Friday, September 23, 2011

Moral Education is the need of the hour in India not Lok Pal Bill

Moral Education is the need of the hour in India not Lok Pal Bill
I write this article in response to the movement of India Against Corruption,  while I do support in principle Anna Hazare’s movement against corruption, I do not believe a single legislative act will change much of the corruption that is happening in India.  In this article, I will be sharing a few of my experiences from living in different parts of India and my visit to other countries.

There is a feeling of resigned distaste of corruption that is happening in India, it’s rampant everywhere, the Politicians, the bureaucrats and  and police forces having a large part of the blame.  Recently, the assets of the Cabinet ministers of India was show, compared to their assets 5 years ago,  most of them had a unbelievable growth rate of assets of from 200% to 700%, the same kind of growth rate of wealth also happens among the different legislative assemblies of the country.  But I would not blame it only the politicians but what I feel is needed is moral education of students from schools onwards.

I  currently live now in Kolkata, one of the toughest cities to live which was governed by the communist for the last 35 years, the city has been living in a time wrap with crumbling buildings and infrastructure. I have faced two bad incidents where in on one occasion a Laptop of mine was stolen,  on another occasion,  my phone had fallen down and the person still managed to steal the battery and memory card and on countless occasions I have been cheated with promises which were not delivered, like saying that my  phone was recharged but not recharging it.  For from living on those bad incidents, I have tried to learn lessons from it but what has really stricken me is the rampant moral decay in the Indian society, the greed, selfishness and corruption that has struck through the society like a cancer. This greed and self centeredness is reflecting  on the society which can be observed by people throwing garbage right outside the compound of their houses not caring who cleans it up but insisting on taking out footwear when going inside the house, on hungry starving people on the streets with no one helping them, of young men pushing  aside older citizens and not giving them their seats in bus, of buses and cars trying to move ahead of each other with screeching horns but no one trying to give way to other traffic or pedestrians.

Because of this corruption, what I have seen within society is that honoured principles of honesty, kindness, equality and respect have given in the scourge of corruption, No longer are we equal before the eyes of the law.  If you know a powerful and corrupt politician or an IAS or IPS officer, your problems are more easily solved, even if the law has be bent,  thus just framing good laws are not going to help.  This has forced many good citizens  to discard principles of honesty to bribe others to survive and have their bread and butter.   You become like a fool if you want to follow the rules, whereas you can take the shortcut to riches through corruption.  The Corrupt officials who implement the laws hardly ever go to jail and use the laws like aniticipatory bail to escape justice while poor people for petty crimes are imprisoned behind the bars.

What ails India first of all is good education, even though India is the fastest growing country in the world, it’s human resource assets could be turning into a liability rather  rather than assets if they are not morally and technically trained to support themselves and their family.  It is sad so see that the government nowadays stresses far to much on IIT Engineers and IIM Business graduates. While it is important for students to be equipped to be employable, what is more important is that these employable students should have a character and moral education which will help to give shape to a better society. If the Indian society is to prosper, it must first of all respect the law and agreements that have been made. Sometimes many of the Indian business man,  merchants , taxi and auto drivers are far too short sighted and think of only short term gain and try to fleece their customers, but what this in effect entails is that even though they may win in the short terms, they lose in the long term, the person does not come back to his/her shop to do business with them again, the same with Investors from abroad, the politicians and bureaucrats create a hell lot of bottlenecks expecting bribe to make things work faster  and make deals which are honoured,  hence many of these Investors tend to be cautious to this kind of incidents.

What India really needs is academic and character formation, just getting an A+ in school exam and test is not enough, character formation and behaviour like honesty, self discipline, responsibility and cleanliness is what is needed.  As I am living in Kolkata right now, I am writing a lot of this in Kolkata context hence let me share with you another incident I had, as a person working within the skill development Industry, we faced a situation where there were some delays wherein the student started forming a union and threatened one of the Instructors within the training Institution.  For the economy to grow,  people need to change and adapt to change but when they refuse to adapt, then there’s no development and backwardness. For instance, the retails Industry is set to come up with a big presence in India but in Kolkata, they burned the stores and chases Reliance Retail out of Kolkata, they also chases out the TATA Motors from setting up the factor in Nandigram, the consequence,  less jobs for the people and less trained people. If Organized retail were to enter India, it is expected that inflation would reduce by atleast 2-3% on account of reduction of vegetable and food prices as there would be better logistic and storage houses but many of these rules cannot be implemented because of a few people’s reluctance to change.

Moral education can be given without religious connotations, but having a good religious background with noble principles also help, so in public schools, moral education could be given without bias to any particular religious sects. Character education has been given a lot of emphasis in developed countries teaching them human values like honesty, kindness, generosity, courage, freedom, equality and respect.  Many countries try to mould their students by insisting on compulsory military service to instill a sense of discipline within the youth, some other countries promote girl guides and boy scouts to instill ethical values , self discipline and respect for elders.  

From my travels within India I have found a few observations that I would like to share, one fact being that being from Mizoram, we are fortunate that due to the efforts of missionaries, Mizoram has a nearly universal education with a 90% literacy, it can be found that even though it’s in a remote area, traffic rules are followed and  the streets are cleaner , the same cannot be said of Kolkata, this could be due to the effect of the moral education and literacy rate of the state.  I also observed that in  United States,  people were very cautious with following traffic rules, unlike Indian metro’s the cars made way for pedestrians crossing roads, stopped behind school buses dropping students and following traffic rules,  This is not to say that Americans are morally superior to Indians but I would confidently say that in America, the public do not try to bribe the policemen and the law is being implemented. They have a point system accumulation for violation of traffic rules, beyond a certain point their driving licence is confiscated from them hence they cannot go to work, meet friends or do anything so it could be due to the fact that the Americans are afraid of breaking the law because of the fear of  penalty that it brings with it. If such traffic laws were also to be legislated in India,  it would not necessarily work if the people do not follow the law or the cops accept bribe or powerful politicians instruct the cops to let go of the guilty, so as said in Introduction, a good Lok Pal  Legislation would just not be enough, what is needed is a combination of good laws and character moulding of students to be ready to good citizens. The Individual behaviour is going to affect the behaviour of the family, the society and in effect the behaviour of the whole country.  Social responsibility  and moral character education should be inculcated from the school  and most importantly  corruption can be dealt with effectively with a combination of good laws like Lok Pal, Right to information etc and good moral character education of the public.

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