Educated Politicians: A ray of hope for better politics?


man and woman sitting on chairs

One of the most radical ideas has always been with respect to leadership. Ranging from the radical idea of Philosopher kings by Plato to the dark ways of Machiavellian Prince to Game of Thrones and modern-day politics, we have always been concerned with who would tie the bell for a cat. In our choices of leaders, especially in a democracy, we are very anxious to be sure that we are not led by bagpipers. One common way we assess this is by pointing out at the educational qualifications of our politicians. 

The philosopher king, the old wise man archetype and several established ideas of a leader point out at the necessity of a competent, foreseeing leader. In the modern pathological conceptualization, we often equate education with wisdom. This is one reason why we hail certain ministries in which almost all of the ministers were highly educated as for instance, the ministry of Canada, where most of the ministries have experts of the corresponding areas as the ministers. This is commendable, especially while taking into consideration the expertise of these ministers as it can possibly improve efficiency. They would be well aware of the conditions in their respective fields, would understand the issues better and would have scientific, more thought of methods to deal with such issues. But this is not always the case. 

Comparing the two recent prime ministers of India, PM Modi and Dr.Manmohan Singh, the latter is superior in terms of educational qualifications. However, there isn't much difference with respect to the efficiency or drawbacks with respect to the governance of the two prime ministers. Though Manmohan Singh is often credited for the LPG movement of 1991, the liberalisation, Privatisation, and Globalisation of industrial development in India, a series of scams were a black mark to the accidental prime minister's reign. Similarly, for Modi, things like Make in India were a big bold move, but there were several setbacks like the not so successful demonetisation and the extravaganza in the statue of unity to name a few. So in a sense, regardless of the level of education, there's not much difference with respect to the way they lead.

One crucial explanation for this would be the limited application in our educational system. Our system which is thoroughly based on scaffolding and spoon feeding severely restricts independent thought and development of many soft and life skills. In other words, holding a degree from the best universities won't equate us to Plato's philosopher king idea. To lead the masses it takes more than theoretical wisdom. Studies on leadership, identify many different types of leadership like Charismatic leadership, transformational leadership and transactional leadership all of which asserts the importance of the ability of the leader to influence the followers. This is not book smart but is rather cultivated in other ways. The ongoing nature versus nurture debate in behavioural science is applicable to leadership skills too.

This brings us to a conclusion that education, in its present quality and standards cannot be conclusively considered as a thumb rule to assess the efficiency in politics. However, it is to be noted that being educated does not do much harm and can be beneficial in providing a better understanding of the issues a country faces.

- Ananda Krishnan


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Educated Politicians: A ray of hope for better politics? Educated Politicians: A ray of hope for better politics? Reviewed by EMN on April 20, 2019 Rating: 5

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