Every child has the right to be courageous
My wife, Renisha, and I raised our kids, Ishan and Samara, on a steady diet of Dr. Seuss. What we wanted most for our children was for them to be creative, crazy, courageous risk takers.
But this is often not possible. Our kids come from privilege. They can afford to take risks, fail, pick up, start again as long as they do it responsibly. This realization hit me in 2013 when I taught a class on English grammar to fourth graders in a government school in Mumbai. I was not quite prepared for how that day would affect me.
My class was a cross section of younger and older kids (aged 8 through 14); some differently abled children. And when I inquired why these kids were clubbed so randomly together I was told what I may not have wanted to hear – the girls (mainly) were being abused physically/mentally at home, so would lag behind in learning; some kids were sent to villages to help with farming – hence taken out of school to rejoin at a later date - deeply hurting their self-esteem. The kid who stole my heart was an intellectually challenged girl who had the most enthusiastic sparkle in her eyes, could not express herself at all, but you knew she had so much to say.
All these abilities and ages and sexes and emotional states were mixed up in an overburdened under resourced classroom - packaged, processed and shoved into a world that didn’t care what they wanted, dreamed about, cared or hoped for. And I recall thinking on my way home – these kids are just defeated at birth.
This is where the seed of the idea behind Project Rangeet began. It became non-negotiable for me to do something that would give every child the opportunity to be courageous: to try, to fail, to find their niche and awaken their inner superhero.