Education for Earning Vrs Education for Service
“Reform Orissa from Within”. “ Reform our country, our society, from within the system.”
Those are the words of Dr Kiran Bedi and she needs no introduction ! These words would have sounded hollow and hackneyed to me, had they come from any of the many mouths we know who utter such preachings, but do a precious little in their own lives!
Well, before I proceed, I need to give a brief introduction to the context.
Today will always remain a golden day for me.
Well, not because today happens to be the Utkal Divas ( the foundation day of the independent state of Orissa, my homeland), although that is good enough a reason to feel jovial about;
neither for the reason that today happens to be The All Fools’ Day ( although, by implication that makes the day dedicated to the kind of me – the ‘fools’ – the more you know, the more you come to realise how little you actually know !!).
It is because today I got to hear Dr Kiran Bedi in person !! Saw an ad in a newspaper this morning that she would be delivering a talk at KIIT University here on the topic “ Role of Women in the present scenario” and all are invited. My joy knew no bounds. It is a topic title that I find one of the most hackneyed, boring and useless topics. At times, it actually angers me – would anybody ever think of a topic, say, the role of men in the present scenario ? Anyway, the point of attraction was Dr Kiran Bedi , and not the topic. So, I rushed through my chores and actually arrived at the venue by 11.30 am. ( I said, actually, because, on some occasions earlier, I had felt like attending certain events like this – celebrities delivering talks or participating in symposiums, but finally did not – may be because those speakers never really drew me so strongly !! )
I have always held Dr Kiran Bedi in very high esteem ( and so do the people at large ) for the unwavering courage she has actually demonstrated by always walking her talk as an IPS officer ( the first lady IPS officer of India joined in 1972) PLUS the way she has made a difference through whichever assignment she has handled during her service career – be it reforms in Tihar jail, or traffic in New Delhi, or … or… . her contributions as a member on the Advisory Board to UN on peace etc… She has received a number of awards n public acclaims – Raman Magsaysay Award and many more. All along, it has been a war on injustice and she made her point once more, when she resigned from service when she thought she had been meted out injustice in her professional career. But what is significant to note is that even after resigning from service, she is engaged in doing a host of social service activities AND SHE CONTINUES TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE !!!
KIIT is one of the reputed technical institutes in the private sector in Orissa which has shot up to fame and ranking in the top slot among such institutes within a very short period – thanks to the visionary leadership of its founder, supported by an able team, of course.
Dr Bedi was invited by them for this talk and interaction.
Different as always, the moment she took to the mike, she declared that she is not in the habit of preparing a speech, and she always tries to ‘know’ and ‘feel’ her audience first and then decides what to speak and share. Here too, she said, she would share what she felt when she was getting to know about the institute during the last 2 hours of visit through the campus. Very candidly and without offense, she virtually dissmissed the topic ( the role of women in the present scenario), observing that once the women are educated, as they are today, they belong to the group of “educated” and share the same responsibilities towards the society and governance as the men. I was so glad – she did not disappoint me. Over the next one hour, she kept the audience spell-bound with her very forthright points, lively posture, humour and style of connecting to the audience !
In quintessence, the point she made is : Education must instill the values – especially courage, that would prompt the educated to serve and make a difference to the social fabric, to the people’s lives , to the nation. Let me narrate a bit of what and how she said it ( I can not quote her exactly within quote-unquote, because I was just a listener; so have tried to express what she said mostly in her words , added by mine to keep the essence in tact. )
Orissa is so rich in natural resources. But why is it lagging so behind in terms of economic progress for the people ? What is coming in between ?? Corruption and poor governance ! It is true for all other states in India . Corruption comes in the way of our progress, everyone knows that. But who is doing the corruption ? The literates or Illiterates ? The poor villagers or the rich urbanites ? The Educated or the Uneducated ? Who are at the helm of affairs everywhere – the educated or the uneducated ? At the end of the day, it is the educated who are responsible for corruption – for all the failings. So long as the bureaucracy is pliant, the corrupt politicians get their way. It is we, the educated, who get educated to earn only, not to serve and that is the chief culprit. We can make a difference, if we commit to service as the motto behind joining civil service or bureaucracy or all other white collar jobs. So long as that does not happen, reputed institutes will only go on adding to the bulk of educated corrupt and getting ranked at a high slot among the reputed institutes will have no real worth or meaning. Although she complimented the institute on its being ranked among the top-notch institutes of the country, she observed without any pretension that the parameters for ranking the reputed institutes should include one more parameter and that is : student-tracking , i.e. .what are the students who passed out of this institute doing currently and how exactly they have made a difference or served the humankind ?
She advised ( dared ! ) the Institute founder to act on this aspect by taking extra classes to build a special cadre of students who would like to go into services/bureaucracy with a motive to serve , not just to earn for themselves at any cost. Imbibe the values in the students that education is supposed to instill before they go out into careers. She was candid enough to say, if in 5 years from now, KIIT ians do not make any difference to Orissa and her people, there is no point in adding more number to the corrupt educated !! She said in a classic stroke of humour : “ Please call me again after 5 years ! ”
So, that’s it ! My day was certainly made. There was no time for answering audience queries. However, the only question that could come within the available time was regarding what to do as a voter when all the nominees fielded for election are corrupt or not worth getting voted. She explained that as a voter, each has ‘a right to no vote’ as per the Representation of People’s Act “. In such a situation ( which, indeed , is a situation now a days) , a voter should ask the Presiding Officer of the Vote booth to give her/him the specific form meant to record “no vote” with disclosure of your identity, of course. That will make public how many voters have totally rejected the entire lot of candidates fielded by various political parties and strong messages can be passed on..
[I am sure, that would be a grand revelation and the statistics can be of multiple use to awaken the people at large / political parties, or may even lead to further constitutional amendments, facilitating better candidates to choose from.]
All the while, I could not miss her politeness while taking courtesies extended or praises showered on her. A standing ovation, she deserved and she got !
Thank you Dr Bedi. After listening to you, I felt it my bounded duty to do whatever I can to spread this message, in which I, too, personally believe. Since I have a blog , I thought I should at least blog about it, so that your words of courage get spread and impact at least a few souls.