by Eruch B. Desai
Our illustrious ancestors with dedication and concern for the community did yeoman service to the succeeding generations by their various acts replete with sane advice, wisdom, philanthropy and charity. With the seeds they had sown in the past we are enjoying the fruits thereof today. Let us give some food for thought to the young ones of the community so that they emulate the examples of our ancestors illustrious and contribute in whatever way they can for the succeeding generations.
To the youth of today, I would repeat ( I had already touched on this topic in one of my previous articles) that education in the formative years plays a very important role in one’s life, and what one shall become tomorrow depends upon what is shown in the youth today. The education of the human mind commences in the cradle. It starts at the mother’s knee, and let parents always bear this in mind, that every word spoken in the hearing of the children tends toward the formation of character. What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to the human soul. Stones flung into the quieter waters of childhood go on making ripples for years to come.
In order to initiate good basics of education, admission in a good school (and there are many headed by highly energetic and competent Parsi Principals in the country, particularly in Mumbai) is also a stepping stone to inculcating a sense of awareness about the high standards which the young ones are expected to attain in today’s fiercely competitive world. India is not what it was nearly sixty years ago. With the advent of freedom and manifold increase in population there is fierce competition. When we were in our schools and colleges, it was minimal. Although life is harder today, and much pleasanter in those days, so far as the educational advancement and intellectual attainments, it is indeed tough time today. People vie with one another to put their best foot forward so that they can have the best of life when they grow up. One has only to see the school curriculam or the examination tests of the present day. In our days, 60% marks in matriculation or even in a college exam, were good enough to portend that you could be a good professional like a Solicitor or a Lawyer, and with little more than 70% one could get admission in a Medical or Engineering College. Today even a little more than 90% are not good enough to secure an admission in such Colleges and a little over 50% is good enough to start a legal career and ultimately become a High Court Judge, and may be also of the Supreme Court. At the same time, today’s children with advance of technology through computers, mobile sets and even television channels become much more knowledgeable, much smarter, much bolder and more pushing than what used to be the phenomenon nearly 30 or 40 years ago. But addiction to the Television, which is too great for a family to resist, also has its downsides. Some elements of television age are, we must admit, vaguely disturbing. There was a case of a night worker, returning to his home very late at night, hungry for his dinner. He found that his wife had placed eggs, flour, butter and other ingredients spread out on a table placed in front of the television set. An accompanying note read “The recipe for your dinner will be demonstrated on channel four at ten o’ clock next morning.” Imagine the plight of the husband with face so famished, facing the wife next morning, angry and red. Even so far as children are concerned, their temptations to be glued to the TV sets should be curbed by pursuation, and if that fails, by locking the television up for certain periods of the day, and before the exams for days preceding them. In our days, spare the rod and spoil the child was the order of the day. This is not the age to advocate that. In our days we used to dread our teachers, always respected our elders, in home or elsewhere. The youth should emulate this even today.
Another important factor which I would like to lay stress on is the building up of a strong character. If the student community has to get fresh green life, we need the monsoon of purity in the character of the youth, for on them, shall rest the fate and the future of the community and the country. Character building is an important process. You must guard your character as you guard a zealous mistress. It was Shakespeare who said that “One who steals my purse steals trash. But he who filcheth away from me my good name, robs me of that which enriches him not, but makes me poor indeed”. Abraham Lincon, the most famous President of U.S.A, once wrote to his son to the effect that “all men are not just, and all men are not true, but his son must learn that for every scoundrel, there is a hero, for every selfish politician, there is a dedicated leader, for every enemy, there is a friend, that a dollar earned has far more value than five found on the road side. A student must also know that it is far more honourable to fail than to cheat, and one should have faith in one’s own ideas even if everyone tells them that they are wrong. One should be gentle with the gentle and tough with the tough. You may listen to all men, but filter all that one hears on a screen of truth and take only the good that comes there.” It was Swami Vivekanand who said that we should have such type of education where character is formed, strength of mind is increased, intellect is expanded, and by which, one can stand on one’s own feet.
Our ancestors left the shores of the land of their birth to preserve and protect our religion and traditions. After advent to India, although their philanthropical and charitable activities were cosmopolitan, they never neglected to preserve and protect our ancient customs and traditions. Wherever they spread throughout the country, they made it a point to establish Fire Temples and Dokhmas for the disposal of the dead which method continues through centuries irrespective of the changed circumstances. This zeal and dedication is unfortunately lacking amongst the present day reformists who constitute a minuscule minority by partisan publications in the Press not conducive to Community’s interest and which have a propensity to create a nuisance value. These publications are read by a vast majority of our sister communities who actually have no grouse against our practices. The reformists have to realize that if the majority of the community favours such customs and traditions, and if a minuscule minority does not view the same with favour, no body can prevent the latter from following the same, but not at the places where our wise ancestors earmarked the lands for continuing such customs and traditions. But as Burke had said that writers against religion while they oppose every system are wisely careful never to set up any of their own. The burning of a little straw may hide the stars of the sky, but the stars are there to remain and will reappear clearly again. It is no use ventilating this issue over and over again in the press and repeating the same ad nauseam and painting a picture inspired by some quarters when all the contentions were already thrashed out in the press, and fortunately no harm has upto now been caused to the community’s interests. I would therefore exhort the youth not to fall prey to such isolated prouncements in the press which may perhaps harm the community’s interests, but will at the same time, not benefit the protagonists of the move.
And lastly before I end, I want to impress upon the youth the importance of hardwork in life. Fortune may find a pot, but it is industry that supports us all. It is said that success is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. In every rank both great and small, it is industry that is the key to success. It is hardwork done whilst one is young that will bring wonderful results in the future. No wonder that one of the famous English authors said, “Heights by great men reached and kept, were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upwards in the night.”
I would end by commending to the youth, that be such a person and lead such a life, that every person were such as you, the earth would be God’s paradise.
Happy Jamshedi Navroze
(ERUCH B. DESAI)