The term “national shame” is repeatedly used by our media even though the occasion does not warrant it. But this is one story that fits the term “national shame” very well. 11 year old Devika Rotawan has been denied admission to the New England School in East Bandra, Mumbai. Her fault? She is a victim of the 26/11 attack and testified against terrorist Ajmal Kasab in court. The school’s authorities fear that the terrorists will target their school for admitting her.

No other parent would have allowed an injured 11 yr old daughter to testify in a high profile terrorism case. Many would have just accepted their fate, to move on in life. But Devika Rotawan, whose right leg was broken by the terrorists’ bullets and now walks on crutches, and her family have shown exemplary courage in turning up at the court and testifying against a cold blooded murderer.

The school is the second most important agent of value education, after the family. By denying admission to Devika Rotawan, the school is setting an example of timidity and submission. Ajmal Kasab may be hanged someday but he shall remain deeply indebted to New England School for helping him fulfill the mission he undertook on 26/11.

No amount of police reform, technology upgradation, bolstering of intelligence capabilities will be of use in the war against terrorism if the people do not display courage. For the brave, being terrorized is a matter of choice. But the timid and the chickenhearted readily grovel like Pavlov’s dogs at the slightest threat or discomfort. The timid not only constitute an enormous waste of humanity but also are like human sized black holes sucking away all courage around them. Thousands of them are being produced right now at schools like New England School across India.

Update: New English High School says that the girl was denied admission not for security reasons but because she was not fluent in English. The school says that she studied till Class I but was seeking admission into Class V. The “principal told her father to get her admitted to a Hindi medium school and come again for admission after she had learnt English.” I thought children learn English after going to school. [Links: CNN-IBN and The Hindu]