Education and Indian politics
I very often hear things like we should bring educated people into politics; uneducated people should not hold political posts, etc. I have a few questions to ask people who campaign for educated people in politics.
Before I go ahead with my questions, I have a few facts to state.
- Communist Party (CPI or CPI (M) or any other communist party) abides by certain rules. It has a policy that only educated people can join their party. All its party members are well educated and possess certain qualities like having belonged to the worker class, clean image in terms of corruption, experience in a union, etc. Two states in India – West Bengal and Kerala have been ruled by Communists – WB since independence; and Kerala, every alternate 5 years since Independence. It is also worthwhile to note that Kerala as a state has 100% literacy amidst its citizens. The development in these two states remains below average.
- All officials recruited to the Indian Civil Services are well educated people. They have to undergo extreme rigour to enter the cadre of IAS, IFS, IPS or other services. Even posts like VAO, Tahsildar, etc are filled only if the candidate has merit (despite quota and bribery). These are the very officials who started the bribery culture in India. Politicians only learned from officials. Now they have become Guruva minjina sishyargal.
- We have seen that the most educated individuals – P.Chidambaram, Dr.Manmohan Singh can be outright corrupt and dimwitted. We have also seen that the most uneducated persons can be great politicians – Kamarajar, Kakkan.
Now, the questions.
- By saying that politicians should be educated, what do you mean? Is it ok if a person has a BA in English Literature or a BE in Mechanical Engineering? Or will you go for courses like Political Science, Law or Public Administration? Now, if there are many candidates who have the same degree, will you select the better one based on the marks they have scored? If two candidates have an equal percentage, will you determine candidacy based on a particular subject or combination of subjects?
- Some people campaign for a mixture of education and experience. Almost all politicians in Tamilnadu have that today. But, it isn’t really helping our cause, is it?
- What exactly will be the use of college education in politics? Will politicians be able to speak better or do their work better? Jayalalitha is only a 10th class passout and Indira Gandhi never completed her degree. They have made much better speeches than most educated politicians in India. Will it help them maintain diplomatic relations with other countries? I can see SM Krishna doing a great job at that!! He is a Fulbright scholar and did not know that he was reading out a wrong speech at the United Nations Security Council meeting.
I feel that educated people should not enter Indian politics in its current state because white collar crimes committed by well-read people are difficult to find. Education only makes them take bribes better. Dhayanidhi Maran is a case in point.
Also, educated people have too many differences and can’t seem to sort it out amicably. Few IIT students got together and formed a political party called Lok Paritran. Within a few months, the party split into two over some differences. Bharat Punarnirman Dal was formed and gathered a total of 500 votes (from 6 contenders) in the recent Maharshtra Municipal Polls. Sarath Babu of IIM fame has not been able to pull crowds with his education.
Students unions aren’t a great alternative either. They are great until their short term goal of overthrowing the existing government is achieved. But after that, they fail to exhibit any skills required for governance. Prafulla Kumar Mohanta of the All Assam Students Union is a great example. The Taliban is a more global example.
The criterion that I think are necessary to enter Indian politics are the intention to do good for the society, patriotism, ability to grasp and understand issues as well as various points of view and ability to make quick and bold decisions. No school or college teaches these things. They cannot be measured. Yet, without these, all degrees and so called education becomes useless when it comes to politics. It is up to the society at large to inculcate these qualities in people.
Where education figures into politics, I can’t understand. I think it is best if these two remain apart.