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Young ministers

chandigarh Updated: Feb 25, 2013 09:22 IST

My visit last year to the house of the people, the Lok Sabha, and the recent incident where a minister hurled abuses on the floor of the Punjab legislative assembly reminded me of my school days.

The students of Classes 9 and 10 were given various school-cabinet portfolios. There was a hierarchy starting from the head boy and the head girl. Under them worked the ministers, followed by the house captains and vice-captains.

Two members in the cabinet, "discipline minister" and "language minister", enjoyed great powers within the school. The discipline minister had the duty to stop or report any kind of indiscipline. The language minister was a key office, meant for keeping an eye on the students who spoke in Punjabi or Hindi.

Speaking in English was compulsory in school. There was zero tolerance for all other languages except the medium of instruction. Being from agricultural background, my friends and I preferred to speak in our mother tongue, Punjabi, and so almost every day, we would get punished.

When the language minister caught us, we would plead with her repeatedly to spare us. "This is our first and last time; please don't complain to the teacher. From now, we will speak in English, always," would be our words. She never gave an ear to our excuses; the language minister was the most feared. It was better to bite your tongues or be quiet whenever she passed by.

Then, there was "sports minister", whose job was to conduct various games. A day was kept for their oath administration; the same as the swearing-in ceremonies of the political class.

Thank God, our language minister was not the kind who would hurl abuses; and neither our sports minister the kind who would be involved in scam. The discipline minister also was unlike the MPs who create ruckus in the Lok Sabha.

The student minister did their duty well in line with their oath; there was no corruption, nepotism, or favoritism. They worked for the betterment of the youth and promoted brotherhood and discipline, unlike the current political class involved in caste, religion, or language-based politics.

Politicians work for votes and divide people on frivolous basis, while the student ministers worked honorably and kept the children of different castes and backgrounds united.

I recall one of the mottos of our young school ministers: "A politician thinks of the next election, a statesman of the next generation." Our young ministers were real statesmen.

Seeing them for 65 years, I am now sure that the political class never has changed and never will. It's the time for the people to move on to new role models: the young ministers.