After having fun all weekend, we had to scramble on Sunday evening to finish our daughter’s homework. She is studying in Nursery class. Her homework consisted of following (due to assembly elections in Telangana,her school had holiday on Friday. So, there was little “extra” ) –

  • Drawing right slanted lines, left slanted lines and sleeping line
  • Writing letter “A”
  • Drawing standing line and left curve
  • Writing letter “B”
  • Writing number “5”

What makes this particular experience interesting is, there was a news story in Indian Express on same day about Indian Government asking all state Governments to ensure there is no homework for class 1 and 2 students. For time being, for sake of simplicity and focus, let’s set aside what are implication of this guideline and how compliance of this ruling would be tracked. The intent of this decision is to ensure kids at early age are not burdened with too much of studies. If you look into this ruling from “weight of school bag”, it also helps as kids don’t have to carry books and notebooks from school to home and home to school. This all makes perfect sense to me and to a large extent I support this decision.

What absolutely does not make any sense is how this rule is worded. According to media reports, Government rule indicates there should not be any homework for 1st and 2nd class student. India’s education system has following hierarchy –

  • Nursery
  • Pre-Primary 1 (aka PP1) / Lower Kindergarten (aka LKG)
  • Pre-Primary 2 (aka PP2) / Upper Kindergarten (aka UKG)
  • 1st standard
  • 2nd standard

The letter of the law says, there should not be any homework for class 1 and 2. But that law absolutely doesn’t mention anything about what happens to Nursery, PP1 (LKG) or PP2 (UKG). If my daughter (who is studying in Nursery) is given homework, the school is complying with order as it says “NO HOMEWORK FOR CLASS 1 and CLASS 2”. Now, had the order said, “No Homework till Class 3”, then my daughter wouldn’t have to scramble on Sunday evening to finish her homework. That specific wording would have also ensured the objective of burdening kids with too much studies and weight of school would have been addressed all the way up to class 2 and not just class 1 and class 2. Clearly whoever wrote the rules didn’t seem to have thought through the wording of their decisions.

This is a really good example of rule of the law v/s spirit of the law discussion. This phenomenon is used by legal professionals about following the wording of the law but not the intent of the law. Lawyers earn their livelihood using such technicalities to get their clients off the hook. Rules in India are full of such complexities.

Another great example of such rule is about passenger capacity of 2-wheeler. Take a look at rule # 22 of circular issued by Kapurthala Police. The rule says you have to pay fine of 300 bucks if a cop catches 3 people riding on a 2-wheeler scooter / motorbike etc. Now if you can have 4 people sit on that 2-wheeler technically you’re complying with the law as it says “NO TRIPLE RIDING” (and don’t need to pay the fine). 4 people riding 2-wheeler complies with rule of the law. But not necessarily the intent. The intent of the law is to prohibit use of vehicle beyond its prescribed capacity but letter of the law is not fully addressing that. 

The way these laws are worded, they are open for loopholes and gaps. All I can say is, if you’re in soup with regards to Letter of Law v/s Spirit of the Law, all you’ve to do is get a good lawyer to get you off the hook!

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