Silver screen and sports stars are eclipsing real life heroes of India

Freedom fighters of India, real life heroes, Bengal freedom fighters Independence Day slice of life“Name top ten Bollywood heroes”. “Which movies of Shah Rukh Khan are your favorites?” “Which item song is the best of the year?” “How many centuries has Sachin made and in which matches?” Put teenagers to this test. They are sure to qualify it. Such is the influence of entertainment media and cricket on today’s teens from metropolises to small townships.

Most of them have little knowledge of real life heroes – the freedom fighters who earned freedom at the expense of their blood and the soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the Kargil war. This is what I experienced to my utter surprise when I quizzed my students on the real life heroes of India and asked them to name 10 freedom fighters from Bengal.

Whom or what should be blamed for it? Growing multiplex culture, school syllabus having no room for stories of Indian soldiers and fighters, monetarily promising career options, nuclear families having no grandparents to tell stories, obsession with social networking, or the mentality – ‘what is past, past’?

It is said that what we learn at early stages, we learn forever. I teach English literature and language to students of class VIII to XII from the boards – West Bengal, ICSE, ISC and CBSE. Neither of these boards has a book on the noble sons of Mother India in its syllabus. Incorporating such a book in the syllabus may be a forced step to make students know about the hardships and hard times that our forgotten heroes had gone through. Glimpses into their lives are precious lessons on nationalism, selflessness, power of endurance, indomitable confidence, leadership and patriotism for the Gen Y and the next generation as well. At least, West Bengal Board of School Education should think of this way of introducing students to the freedom fighters of Bengal.

Not only the school syllabus but also today’s ambitious parents are not encouraging in this matter. One of my students is in class VIII at St. Stephen School in Kolkata. 1st January is his birthday. I had bought a book on Swami Vivekananda from Belure Math for him this year. He has read a little of the book till date. I came to know from his mother that he does not get time to read storybooks except the school syllabus. But he has time for videogames and other things.

Ask school goers what they aim to be in life. Most of them would voice their parents’ aspirations – engineer, doctor, management professional, designer, software developer, etc.

Johny Johny

Yes Papa

What do you want to be?

You know papa.

Software engineer?

Yes. Ha ha ha….

Only a few parents wish their children to be soldiers, join the Indian army and serve the country. Mainly the youth from the areas adjacent to the border take the career of a soldier and join the army.

The whole of India has caught the fever – ‘star culture’. Several various entertainment channels air chat shows where actors and actresses from the tinsel town are invited. The silver screen stars are invited to entertain students in the annual fests of colleges and universities. Newspapers often publish the photos of stars inaugurating shows, cultural programs, brand stores and product launch events. There is no space for the real heroes of India in our daily life.

The importance of Independence Day is sadly limited to dining out with friends, making a one-day trip to nearby destinations, watching new movies and such mere celebrations. Let’s take some time off our schedule to make the young minds understand the importance of “Independence” gifted by the freedom fighters – Subash Chandra Bose, Kudhiram, Mangal Pandey Bhagat Singh, Rashbehari Bose, Lakshmi Bai, Gandhiji, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Surya Sen, Matangini Hazra and many others.

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