Saturday, November 25, 2006

Will Education Ever Change Evil Practices?

I wrote this blog a few days ago about equal respect for jobs in the US. The comments I got in that section were like “things are changing in India with better education and better exposure and things will change in the future”.

Does education alone change the society? Don’t the educated people have the will power to make the change? How many of the educated people are ready to break the tradition?

Here is a TRUE STORY of my friend. Read this and make your own conclusions. Seeing him I feel at times what is the purpose of education if one cannot come out of the evil practices in the society?

I don’t want to reveal the identity of my friend. Except the name and place all the things in this write up are true.

This is about my friend Mr. T, who came to US with me (in 2001) for his MS. He hails from a remote village in Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu. He came here to pursue his Masters in Computer Science. I never knew him well till he graduated in 2003. That was the time when market was down in US and getting a job was very tough.

My friend also didn’t get a job and he didn’t have any money with him. We were roommates then. Somehow we managed things. During that time we become very close. He was telling me the pathetic stories of his village.

In their place most people earn their living by lending money. They charge hefty interest on these loans. He was telling me that even film producers from Chennai come to their village to take loans. His father was also joined into that business. But his fathers’ business soon failed after he came to the US. He was telling me that you need to be a rowdy to run that business these days and his father was not capable of stooping to that level.

All his childhood friends dropped out of school had become moneylenders and became rich. My friend went to Mepco, passed out with flying colors and got admission to UA. But his father wanted him to stay back in his hometown and continue with the family business.

When he graduated, he didn’t have money and his fathers’ business failed back in India. The responsibility of looking after his whole family was on him. He was desperate for a job and managed to get a job with great difficulty.

Once he got a job he used to send all the money he got to India. He never bought anything for himself. He led a life in poverty, as he doesn’t have any money to spend once he sends the money to India. I asked him why he needed to send this much money to India.

He has a sister and to marry her off they have to pay at least 50 lakhs as dowry. The marriage is fixed based on the money the bride’s parents can give and only then the girl and the boy meet! His father wants to marry his daughter by paying 50 lakhs to keep up his social status. And the irony is that he doesn’t have any savings or earnings. He wants his son to send all this money. My friend being an obedient son sends all his earnings to India.

Now after he somehow managed the money his father started thinking about his marriage. Now his father is negotiating with possible bride’s parents’. My friend wants to marry some girl who has at least finished her 12th grade so that she is capable of understanding English and can bring her to the US. But for his father nothing other than money matters, not even looks. The girl should somehow look like a girl and her parents should win the auction for his son. That is all his father cares. My friend was telling me that he might have to marry a girl who has only primary education and looks ugly.

I asked him why he couldn’t try and convince his father about the need for marrying an educated girl at least. He was telling me that there was no point in telling all this stuff to his father. It seems it is part of their tradition.

This made me think- if my friend who is educated cannot convince his father and change the tradition then

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

In a deaf man's ear...?

Frustrating story. If your friend doesn't have the backbone to stand up for himself and use sense after everything he himself went through, then his character is the problem.

Sadly, I suppose this is the case with most people in eastern society. I think, more than education, courage and good values bring about social reforms. Both are not taught in schools.


November 25, 2006 6:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I understand what you mean but I think you are confusing the whole article in the conclusion. Your friend is educated not his parents. If an educated man cannot make his parents see the logic then you cannot blame "EDUCATION" for that.

November 25, 2006 6:11 AM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

The education alone cannot change the society. AS you mentioned you need the guts and good values to bring about social reforms.

Anon@10.11 PM
IN one of my previous post the comments were education can bring all the changes. The purpose of the post was education alone cannot bring about change in the society.

November 25, 2006 7:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is not the point of being educated or not. It is ultimately about taking care parents are not getting hurt in the process. Everybody should take one step at a time. The best thing an education do is making sure you are able to make the decision in your generation and move forward from then on.

November 25, 2006 9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Academic knowledge alone is of no great value. It may help one to earn a livelihood. But, education should go beyond the preparation for earning a living. It should prepare one for the challenges of life morally and spiritually. It is because human values are absent in "educated" persons that we find them steeped in anxiety and worry.
i feel that ur friend needs to be told that he should not be exploited. being exposed to the developed culture of US he shpuld raise his voice against his father and the orthodox culture for his own better future.

November 25, 2006 2:54 PM  
Blogger mathew said...

sad tale..poor chap is in a vicious circle where he has to take a choice between his obligations to parents and his own career..Unfortunately there is no middle path..he has to take the choice..however hard it be..the choice one in which logic and sense should take precedence!!

November 25, 2006 4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You are right "Education alone cannot change the society"

All I am saying is you cannot relate the education of your friend to his parents understanding??

These are two different scenarios.

The correct way to prove your view point would be to relate your friends education to something wrong your friend is doing on his own....Not because of his parents force....

November 25, 2006 8:00 PM  
Anonymous Madhan said...

The article summarize the need for education in our society except for the conclusion. I firmly believe Education will definetely change the evil practices. In the article the education level of the father is not mentioned, I assume the father was not educated. You can immediately see the differance education has brought in the son. Father values money to be the most important one from his experience. Nothing wrong with it. That is what he learnt from his life long struggle. Son has a differant view. He is little more broadminded. Education did that. Education is the only thing that will improve the standard of living of a society. But it takes time. We should wait till the entire decision taking people in a society is educated. That is the differance in the US. We are surrounded by friends and families (observe that 99% will be indians) who are educated and our standard of living here is much higher that that in India. Patience and have faith in the system

November 26, 2006 5:04 PM  
Anonymous sarath said...

I think somebody already put this comment... your friend may be educated but not his parents. Your friend is able to see the flaw in all this because he is educated, but his parents are not able to see because they are not educated. I don't think such extreme cases are happening in a better educated society , say in kerala. I am not saying dowry is completely absent..but I don't think parents will go blind over it.

Also, are you sure you are not making a generalisation based on one example?

November 26, 2006 6:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like anon1 said, I think T lacks a backbone. He also lacks the tenacity to explain to his illiterate parents what he really needs. And most of all, he lacks guts. If he was any smart (and knew this was coming), he'd have found Ms.Right and married her by now, and dealt with the parents later. He proly wants the money as well ;)

Education can give you the perspective to see that this whole situation is all wrong, but sadly it cannot give you a backbone. That one, you have to be born with.


November 27, 2006 2:51 AM  
Blogger Prasanna said...

I see that many have already made this point.But I ll emphasize that anyway. The very fact that the son thinks it is not right to take dowry and blindly marry someone, is a positive effect of education.This thought is what needs to be ingrained into the society.I think education is a good route to take to do that.Most of the NGOs in India prefer to tackle illeteracy in the society first since that would enable them to handle bigger issues like lack of awareness,hygiene and self-help. So your story is not the right way to prove that education will not bring about change. From your story I am only forced to think that your friend was not stubborn in his stance as he did not show enough faith in what he believed in.

November 27, 2006 5:11 AM  
Anonymous Rathi said...

This is a singlar story , which cannot be generalised.In India , it is the socio-cultural aspects that are making a person rather than education alone-it is the samskaram. In the instant case the boy is so filled with his responsibilities, may be thats how he was brought up, he is forgetting all the valuable things he has learnt from the outer world and has lost sense of its application to his own self.
at least , let us tell him to be strong for making his own life.

November 27, 2006 5:45 AM  
Blogger abhishek said...


I agree with some other commentors here in that the situation ultimately boils down to freedom of choice. Mr. T has all the freedom to pick and choose his own girl (albeit, I know the difficulty of doing that as well personally). In believing that he should follow his father's beliefs he is no better than him, because ultimately, it is your actions that count and not your self-awoved principles. I would encourage Mr. T to search out a girl on his own even if his father can't come around to seeing his perspective. Believe me, once they start living together, Mr. T runs a high risk of being dissatisfied and ultimately ruining his life by being forced with an incompatible girl. It is better to do the necessary now rather than repent and have to face either a life of regret or go through a divorce later.

The truth is that education by itself won't liberate people. Education is a means to social and physical mobility in that it allows people to see the world. But if the latter is not possible, then people will remain as the proverbial frogs in the well despite how "educated" they are. I know plenty of bachelor's and master's degree holders in Kerala who think and act as if they are puppets on strings, but don't have the courage to wake up and fight. That won't change unless they get/find support from other quarters.

I think you've already told him all this, but maybe you can show him the comments on this post (if that's not offensive) to see how other people would take the issue.

November 27, 2006 7:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Culture and the caste in which a person is born, shapes the back bone of the person.
Education liberates the mind to think and act.
I believe in "Mr.T's" case the culture and his ethics have superseded his rational thinking or better still Mr.T has chosen to honor his culture and his ways.
I feel bad for people who have criticized, he didn't have the nerve stand up against the parent.
But if he/she has chosen to respect the parents views, i admire them and respect him and wish him well.

In life I wish he has and will have to stand up for him self, and when it happens I really hope the father understands the son.


November 27, 2006 8:19 PM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

I have forwarded all the comments to my friend. Let him read all these and decide what is good for him.

November 28, 2006 7:21 AM  
Blogger Jiby said...

your friend has to change the situation for is his life, not his dads, its really surprising a guy who has lived in the US for so long has not had even a little of this liberal free-thinking societies attitudes rub into him. i am not against arranged marriages but seriously an educated, well-to-do guy who cant have his choice of a seriously something is wrong with him...tell him to show more courage.

brijesh, sorry if i am rude to your friend...these are the kinds of attitudes we guys have criticized so much on our blogs...i just lose my patience.

November 30, 2006 8:17 AM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

this was exactlywhat I use to tell him. It is ur life and if you are act without thinking that you will suffer.I have forwarded this also to him.

December 04, 2006 4:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Education in India emphasises on eradication of social evils like Dowry and Sati from a very young age. Still people don't understand. Indian government has even passed laws banning giving or recieving Dowry. But still people go against the law. And unfortunately most of these people call themselves educated. On the other hand if one looks at the NGO's working against dowry. he'll find that most of the people are uneducated.

As someone already said education is not enough to bring about a change. One needs a human heart.

May be the guy has got obligations towards his parents, but for that should he let them commit this crime? By this he is failing in his duty as a son. He knows that if the authorities come to know, they could land uo in the jail.

December 05, 2006 5:11 PM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

Dowry is most prevalent among educated people.

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