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From Watermelons to Education

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By Manohar Parrikar

“I am from the village of Parra in Goa, hence we are callewatermelond Parrikars. My village is famous for its watermelons. When I was a child, the farmers used to organise a watermelon-eating contest at the end of the harvest season in May. All the kids would be invited to eat as many watermelons as they wanted.

Years later, I went to IIT Mumbai to study engineering. I went back to my village after 6.5 years. I went to the market looking for watermelons. They were all gone. The ones that were there were so small.

I went to see the farmer who used to host the watermelon-eating contest. His son had taken over. The son also continued hosting the contest but there was a difference.

When the older farmer gave us watermelons to eat he would ask us to spit out the seeds into a bowl. We were told not to bite into the seeds. He was collecting the seeds for his next cr

Hays Buckley, 4, befriends a 100+ pound giant on Lloyd Bright's farm in Hope, Arkansas. Friday, July 23, 2010 / Jacob Slaton for the New York Times NYTCREDIT: Jacob Slaton for The New York Times
Hays Buckley, 4, befriends a 100+ pound giant on Lloyd Bright’s farm in Hope, Arkansas. NYTCREDIT: Jacob Slaton for The New York Times

op. We were unpaid child labourers, actually. He kept his best watermelons for the contest and he got the best seeds which would yield even bigger watermelons the next year.

His son, when he took over, realised that the larger watermelons would fetch more money in the market so he sold the larger ones and kept the smaller ones for the contest. The next year, the watermelons were smaller, the year later even small. In watermelons the generation is one year. In seven years, Parra’s best watermelons were finished.

Slices of juicy watermelon
Slices of juicy watermelon

In humans, generations change after 25 years. It will take us 200 years to figure what we were doing wrong while educating our children.”

(The Educationist Executive Editor Dr Ifra Iftikhar’s is currently assistant professor of media studies at Lahore Leads Universitwatermelon2hqdefaulty)

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