Apr 20, 2013

The Dark Ages: Revisited?

The last week has been a bad week for the human race. With all the blasts, the earthquake, and yet another atrocious rape case in my city, we are once again reminded that although we have come a long way in terms of science and technology and human development in general, there are still parts of the world which remain far behind the 21st century. 

It makes me realize that the old ways are so etched inside our being that it is often hard for people to let go and give way to the new. In my country, women are not respected as much as men. They are wives and daughters and sisters before they are human beings. And no matter how many women start entering the work world, or start living independent of men, they are still wives and daughters and sisters first. They are to serve  men and take care of them before they take care of themselves. 

Similarly, when it comes to violence and terrorism, it is mostly just a convenient way to get what you want and protest against governments. But at the end of the day, it doesn't make much sense to harm those who have nothing to do with it. Before the concept of 'nations' came around, this is pretty much how things worked. People's lives were irrelevant compared to rulers' egos and power. I am not suggesting to compare present day governments to kings who used their citizens as puppets, but I am saying that people's safety seems to matter less as compared to politics and establishing beliefs. 

People like to think that we've come far and are propagators of 'modern' thinking. But somewhere inside us, the past remains. While some of us still yearn for power and attention, some of us forget the new times we are now living in and have a tendency to think like we would have in the past. We forget that we still haven't developed the ability to win against nature. 
Some part of the past, the dark ages lives within us, and there is not much we can do about it. But what we can do is to fight that part of us, and start living in this amazing new world that the human race has built for itself. 

MBA=Assured jobs? Not so sure about that.

I was on vacation in Kerala last December, a state in the southern part of India, when I truly realized why thinkers and philosophers were cribbing and whining so much about this thing called "education inflation".

We were driving past the country side, on our way from the airport to our hotel, when my dad started making conversation with the taxi driver. 
As the taxi driver told my father about his family and home, I tried to catch a nap. But my attention was suddenly back to the conversation when I heard the word "MBA". 

Yup. This is what our world has come to. The once celebrated MBA degree, has officially become a piece of paper. 


We were driven to our hotel by a man who had an MBA.

A man with an MBA, puts on a white uniform every morning, to drive families like mine to and fro from the airport to the hotel. 

Since I was too confused and tired to think straight at the time, I ignored this mind boggling discovery, and indulged myself in a nice long nap as soon as we got to the hotel. 
But as we walked around our hotel grounds the next morning, talking to people, and interacting with some of the staff, we realized that the taxi driver wasn't alone. There were all kinds of people with college degrees doing blue collar jobs. People who had spent at least 16 years educating themselves, were now doing jobs that had nothing to do with what they studied. More than that, the jobs they were doing didn't even require them to read or write. 

This state of Kerala, which has a 99% literacy rate ,has a large population of MBAs who drive taxis and engineers who wait tables at local restaurants. 

So if this is what a college degree is worth in a state where everybody is "educated", what will happen to us in a world where everybody has a masters degree? What will happen when our scientists invent robots who can do that cooking and cleaning? What will happen when the self driven car gets commercialized? 

Its really easy to get a degree and then a job that pays you regularly and assures a roof over your head. Maybe its time to start thinking differently. Think of learning, and not getting grades. Think of exploring the world beyond what school or college teaches you.
In a world where everyone has fancy degrees, actual merit and ability are what will really count.