The movie Hindi Medium is based on the mindset of people living in metropolitan (Delhi in this case) and other big cities with reference to educating their children in high-end private schools. ‘Elite’ is the word used in the movie to depict high society parents who do anything to get their children admitted in such schools. Movie stars Irrfan Khan (Raj Batra), Saba Qamar (Mita Batra), Deepak Dobriyal (Raj’s poor friend), Amrita Singh (The Principal), Sanjay Suri and Neha Dhupia (High Society couple), and female child actor (Piya) along with other actors.
The movie is about the series of changes that Raj and Mita bring in their lifestyle just to get their daughter Piya admitted in an English Medium School. They do all this so that Piya doesn’t have to face discrimination among other kids and in society for not knowing English language, like they have been facing. In this process they, directly and indirectly, teach her many other things like lying, cheating, quarreling, bribing, bad-mouthing, show-off, etc. Instead of just English language which is their main goal.
In order to get admission in ‘Elite’ English medium school, which means high standard in terms of wealth, social status, education and knowledge etc., there are certain implied conditions which they (the Batras) need to fulfill. This is what they do to fulfill those conditions: quit their old locality and buy a posh bungalow in a 3 km radius of the school in which they wish to get admission of their daughter. Admission seekers beyond 3 kms are not allowed! Such discrimination is sometimes necessary and it is anyway a personal choice of those who run schools. But despite this, no kids befriend Piya. The reason for this is that she can’t speak English! They lie, cheat and quarrel for admission but it doesn’t reap any rewards. They find a loop hole and become poor for a while, so that they can admit Piya in Delhi Grammar School under a ‘reserved quota’. Political roots are wide spread even in education. The daughter is finally admitted to the desired school after facing many bumps in the roadway.
Now comes the haphazardly made-up part of the movie. Realization of lying and cheating bothers Raj, and he confesses it to the audience that whatever he did was wrong and every kid should have an equal right to education and other such socialist utopias.
The major message of the movie is that the condition of the Government schools is bad because no one wants to send their kids to government schools! Nothing can be more ridiculous and further from the truth. The actual reality is exactly the opposite. It is because the condition of the government schools is worst so people don’t send their kids to government schools. Government is one big parasitic machine without any accountability.
The story writer and/or director have got everything wrong or maybe the movie is just propaganda. Typical ‘love for the government’ mentality is what is shown in the movie under the surface of whole Delhi based family drama. The condition of government run schools is pathetic because they are run by the government in the first place. Look around and notice the pathetic condition of various things government has the control of e.g., Banking, Police service, healthcare, education, defense, you name it. All of them exhibit inefficiencies and moral decay.
Very first issue in this movie is that of morality and maturity of culture. Indians are obviously far from morality and maturity in terms of thinking and reasoning. In 21stcentury English speaking is considered as being high society in India! On the other hand there are people propagating digital India in the movie. In a country like India where people can barely relate things like what is wrong and what is right, going digital is a day dream and a total waste of society’s resources by the government. People in India fail to understand that language is just a medium of communication and not a status symbol. This mentality of Indians only shows their racial and class etc., biases. No matter how much Indians will educate themselves by going to school/colleges, the age old system of caste will never go away from their minds; it will always be reflected in their day to day actions.
Second issue is of getting admission in the elite school. It actually makes no sense why parents should worry about quality of education in a government controlled schools; even in so-called private schools that is a distant dream today. No matter where they are going to send their kids, they all are going to be the same dumb and government fearing slaves as the great American journalist H L Mencken said years ago. This is because they all learn the same “government approved” courses that are always full of propaganda. They only teach how important and glorious their country is and how bad are the people who ruled over them. All they teach and program into the brains of kids is socialism, which ultimately leads only to one way: Down the road to serfdom as F A Hayek said! To see the result of this brainwashing just carefully observe the sociopolitical and economic condition of India in present time. India can surely be an absolute superpower in dumbness in a decade.
The third issue of importance for our discussion is committing fraud to get one’s work done. Raj Batra is absolutely one well trained socialist as he has studied in the government school! He talks about rights of poor and talented children, the seats reserved for them, morality, etc. in the movie. The crux of the matter here is this: Most people will walk straight unless there is an obstacle. If there is an obstacle obviously people won’t wait until the obstacle moves aside on its own. First thing they would try to do is the easiest thing: walk around it. But they disregard the fact that what they leave behind for others is the same obstacle they are facing and it will be still there when they return. People tend to think that they are not responsible for the obstacles others have to face. This is wrong thinking. The best way is to remove the obstacle instead of walking around it. Government is the real life obstacle in every person’s life today, but instead of removing it every citizen tries to walk around it. It saves lot of time and effort, but is hazardous in the long run. This is the cost benefit analysis in real time. 1 lakh rupees donation, 10 thousand rupees bribe for the government officer and admission is done. Who has the time to go to complain in courts and other government departments? There are long queues in every government agency. Government knows very well how to stay in demand artificially. Raj Batra fails to think that the obstacle in his daughters’ education is created by the very same governmental system which he is trying to make work for everyone’s benefit. He has high hopes from the government, but this is just a utopian hope. He should instead think that, why the state and its bureaucracies have to interfere in the education system in the first place? But instead he looks to uplift the state run schooling system. This whole endeavor is counterproductive and nonsensical.
Fourth issue is that of how he blames the private schools for the discrimination between rich and poor students. When Raj refuses the school seat that he has obtained by committing fraud, the principal very clearly explains the problems she had to face studying in an elite school with rich kids while coming from poor family. She asks Raj to continue his daughter’s education in that school but Raj is rather displeased and shocked. He thinks that such discrimination between rich and poor students is wrong. But is this is so? Is this discrimination really wrong? Discrimination prevails in schools, but that is necessary. It is the right of private school owners to select who they want to teach and who they don’t want to. But unfortunately this absolutely normal practice is called injustice in socialist India. An illegal and heinous crime! India is a land of natives where most people don’t even know what injustice means. Isn’t it an injustice to force the schools, who invested their capital and skills to develop those schools, to admit students against their own choices? The real issue here is that, all these schools are licensed by the government so they are in bed with the government to fool their customers. But in principle, discrimination per se is not bad. It’s good, but most people don’t get it. With discrimination only you can get better quality, if not actually desired quality, goods and services in a wrecked country like India.
This movie once again shows that Indians are far from understanding that socialism and state intervention is the reason for the bad quality of the education system (and everything else), which is only getting worse under the present Hindu nationalist government.
(Author: Mr. Dharmesh Patel)