Learning from Britain

If I could learn anything

from Britain

anything at all.

I would like to learn

from it – confidence and the power of resolve.

A tiny little country

smaller than the state of Oregon

dared to dream big

and conquer the world

one-fourth of the Earth surrendered

and as more colonies were formed

Britain’s power evolved.

For over a century

the ‘Brits’ ruled the world.

Though there is no denying

the loot and violence they unleashed

but it is also true

that they heralded a new era of being.

Judicial systems, railways and education institutes were born

civil services, postal systems and  armies were built.

And when the time to withdraw came

in their wake they left.

The league of Commonwealth nations

that spoke English, played Cricket and drove left!!!

When I checked my mail early in the morning today, I was greeted with a reminder for the Knowledge is Great contest. Now I do not do contests! Not because I am above them but just because…Well I don’t know!  I guess because I don’t like to feel shackled when writing. And contests by their very nature (Time limits and subject specifications) bind! Anyway, I saw this mail and wrote the above. Surely, not the kind of post the organizers had in mind. But what the heck 😉

On a more serious note. Knowledge truly is great. It ‘un-binds’ people. Setting them free. Giving them  imagination and dreams and also  the skills and power to achieve those dreams. Knowledge is not always acquired while pursuing ‘formal education’. Many great minds have acquired their knowledge outside the traditional systems of learning. In India it is our failing that we often neglect to acknowledge forms of knowledge that are gained outside the traditional ‘school’ and ‘college’ systems. The intimate knowledge that a farmer has of his land. The in-depth knowledge that a village woman has of her customs. The knowledge that a carpenter has of his tools or a potter has of his wheel! Each type of knowledge is to be cherished and valued.  All forms of knowledge deserve to be respected, enshrined and passed on to the future generations. But this can not be done till we learn to respect and value the carriers of this knowledge today. Dignity of labor, is a principle that many western countries observe and implement including Britain. And we should too.  I believe that while most educational courses offered in countries like UK are also available in India today. Studying  abroad can teach a sensitive student much more important stuff – How to do ones own work, respect workers and support staff like cleaners/ drivers/ guards, value money, follow civic rules, stand in queues etc.

What do you think is the biggest gain of an education abroad?


8 Comments Add yours

  1. Love your poem.I feel being educated abroad gives us a broader perspective and inculcate values such as being independent to us. We also embrace a global perspective in opening up to new people in a brand new surrounding.
    Cheers n Good day

    1. How true vishal. It is sad that young Indians do not get to travel ass much. A long trip to a faroff place is considered almost a rite of passage in many countries. The trend is catching on here too but I guess finances are a big constrain for Indians.

  2. have only been educated here in Britain when the flame of empire was a glowing ember. Travelling abroad would have added many more facets to the narrow, polished stone of education. Would love to be young and free enough to visit India for a while – as well as learn Spanish in Spain
    your charming poem is most apt for the recent independence anniversary
    p.s. that power of resolve you mention was taught in schools with the twin disciplines of obedience and self-denial. We could use it today for other things but it has vanished

    1. Dear laura,

      I agree with you that travelling abroad for education is an asset for students from all countries. Just like an Indian child would gather much from an exposure to UK or USA so would a British child learn from a stint in India. Travel is the best teacher in many ways.
      Learning Spanish in Spain!!! now that’s a dream worth pursuing. I hope you get a chance to do both – learn the Spanish and visit us in India 🙂 There is also a time when one is ‘old and free’. I am leaving all my backlog from the young and free
      for that phase 😉

  3. An abstract essay… with an incisive question at the end. Thank God I wasn’t reading another mish-mash of univ promos…

    Arvind Passey

  4. The poem, yes all of it. Unleashed terrible on people and nations while at the same time brought great wealth, infrastructure and in some cases bettered the human condition.

    1. That is right valentine! The more we see the world the more we realize that nothing is completely good or evil. Isn’t it? For India and countries like India that were ruled by outsiders . The foreign rulers though much hated also brought some positive change. It is inevitable – There is a silver lining to every cloud

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