The abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution of India, which conferred special status upon the state of Jammu & Kashmir, by the BJP/NDA 2.0 government, is the latest in a series of events which have deeply divided the country’s citizenry. Since the BJP swept to power with a huge majority in General Election 2014, a rising wave of hyper-nationalism, majoritarianism and jingoism is sweeping the nation. Mob lynching of minorities by cow protection vigilantes, rabble-rousing and loutish displays of nationalism are dominating the national discourse. With the BJP/NDA government returned to power in General Election 2019 with a larger majority, the auguries are not good. Last month (July), a mob killed three people on suspicion of cattle theft in Bihar and another member of the minority community was lynched in Jharkhand for refusing to chant a religious slogan.
On the eve of Independence Day as the nation prepares to celebrate 73 years of freedom from British rule, the time is right for deep soul-searching. Why is contemporary India freed from British Raj through a unique non-violent movement led by Mahatma Gandhi straying from the secular, tolerant and libertarian ideals on which it was founded? More importantly, what are the root causes of the hyper-nationalism that provokes intolerance, anger and violence, and its impact on the country’s vulnerable children?
In our Independence Day special cover story, we highlight why it’s imperative for parents and teachers to educate children about India’s highly idealistic freedom struggle based on the doctrine of ahimsa (non-violence) and the basic secular and egalitarian values embedded in the Constitution of India by the country’s founding fathers.
Teachers and parents need to constructively interpret the values of liberty, equality and fraternity and rock solid fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution to all citizens without exception. Independence Day offers a great opportunity to sentient parents to educate children about the difference between hyper-nationalism which is threatening to destroy the hard-won unity and secular foundations of the republic, and nation-building patriotism which respects the country’s laws and the basic principles of equality and fundamental rights.
There’s much else in this August issue of ParentsWorld. In the Health & Nutrition section, Vellore-based pediatrician Dr. Gita Mathai provides useful information on common mosquito-borne diseases which strike during the monsoon season, while in the Early Childhood section, there’s a primer on infant oral care. Also check out the Academic Advantage feature on story-telling — the most enduring and proven pedagogy for engaging children and enhancing their knowledge, comprehension and cognitive capabilities.