An Indian Childhood

There are a lot of speculations and talk of India these days. It is said to be an emerging power,the new world order ,and a lot is said and written about it.

India is a very class conscious society. It is very divided as well on the grounds of  caste and culture. Though there are only two main religions but they have many sub divisions. And they are so segregated on these lines that some of them will never set foot into the house of someone who belongs to a different sect to their own.

There is no provision for health,education or housing, or any other support,so if you can not work you starve, Hence those who are not able bodied,they beg and rely on charity of others. Despite the lack of health care,there is one thing in abundance,and that is children. Poor health and lack of food does not seem to affect the fertility of the masses,and it is quite normal for very poor people to have half a dozen children. I started my professional life as a health visitor and was part of a massive family planing campaign, but that and other such campaigns have not made a dent in the population,in the year 2000 it passed the billion mark and has been growing since.The masses consider children to be gifts from God,and no one dares to deny it. The irony is that the poor they are,the more ignorant and just give in to nature, as they have no knowledge of contraception.

I was very lucky to be born into an upper middle class family, my grand fathers from both sides were scholars. My paternal grand father was a very famous attorney, who had read law at Cambridge. He was big believer in education,and in 1920,he created a sensation by refusing to pay dowry for his daughters,but offering to send his would be son-in-laws to England for higher education, and he did.

The Indians are very traditional,orthodox and religious people. Their lives are dominated by rituals and religious celebrations, they care a huge deal about keeping up appearances and there is an inbuilt desire in every Indian to outdo others,and being the best.

I remember how much cosseted my childhood was. Nannies, servants chauffeurs and various other trappings which wealth can bring. I also remember that the generation of my parents and grandparents had a huge affection for the British. My father used to say that the partition of India came about,because Nehru and Jinnah wanted to become prime ministers. And it was the biggest tragedy of its time. Nearly one million people were killed and twice that number lost their homes. Hindus and Muslims co-existed happily before,but once the seed of hatered was planted into ordinary peoples mind,by those who had self interest,they turned on each other. There is no one in INdia and Pakistan whose family has not been divided due to the partition. My fathers two sisters went to Pakistan ,and I have never seen them. It is incredible to think that people who had so much in common,could become so divided. But that is what politics can do to you.

Though I have spent more of my life in England than in India, but I have the same priorities as my ancestors. I strived for my children to have good education,introduced them to books at a very early age, and drummed the importance of education into them. And today I feel so enriched, because they have worked hard,made most of the opportunities and have got themselves very good qualifications.

So you see Indians put a huge emphasis on education, teachers are considered sacred,because they impart knowledge,they are revered and highly respected. That is also something my children were taught. I still see their school teachers in town and they always stop and ask after their pupils, and remember them with affection,and that for me is the legacy of my childhood, which am proud my children are following too.

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