Panaji’s school children were in the news recently – for all the wrong reasons.
In a bid to protest against the stink in the Ourem creek, local schools took out a protest march to the Mayors office. In a twist to the situation, some of the children were sent up to the Mayors office and encouraged to dump garbage on the table and chairs there. The local newspapers were there and captured the glee on the young students faces as they made their debut into local politics.
While I share the students enthusiasm for an unexpected session of fun and games, this incident raises several issues:
1. What role were the school authorities playing in this tamasha? The idea for the rally had to originate from the teachers. I can’t imagine 9-10 year olds coming together and plotting a morcha to the Mayors office. What did the teachers have in mind? What was the intended outcome of the rally?
2. Did someone bother to speak to the students about the purpose of the rally? Were the students not chaperoned during this process? If they were accompanied by teachers, how did some of them manage to get to the Mayors office (if this was not part of the plan) and chuck litter and garbage there?
3. If the garbage-in-the-Mayors-office was not pre-planned, where were the teachers when the students were talked into doing this? Who instigated the action (the TOI report says the students were “prodded by a ruling party corporator”)
4. What have the schools done since to ‘educate’ the students? Is this the way a democracy works? Or is this the way we expect ‘lessons’ to be taught – not just to the Mayor but also to the next generation, who are likely to grow up, a la MNS, learning that stone-throwing, damaging public property and using force are the only means of making your voice heard.
Looking at these children (and the fun they’re having), makes me worry about the future. The garbage issue is a matter of concern, but what terrifies me is the garbage that children imbibe everyday, from their teachers, from local news, from television.
Who’s going to raise a stink about this?