Dhaka, Bangladesh
In camouflage

What others say

In camouflage

The Rashtriya Swaya-msevak Sangh chief is only talking of raising an army; the prime minister of India has already identified one, and given it a catchy name to boot. Exam Warriors is not just the name that Narendra Modi has given to the book he has written in an outburst of concern for children’s examination stress, especially during their Class X and Class XII exams, but it is also a special identity bequeathed to young people thrown into the bloody battlefield of study - an identity that privileges them with suggested greatness as well as with the sense of the prime minister’s warm support. Bristling with 25 “mantras” that will help students beat stress, including playing and sleeping right and practising specific yoga asanas, the book also contains wise advice for parents and teachers. No doubt being the prime minister of India, or perhaps just being Narendra Modi, allows a kind of divine access to wisdom of many kinds, like that of a sage or a seer, without the need for experiential guidance. The book is linked to a Narendra Modi mobile app, through which the young warriors will share their experiences in a growing community around the child-loving prime minister - memories of another prime minister who loved children may now dissipate - and an ‘ExamWarriors’ hashtag. The new generation will not fail to recognize the leader of the future who is also their friend, a term the prime minister used in his speech to students in the Talkatora Stadium after his book had been released. The new generation sitting their school-leaving examinations now is also the new generation of voters for 2019, the 18-25 age group that the Bharatiya Janata Party needs to win over in order to compensate for any loss of votes from disappointed adult segments. Only that can explain the publicity blitz around the prime minister’s book, made possible by the BJP’s high-minded disdain for both visual pollution and expense. In this hour of exalted bonding between the prime minister and young India, it is almost anti-national to pick holes. Yet some will argue that examinations are not wars, and children should not be given such ridiculous ideas: they would lose all sense of proportion about the trials that life will bring. There is something unfathomably callous - these boring conscientious objectors would argue - about slyly flattering young examinees in order to manipulate them into turning BJP voters. What is equally damaging is the emphasis on examinations; the lip service to the importance of pursuing knowledge fades away under the assault of the 25 mantras. Making examinations the be-all and end-all of learning is what has destroyed the backbone of India’s education. The prime minister is just doing his bit to erase whatever might be left of serious study. Unless critical, informed and independent thinking is wiped out, his party will not feel completely safe. — The Telegraph

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