Hon’ble Judges of Bombay High Court
WE, THE children of a lesser god, desire to grow up as educated citizens and join the mainstream of this great nation. We are pursuing dreams to become Doctors, Engineers, Lawyers, Judges et al. However, our dreams appear imperilled by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced the authorities to start on-line classes. While we do commend this as a step in the right direction and we also understand the safety concerns in having physical classrooms, we will be grateful if you could also kindly appreciate our predicament owing to the lack of resources required of us to join the virtual classroom.
With the new academic year having commenced online, we are afraid, we will be left way behind our peers, who are capable of affording gadgets like smartphones, laptops, tablets etc. We simply cannot access these expensive tools and that plainly means we are totally excluded from this ecology of newly-introduced online learning. The online world is moving ahead, while we, suddenly finding ourselves on the other side of the digital divide, watch distraught, distressed and in disbelief as we are left to fend for ourselves. Confounding our predicament, the Government is yet to come out with clarity and certainty, on what plans it has for us.
So much so, we are now constrained to think – does the Government have a concrete solution for us at all? While at school, we were told education is our fundamental right. We were given to understand that such right flows from the Constitutional mandate, inter alia, contained in the Directive Principles of State Policy. We were also told that if the Government fails to provide us with this right, then the judiciary will step in to protect and preserve our entitlement. We were also taught about notions like equality and human rights. All these sacrosanct principles seem to have been blown away by the winds of change, even as we helplessly watch our fellow mates start their online learning, while there is utter confusion, uncertainty and lack of clarity about our future.
We apprehend whether we matter to the Government or not? Whether they have us in their thoughts or not? Recently, when a good Samaritan filed a PIL, inter alia, highlighting our plight, we are given to understand that he has been relegated to making a representation to the Government. That results in prolonging the agonising wait for a definite cue on our educational future. Perhaps, with judicial intervention, things could have been hastened. With every day’s delay and increasing uncertainty, it seems we have no option but to make a tryst with our destiny – which is as wretched as our poverty. Sometime back, our Supreme Court took up the issue of migrant workers’ welfare, and that intervention, though belated, did bring succour to several thousands of hassled workers whose lives had been wrecked by the pandemic.
The Supreme Court large heartedly corrected itself and in the process also corrected the Governmental response to the humanitarian crisis. Likewise, we also crave for Your Lordships’ immediate, yes IMMEDIATE, intervention to help us chug along this journey towards achieving academic excellence. Despite our poverty, we have somehow managed to reach thus far, due to the great men who gave us our Constitution and implanted provisions therein to secure education for us. But this pandemic has yet again brought us at the cross-roads. We face a serious and palpable threat of being sidelined from the mainstream by this surge in online learning and absolute lack of clarity as well as uncertainty about our schooling.
We urge you to appreciate the undeniable fact that this country still has large number of hapless children like us, whose parents cannot afford a smartphone which costs at least a few thousands of rupees. There are several thousands of our ilk, whose families cannot ensure even two square meals a day. This is a harsh reality which cannot be wished away. Unless we get timely access to education, our poverty won’t anyhow go away.
In such calamitous situation that has befallen us, we urge you, please be our saviours. Your Lordships, by virtue of being in loco parentis for us, the powers conferred upon you by the Constitution will be exercisable most deservingly in situations as these. We would urge you to kindly bring on one platform the best brains available in our country so that the solution to this vexed issue could soon be found. With misty eyes, yet equally glowing hopes, we eagerly look forward to your compassionate and healing touch, which will help facilitate realisation of our dreams. Yours sincerely, Children of a Lesser God (Penned by Adv Shraddhanand Bhutada)