In jail for his alleged role in the Delhi liquor policy scam, AAP leader and former education minister and deputy chief minister, Manish Sisodia, published a hand-written letter in Hindi on Twitter with the help of Arvind Kejriwal that attempted to draw people’s attention to Narendra Modi’s alleged lack of educational qualification.
This topic has been grabbing headlines in recent days and weeks. There is an absence of clarity around his degrees and this ambiguity is being exploited as a political tool by the opposition parties across India. In a way, they are collectively shaming India’s Prime Minister simply because he may or may not be educated by degree. And the whole world may be watching this India-damaging drama unfold.
Sisodia, on the other hand, is a product of a government school in his village in Hapur in Uttar Pradesh. And then he went on to pursue and complete a diploma course in journalism. Any other recorded evidence of added qualifications was difficult to find online, which is not to say it does not exist. There are millions and millions of others with minimal qualification but with other more meaningful skillsets.
If education and political leadership is linked, which it ideally should in a limited way, then the question shouldn’t barely be of simply having a degree. Isn’t the quality of education more important? A person who attains a degree could be someone who barely passed, with little understanding of what was taught. He could be sitting in canteen or bunking for most part of his school or college and learning by rote just before examinations, and passing.
How is this person with a degree better than someone who may not be educated, but possess other skillsets? The latter is better placed at being socially relevant than someone who tricked his way out of college with a degree.
Manish Sisodia is a good man. For a long time, he has conducted himself with grace and dexterity. Political bouts are a reality, perhaps even a need, but it cannot be exchanged without a sense of responsibility and awareness for national image and interest. The AAP knows that the political blow, in this case the ‘letter’, intended to defame Modi and question his leadership will not bring in any political dividends. What it has drawn is global attention for wrong reasons along with disruption in parliament proceedings.
Having solid education is important, but hardly critical for leadership. It will help, but it cannot and should not prevent a person from showcasing and bringing to use so many other qualities that he may possess.
Modi is no Benjamin Franklin, but the American dropped out of class 10 and went on to draft the declaration of independence when the US achieved independence.
Rajiv Gandhi left his engineering studies incomplete from Trinity College, Cambridge, for personal reasons and national interest. But officially and in every other way, he has completed only his schooling. He went on to lead India with conviction and adroitness that simple education alone can never bring.
The scope of education in leadership is useful in understanding the dynamics and fast changing needs of the world. But, it is seen the real benefits to the people is very limited if top down approach is adopted. Many villages and at local level, the illiterate and uneducated Panchayat leaders do significantly better work in creating better educational infrastructure.
Again, Modi is no Akbar or Shivaji or Ashoka, but they all lacked any kind formal education, and became known in history for their better administrative skills. K Kamraj, an uneducated politician and freedom fighter, made immense contribution to the country.
The world is much advanced today and technologically more robust. It’s advisable to leaders to have good formal education to understand and apply technology to solve major social issues. It just cannot be the only determinant.
Wisdom, experience, and qualities such as integrity, vision, social and leadership skills are more crucial.
As for Manish Sisodia, who featured in TIME magazine for his exceptional work in improving the standards of education in Delhi for all, must prove that he’s innocent and a victim of witch hunt.
Otherwise, it will be shame.