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Monday, September 4

While I am thinking !

One reason for almost no activity on this blog is a dilemma I am facing. There are lots of things that I would like to write about but somehow they do not seem to fit in this blog. Sometimes they are quite technical, sometimes quite out of context for many.

Anyway while I resolve the dilemma, here are some tidbits.

1. Saga of the intelligent kids and languages

In the beginning, whenever I used to come across kids here, somehow they always felt quite mature and, for lack of better word, "intelligent" to me and I wondered why. The hypothesis that they are actually in some ways different from our kids back home was too dumb to entertain. Then why? The way they would talk, the kind of things they would say all seemed too good for their ages. Then one day, it occurred to me. A major reason for that feeling was that they were speaking in English ! I was really amazed at the kind of prejudices we have and how they come into play even when we are not really aware of them ! In India, English speaking is considered such a prestigious skill to have, specially by the parents of small children. They would be so proud when their little one learns his/her first English rhyme or learns to answer basic questions in English. Now, I think that learning a new language is one of the best things that one can do but the kind of value that we have come to assign to English in particular and the way it is projected back on the capabilities of a child is not very healthy. I hope as parents, we would be more careful in this regard.

This also reminds of a sad story that I came to know some months back. Apparently one of my nephews goes to a school where they start teaching English from the beginning and Hindi, only from standard one ! I was shocked to hear that and guess what ! The school is situated in the heart of Hindi belt, in the capital of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow ! I really hope something can be done to bring those idiots back on track.

And while we are at it, one of my niece, actually used to speak in 4 different languages around a year back. She could speak Hindi, English, Kannada and Tamil. Of course the abilities were pretty basic. This was the effect of coming in contact with a Kannada cook and a Tamil aaya in day creche. Now in the absence of any constant input, she has started to loose that ability slowly. The best thing was that she could keep all the 4 separate.

2. Why do we discriminate?

This observation came from Eakta while talking about racial discrimination in US and caste discrimination in India. She noted that in US, the African-Americans look so different from others, they are dark skinned and so one can see why somebody would think about discriminating against them. Not that the discrimination would be justified in any way but one can see why it might have originated. On the contrary, in India we discriminate even when all of us look so much like each other and there are hardly any differences in skin colors. Something to think about ! One hint is that while race discrimination started as discrimination, caste discrimination didn't.

One thing to know about this is that some idiots in India who claim to be dalit activists have tried to project the Indian caste problem in the terms of skin color and races. Their claim is that higher castes are of Aryan origin and lower castes are the natives of India. Caste system was the invading Aryans' way of oppressing the natives. Now I wonder if they know that it is scientifically proven fact that most of the Indians belong to same race and that the Aryan invasion theory is highly debunked now. But they go on nonetheless ! I am not giving any links to them since I don't want to give them any more exposure through my blog atleast !


Anonymous said...

The kids didn't seem "intelligent" but yeah they seem different. And I don't think its because they speak in english. Rather kids here are encouraged to talk to their parents/other people as equals. Which is why I've seen things as bizarre as a 4 year old describing in painstaking detail to a waitress exactly what he wanted on his burger and fries. As opposed to the Indian notion of children not speaking in front of elders etc. Although that seems to be changing in metros.

Whether this is good is something I'm not too sure about since I find few things more irritating than a kid acting much older than he is :).

Braveheart said...

1. Intelligence and smartness are two absolutely insignificant pseudo-virtues. To wear those layers in the childhood can hardly be better than anything else. Also, wisdom, sensitivity and character - the only virtues of any importance - have nothing to do with languages.

2. I'd really like to know what those links are. As far as my understanding goes, you are embarassingly far from the facts of racial history of India; and so are those who play with theories as if they were scratching their balls. I wonder how you can reject the racial differences between the natives, the north indians and the south indians (adivasis, aryans and dravidians as we'd say, controversially). Despite cross cultural fusions of races, the primary features are distinctly different. You could do well to read 'Sanskriti ke Char Adhyay'.

Also, its truly ridiculous how you and Eakta sound as if it's 'natural' to discriminate on the basis of color. What a finding! This entire chain of thought is rubbish, Abhaya. To call its atrocities natural is the most repititive of human crimes. And there is an entire process that results in that, which you are only helping by saying that. Don't tell me that you are unaware of the fact that SC/STs in India as well, are identified by how they look. With each of these achievements, we distance ourselves from 'others' and hence, call it natural. But its not the eyes, but the mind that categorizes them as 'others' and to forget that is an unforgivable offence. It is not natural to discriminate visually. Eyes have no discretion of their own. Blame it only on who it belongs to!

The only crime that connects the worst of human beings is that they always thought it was natural to do what they did. Hitler too, derived from Darwin and don't we all know Darwin was one of the wisest and most scientifically correct human beings ever? On the other hand, Churchil famously declared it was natural for the whites to win the world over as they were superior; to think of him as the saviour of the world against Hitler, who shared his belief with just as much intensity is, at best, amusing. And it is just as amusing to read your comment, unfortunately.

Jaya said...

One can go on with caste vs. race debate, but what I find rather ridiculous Akshaya is the way you have brought in the adjective 'natural' in the discussion. And to top that equate 'natural' with 'right'. Things can happen for most ridiculous of the reasons. Just because one identifies something as a particular reason does not mean you are considering it 'natural'. I see it too much of a stretch to assume that either of them considered the reason as 'natural'.

Secondly, *even if* (and please do not delete this phrase "even if" while reading this comment) something is considered 'natural', it does not mean that the person is also calling it correct. Several disasters may be natural and I will call them so. But does not mean I must call them correct too.

Jaya said...

Whether this is good is something I'm not too sure about since I find few things more irritating than a kid acting much older than he is :).

Well, who gets to decide being just how "old" is okay? :)Innocence can not be forced. If kids have the maturity, there is no point trying to make them act innocent/ignorant.

DD said...

i realize what technical stuff you are referring to, in your first paragraph. me faces the same dilemma, and posts other stuff instead.

Pandey said...

Abhaya, which school in Lucknow is that?