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The Mid-week Musings: Digital Age- the Unstoppable Intrusion

Our veteran Defence and international affairs expert *Lt. Gen. (R) Raj Kadyan is caught between Old School Finger-tip Counting and Digital Avantage

Gurgaon: People of my vintage are caught in a time warp. Having grown up on finger-tip counting, we looked at the later technological intrusion with resolute hostility. We even resisted introduction of calculators under the ideological cloak of children’s need to learn – and cram – tables.

But the march of time is unstoppable. We can neither ignore the developments, as theseFinger tip

have become part of our daily life, nor can we submit to their intrusion willingly. Having raised the red flag loudly and often, we are at best reluctant, flailing-arms entrants into the world of gizmo wizardry. Most of us still look for opportunities to snipe at the developments under ‘missing the good old days’ guise, and somehow, to have it back on the galloping digital world.

Some two years ago we spent the family summer in Canada. Including a nephew’s daughter, there were six grandchildren between the ages of going-on-three and nine. Every morning the older five would climb in our bed, each armed with an iPad and do their own, with a ‘don’t-disturb-me’ visage. Their mothers proudly told us how the kids had learnt their colours, shapes and numbers on the iPad. But my scepticism remained unshaken.

The youngest had not yet been technologically ‘corrupted’ and did not join the iPad parade. I thought I would tutor her like in the days of yore, using nature as an aid. I would take her out in the rear lawn, count the trees and explain the colours from the plants and flowers. The square lawn and a round water pond came in handy for explaining shapes. I even explained directions using the sun as a reference point. She showed keen interest. I felt satisfied with the progress. Thereafter, whenever we spoke on phone, I would check back to see if she was keeping in touch with nature. Her affirmative response always made a triumph rise in me.

Time has sturdy wings and flies fast. For the next two years we could not visit or meet the grand children. But our phone contacts continued. In my mind she was still a toddler kid. I would ofteSchool kidsn ask her about nature, including whether she knew different animals. She always said yes. The son had since relocated to UK where they have purchased a house near the famous Ascot racecourse. I visualised the family visiting the Sunday races during summer months. The prospect of the children seeing live animals outside of zoo cages gladdened me. Once I asked when last she had seen a horse. “Yesterday”, she said. Encouraged, I asked her expectantly, “where?” “It is on page 8”, she replied with unembarrassed frankness.

My dreams of keeping Layla’s focus from table top gadgets to outdoor nature got a big jolt. But stubbornness is synonymous with old age. Wishing away the lurking doubts, I resolved to make amends during my next visit.

However, a greeting card from her on my birthday a few days later really dug in the dagger. Having smudged the top of the card with her tomato sauce lips, she had crayon-scrawled underneath: “I luv you”.

*Lt. Gen. (Retd) Raj Kadyan, recounts his live ‘encounters’,  during his efforts Raj Kadyanto teach his grand kids old study methods and tools  against the dangerous intrusion by Digital culture.


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