Education as a qualifying criterion for a politician

I remember a discussion I was a part of a couple of weeks ago. I was playing the part of the lone non-smoker in a group of smokers. I do not remember how this discussion started.

Image courtesy: irancartoon.com

One of us said, "Politicians should educated if they have to perform their functions properly". Most of us however, were debating with ourselves on the right solution. Should education be made mandatory for all politicians who fight elections? Are educated politicians better than uneducated ones? Do portfolios like agriculture need a Harvard educated MBA or a farmer at their helm. Or does any person with a knack of pulling the right strings qualify?

At times we thought there are many politicians who bring an elitist view into a ministry and fail to understand the ground realities. Like the case where politicians gifted cows to distressed farmers in Vidharba and created an example of the proverbial white elephant. At the other end of the spectrum are politicians who think online desecration of a revered leader is avenged by vandalizing an unsuspecting internet cafe. 

We have educated politicians like Jagdish Tytler, Kamal Nath and Narendra Modi who are accused of inciting and abetting communal violence. We also have grass roots politicians like Shibu Soren who take money to vote in parliament.

But, let us not digress from the topic - Should formal education be made mandatory for politicians? This issue has another offshoot which is important nevertheless. How do we set the minimum limit for education. How do we deal with exceptions  - people who are not educated but know how to run a country. How do we deal with those who pass the sieve because they are educated? Does education actually help solve the problems of a country? Or does it hinder free thinking by putting blinders? Does it require a business management graduate to turn around a perenially sick organization like the Railways? Or does it merely require common sense along with clear thinking and a strong will?  

Can we do with a finance minister without a financial background? Do we need an intelligence expert to be our home minister or do we need an empathizing yet strict leader?

Our debate in the smoking group did not reach a convincing conclusion. We were left with a lot of doubts about the need to education to run the country well.

1 comment:

  1. There are educated dumbos and then there are uneducated smart-asses! But that doesn't take away the credibility of the education. So, I am all for education as a basic criteria. Sure we will lose some uneducated and well-intentioned politicians. I suppose the more a a demonstrated willingness or experience in public service can be used to waive the req of education.

    To have a hypothetical exmaple, the educational qualification may be set to any undergraduate degree. But if you have headed/built a social welfare organizations or say a bunch of schools,(..and we can develop a list with deeper consideration) then the educational restriction may be waived.

    So, the idea is.. if the guy hasn't demonstrated his inclination and capabilities @ public service, at least he has the education