I think I finally figured out why I am so upset about this whole school admissions fiasco... Despite all that frustrates me about India, I have always hung onto belief in the economy, in the country, in its people. Education, of course, serves as the lynchpin of possibility here. A lack of it holds countless people back. Access to it transforms lives. That this key to India's future remains mired in so much muck, from corruption to connections, is deeply troubling and cause to cease believing. Everyone tells me, "No matter where she goes, she will be okay." Or else: "Look at us, we turned out fine."
But despite having strong beliefs about the type of school I want Naya to be in (open curriculum, lots of freedom, little rote learning, no tracing letters or formal instruction), I worry about sending her to a place where only people with connections can enter. At the age of 3.5, you might say she is too young to "get it" but I think it perhaps begins one of the saddest lessons of India will frame her time here -- hard work doesn't pay off. When you need something in life, just call the right person and it's yours. The same can be said of many of the elite schools of the US, for sure. But the public school system is generally strong or can be moved into (also the result of parents' hard work and ethic, presumably). I'd say the values we most want to pass onto our child are compassion for others and ethical values. So I don't feel like I can be part of something that requires currying favour just because we are who are. The moment I have to do that, it is like crossing a morale line and entering an India in which I can no longer believe. And so this whole process is about more than where Naya will go to school but more about whether this place can serve as home for our family, for the short or long term.