Let me start by saying that we tend to become involved participants only when we pay for something… and I don’t mean the bribes some of us tend to pay to get a file in motion in any office. The word ‘free’ simply ends up giving licence to squander everything. That is one reason why I never prefer to enter Stores where they say they will give me something for ‘free’!
Look at the state of education today. The government has, over a period of years, made ‘free’ an umbilical right for most students and have, at best, achieved only a literacy level that is little beyond the FREEdom to hop from one class to another without mastering anything. They have effectively transformed from a nation that took pride in doing whatever they were doing to a nation that has stopped working and begun looking at jobs and positions that they feel, belongs to anyone with their perceived notion of education.
I’d say, ‘Let them all pay for everything.’
You’d say, ‘They’re poor. There are also the poorest of the poor and they all need to be educated.’
I’d say, ‘Making education free and making it free for students to go from class to class without imbibing anything are two different matters!’
Ah! So you understand now what I am getting at, don’t you? Let education be free for those who make genuine efforts to get educated. Don’t make a mockery of education by throwing mid-day meals at them to improve statistics at your end. Put an end to this mockery of uplifting the repressed classes and lending a hand to the poor… just tell them that education will not attract any charges so long as they make effort to get educated and pass examinations. Be sincere in the evaluation systems that you have. Be firm with your policies. Let the teachers and evaluators function without being compelled to churn out false data to be available for your hollow speeches.
But let me come back to BJP deciding to charge Rs 5 for listening to Modi. As I was saying, when people will actually pay to hear Modi, they would not like to listen to hollow promises or party promos. They will want the time spent standing there to listen to this political leader to be worth what he finally says. He is the one who will have to give credence to his words. He is the one who will need to push his party into converting his ideas of a great nation into a reality. Or the people will walk out never to come back again. They wouldn’t come back even if he announced that he will regale them with the great comedy circus of inter-party jokes. Paying to listen is a good habit.
In fact, the people must stop going to listen to leaders if there is no fee. Let all political parties charge a fee or even increase the listening fee to more than just a token 5 rupees. There are some inherent advantages attached to such a system. We will know which speaker has the ability to attract a crowd that pays to listen… or pays to boo, if you want me to make you look at the sordid side too. The other advantages will include a rush amongst political parties to convert their leaders into dynamic speakers, to recruit people who are not the sorts who will rise to be silent PMs later, and we will have great meaningful debates on the stage than just comical announcements of schemes and projects that will be allowed to go limp or fade away.
This fee of 5 rupees to listen to Modi has the power to convert us into a nation of leaders to dazzle the world with the truth of conviction. We don’t need jokers and performers on the stage anymore. We need the debating neta to come out of TV studios and into the open… and really and truly face the nation!
Article written on 21 July 2013
Article published in awazaapki.com on 22 July 2013: