Students are supposed to remember their school days with nostalgia but I always remember my last two years with both horror and relief: horror because pretty much every day was a stressful nightmare and relief because I never have to deal with that again. And sadly, I’m not alone in this.
Something that I recognised in Mirinda’s new advertisement that carries the hashtag #ReleaseThePressure. While it’s all the rage for commercial brands to co-opt in socially conscious movements (*cough Dove cough*), in spite of everything, this one is likely to hit a personal spot for many of us who have survived India’s education system.
The children in the video write letters to their parents expressing sentiments I can easily recall my 15-year-old self thinking. From teachers letting loose at school, to coming home and having to listen to the heavy silence of your parents’ disappointment, these things can be hard on teenagers. And they are, very much so.India has among the highest suicide rates among youth in the world, a number not to be proud of. Many students face overwhelming pressure to ‘succeed’: a success that is only defined by clearing a set of standardised exams and then getting into a good university. Their happiness, their mental health, none of that matters in this ‘success’ at all.
And while the video may be a dramatised representation, the words in those letters are very much real. As are the cries for help. And it’s time someone sat up and listened. Starting with the parents who watch this ad.