Einstein in Gulmarg

[FPK Photo/Amir Nowshahri.]

That Kashmir’s wonderland is becoming a wasteland is a barking comment on community’s waste-disposal habits. 

At a recent family gathering, the conversations between various members touched many topics. One among them was the difference between being literate and educated.

The subject caught the attention of all, and every participant had something to say based on personal experiences and observations. 

It seemed like a unanimous decision that not everyone who is literate is necessarily educated. The mere ability to read and write, or the fact that someone had been enrolled in prestigious schools, colleges and universities is probably not enough when we look at the larger scheme of things.

Some days after this discussion took place, I got a chance to visit Gulmarg. What I saw around me during the journey took my mind back to those deliberations.

[FPK Photo/Amir Nowshahri.]

It was heartbreaking to see garbage thrown all along the road to the world famous meadow. We seem to be hell bent on destroying what we have been gifted with.

I think it would be safe to assume that there would hardly be any school or classroom where the lesson and idea of cleanliness would not have been taught and emphasised upon. Sadly, it seems that the message has either fallen on deaf ears or has not been properly conveyed.

“Cleanliness is next to Godliness” is a universally accepted adage from time immemorial. This particular journey made me feel like we have not understood the divine interpretation of the saying. 

I am at a loss to understand what has gone wrong: whether education has failed us or we have failed education. Obtaining passing marks in examinations and getting promoted to the next class seems to have been the only objective of the entire exercise. 

[FPK Photo/Amir Nowshahri.]

Albert Einstein, one of the greatest and most influential minds the world has ever seen, has said quite a few things about education. Some of his quotes came to my mind as I drove up towards the destination, gaining altitude and losing faith in our ability to take care of the paradise bestowed upon us.

Einstein has said that “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.” Sadly, it seems that we have not remembered much, going by the way we treat our surroundings like one huge dustbin. 

[FPK Photo/Amir Nowshahri.]

It appears that nobody wants to treat this land as their own; the idea of cleanliness dies an instant death the moment we step out of our doors. As long as our own courtyards are clean, we are happy. What happens outside the gate is not anybody’s headache.

Had education been able to achieve its desired effects, this would not have been the case. As responsible citizens, individuals would have been as concerned about things outside the gate as they are about things inside. 

[FPK Photo/Amir Nowshahri.]

Another of Einstein’s quotes best describes this situation: “Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think”. 

Our outlook seems to be very narrow, our sphere of thought very small. We cannot think and look beyond our homes and bylanes when it comes to enforcing cleanliness; no wonder mounds of trash seem to have replaced welcome boards wherever we go.

[FPK Photo/Amir Nowshahri.]

It seems there is a long way to go before we can say with surety that we are truly educated. To end this matter with one more quote from Einstein: “Education is not received. It is achieved”.

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