The Educated “Illiterate” Society We Live In

Posted on October 1, 2010 in Society

By Anurag Butoliya:

I never let my college education come in the way of my real education.

It was a conversation that lead to a discussion and the discussion lead to a conclusion. There is an educated illiterate Indian that is seen and heard everywhere. One sees him with disgust when he urinates at the unknown corners of the public establishments. The “educated Indian” regards him with questioning eyes when he is seen throwing his household waste in the nearby abandoned park.

This not so levelheaded — bloke is everywhere. He is an omnipresent figure, present in every locality, every Indian society and in fact in a few terms the face of India to the outside world. Before I go any further with my findings about this peculiar person, it is worthwhile to ponder upon the instances that brought the educated illiterate Indian at the centre of attention of my mind. I was travelling at night with a friend, the conversation about the things that interest both of us were giving good company. It was around nine thirty at night. The traffic on the road was less than the usual and our car was going at a good speed. The pinch of first winter chill amidst the humid heat was our point of discussion. I was enjoying everything around. It was a traffic signal and our car was queued behind a scooter.

The person riding it seemed to be an educated fellow. He was dressed in the combination of blue and black with a briefcase housed between his legs on the pedestal of the scooter. A general deduction was that he was a person returning from his office. I wasn’t fixated to him in particular but the traffic and the sight of different sized vehicles were the only amusement present. In the next second the furrows on the skin on the person grew deep as he pumped more air into the lungs, his spine grew straight, the brows curved and he made a shot of the chewed paan (a type of Indian mouth freshener/sweetener) on the road. It had the perfection of a skilled practitioner and the speed of a shotgun.

The expression on his face was the expression of experience. I sensed he had developed such languid gestures after his customary ritual of chewing the ‘paan’ and it seemed as if they come to him as more of a habit than a normal chore. I wanted to comment on the development that took place but didn’t. Though there was nothing stopping me from doing so but I chose to restrain myself. The next moment, my friend — who was driving, commented, “This is what we call being illiterate even after being educated”. It was a cursory answer which evoked a small smile. My friend looked to his right — a luxury sedan which was about to turn right. He immediately said “I would not be surprised to see the window panes of this sedan coming down and someone spitting on the road”. We both smiled.

This small incident revealed the fine difference between education and literacy. The person who spitted on the road was a literate person but not an educated person. The words literate and educated are used interchangeably in the general sense but a closer look reveals that there is a fine difference. One’s education is known by the sensitization he has developed over the years through his experience.

While literacy is an important part of education there are other things too that go in making an educated person. A college degree may make one literate to some extent but if there is a lack of sense of conformity to the standards of the civilized society the college education won’t earn a penny. Each and every society is governed by an unheard and unsaid constitution. Though there is no penalty for not confirming to the standards and laws laid in such constitution but the ultimate success and failure of an individual in the society is governed by whether he confirms to the standards or not.

The education plays a pivotal role in shaping one’s mind towards the pursuit of adherence to the standards of the society. Most of the people invest in their literacy as they think it is will give them a better pay and thus — a better life; but what is forgotten in this relentless pursuit is that the success is defined by the level of education which encompasses much more than just the formal education . It consists of one’s soft skills, one’s civic sense , one’s way of dressing and much more .

In our country that most of the people around lack the basic civic sense. Maintaining and inculcating a civic sense is taught in schools but there are many who seem to be failing in this area. A recent advertisement on Television shows Amir Khan requesting people not to tarnish the image of the country, by urinating or spitting at the corners. All this is done because Commonwealth games are approaching and we must have some basic civic sense. It looks rather shameful as the government has to educate us for the matters that, as a citizen should come to us naturally. So the question whether our country is on the path of education or whether we are manufacturing “educated illiterate” citizens is a contention which needs introspection.

Commonwealth games are round the corner and putting up a good show both on the field and off the field is our duty and responsibility. My request to all the citizens would be to refrain from acting like an “educated illiterate Indian”, but as a responsible member of the society. And why only during the CWG, we must practice it regardless of any special event. It surely makes a lot of difference.

The writer is a Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.

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