Do you remember the ghastly incident of school children burning to their deaths on the premises in Kumbakonam a couple of years ago? The video of that devastating episode was shown to an assorted set of middle school children in Bangalore recently for some ‘study purpose’. The students sat through the 10 minute soundless video without so much as batting their eyelids. Some of them were staid and the rest were indifferent to the footage. When the ‘observers’ interacted with them to gather their impressions and opinions on the subject, a few of them wondered why was the video shown to them, while the others said the ‘show’ was not very interesting.
They were sent away and the experts in the subject and everyone who mattered agreed that ‘insensitivity’ had set in as the order of the day and the blame was squarely laid on media and entertainment.
Cartoon shows, which show characters beings hacked, quartered, sliced, hammered, wrung out of shape in the name of fun, are apparently responsible for making children insensitive to the pain of others. Besides, newsbytes, movies and serials highlighting violence have made kids get used to the repugnant side of life without arousing their subtle emotions or evoking valid questions. The general urban life of rat race and stress and nuclear families were not discounted as some of the reasons.
Their conclusions were certainly logical but they appeared very lopsided to me. I have spent a good deal of my life interacting closely with kids of all age groups and social standing. I have found them sensible and sensitive in their own ways. I felt compelled to share my viewpoint on the subject and narrated a recent incident of a four-year-old daughter of a security guard who always watches animal shows with me.
The feline family fascinated us the most and we were never tired of watching re-runs. We had named every single animal and were familiar with every twitch and twirl of their bodies.
I would change channels once the wild cats started hunting in order to spare both of us from experiencing the trauma of seeing so much bloodshed and brutality.
One day she happened to watch her favourite cat as a predator when I was momentarily preoccupied. She gasped loudly, her jaws dropped and her eyes dilated and she categorically cried out, “cheetah bura hai.”
I put off the television immediately but was not able to put out her response. I decided to talk to her about the ‘ways of nature’ sometime later.
But the aftermath of the video session made me decide not to violate her innocence for I am sure she will learn sense as she is bestowed with sensibility.