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My five-year-old son pointed his little finger at a flag and told me, “This is Pakistan.” I was amazed, like any other father, at his inquisitiveness. But the question that followed left me thinking. “Baba, is this a bad country?” The simplest possible answer would have been “Yes”. When I asked who told him so, he said his teacher said it. I wonder if this is what teachers in India tell children, what must be the state of education in Pakistan!
Before I am labelled ‘anti-national’, let me clarify that there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Pakistan is responsible for terrorism in India. I have seen terror outfits and the ISI sabotage our government’s peace initiatives over the years. But why should I make my son see things around him through my eyes? I would rather tell him the facts (as he grows up) and let him decide for himself what is bad: the country, its people, the government of Pakistan or the extremist, fringe elements there.
The point is that should we teach our children to hate? In my opinion, it’s the easiest thing to do. For, there are so many people and things around us that we find worthy of our hatred. The question is: “What do we get from hating others?” I am not a messiah of peace and love, but I do understand that hate only invites hate and the trend continues for years and generations. Our history is full of such examples. On most occasions, we fail to judge when to go aggressive and when to avoid a confrontation. Defending ourselves strongly is different from attacking others. After all, attack is not always the best defence.
It pains me to see ‘respected’ politicians make inflammatory statements on religion through public platforms. For them politicking is business, their way of scoring brownie points over their rivals. But their internal rivalries create divide in the society. Friends who had never thought deeply about caste, now judge each other on the basis of whether the person expressing his thought on a national subject is a Dalit, a Brahmin or a Muslim. The common man has brought Parliament battles to streets. Unfortunate.
As a Hindu, I want to teach my son to be tolerant, if not secular. Sadly, the word ‘secularism’ has been hijacked by narrow-minded politicians and insecure propagandists, who use the disguise of secularism to further their agenda. I want to tell my son that he is the proud citizen of a country whose culture and tradition have survived the onslaught of successive foreign aggressions; I don’t want him to just read the Bhagwad Gita, but make it a way of life; I want him to reap the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga; I want him to put nation first, before religion and caste. While doing so he should maintain utmost respect for Bible, Quran and Guru Granth Sahib and their followers.
Is it very difficult to learn these values? And, is it very difficult to teach these values?