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Friday, March 27, 2009

WE AND OUR CHILDREN


By Dr. S. Radhakrishnan,
Former President of India.


Children constitute the wealth of the country and by directing their energies in proper channels, we improve the physical and mental health of whole community.

We have worshipped the divine Lord Krishna. One of the most famous symbols of the Christian religion is the picture of the Medonna and the Child. To become like a little child is not easy. It costs us a great deal to acquire the grace and meekness of the child. The Chinese thinker Mencies observed: “A great man is one who has not lost the child’s heart.’

There are things which are hidden from the learned and reavealed to babes. Narada, who gives the knowledge of the Supreme Self approaches Sanatkumara who is represented in Indian tradition as an eternal child. The learned Narada goes to the unlearned Sanatkumara for instruction.

The child symbolizes open mindedness, receptivity. Children are warm-hearted and eager to make friends. A child’s personality is sensitive and responds rapidly to the surrounding influences. Physical care of children is not enough, emotional care is also needed.

By helping the children to love their fellows whatever be their caste or community, we will develop a sense of brotherhood. By bringing the children in one fold today, we foster tomorrow a sense of community among all Indians.

In our country we train children to feel that they are members of this caste or that community, of this province or that language group, and thus give a wrong twist to their minds.

When it is our desire to train our people to feel that they are first and foremost citizens of this great land, this direction of the mind will have to start when they are little children. Every child is an experiment, an adventure into nobler life, an opportunity to change the old pattern and make it new. Every child is a distinct individual.

We have to give our children a sense of the great spiritual heritage and make them feel proud of their Indianness. We should give children an idea of our culture that all religions lead to God and they are only different pathways. To quarrel about the ways to God is both irrelevant and irreligious. Religious intolerance is against the spirit for which this country has stood for centuries. Our culture tells us that God dwells in the hear of every being, even if he be wicked or degenerate. This faith is the basis of democracy. It asks us to practise charity, self-control and compassion. It impresses on us the importance of our action since every action has a reaction.

The world is a moral order. Transgression of the moral law is followed by punishment. We cannot be unjust with impunity. We must therefore love justice. These lessons are to be conveyed to the children by means of songs and stories, play and work. By celebrating national festivals and anniversaries of great leaders, children grasp the spirit of our heritage. Excursions may reveal them to the vastness of our country and the greatness of its art and architecture.

Children get their first picture of the past from historical tales. History books should be carefully written and should promote friendship among nations. We must help our children to think of India as a whole, as a nation with its part to play in the world. Books and films for children should be carefully prepared. There should be special radio programmes for children into which great care, vitality and imaginative experience are put. Radio and cinema must enlarge the horizons of children. We must keep children aware of the value of good reading. Great books are the basis of our culture and civilization.

Care of children is not only a science but an art. We need people who have a genuine love and respect for children. It is essential that ideas of children’s welfare should spread in villages. Many ladies of middle class families may be in a position to spare few hours a week and be trained for this purpose. Municpalities and Town Committees should consider their duty to provide parks and playgrounds, libraries and nurseries, balbhavans for children, for sometimes neither home nor schools offer facilities. The children should be given high priority in our plans for social reconstruction.

(Condensed from a speech of the writer. Courtesy: “Wisdom” February 2009 issue)

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