Well … I am supporter of this statement … but not in feudal sense.
My following words basically deal with the issues of “Strong Institutions” Vs. “Strong Personalities” and “Competency Vs. Merit”. I will criticize the concept of “Strong Institutions” including “Education System” and will supports CM Balochistan’s recent statement: “Degree is Degree — Whether it is Fake or Genuine”.
One common point of view is that lack of proper institutionalization is the core problem Pakistan is facing these days. Once I dared to disagree with this opinion. I got following response from a friend:
So you think that there is no need for strong institutions like courts, police etc. Strength doesn’t mean anything else than independent decisions, decisions on merit. If you are against decision on merits than you can say that our country needs strong personalities above all rules, above all codes.
Well, I am not against the existence of institutions. But institutions should not be so big fools as to be not able to recognize what could be the real best option in various particular situations. I presented the case of a candidate whose over-all 62% marks (In that case, Passing Marks were 40%) could not save her from being declared FAIL in written exam just because she failed only in one paper (out of 12) on account of one short number. May be you cannot realize the stupidity of examination body (the institution) in this case. One can better realize it if one personally goes through similar instances.
Secondly I am in need to clarify what meaning I take of ‘strong’ person and ‘strong’ institution.
In this connection, we generally denote ‘strong person’ as a person who does not care for rules and regulations for negative purposes or for personal selfish reasons. This is the popular meaning and it is a negative meaning.
But I had not used ‘strong person’ with this negative meaning. For me, ‘strong person’ would be that one who does not care for rules and regulations for good and positive reasons.
Now about strong Institutions:
“Strength doesn’t mean anything else than independent decisions, decisions on merit.”
Well, if you are talking of ‘strong institutions’ in that sense which you are favoring, then let me point out that under the system of ‘strong institutions’ which you favor, decisions are NOT independent and decisions don’t have the basis of COMPETENCY (here I have replaced ‘competency’ for ‘merit’).
Because in ‘strong institutions’, decisions DEPEND on rigid rules and policies, whereas meaning of ‘merit’ is NOT level of competency but is just ‘level of compliance to written rules and policies’.
I ask you a simple question. There are two students who are doing Masters in Physics. University has designed a predefined syllabus for Physics. First student is research minded and he takes pain in trying to find new facts about Physics. For this purpose he has to spend time in his research activities.
Second student is good crammer of syllabus books. What shall happen in the University exam…??? Crammer of syllabus books shall come on MERIT. On the other hand, research minded student might fail in University exam because he had been full time busy in his research activities.
My question to you is that who is more competent…???
If you say that research minded person is more competent … Then you are in favor of strong personalities because in this case your decision has been INDEPENDENT OF RULES AND POLICIES OF UNIVERSITY.
If you say that person who is good crammer of syllabus books is more competent … then you are in favor of strong institutions because your decision has been BASED ON RULES AND POLICIES OF UNIVERSITY.
In my opinion, research minded person is REAL competent whereas crammer has just come on merit.
My another question to you is that: “Competency Vs Merit” … What do you like…???
Competency can go anywhere … it can set its own direction also … Merit is just a blind chase of rigid rules and policies. Competency is the quality of leaders. Merit is the quality of followers. Leaders are those who show others some direction. Remember that any new direction could not be contained in the way of rigid compliance to previously written rules and policies. Those who are only to follow the already written rules and policies how can they go to any new direction…??? A person who does not go to any new direction, how can he show any new direction to others…??? And a person who does not show the new direction to others … simply he is not leader. Perhaps he is such a ‘manager’ who cannot take many independent decisions … Because his decisions would depend on written rules and policies.
Yes I am against decisions on merit … but in the above mentioned sense. And yes there should be strong personalities … above all rules, above all codes … but they must be allowed to go beyond all rules and all codes only for good and positive reasons. Practically it is possible to be allowed to only head of the institution and/or heads of department/section.
My Friend Replied:
Just consider an example if you have a very good car latest model (institution) with an average driver one who can drive like you and me, and on the other hand if you have very old car with so many faults in it, weak engine out dated model with an expert driver (strong personality), what do you think who will win the race? Now a philosopher will favor the expert and a realistic one will favor the latest model machine. In simple words if you have strong institutions then you can utilize your mind otherwise its useless.
Yes if we make our institutions ‘strong’ (within your meaning) then we would not be in need of competent persons … just like an incompetent driver of a better car can win the race against a competent driver, who drives an old car.
Well … we already have shortage of competent persons … Do you want to cover this deficiency in this way…??? By eliminating the role of any human competency…???
But you have forgotten that the incompetent driver shall be able to win the race only when a competent person would already have invented a better car. Actually these ‘strong institutions’ only make our lives more mechanical. Nothing would happen if you replace all the persons in your ‘strong institution’ with mechanical computer aided robots. So there would be no need of humans in your ‘strong institutions’. I again have given all the philosophical reasons in support of my views. I can give examples of ground realities also where so-called strength of institutions have given the results of miseries for general public and have opened the avenues for corruption in many government departments. Our official taxation laws, for instance, are so harsh that tax liabilities of small businessmen can reach to such amounts, which may be more than total capital employed. For example (real example) a business had to be closed just because that businessman made payments to his supplier in cash instead of through banking channel which was required as per law. Otherwise that businessman had been a regular tax payer and he had deposited all his due taxes. He committed only this procedural mistake i.e. of not making payments to supplier through banking channels. In this way he has attracted penalties amounting to more than the total capital of business.
Since our BLIND ‘strong institutions’ cannot see the on ground facts and they only can follow the written rules and policies … So as a result, now that business has been closed. I myself have won the case (being the representative of department in the judicial proceedings) against that businessman at Departmental Tribunal level. In my private meetings with the advocate of businessman, I admitted that no revenue loss was involved in that case because taxpayer had duly deposited all the payable taxes. Only fault was procedural in nature where no government revenue loss was involved. But the penalties involved for such procedural mistake would amount to more than the capital employed by the business. During the judicial proceedings before the Tribunal, I argued that taxpayer had violated such and such rules and sections of Law so he may be penalized for it. So I myself played the role of ‘strong institution’. In another case, taxpayer had made such mistake which had little effect on government revenue. But he was charged with heavy penalty for the procedural mistake. Case already had been decided in favor of tax payer by the lower adjudication forum. Adjudication officer might be some “strong person” within my meanings … So he had taken the decision in favor of taxpayer because amount of revenue loss was really just minor.
On the next forum i.e. before Appellate Tribunal, I represented the department before Tribunal. I won the case on first hearing in favor of department by arguing that tax payer had violated such and such rules and laws. Again I played the role of ‘strong institution’ and ‘weak personality’… And I promoted real injustice in this way because taxpayer had committed only immaterial type of procedural mistake which would have just minor impact on government revenue. Now that person shall pay heavy fines.
I also knew and Judges also knew that there had been no significant loss to government treasury in that case. But my role and the role of judges had been to just blindly follow the written policies and procedures. And this is what we really did. So how can you say that strong institutions shall solve all the problems of nation…??? Strong institutions themselves are a big problem … because they are blind … because they prevent the personalities from applying their minds for the betterment of country … because institutions possess no working mind … because they possess only mechanical written policies which might not be in the best interest of country in all the situations.
I give another example of a so-called “Strong Institution” which is our prevalent Education System. Yesterday, on a TV program, Mr.Tallat Hussain asked Voice Chancellor, Punjab University, “Suppose a student genuinely gets good marks in B.A (Graduation) exams but after some years it comes out that his F.A (Intermediate) certificate was fake (or his marks in F.A were not sufficient to get admission in B.A.) then what will happen to the status of his B.A degree?”
Voice Chancellor categorically replied, “His B.A degree will become liable to be canceled”.
It’s simple meaning is that Education System, as an institution, is not there to spread any knowledge or wisdom. It only ensures certain good percentage of compliance to written rules and policies. One who manages to get more knowledge/wisdom than offered by the Education System but does not manage to follow written rules and policies of university, SHALL NOT BE AWARDED DEGREE by the University. Sometimes universities bypass their written rules and policies when they award some persons honorary degrees. But in such cases, generally, those personalities already would have proven their competency before whole world. In this way, universities prove themselves BLIND as they cannot see competency outside of Education System as long as the world already recognizes that competency.
In short, I liked yesterday’s statement of Chief Minister Balochistan: “Degree is degree — whether it is fake or genuine!”.