Wednesday, August 25, 2010

CS fixation : Limited vision

Rightfully it would be taken as blasphemy to compare two discipline or career, vis-a-vis, its contribution to society, or more, it would be taken as an exercise in futility fit for some indepth studies only for morons, who cannot tell the broad differences between different disciplines in Science, such as Physics, Chemistry or Biology, not to speak about the micro-division or specialisation within each of these streams again. In this modern age, where everything is about super specialists, whether it is in medical or engineering or management or teaching, it would be foolhardy to compare any of these disciplines or professions with one another and not only that it would be dangerous as well, as such an exercise can open the door to lopsided views, which in the long term can only mean a death blow to the society as a whole. This matter is further compounded when the Government of the day, in their blinkered views, throw their weight behind such an approach and give it a stamp of official recognition or legitimacy. In India, one needs to be all that more careful and critical in the face of the fact that many of the institutions that we have today, ranging from the Parliamentary system of democracy to the Judiciary and the role of the technocrats and bureaucrats are remnants of the British Raj. There is nothing wrong in inheriting a system left behind by a former foreign power, but the matter of greater import is to study whether these remnants are in sync with the demands of the time or not. It is the demand of the time, which has compelled the Union Human Resources Department to explore the ways and means in which the examinations conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education, can take hitherto uncharted courses. The Indian Council of School Education many follow suit and if this works, then we can be prepared for other State boards to follow the course charted out by the Union HRD. The emergence of comparatively new fields of research in discipline, such as Nano-Technology, Bio-Technology, research in virology which invade the human immune system, the exploration of space to gather whatever information is there, the efforts to experiment with new technology to study the feasibility of turning sea water into portable water, study in human genomes and DNA which led to cloning Dolly the first cloned animal in the world, the study on how to deliver governance after manoeuvring through the corridors of babudom and Sahebs and Memsahibs, etc. all point to the inextricable link between the different branches of knowledge and specialists and we have no words strong enough in our dictionary to describe any elements or institutions which have failed to register this in their mind. Will the term buffoons qualify to describe these elements ? Or what about a special class of human beings, who will score lesser than zero in the Intelligence Quotient test ? That all knowledge and hence all professions are somehow linked and a near perfect synchronisation of all these is what the doctors prescribe for the well being of a society is a fact that cannot be wished away. It is when one stream of knowledge or expertise seamlessly merge with another that one can expect positive results. For example, the medical world would have been that much poorer if not for the rapid strides made in the field of technology. This is the reason why we see a proliferation of medical laboratories all over the world. And lest people forget, the spirit of the merging of different expertise and discipline to come out with a coherent end point is something which is developed while occupying the seats of learning, the highest seat of education, the university.
It is against this backdrop that we would like to raise certain questions over the recent decision of the State Government to dole out an aid of Rs 1 lakh to all the students who have cleared the Preliminary examination for selection to the All India Civil Services examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission. Was the decision taken with the sole objective of giving not only financial assistance but also a moral booster or was it due to some lop sided judgement of the State Government ? We are inclined to believe that the latter is the case. It stands true that those who shone in the entrance examination conducted by the UPSC in three phases, the prelims, main and the interview, have gone on to occupy important positions in the Government hierarchy. The Union Cabinet Secretary and other high ranking posts of a Government servant inevitably goes to an officer from the IAS cadre and the same is the case with the Foreign Secretary, the Union Home Secretary, Defence Secretary etc. The career opportunity is immense for those who successfully undergo the rigorous test, to make the cut of the Indian Civil Service. On a smaller scale yet important nonetheless, Chief Secretaries, Addl Chief Secretaries, Principal Secretaries, etc all play an important role in the administration of a State. But the Government should come around to the idea that what the civil servants can do are as important and at times even more important than what some professionals do. Have we ever heard of a grant of Rs 1 lakh given to a medical student pursuing his Doctor of Medicine, in Cardiology after all the grinds of passing through the MBBS, MD etc. Or how about the technocrats, who sweat it out amongst the din and racket of the heavy machineries and have to visit hostile terrains, to make a road traffic worthy or that ubiquitous, bespectacled nerd who spends his time in the laboratory trying to get a better understanding of human genomes or the economists, who spends hours in the library going through Malthus, Keynes, Adam Smith to get a better grip of the vicissitudes of economic uncertainties. How can we forget G Hardy, the Maths genius and his Indian protege, whose name escapes our mind at the moment. Or those from the humanities, such as Ramchandra Guha who have spent their days and life literally travelling from one library to another to get a better understanding of the present times by going back to the past or Sociologists like MN Srinivas, Andre Betteile or from Raymond Aaron to Max Weber, Durkheim, Maliknowski, etc. There must be many more such personalities in the making, and it makes no sense that Mr Ibobi and his men should be so overawed by the civil servants that at the cost of forgetting these other disciplines, they have deemed it fit to concentrate on the civil service aspirants alone. Nothing is wrong in this, except that it betrays the complete lack of the understanding of the demands of the time and the need to strike up a coherent whole. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is not from the IAS nor was former President APJ Abdul Kalam. This is significant.

No comments: