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Chandigarh boy’s Google story is an indictment of India’s education system

How did a teenager convince his school, and a state government that he had got a job at one of the foremost technology companies in the world? 

opinion Updated: Aug 03, 2017 22:45 IST
Vidya Subramanian
Vidya Subramanian
Hindustan Times
Chandigarh,google,Government Model Senior Secondary School
What is it about certain companies, in certain parts of the world that makes us go into raptures? Would the school, the principal, and indeed the government have reacted like this had this boy been hired by some Indian company?(REUTERS)

On July 28, the department of public relations of the Chandigarh administration put out a press release that a class 12 student of Government Model Senior Secondary School (GMSSS) had been hired by Google and would be paid a stipend of “04 lacs per month” as he trained in graphic designing. The press release even went on to say that after a year of training, the teenager would get a remuneration of “12 lacs per month”.

It now turns out Google has not hired this boy at all.

How did this become such big news? Did anyone in the school or the government verify the facts before the press release was sent out? Apparently, not. The teachers and the principal were so excited to hear that the boy had been hired by Google (and for such enormous sums of money) that no one asked to see a letter from the company confirming his employment.

What is it about certain companies, in certain parts of the world that makes us go into raptures? Would the school, the principal, and indeed the government have reacted like this had this boy been hired by some Indian company?

Perhaps the answers lie in our oft-seen need for validation by “the West”; as in if Google thinks one of us is worth paying Rs 12 lakh a year to then it must mean that we are all worthy of such riches. Basking in the reflected glory of Indians who have done well abroad (even if they are no longer Indian citizens, or only descendants of people of Indian origin) has almost become one of our hallmarks.

That might explain the joy of the school in immediately propagating the news (fake as it turned out to be) of one of their own having landed a job at Google. But it doesn’t explain how the school took the boy at his word, without confirming the offer, or even wondering why a tech giant in the US was looking to hire teenagers from India to design their graphics.

Whether or not the boy in question told his teacher the story on the basis of a hoax phone call, should the school not have checked the boy’s story first? Why did no one in the school wonder about the large sums of money this company was apparently ready to give a schoolboy? Why did no one check to see an appointment letter before putting out a press release about the “achievement”? And then the government, too! No one in the department thought to verify the claims that the school had been making.

It seems quite unfair that while everyone wanted a bit of the glory when they thought the story was true; now that the story turns out to be false, all the blame has been piled on the boy. The repercussions of this much attention and ridicule are not likely to do his mental state any good.

Had the school, or indeed the government department, that showed such alacrity in claiming credit for what was assumed to be the boy’s “achievements” , bothered to check their facts before publicising the name of the child, he would not be going through such trauma now.

It is now irrelevant why the boy told the story or what actually happened. What matters now is the mental health and condition of a student of our education system.The parents of the boy have now confirmed that he is being kept under medical observation. The pressure of his situation, coupled with the ignominy of all the press he’s receiving now cannot be easy for him.

Perhaps this whole story is actually the tale of irresponsibility in India’s much-in-need-of-reform education system.

First Published: Aug 03, 2017 14:52 IST