Monday, December 17, 2007

A Rare School Shooting...

Since the time, you and I were kids, we have always considered school as a center of knowledge, a place of learning prefatorial and rudimentary manners of any genteel society. Add to this, it is a place that is always marked by childish mischief and gumptious cacophonies of students as they run aimlessly looking for their friends.

But this air of ingenuousness was punctured last week in one of most unimaginable act of juvenile delinquency. In what could be mentioned as one of the worst nightmares that any parent could think of, in a swish, upscale private school, 'The Euro International School' in Gurgaon, one of India's flourishing outsourcing hubs on the outskirts of Delhi, a murder happened in the the broad day light.

Abhishek Tyagi, a VIII class student of a school in Gurgaon, was shot dead by two of his classmates after school hours within the school premises. The reason was a simmering feud among Abhishek and two other students, a couple of days back and the end result of that disagreement was this shootout.

When one reads this news, the first thing in the morning on the breakfast table, it sends a chill down the spine. The most disturbing element being the type of violence happening in schools among the young ones. Bloodstains on the corridors of schools, were incidents that were typical to the western world but now it has happened in India. It abruptly throws before us, a bagful of questions. We all know that change is generally incremental in nature but sometimes things change so fast that it makes us think. What changed in the society that enabled these students to act and behave in a manner that was totally unexpected?

A simple evaluation of this incident tells that both the accused boys involved in the shooting hail from upper middle class families whose fathers dealt with the complex world of real estate business. The world real estate is tinctured with its own set of conventions, the more one enters into the intricacies of this business, the more insecure and worn-out life becomes. In India, ten years ago, very few people had access to guns for personal protection because of the difficult gun license policies. Times have changed now, with oodles of disposal income and with an intention of personal protection, the nouveau rich business men can easily own a gun.
'He took out his father's revolver from the TV trolley and smuggled it to the school concealed in his socks. He then hid the gun in the bathroom waiting for the school to get over and then fired at Abhishek,' said Mahender Pal Singh, Police Commissioner, Gurgaon.

What is really disturbing in this episode is that, the father of one of the accused leaves the revolver in the TV trolley as if it's a toy or a remote control that can be picked up and used by anyone. The father was definitely aware of his negligence in handling the firearm; else he would not have been absconding after the gruesome incident, only to have surrendered four days later.

Many people commented that, we Indians are slowly importing these kinds of mannerisms from the western world. Watching movies packaged with violent scenes and enjoying virtual games on the computer or the internet are often cited as reasons that induce rashness and recklessness in a child’s behavior. I don't buy and accept this accusation or statement in totality. It's not that I am supporting the West, but let's not get into the blame games when there are certain tangible fractures in the new Indian socio-eco system, especially in the cities and metropolis. I believe that that learning the right values is not a matter of geography but what we see around us and the way we are nurtured to handle things and situations.

The present day India is swamped by crass consumerism and rat race for acquisition of commodities of materialistic value. Many people are part of this never ending marathon, which leaves them with little energy and time at the end of the day for their children. At the growing age, children are like flexible clay, so their whippy minds can be modeled with ease. In my view, which ever part of the world one goes, children are always children; they are reflections of societal and parental values. A simple nourishing value system and strong parental involvement in this changing world are something those that are needed.

Do you feel that children would enjoy their school life under the surveillance of CCTV and metal detectors? One of my friends, Deepti poses many such questions in her post here.
The school has cameras fitted in and now the parents are demanding metal detectors. Whats happening in our schools? Where is all this anger coming from? Is it time for parents to think of home schooling? Or turn schools into prisons?

How can we protect our children from their own classmates?
Keep reading and remain connected.

(These views are mine and are not quoted at any individual.)

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At 10:25 AM, Blogger Anupama Kondayya said...

A thought provoking post indeed. My school used to be my second home and I have spent innumerable weekends in my school for some reason or the other. It used to feel like such a safe haven where nothing could go wrong. This Gurgaon incident makes me think whether I would have had the same carefree and wonderful days in my school had something of this sort happened at that time. Truly a sad turn of events.

At 11:12 AM, Anonymous Amrita said...

Tanay - you took the words out of my mouth or rather, the post out of my head. It annoys me when people throw about phrases like "just like the US" because it devalues both, the incidents that took place in the States and the one that took place in Gurgaon: both the circumstances and the profiles of the shooters are so different that apart from the fact that a gun was used in a school, there is virtually nothing that the two have in common. Very well put.


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