Mumbai : A chai-wallah has gone ahead to become the Prime Minister of this country. In this context, how relevant are educational qualifications and age of an elected representative in Indian politics? Are they any indicators of how well the person is going to serve to the people?
According to a report published by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) on Tuesday, 44 per cent MLAs have declared that they have an education qualification of 12th pass or below while 53 per cent MLAs are hold at least a graduate degree.
Three of the newly-elected MLAs in the state are merely literate, eight have passed class V, 15 have cleared class VIII, 46 have passed the class X exam while 54 have cleared the class XII exam. Of the total legislators, only 70 of them are graduates while 28 are post-graduates. The assembly will have only seven legislators with a doctorate.
But what must be noted is, ex-CM of Maharashtra Vasantdada Naik was a popular CM despite being a school dropout. On the other hand, ex-CM Prithiviraj Chavan, who holds a degree from the University of California, was unable to gauge the popular mood.
“I think educational qualifications of an elected representative are completely irrelevant because Indian politics requires a different temperament and maturity. Someone who has tremendous bookish knowledge, but does not understand the ground realities of his state, will not make a good MLA or MP. And so, an extremely intelligent IAS officer may not make a popular CM in India,” said civic activist Ketan Tirodkar.
Wags say that the debate is irrelevant as some of these very MLAs will go on to set up their own schools and colleges and become ‘shikshan samrats’.
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Age no bar?
Almost half (52 per cent) the MLAs are in the 25-to-50 years age-group while 47 per cent MLAs have declared their age to be between 51 to 80 years. Only one MLA, Sangola’s Ganpatrao Deshmukh, has declared his age to be more than 81 years.
“Age doesn’t really matter when it comes to people’s representatives. A young MLA will definitely be more abreast with technology, but if he doesn’t know the needs and demands of the people, what is the use? We need people with bright ideas, that’s it,” said Narendra Nair, an activist for the NGO Bombay First.
Out of the 288 newly elected MLAs, 80 have total assets worth more than Rs 10 crores, 10 MLAs have total assets worth more than Rs 50 crores and four MLAs have total assets worth more than Rs 100 crores.
Of these, Malabar Hill MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha tops the chart with total assets worth more than Rs crore. He is followed by SP’s lone MLA in the city, Abu Azmi who has assets worth more than Rs 150 crore. Jagdish Mulik and Hitendra Thakur come a distant third and fourth with assets more than Rs 100 crore.
The average assets of re-elected MLAs have grown by a whopping 157 per cent in the past five years.