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Who are the Educated?


Posted on Friday June 06, 2014

Last updated Wednesday July 06, 2016

  India, politics, educated, literate, Smriti Irani
The recent hornet’s nest raised over the appointment of Smriti Irani as Human Resource Minister in the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the ground that she is not a graduate, does not imply that this is the first case after independence or the past congress governments have always chosen persons into positions as per their expertise knowledge befitting into the job they we required to do. In a parliamentary form of government the Prime Minister has not the scope to choose experts from outside the parliament to fit into the cabinet berths.
Prabhat Ranjan Mallick

In view of the fresh controversy erupted out of the formal qualification of the newly appointed Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Smriti Irani, it has become more relevant now for the people of India to understand what "educated" means and if it differs from that of "being literate.”

To be educated and to be formally literate convey two different connotations. To be literate means achieving mastery or excellence or some control over a field be it literature, science or social sciences or any other field. It is like acquiring some kind of authority over a field quite extraneous to one’s own self. For example, playing good cricket or being a cricket wizard is not in any way related to the development or heightened realization of the self.

Conscience, faculty of understanding, compassion, intuition and wisdom, inculcation and cultivation of human qualities and values are not necessarily the product of being literate, though may be related or affect the former. Historical evidences stand as a testimony to myriad great philosophers, saints, sages, seers and poets having not been literate in the sense we used to define. But these personalities are educated though not literate in the formal sense. Here they are educated in the sense that they have been successful in realizing and bringing to perfectibility the true nature of their self. Education means the cultivation of the inner self, the attainment of realization of the indwelling self and tuning the narrowly defined and caged self with the Universal/cosmic self.

Here it means the expansion and dissolution of the self, hitherto caged and hedged in, by a vision and a temporal and hedonistic way of life with the greater humanity and cosmic whole like the tributaries joining and mingling with the vast ocean. This involves a self-endeavour not necessarily to be literate in specific field in an institution/ university to weed out the demonic propensities like greed, jealousy, violence, egotism, superciliousness, atomistic or selfish attitude and cultivate the traits and qualities that enables one to be part and parcel of that inseparable cosmic whole transcending any limitation of geography, territory, race, religion, time and space. Education means the very attainment of the realization of that one which is inextricably entwined with the cosmic web that spans beyond and connects the past, present and future. In this sense how many are educated? Their number is amazingly miniscule of who very few are known to us. The fountain of ancient wisdom is secreted from these rare few educated ones.

But the number of people being literate or qualified in some fields has been growing exponentially. The number of technocrats, scientists, engineers, bureaucrats, corporate and social scientists has been staggeringly high. The sense of egotism, pride, mastery over the external whether human or nature or gadgets has created a veil around their self-distinguishing or differentiating them from others. The world has been a divided and fractured world: a play of egotism, power, money and superciliousness. No longer is it considered a safe haven to live in.

The presence of so many literate/qualified individuals on its earth has not stalled the slip of earth into a despicable a hell where the wailing agony of all for a way out is heard loud. To be an engineer, scientist, technocrat, politician, bureaucrat a sportsman, artist does not mean we are greatest humanists and  realized persons ever in tune with the  expanded, all engulfing cosmic whole well perched over and above the narrowly defined self. Having literacy in schools/institutions and universities has strengthened our selfish cocoons to which we have been taught to remain confined. The knowledge of the supreme self is the real education and best of all systems of education.

In the ancient Indian system no difference between education and literacy existed. Both are the same and one. To be educated means to be literate but not the vice versa. With western science, technological advancement and its portrayal of the universe and way of life as founded on Newtonian and Cartesian logic, the unity between the two disappeared and both started departing from each other. Mastery over, control of and knowledge of the external world and nature is considered as wisdom and entitles one to be superior to others. What are in true sense the principal characteristics as described above of being educated are underestimated and stand subordinate to the so called knowledge acquired or gathered through the faculty of reason, rationality of the nature or the external world. Taming others- whether nature, external world or human beings is considered as sine qua non of being educated.

Literacy provides the instrumentality of subduing others. For example, literacy of subjects – science, social sciences and the so called syllabi of various universities of the world does not in any way contribute to the wisdom obtained through the realization of the entire universe/cosmos as nothing but the expansion or enlargement of embodied self.  Real education is the absolutisation of the relatives / particulars/ objects/ beings as nothing but the inseparable parts of the whole interwoven interconnected – It means the whole is in part and part is in whole. A heightened stage of realization to which all are inspired/taught to coast is the real purpose of education.

Today literacy as part of the present education has resulted in relativisation of the absolute/ whole in terms of separateness, divisions, distinction between part and whole and difference between object and subject superiority and inferiority, friend and enemy and self and the other. Hardly a scientist/ social scientist/technocrat/bureaucrat/political leader is a seer in the present education system. The faculty of being a seer is negated and underdeveloped in the present system. All the doors to open this faculty were closed with emphasis on all that stand against this. This does not imply that the literacy or mastery over this subject is not important or necessary. But this needs to be supplemented and invigorated by what is understood as true education. This would usher in an integrated education making this world a family. Epitomizing the ancient wisdom “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”.

The recent hornet’s nest raised over the appointment of Smriti Irani as Human Resource Minister in the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the ground that she is not a graduate, does not imply that this is the first case after independence or the past congress governments have always chosen persons into positions as per their expertise knowledge befitting into the job they we required to do. In a parliamentary form of government the Prime Minister has not the scope to choose experts from outside the parliament to fit into the cabinet berths. He/she has to choose from within.

The non-availability and paucity of experts on the floor of the House belonging to ruling political party remains always a constraint on Prime Minister. Even if there were availability of experts, what is most significant is the conflation or equation between loyalty and commitment to and unflinching belief in the party leadership and the expected expertise knowledge.  Where there is the gap, the chance of being not selected is galore. Further, excellence in leadership quality, management of things nicely to the greater advantage of the party to which one belongs may be an added factor that reigns supreme over other required qualification. This aspect of Smriti Irani played a decisional role in her favour.  In a coalition government the Prime Minister’s discretionary power in choosing cabinet Ministers is very much stymied by the fact that the aligned political parties tend to select their own persons to be given berths which is not necessarily premised on expertise knowledge.

Any cursory glance over the bureaucratic system of administration after independence shows that the persons selected into Indian Civil Service on the basis of their performance in the examinations head all the ministries as secretaries through a process of promotion. It is not on the basis of their expertise   knowledge obtained though University degrees but though their experiences with files. If this be so, then why serious gauntlets are to be thrown in case of Smriti Irani? It has been noticed that the leaders who are at the helm of affairs of the nations are not always highly qualified degree holders in the so called great Universities.

The debate over prescribing certain specific educational qualifications for members of both Parliament and State legislative assembly was also very much conspicuous in the constituent Assembly when various provisions were on the avail of being drafted. As democracy believes in equality of all human beings irrespective of caste, class, religion, creed and status and educational qualifications, keeping educational qualifications as a constitutional requirement to enter into legislature will tantamount to denying democracy to most of the Indians who have not had the opportunity of entering into a College/ University in the span of their life. Removing this educational qualification as a constitutional requirement implies evincing a hope even in the poorest and illiterate to enter into the Parliament or highest offices of the country.  Nuanced on this great democratic principle a person cannot be simply pilloried for not being educated enough to enter into a cabinet.

It may very well be taken as a paradox, by some, that the legislators who are debating, formulating laws and charting out courses for the destiny of millions in this country need no education. But, when very few are truly educated why this wolf’s cry?

[Prabhat Ranjan Mallick is a self-made entrepreneur heading N K Media Ventures that runs a TV News Channel and a daily newspaper, Koustuv Group of Institutions that runs several institutions imparting professional education in the fields of engineering, management, media and multi-media productions.]

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