Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mongar court sentenced a Principal for using corporal punishment......



Elbert Einstein once said, “The world becomes too dangerous place to live in, not because of the people who create problems, but because of the people who sit and let it happen”. It is not fair to shrug off and do not share the very pain the fellow principal at Mongar undergoes by the faculty of MoE. He became the perfect scapegoat of our blunders and made guinea pig of an unfounded penalty. Perhaps, the law stands as bait for the principals to get in a snare.

To me the corporal punishment in Bhutanese schools is a loving firmness. Let’s learn a lesson from an animal if humans do not have any. You might have seen the hard scene of a mama giraffe giving birth to a baby. No sooner does the baby come out from its womb than the mama goes behind the baby and gives one very hard kick. The baby tries to get up but his legs are weak and he falls down. The mama goes again behind the baby and keeps on kicking till the baby stands on its feet. Why does he do that? I bet “it is an act of love.” The mama knows that the only chance of survival for the baby in the jungle is to get on its feet. Analogously, it is not something you do to but you do for those you care about. The corporal punishment is a loving firmness. The Principal here exactly did the same thing for the betterment of his student who was in fact rowdy and rustic. But, he was strangled and shackled by his good thoughts and actions. The message pierced immeasurable depth and it would take thousand years to heal the dent.

All medicine is not sweet; all surgery is not painless; but we have to take it. Why….? It is an elixir of life. It ensures the future of the patients. But the father and the son couldn’t take the panacea for their life. Gosh! Like son like father. A day will come where this father will desperately lament over what he did to his son’s teacher and second parent.

In the same vein, in the poem, “Village School Master” by Oliver Goldsmith, the speaker describes the village school master as, “the man severe he was and stern to view…….., but the love he bore to learning was at fault”. The Principal here was at fault because he had intrinsic love towards his student’s learning but got betrayed by his own conviction. Indeed, the punishment was unkind to be kind embarked for the wholesome development of the student by the Principal but he was failed and made to suffer. I only hope he will be able to cleanse his bad merits of the past by suffering now for the cause of nation building. May God shower him unfathomable luck and good life!

I heard that if the intention was good the Bhutan Penal Code protects the right for teachers to implement corporal punishment on the sheer ground of being foster parents. But it confirmed me now that it was just a rumor mongering which was disastrous enough to mislead the poor and patriotic civil servants to dungeon.

There is a strong truth in the dictum, ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’. Please read the excerpt from a book:

A judge, when sentencing a college student for robbery asked if he had anything to say. The student replied, “Yes, your honour. Please sentence my parents and teachers to jail also”. The judge asked, “Why?” The prisoner answered, “When I was a little boy, I stole a pencil from school. The teachers knew it but just chided me with loving words. And my parents knew it too but never said a word. Then I stole a pen. The teachers just advised me and my parents knowingly ignored it. I continued to steal many other things from the school and the neighborhood till it became an obsession. They knew about it, yet they never guided me properly. If anyone belongs in jail with me, they do”. 

This student was right for not emancipating teacher’s and parent’s responsibilities. They are also to blame equally. But then, do we have choice to be the responsible person at the face of such grim law?

Today in this era of upheavals, the philosophy is, “If it feels good, do it”. The schools think that such strict measure should be adopted because if such “…discipline is practiced in every school and home, the juvenile delinquency would be reduced by 95 %,” as stated by J. Edgar Hoover. Besides, the ‘Monarch of the people’, His Majesty the forth King, Jigme Singye Wangchuk ideally used force to flush out the uprising militants, ULFA and BODO. Our King resorted to best measures to extradite the insurgents from our country through negotiations and diplomatic talks but they turned deft ear to his words and remained as a foreboding threat to the King, Country and people of Pelden Druk Zhung .So, our king had to deploy the soldiers to drive the militants by using force.
My question is: Was our beloved king wrong in using force to drive these gorillas living clandestinely in our country?  What would have been the situation if our king and the government had continued to solve problems through negotiations, tolerance and diplomatic talks?

Many students and parents think that corporal punishment disrupts the banded relationship between teachers, students and parents. They think it is unnecessary because school teaches virtues like patience, tolerance, dignity of the individual, and so on. Some people say physical punishment creates fear and dislike for subject and school. And to some it acts as deterrent but does not enhance understanding. But, we are not ignorant of monastic education system in our country. Monks lead their life under strictest discipline. The physical punishment is never compromised. They are at times beaten to blues. Yet they master the volumes of Holy Scriptures with understanding. They enchant by heart all the verses very easily. The miracle is they can preach to all groups of people, all the semantic field and lexicon of the text comprehensively. Yet, I don’t see any parents of these monks suing the case to the court. I didn’t see cases of any kind thus far.

Therefore, is corporal punishment really an imposition, abuse and cruel? Is it really bully or act of love, duty and responsibility? Do teachers have no sense of compunction for embracing such measure? Importantly, hitherto, can school really function with the zero tolerance to indiscipline policy? Can teachers teach in the school without protective measures? 

All this questions needs to be chewed, tasted and swallowed by tens of thousand skeptics in general and law makers in particular.  


This is my condolence to the Principal who worked very hard but got fired for his good intent and work. This is not for those students and parents who value the teachers and know the "hallowed soul behind the role of teachers and principals."