Is the diaspora paying attention to education as it should? I would love to think so, but I am yet to see or read about their outstanding achievements. Education is good in itself- to understand the working of the physical and social world. However, there is more to education, that is, it must be transformative; and for this to happen a culture of learning would be necessary.
Infosys, a multi-billion tech company in India is worthy of studying. Founded by Narayan Murthy, Sudha Murthy, wife of Narayan, spoke of their earlier days when they had limited money that were spent only on books. It was made clear that a Narayan Murthy is a product of reading not just the essential texts but beyond.
Ariel Sharon, a former Prime Minister of Israel, spoke of growing up in a farm where he worked before going to school and after returning home until night when he got his homework done. More than that was the long distance he travelled with bus to the town to acquire further education. Sharon and his sister were unlike the other kids who retired to a life of farm work.
It is not the wealth or the middle-classness that contributes to a good education but a burning desire to learn. Would our diaspora ever be able to produce a Narayan or Sudha Murthy? I would not ask that it produce an Ariel Sharon because that may give rise to belly aches and retirement to the rest room!
Indians need to read beyond the essential texts if their certificates, diplomas, and degrees must pioneer new avenues for growth and development. Certainly, extra lessons are not going to cut the cake! It is too repetitious and robotic. It is only when we start making learning integral to our life that we shall create the change we so desire.
Our scriptures are full of stories of great children, men, and women who summitted themselves through great devotion and sacrifice. The story of Druv is apt for the moment. Focused on finding the higher truths, he did not allow the promise of the pleasantness of this material world to sway him from the path.
Materialism and rank indulgence are the order of the day. To brag about one’s purchases seems to be the norm rather than any meaningful sharing of knowledge. It is truly the arrival of the ‘never come see’ consumers where one’s worth is measured by the contents of the trolley in the shopping mall.
The teaching by our grandparents to save and invest have been thrown out the window. It is now replaced with borrowing and spending. This new indulgence has thrown learning off-guard with a Narayan Murthy or a V S Naipaul out of grasp. The sacrifices of Naipaul to earn a degree at Oxford was challenging if not miraculous but culminated with him achieving the Nobel Laurette.
Success equals sacrifice. Today the wealthy individuals among us are those who had the ability to postpone consumption to save toward a higher goal. The MBA would help us earn a comfortable living bit not necessarily another Narayan Murthy, Helen Bhagwansingh or Kayman Sankar of Guyana.
Our Caribbean people who made us proud like Yesu Persaud did not only qualify with ACCA but also went the extra mile. It is the extra mile that produces the Alvin Kalicharan, Shiv Chandepaul, Ramesh L. Maharaj, Fuad Khan and the Basdeo Panday.
We have successful individuals around us whose lives are worthy of emulating to help us excel in our fields. It is only that extra umph that is going to motivate us to use our knowledge to engineer social change. It is time to invoke the Brahmin within us instead of swearing deed poles. Such exercises are not only futile but also laughable.
By Dool Hanomansingh