Who will light the candles for Shanno?

I am so tired by working night shifts these days that I hardly get time to write my blog. Forget blog, I have not been able to call up my childhood friends for last 3 weeks. Shame on me. My personal life is in turmoil but I will survive! I was not born to be crushed by these silly little things in life. I will come up for sure.

I came home and started reading the news paper and the first article made me think. "Who will light the candles for Shanno?". Well I got moved by the article and was really happy that there is some section of media which still cares for the society in general and not of affluent people only. I am just putting the same article as it is (courtesy 'TOI'). Read it on to understand what's the difference in going to a mall and going to a mela!

One was a victim of alleged corporal punishment, the other of a common ailment, allegedly compounded by negligence of the school.
One's ailment, possibly epilepsy -- besides a learning handicap -- was never diagnosed. At 11, she was struggling to learn the alphabets, in a municipal school. The other, at 17, would have passed out of one of the Capital's elite schools next year.

Both Shanno Khatun and Aakriti Bhatia died within five days of each other this month. Both families are mourning the death of their daughters
-- one in relative solitude in a stinking jhuggi-jhopri colony of Bawana in outer Delhi, the other surrounded by a band of friends and well-wishers in the house of her businessman father on the upmarket Siri Fort Road in South Delhi.

And this is where Union minister of state for women and child welfare, Renuka Choudhary, headed this evening to spend about one-and-a-half hours with the family which has been in the media glare since Wednesday. She described it as a private visit. Far away in Bawana, Shanno's father -- a waiter who earns less than Rs 5,000 a month and has a family of six to feed -- has no high-profile visits to bother about 10 days after losing his daughter. To give Choudhury credit, she did issue a statement describing the Shanno incident as a "collective failure" -- and that was that.

While the locals protested for two days after Shanno's death, only a couple of local politicians bothered to meet the girl's parents. The parents say they are yet to hear of any compensation package.

In the Aakriti case, on the other hand, there has been a flurry of activity and announcements. The school has been under siege, with strident demands for the principal's resignation. The police are now probing a complaint of negligence, the directorate of education of Delhi government has instituted an inquiry and the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights has issued a notice to the school. The school too has instituted an internal inquiry. Delhi minister for education Arvinder Singh Lovely met the family in the afternoon.

The jury is still out in both cases but in Aakriti's case, her classmates
have taken a vocal stand. It's not yet clear if it was just an error of judgement on the part of the school or real negligence but the sense of loss has easily turned into outrage. Why the school didn't send the girl who had an asthmatic attack `promptly' to hospital and whether it was properly equipped to deal with the case are the questions being asked. There are no straight answers.

In Shanno's case, TOI spoke to her classmates who alleged corporal punishment because of which the girl slipped into coma and finally died. But there is a distinct lack of urgency in finding out the truth and giving the dead girl justice.

She was allegedly made to stand under the sun by her teacher for more than an hour after she failed to recite the English alphabet properly. The teacher then allegedly asked her to squat like a hen and put bricks on her shoulder. The girl finally started vomiting, was rushed to hospital, slipped into a coma and died two days later.

The MCD's education department has given the teacher a clean chit even as it has closed down the school. It did take the token measure of suspending both the teacher and principal of the school. Its vigilance department has been changing its deadlines for conclusion of a probe while the cops are taking their time to conduct their inquiries -- an FIR has been lodged against the teacher under Section 304 (A) of the IPC -- and waiting for forensic evidence to support circumstantial proof before they can make a move. After the post-mortem, they are waiting for the viscera report. Delhi government and Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights are, meanwhile, watching from a distance.

Meanwhile, MCD teachers have proclaimed that Manju Rathee, their colleague, is innocent and blamed the family's complaints on provocation by local leaders. One can sense a gradual return to "business as usual" as the days go by.

Shanta Sinha, chairperson of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, told TOI: "We are keeping a close watch on the developments and we will step in if the authorities fail in their duties."

According to Ranjana Kumari, Director, Centre for Social Research, "Unfortunately in India, the bias shows when the rich is affected...Everyday there is a fire in the slums, but if a fire breaks out in a mall, we start finding fault with the system. Moreover, the political class always plays to the gallery. They get their votes from the poor, but the services are delivered to the rich." A relevant observation in the time of elections.

Baba Recalls: When I moved to Nasik city from my village, the first few days in my new school was a good experience ... not for me ... but for my teacher!

Here's why - I was made to stand outside the class for some reason (I really don't recall why) and that was not acceptable to me. So what I did was, just took some clay in my hand, came towards the classroom and threw it at my teacher. The name of the teacher was Mrs.Chavanake. I still remember seeing her face when I did this brave act! I did what was right in my point of view. After all, how can some one think of making an 8 year old stand outside his classroom for a small mistake!

Baba's lesson for new kids on the block: "Do not hesitate to show case your anger. It's better to die fighting than be killed by a terrorist while you're shopping!