Tuesday March 19, 2019
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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.

Next Story

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May Survives Through Vote Of No-Confidence

If a deal is impossible, and no one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?

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Theresa May
Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street in London, Jan. 16, 2019. VOA

British Prime Minister Theresa May survived a no-confidence vote in parliament Wednesday, one day after lawmakers voted overwhelmingly against her plan to divorce Britain from the European Union.

Surviving the vote enables May to refocus on getting a Brexit deal through parliament. She has until Monday to offer a new proposal to the House of Commons, but it isn’t clear what she will propose.

Shortly after the 325 to 306 vote allowing May to remain in office, she invited party leaders for Brexit talks Wednesday night.

More talks?

May said before the vote Wednesday that Britain would leave the EU on the March 29 target date, and that the bloc would only consider extending the negotiating period if there were a realistic exit plan.

Aides to the prime minister said she will try to buy more time and return to Brussels to try to cajole EU leaders into a renegotiation.

EU leaders have repeatedly rejected the possibility of renegotiations since the deal was concluded in November, but British officials hope Brussels now may offer enough concessions to secure parliamentary backing on a replayed vote on an amended deal.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labor Party, filed a motion of no confidence in the government immediately after the result Tuesday.

Britain would have held a general election had May lost the vote. Most analysts said they expected her to survive the vote, and the minority Northern Ireland party she relies on to keep her minority government in office had said it would back the government.

Tuesday’s vote was the biggest parliamentary reversal ever handed a sitting government, with lawmakers — including more than 100 rebels from her ruling Conservative Party — refusing to endorse the highly contentious Brexit deal.

Britain, May
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labor Party, talks during a no-confidence debate after Parliament rejected Theresa May’s Brexit deal, in London, Jan. 16, 2019. VOA

The government’s defeat plunged into greater disarray Britain’s scheduled March 29 exit from the EU. Major questions remain about how and whether it will happen.

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said Wednesday that after the British parliament’s rejection of a draft agreement detailing the country’s divorce from the EU, the risk of reaching the deadline with no deal in place is higher than ever.

The vote against the agreement was the biggest parliamentary reversal ever handed a sitting government, with lawmakers, including more than 100 rebels from her ruling Conservative party, refusing to endorse the highly contentious Brexit deal.

Just 202 lawmakers backed May’s deal with 432 voting against it. The defeat dwarfed the previous 1924 record when then-Labor Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald lost a vote by 166, triggering the collapse of his government and a general election, which he lost.

After the vote, May said, “The vote tells us nothing” about what the House of Commons would agree to regarding Brexit.

Second referendum

Britain, May
A pro-European demonstrator protests in front of a Leaver campaign board opposite the Houses of Parliament in London, Jan. 15, 2019, ahead of lawmakers’ vote on whether to accept British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal. Later, the plan was soundly defeated. Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29. VOA

The defeat of May’s plan will give further momentum to a burgeoning campaign in the House of Commons, and among Remainers in the country, for a second referendum, according to analysts. Remainers hope a replayed referendum would reverse the Brexit plebiscite of 2016, which Leavers narrowly won.

The vote on the deal — which originally was due in December but was delayed by the government when it became clear there was insufficient backing for it to pass — also leaves hanging in the balance May’s future as prime minister. Her aides maintained at the end of a day of high political drama that she wouldn’t resign.

“She is the person who has to deliver Brexit,” said British Business Minister Claire Perry, who said May didn’t need to resign.

“There will be other attempts at this. There will be strenuous efforts to improve on the deal,” Perry said.

The sheer scale of the defeat throws into doubt whether even a reshaped Brexit Withdrawal Agreement would secure parliamentary approval in the future, even if the EU is prepared to reopen negotiations.

Britain, May
British Business Minister Claire Perry arrives to attend a Cabinet meeting at Downing Street in London, Jan. 15, 2019. VOA

‘Hopelessly optimistic’

“Her Plan B, more of the same, is hopelessly optimistic,” said commentator Isabel Oakeshott.

Also Read: British Lawmakers Rejects Brexit Deal, PM Faces Vote Of No-Confidence

EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted when news of the historic vote broke: “I take note with regret of the outcome of the vote in the House of Commons this evening. I urge the UK to clarify its intentions as soon as possible. Time is almost up.”

EU President Donald Tusk reflected the frustration of many in Brussels, tweeting: “If a deal is impossible, and no one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?” (VOA)