Mediocrity is the new excellence
Excellence is being replaced by mediocrity… and we’re OK with that?
“There are lies, damned lies… and then there are statistics.”
A famous quote by Mark Twain which, in my view, continues to hold sway across the world.
Through history, leaders, politicians, businessmen… well almost everyone quotes statistics to back their decisions and actions. And nowhere is it more pronounced, than in present day India.
We have a new government. We have new hopes and aspirations.
But unfortunately, populist and so-called positive actions, are being tom-tommed to overshadow some fundamentally wrong thinking.
An article in the Times of India corroborates this. (click here)
It is easy, in the euphoria of positive sentiment, to overlook small mistakes that will mushroom into bigger issues later.
While the stated intention of this action is to make education more accessible to a larger base of students, this only lowers the entry bar. It does not create more seats or opportunities to cater to any additional students. All that this action will achieve, will be to lower the benchmark of achievement.
And when this happens in the premier engineering institution in India, we are actually improving our statistics, not by providing better education, but by lowering the level of education, so that a higher number of people can ‘qualify’ for admission at the IITs.
At the same time, India is gearing up to compete with the world. Gone are the days, when the rest of the world turned a blind eye to our ‘Chalta Hai’ attitude.
We are increasingly expected to compete globally, on global terms. We will need to increase our output. We will need to improve our ROI. We will need to personify excellence, dependability and represent world-class products and services.
For a while now, we have been facing a double-edged sword of demographic dividend. We have the world’s largest youth population. And this population needs education to improve their employability.
The steps taken today, will decide whether this lot of youth will lead India into becoming the superpower of tomorrow, or into a state of anarchy.
Against such a backdrop, lowering the bar among the top institutes would only lead to an acceptance of sub standard performance benchmarks. And this acceptance will eventually work against us, our reputations and our attractiveness to global businesses, for creation of employment opportunities here.
We wish to change the image of being the back office of the world. But the actions we are taking betray an unwillingness to change the status quo.
How can we achieve the ‘Make in India’ dream, if we do not nurture and create brilliant minds that can take this dream forward?
There are two ways to show an improvement in performance. The first is to create quality education opportunities for a larger number of students. The second is to redefine what constitutes achievement.
The latter is the easier way out. And unfortunately the decisions being made in lowering educational norms, instead of increasing the capacity for quality education, seem to fit firmly into this line of thought.
Yes, it would help to improve the statistical presentations made by the powers that be, in presenting their impact analysis to the citizens of this country. But, it would also set off a time-bomb, which will explode in the faces of its makers, in the near future.
To quote Isaac Newton… ‘Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.’
I sincerely hope that we, as Indians, will be able to deal with the reactions to these actions.