not impossible to teach our kids about charity. I remember how Aamir Khan on his talk show (Satyamev Jayate) had said that when a kid comes home his parents ask him how much he got in his class test. Aamir stressed that instead parents must ask the child if he helped someone in class today, whether he shared his stationary with someone today etc. This inculcates a sense of responsibility towards others and someday may give us new philanthropists. The question of choosing between setting up a hospital or a school for the poor is asked in many talent hunts and beauty pageants to check the inner self of a person. The contestants many a time answer correctly because they have read it somewhere or have Google ed it. But the answer that ‘if you heal people, you heal a few but if you teach a few how to heal, they will heal many’ has a much deeper meaning.
      The ‘Donate to Educate’ scenario I think will continue for a long time to come in India but we can certainly teach our children to ‘Educate to Donate’.

      I hope you liked my views on this particular topic and if after reading it you will ask your kid whom s/he helped  in school today then this post has done what it was written for.

      To end this post on a lite note, here is a hilarious take on tensions taking place due to donation in a future family (this is a video of AIB):

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