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Editor-in-Chief: M. S. Khattak

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

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DEMOCRACY AND EDUCATION Democracy is not suitable for illiterate people who cannot understand the punch of their vote and have no awareness about their basic rights. Democracy teaches its follower equality but an ignorant public who has learned to obey the authorities by imbibing that they belong to a different category cannot raise voice against their exploiters that is mandatory to generate a flicker of hope to kindle the candle of equality in the society. They remain impressed by the loaded politicians, sophisticated looking bureaucrats and overzealous brass hats who in return further suppress them to ensure the perpetuity of master-slave relationship. Therefore, the ignorant teeming millions consider these big cannons as the commanders of their fate. Education forms common mind, brings responsibility in the individuals by stirring his conscience and generates acuity among the public about their genuine rights. Therefore, education is binding for establishment of the public rule. In developed countries the presence of high literacy rate is the basic reason for burgeoning democracy. In the developing countries the fate of democracy is in the doldrums because education is as scarce as democracy in a fascist country or honesty in a liars colony. The democratic developed countries siphon off a major chunk of their resources for education. Therefore, democracy is alive and kicking in these countries that guarantee meaningful participation of the rank and file in nation building. This state of affairs generates public responsiveness about their rights and responsibilities. Therefore, when the people see any violation of their legitimate rights they vehemently protest against the liable authorities. No one is above the grip of corpus juris and the transgressors are brought to book without distinction due to strong accountability institutions. The rulers also work dedicatedly and with a sense of commitment because they are answerable to the public that empowered them through ballet power to govern the business of the state. The men in the driving seat consider themselves true public representatives. When they find that they have failed to fulfill their due duties they give up their job posts. Shinzo Abe, the youngest PM of Japan , has recently resigned because he found himself unable to accomplish his national and political obligations. Paradoxically, in developing countries the democracy is as scarce as warm water in the Antarctica because only bare resources are funneled for the education sector. The teeming millions are indifferent towards democratic norms and practices because of exceedingly low literacy rate in these countries. The massive resources are squandered for the luxurious activities of the despotic men in the throne. These authoritarian potentates have illusion that their presence is indispensable for the survival and progress of the countries. Therefore, they stick to their power-intoxicated chairs and think in terms of life-long rulership to play with the fate of the sloth-crumpled nations. These autocrats are not answerable to Frontier's Who is Who

anyone. Accountability is just eyewash or a strumpets lipstick and the accountability institutions are used as means to intimidate the political rivals of the power drunk men in the saddle. The dictators do not accommodate opposite views and consider their own blinkered opinions as gospel truth. Even several charges of sleaze and misappropriation could not turn a hair of these thick-skinned power lust tyrants. Democracy can only thrive when it is established at the grassroots level. In Pakistan majority of the population dwell in the countryside where there are neglected primary and middle schools. The feudal lords deliberately keep their people backward by not permitting the opening of educational institutions. It is said that a feudal lord requested the Education Minister to open a school in his area. He assured him to provide place and fund to erect the building of the institution. The minister was shocked that heaven may not fall because a torpid landlord is talking about learning of the people of his locale. The survey team was taken aback to know the ulterior motive of the feudal lord when they visited the site of the school that was located near the village of his archrival. The clandestine intention of the dormant-minded big shot was to open an institution near the village of his adversary. He wanted to take revenge from his foe because he thought-out that the people of his rivals area would start studying that would loosen his grip on them and ultimately he would be no more a feudal lord. This example reflects the true decrepit mentality of our potent proprietors. In another paradigm one of the blood relatives of a feudal lord breathed his last. All the leading personalities visited him to offer a Political Fateha. Although, the landlord was a big gun in the government but the road leading towards his village was bumpy and broken that stunned the guests. Few days after performing bereavement rituals that are part and parcel of our custom stricken society, one of the friends of the big cheese who was a minister in the cabinet allocated funds and sent the raw material for the construction of a macadamized road to oblige his friend. But the feudal lord was infuriated instead of thanking him. He said to his friend angrily, I held a higher post in the government in which you are minister. I have more authority and funds at disposal. After the construction of the road the people would frequently start visiting cities that is bound to breed education and awareness in them. After the natives become acquaintance to their rights who would cast me vote? The minister passed a political smile and hugged him. The material for the construction of the road was transported somewhere else and the dream of the dwellers of the area to travel on a smooth road dashed to the ground. These examples reflect that feudal lords intentionally keep the people backward and ignorant to economically exploit, political subjugate and socially ridicule them. Elections generate a gleam of anticipation and enthusiasm in the ignorant masses for a transformation but after the polls their dreams crumble to dust. The elected politicians visit their constituency once in a blue moon after winning the polls via hoodwinking the illiterate populace by propagating syrupy and hollow catchwords. They start feathering their own nests and throw the public welfare to the backburner. They plunder the public treasure to retrieve their cash that they splurge during the elections to purchase the loyalties of the voters through tin pot touts having deep penetration in the constituency who ensnare the poor dwellers. In our country majority of the politicians have feudal mentality. Therefore, they calculatingly remain indifferent to opening educational institutions in their constituency because learning brings change that is a mortal threat to feudalism. Devolution plan is another deceptive way to establish democracy at the grassroots level. Instead of breaking the back the feudalism, it has further fortified it due to massive illiteracy. The polls under the Devolution Plan 2000 were held in 2001 and 2005.General elections were held in 2002 and now conducting the polls in 2008 are on the cards. The timings of the local body elections and the general elections are so maneuvered that the Nazims and Naib Nazims can help the MPAs and MNAs of the Kings Party in winning the

general elections and the legislators in return can provide countenance to the Nazims and Naib Nazims to triumph the local body elections and the vicious cycle of exploiting the public can continue. Sarcastically, some MPAs and MNAs resigned to contest the polls of district and tehsil Nazims because of the presence of huge public funds in the local bodies budgets. As they generously gorge during the election campaigns, therefore, they deem it their right to embezzle and pillage the public treasure. They deviously flood their coffers with wads of notes for propaganda and campaigns of the upcoming elections, and for the comfortable life of their succeeding progenies. The primary school education is obligatory to inculcate public know-how at the nitty-gritty level in order to lay the foundations of democracy on sound bedrock. Higher education is one more illusory way to improve the standards of education. It is futile to improve the crown without curing the deadly wounds of the foot. Primary education is the first rung on the ladder of learning but ironically barely literate teachers have been appointed to lay the basis of the nation builders. These frail roots can easily smash up along with the deceptive building. Our myopic policy makers want to erect the citadel of Higher Education without correcting and intensification the base. The top officials of the HEC have granted contracts for provision of equipments to their near and dear ones who have their own trouser to zip. They practice nepotism as the Roman Catholic Popes in the medieval times. Public awareness, responsible freedoms of expression, economic self-reliance, independence of judiciary, strong and impartial election commission to conduct transparent elections are essentials of democracy that are scrawny in developing countries. Due to degradation of the educational and political institutions there is no tolerance to listen opposite views in these nations. Liberal extremists and religious extremists fill this political vacuum due to which budding countries are facing the dilemma of dual whammy of extremisms. The number of moderate people is continuously trimming down. The western countries also do not want democracy in these countries. They always pampered those despotic rulers and authoritarian regimes, which can safeguard their vested interests. Education is lifeline of democracy. Therefore, it withers away in the presence of disgusting vibes of ignorance that is most suitable for nurturing rigorous feudalism and hardhearted despotism. Literacy rate is the gauging parameter of democracy. Democracy is thriving only in those countries in the constellation of nations where education is given the supreme priority and massive resources are pumped for it while it is breathing at a subsistence level in the states where education is thrown to the background and only bare funds are channelized for it. Therefore, the rulers and population of every country should hammer into their minds that democracy and ignorance are irreconcilable. Illiteracy is venomous for democracy while beams of education inject a vibrant blood in its veins. Those who want to establish public rule in an uneducated society through electioneering are living in a cloud cuckoo land. Written By Dr Tanvir Hussain Bhatti, Columnist,Poet and Author of the Book What Plagues Pakistan ?