Indian mothers have a habit. They always have had it. When her child falls down and begins crying, she will always blame the floor.
Million babies have born from million mothers. Million babies have fallen a million times. Million cries. Million blames. The floor has stayed the same. Never buckling, never yielding.
Winter is in the cusp of its beginning, when Anita, a Dalit girl from rural Tamil Nadu, decided to take her life away upon knowing she could never fulfil her dreams of becoming a doctor. “NeeT is not for poor people like me,” she said in her last statement. “We don’t know what it is–it should be banned.” Since her death, Tamil Nadu is in the brink of another war against the establishment. Politicians have ironed out their coloured towels waiting for a little bit of photo-op. Actors belied their unadulterated, impeccably well-channeled anger through cameras that carefully skipped over aforementioned politicians. Tweets flew. Faces reddened. Like a pimple that becomes raw just before rupturing. Like an effervescent drink that had its cork lifted.
National Eligibility cum Entrance Exam (NeeT) is a Supreme Court approved gateway to a deserving candidate aspiring to be an MBBS or BDS student. While it is very well known that NeeT improves the standards of a unified examination that serves all over the country, its real reason in place is much more than that. Anybody who had walked into a hospital with a simple illness would know that the establishment is reek with corruption and sub-par services. On top of that getting into an MBBS stream (while as prestigious as it may seem) has also been made possible to people who only aspire to be a doctor without what it takes to become one. Introducing a standard practice of medicine into any and every doctor birthed out of this country requires a single gateway. NeeT is unambiguous: it is the way forward.
Anita was charming–there is no doubt about that. She had been a lone and surprisingly a bold voice against what she thought was something that was pinned against her. She raised her meek, firm voice whenever it was needed occupying her very deserving spotlight for all the right reasons. She soon became a symbol of mutiny against what Tamil nationalists saw as oppression oozing from North. Support started pouring in. She was told to be something she was not. A simple soul so far lost in books and verbose text-books was suddenly expected to say all the right things all the time. Like a coming-of-age story turning into horror after first-half. She concluded enough was enough. She decided to hang. Like a hanging mid-sentence. Like a hanging semi-colon. Like never-ending three dots.
Rage is not an answer to everything. It has its own properties: corruptive power in the beginning followed by submissive ebbing. Children have always been hanging: in the face of a blue-whale game, when the plastic Taj-Mahal project broke in the bus, when the girl he though loved him said good-bye, when the state-board exam results didn’t suit his parents’ dignity. We always focus our anger over the establishment, when the answers we are searching for lives under our very roof. Because we don’t want to blame our children. We don’t want to see them cry. We build walls around them. And when it is time for us to open the gates, it is too much to take in. We need to teach them to be strong, we have to. We don’t blow up the target, if we can’t dart the arrow into the red-centre. We stay up. We work hard. We achieve. We pass it on to our children. If NeeT is hard and your child fails, you teach them failure is inevitable, and to be successful in a competitive world, we face challenges head on. In the face of the unknown, we don’t ban them. We embrace them.
The floor will never change. It’s time we teach our children this.