Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pension plan for the Nation.

Today is the 60th Republic day of India. Our Constitution has turned 60, an age when an individual starts looking at his savings and pensions for these are the things that will support him/her for the rest of his/her life. "Well a country never gets old or get retired" you'll say but what I want to bring your attention to is that the present is always a result of actions we took in the past. You'll be independent and peaceful if you made investments in a good pension plan. Similarly what is the investment, a Nation should make so that its future is peaceful and prosperous?

These were the questions that were bubbling in my mind when I was watching the Republic day parade today. I had submitted my investment proofs for year 2009-10 last week for tax exemptions and so that was really fresh in mind (it's only at this time that I think about them). So I am keeping certain sum of money which will grow over time and I can withdraw that when I require it in future, for say my kid's education, marriage or for other occasions which will require large amount of money in a short span. But have I actually secured my future? Is money only thing that I need to save? Will that money be any worth if I just get robbed of it by someone the day I withdraw the amount? Is the money invested is guarantee enough that our kids will turn into good citizens and not terrorists?

"That's easy", you'll say, "we'll be able to send our kids to best schools with that money." Yes that's true but that's where the problem lies. Have you ever considered what are we teaching the kids in school? In school they are taught facts! Schools teach how to crack complex problems in maths, science, etc. "who's and when's" of history, "where's" of Geography, but what they are not taught is how to become HUMAN.

I am not saying that these things are not necessary to be taught, they are extremely useful for preparing a child to face the world when he/she grows up. But just for an example consider a child well versed in chemistry who grows up to use his knowledge to make a deadly bomb in his backyard and blows up the very school he was taught into. The whole world will be shocked (a usual), special TV reports will be made, describing, in minute details, the incident as it happened, how many killed, how many injured, and yes of course how much money was lost. The criminal/terrorist (as he will be called) will be tried and put into prison. In prison he is surrounded by people who have done harm to the society and we expect him to come out a changed man after his served time in prison.

So do you see what I want to point out here? Let me explain a bit more. After the Republic day parade was over I was browsing other channels and stopped at National Geographic. There was a program on how a human child starts its first years in life. Recent researches have shown that the human child is born with very little pre-programming in its brain, in contrast to all other species. For example, an insect at the time of birth has all the information it needs to survive, like how to fly, catch its prey, dodge its predator. But a human child's brain is an empty board. That is an evolutionary benefit that we have and not a disadvantage. Because this gives a child chance to best adapt to his environment. He can develop skills that will enable him to harness the best out of the environment he is in. This flexibility however declines as we age. For example at the time of birth at around 3 months, a child can distinguish the subtleties of many different languages, but as he grows older this ability slowly wears away as his neurons make stronger connections for understanding his native language. What I want to get to is that a child has a potential of becoming either Mahatma Gandhi or Hitler. As a child can become conditioned to control his vocal muscles to produce most complex sounds, he can also with similar ease learn to control the speech he's going to make. He can seduce millions to kill or he can convince billions to love.

But we ignore this most important part of life of a man and when he becomes conditioned to do a thing which we consider is harmful for us, we put him in prison and expect him to become a better person. Its similar to a potter who doesn't pay attention to his pottery when they can still be set but tries to mend them after they are baked in the oven. The pottery wont get to the shape he wants now, it might come close but it wont be perfect and it surely can "break" easily now.

So if you ask me "What is the best investment a Nation can make?", I'll say EDUCATION. Invest in schools that produce humans and not robots. Choose carefully who's going to teach our children. Give the utmost respect to the teachers for they are making our future. Our Nation will not become great at the hands of industrialists, leaders, visionaries. It will become great only and only through GURUS who'll create those leaders and visionaries.


  1. Very apt! And true! Investment should be on education. Attending school and college is just a part of the education system. Family, circumstances, society, loneliness, and all other aspect of life teaches a human being. So, a person keeps learning. So investment if you say, is nothing but putting time and effort on the lessons coming out of the circumstances in life, and not getting bogged down by difficulties and hardships that's all. The point is, nothing special can be done for that. Depends on person to person.

    About our education system if you ask me, I have no complaints as the same has created our idle philosopher and me too! Many other's who will comment on this blog. So I think, the way these all people are, does not show lack of education! :)

    Finally, anytime you start solving a problem, you fall into the chiken-egg issue. One is the cause of other, the other is the cause of another, this before or that, where do you start! I am questioning the quality of teachers today? Why are not WE teaching? If we are concerend? Whay are WE not into politics, if we are concerned? Becasue that won't help simply!

    Keep doing your own work, and keep learning from your life! Learning is the purpose of life.

    There was a strong reason when a very near friend of mine dropped the idea of getting into the administration system of India (becoming an IAS) and chose a path that he liked and enjoyed. But yes, that would not have solved many probs.

    I think I have diverted from the point. Investment, yes, has to be in eduation and becoming a good human being, definitely! And how will it come, keep learning, for a small amount of time in school and college and university, and then for the whole life that you live.

  2. I agree with you on this. We should invest a major chunk of our GDP in education.

    @Sushant: I dont agree with you on the Education System of our country. I feel it should be radically changed. It should be modeled in such a way that, children shouldn't be afraid of coming to school. Rather they should be looking forward to come to school to learn something new!

    Having gone through the education myself, I know how the environment is. You only study because you have to pass the exams. This attitude carries into life and it can be a huge set back. There is no internal motivation for anyone to do anything.

    I feel our education system should be such that it should ignite the minds of children.

    You might ask me, if I am so concerned about our education, why am I not in it to change? Very true, may be someday I will do that!

    I hope somehow our politicians realize the importance of investing in education, and make it a good career option, so that atleast people who like to change it for the better would have a chance!

    I know its a long comment, but couldnt keep it short!

  3. Sorry dears...you can't read or learn empty stomach! Or rob Iraq of it oils posing savior, make money and then spend on education as US does!

    Education System in India WAS good, IS good and WILL remain good.
    Education System in India WAS bad, IS bad and WILL remain bad.

    Both of them are true.

    "Today's youth has lost direction"
    The above has been true since ages.

    "Aajkal ke bachchhe bahut tez ho gaye hain"
    Even this is always true!

    Corruption aaj bhi hai, Ram ji ke zamaane me bhi thee, aur hamesha rahegi!

    If you have river, you'll have banks on it's sides. Necessary. Do you think education system elsewhere in the world is effective and good enuf? Give me examples? One typecast that I hated in 3 Idiots is the films comment on our education system! The 'definition of machine' episode is deliberate and utterly wrong! It is not that way as shown in colleges I attended.

    Also, each one in the Vaanar Sena was not Hanuman...there are the best, the average and poor always. And how do you know this...by evaluation system. I bet, intoduce any evaluation system, grading or whatever, remove todays marks system, where there is evaluation, there is tension and pressure. Evaluation is required becasue competion is there, competition is there becasue we don't have enuf, we don't have enuf because we have more than enuf population!

    Sorry...'changing the education system'..is a very good topic for essay writing in schools and since perhaps independence, students have been writing abt it. Do u think no chages have been there since then?

    Every oyster doesn;t give a pearl. Which education system do you think is responsible for Indians holding most of the intellectual positions in the world?

    Like any other aspect of society and governance, the education system too has been chaging with times and been adjusting itslef with all other chainging things. Nothing needs to be done.

    If anything needs to be done, then put a brake on the speed of growth, put a brake on the speed of production, put a brake on the speed of consumption. Yor education system will get right automatically...cascading effect you see!

  4. Krishna, go to any school and observe how many children are afraid to come to school? Very few. Reason for those few, not bad education system, something else...that a child psychiatrist can tell.

    Have you ever 'NOT wanted' to go to school or college? Students WANT and enjoy to go to school or college, not largely because of good education system, or anticipating good learning, but because of the fun, friends and the environment! In the process, they learn.

    Do you mean to say, studying for marks is bad? Studying to get a higher ranking in the evaluation scale is bad? If you say that carries on in life, you mean to say you still work for marks or money not because you enjoy and enjoy learning new things? You give example of yourself coming from an environment where people studied only for marks, but as far as I know you today you don't work just for higher appraisal, do you? You enjoy your work and learn new things! It has not carried on with you. Sorry, as I said, it depends on person to person. Education System has no role in it.

    Change the education system, bring a new one, radically changed. I give you in written, the normal distribution curve remains the same. You still wont be able to teach all successfully. There will be complaints of that not working.

    'Education System' alone is not there responsible to ignite the minds of children. In the present system itself, there are students whose minds are always ignited, there are whose minds are dim, and rest where there is darkness!
    Change the system, the situation remains same. Remember, your red my green? The present system is GREEN for me RED for you, the new system would be RED for me, GREEN for you. Success rate remains the same!

    This is what I have to say strongly: Forget about the system, forget about the politicians.
    Do your bit and enjoy your life. Want to teach, sure do it. Let the education system remain where it is, when the child comes back home, influence him/her by your talk, thoughts, games. Involve him/her they way you want. And see him/her change the system in school. It is a bottom-up approach rather than top-down, where it is difficult for anything to retain its size when it reaches the bottom starting at the top, be it even 'teachings'!

  5. Sushant, the question you need to ask is how many children are interested to goto school? Again, very few! College environment is a lot different from that of school.
    I have many times felt to NOT goto college, because nothing was taught properly! But yes, you can learn new things with friends. But a teacher is always required to guide you. Imagine a college having no teachers! Only students! How long would you think the students are going to attend college?

    I mean to say studying only for marks is bad! I study this part because it has higher weightage in the exam, but leave another part because it has less weightage. How do you feel about it? I would be happy if got only 60% marks but in the process I learnt some new things.

    Do you think that a 3hr exam at the end of the year will rightly justify the knowledge I have on the subject? May be I was not in my best health on the exam day, or something is upsetting me mentally! Can I give my best to the exam? If I flunk and give another attempt, that is seen as a black mark!

    I want to emphasize the point Aamir Khan makes in 3 Idiots: Difference between Well trained and Well Educated! Just by memorizing some important chapters and passing the exam with 80% marks makes me better at memorizing rather than understanding!

    From your post it looks as if Education System needs no change! But I disagree on that. I feel there is a lot of scope of improvement for our Education System. I feel there is a better ....

    I lost the flow as I had to take a break of two days from this.

    But my point is apart from we as parents teaching our kids in our own way, we should devise better ways of educating our children!

  6. Excellent thought. I will like to add "Meditation" along with the education. Generally, humans get filled with lots of EGO (as they say) as they get educated. Meditation will help to keep them "child-like". In some of the verses of Bible, it's mentioned that when the Christ was hanged on the cross & he was the looking at the crowd starring at him. He said "Blessed are those who are child-like".

    I think we can achieve this state of "child-like" & "awakening" through "Meditation".

    Nice to read above blog.