A few days ago in conservative Chennai, a 15 year old boy stabbed his teacher to death, because she wrote a note that he needed to work on his language skills.
He killed her with a 20 rupee knife, which he had been carrying with him, waiting for a chance.
It is estimated that 26 teenagers commit suicide in Chennai every year - many of them due to the pressure brought on them to do better academically by their parents and teachers.
What is it that drives so many young people to violent acts against themselves and others?
Perhaps it is the ruthlessly rising expectations of family and school that creates the angst so necessary to violent acts.
Consider the work of Harvard University Professor Howard Gardner of Project Zero.
He says that people may have any one of these seven intelligences:
Knowledge of Self
Knowledge of Others
He has suggested two more: The intelligences of the naturalist and the spiritual leader.
He suggests that if one focuses on one’s special intelligence, then one can achieve excellence and joy, using it.
Parents can become aware of this and help a child to pursue a course of study and aim for a profession that will help him leverage his strengths rather than be bogged down by his weaknesses.
Young people too have a responsibility to identify their special area of intelligence.
It is only in these areas that an individual can find the kind of happiness at work, described by the Lebanese poet, Kahlil Gibran: “What is it to work with love?” “It is to weave the cloth from the strings of your heart as though your Beloved were to wear it.”
So let us help nurture the unique intelligence gifted to us by God. Let us identify our special aptitudes and nurture that instead of worrying about what we are not good at!
Dr. Rekha Shetty is Author of ‘The Happiness Quotient’ and the forthcoming Penguin book ‘Innovate Happily’