a long ride to nowhere

On the day when millions of young Indians set out to write their class XII Board examinations, a TV channel aired the story of Samant Singh Rao, once a part time lecturer in Panna (Madhya Pradesh) and a proud recipient of two masters degree. A series of misfortunes led to his losing his job.

Armed with his degrees got after much toil, this son of a poor farmer set out to India's capital city, confident that his education would get him a job. After a long search all he managed was to get a cycle rickshaw he now plies in the university area, and eeks a few thousand precious rupees that barely feed his two children back home. And to save his money, he simply sleeps on his rickshaw at night.

Samant Singh Rao is a living example of the of our state our education system where on the one hand education is branded as a panacea to all ills, while on the other useless degrees are handed out to unsuspecting candidates.

Samant Singh Rao has two Masters degree, one in history and the other in political science, and yet they seem to be useless in his quest to get a job. He is still holding on to his dreams, and maybe as a result of his brief appearance on TV someone may reach out to him. But what about all the others who clutch such degrees and wander the streets looking for employment.

We have had many come our way, and though they had the coveted piece of paper, they were often unable to pass the simple test we give any prospective teacher. And each time I come by a Samant Singh Rao, I feel terribly sad. I can imagine the hopes pinned on this child by parents who must have worked hard to ensure that their child gets an education, and can almost sense the pride they must have felt when the child succeeded in one exam after the other. And yet at the end of the day they it seems like a long journey to nowhere, almost an absurd play that Brecht could have written.

Third rate education is an impediment as often there is no going back to where you came from. Somehow the years spent learning have robbed of the right to revert to where you began. Expectations remain high and somehow it almost becomes a matter of honour. I wonder if Samant's family know how the money the postman brings is earned.

Just this morning, as I drove to work, a police tow van was towing away two cycle rickshaws, and the two owners ran behind the van pleading for mercy. I believe that some ply without licenses and that is considered illegal. I also wondered whether any of the two had a heart rendering story to share.