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Nursery rhymes: Why should “Pussy Cat” go to London even after 67 years of independence?

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By Prachi Mishra

“We must at present do our best to form a class, who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indians in blood and color, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.”  – Lord Macaulay

In 1853, Lord Macaulay introduced an anglicized education system in India. In various educational institutes, all over the country, students were taught English texts, right from the childhood.

Even after India’s genesis as an independent nation, a British dyed school system was adopted where the children’s poems had the “pussy cat” visiting London to meet the Queen instead of meeting some mighty King in India. This anglicized form of education continues even today, where toddlers are exposed to western rhymes, remaining unaware about the Indian literary works.

At a tender age when children evolve, learn to speak and become aware of the ways of the world, instead of being inculcated with the rich history and culture of India, they are influenced by the Western world. At the initial years of learning in which the children gain an understanding of their culture, they are exposed to a foreign culture. Most importantly, the children can’t really relate to these poems set in the western world.

It’s not erroneous to make children learn the  English nursery rhymes as they become aware of a new culture and it bridges the gap between the East and the West. These rhymes have an underlying historic and cultural significance which makes the children more aware.

However, the problem ensues when the Western influence dominates over the Indian. Today most of the children in India know that “Humpty Dumpty” refers to a canon nicknamed “Humpty Dumpty”, stationed during the English Civil War in 1648 that tumbled to the ground. Dozens of men who tried to lift it back, could not do so, given the size and weight of the cannon.

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But what about Indian history and culture? If you take a glimpse at any nursery rhyme book, only one or two poems by Indian poets will be mentioned in the book.

Isn’t it a setback to the Indian learning system, that right from the beginning the children are inculcated more with the unfamiliar Western culture? In a diverse land like India which has produced legendary writers and poets like Rabindranath Tagore, Sarojini Naidu, Sri Aurobindo, Vikram Seth etc., isn’t it appalling that only a few rhymes have made their way in children’s books?

In 2006, the Madhya Pradesh government had banned the teaching of English nursery rhymes in primary schools. The state education minister at that time, Narrotam Mishra was quoted as saying, “There is no need for English rhymes when there are Indian rhymes to infuse patriotism in children” adding, “We want our children to have value education in local colour”.

It’s about to time to examine how Indian literary works can find their way in the current primary education system. It’s not necessary that the children would be educated more effectively, if catered only with the English pieces of works right from the childhood. Exposure to the Indian literary works is of utmost importance.

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An Indian Origin Woman Minister in the Government of British Columbia

As member of the British Columbia legislative assembly, she is a minister representing the Liberal Party in the government headed by Premier John Horgan.

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British Columbia, the Canadian province that is a leader in technology and has one of the fastest growing tech ecosystems in the world
British Columbian Flag.Wikimedia commons

From Canada, that boasts of a first Indian-origin Defence Minister in Harjit Singh Sajjan, here is the story of another Indian-origin woman migrant who has risen to become a minister in the government of the British Columbia — the Western-most province of the country known for its tech prowess globally.

Meet Jinny Jogindera Sims, who was born in Jalandhar in Punjab and migrated at age nine to England where she got a B.Ed degree at the University of Manchester.

Then, Sims and her husband moved to Canada in 1976. The first woman President of British Columbia’s largest teachers’ union, she was elected to the Canadian Parliament in 2011.

The 65-year-old mother of two, who now heads the Ministry of Citizens’ Services of British Columbia, is quite passionate about her job.

In a conversation with IANS, when asked about Canada’s inclusive nature and how emigrants like her can make it to the top in different fields including political power, pat came her reply: “If you ask me is there more we can do, my answer will be absolutely. We need to do more on aboriginals and the nations’ ethnic communities”.

“We need to do more. Inclusivism and racism is not a one-time issue. We need to do more for their education and other issues. We need to do it all the time”.

Asked about Indians and attracting the talent in the growing tech sector of British Columbia, Sims said Indians have made a name for themselves in the tech and other sectors and are in the forefront.

“I have been to India as an MP to various cities, including Bengaluru and Kolkata. Looking at the skills and talent and amazing companies, India is important in the tech sector. We are looking at new cooperation with Indian tech companies,” she emphasised.

As member of the British Columbia legislative assembly, she is a minister representing the Liberal Party in the government headed by Premier John Horgan.

The 65-year-old mother of two, who now heads the Ministry of Citizens' Services of British Columbia, is quite passionate about her job.
Then, Sims and her husband moved to Canada in 1976. The first woman President of British Columbia’s largest teachers’ union, she was elected to the Canadian Parliament in 2011. Pixabay

Asked about her ministry’s work, Sims said her department has gone more digital in delivering services to citizens and that has brought its own problems.

Cyber crime, fake news and other related problems faced by the countries across the world are also her main problems.

“Digital economy is growing. More and more people are getting sophisticated and trying to commit cyber crimes. We are engaged more with businesses that are worried that more people are trying to get information online through Internet bandits.

“We are telling businesses to build extra layers of security. It is like when we construct a home, we have doors and windows which we close for security. Likewise, businesses have to build layers of security like Next-Gen anti-virus solutions and firewalls,” the minister stressed.

She said her ministry is very agile on cyber security and has become smarter with time.

“They (cyber-criminals) have got technology and are, all the time, trying to get into our systems. Nearly 300,000 systems were affected which is mind-boggling. It also shows we have to be extra-cautious, building firewalls and constantly monitoring them,” Sims said.

Asked about the problem of data stealing and stalking over social media platforms, Sims said the government’s role in this is limited.

As a mother and a grandmother, she would only advise that schools and parents have to tell children on the newer risks arising from the use of Internet.

“Parents can limit the children from accessing Internet. We can teach and guide them on cyber security. Businesses also have a responsibility,” Sims added.

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The identity cards issued by her government for accessing citizens’ services have high-security features and cannot be breached for extracting personal details.

“Our ID cards, personal details are never shared with anyone. There is nothing that goes out from our portal,” she noted.

Asked if she was aware of the controversy surrounding the Aadhaar card in India, the minister said, “a little bit”. (IANS)