Monday, November 06, 2006

Demeaning the Value of Education

I have a friend who is doing her Ph D. From US, University of Illinois in Bio Chemistry. She came to India this June, after finishing a year and was nearly in tears. Her roomie was harassing her, her guide was exploiting her, her work schedule was too much and she had lost more than 10 kgs in less than one year ( She had been under-weight when she had gone anyway). Valiantly for the first few weeks here, she said she was happy there, and had a lot of fun, but her body disclosed it all. When everyone came to know of her hardships, concerned, they asked her to not return. Everyone consoled her saying that no one would think less of her, and she could just get on with a plum job that she had. She did not answer. When the time to leave came, she was happily waving goodbye from the airport and was going back to her life there. My dear friend is still there, getting her Ph D. and again is not complaining at all.

Another friend, is pursuing his PhD. from Mumbai University. He says, he has to break heads with his guide day in and day out, has to put in enormous amounts of effort and time into research and basic gadha-majuri but is still raring for it.

My Head Of Department, is 40 years old, and is in the process of obtaining a PhD. from Monash University, Australia, through correspondence. He is doing so because handling the department of Communication and Journalism of Mumbai University is no small feat. But he wants a PhD., even at this later phase in life (not very late if you ask me) because there are chances that Mumbai University will plant a OBC Category PhD. in his place who is a bloody dimwit and thinks that "Philadelphia is a big country outside of USA".

All these people I know are slogging for their doctorates. Not just coz they want the decorative type in front of their name claiming them Doctors, but because they have the knowledge, passion and zest to get the degree. I want a Doctorate degree sometime in my future. And I want the toil and effort that goes with it. And the goddamn respect. Because it is no child's play to get one.

How then, can a supposedly prestigious university of India easily applaud a few people honorary PhD.'s and get away with it?? Oh to add to that, University of Jhansi had done the same deed some months ago too.

Amitabh Bachchan asked, "Do I deserve this Honour?" and the media clicked on. I will answer you Mr. Bachchan, NO, you don't deserve this honour. Give him Padam Shrees and Padam Bhushans but don't give him Doctorates for heavens sake.

I admire Amitabh Bachchan. I still do. I have always judged actors on their acting and nothing else, not even their looks, coz according to me, an actors skill lies in acting. And Mr. Amitabh Bachchan is a very dexterous actor to say the least. But he is not, definately not, an academician. And he has done nothing to warrant the honorary doctorate lauded on him.

I had always respected Delhi University. It is one of the oldest Universities of India and one of the most respected one world-wide. Not anymore. DU wanted to imitate a certain foreign University since it awarded honorary doctorates to Indian luminaries and hence it followed suit. Not done. The rest of the bandwagon who have been awarded these degrees has politicians too.

These luminaries have been given these doctorates for the outstanding performance in their respective fields. Please tell me, are these fields not their career paths?? Don't they get money out of whatever work they do?? Then what purpose does this doctorate serve to them??

If this is all that is the value of a PhD. how many people will still want to get it?? If you demean the value of education what is left of your economy?? Education is the highest judging level which is tangible, if you muddy that yardstick too, what more is left??

One more question, how come no one, absolutely no one thinks this is the stupidest thing to do?? I mean, media has come out with shining articles about how good a move this is, people are smiling and happy, and someone even wrote a letter to the editor of times and Mumbai Mirror saying that such a step is truly great and praise-worthy. Am I mad or is the world mad??


J said...

Hmmm, doctorate degrees are never easy to achieve in whichever field you are and anywhere in the world. People have to work their ass out for it. Also usually those who have the passion for their field are the ones that go for it. Not just for the sake of respect and simply bcoz it is difficult to get one. Yeah, it is sad to see whn some social figures are awarded with the degree, whn it does not relate to its actual meaning and value.
It would be better to judge a university based on the standard and the level of education it imparts, than to respect it based on some panel of people in a particular field trying out somethings.

J said...

It would be the stage which people would have achieved in their field, that would make them eligible for the degree and not money or fame, be it their career path. The doctorate degree would have certain standard, which when people reach, can then be awarded with the degree. When a 40 yr old person can work for the degree than why cannot the people who have achieved the standard be awarded. It would be sad if people not having that standard would be awarded with the degree.

Anonymous said...

Good post. Pretty incisive.
And about the Mumbai Mirror reader you mentioned, a reader deserves the paper he reads.

pragni~dreamcatcher~ said...

j- hear hear, so why r we the only ones harping on about this? I still think that either I am going crazy, or the media that I am about to step into soon is really really faw more convulted than i had supposed it to be.

Nazim.k - thanks, and about mumbai mirror, pretty true.. but the mirror is still a mass medium, and has enormous influence on the audience..

creative genius said...

According to me the real value of education is when it gets applied to real life or contribution made is worthy for the field. As not all ppl can do that, that is the reason for awarding ppl with honorary degrees.

Does getting a PhD mean that you need to go to school and earn it. Do you think that Edison needed a doctorate degree? Would you say he did not study for it so he should be honored with it?

I would say there is conventional way of getting a PhD and other is to award it to ppl who have done exceptional work in their field.

pragni~dreamcatcher~ said...

creative genius- point.. one more direction to the argument. But I dont see how AB has contributed immensely to the field of literature. Anyhow, the degree is valued because of the knowledge which goes with it, if you already have that kind of knowledge, why do you need any honorary degree..

creative genius said...

i would definetely oppose AB asking for a degree i agree with you on that, but donot you think that he has contributed the field of acting and drama.

pragni~dreamcatcher~ said...

yes, but that is for his personal gain too right?? and its not like he has taught or made schools of acting.. i admire his work, love it rather, but there is no need to deitify him thru the means of education.. make those goddamn temples if thats wht those dumb headed fans want.. but dont dole out degrees like they are made of nothing..

ritu said...

"DOCTORATES" i haf always found myself looking up to them.. yes today they may be not valued the rite way they deserve it.. the education is getting commercial each day.. n morever today its hard to get wht u deserve, no matter in which field are you...ppl dont always let u easily feel good abt wht u haf achieved... amplitude of life doesnt changes 4 many....