Degree, Pedigree and all that Jazz!

I recently started watching the American TV series Suits again after a break of couple of years. The plot  revolves around Harvard educated lawyers and amongst them is one black sheep, who is brilliant at what he does, but does not have a Harvard degree. Apart from breaking the law (practising law without a degree), the more important thing is that the law firm hires “only” Harvard Law Graduates. And they are quite snobbish about it. As Louis Litt says, he does not want to impure their sanctum with people who have not studied in Harvard.

This does not happen only in TV shows or movies. As they say art reflects real life. While hiring people, recruiters give importance to education and what alma mater he belongs to. People graduating from eminent institutes are given preference over others. No doubt, the quality of education might be better in those institutes, but it does not guarantee that the candidate will perform better than the ones belonging to lesser known institutes. In Gujarati we have a saying that “Bhantar karta Gantar chadhe” What you have learnt in life is more important than what degrees you have.

Sadly, people get blinded by the superficiality. Take the case of Rahul Gandhi vs Narendra Modi. Rahul Gandhi is supposedly Harvard educated (he got in Harvard due to quota system (with or without donation) and then was moved to another college in Florida (apparently due to security reasons), where he completed his graduation. While Narendra Modi is not much educated (his degrees are debatable) and the opposition feels proud in mocking him to be a chai wala (he used to work in his uncle’s canteen). It does not matter that under Rahul’s leadership, the Congress has failed again and again to regain it’s lost glory and Narendra Modi has an experience of being Chief Minister of Gujarat for 22 years and won majority in Loksabha in 2014 due to his excessive campaigning.

Rahul Gandhi has been an MP of Amethi (Gandhi’s homeground) and avoided losing to Smriti Irani just by a whisker in 2014. He has been active in politics since 2004 and has held various positions in the INC and affiliated parties / organization but he has no achievements to show for his more than a decade long political career. The only reason he is being promoted as the next Prime Minister of India is because of the surname Gandhi. Even in his political campaigns he comes across as an immature individual who is just interested in taking jibes at the opposition.

Narendra Modi on the other hand has been involved in politics since a young age and the work he does is for all to see. (Not a Bhakt, but I do see him working relentlessly towards India’s development – My only grouse with him at the moment is that he exaggerates in his speeches and does not stop his own people from goofing up)

It is a sorry state of affairs that someone is awestruck by Rahul Gandhi because he is “Harvard educated” and ashamed that the country’s PM is a chai wala. Whatever you have against Modi, at least you should be proud of the fact that your country gives someone a opportunity to rise against the odds. That a mere canteen wala boy can be a Prime Minister of your country one day. A bus conductor can become a famous movie star and earn love of crores of people globally. Tiffin Carriers can become a case study in Harvard. College drop outs can become entrepreneurs.

Unless and until we change this attitude, how are we going to tell our kids that marks don’t matter? How are we going to stop kids from killing themselves because they fell few marks short of the cut off percentage? So let’s stop being snobbish about the education and degrees and instead give importance to the knowledge and skills of a person.

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