Politics, good or bad, has infiltrated almost every institution in our country. But when it invades educational institutions, what it leaves is such a filthy sludge that it sucks in one victim after another and it leaves the entire organisation in shambles. What is more? It has swelled enough to directly affect the student community.
Adding fuel to the fire is corruption. It is one field where there is no dearth of innovation. It has a variety of faces like embezzlement and misappropriation of funds, contracts given to friends and relatives, personal expenses charged to university accounts, hidden records, destruction of records and a number of activities that you wouldn’t normally associate with universities. The lack of personal honour and integrity is widespread.
What makes to the news and public domain is only a minuscule part of the ground reality. Here are some of those news:
- Illegal appointment of faculty – MANIT [Link]
- Corruption in NIT Warangal – Director forced to resign [Link]
- Corruption and Bribery – MCI Chief Arrested [Link]
Imperfections in students, have gone to know no limits these days either. They even tend to lack the basic etiquette of respect and morality. But, let us set aside all the imperfections, that are by and large associated with the student community, for now.
“A teacher affects eternity. He can never say where his influence stops.”
Before continuing this article, I find it necessary to tell that I am what I am, because I have been fortunate enough to have certain devoted teachers. To some people you feel like giving respect, some others command respect, some you hold in awe but there are really a few who make you feel incomplete if you don’t respect and you choose to hold them in awe and reverence. And such good, respectable people, and who are passionate about teaching are everywhere. They are the guiding stars for the students. They add to the divinity of the profession. I am leaving out this subset from the rest of this article. We shall always stay indebted to them.
Teachers should have fear. Not fear of students. Not the fear of senior teachers. Not the fear of administration. But fear of themselves and their conscience. Not everyone is perfect. Not everyone is expected to know everything. But it is necessary to realize one’s incompetencies, and also act upon those realizations. The problem at hand is not that teachers do not realize. The problem is that they ‘refuse’ to act upon them. They refuse to realize students should be taught not to cut flowers, but to grow their own plants.
One of the most respected and adored faculty of my institute once exclaimed, “Teachers here get full pension before retirement and half pension after”. The humour in this statement, cannot make the glaring truth, oblivious. Along the teaching curve, it is said that teachers learn as well. The preparation a staff puts in, before coming to a class, reflects in the way they teach. The level of dedication invariably has a profound influence on the student. But looking at the path the education system is taking, I don’t find any light at the end of the tunnel.
What is more shocking is the fact that teachers sometimes resort to extremely unethical and wrong means to try and coerce students into doing deeds favourable for them. It ranges from relatively trivial deeds like asking students to run errands for them, buy breakfast for the morning, get quotations for lab instruments and many more – to more serious issues like forcing students to do projects under them which would eventually help the lecturers get their own degrees. Suggestions and guidance are accepted as necessities. But force is not. And truly, these accusations are not from my imaginative mind.
Let us move one step further. Will the students yield to the coercion? Oh, yes. Because, coercion goes hand-in-hand with “threat”. Threatening students with their marks and grades. Threatening to ruin a students life if he does not yield to the commands. Threatening students if he dares to formally object to the atrocities. Are students are meant to “obey” however iniquitous the command might be? Are students meant to live an overly subdued life?
How about one more step further? Not only students suffer this plight but also the junior teachers who are newly recruited. They are forced to take sides, and remain a virtual servant to some dominating senior members among the faculty. They are curtailed from taking their own decisions and acting based on their discretion.
Regarding students being threatened, I would like to tell this. Times are changing. Students can no longer be expected to remain silent and oblivious to the situation around. Threats will not have any effect. And when students voice their concerns in a proper way, they should get themselves ready to substantiate their actions.
I would not be talking about all these issues if they do not directly affect the students. With politics on one side and corruption on the other, students are sandwiched in between, and remain as dumb coins on a carom board.
The negative influences of teachers who are more interested in the politics of power than in shaping up a student’s career, go a long way. Teachers teach much more by what they are, than what they say. Students pay fees for dedicated teaching, high academic standards, good industry exposure and decent infrastructure. If an institute cannot provide these, then why make false promises and try to attract budding intellectuals holding high expectations ?
Lecturers must grade themselves – neither by their age nor by their position; neither by their qualification nor by the number of publications; neither by the kindness they show nor by the respect they command (or sometimes, demand). They must grade themselves by the number of students who come back 1, 2, 5 or 10 years after graduation and say, “Thank you”. Good teachers will never be forgotten.
It is time to realize that corruption and politics are diseases. Contagious ones. And it is high time they are cured. otherwise, we will be facing a pandemic very soon. So, please start cleaning up the mess. Make the institution a healthier place, and enrich our lives with a brighter shine.
P.S. Special thanks to Abinaya for helping me with editing and perfecting my article