By: V Sundaram IAS
September 01, 2005
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"We want to create a weak and disunited India of the dunces, by the dunces,
for the dunces." Author unknown (or could it be one of the the great politicians of
The Supreme Court has come out with a fair order abolishing government
quotas and reservations in private professional colleges. All the
political parties in India have joined together speaking with one voice
against the verdict of the Supreme Court.
This kind of national unanimity was not noticed even in the days of the
`Quit India Movement` in 1942. For example, the great Communists of India
did not support the Congress party at that time because it was led by
Mahatma Gandhi. Today their attitude is different of course (they are
supporting the revolutionary (!) Congress - led by Sonia Gandhi)
We cannot expect our third-grade politicians to study Aristotle. Aristotle
may have had Indian political scoundrels in view when he said: `Democratic
education ought to mean, not the education (or more precisely noneducation!)
which democrats like, but the education which will preserve democracy`.
Until we have realized that these two things do not necessarily go
together we cannot think clearly about education.
Rajaji spoke against the `Licence-Permit-Control-Quota Raj` in the 1950s
and 1960s. If he had been in our midst today, he would have spoken against
the `Licence-Permit-Control-Quota Raj` created by our politicians in the
field of Professional, Higher and University Education. This `(a)Raj` has
been created in the name of casteless society raised on a fraudulent
superstructure of caste-based structure of quotas.
For example an education which gives the able and diligent boys (without
any reference to their caste, colour, religion or creed) no advantage over
the stupid and idle ones may be in one sense `democratic`. It would be
egalitarian and democrats like equality.
The caucus-race in `Alice in Wonderland`, where all the competitors won
and all got prizes, was a `democratic` race. This is the kind of race,
which all the politicians in India want to create in India today. If this
logic is accepted, there will be a growing demand that subjects which some
boys do very much better than others should not be made compulsory.
On this basis, physics, chemistry and mathematics - the so-called
difficult subjects - can be made democratically optional. English is
slowly becoming an extinct language. There is no need for any elaborate
discussion on this endangered specie.
There is going to be complete political unanimity in India on the question
of abolition of all compulsory subjects and making the curriculum so wide
that every boy will get a chance at something. Even the boy who can`t or
won`t learn his alphabet can be praised and petted for `something`. Then
no boy, and no boy`s parents need feel inferior. And Education on those
lines will be pleasing to democratic feelings.
It will have repaired the inequalities of nature. But it is quite another
question whether it will breed a democratic Indian nation which can
survive, or even one whose survival is desirable at all. The impossibility
or improbability that a nation thus educated could survive need not be
laboured. Obviously it can escape destruction only if its enemies (like
Pakistan or Bangladesh or China) are so obliging as to adopt the same
system. A nation of dunces can be saved only in a global world of dunces.
But the question of desirability is even more interesting.
The demand for equality arises from two sources. One of them is among the
noblest, the other is the basest, of human emotions. The noble source is
the desire for fair play. But the other source is the hatred of merit and
All the political parties in India today are pitted against any system
founded on merit and superiority. There is in all men a tendency to resist
the existence of what is stronger, subtler or better than themselves.
In uncorrected and brutal small men this hardens into an implacable and
disinterested hatred for every kind of excellence. The kind of democratic
education which is being advocated by all political parties in India today
is bad because it endeavours to propitiate evil passions, to appease envy.
Two reasons can be advanced against this mad approach or movement.
In the first place, you will not succeed. Envy is insatiable. The more you
concede to it the more it will demand. No attitude of humility which you
can possibly adopt will propitiate a man with an inferiority complex. In
the second place, you are trying to introduce equality where equality is
Equality can exist precisely only in the field of mathematics. Outside the
field of mathematics, equality is a purely social conception. It applies
to man as a political and economic animal. It has no place in the world of
As C S Levis beautifully puts it: `Beauty is not democratic; she reveals
herself more to the few than to the many, more to the persistent and
disciplined seekers than to the careless.
Virtue is not democratic; she is achieved by those who pursue her more
hotly than most men. Truth is not democratic; she demands special talents
and special industry in those to whom she gives her favours`.
In my view, political democracy is doomed if it tries to extend its demand
for equality into these higher spheres. Ethical, intellectual or aesthetic
democracy is death.
A truly democratic education - one which will preserve democracy - must
be, in its own field, ruthlessly aristocratic, shamelessly `highbrow`.
In drawing up its curriculum, it should always have chiefly in view the
interests of the student who wants to know and who can know.
The stupid student, nearly always, is the student who does not want to
know. It must, in a certain sense, subordinate the School to the
University. Only thus can it be a nursery of those first class intellects
without which neither a democracy nor any other State can thrive or
survive - either against external enemies or internal foes.
Our democracy demands that little men should not take big ones too
seriously; it will die when it is full of little men who think they are
big themselves. These small, short and wicked men sitting tall are
collectively singing today the following Ode to Madame `Merit`:
Oh! You damned Madame Merit
How much we hate thee and
How do we hate thee? Let us count the ways.
We hate thee to the depth and breadth and height
Our souls can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of bestial being and democratic disgrace.
We hate thee freely, as men strive for democratic non-rights;
Demonically, secularly, stupidly, sadistically, uproariously,
And above all blasting forward for backward meritoriously.
Moral of the story: All the political parties seem to be unanimously of
the view that a Bill should be brought up in the Lok Sabha for
redesignating the Supreme Court of India as `The Apex Inferior Court of
India` in the mud-spattered and bumptious interest of equality and
self-respect of the deprived and dumb dunces of India, that is `not`
V Sundaram IAS
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V Sundaram IAS
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