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The New VAT - Part I
- Ramendra Kumar


All of us have heard of VAT - Value Added Tax. What is needed in today's world is a new kind of VAT - Value Added Teaching.


I was sitting in my child's school, waiting for the PTA meeting to commence. The Principal hadn't arrived. Around twenty parents had gathered. Just then I heard an interesting conversation:

Mr. Bijay Parida: "I don't know why they keep stuff like value education as a subject."
Mrs. Malati Ray: "I agree. The marks are not counted for the rank and unnecessarily the kids have to study a subject that is of no use."
Mr.B.P.: "True, instead the time spent on V.E. can be devoted to Math, Science or Computers."
Mrs. M.R.: "Right, our children's brains will also develop and they will learn important and useful concepts."

Mr. B.P. and Mrs. M.R.'s erudite views provided food for thought. There was a time in ancient India when teaching of values was as important as teaching the art and science of warfare or the nuances of commerce. Vishnu Sharma, the creator of the immortal Panchatantra, had been engaged by the king to teach his sons the art of living, and he had done so with consummate flair by telling fables woven around values. However, in today's world, where materialism rules the roost, values are being given the short shrift. They are good enough on election manifestoes, in speeches of candidates, in school essays or college debates, but in real life they seem to have little importance.

As Lin Yutang the famous Chinese philosopher says, "Today we are afraid of simple words like goodness and mercy and kindness. We don't believe in the good old words because we don't believe in good old values anymore. And that is why the world is sick."

Strong words but they do ring true don't they?

Internalising of values, like the practice of charity, begins at home. It should be a matter of pleasure and privilege for us as parents to shape our children's values. But how do we do that? The most effective way is by setting a good example. You have to practice what you preach or your little one will see through your façade. As Thomas Fuller wrote, "He does not believe who does not live according to his belief."

But this is easier said than done. Life, with its confusions, contradictions and chaos takes us on a roller coaster ride where between the highs and lows we have little time and energy to pause and ask ourselves, "Am, I a good role model for my child?" However tough life may be, you must make every effort to be today what you want your child to be tomorrow.

What are the values you would like to inculcate in your child? You would like him to internalise every good value, but that is being rather nebulous. Consider making a list of the values you hold to be important. Try and practice them yourself, and encourage your child to follow suit.

Tomorrow: 4 important values


Related Articles:
The New VAT II - Values


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