I was waiting in queue thinking Plato’s warning – if you don’t vote; you’ll be governed by idiots. Aristotle believed that the most intelligent men should rule a nation. And I was determined to franchise democratic right for our republic. It has always been pleasure of participating on polling day but there is another reason why I like it so much. While I queued for my turn at the booth, an old isolated signboard caught my attention that indicating ESTD 1890 which I’ve never heeded so far. It’s my mom’s school.
I’m proud to be a pupil of that primary and my mother was a teacher where I grow up. What makes me love and call it as mom’s school my home. Ever since I stepped foot as one year toddler, I stood behind my mother’s chair. My mom said, I opposed to sit in the class and I completed two classes within a year from mother as my class teacher. There was a big hall accompanying all five classes in one. I loved to watch my friend from the top of the platform and simultaneously my classmates enjoyed talking with me from a distant.
When the world thinks of ancient Greece, they think right away of Athens. The great philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were Athenian. The feudal oppression towards peasants by aristocratic families was most evil. In 594 BC, the statesman Solon could finally bring peace and drafted a constitution where population divided into four classes based entirely on economic front. After a difficult transition, the world’s first democracy was established under Cleisthenes in 507 BC when he decried all free adult male to permit vote but the large numbers from slave to foreigners were not permitted.
Slavery outlawed from America only in mid 19th century. Surprisingly women didn’t give vote during Victorian period. Greeks defeated Persian invasion in 490 BC where a messenger Pheidippides ran 26 miles (the sport of marathon running!) to Athens to carry the victory news. The Persian war seemed like a piece of history but the second defeat of Persian Emperor Xerxes in 481 BC allowed the Greek adventure for the next two millennia in Europe and the Mediterranean. Democracy in India is a gift of the British rulers; we received today.
The morning sunshine brightened the polling booth. I lazily moved around the field and walked sleepily over the stems and spikes of small wild-pollinated flowers that spread over predominantly. The air was still filled with strong sense of my early childhood days. The vegetation are acquainted with me and seemed greatly cheered of my arrival. While waiting in queue I went back to school days. Memorising the multiplication table under the mango tree was lot of fun where I made friendship that last a life time. They were no 17th century “aha moment” from falling apple whilst Isaac Newton discovered the Law of gravity, we discovered the joy of collecting mango. The more we shouted numbers, the more our teachers were happy. Actually we’re interested anything other than eating sweet and juicy mangoes. Probably we had teachers that wanted to see us playing while learning.
All of these things make me love my time at my mom’s school where I was growing up outside the classroom until I reached high school. But life’s not always rainbows and butterflies to our small little world. While returning, those moments have suddenly got shattered. I didn’t observe any children playing in the ground. Their silence didn’t escape my notice soon I came to know that mom’s primary closed down due to low enrolment, where parents don’t want to send their children anymore. People are rejecting vernacular medium of study for English-medium schools. Our school was founded during the princely state while Lansdowne was Governor General of India. Such was the history.
Is it for that I’m voting today for a change India? Today my mother is no more for she took extreme care of her school. Every school has a memory for students that made their basic foundation for life. The advancement of science has probably made today’s scenery and competition makes it worse. The US President Abraham Lincoln letter to his son’s teacher was the best example of being a concerned parent. “My son starts school today. It’s all going to be strange and new to him for a while......teachers but see what best you can do. He is such a nice little boy and he is my son.”
Even after 70 years independence, India is yet to provide free education, medical and basic needs to survive such as food, shelter and clothing to its citizen. The country spend thousands of crore from conducting elections to spending on Govt ads. Ram Jethmalini once said that India is not a poor country. Billions of dollars of Indian money have been stolen and cessed at foreign Banks. We need honest leaders to lead our nation. Is that what I’m voting today for a change India? As many years have passed, I’m still being proud of my primary education. We demand our school to re-open. While returning, I realized my franchise for mom’s primary in that parliamentary election. Is government listening to its citizens?
The writer is a former Air Warrior and currently working for SBI Dispur. He can be reached at [email protected]