The education that man needs is only to make him fit to live his life in freedom. To spread education to the masses is as difficult an effort as spreading communism in our country of India.
The people of a land should first of all be educated if they are to seek progress, to lead a good and cultured life and to gain a proper understanding in the spheres of politics, economics and industry.
Only education, self-respect and rational qualities will uplift the down-trodden.
Teachers should first teach the students what self-respect is; and what courage, dignity and equality are. Students should be taught to love people.
It is as dangerous for people to support scriptural scholars (pundits) as using a burning stick to scratch an itching scalp; they have no alternative means of livelihood; and therefore we should be ever watchful in our contact with these pundits.
If teachers are to be useful, they should be capable of free thinking to some extent at least, and also have some degree of respect for reason.
Teachers, parents, officers-all should try to foster good conduct, discipline, fairness and honesty among students.
Great teachers, instead of converting young men into men of religion, should try hard to make them men of knowledge.
Why should any one, in the name of caste, be considered lowly or be made to do a mean job? If all in the country are given education, can there exist a caste for doing mean work? Is it not because of lack of education that those people are constrained to do contemptible work and are considered lowly?
Just as it is fair to provide the necessities of food, clothes and shelter to those who are without these, so it is fair to provide education to those who do not have it.
It is not temples that we need today, but schools. Knowledge can bring about many miracles. Therefore, we do need today schools that will be the basis for imparting knowledge.
Our educational system should change. A trade should be learnt along with academic study. Even if one discontinues his studies in any class, he should be able to eke out a living by a trade. People should be familiar with some trade.
Schools, promote literacy and knowledge in a particular field. But the library fosters awareness of general knowledge in all spheres. Schools and institutions of higher learning will enlarge knowledge only to a certain extent. whoever administers them, they are subject to rules and regulations.
The benefit of learning cannot be fully derived from these kinds of institutions. Only libraries can compensate for this drawback. In fine, libraries are indeed a University.
It is essential that education in our country should have two cardinal aims. Firstly, education should foster rationality and feelings of self respect. Secondly it should be conducive to a better life through a job or trade.
What is education for? For knowledge. And what is knowledge for? To enable man to live humanely, so that he lives to serve his fellowmen, in honour and without causing hardship to others.
Care should be taken first of all in inculcating discipline among pupils at school. That alone is important. Next only is education. How to conduct oneself properly is what should be taught first. Good conduct alone makes one a cultured man in later life.
If I were the country’s administrator, I would exact heavy taxes in order to develop it on the right lines. The poor spend whatever is given to them. So, instead of giving them money, their children can be educated out of tax revenue.
Care should be taken to see that books alluding to bad conduct, superstition and social ills do not enter schools or politics.
Edit the poems of Bharathidasan, and prescribe them as texts, as suited to each class at school. Knowledge that can normally be gained in five years can be had in a year, by reading them.
Many think that only seeing God and seeking salvation is enlightenment or knowledge. As this thought is fed from childhood, the student remains ever confused.
The great traits students should follow are: proper conduct, honesty, fairness, doing good to others and not being a hindrance to others. These are for us higher than God.
Discipline alone is very important to children. Fostering it is our paramount duty.
Boys and girls at school should not think it a privilege to wear fashionable attire or costly jewellery, but should wear only simple clothes. At seats of learning where all pupils mix, there should be no discriminations.
Students should not waste their school-life, as it is very, very precious. Their mind should not be distracted by any event outside. Particularly, students should not participate in agitations.
Boys and girls ruin their lives by buying and reading obscene books. They should buy and read books of profound thought and knowledge and imbibe the spirit of inquiry.
First of all, students should be obedient to teachers. Next they should learn discipline. Next only come the lessons at school.
If there is no ‘high’ or ‘low’ by birth or by riches, there will also be no ‘high’ or ‘low’ among the rulers and the ruled. This is the apprehension of kings.
Members of the Legislative Assembly should consider the Government as a structure for social good, and as a true spokesman and representative of the people, and not as a means for power, or for occupying positions of honour.
The prevalent desire for the existence of a political administration to look after the good of the people is because the rich should not tyrannize over the poor, the bad should not disturb the good or the meek, and the hardy chieftains should not rob the common folk.
For a proper conduct of the administration, the administrators themselves should be honest. There should be a rule that those who break law and order, should be declared unfit for administration and be disqualified from contesting elections.
Only those who want to earn wealth by hook or crook become dignitaries, and only those who want to destroy Socialism by any means are in the lime light. Such people should be prevented by law from finding a place in politics and in democratic rule and administration.
Politics does not concern itself with who should rule us. It is about what kind of rule people should have.
A nation or a society is governed in the interest of the welfare of the people of the land, and not the welfare of the administrator.
A Government that tries to transfer its own responsibilities to the people or their representatives, is guilty of shirking its obligations, and evading its duties. Whatever form of politics is introduced today in our country, it should be conducive to the creation of social equality and unity.
I would not call the rule of even a hideous brute a greater indignity or drawback, over a people who read with pious reverence the tale in the Ramayana that our land was administered for 14 years by a pair of sandals. Whether man or animal be ruling, my concern is only about the principles, the kind of administration and the benefits that the people derive.
The duty of officers is that they should serve the people honestly and impartially, and conduct themselves with sympathy and understanding.
For the sake of the welfare of people, any Government must use repressive measures. A Government that lacks these measures is a chaotic, atrociously uncivilized, anarchist Government.
As long as the rich and the poor exist, practices like bribery and beggary will never cease.
Only when the principle of capitalism goes, and communism comes into being, can corruption be put an end to. Without that, talking about the abolition of corruption is equivalent to preaching the laws of Manu, the Hindu fanatic.
A democratic life is that which should prevail among cultured people. A revolution is that which destroys and changes from the base. Therefore, this society should bring about very drastic changes in the spheres of politics and religion.
The rule of the people is the true principle of democracy. There should be intelligent, and reasonably honest and disciplined people for such a ‘democracy’.
Rightly or wrongly, there obtains in India a democratic rule. But party-rule makes a mockery of it. On seeing this, what will people of other nations think? Should not democrats be ashamed?
Everyone has the right to refute any opinion of any other person. But no one has the right to prevent the expression of that opinion.
Rivalry should last only till the election. Once it is over, both the ruling and opposition members should join hands to carry on the affairs of the Government. Only then some good can be done for the people.
Dictators brook no opposition, and they force their decisions on all. In such countries, people do not tend to think on their own and there is no freedom for them to act on their own.
None can declare that a country has secured political freedom unless it has achieved social reforms and social unity.
Politics is a means to end social evils. Society does not need politics that has no bearing on social work.
The real service through politics is to serve society.
If genuine politics is to flourish, human qualities should be fostered. There should be discipline and honesty. People should feel the need for showing compassion to others.
If the Administration is not able to function properly, owing to party squabbles and agitations, it is only the people who will suffer.
Because our Government seeks and trusts only Graduates, instead of utilizing the services of men with talent and industrial acumen, there is industrial loss, and industrial progress is retarded.
Those who contrive to acquire money, fame and position through politics, are like a wasting disease of society.
People should contemplate whether our society is fit for freedom or democracy, in the context of frequent floor-crossings, plots to topple ministries, and the occurence of lawlessness.
Source : Collected Works of Periyar E.V.R.