A discussion on why literacy is at the heart of a nations future

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A discussion on why literacy is at the heart of a nations future

Friday November 30th, This article provoked a spirited response from those that agreed and disagreed with my views. I wrote a follow-up to it addressing questions and concerns brought up in the comments here.

A discussion on why literacy is at the heart of a nations future

Please read it before commenting on this page. Having traveled more than my share of the world, India is the country I liked least, most wanted to leave, and least recommend to others. It is a place that is infinitely more beautiful in photos than reality, frustrated me at every turn, and did little to endear itself.

Herein lies the biggest paradox of India: The development of India would make the rich astronomically richer as it has in China, but the wealthy Indians ignore the crises of their neighbors to their own detriment.

How can you ignore the plight of your neighbors and the poverty all around you? Physicians that are paid to provide free medical care will demand under-the-table payments from suffering patients. Some projects have been approved and funded several times over decades, only to have all the money disappear.

How bad is it? Here are some corruption examples from the BBC: As traffic grinds to a halt the officer charged with controlling intersections can often be found on his phone or drinking chai tea. Never have I ever seen anything like it.

Sadly though I understand why this is. Success in India is based on caste and family, it is about as far from a meritocracy as it gets. While officially castes no longer exist, overcoming tradition is hard to do, as official proclamations do nothing to break the cycle of division by caste.

If someone has a good idea it can be knocked off by someone more connected or able to pay bribes. In most developing countries livestock are carefully tended as they are an investment. In India though people let these very expensive animals roam and scavenge. It does not need to be this way, if money that was allocated to solving these problems made it to projects, more people would be employed and less of these problems would be so acute.

Why would Indians not want to improve their country? This is the problem with corruption, unchecked it grows until it is the system. Those who do not participate only harm themselves.

It will take a true soul-searching and change in the society to overcome these systemic failures. A typical trash strewn waterway. The same people that dump their trash here use the river to bathe, wash clothes, and as a toilet.

Then they pump the water out and use it for drinking water. While much of the world is caught up in the BRICs hypothesis made famous by Goldman Sachs, the author of that report makes it clear that these countries are tied together due to phenomenal growth rates, not end states.

We should do absolutely nothing to change India. They are welcome to have a country however they choose. Well-intentioned foreigners is not what India needs, it needs change to come from within, not from the outside. It is up to them to move forward. What are your thoughts?

Have you been to India?WARNING: This post goes against the social conditioning on education and is particularly lengthy: read if you dare.

A discussion on why literacy is at the heart of a nations future

As my high school career is slowly coming to an end (I graduate June 11th) I have found myself particularly reflective on the value I have received from high-school. To arrive at the edge of the world's knowledge, seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together, and have them ask each other the questions they are asking themselves.


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