Thought it was Japan? Nope, not even Toyota can compete with the Indian industry. We have an excellent set-up. We also have a distinct advantage over the Japanese. Here, the cars themselves want to be made and be sold in the market. No, I am not talking about the Maruti 800s or the Tata Indicas. I have a completely different picture of the “car”. The industry that I am referring to is not the traditional car manufacturing industry, but the highly lucrative Education Industry which produces ultra-sophisticated cars. Make no mistake, these cars have the self-motivation to be perfect and advertise for themselves to be sold.
We keep hearing the garb about education being commercialised, being commoditised, losing its value, what not? Wait a minute. Consider those statements for a moment. All that is crap, isn’t it? Of course it is. We are missing the all-important point: It’s not just education which has been commoditised, it’s the students themselves who have been commoditised.
We are manufactured. We are sold. We are driven by somebody else. We are filled with fuel. We are turned into products which can be sold in the market.
One might ask, is that not what education is supposed to turn us into? According to Education Theory, these are the aims of education:
- Preparation for political participation
- Preparation for economic participation
- A product for use as social capital
- Fulfillment of self-development
- Development of character
I was about to ask for an introspection. But hey, intros what? We have no time for all that shit. I leave it to the conscience of the reader.
Coming back, I have the burden of justifying the atrocious comparisons and accusations I made. Let me plead my case.
Are we manufactured?
Ever heard of assembly line production? The concept, introduced by Henry Ford (yes, the founder of Ford Motors), was a revolutionary concept in the manufacturing sector. It allowed for the mass production of commercial motor vehicles.
The concept is simple. Instead of assembling all the workers and building the car at one place, we shall place the workers in a line. The about to be manufactured cars are sent in a queue. The first worker in the line does the initial job of fitting something, then the car moves to the second worker where he fits something else. This process continues till the car is finally manufactured. Each worker focuses only on his part of the job. People familiar with computer science might recognise this as the concept of pipelining.
The present education scenario is strikingly similar. We go through a similar assembly line where we are fitted with the required skill-set. However, I do not say that this in itself is wrong. I find nothing wrong with the process. But look at the words in red. Skill-set required by whom?? Who requires those skills?? Is it the student who consciously wishes it or is it something else??
These skills are required by the industry and if you have a different skill-set, then you are junk to the industry.
Are we sold?
Of course. Cars are kept in showrooms, customers walk-by, look at the car, its features, inquire the sales person about the car and then decide whether to buy the car. The case with the products of our colleges is somewhat different. Remember, they produce cars which can speak. So the necessity of a sales person is eliminated. The customer directly inquires the product,viz., the student. This process of sales inquiry is politely termed “interview”. Better the features, higher the price offered. A BMW is costlier than a Maruti 800.
And we have some advantages over the normal cars. We have some degree of freedom in choosing our “master”, a master who then appoints a driver to drive his brand new car.
Are we driven by somebody else?
For a normal employee, the statement does not need much of an explanation. We do not choose where to go. We simply go wherever our driver wants us to go. We obey his orders. We are afraid our master might throw us out as junk if we apply our own brains. So, we switch them off.
The argument that we apply our brains while doing our job is moot. Today’s cars apply intelligence as well – ABS, Electronic Driving Assistance, Electronic Climate Control, Electronic Brake-force Distribution System, etc. Surely, we won’t be applying anymore brains than they do. And they apply their intelligence when they do their work – carry their masters.
The real question comes not from an employee but from an entrepreneur. A person who does not wish to join any company but starts his own company. Is he also driven by somebody else? If I were to use the “liberty” of quoting the libertarian Milton Friedman, the entrepreneur is driven by the market forces.
Whereas the fuel for cars is petrol, the fuel for us is money, the salary that is paid to us in huge amounts in order to keep us running and in order to keep us from complaining.
Be honest with yourself. How many of you are studying because you chose the field and not driven by the jobs and salaries? How many of you loved the field before you took it up? I do not say it is a mistake of the students, rather it points to a fundamental flaw in the system. A system which forces and coerces us leaving us with no options. With no freedom. With no love towards our field.
It will be unrealistic of me to urge the students to come out of this mould. I cannot ask them to become jobless for the sake of some ideals. However, it does not hurt us to think. It does not cost us to spread the word.
Why is it that the job market so polarised to a single industry? Why don’t we see multi-nodal growth? Why can’t a person pursue his field of choice and still earn his bread? Why should he be forced to choose something which he does not love?
P.S.: This is purely my opinion. People are free to disagree and are welcome to air their views.