Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Gated communities and School bus - Reducing Social interaction in India

I was standing on the side of a motorway watching the vehicles. Slowly, a yellow bus came and stopped some yards in front of me. Kids slowly came out of the big gates, attached to a solid thick fence guarded by security guards in uniform, and boarded the bus. After generating some more noise it slowly moved away.

I walked a little bit further; there was another big fence with a gigantic gate guarded by another set of guards, again the same scenario repeated.

I just thought about the life of these kids. They are boarding the bus right after the crack of dawn, talking with a limited number of friends in the bus, after reaching the school they are attending the sessions and finally back to home.

Aren't they missing a daily face to face session with society, some precious moments to understand the life outside the gated walls of residential associations? Abruptly past memories came to my mind, recalling the short walk to Lower Primary (LP) School which is just 10 minutes away from home, then to Upper Primary (UP) School through the paddy fields and village roads.

In Kerala both schools and monsoon start their new session on the first week of June. Located 2-3 kilometres away - we had to cross paddy fields, small canal bridge and about one kilometre through a village road dotted by small dwellings on both sides. Many of the faces become familiar with in some weeks.

Later for High School - located roughly 3-4 kilometres from home - we started using bus. First school bus; later switched to the crowded private buses and became a category most hated by conductors - Concession Tickets, popularly known as CT. In Kerala, school going children needs to pay only a fourth of the full ticket. Even though it’s a government rule CT was not available in government run busses, at least in our place!!!

Those days provided an opportunity to interact with a diverse segment of people, although I didn’t realise the importance at that time, to know how the society coexists and survives. There was no discrimination based on religion or caste or financial status or whatever it may be. Nobody cares who is the father or mother of the other guy.

Now-a-days what I am seeing is, this important thing – interaction with general society – is virtually doesn’t exist. In fact people hardly seeing others. Is Facebook – and the apps moulded on the same stable - can replace this interaction happening at the ground level? I don't know; in fact from my personal experience I don’t think so.

The problem is, limited interactions with society and nature will create problems. This will erect a wall between those who are inside that and those who are outside. Down the line, one side may not be able to understand the other one, their emotions, their feelings, their ideas, their tastes etc. This will affect the creativity of the society, most of the revolutionary inventions and discoveries are inspired by nature. Are we trying to move away from the very same nature...?


Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia, edited later to suit this article

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