Honestly, they could have spared us the embarrassment. And they could have avoided giving the confirmation that there really is a total disconnect between the authorities and the people of this country.
First, some background: making it to the Guinness World Records does not in itself mean that one has necessarily achieved an admirable feat in the noble domains of arts, science, technology, engineering, architecture or sports. You can hold the world record for a number of ‘achievements’, including some stupid, at times also gross, ones if you are so inclined. Some of the world records have been held for having the greatest number of snails crawl over one’s face, most number of candles extinguished by passing wind, breaking the most toilet seats in one minute using one’s head, the largest number of lawsuits filed, eating the largest amount of metal, having most plastic surgeries done, sniffing the most feet and armpits to test products such as deodorants... Some of the records held you don’t want to break. Holding the record for the biggest kidney stone, for example, is one of those records you pray you will never have to break.
So the record we have spent so much time trying to break is rather futile. Copying other countries by lining up a few thousand school kids before feeding them inedible scraps of food begged from hotels and restaurants does not require any skill, prowess, originality or expertise. In fact, one could even legitimately argue that involving children in such a useless activity is really sending them the wrong educational message.
Secondly, and more importantly, the competition that some genius got us into is not between countries but rather between a country proud of itself and a couple of institutions. The World Record we broke was held by…Chandigarh University in India, which itself broke the record of another educational institution – GEMS Education in Abu Dhabi!
Now, those usual lowly chatwas who want to start throwing anti-patriotism epithets around, please be my guest. Anti-patriotism is an easy, cheap accusation that requires no valid arguments. What is so patriotic, pray tell, about engaging a whole country to compete with institutions for a pointless world title that brings nothing to this country other than a bit of ridicule? What exactly is patriotic about a prime minister receiving an award certificate from a Guinness World Records adjudicator when the last certificate awarded to an institution for the same ‘feat’ was probably handed to a student representative in an obscure private educational institution looking for publicity?
Being patriotic would be going to bed thinking about the real problems of this country and waking up with ideas to solve them. If our ministers live on the same planet as us, they would have noticed that our taps are dry and our streets are flooded; that our kids often have to miss school because of the risk of floods while water does not make it to our taps; that some shelters that are meant to be a safe haven have turned into torture homes where kids are starved and at times raped; that our national debt has breached through the roof; that inflation is making it hard for many of our compatriots to feed their families; that drugs are decimating families and killing our youth…Dealing with such problems would be patriotic, not wasting time, money, resources and more of children’s time than is already wasted by closing schools doing activities that bring nothing to the country.
It’s like a couple whose children are crying out for food deciding to borrow money to buy a diamond necklace because it makes mom look good and dad look rich.
Time we sorted out our priorities.