Only Graduates should be allowed to contest elections
Against the motion: Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur
The hysteria which followed the graduation row of our incumbent HRD minister made us contemplate, like the plethos of our nation, about the significance of a degree for contesting an election. To add up to our already brimming ocean of opinions were a series of prime time debates, editorials, lunch debates in office and controversial tweets.
To our utter surprise, a 9th standard NCERT civics book came to our rescue and what followed was more than an eye opener. This is a simple match the following exercise from the text book.
Match the following:
Although the context of the exercise was representation of SCs and STs, it was insightful enough to introduce a much broader concept that talks about representation of each stratum in society, including the less privileged non-graduates of our country.
THE BIG PICTURE:
“In God we trust, all others must bring data” – The Elements of Statistical Learning
According to the final version of All India survey on Higher Education (2010-11), Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in Higher education in India is 19.4 (calculated for 18‐23 years of age group). For Scheduled Castes, it is 13.5 and for Scheduled Tribes, it is 11.2% as compared to the national GER of 19.4. The average GER worldwide is close to 30.
Source: Ministry of Human Resource and Development
GER : Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) or Gross Enrollment Index is the statistical tool used worldwide to gauge the number of students enrolled in school, colleges or universities. It is measured by considering the number of students at all three levels and the number of official population comprising of the children and adults of the appropriate age. (source-CNN)
These figures clearly indicate a large section of our society does not receive higher education. So, if we go by the idea of only a graduate for contesting elections, we will be limiting ourselves to a sample of about 20% for selecting representative and in this process miss out on a lot of other deserving candidates. Moreover, given the very low percentage of graduates in India, allowing only the graduates to contest elections would be a great injustice to a large section of the population.
THE ABLE STATESMAN
Merriam Webster defines a politician as “a person experienced in the art or science of government”, not a person who is a graduate of arts or science or for that matter even political science. There are some jobs for which no educational degree can be enough; understanding the mood of people and governance are such tasks.
The world has witnessed a lot of great statesmen who were never formally educated but were the epitome of governance, administration and leadership. Abraham Lincoln’s childhood education was poor, but that did not matter in the long run. Lincoln in his quest for learning and self-improvement read incessantly. The result of this ''stunning work of self-education'' was the ''intellectual power'' revealed in Lincoln's writings and speeches.
Apart from Lincoln, George Washington, Winston Churchill, K Kamaraj are all examples of politicians who were not graduates but made it big in the political landscape.
EDUCATION AND DEGREES
One rationale that needs to be discussed in the context of our present argument is that education is possible even without getting a formal tag of a graduate or a master or a PHD. You might need graduates for many different types of jobs, but politics is not one of them. Politics, as someone wise has said, is the art of the possible. Politicians make things possible; they make things happen. In politics, what matters is not a formal degree, not simply knowledge, not a lot of academic theory but true wisdom. While knowledge can be gathered at school or by other means, wisdom requires experience; real world, make or break experience. As far as politicians go, all that is required is common sense and wisdom. No amount of education can ever span the chasm of lack of practical experience or lack of common sense.
We strongly believe a politician should be highly educated; however, in some cases the less privileged strata of society is not able to get the formal education and ends up picking up lessons from his society and surroundings. That is the reason our Constitution does not lay down any minimum educational qualification for being an elected representative or being sworn in as a Minister or even the Prime Minister.
Moreover, if we were just to consider graduates, then diploma holders, people who did D-Pharma and people who got trained in Industrial Training Institute (ITI) would also not be eligible to contest elections. People who did such courses, despite being professionally educated, are not considered graduates.
One more point to consider on the same topic would be the increase in the count of “cash for degrees”. People with enough financial backing would be able to influence private colleges and universities and get degrees. If we were to implement this “graduates only” rule, then the cases of such degrees would increase alarmingly. And in no case, would the nation benefit from such pretentious graduates.
TRAINING THE STATESMAN
"Nor must we omit to mention among the benefits of education the incalculable advantage of training up able counselors to administer the affairs of our country in all its departments, legislative, executive and judiciary, and to bear their proper share in the councils of our national government: nothing more than education advancing the prosperity, the power, and the happiness of a nation." --Thomas Jefferson: Report for University of Virginia, 1818
Going forward, we feel that politicians should be given requisite training before they assume their roles and responsibilities, similar to the training given in a corporate setting when a new hire is inducted. Irrespective of being a graduate, the person has to undergo a training pertaining to the role offered in the company. Similarly, in politics, politicians can be given a training to make them aware of the ground realities, how to identify and solve common problems. This would be more relevant than enforcing a rule of making only graduates contest in elections.
Even today, a lot of political parties schedule such leadership sessions for their party cadres. But it is not done in a very effective manner. A separate body can be established to cater to proper training and making sure that every elected representative is properly trained. This, we feel, would not only ensure a level playing field for all contestants, but also would take Indian Politics to the next level.
In conclusion, we firmly align ourselves with Abraham Lincoln’s view that Democracy is “Government of the people, by the people, for the people”. This refers to 100% of the population and not merely the 20% that manage to graduate.
Team Quarks, VGSoM, IIT Kharagpur
Vamsi Krishna Manchi
Counter-punch to IIT Kharagpur by IIT Kanpur 24 hours later based on the above opening arguments
Why always a few represent all!
The paradigm of working with a sample rather than the population has always been in question. Now the question arises, why should this sample be skewed in nature, or should be tilted towards the well educated and graduate ones. The primary reason which comes to our mind is that, those should lead who are capable to do so, and they will usually be the ones who are all knowledgeable and understand the delicacies of running a system well. Usually they would belong to the category of educated, because you agree or not, but education helps in attaining wisdom at many levels, and helps us to guide others with this powerful tool.
The 9th Class NCERT book says that some constituencies are reserved for SC/STs so that there is a fair representation from all the sections of our society. The important fact to be considered here is that, currently in the Lok Sabha, 79 seats are reserved for the Scheduled Castes and 41 for the Scheduled Tribes. These numbers are in proportion to their share in the total population. Now going by this fact, and the argument IIT Kharagpur made, in which their team said that 80% of the Indian population is not graduated. So do they mean to say that for these 80% of the people, 80% of the seats in the Lok Sabha should be reserved, so as to give them representation on the basis of their share in the total population? Otherwise things would remain unfair according to them. And if such a decision is ever made, what a chaos would it be across the country, we can’t even imagine.
“Although the context of the exercise was representation of SCs and STs, it was insightful enough to introduce a much broader concept that talks about representation of each stratum in society, including the less privileged non-graduates of our country.”
We are sure that our rival team members would have never voted for India’s most successful political party due to the fact that there is absolutely no representation from outside the most popular family for the post of party President, for past 3 continuous terms. A doubt also arises, whether our rivals are going to demand for undergraduates to be the Prime Minister (PM) of India (leave alone discussion on balancing for the 20% sample size of graduates). We wonder if there is a definite logic running behind the appointment of PM of India since all the PMs till date have been graduates (though there is no mention in any rule-book), but for the exception of Mr. H. D. Deve Gowda, a diploma holder, nicknamed “Sleeping Gowda” due to his habit of napping in Lok Sabha & other official functions, who held office just for 11 months.
Calling the non-graduates “less privileged” would be an unfair statement, we suppose. This is because as the Merriam Webster dictionary defines the underprivileged as “deprived through social or economic condition of some of the fundamental rights of all members of a civilized society”; while this is no where the case with non-graduates, or even uneducated strata of the society. And many a times, graduation is a willful choice than being an attainment of some privilege over others.
“So, if we go by the idea of only a graduate for contesting elections, we will be limiting ourselves to a sample of about 20% for selecting representative and in this process miss out on a lot of other deserving candidates.”
Probably that is the reason behind the turmoil that Indian Political System is into. The parties give tickets even to individuals with criminal backgrounds just to balance out on those so called “deserving candidates”.
We really liked the approach taken by the team from IIT Kharagpur, when they make everyone aware about the definitions present inside the world renowned dictionary, Merriam Webster. But we’d have appreciated it even more, had they been able to look two lines down, on the very same page, where Merriam Webster defines a politician as “a person primarily interested in political office for selfish or other narrow usually short-sighted reasons”. This might not be the definition they were looking for, we suppose. But it rightly captures the essence of our premise that there are some people in our country who enter into the politics for their selfish interests, and since there are no entry barriers (minimum education criteria) for this particular job, so it is really difficult to filter out such candidates, who are neither educated, nor willing to serve the country in particular, but want to enter the politics to serve their own interests.
The history needs to be quoted
We are thankful to the IIT Kharagpur team to put forth the names of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Winston Churchill, who were all, the greatest politicians of their times, and not one was a graduate; but still each one of them supported the need for education in their respective times. That must be one of the reasons, why these intellectual minds have made the following remarks, when it comes to the need of education:
Where do we need educated, if not our parliament?
“You might need graduates for many different types of jobs, but politics is not one of them.”
It makes us wonder, what other job would need more qualifications, than running an entire country? The people, who sit at the highest levels, must be acquainted with full fledged degrees, so that they at least understand the technicalities of being a part of a formal system, and they well understand the working and functionalities of various associated departments within a system.
“As far as politicians go, all that is required is common sense and wisdom. No amount of education can ever span the chasm of lack of practical experience or lack of common sense.”
It makes us wonder why then policies to govern the country are formulated by officers of the stature of an IAS & not by politicians with plethora of wisdom. Arguably even common sense needs a base based on which decision can be made regarding what is right & wrong. It should not be a wild guess, at least not in politics.
“Going forward, we feel that politicians should be given requisite training before they assume their roles and responsibilities, similar to the training given in a corporate setting when a new hire is inducted. Irrespective of being a graduate, the person has to undergo a training pertaining to the role offered in the company.”
Do corporate companies hire undergraduates? Some of them do, but most of those jobs are repetitive in nature unlike Indian politics. We agree with our rival team that training of politicians, to make them aware of ground realities, should be incorporated in the system though. But just like corporate scenario, the hired people should already have an elementary knowledge so that the platform, to build upon pyramids of knowledge, is already there. Nevertheless, even to train our future politicians, we will need educated individuals at the top of the pyramid, and hence supporting our premise of graduation being mandatory for contesting elections.
We truly believe that one can’t ask someone else to do something, before doing it oneself. Leading by example is the best way one can devise to lead the society. Highly educated intellectuals can definitely make a commendable difference if supported by the common man, to lead the country at all levels.
Team Name: Voyagers
Team Members: Ketan Bagga, Varun Sharma