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Being Fair

Whenever we buy vegetables from a supermarket, a weighing scale which can weigh to a precision of two decimal places is used to calculate the exact weight and the corresponding exact price. It undoubtedly seems fair as we pay the exact amount commensurate to the weight of the vegetables, neither for a gram more or less. However, when we buy vegetables from a road-side vendor, the vendor invariably adds a bit more than the weight we ask for without charging additionally. Is it because the vendor doesn't care for being precise in his transaction? Is he fair in giving more than what we pay him for?

While we acknowledge the fairness of the supermarket, the street-side vendor too isn't unfair. Who among the two is fairer'? While the supermarket feels it is its responsibility to be technically fair, the vendor feels he is morally fair in giving a little more.

While it is not unfair to give and take on precise and equal terms, the belief that it is morally fair to give a little more than what we receive is a typical Indian thought. We see such thought in action in all buy-sell transactions such as flower, cloth etc. While we give a gift, we also tend to give a 51 or a 101 and so on. This thought transcends mere financial transactions and is applicable even to those transactions involving intangibles - the way we treat relatives and guests or even strangers. The fundamental premise for promoting such thoughts and practices is that when everyone gives a little more than what one receives, the chances or anyone being unfairly treated cannot exist.

In the past, a teacher just gave all his knowledge to the student without expecting anything in return. The society at large would support the teacher and his family in return. The Gurukula system that thrived across Bharatavarsha was built on such magnanimity of the teachers and the entire society.

Times have changed. Today, a teacher is compensated for the work he does. Lofty statements of how the teacher is preparing the subsequent generation of citizens of the country seem hollow as we compensate the teacher by the number of hours he spends teaching in the classroom. The intangibles are completely ignored while we only measure the time and effort expended by the teacher to precisely calculate the teacher's compensation. As a consequence, teachers carefully watch the efforts expended towards teaching. The intangibles - the affection towards children and the care for their future are no longer valued. Efforts and returns being commensurate to each other is what the society and teachers are interested in achieving. The need to measure precisely has only increased - everyone wants to be technically fair.

Being otherwise seems to be next to impossible. The entire world is obsessed with precise measurement of efforts and returns in nearly all transactions - a contribution of western modernity to our lives and times. The fallout of being obsessed with such measurement is that everyone is constantly worried about being shortchanged in a transaction and is hence careful. Cynicism is on the rise.

Parents, whose dream of a bright future of their children through good education, seem to only get value for money - children get to attend the number of classes and enjoy the facilities paid for monetarily. The absence of intangibles that a teacher can bring to truly nurture and enrich the children seem to be missing or has waned to inconsequential levels.

As parents of Samvida, we need to consciously avoid falling into this deceptive trap of western modernity. We need to truly and unwaveringly respect the teachers for being capable of adding much more value than what we can compensate them monetarily. Our unwavering trust in teachers and our respect towards them should be evident in our thought and action. It is also common knowledge that such respect and trust can't any day outweigh the future that they can create for our children.

Samvida is a micro-sized representation of society. Every transaction when done with the intent of giving more than what we get will only increase the utility and value of Samvida. Only then can Samvida give each one of us more than what we give.

The modern world today is seemingly inextricably obsessed with making precise measurements. Amidst the hustle-bustle and the din of a hurried urban setting, let us all at Samvida be that street-side flower vendor who happily gives a little more of the garland than what she measures with her arm -a little more of freshness, fragrance and joy!

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