Morality at its lowest ebb

Sunny Dua

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on May 3, 2021 arrested Principal of Kendriya Vidyalaya, Jodhpur, Doda who was also incharge Principal of Kendriya Vidyalaya, Bhaderwah for accepting a bribe of 15,000 for issuing Transfer Certificate (TC) of a minor girl studying in KV Kishtwar for her transfer to KV Bhaderwah. After having laid a trap the bureau officials caught the official red handed. The incident is a blot on the system that produced a Principal of this stature and especially education system wherein we except students to display highest moral values and respect their teachers.
Once our Principal Ram Sewak to whom we used to address as ‘Pradhanacharaya’ while studying in Bhartiya Vidya Mandir School in Kishtwar visited us in Jammu and saw me sitting on sofa with legs spread on central table. His first reaction was and I quote, “It’s not good to place shoes on a place where food or books are kept”. His advice might sound ridiculous to many but he had a point. Similarly, there were innumerable advices that used to pour in for us and our parents in our annual dairy called ‘Dainandni’ wherein many a times parents were asked not to crack adult jokes in front of children, behave, dress properly and keep setting examples for kids to follow.
With this incident of a Principal taking bribe, morality seems to be touching its lowest ebb. A couple of years ago reports of teachers raping girl students had flooded newspapers in Jammu and Kashmir sending shivers down the spines of everyone. Some time back teacher of a private institution in Kupwara area of Kashmir was booked after an undated video of him allegedly threatening to kill a student with an axe had surfaced on social media. Such incidents of teachers taking bribe or threatening to kill students or resorting to corporal punishments were never taken in good taste and always necessitated a need to look into redeveloping the devout teacher-student relation.
Similarly, there were incidents of students misbehaving with their teachers and even killing them in cold blood. Never in the history of India such incidents of violence were ever reported from anywhere for the simple reason that students often called as nation builders, behaved and respected their teachers. Teachers in return cited example of ‘Eklavya’ and taught their pupils with utmost care, responsibility and as a challenge to produce best of human being in the world so that no one could ever raise a finger on their way of teaching.
Teachers were always hungry for respect that they donned after teaching their students. Words like ‘he or she is the student of that particular teacher’ were sufficient enough for the Ustad, Aacharaya or Teacher as a reward of his tireless efforts in making a good human being. However, degrading moral values have put a question mark on this relation and eyes are being raised on student-teacher relations besides morality that is fading from the society. Whenever incidents of students disrespecting teachers or teachers resorting to unfair means to pass their students surface, entire education system comes under scanner. This particular incident might just be news for many, but it’s a matter of prestige for others. We have hundreds of teachers and principals who come under scanner and people begin to look at them with suspicious eyes. This is not a case in isolation but a case to be deliberated upon and new principles set for others to follow.
The story of Eklavya was so inspiring and a life-long learning experience that it’s narrated in every era and in every class. Eklavya’s exemplary discipleship is a life lesson in this age. Similarly, when it comes to teachers, references of people like APJ Abdul Kalam, Chanakya, Dayanand Saraswati, Rabindra Nath Tagore, Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Savitribai Phule, Swami Vivekananda and many more come to mind. Millions of other teachers and Principals also fall in their category and are still remembered as role models by their pupils who owe their success to them at every stage of life.
When it comes to Eklavya, his example is cited as to how he being denied discipleship chose to get himself trained in front of a statue made out of mud on which his Guru had walked and after complete training didn’t hesitate to cut and give his thumb to the same teacher as Guru Dakshna. He chose to donate his thumb, an important organ used for archery to his teacher but without giving it a second thought. This was the example of student-teacher relationship. However, incident of teachers raping students or taking money from them in lieu of some gains shame the society.
Contrarily, one can imagine how much low Principal Kendriya Vidyalaya, Jodhpur, Doda who was also In charge Principal, Kendriya Vidyalaya, Bhaderwah might have gone that he asked the parent of little girl to come near Post Office, Doda and hand handover him the bribe money. Though he was arrested on the spot and taken in custody by ACB team for further investigations yet the incident has revealed ugliest of face of such educationists who leave no stone unturned to make money even if that’s is ill earned or looted from students.
Readers if can relate this to their school days and remember teachers who scolded them, punished them, taught them intensely and even stayed available off the school without taking any money. Those teachers dressed simple mostly in Kurta-Pyjamas or a simple coat in winters and dedicated their whole life in making career of students whom they remembered even after their passing out of schools. The students in return responded with respect and obeyed every direction of their teacher like the ‘writing on the wall’. We don’t demean dressing sense or teaching styles today but the difference that’s creating a void between pupil and teacher can very well be gauged from the fact that their social media habits also say a lot about them.
Without malice towards anyone when teachers attend their schools in attires that are meant for clubs, parties or those casual and informal occasions, especially in Jammu and Kashmir it sends a wrong signal. Students do talk and talk rubbish but then it becomes the duty of head of institution to make them realize that which dress is meant to wear at which occasion. From the attires it then comes to behaving in institutions with colleagues and students. If this also stayed flawed and goes unchecked, then next degradation come in teaching which ultimately leads to escapism wherein many prefer to not to teach and stay engaged in unproductive affairs.
Materialism is another area that spoils a teacher’s profile. Knowingly that with the given salary he or she will be left with a known amount of saving at the end of service, why and how could anyone dare to flaunt money, articles, cars, jewellery or even desire of articles that cannot be purchased with known source of income. Introspection can very well let them know that being humble in front of students of government schools who come from still humble backgrounds is a boon and not bliss. Despite that several faculties believe in acquiring more than means and then end up being like Principal of this KV who is now facing the music.
Pradhanacharaya Ram Sevak Ji as we addressed him continues to enjoy same respect amongst us all and pass on the same set of principles to younger generation for the simple reason that whatever may be the time certain values, principles, rules and ethics of life and especially education never change. Vidya Bharati Akhil Bharatiya Shiksha Sansthan is today one of the largest private networks of schools in India, operating 12,000 schools with over 32,00,000 students. Most of the Vidya Bharati schools are affiliated to the Central Board for Secondary Education or their local State Boards and advocate “Indianisation, nationalisation and spiritualisation” of education. No one will believe but today also students don’t take their shoes in classrooms and consider their institution as “Temple of Learning”.
Optimism says that we still have better students and best teachers around who work as per the given set of principles but producing Ekalavya on whose name there is a temple in Khandsa village in Haryana or teachers like A P J Abul Kalam or his likes who listen well, focus on collaboration, are adaptable, engaging, have patience or share best practices are rare to find.