Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cane and able....

Am determined to sit through and enjoy what my daughters have clearly told me is a disastrous, junky movie - SATC. Well, it sounds exactly like something the doc ordered for a dull, pre-monsoon afternoon. Russell Crowe and 'Robinhood' tomorrow night. My movie calendar is pretty full this week, as you can see. But.... being a total movie junkie, there's no such thing as 'one movie too many' in my book. Am planning to catch Colin Firth in 'The 'Single Man' mid-week, and 'Ravan' on Friday. These are all the treats I accumulate for myself after working ridiculously hard the rest of the time ( justifications! justifications!!). Hope all you guys had a terrific week... here's to a pleasant sunday.
************
This appeared in the Sunday Times.... and tv channels are already on it aggressively.
*************
La Martiniere( Kolkata), is my husband’s old school. For decades, he has remained one of its proudest ex-students. So embarrassingly proud that a few years ago in Karachi, when he discovered five ex-La Marts’s ‘boys’ at the posh Club where we were dining, he gathered them up and got them to lustily sing the school anthem. If other diners were disturbed, they chose to ignore this group figuring all it needed was one crazy Indian to break Pakistani rules. Such is the fierce loyalty factor La Martiniere used to generate in its vast network of alumni. Till the horrific suicide of Rouvanjit Rawla, the class –V11 student who hanged himself four months ago, unable to take the humiliation meted out to him by the Prinipal of the school, Sunirmal Chakraborty, and other teachers. The lad’s ‘crime’ ? His classmates say he was ‘naughty’ and didn’t do his homework on time. Those transgressions cost him his life.
Ajay Rawla, the boy’s father took four months to pull out of the shock and decide to do something about the dismal state of affairs in one of India’s most prestigious schools – he lodged a police case. Had the media not been alerted, chances are, the grief- stricken father’s complaint would have remained a piece of paper on a forgotten file. As of now, the investigations are on, and the Principal has finally confessed to ‘caning’ the boy. How archaic is that word itself! Caning!! Come on… who canes defenceless kids in this day and age? And worse - calls it ‘tradition’? Well, here’s one Principal who did just that – and thought it defence enough to justify his deplorable actions. One would have thought this sadistic system of ‘disciplining’ naughty children disappeared with the British and their ghastly, kinky public school rules that adversely impacted some of India’s brightest minds. To acknowledge that this still goes on in our better schools is a pathetic comment on how stuck we are in a bizarre time warp that doesn’t recognize the basic rights of children. Of course, caning happens in patshalas across the country. Of course, that is equally despicable. The explanation is also absurd, but remember …the mindset of some village teachers has yet to switch gears. Young Rouvanjit’s profile is vastly different. He belonged to the urban elite of the City of Joy ( such irony!).He represented the ‘Babalog’ of the ‘Bhadralok’ in our midst – privileged, affluent and aware. The school in question comes with impeccable credentials. And yet, one of their own was compelled to call it quits in the most awful way. Kapil Sibal made a strong pitch on behalf of children across the country on a tv channel when he said these bachchas were a symbol of tomorrow’s India. Schools that believe in this form of barbaric discipline completely ignore the law (which is in place to protect our kids) and worse, destroy a child’s confidence , sometimes for life. No matter what wrong was committed by Rouvanjit, the viciousness of the combined attacks on him ( one report mentioned the cane broke on the child’s back) were obviously enough for him to go in search of that killer rope with which he hanged himself from the ceiling fan. Surprisingly enough, no teacher from the school had thought it necessary to alert the Rawlas about their son’s ‘indiscipline’ earlier – it was easier to pick up a cane and thrash the boy. Usual story – ‘teach him a lesson.’
Reading the account and watching the television clips revived long buried memories of being frequently caned myself as a school girl. This was the punishment reserved for students who were considered ‘rebellious’ and ‘disobedient’. Of course , I was both… and worse.But to be so severely punished for those ‘failings’ by the ogre of a school principal – a towering woman representing a Scottish mission ? I often went home with swollen , angry red welts on my upper arms – welts that made me feel so ashamed, I hid them from my parents and said not a word about the frequent torture. I now realize, had I been less ashamed and more outraged, not only would my torture have stopped ( perhaps at a huge cost – I’d probably have been thrown out of school for daring to protest),but other girls would have been spared this nasty woman’s brutality. I chose to remain silent. Like Rouvanjit. Big difference being, he’s dead. And I am alive to retell and relive those hellish minutes when I’d be summoned to the Principal’s office after standing on the yellow bench for hours, often without food or water.Why am I ready to share this dreadful part of my distant youth? Only to demonstrate the tragedy that our schools continue to perpetuate till today, and in an age where there ought to be a far better understanding about such sensitive issues. A child’s mind and sensibility cannot be easily penetrated, even less ‘controlled’ by fiendish, cruel adults who imagine they are ‘doing the right thing’ by striking someone defenceless…. and often, voiceless.
No matter what Principal Sunirmal Chakraborty says in his defence, no matter how sloppily the Kolkata police respond, no matter what kind of pressures are brought on Rouvanjit’s family to withdraw the charges, it is important for the sake our children, to keep up the pressure and punish those responsible for driving Rouvanjit to take his life. The old era of adopting the so-called traditional ‘cane and able’ modus operandi to make errant kids toe the line are over, Mr. Chakraborty.
Try reading ‘Goodbye Mr. Chips…’. Try loving those children - especially the difficult ones – whose parents place their trust in you and your teachers. Better still, try therapy.
What an idea, Sirji!!

50 comments:

MangoManBunty said...

Hey Ms. Shobhaa,

I have been a follower of your blog for long and I ache to say that your blog posts are getting a bit bland by the day. We expect a certain something from someone as terrific as you. There's no point in posting something so regularly but not having the Shobhaa-De-feel in it.

Sorry for the bluntness. Hope you understand.

gaelikaa said...

Well, I dunno about the above commenter but I thought that today's post was pretty damn good. There's a LaMarts in my city, Lucknow, too. Parents are sometimes terrified to speak out against these schools for fear of 'upsetting' things. Some of my kids are in a convent school about similar to LaMarts in age and prestige and I've noticed a lot of fear in parents whenever it comes to speakiing out about problems. Mind you, I've not seen brutality like that which Rouvanjit suffered.

Well done, Shobhaaji!

Black said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Black said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Black said...

Yeah.., that kindled some nostalgia here too. There was this monster-teacher at my school, who like a villain in mythologies, always came around with his weapon-a cane--ever ready to beat up an eligible(!) kid. Once, he beat up around 20 kids(of class V) in our class, just to quench his wrath about his inability to figure out which kid performed the simple prank. We had varieties of stripes on our body--yet, we could do nothing about it!!!

Years later, we were in class X, when the monster has played his cane on another 10 year old's back--who happened to be the son of a then MLA--That night, the monster was arrested by the cops, and the innocent kid kept showing his striped back to local TV cameras for the next few days...

Oh,what a good news that was to the earlier victims-us.

Pooja Rathore said...

It's an important issue you have written about how many children have suffered and some lost thier life due to wrong way of punishment ( life is too precious to be lost due to punishment from teachers even our judiciary gives capital punishment(death) in rarest of rare cases but teachers dont think twice about the consequences of thier action and then they teach us about how to be a good citizen about peace about good behaviour when they themselves fail miserably in the same department (of course not all teachers there are the good ones but most of the time you come across frustrated ones.If a student is giving them trouble they must find some different way of handling the issue which will be beneficial for the child not one which will take his life if nothing is done in this regard the teachers are sending out wrong message. The worst part is this issue is not taken seriously, in most cases the teacher is suspended or atleast i have never heard of the teachers being severly punished for their acts. teachers must learn to be calm ( they should be given a crash course in managing temper and anger as teachers are also normal human beings with problems they carry their problems and in anger they release on students in the form of punishment. Teachers who handle students harshly must be dealt strictly and punished for the same... even parents must teach children to speak up and children too should express their hurt when they feel the punishment was harsh.

Jean said...

As I have just joined the blogroll, I have been trying to go through all your articles. Till now, I have not found any one article to be boring/ bland as commented by Manmango.
This article has certainly enthused some recollections from my school times- mostly good but bad memories are stirred when I remember my hindi Sir in class 6-8. The cane was not his weapon. He would pinch the skin below arm & would make you see stars. We all suffered in silence because that was the practice then. Until we decided that enough was enough. We collectively went as a group of 60 students & complained to the principal. The Hindi teacher was asked not to bodily harm any student. But if the principal had chosen not to take any action, I do think I would have seen atleast one classmate go through the same as Rouvanjit.

Sidhusaaheb said...

Children's confidence can not only be destroyed through physical punishment, but also through mental torture. Words can often leave an imprint that lasts far longer than one caused by being struck with a cane.

kirti said...

Ms De,its always a pleasure to read your posts..i totally disagree that this post is bland! Infact,you too going through caning is shocking!!! But,its such a shame that teachers upon whom parents thrust the responsibility of bringing confidence within their kids,end up losing their lives due to them!! I feel such teachers should be punished!

MangoManBunty said...

Apologies to anyone who got offended by my last comment.

All I meant that when the expectations are high, even something that is better than average seems bland. Number of words are increasing by the day. Editing is something that can be looked into.

Since I had no other forum (public/private) to make my views reach Ms. Shobhaa, I chose this one. Will not do it again.

P.S. I just loved Politically Incorrect when I used to read TOI. And I've wondered in awe for minutes on reading some of the pots out here. I just wanted to convey the concerns of a concerned reader.

goodluck said...

This is one of your most valuable blogs. I also experienced humiliations from some sadistic teachers. It is routine for most of us. When they say guru devo bhava, I feel like saying guru rakhsaso bhava, atleast in some cases. There are good and kind teachers and they make all the difference fortunately.
One of my teachers used to punish indiscriminately and his own 8 year old son committed suicide by jumping in front of a train when he failed. Some teachers dont spare anyone, even their own.
Rouvanjit looked like a vivacious kid. Losing a kid is traumatic especially when it is to satisfy the ego of a cruel teacher. SHAME LA MARTINIERE!

sepo said...

loved this article of yours...!

ms said...

well, mz de. most of us have felt our parents' love on many levels. i always was confused about a parent who beat the daylights out of us for some misdeeds, but would harangue the teacher who slapped us for not doing our work. or our sibling, who hit us when he was bored. bullying and beatings are a child's lot in wonderful india. we may be the only nation which regards adult bullying as active politics (all those murdering thakurs and panchayat elders who kill to punish people). some of the blame of a teenage suicide rests on his environment too. why did the teenager not tell his family that he was falling behind in his work? are children encouraged to share their worries and anxiety with their parents, without fear of further censure? i think not. everyone blames the last straw that broke the camel's back, but what of the tons of straw that preceded it? we are all collectively responsible when some one dies an untimely death - remember : "everyman's death diminishes me".

ethereal-lily said...

I was caned during my primary school days, fortunately by the time i reached high school, the country i was in, banned canning only after protests on deaths in school due to canning. It really is unfortunate to see this still happening in India..

RAJ47 said...

Principal Sunirmal Chakraborty should be charged with abetting suicide amounting to murder. He is neither Su nor nirmal.

Nikhil Bhaskar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nikhil Bhaskar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nikhil Bhaskar said...

My first read on your blog. I almost flashed backward, our hostel superintendent was a total nerd.....used to lift the kids by their belly twirling the skin enough to pain for days, even I had it one time for the unfinished homework.

as for the comments by MangoManBunty....I cannot say much as I am not a regular reader here but you can remain assured he will never feedback incoherent....hell no!!!

t O m S o N said...

Dear Sobhaji,

Nice article! Wonderful title by the way! I was half expecting Christians to come after you this time(reg the title)whilst reading the comments!
We are living in politically correct world.Never know when people get rubbed the wrong way!

take care

Sudipta said...

Make a real splash of fun at the celebrations of your loved ones in Pune by sending flowers and cakes. Stun your dear ones to delight by delivering the spectacular fresh flowers and fresh cakes to Pune. We are one of the top online florists for the delivery of flowers and cakes to Pune for all occasions. For details, visit www.classicgiftspune.com

Divya Virmani said...

I always look forward to Shobhaa De's articles. Absolutely love them... This article brings back so many scary memories from childhood days. Even in my school, we had freaking losers as our teachers. I remember getting bashed by sticks or rulers which teachers used to carry whereever they'd go. How pathetic? And if a parent would complaint then they would keep an eye on that kid and if something goes wrong then they contact the parent right away. I cannot believe we still encounter such 'hellish' things. Shame on the schooling system in India. People living abroad always praise the knowledge we get in India but the ugly truth behind this is very horrendous!

pmathur said...

Me and my wife raised two boys who now are 17 and 14. Not even once in 17 years have we ever gone 'physical' when disciplining our children. And yet, by any standard of measure they have grown up as well behaved human beings with the right values.
Physically hurting a child is the most barbaric act any human being can indulge in. According to me, not only school authorities -- teachers etc. but even parents who indulge in such acts should be exposed, and sent for counseling because they aren't normal human beings.

Delhi Goon said...

If someone hits my kids I dont know what I will do to them!? I think teachers who hit kids need to understand that.

Latha said...

Rouvanjit Rawla's news appeared exactly 4 months back in the newspapers. His father, Ajay Rawla denied that it has got anything to do with the school. Both the boy's parents denied that it was a suicide & insisted that it was an accident & explained how it had taken place.
While corporal punishment is condemnable, this one looks different. The details contain in the fol: link.
http://www.telegraphindia.com/1100215/jsp/calcutta/story_12105753.jsp

numerounity said...

I am amazed with irony of lives and to top that, kolkata is styill called- City of joy!

Pitiful. The principal should be divorced from education system. There is no discipline in the world tells us to injure the soul of a young child to bring method or discipline to him. Shame of the parents who despite knowing such facts still r sending their kids to a school where a "Ravan" like principal is functional. While I, from bottom of my heart disgust the approach taken by the principal and those teachers who believes in driving the punishment across very strictly; I believe that parents should also try to inculcate spirit in their children. Spirit to fight such humiliation rather than succumbing to suicide!

numerounity said...

Just think of a mother who lost her upbring child just cause of some insensitive flag bearers of the educative society. Is that why we send our children to school?

moushumi said...

Hi Shobha De,
I have been following your blog for a while now and look forward to it every day when I walk in to work- Yes! I read your blog while at work! This is to take my mind off all things monotonous in our busy work lives and to move away to something interesting.
Reading your blog on Rouvanjit brought back many many horrible memories of ‘disciplinary action’ which I was a part of way back in school. I too studied in a prestigious school back in Shillong, North East India. Back then, about 15 years ago, it had its repute; today-I presume very little of its repute is left. Being a boarder, made you stand out like a sore thumb and we were punished for every little mischief. We were kids for God’s sake!! This, non of our teachers/principal/house keepers/matrons realised during our 10 yr stay there. Punishments included not being allowed to use the washroom, writing lines, being whacked in the head with a torch, standing by yourself in the dark corridors (which were supposedly haunted) while your friends are at play, standing on one leg in the dormitory etc. I am not a parent yet but plan to be one soon and it made me think if this was the state of our prestigious schools in our country, what happens to our children in the less prestigious ones?
Regards,
Moushumi Baxi

Indli said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
*Aham* said...

really upsetting. and kudos to you de, for sharing your personal experience with the kameeni who caned you.

i feel we take our "Guru" respect sometimes too far. No one, has the right to cane a child. Not even the mother.

This reminds me, the other day, i found a mother mercilessly beating up her 6-8 year old girl. There were some silent voyouers. I was also one. Until I saw her slap the child on the face, and intervened. I threatened to inform the police if she beat up her child like that.

And guess what, people counseled. They counseled me that i should leave the mother alone and not interfere. I refused to budge. And created a scene, (had people encircling us at "the crime scene"). Eventually she screamt and screamt... and when she was sane, i explained, she listened. And i escorted the mother-daughter duo to the train. :) I dont know if she will not beat the child again. But i do know, that of the people who watched the whole drama, atleast one or two would speak up for the child if they saw something like this happening.


on a lighter note... we should not ban caning.... i wish we could beat up the politicos in their bum when they do all these lochaas and jhagdaas for nothing...

hai naa???

Another Kiran In NYC said...

The Principal of La Martiniere can actually say with a straight face that he was not aware that caning was illegal! Aiyoooo so apart from brutalising children, you are not even aware of the laws of the land and dont keep up with current affairs? Makes me wonder what education the kids are getting. Obviously not much of an education, if the head teacher is an example.

Children are treated very badly in desi culture at all levels of society. They are brutalised or indulged by abrupt turn emotionally, mentally and physically. By schools and especially by family. I am not surprised so many of us are uncomfortable in our own independent skins as adults.

And you know what... Ms Soni, Mr Singh and a host of other teachers whose names I care not to remember. I hate what you did to me as a child. You were supposed to be my teachers and role models, not my brutalizers. Shame on you! I will never allow the shadow of people like you to ever fall on my children. I got myself an education and growth into stable adulthood, DESPITE you! You taught me nothing of educational and life value except this... as a child whose voice would not be heard, I will be beaten until you feel better about your own life.

krutika said...

everytime i read your blog...i feel relieved that i am out of India, and it makes me never wanna go back. I would do everything in my power to not go back to that land of the frustated, where you are screwed it you are born a middle class or born a woman.huh!
I dont want my children to have the life i have had in India.
will India change, i am afriad the answer is no.

adkinsra said...

一沙一世界,一花一天堂,掌中握無限,剎那即永恆..................................................

Anil Kumar said...

Stay away from India if you can for two basic reasons.

1) Screwing poors, middle class and crab mentality is going to stay here at least for another century.

2) Those who think that India is good for raising kids with family values then think again.

More and more dance programs involving kids as young as 7-8 year old doing filthy dance on TV, dirty reality programs have taken roots in this country. The combination of CHEAP JOURNALISTS ON TV, BOLLYWOOD SL__TS are doing everything in their capacity to destroy what used to be unique to India...which was some descency and family values in public places. The impotent judiciary can't handle the western sins Indians are subjected to.

With women showing of everything except their thongs is fast becoming the INDIAN CULTURE. And if you add the SCREWING and CRAB mentality of Indians then you can imagine what to expect here for kids and women and poors and middle class.

By the way those morons who come in defence of Shobha De should keep their mouth shut. She has thick skin and knows very well how to handle the criticism. She is not an IDIOT like Amitabh Bachhan who will write 30 page reply on blog just because some journalist called Aishwarya rai a manglik.
(if ou don't know her...she is a bollywood sl_t who is a symbol of Bhartiya naari on special occassion like Diwali, 15th August, commonwealth games ceremonies)

Rajib said...

Ma'm,

Kudos to you. How beautifully you've summed up the situation and put together your "reco" in the last two lines.

The principal's act is truly despicable, and his refusal to apologize to the parents is shocking...I guess its time to identify the "stinky fishes" in the pond, who not only put a blemish on the face of prestigious institutions, but also disappoint their proud ex-alumnus to no end by such acts. They should rather go home and tend their frustrations and barbarisms, that would at least help the kids live their entire life span.

My condolences to the Rawla family

Best Regards,

Theyoginme said...

Kiran so sorry to hear about your painful experience.. which school was this? DPS? I must say I was very fortunate - I personally escaped all this including hazing in college..physical abuse of children is shameful at any place, home or school.. its an act of cowardice.

PTL said...

Shobha De, quite clearly you haven't a clue about the depth of this tragic incident. You need to do your homework thoroughly before you make such a sweeping and superficial judgement from that ivory tower that you sit in. What makes you think that everything that the media says is gospel? How can you be so naive? While writing your sermon, did you once consider that there might be another angle to this tragic story? Why don't you ask some of your well-heeled brethren here In Kolkata about the kind of family environment that existed in Rouvan's home and about his friends. I am sure they will have more than a thing or two to tell you there. While I agree that the school authorities should have handled the matter more sensitively, and corporal punishment was not the answer, I don't believe that the school can be held responsible for Rouvan's death. There is more to this than meets the eye. So please get off that high horse of yours and find out more before making such short-sighted judgements!

thatlittlesinner said...

Write, woman.

It's been like what..3 days.
Grrr.

Nikhil Bhaskar said...

@krutika....all those like you who gather courage to blabber here and not act must never return, thank god we actually are relieved.

MangoManBunty said...

Well said, Nikhil.

Everyone wants a Bhagat Singh, but at the neighbour's.

Be the change you want to see, in the littlest way possible rather than FLEE AWAY and still keep on cribbing.

We are much better off without you,cribbers!!

Rony M said...

The visit was useful. Content was really very informative. From www.classgiftsahmedabad.com.

krutika said...

@nikhil Bhaskar...you might be one of those .00000005% of Indians who is making a significant contribution by voting for a third rate whore from Italy as your leader. Atleast in a foreign i still lead a life in which i am not servile to every white man/woman around me. Yeah and the las time i had come to India was the most embaressing with hundreds of billboards advertising how one can obtain a lighter complexion. I am sure you need a lot of courage to live in the dump ...thanks i am not interested.
I am sure you are relieved that people like me are leaving and there will be a million like laloo deciding what you should eat, watch drink and whre you should pee. Mark my words India is not going to chnage in a million years. the progress u see in the cities is absolute bs. Kids aping west talking like them, dressinglike them, with no originality what so ever and offcourse when these idiots leave India and realize that they dont gel with the local population, they become extremly patriotic and build a million temples in foreign countries and bullshit about how great Indian culture is and they will be returning to their homeland in 10 days, and never do.
Cut the crap with your hyprcracy. face it with soo many talented people leaving everyday u need to understand it is absolutely an unbearable atmosphere to thrive and succeed.

MangoManBunty said...

@ Krutika: !!!

What Sonia Gandhi is to India, you are to the country you're living in.

I just wish no one calls you a third rate whore JUST because you were not born in the country you're presently living in!

Huge thanks for leaving my soil, you racist piece of thankless turd!

pmathur said...

@krutika - I read your comments on this blog. First - comments here should be limited to what the blogger - Ms De has written. If you want to get personal, please move to another forum.
As an Indian, I am offended by your comments - to say the least. You might not consider yourself to be an Indian, but do not insult this Country because you want to vent your personal frustration. I am sure you would not like to hear derogratory remarks about the Country you have adopted. Similarly it will hold you in good stead if you respect the feelings of Indians

krutika said...

To the comments above, clearly i was responding to bhaskar, because he has directed his comments to me, what applies to me, should apply to him as well.
Just because i dislike India, does not make me racist.
Lastly, i can write what ever i want, its okay if you get offended, that does not mean i cannot write what i feel is appropriate.
You can disregard what i have to say, if you don't like it. But the reason you keep responding is because most of what i say is the FACT.

Anil Kumar said...

Very well said Krutika...There is no harm in criticizing your homeland if it's run by BASTARDS and those bastards are worshipped by equally FOOLISH people.

Be it Sonia Gandhi, Susri Mayawati or Amma Jayalalitha.

chennaicakesdelivery said...

send cakes to chennai, cakes to chennai, cakes to chennai delivery, cakes home delivery to Chennai with www.chennaicakesdelivery.com.Online Shopping of cake for chennai delivery is secured and assured with us. You can order online cakes to chennai and all around India. Send birth day cake, wedding cake, anniversary cake with us.Same day cake delivery to Chennai. Our cakes are Delicious and freshly baked, made by the finest chefs in the country. Delight your loved ones with this simple and delicious combination.

http://www.chennaiflowers.com said...

Flowers to Chennai delivery are free, safe and secured with www.chennaiflowers.com. We being Local Flower Shop are cheaper than other florists in Chennai. We deliver fresh Flowers, Cakes, Sweets and other gifts on door, you can order online to send flowers to Chennai .

Puneflowersdelivery said...

Send flowers to Pune, flowers to Pune delivery,flowers to Pune,Pune flowers delivery, flowers Pune, Online flowers to Pune.

Flowersbangalore said...

Flowers to Bangalore; send flowers online to Bangalore and buy Birthday flowers, wedding flowers, Anniversary flowers, condolence and sympathy flowers, send same day flowers to Bangalore online with us. Buy flowers online for same day delivery in Bangalore.

Siva Cool said...

A truly motivational and life changing book
This book is really a good book which shows us right path. but i read
one more book named "ONE BOOK FOR LIFE SUCCESS" which is truly
motivational and life changing . .The writer has described in Plain English with lot of examples which is easy to understand...For More
Please watch the videohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biORjS8ngv0