TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 16 Jan 2023
These days, most young people wear interesting t-shirts that have sometimes photos of Spiderman or some other popular character that children like. These t-shirts are in various colours and designs that these young people wear without any qualms or fears.
Other photos or characters that adorn these shirts are names of cities such as Paris or Heisenberg or New York City or any important international city — never the name of some well known Indian place such as Benares or Bombay or Bangalore.
When I come across some youngsters sitting together and wearing t-shirts of various designs and colours and cities, I can’t resist asking these kids, ‘Have you been to Paris or Heisenberg?’
I know their negative answers beforehand but am surprised to see their indifference to my question and indifference to the name of an international city. In spite of that I persist with my one way conversation about these cities or their well known landmark places such as Eiffel Tower or Big Ben or some Cathedral.
As indicated above I notice acute indifference in these youngsters. Some of course know that Paris is capital of France but their knowledge of Eiffel Tower is at best doubtful. Even when I try to explain the importance of some French monuments such as Eiffel Tower or some well known Museum such as Louvre Museum in that city, I feel I am hitting a brick wall. The same indifference and ignorance is displayed about the Mona Lisa and her bewitching smile.
This ignorance and indifference is but to be expected in many youngsters, but my questions still remain — ‘Why have photos of these important cities or monuments the t shirts worn by poor Indian youngsters who perhaps do not know much of southern cities of India, not to speak of European cities.
I am not suggesting that all Indian youngsters are ignorant or indifferent as indicated above. Perhaps my choice of identifying youngsters is faulty. Some Indian youngsters are not only intelligent and knowledgeable but perhaps I don’t move in those circles to come in their contact. Maybe then I am the guilty person.
In any case demand for good jobs and occupations is more important than knowing about some European or American city. If there are good occupations or jobs for these young people, these people will gradually know more about these distant destinations also.
Moreover, there is constant attrition between India and some of our immediate neighbors— better improve these relations rather than worry about distant countries and people.
I wonder how the state of knowledge of youngsters of other countries is.
Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, an educationist, Gandhian scholar and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University. His new book, A Garland of Ideas—Gandhian, Religious, Educational, Environmental was published recently in Delhi. firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 16 Jan 2023.
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