Wednesday, August 4, 2021
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The essence of education

If you can read this, you are literate; but are you educated? For an educated person is not one who has mastered the three “R”s, nor is he one who has achieved the pinnacle of academic achievement in his chosen field. An educated person is one who has instilled in him the, oftentimes unspoken, but nevertheless, more important values of life, like ethical and principled behaviour.
For the ultimate purpose of education is to shape society so that we may build a better future, without repeating the mistakes of the past. Unfortunately, the academic institutions of present day India are hellbent on cramming as much information into our children, so that they may make a good living, without understanding that the quality of a person’s life is not determined by how much he makes, but on the balance between freedom and orderliness of the society he lives in.
The purpose of the Congregation of The Christian Brothers, founded by Edmund Ignatius Rice, an Irishman, was to bring education to poor Irish boys. It has grown into an international network of educational institutions, with, to my knowledge, four in India. I was fortunate to have done my schooling at St. Edmund’s College (School Dept.) at Shillong from ’71 to ’81 and if there is one thing I learned, it was to abhor “bullying”.
Bullying is when someone hurts or frightens another who is smaller, younger or less powerful. The Irish, who had, for centuries, been invaded, occupied and ruled by their more powerful neighbour, Great Britain, who were the ultimate bullies, had a deep rooted abhorrence of bullying. In Edmund’s, there was zero tolerance for bullying. Cases of bullying were handled, personally, by the Principal of the school. In fact, fraternizing between students of higher and lower classes, was kept to a minimal, even among brothers.
It is unfortunate that the literate of India don’t seem to realise the numerous ways in which our citizens are being bullied by our governments. When, as a parliamentary democracy, we have the legislature and executive rolled up into one, it becomes extremely difficult to assert our rights and our last recourse is the judiciary. But it is a tragedy that some Justices, whether for advancement, post-retirement benefits or God knows what, turn a deaf ear to cries for justice.
In this scenario, the recent judgements by Chief Justice Biswanath Somadder and Justice H.S. Thangkhiew, of the Meghalaya High Court and Justice Michael Zothankhuma and Justice Nelson Sailo of the Mizoram High Court, against the Covid Vaccine Policies of the Governments of Meghalaya and Mizoram, herald the assertion of the Judiciary in its rightful role as the third branch of government. For the Judiciary is the third and most important pillar of any democratic government, and its purpose is to interpret laws, not to be the pet dog of the Executive.
These Honourable Justices have not only imbibed the essence of education, but have displayed courage for fighting for the voiceless. Their judgements bear testament to the core principle that a just and enlightened society is one in which the voice and will of the governed prevail over the governors.
I’m certain that the Christian Brothers will be proud that Justice Thangkhiew and Justice Zothankhuma stood up to the bullies.

Kahuto Chishi Sumi
Akukau (G.B.) Hevishe Village, Khaghaboto Range

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