May 12, 2003

Child's Play

While watching a BBC documentary on how military schools are becoming increasingly popular in the poor areas of America (It was a report on the program Correspondent, can't find the link to the report anywhere though), I was reminded of something that really shocked me during Operation Iraqi Freedom. It was how most of the privates in the US Army were basically children, aged 18 and thereabouts, fighting a war in an alien country.

I could not understand how it could be possible in a country, where quite a few states consider drinking alcohol below age 21 as a punishable offence, to consider sending children younger than that age to possibly kill someone. I have to assume that the age restriction on alcohol consumption is based on an argument that would probably say they are unable make rational judgements for themselves at that age. If that is the case, then I do not understand the logic behind the thinking that you can decide rationally whom to kill or whom not to when you are quite a bit younger at age 18.

The program showed some really disturbing aspects of how Bush administration is handling education there and one of them was the condition placed on schools to open its gates to at least one recruiter from the military, if they are to be eligible for a significant portion of funding from the government. What was saddening though was the reasoning by most people who support the military schools. They were saying that, considering the impoverished background that most of these children were coming from, these schools offered them a better future by means of instilling a sense of pride and discipline in them (sic). Essentially, this is the deal: You get your college fees taken care of, if you get enlisted.

As far as I know, that is a sick way of dealing with problems, one that runs parallel to the perverts who advocate the need for a military government to straighten out the problems of a country like India. At the best it sounds like a fancy reservation policy and as a rule any kind of reservation, especially at higher age groups, has only one end -- failure. What it actually does is to say that there is no way a person is going to have a chance to rise up the social ladder unless he is given an unfair leg up. The much talked-about women's reservation bill too, sadly, falls into this slot.

Giving a person from a lower caste or a lower rung of the economic ladder or the oppressed sex does not make up for the injustice that they have suffered over time. Not only does it antagonise the rest of the populace, it also consigns them to a lower level of living and image for good. The solution is only education minus reservation. There are not enough schools? We cannot afford to pay for more teachers? Why not? If we can build and maintain a huge army and armaments and even more pathetically keep politicians in power who don't give a hoot for our welfare, why is it not possible to spend outrageously on education?

It is criminal injustice to make education and health care beyond the reach of the common people in a country like ours. There is no accurate way to measure the benefits that a good education guarantees. It is a price worth paying much more than the inevitable and unjust policy of reservation that follows most privatisation efforts at some point in the future. But no, we still have to privatise education and healthcare because it is corrupt and that is how it is done in the west. There will never be an effort made to deal with the corruption, because you stand the risk of being called as socialist or a commie if you argue against privatisation. And that, these days, is an insult far greater than anything else.

On a more serious note, while following the WMD debate on a post by Kevin Drum, I was struck by enlightenment as to where they would find it. Starting next month, the US administration would set up a Department of WMD Searching, headed by Ken Starr to do what the name obviously suggests.

After covering countless miles through many a month, covering air, land and water, they finally find the booty in a backyard. Suddenly, they hear a snarl "Get off my friggin property, you son of a bitch!". As they turn around, they realise that the man they are facing is none other that great GWB Jr. and the place is his Texan ranch. That is how they ultimately found the greatest WMD (Weapon of Massive Daftness) and loose cannon on earth rolled into one. And then the credits roll with Nirvana playing The Man Who Sold The World in the background.