(This is a humble extension of Amartya Sen’s ‘Three Children And A Flute’ parable in ‘Idea of Justice’ and a tribute to his genius. The objective is to play on emotion and rational and get you to think as ‘nakedly’ as possible).

Read this carefully:

In a war ravaged country, there is just one city that survives the incessant bombings and air raids. In a solitary building, survivors of that country huddle together.

In 3 separate rooms live three children – all sole survivors of their families:

Andrea, a 6-year-old girl who has no belongings, money and no means of survival. While she can neither read nor write, she seems bright, very eager to learn and shows an uncanny ability to imbibe knowledge when ever given a chance. She is bright and optimistic.

Sofia, a 10-year-old girl who seems confident, calm and self-sufficient. She has just enough means to survive and is keenest to share her thoughts and ideas. She loves to teach  when ever given a chance. She is practical and motivated.

Pascal, a 12-year-old boy, definitely from an aristocratic family who has survived and has with him some money, clothes and lots and lots of books. He possesses a library that would be sufficient to teach a child to read, write and learn almost the basics of everything. He refuses to share anything with anybody and is paranoid about lending even a rag to anyone, given the state of skepticism the war has left him in. He is introverted and withdrawn.

None of the children speak to each other.

As the administrator of the building, Sofia comes to you with a fervent plea – She wants you to get her access to Pascal’s  library, so that she can read and learn and more importantly teach young Andrea who is illiterate and helpless. It’s certain that this war will not be over for a few years more and she needs your help. Knowing Pascal, he will react violently to anyone touching his books, save even taking them out of his room. And every time you see young Andrea,  helpless and hungry to learn, your heart wells up..

What will you do?

Remember that it’s easy to jump to a conclusion – but think of right and wrong in the purest sense.  The concept is not just about who needs what but also about who owns what is rightfully theirs… Think in shades of concepts of communism, socialism and democracy and apply ideals of who you really are, how you have lived, your religious ideas and maybe what you respect to solve this…

Would be happy to post rational well-rounded comments…


Originally posted on February 11, 2010 on rodinhood.com

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funny, just this morning after re-reading this i told myself, this is what i needed to read...


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