Is there a degree that a Prime Minister should possess?

Apparently None. A few days back I shared links to an article which listed educational qualifications of current world leaders and compared that to the fact that the Indian PM only has a correspondence undertaken degree (no regular degree). That article written by a journalist who I understand didn’t undertake a degree himself, was only indicating the two mistakes that people with no formal education tend to make. Usually, a lack of education produces two instincts in leaders.

The first is the instinct to simplify. The other, a product of the first and more dangerous, is certitude. Dangerous, particularly when one is convinced that one is “decisive”—a word that really means that someone who is quick in making decisions. Sanjay Gandhi, who was barely literate (he failed in, and then dropped out of, high school), had just such a dangerous certitude.
Doubt is usually the sign of an enlightened mind. In our parts, however, it is seen as indecision when we are assessing leadership and therefore something not heroic.
Certitude is seen by Indians as a virtue in making leaders strong and decisive. But it is equally an indicator that its possessor suffers from a lack of awareness of opposing arguments, of lack of data and information. This is a universal problem, of course. In the West, it is the conservative who yearns for decisive leadership and a stamping of authority. Later, when the decisive leader produces a war that is pure stupidity, the conservative is baffled and chastised.

Additionally, I had only added that my preference is for a leader who is well read, well travelled and well educated. Education to me is a combination of what we learn and experience in a classroom or academia and equally outside the classroom. However, going by the comments that my FB post attracted even from well educated, well travelled and well read friends was that when it comes to leading a nation, they can simply rubbish the assertions citing examples of well educated leaders who had disappointed the nation. Frankly, there was emotions being expressed and like debaters at schools they were only rebutting the motion because they were supporters of an individual who was not well read, well travelled or well educated. This fact by itself confirms that to be a leader, the circumstances are more important than anything else. Notions that a leader would have studied Churchill, would know the revolutions, would have a balanced perspective on Che Guevara, or would even know Indian history or would have a study of the various revolutions of recent times… Is irrelevant. Wow… I and my understanding was wrong…
As a student leader (possibly a little exaggeration as had only contested and won as General Secretary of Student Union and nothing beyond) and having dreamt of being a leader in future (possibly a little imaginative for a 20 year old who was nick-named “Revolution Singh”), I had tried studying the path or training of leaders but clearly my study was only partial. Being well read, well travelled or well educated are only optional add-ons. Some studies based on the poll performances of best performing five parties of the recent elections may also conclude that to be a successful leader in India, one needs to remain single or become single.
FB humour and coincidences aside, now I know why I did-not reach the next league. I didn’t have the circumstances in my favour and my beliefs were more book-ish. In india you have to have the right caste, right religion, right pedigree, loyalty to a family or parivar, excellent media (also social media) skills, changing ideology…

Still let’s be aware of the academic education and training of current world leaders as it does matter in some countries…

In the UK, the probable future leader Boris Johnson is from Oxford University. His degree is in Literae Humaniores, meaning the Classics of ancient Greece and Rome. Prime minister David Cameron is also from Oxford as is former prime minister Tony Blair. Former prime minister Gordon Brown has a PhD and so has Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel. Chinese president Xi Jinping also holds a doctorate and Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe has a master’s degree from the University of Southern California. France’s François Hollande has a postgraduate degree from the elite ENA (Ecole Nationale d’Administration). Australia’s prime minister Tony Abbott is a Rhodes scholar from Oxford. Canada’s prime minister Stephen Harper has a master’s degree in economics.
Russia’s Vladimir Putin, this will come as a surprise, also has a PhD. Foreign Affairs magazine reported last year that in 1989, “a 45-year-old Putin was busy defending his PhD thesis, The Strategic Planning of Regional Resources Under the Formation of Market Relations, at the St Petersburg Mining Institute. In it, he argued that Russian economic success would depend on creating national energy champions.”
Whatever else one may have thought of former US president George W. Bush, he was no yokel. He studied at Yale and then at Harvard. Bill Clinton before him was a Rhodes scholar to Oxford and Barack Obama was at Harvard.
This insistence on academic qualifications from top universities is not some form of vanity. It is an indicator, the strongest one and perhaps the only one, that the candidate has a fine and balanced mind. Manmohan Singh, our vacillating, indecisive prime minister, is more qualified than any of those above, as Obama himself acknowledges.

And let’s also be aware of the education of Indian Prime Ministers till date even though it is now asserted that education’s inconsequential…



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