By Daipayan Dhar:
Recently, I was invited by my juniors to attend the alumni meet of my school, Kendriya Vidyalaya, Cossipore, Kolkata, which was on June 25. I was happy to receive this invitation and I was planning to go. This was the school where I had had a good time. Or was I too blind to see the discrimination I faced?
When I passed Class 10, I opted for commerce, even though I had grades to get into Science. I took it by choice. There were few more who had the required grades but chose commerce.
I used to ask them why they did not take up Science. They used to answer that they didn’t have enough money to study engineering.
Surprisingly, there was a concentration of SC, ST, OBC and Muslims in the Commerce section than that of Science, and they were economically weak too. Is it a surprise or a made-up scenario? It was hard to analyse at that point in time.
Our Principal used to come to our class almost every day, just to humiliate us, tell us that we are good for nothing, and that we will be opening up pan shops one day.
We became so used to it that we never cared. The other teachers, starting from primary to higher secondary, used to pass comments on the students of commerce. The previous principal had the same kind of mindset. Our participation in cultural functions was the least.
Brahminism was promoted not only by the principals. The teachers while teaching in class used to give value judgments on how a girl is supposed to be.
A Hindi teacher, not surprisingly a Brahmin, once said in class that women should not go to work and is supposed to take care of her family and children. Now there have been theories which prove that patriarchy in Indian culture is not a result of British Victorianism, but Brahminism which predominated in the mainstream and it was seen as a standard way of living to be achieved by the lower caste.
Our teachers of language were reluctant to speak a word against caste. The Brahmin Savarna teachers used to passively discriminate against the students from the lower caste. We were conditioned to believe from the very first day that Hindi is our national language and Sanskrit is the mother of all languages, in spite of the fact that India has no national language.
This is how Kendriya Vidyalaya, Cossipore, a central school, promotes its brahminical ideology and patriarchy among the students. Just because the school never had a student body (and very few schools have it), the whole thing gets easily overlooked.
Today, the same principal is in authority. On World AIDS day, she spoke about how a boy holding a girl’s hand can cause AIDS! The general trend of making a typical sitting arrangement in class where the boys and the girls sit separately, and also making them stand separately in the morning assembly, is something that is unthinkable in this current age.
Is this how coeducation is supposed to promote gender equality? Well, surely not in Kendriya Vidyalaya, Cossipore.