Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Educated Fool

I am not about to expound on how this phrase is an Irony or a Paradox or an Oxymoron (or whatever the figure of speech that applies is). I am no English teacher. I am just Educated. It remains to be seen if I am an educated fool too or not though.

A friend suggested I listen to this song by Iron Maiden called The Educated Fool. The song itself was okay but I really liked the title. More so because the phenomenon has become so commonplace today. Indian Educational Institutions have become factories churning out thousands of this species of Educated Fools. Armed with a degree each, they step out into the society calling themselves Educated. What their 5th standard English teacher did not teach them is that 'Literate' and 'Educated' are not synonyms (if I had been an English teacher I would have done that. But I am no English teacher, I told you).

This phenomenon is spreading like an epidemic. The worst part is the creatures of this species are hell bent on establishing the superiority and ubiquity of their kind by giving repeated proofs of their existence - every time someone opens the car door to the side of the road and not the pavement without watching for oncoming vehicles, every time someone parks in front of a NO PARKING sign thinking 'Chalta hai', every time someone honks at the vehicle in front of them at the traffic signal as if that fellow had plans of constructing a house at the traffic signal while our case under consideration is in such a hurry (maybe he is just trying to flaunt the stupid horn they gave him in return of the thousands he paid for his luxury - you see it is the only part of the vehicle that speaks for itself and the vehicle and probabaly even the owner - who knows if he opens his mouth a worse sound might come out), every time someone breaks the basic rules of courtesy by scrambling to get into the elevator ahead of all those civilised people who have been waiting for an eternity, every time someone displays outrageously high amounts of insensitivity by talking in a native language in presence of one who has no knowledge of the tongue (especially while working in MNC's whose code of conduct resembles the Indian Constitution: no bias on the basis of religion, region, race, caste or sex), every time someone demonstrates intolerance on the grounds of religion in a supposedly secular country like India (hey what's the big deal if I don't say the same prayer as him. The worst part is he won't tolerate someone who doesn't believe at all too! My way or the highway)........................I can go on enlisting all the occurences; but any time any of this happens you know that an Educated Fool was born not so long ago.

My cousin was telling me the other day, in Calcutta - where the breadth of the lanes is as low as it gets and the population is as high - when a rickshaw puller parks his rickshaw at a particular place in a lane, the next rickshaw puller will always park diagonally opposite no matter what his actual destination. That way, people are able to manoeuver even cars very easily in a zig-zag fashion. Now thats education A-class. Education is being responsible, respectful, sensitive and broad-minded. It is understanding values related to life and living in a society. You may be able to explain rocketry down to the last detail but have you learnt how to treat another human being and make space for him? I am not against education (after all I too am Educated right!) but I believe in education that teaches one to be thoughtful. Knowing facts about idiot boxes like televisions or computers, mindless machines and ununderstandable economies is useless unless you also know how to behave so others can live with you in the society.

These Educated Fools think that just because they know the alphabet (maybe they know it backwards too!) they can call themselves Educated. I wish someone would go tell them what their 5th standard English teacher didn't - the difference between Education and Literacy. I can't because I am no English teacher. I am just Educated. And I'd like to believe that.

1 Thinkers Pondered:

Nirupama said...

Great article! It reflects the reality of people living here. Good work. Keep it up!