Our principal Sr. Flavian had the strange habit of taking classes herself once in a while when the real teacher was absent. She made an awesome substitute teacher as she had scant regard for the subject at hand. It did not matter if it was a maths class originally, if the teacher was absent and Sr. Flavian was taking the class you could be dead sure you would land up discussing ethics, morality, Indian politics, euthansia etc. etc. And for precocious sixth graders who have usually started forming opinions on such subjects but are never taken seriously, to have an adult (that too the most important one at school!!) actually listen to your views was thrilling. On one of these occassions she asked us THE question - what do you want to be when you grow up? Well we gave our answers and explained our reasons. She was shocked. None of us had expressed any desire to do anything for the country. On the contrary many spoke of the SAT's with dreamy eyes.
" There must be something very wrong with the education we are imparting dears, when no one in a class of 40 wants to become a politician or an IAS officer", she said or maybe something to that effect. We went home confused that day. Most of us spoke English better than our mother tongues, we went to one of the best schools in town. Why on earth would we want to be politicians? Wasn't it a job for pan-chewing criminals and the uneducated bhaiyya types- didn't she read the newspapers? Government jobs were rife with corruption - our parents wouldn't allow it.
And today as I read about Manju Nathan on blogs I could not help but remember that afternoon with our principal. Sister Flavian may be this is why your sixth graders wanted private sector jobs and the comfort of foreign shores. Even in our movies, bad things always happened to the upright hero. And unlike that movie hero in real life you never got to beat up the villain and set the world right - your precocious sixth graders knew that.