I went to a Christian School and was a part of the choir which sang English hymns at the morning assembly and Saraswati Vandana during lamp lighting ceremonies. We would read “Thought For The Day” from religious texts that ranged from the Bible, the Bhagwad Gita, to the Holy Quran. We would celebrate “Lohri” with the same zeal as “Diwali” or “Christmas” and would often exchange each other’s tiffin boxes since my south Indian mother’s homecooked idlis where in great demand while I would hog on to pranthas that my friend’s Punjabi mum made. Double coexistence of wants wasn’t a big deal. While my Rajasthani friends would come to my place to learn “English” I’d go to theirs to take “Sanskrit” and “Hindi” lessons.
This intermingling of ethnicities from the very beginning helps the Indian students big time. Not only do they learn to cohabit, but also learn to understand and respect the differences of opinions that each person brings to the table. The Indian schools are usually all about plurality of religion, language, culture, colour. We knew facts such as India has more Muslims than Pakistan or that Christianity set in our country much before the British stepped in. We were taught about the freedom struggle and the constitution and about how everyone had contributed equally towards the building of this great nation.
Such an education system, one that is free of biases and open to accepting students from all walks of life has hence been the foundation of this nation. In a time where newspapers bleed with stories on mobocracy and communal distrust, I am forced transported back to my school days where Sharma Maam would become the Santa almost always and Charlotte Maam would teach us how to sing “He Sharde Maa”; where I, the dark south Indian Christian kid would impersonate “Krishna” in “Mahabharata” plays while my best friend, a Punjabi would be the angel Gabriel in Christmas tableaus well coz she literally looked like one!