When Bengaluru’s reputed school says no to admitting a “low class” kid…

The reason given: The parents of other kids would dislike their wards associating with poor kids. Are you a parent of this kind?
Let me introduce you to a livewire 5th grade kid I tutor in Bengaluru – Let’s just call him Mo (obviously not his real name). All Mo wants to do with his life is to go to the National Defense Academy and join the Indian Army.

Mo meets a Mig

Yes, he is slow with reading English, and very hesitant while speaking it, thanks to his less-than-lousy Kannada medium education so far at the free local Government School. But he understands what you say in English completely.


Mo & Co. learn to pose

He and I work on his reading skills 6-7AM every day. He’s a hard worker and he’s improving fast. What’s more, change topics to Maths, and he will dazzle you with his mental capacities. He is also a terrific athlete.

Mo discovers selfies

His father and I are looking to place him in a private English medium school to fill out these gaps. Since Global Discovery Academy has no schools yet in Bangalore, we did the rounds of all the usual tier 3 schools in Whitefield, Bangalore, that his financially challenged family can afford.

Now, Just for laughs (and to scope out the schools he can apply to through the Right to Education act or RTE quota next year), we made a quick trip to a substantially more expensive school in Whitefield – Let’s call them the Indradhanush School (not their real name). What they told me, while expected, gave me some pause for thought. 

They could just have said “We don’t offer scholarships” and that would be that. But I also got a gratuitous explanation. Apparently, Mo is a misfit at Indradhanush because:
1. The difference in social strata “will sap his self-confidence”. 
2. The Indradhanush parents “dislike their kids associating with” Mo’s poor types.
Apparently, he seriously doesn’t belong. While the former is laughable, the latter is seriously BS!

One day, Mo will be an Army officer (Mark my words – If that’s what he’s set his heart on, he will do it). He’ll maybe be posted at one of our many risky borders. While holding off the enemy, he should probably stick to only protecting the non-Indradhanush types, and let the enemy through to maul the others. Or when rescuing flood victims in his chopper, he too should do a reverse filtering of who gets rescued and whose aristocratic ass gets dumped back in the drink. Or if he is on the commando team that liberates the Taj, he should only free the non-Indradhanush hostages and let the terrorists roast the others. 

The irony is, Mo is the most jolly, unassuming person I know. He wouldn’t do any of this to anyone. He has this quiet quality of watching over you, looking out for you in any small way he can… qualities I desperately want to see in the armed forces that protect me. Don’t you?  

This picture, better than anything else in my picture collection, introduces you to Mo

So, I just want to say, if you’re one of the <Enter hoity toity school name here> parents that think like this, you’re a sad excuse for a human being! Your kids will grow up to be elitist snobs, just like you, and will miss out on extra high caliber friends like Mo – That’s your just dessert, right there. 

On the flip side, every one of us that invests our time / money / energy in a Mo around us is actually investing in ourselves (and mark my words, regardless of where you live in the world, there is always a Mo around you somewhere). You’ll walk away feeling like a better person for having done this. And you’ll lead by example when your kids, significant other, family and community watch you do wonders. What’s more, they’ll love and admire you for it. So don’t shun your own Mo when you meet him…. or her.

Karma. Circle of life. ROI. Call it what you will, but it will be worth your while, I promise.

Editor’s note:
For a counter-view, click here: Is ain’t so simple!


Edited on 1.16 pm, July 9, 2014, to include the footnote on counter-view.

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  1. Shreya 12219 says:

    There should a be a rule that every school should have a mix of students…I loved this article and yes it brutally true….I know parents who would not allow their children to play with their maids kids, in fact when my son used to play then they would make faces…..When will we realize that at the end of the day each of use are mere human beings irrespective of any social status!!!

  2. Shreya 12219 says:

    each of us*

  3. Sanjay Vijayaraghavan says:

    Have you tried K K English school in Varthur? The students there have floored me many times with their knowledge, enthusiasm and English. Principal Khan is simply amazing.

  4. Sudha Narasimhachar says:

    A very thought-provoking article. Yes. RTE is just on paper. So-called ‘good’schools have become elitist and the children there are special and out of the ordinary. They cannot mingle with the children from the slums. I have heard parents saying such things-‘i do not children play around with these ‘local’children, who speak only regional languages.’ many people here live like that reside in the US or UK. Just today I read a wonderful article about the great American inequality in the Deccan Herald. You never give equal opportunities to the majority for obvious vested interests. We are aping all the wrong values and driving our country to Doom’s Day.

  5. Harish BK says:

    Mr. Vipul,
    Thanks for highlighting one of the most important and neglected FACT of our society. It is an irony that different CLASSES do exist in our society. I sympathize with Mo and appreciate your effort in supporting Mo and other under privileged kids.

    While I appreciate your efforts in helping Mo to find a good school, I don’t agree with your discontent with the so called “Elite” parents. More about it later.

    First and foremost, the concept of RTE in its current form is totally flawed and lacks logic.

    Right to education, health and basic hygiene and sanitation should have been the fundamental rights of the citizens of India the moment it became independent close to some 70 years ago. It should not have taken 70 years for our governments to make right to education as a fundamental right of every kid of country.

    Look at the way it has been implemented. Laughable to say the least. Instead of providing and putting the right infrastructure in place, the governments are insisting the private schools to accommodate the kids from economically weaker sections.

    Why would the private schools allow such kids? Why should they? My statements may look inhuman, insensitive but I’ve a reason and I’ll explain the same.

    Is this not the responsibility of the government to set up right number schools depending on the needs of the population. Don’t they have the data regarding the population and its growth and needs for fundamental infrastructure like schools and hospitals.

    Is 70 years a less time for governments to set fundamental infrastructure like schools and hospitals. Are the government short of funds? I don’t think so. It is the lack of foresight, lack of vision and prioritization.

    OK. Let me come back to my earlier comment about the so called “Elite” parents. What do you mean “Elite” parents. Do you only mean tatas, birlas, ambani’s etc … or all the parents who are sending their kids to decent schools. There could be possibly 10% or even less of the population who could be termed as “Elite” or all weather rich people. They remain rich irrespective of the economic cycles. What about the poor or “BPL” or “APL” people who don’t have a regular income or rely on day to earnings. Their percentage could be around 30% of the entire population. Government has announced and/or announcing lot of schemes to make their lives better. Let’s keep these two classes aside. The first which can take care of themselves and second being helped by the government.

    What about the 60% or biggest population in India, the so called “Middle Class”. What do you think about them. They’re not “Elite”. Their incomes fluctuate with economic conditions of the country or outside. These guys catch cold if America or Eurpoe sneezes. These guys don’t have BPL or APL cards and neither get Rice for Re 1 per KG.

    This is the class RTE in its current form is hitting the most. The 25% reservation government is asking from the private schools making the lives of these parents miserable. Private schools will not do any charity. Any shortfall in their revenue they’ll “EXTRACT” it from the parents of other kids.

    Who is the culprit and who is the victim. Who is being punished for whose mistakes. Hardworking and self supporting middle class is being callously punished for government’s stupidity.

    I’m the strongest advocate of right to education for every kid in the country. But it is the responsibility of the government to provide not a middle class parent.

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