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A note on the issue: Films from the classroom

The rising cost of education without a corresponding increase in quality, and the gradual erosion of public education, leaves students in a tight spot

A still from '12th Fail'

By Shalini Umachandran

LAST PUBLISHED 16.03.2024  |  08:45 AM IST

One of my favourite reads in this issue is Neha Sinha’s column on the search for an owl. These beautiful, large-eyed, elusive, seemingly self-possessed birds have interested me ever since I saw one sitting beneath the eaves of a house when I was a child. In children’s stories, they were always described as “wise", though it took me a while to learn that, in north India, it’s not a compliment to be called an owl. Spotting an owl is always a rare treat—and they’re a rarer sight now in cities, persecuted as they are because humans are a fairly superstitious lot, and also because we make their habitats fairly unliveable, as Neha writes in her poetic column, and makes a case for the need to estimate owl numbers and presence nationwide.

Also read: Why Harit Nagpal of Tata Play loves field visits

As for the rest of this issue, learning and observing is a thread that runs through the stories. Harit Nagpal, managing director and CEO of direct-to-home company Tata Play, tells Lounge about his eclectic interests, ranging from acting to cooking, which have informed his leadership. In an interview, theatre practitioner Amal Allana, who has recently written a book on her father and theatre veteran Ebrahim Alkazi, explains his belief in re-evaluating one’s ideas and actions in order to grow. 

And then there’s our cover story that tracks the trend of films and television shows which follow the struggles of students trying to get seats in “professional colleges". While they aim to tug at heartstrings, these films about the high-pressure coaching class culture, which feeds and nurtures dreams of entering an IIT, also provide deep insights into the problems in Indian education. The rising cost of education without a corresponding increase in quality, and the gradual and deliberate erosion of public education leaves students in a tight spot. 

These films often end on a positive note—trying to tell students that failure to enter one of India’s elite institutions, where the odds are stacked against those from rural and marginalised communities, is not the end of the line—but in reality, there’s a long way to go before all students get an equal shot at higher education.

Write to the editor at shalini.umachandran@htlive.com


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