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Coloring Between The Lines

Coloring Between The Lines

June 11, 2013
Suppressing young minds is India's loss.

When kids are in kindergarten, they are very often given assignments where they are asked to fill colour inside shapes. The instruction given by the teacher in the notebook being: “colour between the lines”. Hapless parents supervising the learning of the kid in question try to ensure that s/he colours between the lines as was instructed. This, along with other such regimental exercises, I believe, is a mistake, and here’s why. Who decides what ‘lines’ a young mind should draw and where and how? Who has the right to dictate what colour a child should fill where and why? A young mind is closest to nature and therefore closest to perfection. Any attempt to cure it or mould it this way or that is a grave mistake, one that not only suppresses creativity, but in later life makes morons incapable of sound decision-making abilities or even thinking independently.

In later years, the Indian education system, lays great emphasis on almost near-military standards of regimentation, what with the craze of cracking one of the coveted ‘competitive exams’, with a resultant large number of new youth cramming their brains with information that is stale and stagnant, regurgitating the ‘knowledge’ so acquired on to exam papers in the hope of launching a rocket to land near the proverbial ‘pot of gold’ at the end of the rainbow.

However, the day these people join the workforce, they are found sadly deficient in thinking abilities, especially any original thinking out of the box so to speak.  Since childhood they have been taught to colour between the lines. How would they now be able to step outside the line and plug into the creative aspects of their brains?

Lines of control are there everywhere, if you know what I mean, and depending on the scenario, they can be desirable or undesirable.

Our mythologies tell us not to cross the line. Look what happened to Sita (for the uninitiated-abduction by the demon Ravana) since she had dared cross the line!

While driving you are expected to follow rules. If you look at the traffic norms wilfully flouted on Indian roads, you wonder how in real life the citizens taught to “colour between the lines” choose not to remain between ‘lines’ that were meant to ensure road safety for all.

When, in government or private organizations, it is a given that one has to grease the palm of an official or two in order to get something done, you ask why no-one bats an eye-lid while crossing lines of ethics.

Rumours have abounded about spot fixing in the current Indian Premier League (IPL). Suspicions were strife since the very advent of the IPL two years ago although nobody had ever been charged before. The current scandal implicates many, albeit all are innocent until proven guilty. Nonetheless, the question once again is that of crossing a line of personal/ professional ethics.

Our politician goons are flouting such lines of conduct every day, so much so that no one thinks that anything is amiss in that any more. Case in point where an artist’s creativity is face to face with regimentation dictates of “colouring between the lines” is that of Padmashree, Padma  Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan awardee M.F. Hussain living in exile, accepting  Qatari citizenship and dying in a London hospital with his dream of returning to his motherland remaining unfulfilled as he had enraged Indian Hindu groups like - Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena and Vishwa Hindu Parishad and these self-appointed  guardians of Hindu morality had attacked his house and allegedly even issued death-threats.

So my question is what good comes of this way of training (read, castrating) young minds? How much longer do we have to wait before we break free of boundaries and achieve the full potential of what we are capable of?


  • Supratik SEN
    Supratik SEN
    01.07.13 08:56 PM
    Good writing! Great thought! It's frightening to know what we do to our children despite being well-meaning parents!
    26.06.13 10:41 PM
    The ratio of sheeps to wolfs have to be bigger, that is the way of the system in the world, otherwise we would have nothing but the free thinkers who thinks they know best, when that is not always true.

    I'm all for regimented way otherwise discipline goes out of window.
  • Khadija
    25.06.13 06:56 AM
    True. I spent over a year in India, and it was frightening how regimented everyone's minds were. It was almost a psychological handicap, even in the educated young people. Couldn't think up an original thought to save their lives, and the few who did were crushed by the system. I imagine this sort of anaesthetisation begins at home and in school until the young person is numbed out before their life has even started. What a waste.

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