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 We are worried

about one issue: 

who is

 responsible for the

health of the

 child? Is the


responsible? Or,

are the parents




The hall was huge, the audience small. Many of the adults (mostly parents and grandparents) were from the Jain community. Chatting with a greatgrandmother, I learnt that His Holiness Acharya Mahapragya, a highly spiritual person who was to grace the occasion, is the high priest of the Jain community and rarely comes to Mumbai. He travels by foot everywhere (no Mercedes for him!) and had come all the way from Rajasthan to Mumbai. Accompanying him on the occasion were his second in command, Yuvacharya Mahashraman, and other disciples.

CHANGE brings you excerpts of speeches by Acharya Mahapragya, Muni Mahendra Kumar and Gool Ghadially, Educationist and Principal, New Era School.


Acharya Mahapragya

Children and

Why should we celebrate just one day as World Health Day on the important theme given by the World Health Organisation of “Healthy Environment for Children? If we observe such days every day of the year, then we are justified to celebrate World Health Day. But if we neglect the other 364 days and are concerned about such an important issue only for one day, what is the importance of observing such a day?

It is important to discuss a Healthy Environment for Youth before we discuss a Healthy Environment for Children. Children imitate adults. Let me tell you a short story: A wife, husband and child were walking along a street. The road was muddy as it was raining heavily. A chocolate fell from the little boy’s hand. He tried to pick it up. His mother prevented him from doing so, saying, let it go, we will buy another one. A little further on, the mother fell down. The father tried to give her a hand. The son said, let her go; we can have another mummy.

Thus it is important to first pay attention to the youth because children imitate the youth. The primary necessity of a healthy society and a healthy environment is to develop the power to control one’s emotions. It is unfortunate that this aspect has been neglected in today’s education. Nobody is educated in controlling their emotions. I’d like to tell Dr. R.K. Anand, who is sharing the dais with me, that if you pay attention to this aspect of emotional health, then, probably, 50 per cent of doctors and hospitals would remain free from patients. There’s an adage that prevention is better than cure. But it is not actually utilised in practical life.

The most powerful factor that affects our immunity is our emotional imbalance. The immune system inherited by human beings is so powerful, that if proper attention is paid to emotional imbalance, we can live for a hundred years without any ailments. Unfortunately, we pay more attention to the external causes of diseases such as germs, bacteria, viruses but neglect internal causes which are responsible for weakening our immunity. Nowadays people talk about psychosomatic diseases. They don’t get to the root causes of psychosomatic diseases. If more attention is paid to the causes, then we can have control over them.

As far as having a healthy environment is concerned, if you don’t solve your internal problems ?I call it internal environmental pollution ?our efforts to make the external environment more healthy will not succeed. Doctors and government officials supply us a whole list of a balanced diet. Sadly, we don’t get a list of how to make our behaviour balanced. A list is required on how to be balanced in all conditions. Efforts are also being made by WHO and other agencies to inform people about a healthy environment, etc. But what is needed today is to teach people about the increasing power of forebearance, tolerance, etc. As people practise these, they become healthier. Therefore it is necessary to deliberate over the fundamental use of qualities inherited by human beings, which can give them emotional balance.

A small way to make a child healthy is to teach him/her how to breathe properly and completely. If this small lesson is taught to every child, then we can hope for a healthier environment for children.

Muni Mahendra Kumar

Science of Living

"When Wealth is lost, nothing is lost.
When Health is lost, something is lost.
When Character is lost, everything is lost."

The principal factor in building the character of children is to improve their inner environment. If you maintain character, health will automatically be maintained.

Values of character need to be built in children in a very natural way. Merely giving them lessons in moral science won’t help. Proper breathing merely develops the latent qualities in children. It is very easy to see why breathing affects moral values. When there is emotional imbalance or negative thinking, the rate of breathing increases and the whole nervous system gets affected.

In Bokaro, the steel state of India, a school started teaching the Science of Living to its students. It was observed that students of that school did much better than students of other schools. Later the word spread and all schools started teaching the Science of Living. There are certain hormones in our body, which are responsible for emotional outbursts. Exercises help control anger, excitement and other negative attitudes. This is now taught in CBSC schools. Through proper practical training in schools, we can give children a better, healthier inner environment, which will give them the emotional balance they need and also develop a strong immune system. Approximately 10,000 patients suffering from cardiac disease have been cured by the Science of Living programme. Non-violence is another important training programme that should be undertaken by schools for children.


Gool Ghadially

and Health

Schools are temples of learning. Cleanliness of the New Era School is our first priority and therefore we take great care of the environment around us. We also see to the emotional stability of the child and never compare two children in the family or in the classroom. No teacher should brand a child as being useless or give names to a child who is not doing well. That creates emotional instability.

As far as mental health is concerned, the child has to be nurtured with the best of information so that his/her mental levels develop day after day.

We are worried about one issue: who is responsible for the health of the child? Is the school responsible? Or, are the parents responsible?

Health has three aspects: physical, mental and emotional. Parents are excellent as far as physical health is concerned. They give their child the best food, the best nourishment, the best facilities?But what about the child’s emotional and mental health, where parents have really not spared a thought? They simply do not consider it as their problem! A child in any normal school is undergoing excessive stress not only because of studies, but also because parents are passing their stress, worries and problems over to the young child. A child of Standard III came into my room the other day saying, I have a lot of tension! I asked, what do you mean by tension? The child said, I don’t know the meaning, but my parents keep on saying this word! Therefore, I say that parents are role models for their child. A child loves to wear his/her parent’s shoes, saris?Why? It is trying to become like the parent. Do we realise as parents what damage we are doing to our children?

Today’s education is marks-oriented, exam-oriented and degree-oriented. When parents send their child to a good school or for foreign education, their final goal is that the child should pass with flying colours. There is a certain percentage they are aiming for. Should parents set a percentage as the target for their child? Besides, do parents have any right to set targets for their children? All five fingers are not the same. Someone has to come first and someone has to come thirtieth. Parents should accept that their child needs that kind of security. It is extremely frustrating for the child to live up to the high standards set by parents. Though the parents know the capacity of the child, they will not gracefully accept that fact just because the neighbour’s or the friend’s or a senior colleague’s child is doing exceptionally well! This is how the comparison starts. If you don’t get good marks you are going to put us to shame, is the sort of emotional blackmail children are subjected to!

The question is: how to really work towards the health of the child? Today, children are driven to suicide, telling lies, forging reports?When they are caught, we find out that it is parents who are responsible for driving their child towards these wrongs. Mental tension in a child creates a lot of problems. The child feels insecure, lacks confidence, develops an inferiority complex, stops smiling?/font>

If we do not pay attention now, we will cripple and destroy the student community. I think it is our bounden duty as educators, as people in society to accept the fact: each child has to be treated as an individual.

It is said that the child is father of the man, the future of the country. Let us put on our thinking caps: are we good citizens? Are we good parents? Let us change ourselves rather than the child. Let us be positive and the child will bloom in a better environment.