A Chinese proverb says, “Do not tear down the east to repair the west.” Today, I stand in a college known for its perseverance, in a province known for its bravery, in a country known for its talent, its determination. But yet what I see is a race amongst the youth of this wonderful nation to move out, to leave the country, to go abroad, to the U.S. perhaps which is so known as ‘the land of opportunities’. Why so?
Why has a phenomenon such as ‘brain drain’ come into existence? Why do we strive to get into programmes such as the Fulbright scholarships? Why do we want to leave and why is the west readily accepting us?
From raiding the libraries of Alexandria in the 7th century to setting up universities in the 15th and 16th, the west has prospered leaving us in a wake of their trail. They capitalised on our strength — education.
My question is as to where does the present disparity come from? If natural resources were the only factor deciding the significance of a region, then probably the Middle East would have been the ‘land of opportunities.’ But this is not the case, is it? Why, because even with those vast resources we see the Middle East bowing down before the west. They can’t even exploit their own resources without depending on the west and this is because the west holds a much stronger power over them — the power of enlightenment.
In the status quo, the west stands on that pedestal, a position it has gotten through decades and centuries of striving and investment of oneself, whereas we were too busy finding ways to make cheap money.
If you are enlightened, knowledgeable, a scholar, you can harness it into obtaining worldly wealth. Money, wealth, dollars are dependent on smart knowledge, a cult status of a scholar. It’s not the other way round.
It’s true that we do need scholars but not in the traditional sense where a scholar is made simply by completing a degree programme.
Sure, in the present day and age you can get yourself a degree to boast about. However, is it a simple degree programme or simple rote-learning that mints out scholars?
Sir Claus Moser once said, “Education costs money, but then so does ignorance.”
These days, we don’t educate ourselves. Most of us take the quickest and cheapest method to earn degrees which, we hope, will make us more marketable in the career world. The focus is not on the learning aspect, it’s on achieving the monetary success.
There is plenty of degree holding individuals who have made it through an international college programme and yet have no idea how to think, what to do or how to do it?
A scholar is a force, a person unlike any other. He is someone who has the ability to think on his own, to problem-solve, to lead the way. He may have a degree or he may not even have that.
A scholar is a source of light that serves as a guide and it has been through scholars that many a civilisation has been raised from the depths of ignorance and poverty to gleaming prosperity and riches. Take the example of Japan, all ruined but stood up and joined the race only with the reins of knowledge pulled by scholars. From Ibn-e-Batuta to Aristotle to Albert Einstein, it is the potential of a scholar that surpasses the intrinsic value of a dollar. That’s why we need to correct ourselves.