Only Graduates should be allowed to contest elections. We say, why not?
Welcome to The Great Indian Politics!
1.2 Billion Citizens, 545 seats in Lok Sabha and 245 seats in Rajya Sabha. The first question which arises from these facts is, can’t we find handful of responsible people across the country, which are well educated and can lead our nation? Is it really necessary to always go for candidates with almost no qualification, and who are responsible for the current situation of the country in many ways? Strange is our system, where a government servant needs a minimum qualification to apply for a post of a clerk, but no such rule applies at the level of our politicians. Just try to imagine the situation of an IAS officer, who didn’t sleep for days and nights, just to qualify an exam, with the sole purpose of serving the nation; has to receive the orders from an illiterate politician, who at times has no vision but has all the power to transfer and belittle honest officers.
Going by the History Plato, in his book “Republic”, has described very well the consequences of running such a system, which is governed by the less deserving people.
Aristotle, in his book, The Politics, puts forth the argument that “Power must be in the hands of those who are best equipped for it, those who are better qualified to create and maintain a society which promotes good life. It (power) should go to those who can make the biggest contribution towards this objective. Such a distribution would be just, because it would ensure that the interests of all were pursued and not just the partial interests of the ruling elite.”
The Importance of Education
No better quote would sum up the need for education, than the below one, by the man who simply needs no introduction.
Just try imagining a situation where all the world leaders (politicians/Presidents/Prime Ministers) were illiterate. Would the countries ever been able to develop or grow as they are doing now for centuries? Can we even imagine the world wide repercussions of promoting illiterate politicians? If we can’t do it on the world level, then why try and experiment it inside our nation? When we don’t have dearth of highly educated and qualified citizens, then does it really make sense to go for illiterate ones to rule us? Let’s be honest with ourselves and ask this question upfront, “Who do we want to govern us?” Should it be the one who has no formal training or experience, has no past records to support his candidature (except an elite family name in most of the cases) or should we opt for the one who has devoted his time in learning all these years, who has been part of the formal systems and has been well trained, so as to understand the politics, economics and society at various levels?
The paradigm of Developed vs. Developing
In US, it has been quite evident in recent Congresses, that the majority of elected members (93% of House Members and 99% of Senators) at the beginning of the 113th Congress hold a bachelor’s degree.
On the contrary, India presents a sorry picture with 25.8% of the MPs (Members of Parliament) in 16th Lok Sabha not even are graduates. Adding to the gravity of the situation is the fact that this is not a one-off incident. It's a trend that has continued for many decades now.
And it’s quite evident from the various sources that most of the non-graduate candidates in the Indian parliament are facing serious criminal charges under the court of law. The facts are in front of us, the decision lies in our hands, whether we are ready for a change, a change which surely earmarks a better future, if implemented early and willfully.
It’s now or never
How ironical it is, that the country we are living in, has its post-graduate (and graduate) students facing unemployment while we are debating whether we should continue to promote uneducated to lead the country for the times to come. If we appreciate such politicians at lower levels and provide them support during the elections; may be sympathizing with their backgrounds, then later someday, they would probably do what was done recently in one of the most highlighted cases in the media, where our Education Minister couldn’t differentiate between a certificate course and a degree, made a mockery of our system at all levels. The repercussions of having such politicians are immense, since they are going to formulate the policies for us. Can’t we expect a minimum level of wisdom from our leaders, while we are trying to promote education and its need ever since. For years, we have been witnessing the political parties nominating the undeserving and uneducated candidates ever since, and if we won’t ask for honest and deserving candidates, who are well educated and understand the real life problems of people, are well equipped with qualities of logical thinking, problem solving, long term planning and implementation, then we are doing nothing more than providing a support to such candidatures in future as well.
Serving the society, but not in a political way
While accessing through various websites, articles, listening to a lot of opinions, the people in the favor of uneducated politicians always arise the question that “what if an uneducated but honest and dedicated citizen of the nation wants to serve the society?” Our answer to this question would be that there is always a room for honest and dedicated citizens in our nation, if they wish to bring a change in the society with their works and deeds. Politics in not the only way to do so, as quoted by Mr. Anna Hazare (who couldn’t even complete his schooling) but dedicated his entire life for serving the society. On the other hand we can also see the influence of people like Swami Ramdev, who have been extremely successful in bringing the attention of people towards their health, and try to make India a better place to live by establishing world class education institutions for the poor. There are plenty of such examples, where the people who really wanted to serve the society irrespective of their educational qualifications, did it silently, without entering into the politics and craving for power.
Why graduation is must, not just school
George Sayantana, the well known Spanish philosopher, an alma mater from Harvard University, aptly sums up this argument when he writes the following statement:
When a person goes through a structured formal training, in the form of a degree, he learns not only about a particular subject or domain, but has a wider horizon to learn and apply the things he has been taught. Knowledge from all walks of life is incorporated under the umbrella of a professional setup.
Education as a means, not the end
The Great Indian Election Drama keeps on rolling every 5 years. And Indian electorate continues to be presented with "distractingly limitless" choices, as a foreign commentator puts it. Education is likely to instill credibility & some sense in the actions of Indian politicians who seem to have a dearth of it (read - act of switching political parties to pursue their self interests). With education will come awareness, about socio-economic issues, and the wisdom to lead the society in a sustainable way. We rest our premise with the fact that, we can always implement new ideas for a better future, but at the same time, one can’t reach the conclusion that only graduation should be the sole criterion for nominating a candidate by the political parties and later on the criteria for judging these candidates by the voters. This is because on the other extreme end, we have examples of Mr. Suresh Kalmadi, Mr. A. Raja and few others involved in various scams, who have done nothing more than bringing shame to the nation, even being studious at their respective educational institutions. The same goes for educated (graduated) politicians like Ms. Mayawati, Mr. Mulayam Singh, and others, who try to divide the constituencies and the people on the basis of caste, creed and religion for their respective vote banks. Summing it all up, we can reach the conclusion that an individual’s background, his previous records, ethics, morals and values, all contribute in many a ways, alongside the acquired knowledge and expertise he has developed during his education tenure. The same should be critically analyzed while voting for a candidate, because every vote counts and we have the right to be governed by the ones who truly deserve to do so.
Team Name: Voyagers
Team Members: Ketan Bagga, Varun Sharma
Counter Punch by IIT Kharagpur 24 hours later
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
This is an article written as a rebuttal to IIT Kanpur’s article for the Great Indian B-School debate
phronêsis: practical wisdom
analphabetism/illiteracy: an inability to read
The author of the article “Battle #2 Only Graduates should be allowed to contest elections. - FOR” (http://insideiim.com/battle-2-only-graduates-should-be-allowed-to-contest-elections-we-say-why-not-iit-kanpur-for/) starts by listing some stats about the seat allocation in the Indian Parliament and posing a question about the dismal quality (read as illiterates/uneducated) of political representatives in Indian political system. He also links up the current situation (read as adverse) of country to these not-so-deserving political representatives. The argument presented by the author relies heavily on unverified assumptions and has a very extreme conclusion. The author fails to make logical connections between the evidence provided and ends up confusing the definition of uneducated/illiterates with a person who doesn’t own a graduation degree.
The not so Great Indian Political Landscape
1.2 Billion People, 545 seats in Lok Sabha, 245 seats in Rajya Sabha: Bunch of incapable, illiterate, visionless political representatives (well, most of them)
These are the facts that the authors consider relevant for the argument presented.
In the first paragraph of the article, they ask “Is it really necessary to always go for candidates with almost no qualification, and who are responsible for the current situation of the country in many ways?” If we continue further, we find a stat saying that 74.17% of the MPs in Lok Sabha are graduates. So factually, there are at least 3 times as many graduates as there are non-graduates in Lok Sabha and still the situation of Indian politics is not impressive. This according to author’s rationale proves that being a graduate has no impact on the state of politics in India.
Though we believe that education and not graduation is of utmost priority when it comes to leading a nation, giving a chance to less privileged strata of society is equally important. Out of a population of 1.2 Billion, there are merely 20 million graduates. So this is less than 20% of our population. So if we are to select from this limited pool, we wouldn’t be having a fair representation of the diversity in our population.
Aristotle concept of best constitution, “"All of the citizens will hold political office and possess private property because “one should call the city-state happy not by looking at a part of it but at all the citizens.” (VII.9.1329a22–3). Moreover, there will be a common system of education for all the citizens, because they share the same end (Pol. VIII.1)"”
Various quotes by Aristotle, Plato and Mandela have been cited in the article but the article fails to differentiate between education and graduation. There are a number of people who are educated, i.e. would have completed their higher secondary or would have done diplomas or would have enrolled in college but not been able to complete the degree due to monetary or other reasons but the article discounts the possibility of all such cases. Secondly, excerpts from Aristotle’s book have been quoted; however, the authors fails to recognize that Aristotle’s model of politics was based on the idea of best constitution in which every citizen has a right to equal education. Also, a close look at Aristotle’s quote tell us that Power should go to those who can make the biggest contribution towards creating and maintaining a society which promotes good life. So this implies if a non-graduate is capable and deserving, they should be in power.
Moving on, the article talks about education. Again, the author assumes a person to be illiterate if the person is not a graduate. This rational represents logical fallacy if not prematurity.
To talk about the highly qualified and the ones with PhDs: the last government that India had had highly qualified people who were graduates of prestigious universities in some of the most influential portfolios. Despite that, the functioning of the government was considered to be one of the worst. So just having quality education and training is not sufficient and we strongly believe that phronêsis takes precedence over qualification.
The honest , The deserving and The Pseudo Socialite (Masters of using a Veil)
Up next, the author agrees to the fact that there might be an uneducated but honest and dedicated citizen who wants to serve the society. They recommend that person should do so without entering politics. But why? Why the distinction? If a person is really honest and deserving, why rob him the opportunity just based on the educational qualification? It might be the case that the person might be from an economically underprivileged society and was unable to complete his education. In that case, is it fair to rob him/her of the opportunity to contest in elections? Also, if we are to proceed with this mentality, then it would be almost impossible for people from underprivileged societies to enter into politics as most of their income is lost in daily living.
The article also discusses the case of ‘Ramdev’ and ‘Anna Hazare’ , and the only image which comes to our mind is the biggest political influencers of Indian Political System (source of logic: Arvind Kejriwal and his dramatic win in Delhi)
To sum it all up, India in itself is a special case of a democratic republic. Before independence when India was on the brink of bifurcation it was anticipated that India would never be able to exist as a united country with a plethora of conflicting cultures forced to co-exist. And yet we have made 68 years of glorious history in spite of facing many turmoils from time to time. And the credit goes to the constitution framed by our leaders which allows representation of people in a fair manner. To quote an example from day to day life, you would rather prefer the services of an uneducated but experienced and known maid who belongs to your area/region to an educated, trained but unknown stranger? Probably, plainly because you know the work of the former and are able to relate to him/her. We would also like to point out a fact that we always forget that our MPs and politicians are the result of our decisions and are chosen amongst us. They are the service providers for us and we are responsible for directing them for the same.
This article is an entry for The Great Indian B-School debate
Team Quarks, VGSoM, IIT Kharagpur
Vamsi Krishna Manchi