They are disconnecting…

Dr. Navniit Gandhi
Thursday, October 26, 2017

“Why do I need to learn about India? After all, I am going to live here—in Kuwait—all my life… I was born and educated here. I have a job here and am going to be here. I am not interested in what is happening in India”, candidly spoke out a MBA student of an Indian University, here in Kuwait. On finding the said student disinterestedly listening to the contemporary business environment in India, the teacher asked him the reason for his lack of interest and pat came the reply: “Why do I need to know about India?’

Our children are increasingly becoming a disconnected lot… Many of our children, who are born and raised here in Kuwait, seemingly have little interest in or concern for whatever happens in our country. Does it then imply that they are interested in the on-going developments in the economy or social fabric of the country they are living in (Kuwait)? Doesn’t seem to be so…

What are we, the parents, teachers, and the Uncles and Aunts doing??? A sizeable number of our children here in Kuwait seem unable to speak in their mother-tongue; in fact, a sizeable number cannot even speak a line in their regional language. How many of our children shall be able read or write in their mother-tongue, can only be guessed with a shudder… Does it not then mean that they shall never be able to enjoy listening to regional poetry and folk-lyrics or watching plays or reading books in their regional languages? By not understanding our rich languages, they are missing out on the opportunity to feel fulfilled. Haven’t we all grown up laughing and crying --while reading or listening to the wedding songs or folk tales or regional literature? Many of our parents here feel proud that their child speaks English and French. It is amazing to see the parents go out of their way to sever the emotional and cultural connection of their children with our roots in India. A family from Himachal Pradesh, residing here in Kuwait, had made a solemn rule in the house that the parents and their two-year old daughter shall always speak only in English. The child is now five years old, but does not understand a word of any Indian language. And, the parents beam with pride…

It is agreed that we have a whole range of problems in all areas of existence in India. However, does it mean that we can sever the link and simply pretend that we have nothing to do with our country? Families prefer to take their children to USA or European countries for vacation, while being oblivious to the need for introducing the children to the terrain or history or uniqueness of India. This is also understandable, considering that they find everyone else around them exploring the far-away horizons rather than one’s own backyard. But what is beyond comprehension is that why can we not at least introduce them to India, in our conversations and make them aware of the distinct realities (both, good and bad) of our country? Neither are we interested ourselves or interested in making them understand the realities of life in Kuwait, apart from making a few off-hand and sarcastic remarks about the people and the system of this country. Only a few parents have taken their children to the various museums in Kuwait (most of which do not even have an entrance fee) so as to let them have a glimpse of the culture or experiences of this nation.

Hence, we seem to be intentionally disconnecting our children from both the worlds.

Even those who have completed Std. XII or even those who are pursuing graduation or post-graduation here, are clueless about what kind of a democracy we are or what kind of economic challenges we faced or are facing…They are not interested in the heroes (past or present) of India or even in the issues that our environment, polity, economy and society faces… Some parents brush this argument aside saying that their children will become engineers or doctors and hence, do not need to study about the government or the economy. But do engineers and doctors exist and work in a vacuum? Do they also not have to work and live in a certain context? Will our children not grow up and raise children themselves? Is it not important to know a bit about the place we reside in and the one we belong to—on paper (passport)?
Somebody should have connected them to their nation but sadly, we seem to have failed.

There is a large number of regional associations in Kuwait, and each claims to be upholding the region’s culture in this foreign land. However, a large number of them have been constituted for our entertainment purposes. Even if they are organising a variety of programs and inviting revered cultural icons to this country, the children’s physical and mental presence during such programs seems to be either non-existent or of little consequence. One such regional association in Kuwait takes immense pride in claiming to have upheld the culture of the region by annually organising a wide variety of musical and literary programs. However, in an adjacent classroom –they make the arrangements to show cartoon shows on TV for the children, so that the kids can sit there and watch videos while the parents listen to their regional/classical music uninterrupted.
There are a large number of parents who never discuss with their growing children --issues of our nation, such as farmers’ suicides or demonetisation or the pitfalls of an over-regulated regime that we underwent or the need to link the rivers of India. Have still not come across many children, here in Kuwait, who know and who have felt the pain of our issues and the pleasure of our achievements. Our democratic credentials or our growing economic presence or our strengthening civil society bring a sense of pride on our faces once in a while—but our students and children seem not bothered. Do we discuss in the presence of our children-- the difficulties that we had to encounter all the way or the sacrifices of our armed forces and the common man or do we even discuss the idea of India with them? Without Google guiding them, and without any previous preparation, how many of our children aged 15 years and above (residing in Kuwait) shall be able to talk for full ten minutes on India?
What are we doing with them? What sense of pride can one feel in looking at the indifferent, disinterested and apathetic faces of our young and the growing? Parents dream that their children will all settle in the US or UK or Canada or Australia or if not anywhere else—then in Kuwait. It is also amazing that we are so very confident that we are going to be here in Kuwait or in some other country, forever… One cruel masterstroke of destiny and the mightiest have to bite dust… This important lesson was also supposed to be taught to our children. Living in arrogance and over-confidence and taking pride in the ability to speak impeccable English and live a lavish life-style--- are these the lessons that one generation should consciously plan to teach to the next? Or, are we still clueless about what are our children learning and from where?

If we feel embarrassed to connect our children with their own nation, let us, at least, teach them a few lessons about being sensitive to the places we are dreaming to send them to… At least, let them be interested in the issues of Canada or Australia—or wherever they are living. In our attempts at disconnecting them from the bleak realities of India---we are disconnecting them from everything, including their own inner selves.

Let us remember that their capacity to connect is being severed by the parents and or teachers themselves… their capacity to feel is being crushed… their capacity to relate to is being avoided… and their capacity to know and think is being under-estimated. All of this will boomerang in alarming ways when these very children will not know anything beyond their selfish concerns; when they will not feel anything but their own pleasure and pain; when they will not relate to anyone but themselves and when they will connect with no one.

Dr. Navniit Gandhi is an academic, a feature writer and an author, who also counsels and recurrently conducts training workshops. Over 200 feature articles and 7 Books written by her have been published till date. Her most recent publication is a Book titled: Dear Parents, published by BYB Publications, Mumbai in June 2018. She has also authored two Work-books and two e-booklets. She takes lectures/training sessions at Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Kuwait and Gurukul—a skill development centre in Salmiya, Kuwait.
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Express your comment on this article

 
rekha
Thursday, December 14, 2017
Very true !! However, it is just not the NRI children who are disconnected but similar is the situation in India where children are disconnected from their grassroot (native) and do not speak their mother-tongue. It is alarming but better late then never, started thinking to bridge the gap.

darshan deshmukh
Monday, November 27, 2017
excellent article.... thanks.. started thinking.... need some action..

Ancy
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
True that !!! Really glad to such an excellent article.I hope this may awaken the parents who beam in pride about their children being raised up in extravaganza life style here in kuwait.

Pradeep
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Excellent article! Very thought provoking and for a amjority of the Indian diaspora a rude awakening. Hopefully this will serve as a catalyst for some to guide the younger generation to be more connected!

Siva Raju Samanuru
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Awakening and inspired review on current situation and kids attitude inKuwait towards India and its rich culture.Thank you for your concern upon kids and valuable guidance to parents who are keeping their kids stubborn by giving IPads and smartphones so that they will not disturb them.Its everyone’s responsibility to know about our whereabouts and basic culture.I know many of parents are feeling proud by watching their kids speaking fluent English.Your review may alarm their situation and hopefully will change.
Thank You

sb
Saturday, October 28, 2017
very well written article. much to learn from it. keep it up. always waiting for your next article !!!!!!!!

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