CHENNAI: Pink Floyd said that we don’t need no education. Kiran Bedi did them one better by saying we don’t need no politician.
During an open and outspoken session at TNIE’s ThinkEdu Conclave, the education activist, former top cop and the incumbent Puducherry Lieutenant Governor said that what we really needed was more leaders and not politicians. “This country is creating more politicians than community leaders. We need more community leaders at the grassroots. Politicians are not what we really need because all they do is divide and rule,” she said
Gautami Tadimalla, actor and activist, agreed and added, “The strength behind a youngster’s voice is incredible,” and urged them to bridge the “unforgivable” gap between rural and urban education.
During the last few months in Puducherry, Bedi has been locked in a tussle with Puducherry’s Chief Minister V Narayanasamy over clearing files to implement the government’s welfare agenda. Perhaps this, combined with the freebie culture that Tamil Nadu and Puducherry have been faulted for, are what prompted Bedi to speak out harshly. “We need people who do not create dependence, but push for self-reliance. That’s why people are waiting with a bowl. Giving free rice and free this and free that is fine, but why give it to people who don’t need it and make them dependent?”
Gautami took this opportunity to frame the new definition of education: “Education has to be something imparting information and empowering children with intellectual means to process that information to finally make it knowledge by themselves,” she said. And in order to do this, the focus needs to be on the curriculum.
During the question hour, a student asked Bedi for tips to clear the UPSC exam, Bedi continued in the same vein, telling her point blank, “Aspire for a position to serve, not occupy. If that’s in your DNA, the country will benefit. If you don’t, you’re a burden on the taxpayer. So make that choice,” she said to applause.
She went on to add, “Your intention is the key. Always follow the rules. It is not red tape. You need to interpret it correctly and to do that your intention is important.” And Gautami, who considers Bedi as the “epitome of leadership”, reemphasized this by citing Bedi’s example of how the former IPS officer still refers to her IPS manuals when caught in a conflict.