The incident of cruel violation and subsequent death of a hapless 23-year old woman, though shocking in magnitude, was unfortunately only another one among the stream of bad and worse news emanating from our country every day for the past 65 years. Be it about infrastructure, politics, economy, education, transportation, healthcare, crime against women and children, industry, human rights, quality of living, whatever. It is so bad. And we who live here do not need the international or even the pseudo-elite, selectively-outraging Indian media to tell us what is happening here. All we need to is to step out of our homes to see the chaos, lawlessness, jungle raj, corruption, dishonor and general anarchy everywhere, so much so that India is often described as a “functioning anarchy” by many people. But why? What is the reason for all this? Thousands of reasons have been given for this, but the core reason still lies with the fact that we are simply not taught how to behave in public. Yes, education. We are literate, but not educated.
“Aren’t You Educated?”
Like the rest of India, Bangalore also has thousands of ubiquitous “Tea Shops”, makeshift businesses set up in push carts and small box-like cabins which sell tea, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, biscuits, chewing gum etc like “kiosks” in the West only much smaller. They are found in abundance wherever lots of people congregate, like near the RMZ Infinity Tech Park on Old Madras Road, Bangalore, frequented by employees of the companies located there. Here, once I noticed two cab drivers taking extra pain in locating a dustbin two shops away and walking over there to dispose of their empty plastic tea cups. I looked around and saw “educated”, smartly dressed “techies” throwing around their chai cups wherever they pleased: on the road, on the ground, in a drain and everywhere but in the dustbin. Cabbies who don’t have much to show when it comes to paper degrees seem to have much better civic sense than these who take pride on their “education”.
My first car was bought second-hand from a dealer. The previous owner had installed one of those scourges of Indian roads, the “reversing horn”. This particular one emanated a very high decibel alarm tone loud enough to cause indigestion. I didn’t know how to deactivate it so let it run. One day, I was trying to park the car in a tight spot in Kumara Park, Bangalore, a pretty high-profile a residential area. The “tightness” of the parking spot ensured that the “TOING-TOING-TOING” of the reversing horn reverberated across the area for a couple of minutes shattering its peace and tranquility. A distinguished looking graying gentleman in three-fourths stepped out of a nearby house and confronted me: “Why the hell are you making this noise man? What is the need of such an irritating reversing horn? Don’t you have any manners?” He looked at me up and down, all smartly dressed up in formals, and: “You seem to be well-educated! Still you don’t have the decency?!” I pleaded guilty and apologized profusely saying I didn’t know how disconnect it. He directed me to a mechanic at the other end of the layout. But his words struck me.
Civic Sense and Other Things That Don’t Matter.
His words made me realize the fact that there is no connection whatsoever between education and “manners” or how we behave in public. It is a hangover of the olden times when only privileged few had access to quality education, and they behaved well to others and were respected. But not today. Take civic sense for example. Let us look at the mess around us. People throwing waste and refuse everywhere they possibly can. Roads, sidewalks and buildings covered in spit and paan stains. Public urination. Stinking drains. Loud, boisterous people who conduct expletive-laced shouting matches in public transport under the pretext of having “conversation”. People who are unable to form queues and fight tooth and nail to prevent anyone from getting into (or out of) a bus, train, elevator or door before them. Let us not talk about the barbarian frenzy that is how we behave while using roads, but just to give one example: Smug, entitled and self-important people in their cars who will go to any extent to prevent people from crossing the roads on which they drive, let the people be old, pregnant, women with babies or whoever. In short, people who refuse the existence of others in the same space around them.
All humans are born equal with a mind like a blank DVD-R on which anything can be written or erased. We become what we are by the process of what we receive from our surroundings and the people we interact with from childhood and on how we are bought up, how we are taught and what we are taught. And what are we taught in India? Hours upon hours are spent in hammering into our head stuff that without doubt will play the most important part in conducting our future lives such as Sin²θ + Cos²θ=1, chemical formula of 2-Ethyl 4,5 dimethylphenol, administrative processes of Timur the Lame and length of the perpendicular of a circle from another intersecting circle from any given point of its radius or something like that. And it is totally right that we did not waste any of our time learning discipline, civic duties and stuff, because all that crap does not matter in front of PCM/B which is what makes us get into IITs and MNCs and earn Green cards. Who cares if we are not taught how to behave towards women, to invent things and nurture free-thinking and creativity? We are happy becoming literate, uneducated, irrational, feudal minded computer-coolies and desk-job clerks with no creative thinking abilities of our own. forget civic sense, manners and viewing other humans as equals.
The Difference Between Education and Literacy
Do not confuse literacy with education. Most people in India are only literate, not educated. Even if they have a Master's degree.
— vadakkus (@vadakkus) February 6, 2013
There is a lot of difference between being literate and being educated and unfortunately the Indian education system does not teach to be educated. Not in our homes or our schools. Most of our actual “education” stops after Std. 4 or 5, after we have mastered the arts of reading and writing in two languages in addition to basic mathematics. After that studying is almost exclusively pure rote learning aimed at scoring maximum in the boards and recently at the IIT entrance exams. Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry are almost the only subjects given preference and the rest are mugged up for marks, grades and ranks. Such is the state of “education”. Real education, however is overall psychological development of the person in addition to classes in behavior, humility, creativity, discipline, basic manners etc and knowledge impartion which will create a well rounded individual human being fit to live in a civilized society. This is followed by nurturing talents which can be used for the good of society, nation and humanity But here, neither is knowledge or anything else imparted. We are just becoming good at memorizing useless things while developing horrible and damaging prejudices and pretenses of our own while talent is allowed to die a natural death.
The Indian education system which is today known as Macaulayism, is part of the decaying remains of the British Indian Empire. It was designed to keep the populace of India under check, a mistake we never took the trouble to rectify. More bout Macaulayism in the next part.