Laughter is the best medicine!

ANANYA S GUHA
 
The latest howler. An university in Pune says that to be eligible for a gold medal a student must be a vegetarian or a strict teetotaler. Of course, after protests, the University in its post wisdom has struck it off. That is beside the point. We can still make an issue of it and we will.
 
Firstly, what is so great or untainted about being a vegetarian. As if it has some moral stamp about it. I know many vegetarians who love to hit the bottle. So moral standard number one cancels immoral standard number one. Such people I suppose figure in the world of the amoral, not to forget their mystic chants and so on. Secondly this ten year old notification served what purpose? To discover gold medalists or holier than thou university products? Thirdly how would the authorities ensure that the winners did not eat or drink on the sly? Were there periodic alcoholic tests? And, fourthly to which domain did egg consuming belong!? 
 
Well, I suppose ridiculous decrees must spurt some equally ridiculous questions.
 
This brings us to how morality is transfiguring or rather making societies and people demented. The cow is holy, vegetarian food is the best, we must be votaries of our culture, practice yoga scrupulously, then we stand on threshold of attaining ‘ pure living and high thinking’ . Bertrand Russell once wrote an essay: ” The Harm That Good Men Do” where he debunked neatly the belief of a moral code, stratified and coded. I forget further details, but remember it as a hilarious subversion of a pontificating morality of ‘ do and be good’. But such protagonists he asserted did more harm than good! 
 
Also bringing in the mention of   consumption of alcohol, in the university precincts is itself a temptation, to ‘ break bounds’ what else? College and university students are very vulnerable, and love to take challenges, invert niceties and have a big laugh. Let’s see whether I can get away from this and still get the gold medal. 
 
This is the first time I heard an academic institution behaving in such a holier than thou and putting off manner. Young bright students, want appreciation, for intelligence, wit, hard work and co curricular activities. The last and least they want are moral prescriptions. You can’t have strictures as guidelines to do well and perform. I am sure many in the past were deterred to get what must have transpired to be an elusive gold medal indeed. Following Indian culture another stipulation, is not only vague but also a reinvented ploy of a monolithic Indian culture. Some of the paradigms are: yoga, vegetarianism, sun worship, cow worship, reciting mantras etc. Such vagueness can be a source of irritant to young minds. Those who are already doing them, need not be reminded. 
 
I wonder what ails our culture vultures  today? Do they not have the satisfaction of witnessing Indians across all walks of life, embracing one in the many, and many in the one? Are they not seeing how the Hindi language is unifying the country,across North, South and even Northeast and East, the last two albeit previously recalcitrant? Then what is happening to the burgeoning culture of reality shows, some of which like Big Boss openly use vulgar and profane language? The burgeoning television culture of non edifying serials? Can they put a restriction to these, so that children will at least study, gold medal or no. Culture has become a travesty, curriculum, caricature. Instead of busy dishing out gold medals, universities must rework syllabus, making them relevant to work and real life situations, test aptitude for the discipline, with practical applications of knowledge.
 
That this order has been revoked is certainly a good thing. The world is very conscious today of rights and wrongs. Indians too, are quick to react to rigidity and moral spams. But what is irksome if not worrying, is the institutional proclivity to favour, please and blandish political authorities. Education bungled with politics is a throwaway. History has been lacerated, and now studies sought to  be redefined, with ‘moral’ admonishment? Laughter certainly is the best medicine in such caricatured situations. The Readers Digest Publication is absolutely right!
 

Ananya S Guha

Ananya S Guha

Ananya S Guha works in the Indira Gandhi National Open University, Shillong (Meghalaya) as an Academic Administrator. He has over 30 years of teaching and administrative experience. He has six collections of poetry and his forms have been published world wide. Some of his poems are due to appear soon in an Anthology of Indian Poetry in English to be published by Harper Collins.