Look at how civilizations have evolved in different parts of the world, reached their zenith and decayed in to oblivion. Did teachers have any role in this?
Leaders at all times had the good fortune of learning at the feet of Great Masters. Indian mythology and history is replete with scores of examples of how our greatest heroes were shaped by great masters like sage Vashistha, Dronacharya, Chanakya, etc.
Alexander the Great was tutored by the philosopher Aristotle, the student of Plato.
It is metaphorically said that “the battle of Waterloo was won on the fields of Eton”. History would tell that this idiom is based on actual facts. The grand old British traditions of discipline and capacity to suffer hardships with fortitude made the British students believe that they were superior beings born to rule over the world. The result was establishment of British Empire stretching from Canada to Australia. Distancing from these values by the British and emergence of higher order of leadership based on superior knowledge like that of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela proved to be contributory factors in disappearance of the Empire.
The leadership of the world has always gone to nations which were in the forefront of knowledge generation, continuous technology up gradation and innovations in the field of manufacturing, trade, finance, construction, architecture, medicine, planning, management, art, music, culture, etc.
Creative and imaginative teachers were at the root of European Renaissance of 13th to 16th centuries ,Industrial Revolution in 18th and 19th centuries and development of internet, e mail ,facebook,whatsapp and the like in late 20th and early 21st century. Most probably, the first email system was used at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1965.
Even the theoretical foundations of various economic systems- capitalism, socialism and communism, – and their underlying rationale was built by economic and management philosophers like Adam Smith, , Karl Marx , Keynes, Schumpeter, Peter Drucker and the like.
All these great masters were powerful generators and disseminators of knowledge.
Their presence was so overwhelming and intense that it was almost impossible for anyone who came near them to remain uninfluenced. They were source of inspiration to countless through their lectures, speeches, books, letters, conversations, etc.
Their focus was always on seeing the larger picture and developing perspectives which go beyond the immediate concerns.
Let me share with you a small incident which had a powerful influence on my being.
In November 1973, after completion of two year training as Indian Economic Service probationer, I (along with a batch mate) was posted in Department of Economic Affairs of Ministry of Finance where our division was headed by Dr Manmohan Singh, the then Chief Economic Advisor to Government of India. My batch mate and I, being young and enthusiastic, were very keen to contribute and make a mark. We were provided office space and other facilities befitting our level but no work came to us for several weeks nor were we involved with the ongoing activities.
This made us restive and put a question mark on our self-worth. To come out of this, both of us decided to meet Dr Manmohan Singh to apprise him of our inner feelings. The meeting materialized quickly and we made measured submissions.
Dr Manmohan Singh heard us fully, and then turning to me, pointedly asked, “Have you gone through all the research reports and occasional papers brought out by IMF on how monetary policy has worked in different countries passing through various stages of development? Have you gone through all the Reports and reviews of monetary policy carried out by RBI in last 20 years?” Seeing my visible discomfort, he continued, “Who prevented you from studying what was happening around the world in respect of areas assigned to you?” In the same breath, he added, “You are not expected to wait for work to reach you. In fact, you should create useful work which could help in better decision making through incisive policy analysis.”
This brief interaction completely transformed my attitude towards work and life. The lesson I derived was that the key to success is in your own hands and should never be handed over to anyone else. Nor should we blame others for our non performance. All limitations are imposed by the self only.
Repeated salutations to all such Great Masters because of whom we call ourselves matured and civilized.
Contributed By : Prof. S C Sharma, Director, IBS Business School , Gurgaon