Sunday, October 12, 2008

Education is the key, or is it?

James Michener has been one of my favorite authors thru the years. I have read most of his novels. I love the way he builds a story around that which has permanence, the place, not the people. Although the characters he develops are vivid and grip all your attention in their journey thru their lives. The only gripe I have against him is that he perhaps developed a dislike for Indians during his days in the South Pacific, specifically Fiji. And this prevented him from learning or writing about India in particular.

It was while reading his novel 'The Covenant' that I actually realized that education was the key for uplifting the disadvantaged classes of a society. The University of South Africa is a distance learning institution. And because of its nature, remained open to all throughout the dark days of apartheid. Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, and Robert Mugabe are just some of its notable alumni who made their mark on history.

Reading 1conoclast's post here made me realize something else. That the powers that be would stoop to anything to perpetuate the status quo benefiting them. It doesn't matter to them if they are trampling on the human rights of children. It doesn't matter to them if what they are doing is against basic human decency. In fact, they have become so used to this caste based profiling that a principal of a municipal school says: “We have been writing sub-castes on progress cards for over 30 years now. We have chamars, bhangis, vankars and wagri children, among others. What difference does it make whether we write their castes or not? We anyway know each other’s castes.”

If you start sowing the seeds of discrimination at such an early age, can you expect your next generation to remain free of caste based prejudices? In fact, I have to question your very motives for doing this.

1conoclast is correct in saying that this is not what our founding fathers envisaged for India.

I too feel nauseated.


Vinod_Sharma said...

Education, as you have rightly pointed out, is the real key to ending caste based discrimination. When the discrimination ends, castes will become as relevant as as surnames are in other societies. This business of writing details of caste is a British know the tools the British used to divide and rule India. The same tools are being used by all our politicians. Had Biharis been better educated would the likes of Laloo have ruled for 15 years, as they did, primarily on the strength of the Yadavs? So, these guys don't want education to ignorance and discrimination lies their strength. But, wait. Mayawati is goig to single-handedly change all that forever.

1conoclast said...

Doesn't mayawati need an education herself first?