Yesterday in class, we were discussing the pressing needs of the Indian economy and obviously enough, alleviation of poverty and the need for education rose up as the prime issues that need addressing at the earliest. I couldn’t agree more. I doubt without these two as our prime focus over the next couple of decades, could India continue on this tremendous path of self-discovery and the resultant phenomenal growth. It is imperative to educate the masses and bring everyone to the same level so we all are on the same platform and are able to compete with each other. As we all understand, competition is the way forward-the best way forward.
But is it really?
Do you agree to the statement that competition is the path to success and that everyone in the world needs to be brought at the same level for this world to move forward progressively? If you do, let me play the devil’s advocate here.
Do we really need to bring everyone on the same platform and then let them compete with one another? Is it possible that the very fact that all humans are not on the same platform is an indication of some larger hierarchy of our social existence? Also, what is the purpose of competition, to determine and hence help flourish the best among equals? Then again, if you really wish to determine the best amongst equals, are you not really looking for the unequal amongst equals…how does such a system disprove the statement- “All animals are equal but some are more equal than others.” Isn’t competition out to determine precisely that, the more equal amongst equals?
So to what extent would you go to make unequals equal and then allow them to between themselves or by the process of natural selection, determine the unequal amongst equals? What a contradicting thought isn’t it?
Well, it actually isn’t. Just because I had a headstart by way of excellent schooling, it by no means is an indicator that I am better than someone who might have done his schooling from a lesser institution solely on the basis of the difference in the financial abilities of our guardians. It would be essential to expose all the young minds to the same level of superior education and hence determine which are better equipped. Although, all minds are better equipped at some specific tasks than others and therefore determining the unequal amongst equals would be as fruitless a task as comparing a rock to an apple. Yet, the education system is designed to do precisely that. Grading students on their ability to write answers in the answer paper more by rote than by a critical or analytical ability and hence using these grades to precisely determine what field they might be suited for is appropriately inappropriate.
Next, we all realize the importance of educating the masses so that all of us are equipped to hold our own views and reasons. How far do you educate the masses though? Do you make all of them qualified PHDs? If we did, what kind of a social system would we have on our hands? Education sharpens minds and there cannot be a counter argument on that. However, if all minds were sharp, would they all not cut each other? If everyone was an intellectual, who would be the follower? A world full of intellectuals would not mean a world where everyone agrees on the right objective, it means a world where everyone agrees on the right objectives but disagrees on the right path! There are a million ways of ending up at the same eventual goal but you cannot have everyone taking a different path to reach the same goal. If we did, we would have a system of roads cris-crossing into each other and the traffic being held up with nobody getting anywhere although everyone knows where they need to be! Would it not lead to a stagnation of growth? If everyone is at the same level, how do you find the next level?
But you cannot put a stop to progress at the same time can you? How can you ensure that we do not reach a level where we are so educated, we all work towards our own downfall? How do you uphold rights and at the same time ensure that the rights do not become liabilities?
There are essentially three types of freedom:
1. Economic Freedom
2. Political Freedom
3. Social Freedom
The three are essentially inter-related and you cannot have either of them without another. It’s a classic case of one thing leading to another. And yet, all the three freedoms come at a cost, a cost which is defined by how much you can have of each of the freedoms. The more economic freedom you have, the more social freedom you want, the more social freedom you have, the more political freedom you want and so on and so forth. Hence, it is seemingly the human nature to be independent of one another, to be able to lead lives that are not dependent on any other lives for any of our means or to be more direct and put myself on the plank, education leads to a desire for freedom, a freedom which seeks to break social-cultural-political-economic barriers and hence lead an independent life. My claim of course is backed by the social scenario in the west wherein the educated are more inclined towards seeking separation and divorce in the seed of social existence-marriage.
So are we wrong in seeking education and knowledge? Is that what I have concluded here? Wow!
Don’t conclude so… it is a parallel train of thought. It highlights a few other facets which I leave upto you to dissect. To give you a clue, it’s about the dangers of half-knowledge and improper education and is too indepth and philosophical. I wont bore you with that. This piece is way too long anyways.
Just a wisdom I would like to impart-“What binds us is not knowledge of the known, it’s the ignorance of the unknown…more aptly dubbed LOVE.”