How many of India's school leaving children fall into the pocket money bracket which allows them to use savings to play the money market? In a country where getting kids into school and keeping them there has proved to be a Herculean task, ambitious plans are on the anvil to teach school leaving kids to go beyond filling out cheques and bank pay-in slips to dabble in the money market to multiply their pocket money savings as soon as they leave school.
No doubt this would be a laudable exercise for that miniscule percentage which gets pocket money in four and five figure sums. The question is: how large is the percentage that is able to make enough savings from pocket money to play the market? Perhaps it would be miniscule compared to the massive percentage of school leaving young people who would benefit tremendously more from a certain amount of in depth knowledge of hygiene and physiology.
Upcoming generations need to know how the body works and how to take more than just elementary care of it; something about the causes, effects, symptoms and management of some of the common diseases they and their families can be afflicted with. This body of knowledge would go a long way in enabling young adults and parents in looking after themselves and their offspring, recognizing and coping with childhood ailments, asking the right questions from doctors so that they are not led away by the blatantly frightening tactics and unfortunately money-minting propensities of the medical community of their times.
Undoubtedly much larger savings would be generated from being able to recognize and treat elementary illness and avoid wasteful medications, as the spread and benefit of this knowledge would cover the much larger segment of populations drawing actual benefit from this education.
Perhaps that is why this particular subject, physiology and hygiene has not only been removed from the school curriculum across the country, even old textbooks are not to be found, for love or for money!!
When we were in school, we learnt all about our bodies and about the management of many of the common diseases of our times. When we grew up and reared young families, we went to doctors much much less than is the practice today. Are our children and we healthier or less than the growing generation today that falls sick over an extra ice-cream or gol gappa treat and sniffles after an evening swim?
For let us face it: the medical lobby has grown too fast and too powerful to let health remain in the hands of the individual. If that were to remain the case, how would doctors dabble with their millions in the money market? Along with the loss of control over their bodies, younger generations are totally clueless about basics ' and so, it seems, are many of the Super Specialists.
Let me tell you a couple of stories:
There was this very independent young couple, short on health/medical knowledge and totally averse to recourse to either of the mummies. When the young lady developed an upset, rumbling stomach with nausea threatening, which persisted for more than a week, they went to a specialist'gastric. And that butchering duffer actually performed an endoscopy before telling them that they were to become parents!! Had the duffer specialist forgotten the basic symptoms of early pregnancy? Or was he too keen to make that extra couple thousand bucks from the younger duffers?
Then there was the case of an enthusiastic medical education administrator who prepared the blueprint of elementary medical knowledge, along the lines offered to the Barefoot doctors of China. A shortened syllabus was chalked out, cutting down the current five and half years for MBBS to barely three years, by zeroing in on the diseases which are common to our rural hinterlands.
The established medical fraternity that routinely inducts its own younger generation into its medical 'businesses' sabotaged the scheme, ready for implementation with the induction of students to the shortened course.
'How can we have half-baked doctors?' they ranted when actually they worried 'If these guys treat the villagers in the villages and small towns, how many will be left for us to fleece?'
That was over a quarter of a century ago. Today the medical community has progressed to Multi Specialty hospitals and those catering to medical tourists who are so much more lucrative than local patients.
Availability of medical facilities in rural areas remains perhaps as low as it stood then and the spread of 'Health' is as uneven as it stood then. Perhaps more. In our days, people like us did not lose babies at birth. It was our servants and staff and such like that did. Today despite the spread of post natal and pediatric hospitals, people like us, our younger generations are actually losing babies!!
Would that be a clincher in the case for the re introduction of a course in hygiene and physiology at the school level? So that India brings out generations that are able to look after their own basic health. Perhaps the money saved from that can be used, by those so inclined, to dabble in the money markets.
It is time to ponder these aspects of the education scene in India, along with that of the entry of the International Baccalaureate Schools with an emphasis on cultivating children's creativity at a fees cost equivalent, if not more than what it costs an ordinary upper middle class family to send its offspring for an advanced post graduate degree in the West.
Before we totally revolutionize, let us consider the fact that apparently our system has something going for it. Every year thousands of our graduates head for foreign shores where they have steadily and surely gained a significant place in the economies of countries around the globe. Should we not zero in on the responsible factors and replicate them in the areas which are lagging behind?