Of skills and cer­tifi­cates

Alive - - Contents - by K L Noatay

“A good man is bet­ter than a good cer­tifi­cate”.

Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi coun­selled the coun­try’s youth the other day to hone their skills to their very best ex­tent so as to use­ful mem­bers of the so­ci­ety. In this con­text, some time back an agri­cul­tural sci­en­tist, named XYZ nar­rated his ex­pe­ri­ence in an ar­ti­cle car­ried in a lo­cal daily news­pa­per as to how he started his ca­reer as an Agri­cul­ture De­vel­op­ment Of­fi­cer af­ter his de­gree course, Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence in Agri­cul­ture and he strug­gled hard to do a doc­tor­ate in his pro­fes­sion. Some of XYZ’s teach­ers in the Agri­cul­ture Col­lege had done ad­vanced re­search in one the fields of Agri­cul­tural Sci­ence. They pre­fixed letters ‘Dr’ be­fore their name. Em­u­lat­ing their ex­am­ple, XYZ also wished to go in for re­search, so that he could also earn en­ti­tle­ment for the said pre­fix ‘Dr’ be­fore his name. Long­ing for earn­ing ac­claim for ones per­for­mance of one act or the other is a uni­ver­sal crav­ing with us all. Earn­ing en­ti­tle­ment for a dec­o­ra­tive pre­fix like Dr be­fore one’s name is a modus to­wards that end.

In com­mon par­lance the word doc­tor, ab­bre­vi­ated as

‘Dr’ gen­er­ally im­plies a physi­cian, the pro­fes­sional who med­i­cates us out of our phys­i­cal ail­ment. On the lines of al­lo­pathic physi­cians, the den­tists and the vet­eri­nar­i­ans are also ad­dressed as ‘Doc­tor’. The as­so­ci­a­tion of phys­io­ther­a­pists too have now got the dec­o­ra­tion made ap­pli­ca­ble be­fore their name. Of late some Grad­u­ates in Agri­cul­ture and or Hor­ti­cul­ture, em­ployed as In­spec­tors of Agri­cul­ture/Hor­ti­cul­ture, etc are some­times found pre­fix­ing ‘Dr’ be­fore their name.

‘Dr’ gen­er­ally im­plies a physi­cian, the pro­fes­sional who med­i­cates us out of our phys­i­cal ail­ment. On the lines of al­lo­pathic physi­cians, the den­tists and the vet­eri­nar­i­ans are also ad­dressed as ‘Doc­tor’. The as­so­ci­a­tion of phys­io­ther­a­pists too have now got the dec­o­ra­tion made ap­pli­ca­ble be­fore their name. Of late some Grad­u­ates in Agri­cul­ture and or Hor­ti­cul­ture, em­ployed as In­spec­tors of Agri­cul­ture/Hor­ti­cul­ture, etc are some­times found pre­fix­ing ‘Dr’ be­fore their name on the premise that their de­gree, B.Sc. in re­spec­tive stream, is a four years course like An­i­mal Hus­bandry doc­tors’ B.V.Sc. de­gree earned in the same du­ra­tion from same in­sti­tu­tion. Here, the elec­tronic search en­gine Google clar­i­fies that a per­son who has com­pleted aca­demic re­search com­pris­ing rig­or­ous work fol­lowed by pub­li­ca­tion of the the­sis, which would make sub­stan­tial con­tri­bu­tion to the ex­ist­ing knowl­edge, is en­ti­tle to be called a Doc­tor or ‘Dr’. The word doc­tor thus refers to level of ex­per­tise and not to any par­tic­u­lar pro­fes­sion, fur­ther clar­i­fies the search en­gine.

Here, the mis­use of the word doc­tor or the pre-fix Dr by jho­lach­hap men­di­cant is quite com­mon in In­dian ru­ral sce­nario.

For that mat­ter ob­ses­sive flat­ter­ers call even a phar­ma­cist a doc­tor. The mush­room­ing of cheap mer­ce­nary uni­ver­si­ties and pla­gia­rism be­com­ing ram­pant all around in cer­tain aca­demic cir­cles also di­lute the im­por­tance of the word doc­tor. In­ter­est­ingly, in not too re­mote a past in a re­sponse to the UP Gov­ern­ment’s ad­ver­tise­ment for a few posts of pe­ons, hun­dreds of PhDs had sub­mit­ted ap­pli­ca­tions for the ap­point­ment to that low­est gov­ern­ment post.

The con­fu­sion, how­ever, makes me nos­tal­gic about our high school era per­cep­tion way back dur­ing early nine­teen fifties. One of our teach­ers used to say, “A good man is bet­ter than a good cer­tifi­cate”. Here is a con­crete ex­am­ple of the said per­cep­tion be­ing true and sound.

Who built Bhakra dam?

It was some­times dur­ing nine­teen fifty that Pan­dit Jwa­har Lal Nehru, the Prime Min­is­ter of In­dia, in­ducted an Amer­i­can dam builder M Har­vey Slocum to head the In­dian engineers al­ready work­ing on the Bhakra dam project, on the ad­vice of Harry S Tru­man the then Pres­i­dent of Amer­ica. The In­dian engineers in­cluded grad­u­ate and even post­grad­u­ate civil en­gi­neer alumna of pres­ti­gious In­dian En­gi­neer­ing in­sti­tutes like, Kharag­pur, Be­naras, Roor­kee, etc; The PM had signed one way agree­ment for Mr Salocum’s ap­point­ment of­fer­ing him Rs one lakh as monthly salary with lib­eral terms for leave and travel, etc!

Mr Salocum ar­rived at Nan­gal some times dur­ing 1950 and took up the con­struc­tion of Bhakra Dam as its top Ex­ec­u­tive

Direc­tor. All of In­dian Engineers com­plied Mr Slocum’s fool­proof di­rec­tives. He did not avail even a sin­gle days off for any­thing per­sonal till the Shi­wa­lik gul­let had the dam at Bhakra and the back wa­ters of Satluj be­came swirling Gobind Sa­gar, some times dur­ing 1960. He got re­lieved from the as­sign­ment only af­ter a heart at­tack lifted him straight from his Nan­gal abode while he and his spouse were hav­ing a leisurely stroll to his new abode in the heaven above. Leg­end has it that Mr Salocum had left school af­ter 8th class and his tech­ni­cal ex­per­tise was based sim­ply on ground ex­pe­ri­ence. How forth­right was the school teacher’s per­cep­tion that “A good man is bet­ter than a good cer­tifi­cate”?

Call me Dr.

A diploma is not enough!

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