A lot has been talked about the demographic structure of India and the amazing dividends that we could reap owing to the fact that a large proportion of our population is in the productive age group. One dimension of the key to exploit such natural advantage is to ensure that the upcoming lot of younger generation is educated and skilled. Towards that, a lot is being done and a lot more promised to be done.
Personally, I am more concerned about another dimension. How and where is the value system of kids going to be cultivated and nurtured! Reason why I feel there is a lacuna here is two-fold.
Firstly, schools increasingly are money making machines these days. The entire process of education and teaching has now become more a business idea with the objective of creating knowledge-driven-weath creators rather than values-driven-productive-human beings. Money making at the cost of deteriorating values is an unwarranted scenario.
Secondly, families these days are increasingly becoming leaner and nuclear. A married couple where both partners are working professionals, staying nuclear away from their respective parents and trying to manage a full-time career is extremely productive for them. But when a child is born to them, the equation must change. What we are increasingly seeing is that the mother taking a maternity leave followed by a post-child birth sabbatical for few months (a year tops) to take care of the infant. Post the initial couple of years (where generally either set of grandparents are also present), the child is taken care by a nanny/baby sitter, sent to kindergarten, school, etc (with years passing). Now, when the child's mind is most fertile in the growing years, parents are not really available. They are, but not completely. In many cases, even the grand parents are not. So whom does the child learn the values of life from? He will surely be educated but will he grow up to become a man of strong values? In my generation, mothers generally were home makers and inculcated a lot of essential values to us. I can be sure in my case atleast.
And what do the children get exposed to when they come to home from school and wait for parents to come? Shocking television programmes, abundance of polluting information on the internet, social networking sites with hosts of online 'buddies'. 10-year olds are becoming memebers of networking sites these days and some of their status messages really shock me. Surely all this would make the kids cool, funky and street-smart but we should not complain if some of them later think that commiting a crime for money is fine or getting the latest electronic gadget for themselves must be the agenda in life.
I wonder about this for the coming generations. Should one of the parent completely devote himself/herself for the development of child in the formative years (between the age of 4 and 12 perhaps)?
Bringing a child to this world is a responsible decision. Does it end with sending the school to the best available school and coaching class? Isn't parenting a lot more than that?