Sandhya fondly remembers her school days as she reads the newspaper. She wonders about how one can make their country a fairy land.

Sandhya was going through the morning newspaper. She had started reading it regularly since the last few days, as she realized that the current affairs of the world were not merely for enhancing one’s general knowledge for excelling in quiz competitions. The current affairs of the world today are actually influencing the daily lives of the people.

A 9th standard student, Sandhya’s main interest lied in news of academic interest like any new scientific breakthrough. News about achievements by geniuses and any contribution made by her fellow countrymen in advancing civilization always made her proud and she’d never miss out on such information. Sandhya was not just enthusiastic about other people’s achievements. She nurtured a very strong resolution to make her life valuable for herself, her family and the nation. She wanted to contribute to the growth and development of her nation. She aimed high in life and was working towards it.

Sandhya opened the first page of the newspaper. A mighty large advertisement seemed to shout out at her, “We are the best newspaper of the nation. No one else matches our quality”. She flipped the page and on the next page she could make out at least six proof reading errors.

She simply smiled and recalled her class teacher’s words when they were writing for their school magazine, “Dear students, remember that you should always try for perfection in whatever you do. Now, many of you are very talented writers and your friends will look forward to learn something from your articles. Some may be interested in enhancing their general knowledge while some others maybe genuinely trying to improve their language skills by reading your work, which is meant to be exemplary. Do not let your school and your teachers down by presenting inferior quality work. It is not about our reputation, but it is also about our responsibility of producing superior quality work for our community and our nation. As tiny drops make an ocean, the small effort of each and every individual will go towards creating better quality work output.”

Sandhya moved on to the headlines of the day. As usual, it was all about political party X blaming political party Y and vice versa. Sandhya was agitated. Her deeply frustrated words flew out, “Oh not again! For several years now, a common citizen like me gets to see only petty fights like this from our administrators. We are getting demotivated and depressed.”

Then she again recalled an incident in school….All the students of the school were categorized into teams – red team, blue team, green team and yellow team. These teams collaborated with each other for the larger purpose of building and maintaining a progressive school. Each team respected the values of the other and of course, there was the hidden desire of each to become the best performer of the school.

Can you make your country a fairy land

There was a lot of love and respect between the different teams and occasional arguments were a common feature. However, the differences were not detrimental to the health of the educational and social setup of the school. All the teams unanimously understood that conflicts were natural, but they were also a waste of time, if they became a hindrance to the progress of a nation. Nobody becomes great by only pointing out another’s faults. Rather, one can aspire to become great by doing some productive work. Moreover, by fighting amongst yourself you increase your vulnerability to outside threats, the consequences of which you may not have the slightest idea of. The main idea of dividing the school children into different teams was their better administration through smaller units to achieve the larger goal of an efficient united school.

Sandhya proceeded to the inner pages of the newspaper expecting to find something interesting. Again, she found something that disappointed her. She observed that more the laws against discrimination of any sort, the more the crimes in those categories. She fondly remembered her school culture…

Sandhya’s school was one of the best schools as far as value education was concerned. Her principal considered true education to be one in which an individual developed in culture and values with passing age. Many schools provide excellent academic education but do not emphasize on the building up of good cultured individuals the consequence of which is highly qualified individuals with poor emotional intelligence and values. A nation rises not with degrees, but with good-culture in all fields of life.

Sandhya’s principal ensured that all the students of her school bonded with each other. There were no strangers in her school. Every student helped another. Students were awarded grades for helping their fellow students and were awarded negative marks for hurting their friends. These marks were decisive when it came to promotion to the next class. This was  really effective in curbing bullying in the school.

The children strived to maintain a good conduct record and everyone mingled equally with each other regardless of religion, caste, gender or economic status. It was not that they had done that because of some very high values. It was because of the innate, basic, spontaneous and effortless urge of one human to bond with another. These children had larger goals in life and really did not have time for anything that came in the way of their progress. Sandhya really enjoyed the company of all her school mates.

Can you make your country a fairy land?The next feature in the newspaper that attracted Sandhya’s attention was an advertisement from a popular medical college about direct admission based on an exorbitant fee. Sandhya was preparing for the All India Joint Entrance Examination and sweating out to get a good rank in the test. Her Physics teacher told her that it is always better to get a professional seat on merit rather than buy a seat. This is because the one who clears a high standard fair examination by facing tough competition is really worthy of the profession one wants to pursue in future. However, Sandhya, was really shocked to note her friends parents’ attitude of  bypassing the merit based selection process and buying a seat for a much coveted professional degree.

Nowadays, parents feel that by paying exorbitant fees, they are making a wise investment for a child. Earning a degree is different from buying one. Certain professions require meritorious professionals. A lot of disasters are seen to occur because of incompetent professionals.

Many issues had attracted Sandhya’s attention in her newspaper that day, and there was one story that topped the list. Here is how it goes…Mr. A was a senior citizen of the country in need of an elderly care person for himself and his wife. Being old, the couple did not have the energy to physically visit the different agencies providing elderly care services in their city. They, therefore, put forward their requirement in a popular online website that brought their clients and their relevant service providers in contact with each other.

A little while after the submission of his requirement, Mr. A got a call from one service provider. The agent established his authenticity in the minds of the elderly couple by furnishing scanned copies of his Aadhar card, pan card and government registration certification via the WhatsApp messenger interface. As demanded by the service provider the elderly gentleman deposited the fee for the services, a large amount, in the bank account provided by the agent and waited for the elderly care person to arrive from the agency, as promised by the agent.

Days passed but no one came from the agency. Realizing that they have been cheated by the fraudulent agency, Mr. A was devastated. He lodged an FIR online with the police local against the fraudulent company and also informed the bank having the fraudulent account and the service provider website. Somebody advised the veteran that involvement of the police would result in great harassment to him.

Sandhya was disgusted and angry to note that the system of authenticity verification is not foolproof. She was also angry with the fact that many victims were not comfortable going to legal authorities for justice. She was angrier still that many times  proper action was not taken against the offenders who were thus encouraged. She felt sad that people who could have been an asset to the country by leading an honest life were resorting to dishonest means to earn their living. They did not mind bartering their character for paltry amounts of money. Had they been groomed early in life for leading a virtuous life they would have become a valuable asset to their families and the nation. Once they would taste the happiness of success derived by becoming a trustworthy name rather than an untrustworthy one, they would never resort to the wrong ways in life.

Man would have been many notches above where he is now if he would have not wasted time on petty matters and focussed on evolutionary progress.

She realized that life at her school was very different from life in the outside world. Compared to the outside world, her school appeared to be a fairy land and the ideal life at her school a modern day fairy tale. Do you think you can make this modern day fairy tale a reality in this world?

Word meanings:

  • Detrimental – Damaging
  • Virtuous – of high moral values
  • Paltry – meagre

Values learnt:

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