Currently one of my primary interest is sustainability, understanding the impact of our current development and lifestyle choices to the planet and its people.
In my exploration on this topic, I encountered the concept of economics and politics at many junctures and since I do not have a deep understanding of the same, I decided to read a little and understand these concepts.
I started with Economics - I picked up a economics textbook of class 4. Reading through the first two chapters, I felt a sense of surprise.
The chapters talk about human as a resource, when a human is invested into they turn from a liability to a asset to the country. When we invest into the "education" and "health" of a young child then they will be an asset to the country and contribute to the GDP and growth. This gave me a weird feeling, being talked about as if I am pawn in a large game of development.
What I read further is what troubled me the most.
I quote the textbook " for many decades in India, a large population has been considered a liability rather than an asset, but that can change by investment in human capital. The textbook talked about a scenario of two village boys - one boy Ram , who got the opportunity of education and became a software engineer, improving the quality of life in his house and adding to the development of the country. While on the other hand the other boy Sham had no father, his mother sold fish to earn. Sham had arthritis and due to less money in the house, he was not given proper medical facility or education. He grew up to do the "unskilled labour" work of selling fish.
I acknowledge that there is poverty in the country and a lot of people suffer from poverty, but a textbook is teaching a young child of 9 that selling fish is lower than being a software engineer. It is telling the child that a large population of India is a liability, that all the farmers, cobblers, fishermen, artisan and so on are a burden to the country till they get "educated", till they use the modern technology and contribute to the "development of our country".
The child who may never have been to a village, now looks at a villager as poor, now looks at a village as a place to bring change and development. Living in a village myself, I can tell that they do not need us to change them, do not need us to bring upon them our ideas of development. The villagers are our country's biggest asset, they are the one who are providing to the development of the country and keeping all the economists tummy's full and life comfortable.
Now I understand why we can't respect a barber for what he does, because that what "education" is giving to us. Of course I am not blaming the textbook or education completely, I did learn a few concepts of economics from the textbook. I agree with the textbook, that when a child is given good education, medical facilities and good quality of life he/she can be a asset to our country, forget country to the world but the question is what kind of education?
What kind of medical facility - a facility that makes our bodies dependable on tablets and injections and is heavy on our pocket??
And lastly what kind of development do we want ? Where our mindset is that selling fish is unskilled labour and an unskilled labour leads a life of poverty and illness? I don't think this approach towards betterment will ever make us reach a world educated, healthy and happy people.