In ancient India, education was a sacred duty. Everyone was bound by it in their early years.
Education is the most important resource that every country has at its’ disposal. It is the single most crucial tool of social development. In India, it is also the most overlooked and undervalued of commodities. Nowhere is the apathy of Indian polity more in display, than its’ attitude towards education.
Kerala, a small coastal state in the southernmost tip of India, has a literacy rate of almost 94%. This may look good on paper, but in the real world, it translates into a huge population of ‘unemployable’ and ‘educated’ workforce. Unemployable, because they do not have the right skills or the right attitude to succeed in the modern workplace.
The higher education sector in Kerala is the most important recruiting ground for political parties. The Communist Party of India, the Congress, and the BJP, the three active political players in Kerala, all have student’s wings active in colleges across the state. New comers to college, fresh out of school, are especially vulnerable to their corrupting influence. Like all teenagers, stepping in to adulthood, these students seek identity, a sense of belonging. The political parties are quick to exploit their needs. They divide up the students among themselves, and clashes between parties are common during the first few weeks of an academic year.
The most promising orators and students are rounded up, and given a thorough grounding in politics. The manipulation is often subtle. They are told to look at fellow students who have joined other parties, as adversaries, rather than peers. Intolerance is distilled into their veins from an early stage. College campuses, which are supposed to be a hotbed of ideas, turn instead into seething grounds of violence. Arguments are settled, not by constructive discussions, but by violent clashes that often spill over to the streets.
In one such instance of violence, ‘Sree Kerala Varma College’, one of the oldest colleges in Kerala, was shut down for a week following protests by the SFI, the students faction of the Communist Party of India. They were protesting the dismissal of five students, who had beaten up students belonging to a rival political party, and attacked teachers on campus.
Students Federation Of India – Student’s faction of the Indian Communist Party.
‘Acharya devo bhava’ – An ancient Sanskrit saying, which exorts students to consider their Guru as God himself.
We can say that our society has reached a new low, when students physically assault their teachers, and use words like ‘bitch’, while talking to them. The incident happened in Sree Kerala Varma College, as students belonging to SFI ransacked classrooms and accosted their teachers. Their crime? The teachers tried to protect their wards, from being attacked. These people do not deserve to be called students, and a more appropriate term would be ‘goonda.’
Something is seriously wrong when a place of learning reminds you of death
In Kerala, several children who enroll in colleges are graduating as criminals. This trend has been around for some time now, but the issue has become more serious now than ever, after the violent clashes started claiming the lives of kids barely in their twenties. The ruling class need not be expected to raise a finger to remedy the situation, because every political party is a silent accomplice in this travesty of human rights.
The Govt. of India, in its’ infinite wisdom, has decided to cut back the education budget by Rs 4000 crore for the coming financial year, to curb fiscal deficit. Common sense dictates that a struggling economy requires an educated workforce to recover its’ momentum. But successive Governments in the centre, have a history of coming up with short-term myopic policies that do not extend beyond their 5-year electoral term. And they have decided that education is not very important to national growth.
Falling on a sword cannot destroy this country faster.
In a way, it makes sense.
“Education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave.”
– Peter Brougham