'Education doesn't guarantee good leadership qualities'

'Education doesn't guarantee good leadership qualities'

Congress leader Ajay Maken questioned the educational qualifications of Smriti Irani, who has taken over as human resources development minister.

 “Smriti  Irani is not even a graduate!”, Maken tweeted. The counter-attack by Union water resources minister Uma Bharti questioning the qualification of Sonia Gandhi only smacks of negative comparison and does not provide a fair equation.

Instances are plenty where the most academically qualified politicians have also failed to deliver. There cannot be a better example in the current political scenario than Dr Manmohan Singh, the scholastic politician, who had to wait for Sonia Gandhi’s nod on vital issues. Also, that Sonia Gandhi can never claim to fully understand Singh’s academic credentials, yet she commanded respect from the latter. Does it connote the ‘less educated’ can wield more power than the ‘more educated?’

A politician cannot be measured by the ‘qualification,’ but by the quality, skills and integrity s/he possesses. Writing the correct answers in the exams may fetch marks. Application of education in life is altogether different, where education and intelligence often don’t go together. Credibility and honesty are not friendly epithets either in politics.

A minister mainly seeks advice from experts and tries to fulfill people’s needs and expectations. As for degrees, it is common knowledge that our ‘academic’ qualifications have limited job value. Not to be a graduate is not a crime.

 When educated people can use their ‘education’ and evil brain to subvert the system and extort money and hide their huge crimes and get away with them, the mandatory need for education only makes a cruel joke. We need dedicated and patriotic persons, not qualified cronies. Unfortunately, there is no such ‘degree’ bestowed for exhibiting these qualities. This appears to be a non-issue in our country. Many ministers around the world are not qualified for the ministerial positions they hold, but can prove outstanding because of their unbiased outlook.

The fault lies with the Constitution makers and the party which ruled India for over 60 years. Why the relevant article was not amended to specify the qualifications of the ministers, leave alone that of the elected members? We, as a country, are always lagging behind in primary education. The other democratic countries gave the right to vote and get elected to only those who attained certain qualifications. While in India, we overlooked it.

Can we judge the unschooled Thomas Alva Edison through his educational qualification? The first American president George Washington did not hold any degree. Can we question the ability of Bill Gates? Again, highly educated people like Manmohan Singh have proved that education is not a guarantee for good governance and leadership. Certification does not necessarily make a person educated. It is something one learns on a daily basis. It is the demerit of our Constitution that it does not require any qualification for politicians. 

Vital quality

Leadership quality is vital to be a good politician, which means you need to take decisions, empathise with the people and have a vision for the future and be ready to handle unforeseen calamities and disasters. None of those things are taught at school or college. Literacy is necessary, but not a degree. Abraham Lincoln never had a full year of schooling and one cannot deny he was an amazing leader.

Logic also demands explanation for the other side. While a manager is appointed with minimum MBA qualification to run a small firm, why should our politicians be allowed to run such a big country without any minimum qualification? Chartered Accountants, doctors, architects etc. have to study and train for their chosen profession in order to minimise mistakes, malpractices and unethical decisions and so on.  For running public office positions, it is only sane to introduce a minimum set of subjects like communications, economics, management, political science etc.

In developing democracies, bulk of the population may not only be uneducated and ill-informed, but illiterate, and it is easy to fall into the trap of half-truths and half-baked ideas sold to them by some unlettered but charismatic dumbos. The relevant qualification for the selection of Indian cricket team is not attainment of degree, but the ability to do well. Here, insisting on educational qualification is ridiculous.

Politicians need to know the pulse of the society and the standing of the country in international stage. It is vital for them to ask the right questions in parliament. They must understand the gravity of the problem and the strategy that should be adopted to mitigate the problem.  All these warrant an analytical mind. Though there are bureaucrats, it is always better to have an intellectual leader rather than one who is heavily dependent on the former.

Why a politician, prior to taking office, should not be asked to take a basic education test?  If they fail, they should undergo the basic education and repeat the test. If the politician does not have basic idea of finance, economics, history, political science, why would anyone in the society want that person representing them? The nation’s destiny and the fate of the people are determined to a fair extent by the politicians.

 The role and responsibility of the legislators have far-reaching effect on the citizens of any country. For anything to be accomplished, it is important that it is done according to established procedure, and that takes some education, which is a benefit to a politician both in getting elected and in doing his job.

If not a formal education, a separate curriculum must be designed that would ensure a politician to think and analyse. After all, an educated person can look at a certain issue from various perspectives.

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