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Cultivating indifference

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Usman, 34, shared his dismay in a group of his childhood friends. All of his friends were young parents who more or less faced the same ordeal. It was his son’s 5th birthday, but the unofficial correspondence from his class teacher to his parents was that they were supposed to bring a cake for 30 people and goody bags to be distributed by Usman’s son among his classmates. Usman, who was already finding it difficult to meet both ends after getting his son admitted to one of the mainstream and high-end schools of the city, had no idea about such masked expenditures beforehand. For a respectable, salaried person who would religiously maintain an excel sheet on his smart phone to record all his monthly expenses, keeping aside some for his son’s birthday with family, it was impossible for him to find any money left with him at the end of the month to meet the school’s demand as he had never accounted for this expenditure. To add to his misery,Usman’s wife found it a necessity to be fulfilled as it would make them feel acceptable among other parents and school teachers who belonged from the economic strata higher to them. Usman, now, feared a backlash from his wife and his son’s class teacher, if he narrated his inability to keep aside any amount, for this year.
It has become a norm at many schools that a child is made to celebrate his/her birthday with his/her class fellows while handing them a goody bag each, sometimes including a toy and eatables along with a cake to celebrate the occasion. We witness a number of children asking their parents to improve the quality or number of such toys as their other classmates gave something else which was way better than what his/her parents are planning or intend to buy. This exercise generates a mindset of negative competition and raises the unwanted standard bar within the classroom. The parents who may not be able to meet such extravagant expenses along with the already hefty fees may unknowingly instigate development of a depressed child who feels left out by his own parents causing him shame and distress while facing other children. This can even promote the child psychological issues. It may also give rise to polarization of attitude in the child who feels neglected; giving way to a submissive, depressed child or a frustrated, stubborn and angry child on the contrary. Schools should curb such actions of indifference within their premises by making rules against it, rather than promoting it and teachers asking children to do better than others! It becomes a race just comparable to the Pharmaceutical gifting for Doctors where after a very basic stage; companies go to every extent with their unethical activities to outdo others.
The core objective of the school uniform is not earning money for schools but creating discipline, homogeneity and generalized attire for the entire school, so that students may not judge each other on the basis of their clothes brands and their fabric quality but rather on their interaction, academic accolades and sporting skills. In birthdays, a generalized one/two toffee(s) can be enough. Similarly, generalized inexpensive pens and pencil boxes, bags, tiffin and water bottles, but in different colour schemes, that meet basic necessity requirements, and yet are easily affordable for every parent, can be made mandatory by schools to generate generalization rather than allowing expensive fancy stuff cultivating indifference in budding minds of the children and more dangerously accommodation of such ideas in the already developed thought process of their parents who may be having low self-esteem and inferiority complex from the outset and become victim of such exploitation.