Wednesday, January 18, 2006

a lack of skill sets and a fall from grace

i happened to speak with a watchman the other evening and during the course of the conversation i discovered that the guy was a tamil brahmin, descendant of a powerful upper caste priestly clan. this bit of information got me curious and i tried to dig for further information about his family as discreetly as was possible. its amazing how gossip, or even the hint of it, can get us enthusiastic.

it so transpired that less than four generations ago, this chap's ancestors led the lordly life. they had always been temple priests and were hence assured of a comfortable life, with enough money to go around, and of course a respectable position in society.

it all went wrong when these guys didn't adapt to the changing times by getting a relevant education. they refused to study anything but sanskrit shlokas, or were refused permission by their elders to study anything remotely more useful. as time went by the descendants of this family found themselves increasingly unemployable in a qualification driven, job oriented marketplace that had considerably lesser time for temple priests.

the slide downwards began, and they found themselves trapped in the proverbial vicious cycle of poverty. a lack of relevant education made sure that they didnt have many employment opportunities, which led to their wealth being eroded and not enough of it being generated. this affected the level and quality of education they could get, which pushed them further into the morass.

so it went from his grandfather to his father to our fellow at the gate. but there's light even at the end of this tunnel. this guys son is apparently doing really well in school and the family makes the necessary sacrifices to make sure the kid gets the resources he needs. the father is of the opinion that this little fellow is their ticket for an entry into the middle classes once again.

i don't know what it is about such stories that really moves me but personally i'm a sucker for them. now i'm going to believe and hope that the little kid continues to do well and achieves everything that his family expects him to. i accept the fact that its too much of a burden for little shoulders but we've all got a raison d'etre, this just happens to be the job he's supposed to do. in this endeavour i wish him and his father all the luck and good fortune they might need.

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