A video of a teenage boy in India telling a reporter why classrooms are more important than temples has attracted attention online.
The clip, which has gone viral on social media, shows a local reporter from SM News interviewed a 13-year-old boy from the city of Varanasi, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
When asked what he plans to do when he grows up, the boy said he wants to serve his community by becoming an Indian civil servant.
Then, when the reporter asked the teen if he was going to the temple, he talked about the merits of schools instead. “When we study, we get a job,” said the boy said†
According to the young interviewee, he would “rather be in a classroom” because schools are more important.
“God has not blessed us,” he reasoned. “God will not give us anything. But education does.”
The stunned reporter then asked about his caste, a social system that divides Hindus into rigid hierarchical groups and has long been used for discriminatory practices in Indian society.
“I’m from the Chamar community,” the boy replied.
The reporter commented: “You are from the Chamar community and you say this with such pride!”
Under the modern Indian system of affirmative action, Chamars are classified as a registered caste, the lowest in the caste hierarchy† Being called Chamar is considered derogatory in India.
While discrimination based on the caste system has been banned in India since 1948, its existence for thousands of years continues to afford the upper castes social privileges while the lower castes remain oppressed and limited in employment.
Teen said instead of looking up to gods in a temple, he admires Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkara member of a low-caste community who went on to become a notable Indian scholar, politician, jurist, social reformist and author of the Indian Constitution.
Ambedkar, also referred to as an honorific Babasaheb, has been instrumental in leading public movements advocating for marginalized communities.
As the crowd began to captivate the reporter, he asked the teenager why he would want to worship Ambedkar, but not the gods.
“Babasaheb gave us a reservation and constitution,” the boy said. “What have gods done for us? We don’t go to a temple, we go to schools. God has not given us anything. I would rather study at a school.”
The two-minute clip has been widely shared on social media platforms and has received a lot of response from social media users who were impressed by the boy’s response.
Among them was journalist Ravi Nair, who posted the video to Twitter, writing: “Kids like him give us hope that India hasn’t lost everything to the saffron crowds.”
The boy’s comments also aroused contradiction from those who believe that you can also achieve success by adhering to the teachings of both schools and temples.
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