Recently a friend of mine shared an article on social media written by a well meaning Indian journalist about the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, as to how the lack of having superior educational credentials, makes him unfit for the job he is doing currently as the prime minister of India. Written by a known Modi-baiter, the article was eye-opening in not failing to subtly hint that the prime minister (who has achieved his credentials through distance learning courses following working as a tea seller his whole life) should lie low and allow the ‘educated’ technocrats to do the work. After reading the article, I kept thinking as to whether education was after all the only credential one needs in order to have a successful life.
On one hand we have educated people of the likes of people like Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Satya Nadella who became successful in life having a superior education, we also do have people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg who dropped out of school in their quest to change the world we live in. Never once did any of them mention that education helped them achieve the superior success that they so proudly enjoy to this date. They felt in them the ‘sense of urgency’ and the ‘never say never’ spirit to make profound decisions that has left an inedible mark on the human race.
If so why does one ever need to get educated? Kerala, my state in India boasts of near 100% literacy. In unemployment it is the first in the country with very low productivity rates. Constantly plagued by never-ending political protests and work strikes, around 10% of the people from the state leave the place for greener pastures around the world often ending up being extremely successful. There is a question hanging in reader’s head- if the state has such high education numbers, why does these things happen? Has education failed to be a key performance indicator for the progress of the state?
I do not think so. I believe the present modern education system is in a dire need of a technological disruption. With efforts by Google, Microsoft and Apple, the modern modes of education are being challenged which will have a direct impact in developing skills rather than mere assimilation of knowledge. The education that I was exposed to was of the latter variety. Certain life skills in my opinion need to be developed at an elementary level. This can only happen with a complete overhaul of the education system that in my opinion is inevitable.
Why I stress on the importance of skills is the fact that the road to success is not paved by having or lack of education- but by being focused and working hard. Satya Nadella the current CEO of Microsoft has two Masters degrees and worked painstakingly for 22 years before becoming the CEO of Microsoft. He is credited with the turnaround of the fortunes in the short time he was the CEO with shares rising to 16% since he took over. Barack Obama spent 11 years both as Illinois State and US senator moving bills, writing books, speeches etc., before he became the president of United States. Narendra Modi spent 13 years as a successful chief minister of one of India’s populous state before he offered his model of development to Indians who bought into it by electing him. Even today he works anywhere between 15-20 hours per day and travels extensively around the world as he tries to secure India’s future. Steve Jobs thrown out from his own company, spent years building PIXAR and Next Computer before taking the cues from these places to return to Apple, rescue the floundering company and take it to its greatness that we see today. His hard work in those companies evolved into his efforts at Mac, iPad, iPhone and the iPad. Mark Zuckerberg spent hours coding to build Facebook and he works tirelessly even today to develop and consistently improve the social network. Bill Gates’ family lived near the University of Washington which enabled a teenager Gates to feed his programming addiction by sneaking out of his parents’ home after bedtime to work on the University’s computer. From 1968 to 1975 he and Paul Allen ensured that they got their feet wet thoroughly prior to launching Microsoft. I strongly believe that nothing life works like hard work.
However mere hard work doesn’t cut it. One needs to have intent and the belief that he/she could do something to change something…even change the world. As Steve Jobs once said “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do”. Without these, will just being educated end up making you someone/ something noteworthy? It is the same as saying that just because your parents are doctors, you will be healthy and live one hundred years. Just because you are educated doesn’t give you the ticket to greatness. It helps but doesn’t provide.
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