In a recent display of intellectual gymnastics, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar questioned the proliferation of PhD holders, seemingly perplexed about their purpose. One might ponder if his uncertainty stems from an inadvertent lack of qualifications for such scholarly pursuits. After all, in our great nation, one can ascend to the lofty heights of an MLA, MP or minister without requiring an advanced degree, while aspiring peons face more stringent criteria. One can almost hear Pawar's hypothetical inquiry: “What purpose did Albert Einstein serve with that inconspicuous PhD thesis on E=MC2?” Surely, the countless scientists toiling away in research labs, driven by their PhD ambitions, were merely engaging in frivolous endeavours. Their discoveries, contributing to disease eradication and improving lives, were undoubtedly a mere side note. Economists, too, indulged in the luxury of developing poverty-fighting theories through their arduous research. Amartya Sen’s exploration of the Bengal famine might be dismissed as another bout of seemingly pointless intellectual exercise. Was all this toil in pursuit of knowledge truly without merit, or does Pawar’s dismissal perhaps warrant a second thought?
In the grand tapestry of human progress, the contributions of PhD holders resonate far beyond the corridors of academia. The NCP leader’s quizzical stance on their purpose may be a reflection of misunderstanding rather than a genuine inquiry. Before uttering such dismissive statements, a moment of contemplation might reveal that the pursuit of knowledge, no matter how esoteric, often lays the foundation for a brighter, more enlightened future. Our education system's fundamental flaw lies in favouring rote learning over inquiry-based methods. Encouraging a shift towards lifelong research pursuits for students could nurture curiosity, critical thinking, and a genuine passion for knowledge, fostering a more enlightened and innovative society.