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I was transferred to another place that year. I had become quite attached to the school and the place; I shared good relations with the teachers and the principal. Nevertheless, I was quite happy to be transferred; I would no longer have to deal with Suryaprakash.
The boys organized a send-off party for me, and all of them accompanied me to the railway station to bid me goodbye. Their eyes were moist; I too could not stop the flood of tears gushing out of my eyes. Suddenly I caught sight of Suryaprakash; he was standing behind the other boys and appeared shame-faced. I thought his eyes were also moist. I wanted to go to him and give him some last words of advice. Perhaps he too wanted to say something to me. But neither did I go to him nor did he approach me; I regretted this for a long time to come. His hesitation was understandable but my obstinacy was unpardonable. In that state of sadness, a few words of comfort from me, perhaps, would have touched his heart. But, then, life is all about lost moments.
The train started with a jerk; the boys kept pace with the slow-moving train for a while. I thrust my head out of the window and saw them waving their handkerchiefs. As the train gained speed, the boys disappeared from my sight one by one, but I could still see a lone figure standing on the platform. I guessed it was Suryaprakash. My heart, like some uneasy prisoner, squirmed and struggled to rush to him and embrace him after breaking all barriers of disgust, hatred, and indifference.
The new place and new responsibilities soon vied for my attention and the past became almost a blur. Neither did I receive any letters nor did I send any. I suppose that is the law of nature; how long can the greenery left behind by the rains, last?
By chance it so happened I got an opportunity to pursue higher studies in England. I spent three years there and returned to become the principal of a college. I had developed good relations with the education minister. He, however, did not concern himself with the finer details of the education sector and was therefore only too glad to shift all responsibilities on me when I arrived. He rode the horse, but it was I who held the reins.
I held radical views about the education sector; this caused the minister's political rivals to oppose me, and I found myself at the wrong end of allegations and hate campaigns. As a matter of principle, I am against compulsory education. I strongly believe that a person should have complete freedom to choose a course of action that affects his own life. I think there is no need for compulsory education in India. It may be necessary for Europe where parents, owing to corporeal necessities, force their children to start working from a tender age. On the other hand, there is a spiritual simplicity in Indian life. Indian parents will not force their children to work unless circumstances make them helpless. Even the poor Indian labourer recognizes the importance of education. He wants his children to be educated; not because education will empower them, but because learning is the crowning jewel of human morality. In case the Indian labourer does not send his children to school, then you may be sure he is utterly helpless. I do not think it would be fair if, under such circumstances, the law makes unnecessary demands on him. There is another reason why I am against compulsory education. I feel there are not enough competent teachers in India at present. You cannot expect ill-paid teachers to set any high ideals before the students. At most, the children after four-five years will learn the alphabet. Children can learn the alphabet within a month when they grow up. I can say from experience that we can amass a huge store of knowledge within just a month in our youth, which we will not be able to acquire even in three years during our childhood. Why, then, should a child be kept confined in a classroom? The child can learn much better from nature outside the classroom while breathing the pure air. By confining the child in a classroom you are only stunting both his physical and mental growth.
The minister, inspired by my reasoning, opposed the implementation of compulsory education; as a result, the proposal was rejected. This however led to personal allegations being leveled at me. I was labelled as an "enemy of progress", "traitor" and "slave of bureaucracy".
Some useful links for
- Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
- IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
- Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
- Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
- Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
- Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
- IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
- Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
- Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
- Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
- Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
- Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
- Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu