Does Education matters ???

Our Batch for 10th Standard.

Childhood days were days of great dreams, dreams of becoming big, in haste to grow up we would imitate ourselves like grown ups, learn their body languages of grown up people whom we then idolize, habits which stuck up with our persona and in turn swayed us away from our own originality.

The common career trend in our childhood days was to study hard, become either doctor or engineer. It was a profession of repute, it still does is. IT, Biotech, Hospitality or other similar sunrise industries which we see now was not even heard of in the 80’s. Schools and Education was the main source of achieving what we’d then dreamt of, of becoming big.  We would be pampered, cuddled, forced to study, study even harder. The boy or girl earning more percentages then us would be envied upon by parents, and at times hated by us, for because of them, we were being looked down and forced to do what we did not particularly liked much – to study.

Childhood days were of forced education i guess, because most of the times we kids did not understand what we have learnt, so just mugging up was what we used to do. But, as we grew up we started to cope up with the system and learnt more precisely what we were required to. Education then we thought was the only thing that can change lives. Education is important, but, it is not the only thing that can change lives, is now what i believe, your attitude, your experiences, your approach can also change things upside down.

We were in our tenth standard and it was the final year of our secondary education, a make or break year that could shape up our future permanently. Obviously, we all were very serious about the year. Coincidentally, the school in which we were enrolled was a new and our school wanted to prop up the best of results, the teachers exulted extra pressure on us to perform better. We all were a good batch and were expecting a good result for the school and ourselves. There were a couple of students who not so good enough, teachers pressed them hard to study.

Then there was this boy, who had different ideas, he was average in studies, he had good dreams, dreams of college life and the fun of it. He would study as hard as us.  After the exams he was the boy who rushed to various colleges to collect admission forms, and he had scouted around 25 different colleges & collected forms in that one month of vacation.

Soon the D day arrived, and we all waited with anxiety for the results. At around 5.30 pm the teacher came with the results and declared the results, just the basic result of pass or fail, in the class of forty, only three students failed to pass the hurdle that evening , it was a good result by all measures. We were jubilant and it was one of the happiest moments of our lives.

But as our happiness sunked in we soon realized that the boy was nowhere around, we understood that he had failed the exam, the boy full with dreams to enjoy the college life could not have gone to college that year, he was broken, he was nowhere around. He was my best friend, he still is, after so many years, we were actually a gang of four. So we three friends rushed to our homes to find him, we checked up with our parents whether he was seen in the locality, the happiness was now replaced with tension, tension that this emotional boy might end up taking some drastic steps. We reached his home and inquired with his mother whether the boy turned up, the anxious mother said no and asked what was the matter and about the result. We lied to her that the results would be declared tomorrow morning and made a hasty escape. Now, we were really tensed, where would this boy have gone after all. We confided the story to one neighborhood uncle who was very close with us. He too now joined the search for this boy. Our search finally took us to the secluded railway tracks, where we found a faint shadow of a boy sitting all alone on the tracks for the train to arrive, we ran towards him, as we went near and near we found that he  was the boy whom we were searching for so long. As the boy saw us, he became unusually aggressive and started shouting us to stay away from him, he picked up stones from the track and started throwing it at us. His anger might surely have hurted us, then the uncle came in front and said “…son, you want to harm me, come throw the stone, hurt me”, saying so he kept on moving closer and closer to the boy. The boy could not have hurted the uncle whom we all liked so dearly. He helplessly hugged the uncle and wailed and weeped like it was the end of the world for him. Somehow, just somehow, we were able to convince the boy that it was certainly not the end of the roads for him, we managed to bring him back to his house and then we told his parents what had happened. They were also broken.  Time, as we say was the cure, the boy recovered from the failure. No he did’nt study further or re-appear for the exam. But that did not deter him from achieving his goals.

We are still in touch with each others, sometimes, the boy who is now a man, a father of two, becomes nostalgic, comes to the locality, he now stays in other suburbs, he becomes sentimental, takes me down the road where it all happens, once he even took me to the track where he was going to give up his life. He  once thanked me and my friends for saving his life.

Today, the boy is a successful businessmen, he is a Wealth Consultant, last time when i visited his office, i found fifteen employees, mostly graduates and MBAs working under him. The boy in a jovial tone told me, you friends went to colleges to complete your graduation, i plunged into this field and today i employ graduates like you under me, come you too leave your job and join me, i will pay you more than what you earn.

The joke he did somehow hurted me, for i somehow felt that i spoilt some fine years of my life learning the subjects which were never of any use to me. The history of world some six centuries ago that i learnt, is of no use to me, the geography – the easterlies, the westerlies, the physics, the geometry the trignometry nothing, nothing helped, i never understood what Pythagoras, nor did i ever understood the laws of the elements, the law of probability, but still i mugged up just everything and scored handsomely.  What was the use of such education ?

The boy on the other hand,  utilized these precious years gainfully to learn life, to learn people, to learn trade and today he succeeded, he earns atleast five times better than me today. Money is not the factor, the confidence the boy gained is worth appreciating, the command in his tone, the way he presents himself is worth appreciating.

So the pertinent question that lingers to me, is education, the way that it is taught in this part of the world really helpful ? For the kid mugs up the entire year, reproduces it during exam and the next day he gets blank, he learns nothing in the process.  In a way he learns the topic by heart but nothing ever touches his heart. Thankfully, some steps are being now taking to overhaul the education system, I guess it was long long overdue.

Where are we going ??

The images of twenty years ago, when i was still a young college going boy, lurked in front of eyes when i saw this news on television. It was a news documentary on the Great Indian Economic Reforms and the completion of twenty years of it.

The flashback of 20 years reeled the horrifying images of India’s poor economic conditions. I still remember, the then Prime Minister, Mr Chandrashekar, in his publicized television addressed, appealed to all Indians to conserve petrol and oil as much as they can, as India was awfully short of foreign exchange reserve and the reserve then present could only satiate nation’s one week’s thirst. The situation was really grim and on one such night the government mortgaged a plane full of gold to beef up foreign exchange a bit. The shameful images of a country mortgaging its gold for sake of few dollars were splashed all over the frontpages of newspapers the next day.

Under such circumstances the change in government took place and an economist in the new Prime Minister Narsimha Rao and his Finance Minister Manmohan Singh, had their job cut out. They charted a new way out for reviving our economy. A way dictated mostly by IMF and World Bank. The was was of globalisation and liberalization. That signalled the end of Licence Raj and the end of Nehruvian mixed socialism that India embraced for so many decades.  The protectionism that the government offered to its industry, businesses and to the poor people was now going to reduce and the economy was going to open up for health competition.

The first signs of liberalization that we as kids then saw was influx of foreign TV channels, the idiot box was now abuzz with channels, the dominance of Doordarshan, the state owned television ended and ended the good old days of television serials. The new avatar television was more flashy and spoke of new found prosperity.

Soon you could see the influx of many unseen and unheard businesses. The roads were soon full with brand new cars, the dominance of local car companies ended.  The Electronic industry was set on fire with introduction of newer models of TVs, Refrigerators and what not.

But, all this gave birth to consumerism, people started spending too much and at many a times bought goods just to show off their riches. This consumerism however,  brought with it, tensions and expectations, tensions to earn more to get these gizmos. Frustration creeped in people like never before. People led much easier a life, before this liberalization took place, life afterall was more settled and subdued when apple and blackberries were just fruits and not phones.

There was this class of people, who were dissatisfied and frustrated  lot, dissatisfied that they were rich, but not rich enough to get what they wanted.

Then there was another class of people, a more dominant ones, were were left out of this mad race. A good 80-85% of  India even today live a life totally different. Their mad race is only to meet the ends. In this country of 100 billion plus people, more than 85% people even today find it hard to earn a daily stable income of more than 1$. Meeting ends remain their only existential question, forget about the fruits of so called liberalisation..

If the nation does not benefits from this liberalisation, then what is the use of such a policy. Only handful of people and scamsters are today smiling their way to the banks. In the last two decades we have created a huge huge desert of disparity, where people helplessly see selected few enjoying all the pleasures of life and the remaining bystanders.

Will this huge disparity between the rich and the poor not affect the total unity of this country, is the question that regularly lingers in my mind. For how many more years will the have not’s only curse their fate and not take law into their hands to grab the share of the booty that others are enjoying. Will that not create a situation like  that we see in some African nations ? The rise in crime graphs in urban areas is this not indicative for what lies for the future.

The last twenty years have only created two India’s, India of handful of super rich people and the India of the others. Others who don’t matter much to the government and to the policy makers, other than the time of election. The first half never votes, the other votes the band of people (of all hues, inertly same), who draft policies and schemes only for the handful of rich people.

Yes the last twenty years have only made India Rich!!! But have left Indians Poor !! What do you feel ??