We often happen to come across a phrase ‘India of my dreams’ and with that a ocean of thoughts about how we want our motherland to be. I want the India of my dreams to be prosperous, clean, healthy, strong and caring. But have we ever asked ourselves that why is it India of my dreams and not India today? When I did, I realized that it is the high rates of illiteracy which is plaguing our socio-economic scenario. Today we are touching the sky with our advancements in science and technology and sports. Indians have even set foot in space, but still there are millions of Indians for whom basic education is a luxury. Thousands of Indians offline, i.e. not connected to the internet. It is time that we awake and at least take notice.
In 2014, according to a popular daily, UNESCO stated that India has the largest population of illiterate adults with 287 million people. In India there is also a dramatic variance in the literacy rates between men and women. But isn’t right to education a fundamental right? Low female literacy rates leads to a hundred other major social issues out of which superstition against contraception and use of protection is a serious issue of concern. This has lead to an ungovernable growth in population. Many of our industrialists and politicians scream slogans supporting this uncontrollable population growth and put it as ‘in our number lies our strength’. But, is it really our strength? With limited resources the increasingly growing population it is only more mouths to feed and less to no jobs and poverty. Though for our politicians and industrialists the growing population, especially with the uneducated and unemployed being at the base of the pyramid it is a source of more exercising power and strength. It means more controlled and pursuable vote bank and minimum wage labor.
The roots of illiteracy are buried too deep and branches spread too wide. The problems rising due to illiteracy are metastasising like cancer. Due to lack of basic education and awareness this large group of the Indian society is just merely existing fighting adversities without the knowledge of how to and are only getting more and more entangled. In such a place discussion on politics, social affairs and literature over a cup of tea is a farfetched dream. Democracy might be a foreign term and fundamental rights unheard of. When this ignorance is exploited and they are turned into the major vote bank in exchange of a sack of rice or a plate of biriyani or in better case scenarios cheap quality laptops, ‘Right To Vote’ loses it meaning and leads the largest democracy in the world to jeopardy.
Max Muller once said, “There is no book in the world that is so thrilling, stirring and inspiring as the Upanishads.” We have always been the land of abundance culture, heritage and traditions. The world today and back in history have always acknowledged India’s contribution in philosophy, science, mathematics and literature. Yet, today we fail to educate our own. We allow illiteracy to reside among us and harbor crime against women and violence and abuse. The consequence of illiteracy is generational. Uneducated parents involve themselves in crime against their own as they fall prey to superstition and prejudices. They paint their hands in the blood of their own girl child. They strangle the childhood of their children by carrying out heinous crimes like child marriage. Just because of lack of education and awareness. Education is not only the ability to read and right, it a wholesome growth of an individual. Education makes one civic, mannered, compassionate, honest and kind.
An illiterate man overcast his world with difficulties. He is unemployed and faces the misery of poverty. The mortality rates become high for him and his family because medical care is unaffordable. And for most the cycle goes on for generations. Such men are an easy prey to crime and violence. For some it is a source of income, a way to feed the family and for some an opportunity to rise in social stature.
The India of our dreams should be literate. And it will be a revolutionary reform to the Indian society. Now, most of us might say what can we do about it? We can do a lot. We can ask questions. The right questions. We need to ask questions till we make the people in power uncomfortable enough to do something about it. We should ask them about the reduction in investment on education, about the wide variance in the literacy rates of men and women. We, the privileged can exploit the boon we have access to, ‘The Internet’. We can instigate the media to ask the right questions. Besides questioning the system we can also invest a tad of our time in educating at least one. One hand reaching to another can help eradicate this social issue. We should all pledge to achieve this goal and together we can. Together we can walk the change and reach extraordinary heights. And we should start with our women because a hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.
Author : Debottama Mukherjee ,22 years old,SRM University, Kattankulathur, Chennai
A participant of International Essay Competition,August 2018