Most educational institutions in India have failed to get rid of archaic norms and ideas that have no place in the 21st century. In this opinion piece, the author vocalises her frustrations and angst on this issue as a young woman and a budding lawyer.
Now Graduating Class of 1980: The Archaic Functioning of Educational Institutions in India
Let me first begin by saying that this article may be printed in ink, but comes embodied with the anger and ire of many schools, college and university students, including my own.
Before transcribing my thoughts as such, I mulled over the various ways I could vent my feelings since a direct expression would have proved to be a little difficult for reasons I shall explain.
We, the young and bright future of India, living twenty years into the twenty-first century, find ourselves in charge of people living twenty years in the past.
In a day and age where we are increasingly talking about social reforms, especially when it comes to women empowerment and environmental conservation, our educational institutions and the very people bestowed with the duty to shape our minds, fail us.
What is the link between women empowerment and environmental conservation? Well, I am a woman with an extreme concern for the environment and it is the utter disregard for these two issues that affect me the most.
I am a law student in a college that shall not be named, but let’s say its recent affiliation to a state university came to an end after a series of unfortunate events, leaving my batch to be the last ever to graduate from this college. What this means is that all of us are just scrambling to make the best of the last few years of this institution. This is not the way I had imagined my college life would be.
Coming from a school where we were told that if we wore sleeveless clothes or any kind of fancy blouse, kurta and saree, we would be kicked out of our own farewell and where a male administrator had found our professional swimsuits to be “too revealing”, I had hoped college would be much more liberal. My hopes, however, were shattered when one of the most talented women of my batch was stopped from going on to the stage at the last minute because one ancient teacher found her dress to be too “inappropriate”.
The events that have the honour of inspiring me to write this article are as follows: Amid the Covid-19 pandemic and the countrywide lockdown, much to the chagrin of our director, the college, too was shut down. Our initial days of lazy joys came to an abrupt halt when we were asked to attend college on every Saturday of April to make up for the missed classes. After much pestering, he agreed to online classes being conducted.
With the curfew extended and left with no other option but to make allowances for online submissions of end of term projects, he came up with the brilliant idea of the students compiling handwritten projects on individual sheets of paper, scanning them and sending them to the teachers concerned. Since this is the man who refused to listen, see or understand how thirty handwritten pages per person as an internship report, plus a daily diary that you had to purchase and fill (which absolutely no one on earth was going to read), and I might add, was a wastage of paper, our hopes to convince him of redundancy of paper seemed distant.
When approached, like all elders when questioned, he likes to reminisce and tell us how he submitted all his papers handwritten and studied under streetlights.
Would it be too much to ask the establishments in charge of inculcating novel thinking and encouraging rationality and logic in the minds of people to let go of these archaic ideas and notions and grow with the society? Should it not be imperative that if anything, a teacher, be liberal and forward-minded? By holding on to these ideas and notions, an educator ends up imparting the same into the minds of their pupil, leading to a continuous tradition of old and outdated thoughts ruining the society and indeed the environment.
While I agree, this is more of an “old people refusing to change” problem rather than an education-related one, the fact that the people most in the power of influencing naïve and mouldable minds are teaching, preaching, promoting and encouraging this kind of thinking, or lack thereof, is disturbing.
An educational institution should NOT make a woman feel ashamed of herself because she dared to expose her shoulders and neither should it cause the wastage of thousands upon thousands of sheets of paper for absolutely no rhyme or reason. A place where open thinking ought to be promoted and revolutionary ideas should be discussed, we are busy ensuring the appropriate skin coverage while writing pages upon pages of information that will eventually go to waste.
Let me conclude by that saying if any of my teachers, professors or administration recognises this article – I love and respect you all. This is written in good humour; please don’t fail me.