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Friday, October 27, 2006

Education in India: The importance of first principles

One of the key factors that allow humans to 'progress' as a society is the power to comprehend abstractions and build on them. The flip side of this ability is the way we treat abstractions as fundamental axioms rather than the derived entities that they are. Take for example the simple act cooking your food. Where does the LPG actually come from and how does it get to you. To cut a long story short most of the LPG that we use in India is shipped from Qatar or S.Arabia via LPG tanker ships that are off-loaded at a convenient Gas terminal on the west coast of India, is either piped or shipped via road to the filling terminal and is then bottled in your ubiquitous cylinder and shipped by road (mostly) to your friendly neighborhood dealer. How many people are aware of this ? How many people know the true cost of this ?
When I hear comfortably off Indians (they are still the only ones who use gas) bitch and rant about how the cost is shooting up and what the government should do (basically give it to them free) I stop to wonder if they would do this had they looked beyond the 'cylinder' abstraction. I think not. Whatever else the shortcomings of the Indian middle class, they can be trusted to read a sentence and comprehend its broad meaning.
So how do we keep abstractions and yet rise above them ? IMHO this is a process that should be 'the' education system in this country. People can think in abstractions once they master the first principles at tender years. Unfortunately our vedic mafia that controlled the education system (such as it was) with the able assistance of Macaulay's imperial education mandate have managed to distort and even destroy the underpinnings of a rational education system.
Ask yourself what is in the Roti that you are eating. Have a look at the list (not exhausive) below and give yourself a point for every thing you got right.

1. LNG from Saudi. (which also gave us the Al Quida)
2. Hybrid dwarf wheat germplasm from Mexico (which also gave us Parthenium and Lantana)
3. Gas cracker technology from Europe (which gave us many things :)
4. Chloripyrophos and friends from Ambani bai (well you can fill in the other things that you got)
5. Nitrogenous fertilizers from Fertilizers India
6. Water from the glaciers in the Himalayas diverted by eco-system destroying canal networks(if grown in punjab or harayna)
7. Diesel from IOC for all agri operations and transport (the crude is from the gulf again)
8. Electric power from Raichur thermal plan to mill the damn thing.(the coal is probably from bihar or jarkhand if not imported from australia)
9. Polyethylene to pack it from god knows who.

This is the eco-footprint of your Roti. Don't you think your kids will be better off if they know this rather than think of agriculture as that nice, clean, eco-friendly(ecological not economic) occupation that magically gives you 'chakki fresh', 'mothers formula', 'extra fiber' (packed and distributed 'home style') atta. Especially when this magic atta was grown using the stuff mentioned above (most of which are toxic, cause global pollution and leave residues in food that allows your son to grow boobs or worse a tail) and packaged and marketed by global criminals like Cargill and Monsanto ?

1 comment:

  1. That is why todays children eat creals and kellogs which do not have to use lpg etc.
    I still want to pull out my son from school,wife willing.