Should There Be Minimum Educational Qualification for Politicians?

Posted on May 27, 2012 in Politics at Play

Mudasir Ahmad Wani:

Democracy is considered as the best form of Government. Its importance has been acknowledged since ancient times. Athens was the first Greek city state which adopted a democratic setup of government. Today several countries have been embracing the democratic form of government including India, and she is considered as the largest democracy of the world but what would happen if democracies have licentious, uneducated, unwise, avaricious and corrupt leaders?

Plato, a great political philosopher in his book “Republic”, has given the concept of a Philosopher King. The philosopher rulers are spawned after a comprehensive and rigorous training and education, controlled by the state. To become a philosopher king, a person has to undergo 35 years of education and after qualifying several tests, he is given the task of “serving the state”. According to Plato, “Until philosophers are kings or kings and queens of this world have the knowledge of philosophy, cities will never rest from their evils”. Plato was equally critical to the ancient system of choosing the rulers by draw of lots. Plato said, “In order to become a carpenter, one need some training, but to become a ruler, a simple lottery will do it”. Plato was also acquainted with the evils of corruption, despotism, nepotism and redtapism prevailing in the states and among the philosopher kings in particular. Therefore he threw the concept of communism of property for the rulers alone in order to prevent them from a larcener, sybarite and corrupt life. He further said, “those who hold political power must not have control over the economic power”. In other words, he wanted to discrete political power from the economic power and viz-a-viz. However Plato has been criticised by many and his whole scheme is considered as utopia, even his disciple, Aristotle, the fatter of Political Science is also censorious to the philosophy his master.

But if we canvass Plato’s view of Philosopher King, one can candourly say that Plato was fair dinkum and the current experiments around the world and in our country in particular are avowal of this fact. Let we take the example of our country India, more than 25 percent of the members of parliament are either matriculate or under matric. The situations in the states are worse, nearly 30 percent MLAs are under matric. Representatives play a vital role in formulating plans and policies for the developmental works. Good leadership is essential for taking, sagacious, conscious, and effulgent decisions. Every government depends upon the ideology of the political executives. But when they are uneducated or less educated it deeply affects not only the decision making and implementation process but the society at large. What would happen if our Education Ministers will be illiterate? What policies he or she would adopt and what kinds of decision he/she would take? Therefore it is clear that for the effective functioning of democracies, politicians must be educated. Education is not only essential to the creation of democracies, it is essential to development, and in particular to what we today call “sustainable development.” Sustainable development implies a balance between meeting immediate needs and looking to the future with a long-term vision.

Today our country is facing burning challenges of poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, poverty, underdevelopment, backwardness, etc. The basic reason of all such problems is the evil of corruption prevalent in our country and it is because political power is coalesced with the economic power. Therefore Plato’s views about schism of political power from economic power holds a high truth in this regard. Political power combined with the economic power is used to maintain one self in power even by chicanery and treacherous means. Economic power provides ample opportunity to control all the associations or organisations which prove deleterious in maintaining power monopoly.

As a matter of fact, the general public, who themselves have voted for such sybarite leaders has to bear consequences in the long run. Uneducated and corrupt leaders amass a lot of wealth and instead of working for the welfare of people, they work for their own welfare because they have contested elections for their own economic purposes and that is why politics has been known by bad epithets such as stupid corrupt, blood thirsty, an evil play, etc. But to me such clamourers have no value and people have no right to make frivolity of politics and people themselves are responsible of making politics a game of evils and corrupts by choosing selfish, cormorant and demagogue representatives. Politics is not an anathema or malediction instead it provides an opportunity to work for the welfare of people, the society and the country at large. Had these people have not voted for such persons, the situation would certainly be different and effulgent. Democracy not only mean right to vote but it stands for right to elect educated, sagacious, conscious and efficient representatives, who possess mettle to work for the welfare of the society and it is incumbent that young, assiduous, exuberant and dexterous persons of the society must come forward and join politics for the greater changes.

In nutshell, it is evident that good governance depends upon the quality of leadership and no state can make progress unless its leaders are well educated, and separated from wealth and hold high values of wisdom for which Plato pleaded even when the institution of state had not taken its full shape. Therefore to me Plato’s philosophy was not altogether a utopia but, a living model of an efficient and progressed state.

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Charumati Haran

An interesting thing is that politicians surely have the resources to complete their education if they wish, but they don’t do so. Some of them seem to wear the fact that they are uneducated as some sort of badge of pride! As if they represent the section of society which is not educated. But when it is one of India’s goals to increase the reach of education, why not start with the politicians? Maybe there could be some provision that all will be given free lessons to complete their education once they reach a certain level?

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