Power prevailed over pandemic idiocy | Daily News
Big Match lobbying:

Power prevailed over pandemic idiocy

The 142nd Royal–Thomian cricket encounter which was concluded over the weekend signaled one thing from two of the oldest and most prestigious educational institutions in the country. It was that Covid paranoia is nonsense, and that the virus can be lived with rather than be made a totem of fear.

This fact is particularly pertinent with regard to the aforementioned encounter because the relevant school authorities, at some point chickened out. They made postponements – at times even when wholly unnecessary – and spoke as if the virus is indomitable. Folks sanctioned by them such as a certain television personality, with a sensationalist channel that bloviates on just about everything,wrote articles to their TV websites – or whatever those wallpapers are called – stating the match is not going to be played at all possibly, because that’s patriotism!

Never has it been truer that patriotism is the last resort of the scoundrel. In the end the Joint Organizing Committee comprising representatives of both schools came around to organizing the game, in October, and kudos to them.

The writer has very reliable information from unimpeachable sources that part of the match organizing apparatus – there are different factions in it, such as school cricket committees, etc – had decided to definitely not play this year. This fact is easily proven because some of them went around saying so, and the evidence is there on the record. To cut a long story short, however, the pressure from the old boys and various other lobbies was so intense, they capitulated and had the 142nd played.

Good for them. Those who hold office can’t ask for any special kudos for doing what they are supposed to do anyway. Of course they did a good job in the end, but that’s what they had undertaken by being in office – to play it, not shirk it. Also, despite their hoopla, it was not the most difficult of tasks considering that there were cricket tournaments and rugby tournaments in the country, all happening while the pandemic health protocols were in place.

The fact remains that the value of public lobbying cannot be underestimated. This holds good for the Royal–Thomian or any other public event that needs to be held despite the inconveniences of a pandemic. There is no point in those who are appointed to do the job – or who have volunteered to hold office and do the job – telling the others ‘it’s our job, you talked, we did.”

The public lobbyists or pressure groups were not office-holders who had volunteered, or had otherwise being dragooned into doing the job. They were only being vocal because those who were supposed to be doing the job seemed to be needlessly shirking their responsibility in the first place. If it wasn’t for the pesky critics, the big match would have gone the way of the Royal Thomian 50 over encounter, which was summarily cancelled last year, when the country even had a general election in the melee!


Now that it’s been done, kudos to the organizers, but that’s what they were supposed to do, and much sooner than October, really. You can’t say the kitchen is too hot – if you can’t stand the heat, don’t get in it. All’s well that ends well though, and those among the public – old boys, social media pressure groups, public petitioners – can be happy that what’s tantamount to a national heritage event – 142 years of uninterrupted cricketing rivalry – was finally worked out. It’s galling when some of the organizers who were initially remiss try now to malign the lobby groups saying they were doomsayers. Yes they were. They had no choice. The lobbyists tried reverse-psychology and kept saying the appointed organizers will never do what they are supposed to do, with the idea that it would finally shame them into doing what they were supposed to do in the first place. Gotcha. Reverse psy-ops worked!

History, over time, would of course record accurately what happened – but it’s churlish on the part of the organizers to not so much as make a nodding acknowledgement of what the lobby groups did. It’s supposed these officious people have to save face – they were forced to budge, when earlier they didn’t want to play the game. Now they don’t want to live that down. In the end they did a good job of course, and nobody would be so churlish as to not say ‘chuck your paw chum’, for that. Thank you.

The whole episode is an object lesson on how life must go on, pandemic or no pandemic. Though it’s technically not a State event, the Royal–Thomian has a national flavour to it and it’s why it should be held up as a mirror to how the pandemic must not stifle sports, life, and civic endeavour, under patently false pretexts.


To segue onto a related subject, the longest period in which schoolchildren in the country were out of school, the Covid school lockdown phase, has been seen as the darkest in the history of education in this country. Schoolchildren have no doubt been ‘trapped’ in their homes, sometimes with tragic outcomes. Parents have not had the patience or the energy to deal with children forced to be at home for extended periods.

There has been domestic violence, and parental abuse. There was the case of the young schoolboy being assaulted with a broomstick by his father resulting in the young man’s death. The reason for the violence apparently was the boy allegedly being in neglect of his online classes.

However, all that angst and parental despair apart, the long window of time available for children to be away from the rigours of the school curriculum has never been seen as a cause for a new approach to learning. Mark Twain said he will never let his schooling interfere with his education.

Why wasn’t the Covid schooling lockdown ever seen as the golden opportunity to rid ourselves of the regimentation that happens in schools? First, take the statistics. They are too copious to be mentioned here, but google it for yourself by taking some time to research the subject, if you are so inclined. The fact is that there was no ‘learning loss’ due to Covid in most parts of the world.

There was online education and home schooling, and children as a result did not suffer from any measurable disadvantage in terms of honing their mathematical abilities or language abilities or any other subject-related skills, just because they were confined to their homes during the pandemic. Yes, the pandemic may have imprisoned kids at home with morose parents who were frustrated that they had lost their sources of income. The familiarity – too much of it – with harried adults may have bred mutual contempt between kids and their adult caregivers.


But that’s an entirely different story. The fact is that as far as book learning went, the children did not lose substantially, and if there was a myth created that the pandemic resulted in massive ‘learning losses’ that was it – it was just a myth. However, children also at least when they did not face the perils of parental violence, etc., got to be children for extended periods of time.

A lot of them got to rediscover the magic possibilities of being creative in their own way. They were able to rediscover nature – at least the luckiest among them who were close enough to nature, but had never really got the opportunity to experience its many-faceted wonders because they have led regimented lives at school.

But yet, if you google Covid and education, believe me, you do not find a single – one little smidgen or so much as a part of a paragraph of an article articulating these opportunities that came the way of kids due to Covid closures. Caution: this writer is not, in any way, making a case for Covid lockdowns or belittling the negative effects of Covid-related closures which were economically devastating, and happened only because there was no immune protection as people initially were not vaccinated.

But that’s another story altogether. This article is about education, and the fact that forced home schooling due to Covid-related restrictions should have been ideally treated globally as the opportunity it was, to decouple regimented school-based teaching drills from the learning experience of young children.

Does that mean that a case can be made against any type of schooling? No. But the debasing, creativity-killing aspects of modern education – anywhere in the world and not just in this country – is a reality that you’d guess did not exist if you read all the googled articles about schooling and Covid. As much as spirited events such as the Royal–Thomian cricket match must never be interrupted due to a virus, adherents of regimented schooling should turn a new leaf, post-pandemic.

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