My grandson was the youngest voter at the Polling Station – no he did not vote- but as a citizen of this country he will be a voter very soon because eighteen years will pass by soon enough. I have always taken my children with me for voting not only because I didn’t want to leave them at home while we voted but also to inculcate in them the values of citizenship. Being part of a democracy is indeed an honour and it is up to us parents to make our children aware of this privilege. Children learn by example and it is our values that they reflect.
When we were growing up, every movie theatre showed a short B & W documentary where our leaders walked in a Charlie Chaplin Esque fashion as they opened factories, visited different countries and took salutes at different parades. In the age of no television, this was the only way we kept in touch with the rest of the country. With televisions blaring in every home, our children are exposed to the goings on in our country and the rest of the world almost 24×7 with the mere press of a button. But this easily accessible medium has its perils too: leadership has been demystified.
While television and press programs aim at increasing knowledge, their attention to detail, making issues out of non-issues have often reduced our politicians and their behaviour to mere tamashas or street performances. The lack of decorum with which everyone in public life is behaving these days leaves our children with very few role models we would like them to emulate or aspire to be.
There is a saying in Sanskrit – the king is like his subjects – which particularly holds true in our democracy where we elect our representatives to parliament. But what are the values these leaders are living by? Not only are they morally corrupt but have absolutely no sense of nationhood, being more interested in the seat of power rather than the good of the people they are meant to serve and speeches at the hustings are more rabble rousing rants and mud slinging matches rather than inspiring oratory.
This deterioration of public behaviour has made it all the more important for us to instill values of nationhood and citizenship in our young minds. We can start by teaching children to cross roads at the crossroad and not run across willy-nilly. Throwing garbage in bins, standing in queues, respecting others’ time are simple ways in which we can teach children basic civic sense.
Moral Science , a subject which was taught to non-Christian children in Christian schools exempt from Bible studies was an excellent value based education program. Since I am just a grandmother of a one year old, I am not aware if this subject is taught in all schools but if it isn’t, we can always make a start with the good old bedtime story where good was rewarded and evil punished.
In view of the fact that young parents are often pressed for time it is up to us grandparents to take on the responsibility of instilling values to the little ones in our care. So grannies and grandpas, it’s never too young to make citizens of tomorrow, so take up your specs and tweak your imagination and spin yarns of heroes and heroines in tales of valour that your young grandchild can dream on because our nation needs leaders that we can be proud of.
As a mother of two thirty-year old daughters and a grandmother of a nineteen week old grandson, Sunita Rajwade has been there and done that. A hands on mom, she has seen two girls grow successfully through baby hood, toddler hood, adolescence and adult hood; solving their maths problems and contributing to their angst of growing up with a mom “who doesn’t understand”. But now as a grandmother, she’s being appreciated for her “wisdom” and “understanding” and would like to share my experiences of this wonderful journey from motherhood to grandmotherhood.