Teen’s death sparks debate on corporal punishment
Rouvanjit, a student of La Martiniere School for Boys, was found dead in his room days after he was caned by his teachers.
The case has drawn widespread support after Ajay Rawla lodged a police complaint alleging his son hanged himself due to the “inhuman torture inflicted by his teachers”.
A quick search on the Internet reveals what many say is an apathetic attitude of academic staff towards pupils in Indian schools.
As Rawla sought more information following his son’s death, he found popular social networking sites like Facebook full of testimonials from students who have experienced corporal punishment.
People recount disturbing experiences at school ranging from humiliation in front of peers to verbal and physical abuse.
Rouvanjit’s case is not an exception.
India’s education system and its evaluation processes have also come under the scanner for a spike in student suicides which occur mostly because they fail to cope with the burden of expectations from their family and teachers.
What the death of Rouvanjit has done is put the focus again on the issue of student-teacher relationships in particular and Indian education in general.
Reams of newsprint have been spent on it and even commercially focussed Bollywood has ventured to address the ills of the Indian education system.
Remember the film “Taare Zameen Par” or last year’s mega-hit “3 Idiots”? The films are a commentary on a world in which heavy parental expectation and academic competition have meant a steady rise in depression, dysfunctional lifestyles and even suicides among students.
Some education reforms have already been implemented — a grading system has been put in place for a nationwide school board examination taken by 15-year-olds and the test may even be made optional from next year.
Even so, the relentless administration of discipline is a hallmark of the Indian education system that perhaps prizes learning by rote, often ignores a student’s natural talents and writes off those who can’t cope or fit its definition of success.
The law may prohibit corporal punishment but without a change of attitude, implementation could be limited and what we will continue to do is be guilty of quashing our children’s dreams and turning them into assembly line zombies, that too if they survive the trauma.