“What can we take on trust in this uncertain life? Happiness, greatness, pride – nothing is secure, nothing keeps. “ Since Euripides said that some two and a half millennia ago, much water has run under the bridge! I wonder which way would Euripides tweak it had he lived long enough to witness the Dark Middle Ages, the Industrial Revolution , the age of Colonialism and nuclear bombs, the www boom and the current Recession !Poor guy would be left with such a sense of exaggeration. Really, too much change has happened to this world in too less time. But the question that looms large is, Is this change for free? Or does it come with its own price? If it does, who is paying for it?
I personally hate using numbers but when they tell you a story, I prefer putting my ears onto the ground for a moment. I came across this beautiful video some time back called The Miniature Earth. It has a unique point to make. It says, if we could turn the population of the earth into a small village of 100 people, keeping the same proportions we have today, it would look something like this…there are 50 men, 50 women,.. 9 are disabled,…43 live without basic sanitation,18 live without an improved water source,6 people own 59% of the entire wealth of the community,13 are hungry or malnourished,14 cant read, only 7 are educated in the secondary level, only 12 have a computer, only 3 have an internet connection, If you keep your food in a refrigerator, your clothes in your closet, if you have a bed to sleep in, and a roof over your head, you are richer than 75% of the entire population,…If you have a bank account, you are one of the 30 wealthiest people in the world,..and so on. And the thought that they leave you with is, Appreciate what you have and do your best for a better world.
Some days just go into your personal history. That same day, I had watched the movie” The Motorcycle Diaries” and was seething with an urge to make my own world with my own rules. And this video happened. It served me as something more than just an amusing data interpretation exercise. On reflection , I found a great connection between the Great Wall of China and poverty, between the Pyramids and educational inequity, and it is that, all of them are man made. And yes, to make it sound a little truer, this “man” is made of you and I !And we made it.Period. But if theres something to look up to, its this.. if all these injustices, inequities are made made, wouldn’t its mitigation just be a case of another concerted human effort? It looked like a quasi inspirational moment . So if I am the reason why 1 in 3 children who begin primary school will drop out before reaching 5th grade, if more than half of us would lull our kids to sleep with just hungry stomachs , I are sure kidding myself with all the advertisement of an Incredible India or that the world is flat. I realised something needs to be done.
And then one day, good luck struck noble intentions.I came across this advertisement in the Times of India about a certain movement which is to start in India by the name , Teach for India. Drawing its inspiration from the hugely successful program Teach for America in the US, which was started by a 21 year old Princeton graduate called Wendy Kopp some 20 years back, Teach for India promised to put India’s most outstanding college grads and young professionals as leaders and change makers in the low income and governmental schools and in the communites there in with the vision that, one day every child will have an excellent education. That one square foot of advertisement looked like a lot of what I was always wanting , a space for idealism fuelled by a paradigm of service and that one magic chance to change the world. It doesn’t need any explaining that the little extra between the ordinary and the extra ordinary is one’s education. I cant imagine my childhood without books, fairies, summer vacations, my loving teachers, and those letters from hostel to Ma. And I cant imagine that for any child. With the fond view of a world where every child could get back his childhood, where every child is an owner of his dreams, where every child has a sentimental convocation photo on his dashboard, where every child feels that he/she is born to make manifest the glory of God in each one of them, I joined Teach for India. One step closer towards a really flattened world.
You be an engineer or a doctor, a travel guide or a businessman, a mathematician or a musician , if you think of each and every profession in the paradigm of service, as a thankful way of giving back to the part we owe to our existence in this world, we would be a better place. With around 600 million young people waiting for change to happen in India today, what more beautiful a concept can there be, than to fillip this completely renewable and assumingly inexhaustible source of youthful energy to create millions of nodes of changes in every
gully, nukkad and crossroad of India.Just imagine. One Gandhi, multiplied six hundred million times. Crazy mathematics. That, is the power of “Be”ing the change. And that is the space where wonderful organisations like Teach for India aspire to work.
And lastly, I would leave you with a thought to reflect on. Someone once said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves – who am I to be brilliant, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world…”
For change to happen, you either wait to see, or you choose to Be! Take your pick.
(It takes a thousand voices to tell a single story. Join the movement. Be the voice.For applying for the two year, full-time paid fellowship program with Teach For India log on tohttp://www.teachforindia.org/applynow.php )
Surya Pratap Deka,
Teach for India Fellow 2009.–
People make fortunes. I make a difference.