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Celebrate the woman - March Musings

By G. Balasubramanian

Whenever I think of March and how the examinations impacted the school environment, my memory runs back to an incident that happened in late seventies, when I was the Principal of an affiliated school. Sometimes in the second week of March, when the school examinations were going on concurrently alongside the Board examination, a middle-aged gentleman who was appearing quite smart walked into my office. Having introduced himself as an executive working in US, he detailed about his two children studying in the school. I could immediately recognize those children, one just appearing for class X exam then and another girl child studying in class 8. He said that he needed the Transfer Certificate of both of them, as he intends to take them for further studies in US.

Well, I had never seen this gentleman in my school anytime, as the children were usually dropped in the school by their mother only and she alone used to come to attend the meetings. I advised him that he should hold on till the exams are over and results declared so that it would be appropriate. He replied “Sir, all these marks and certificates don’t make any impact for admission there. All that I need is only a Transfer certificate which would show that they have studied in India. All their further admissions in schools there I will take care of.” He was insisting on the Transfer Certificate being issued on the same day. I declined to accede to his request and said he should meet me after two days. After quite an argument he walked out and gave a big discourse to my office how PR happens in US and this is not the way the parents should be handled. He threatened to lodge a complaint against me both with Police and the Board.

After a few hours, when the exams were over and the children were leaving, I saw the girl whose TC was being sought walking down the stairs. Casually I remarked “So, you are going to study in US from next year?” She turned around “US? No sir.” I replied “That is what your dad told me. He wanted your TC.” She didn’t reply and walked away. A few hours later, the girl returned along with her mother, who was almost in tears. She told me that a legal separation was pending with her husband and the judgment was expected anytime soon. ‘Kindly don’t give TC Sir. As such even the admission forms have been signed only by me. Subsequent to my advice, she brought a stay from the court on any action from the school till the case is disposed of. Well, the students continued for several years under the care of the mother.

The challenge of single parents, especially mothers, managing, supporting and taking care of their children is indeed unimaginable. I had seen several women managing these challenges with grit, courage and grace. On this Women’s day I really salute them!

The tremendous change in the role of women in India in the past few decades is commendable- Awesome! Name any field – from participation to leadership, they have proved themselves! It is also important to understand that even women who have not had their schooling, formal education have demonstrated several styles of leadership which the society failed to recognize. I get often inspired from my mother, who hadn’t had a school certificate, but at 97, she tells me ‘I am feeling bored sitting idle. Give me some good book to read.”

To add, “I have not seen the last two issues of the Tamil magazine ‘Vaaname Ellai” (sky is the Limit) – a monthly on education Indeed, for those who want to stay relevant and achieve “Sky is the limit”! Let us not link the formal learning to competencies women have demonstrated over generations. They were icons of experiential education!

In early sixties, when I studied Hindi, the book “Kamayani” (an amazing Hindi epic by Jaishankar Prasad) I read several times the chapter on ‘shradha’ which carries the following lines.

नारी! तुम केवल श्रद्धा हो
विश्वास-रजत-नग पगतल में,
पीयूष-स्रोत बहा करो
जीवन के सुंदर समतल में।

These words acquire a new meaning and a new interpretation in the changing world.

Happy Women’s Day!