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Three Idiots: A Film With A Message

By Dr. Shura Darapuri

07 February, 2010

The film “Three Idiots” is a great satire on the education system and the attitude of society. It tells us rote learning can be very harmful. That knowledge is to ‘know’ and not just in the name of educating ourselves memorise whatever comes our way. Learning without understanding can prove to be very dangerous. Unfortunately we have been patrons of such system from time immemorial. Rote learning used to be important during the ancient times when education was being monopolized by a section of society, while rest of the masses remained illiterate. No doubt in spite of their educational exclusion, they had more knowledge than the so-called literates of the society. Even without getting the benefits of formal education, they understood their work and transmitted it generations after generations with utmost efficiency and dexterity. The cobbler, the agriculturalist, the blacksmith knew their work and carried it out very well and transmitted it also, without any compulsions of memorizing any kind of written text. Their knowledge was useful for every section of society and their service so important for the progress and development of the country. On the other hand, so called ‘formal education’ was the monopoly of a particular section to maintain status quo. It was of help to no one but its patron alone, It was constantly meant to remind their coming generations that their caste was born to subordinate a large section of society. That the masses below them have to be denigrated to the extent that they easily give in and without any resistance believe in the superiority of the few above them and in their own inferiority. Anyone indulging in physical work has to be looked down upon and regarded as illiterate and uncivilized. But the question that comes in one’s mind is that, who is to be considered more literate and more civilized. A caste using its skills in the service of others from generations together is to be considered more civilized or a caste making rules for others, cleverly putting ones name at the top and the rest below them are strictly instructed to serve?

But generally, the serving caste without some amount of knowledge and skill couldn’t possibly move an inch, be it growing wheat for the nation, or making tools for industrial or any other purposes, or fixing a wall even. Every work requires skill and intelligence, and one needs a large heart to build houses for others and themselves stay in shambles. The servile castes have been doing this ‘godly gesture’ for ages together, no wonder Gandhiji used the word ‘Harijan’ to address them. They have exhibited remarkable amount of tolerance and willpower. Their stomach might remain hungry but not for a day they would take leave to take rest but continue to work in unison to achieve the target. Their children might be ill or injured but not for a moment they stop their work. They grow our crops, they make our tools, and they build our hospitals, but seldom are allowed to get proper treatment there. They build our schools but without any grudge, accept it as their fate of remaining unlettered and allow us to get literate. But our studying in Convent or a great University abroad doesn’t teach us to be as sacrificing, tolerant and selfless as the so called illiterate, serving castes. The aim of the literates is to get high marks by hook and crook, to prove themselves in the rat race, through a false degree or anyhow get into a prestigious college later on by any means, give a ‘religious babu’ some amount of bribe so that he can also take his family to a trip to Vaishno Devi in the coming summer vacation of his siblings. But in the rat race of getting high marks human values ‘go down the drain’. It is evident that in the so called prestigious centres of higher education the same ‘high grader’ shows he can be a great villain for real and in ragging the junior students he puts to shame even the worst of criminals. Where from he got those lessons one fails to understand? Convent education, public school education, high caste well preserved ’sanskars’ given at home takes a backseat and the hidden “goonda” comes out. The mantra that time is, tradition has to be followed without questioning it! We were not spared we will not spare others! In the modern times there are so many other ways of entertainment but they still insist on going for sadistic pleasures! Is higher education so simple that allows students to indulge in such luxuries of wasting time? What is ultimately derived out of it, has the so called high graders, given a thought to it? It is here that is reflected that how dangerous rote learning can be. It kills inquisitiveness, reasoning, rationality and worst of all creativity. Like a dodo we fail to respond in an appropriate manner to the crisis situation, serial train accidents, children falling in borewell or students committing suicides under psychological pressures day in and day out! Our senses remain numbed to the utmost, failing to react till another mishap occurs. Everybody waits for a miracle to happen or someone else to do the job for them! Their marked indifference reflected in their attitude.

Sitting on high pedestals not for a moment they give thought to the idea what example they are setting before the society. Lalu Prasad ji was right when he said recently “we are totally devoid of civic sense.” For the same reason we still need ‘proper toilet training’ and other mannerisms while travelling in VIP trains atleast! Most importantly an attitude of concern for others has to be developed alongwith a feeling of belonging to a nation, which is like a plant that is to be nurtured unitedly. Right from nursery class we have learnt by heart patriotic songs we still might remember some lines here and there but spirit still remains lacking in our character. That’s the reason on slightest pretext we are ready and more than happy to move to other country, braving ‘racism’, waiting for years together to get hold of a green card or a more permanent citizenship right. But would certainly object in our own country if a person of other state tries to get a job in our state.

We have learnt by heart ‘Saare Jahan se Accha Hindustan Hamara’, or our National Anthem but still cannot clearly understand what it is to be like living unitedly as one, in a nation and contributing to its development. If only we would have tried to understand before blindly memorizing our lessons! There is a rule that when we understand something it takes less effort to remember it! That is what is reflected in the movie ‘THREE IDIOTS’ and that being knowledgeable doesn’t end at achieving high marks alone, but there should be an effort on our part to know, understand and most importantly be concerned about the welfare of others and ‘treat others the way we would like to be treated by others’. Three idiots have certainly given society words of wisdom.

Dr.Shura Darapuri
Coordinator (I/C)
Centre for the study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy,
Baba Saheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar University,
Lucknow (U.P.)






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