Pollutants of Polls Seizing Tender Minds

Bhubaneswar: The heat of Panchayat Elections has been blowing in sharp flow. As per the notice released by the state government, the candidates are doing door to door campaign with a handful of people. Every nook and corner in the villages are filled with banners and posters. This election will soon get over with various promises from the political parties. Then counting of votes will begin in a new different rule. For the first time votes will be counted on a different day other than the polling day and the result will be announced on the same day as well. After that, the structure of Panchyat Samiti and Zilla Parisad will be over.
The role of Panchayati Raj is very potent in the development of rural areas. That is the reason, probably, the State Election Commission has decided to conduct the election amidst such an adverse situation. Though there have been guidelines issued about the Covid-19 situation and political parties are indicated to follow the protocols religiously while campaigning for the election. Road campaigns and any political/ public gatherings are restricted, which is certainly a welcoming step. But there are some worrisome pictures from rural Odisha that has come to light in this duration.
There s no denying that the actual key to human resource development is education. So education is a primary subject to be discussed in every meeting, discussion and review and it is also universally acknowledged that children are the future of the nation. But it ought to be noted how far this fact is reflected in our actions and how much we are concerned about the gravity of the cognitive growth of children.
The development of a country is measured and visualised from the flourished education system and its attainment towards the youth of that particular country. But what is more ironic about that we are still struggling to understand that education is not a non-productive field. To prove this fact the current event is no lesser of an example.  The Covid-19 Pandemic has made the complex emotion and thought process of people towards education.
This reminds us that on 17 March 2020, all the educational institutions in our state was shut down. Even the higher secondary education was paused in a midway. The class promotion examinations for class 1 to 9 was withheld. The students were promoted from higher grades without writing exams. From that time onwards the students of classes 1 to 9 are deprived to attend schools and sit in offline classes. Not just about schools, the scenario is as similar with the other higher secondary and college students also. Many students came out to protest against conducting exams. It is hard to reflect how effective is it to withdraw examinations. No discussion was held on whether the exams should be cancelled, but the decision to cancel the exam was taken several times as if the government was searching for this opportunity. Though the government had implemented a new method of teaching and learning through a digital medium, due to several lacking more than 80% of students could not avail it. As a result, different types of inconsistency and infirmity arose along with varied other issues.
After the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic year was ruined because of the pandemic, it was hoped that the 2021-22 academic year would bring some improvement in education. Children will resume their school, the regular practice of classroom teaching would start again and the students will be happy. This hope finally came to reality. Even though the schools are open now, all the higher educational institutions have started functioning, still, the gaps which have been created by this prolonged pandemic shutdown of education might not be curved so soon. Many children dropped out of school, the reason being varied, the pandemic has caused a grave impact on the education of children from lower economic strata.
The contradiction to this is that the day to day economic affairs like markets, industries, mines, offices etc have started to function within the covid appropriate protocols for a long because people did not accept it to remain close for very long as it affects their livelihood. At the same time, nobody except the parents could realize the importance of a child’s education and how the current scenario is obstructing the overall cognitive growth f the child.
In situating in such a conflict, the date of the three-tiered Panchayat Election was announced by putting an end to all the speculation. People would have thought that all the political parties unanimously request the State Election Commission to postpone the election considering the third wave of the pandemic. But nothing of that kind happened. The political parties gave different opinions as per their convenience which further led to ease the road to election. Now the whole state has landed at the panchayat polls.
One would come across many unexpected incidents in and around the village during this time. It can’t be guaranteed that covid protocols are adhered to properly everywhere in the villages at this time. The blatant violation of the electoral code of conduct has become a common occurrence everywhere. The rule that dictates, a Sarpanch candidate can spend up to a maximum amount of 2 lakh has become a matter of joke. This is a question of morality. Other than that another picture that comes to light is that immature children are involved in these campaigning processes. The children who should be holding a book or a pen are now holding posters and gums. Without paying heed to the studies the small, innocent children are posting election posters here and there in the greed of chocolates. This turns out to be the worst impact of this corrupt politics. Moreover, children having no pressure of education at this time is adding more fodder to it. The innocent children getting into the pollution of politics.
It cannot be denied that the child would be misguided from the path of curiosity to know the world through knowledge and education if he is handed over an election poster instead of a book at this tender age. This reality should be realised. The children are the resources of our nation. It is our moral responsibility to give them a suitable environment for education. Reopening schools and curbing the dropout rate of children from school is an urgent need. Government should take immediate steps in this direction.