Raisa Ansari, a vegetable vendor in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, has been the talk of the town on social media. She sells vegetables from a handcart. When the administration forbade her to do so, she replied in fluent English to the authorities. Further, everyone was pleasantly surprised when they came to know that she had a Ph.D. in physics. People thought it strange that a Ph.D. sells vegetables and speaks fluent English. This video went viral on social media and received a lot of likes and comments.
Raisa Ansari is not the first woman to come into such limelight. When an elderly Bihar worker criticised the Government’s policies in English, he became a topic of discussion among people. Many such videos are aired in India. At one point, a beggar was seen communicating in English. Going even further, video of an uneducated Rajasthani woman interacting in English with foreigners at the Pushkar fair went viral.
Raisa Ansari, on Thursday, protested claiming #municipal authorities were harassing #vegetable vendors in #Indore. Her fluent #English has stunned all. She claims to have completed a PhD in Material Science from Indore's Devi Ahilya University. pic.twitter.com/m7MChDLt2K
— Pratiba Raman (@PratibaRaman) July 24, 2020
The common link in the chain of all these videos is that ‘vegetable vendors’, ‘workers’ or ‘uneducated women living in rural areas’ speak English, which people appreciated more. This means that some people in India are still under the impression that only those who wear western dresses or have a western mindset can speak English; whereas, others cannot speak it. Therefore when ordinary people communicate in English, society still looks at it with awe. This mentality needs to change now. Society is still not ready to accept this openly. Going even further, nobody is yet ready to discuss why in Indian society, a Ph.D. in physics is compelled to sell vegetables or a degree-holder needs to work as a daily-wager. Will Indians think about this before forwarding such ‘videos’ ?
No appropriation of qualification
Raisa Ansari said that she holds a Ph.D. from Devi Ahilyabai University. This raised many questions such as whether Ansari is speaking the truth, is physics taught in this University, etc. Ansari’s claim may be false; however, will it solve the root problem ? Selling vegetables when one has good education or drives a cart selling snacks is not an indication of inferiority. Some time ago, it was also reported that a couple who are IT engineers had quit their high-salaried jobs and started a tea shop and earned good money. Therefore, it is not incumbent on those who are Ph.D., engineers or post-graduates to serve in big establishments. Anyone can take up an occupation that makes him happy. No work is superior or inferior; however if one does not get a job he is looking for despite his ability or education, it is a matter of concern.
It is a fact that no one can guarantee that a smart student will get a well-paying job if he studies hard and becomes an engineer. In India, the average student spends more than Rs. 8,000 per year on preliminary education and more than Rs. 72,000 on higher education. Therefore, despite spending so much on education, if it is not possible to make both ends meet, it is essential to find out the flaws in the system and take corrective action.
Learn from Israel !
We should learn how to defeat enemies from Israel, as well as follow their ideal on how to mould students to develop the country. When compared with the world, the proportion of students doing Ph.D. or taking higher education is more in Israel. Israel is the leader in using modern technology. The Government is of the view that education imparted to the students should at least help them get a job. Therefore, modern technology is not taught cursorily in schools, but in-depth training is imparted to students. The education sector has played an important role in the economic development of Israel. Therefore, Israel is developing rapidly.
Is such a holistic view taken by the Indian system ? The extent to which lessons taught in engineering or other courses are useful in actual life is a debatable matter. If any individual does not get an opportunity to participate in research work or be a professor in an educational institution but is forced to earn living by selling vegetables or become a clerk, what is the use of such education ? The videos which show a graduate beggar or a daily-wage worker speaking English should not be viewed as mere entertainment. Such videos expose the unpardonable flaws in the Indian education system.
It is unfortunate that neither the Ministry of Manpower Development nor the Department of Education of India has taken any action in this regard. Today, educated youth in India are increasingly going abroad for a better future. If this is to be prevented, the education sector must first be strengthened. The concerned Government agencies seem to be indifferent to this. The video of the Ph.D. woman selling vegetables draws our attention to this apathy of the Government system. It is unfortunate that we do not look at this phenomenon correctly !