Krishval Musings

Monday, 15 December 2014

Knowledge Is NOT Power
Discipline, the Name of the Game

Francis Bacon, the British philosopher (1561-1626) popularised the saying “Knowledge is power”.   It is glowing brighter in the recent years as knowledge workers have taken the front seat of the society.   According to him a person with knowledge has the ability to produce more and perform better which will add up to his/her existing strength.  However, it may not be a right formula for the dynamics of a nation state.

A survey of the world history will affirm that nations ruled by discipline and served by knowledge emerged strong and powerful.  The Akanda  Bharath was the fountainhead of knowledge for the entire oriental side of the Universe.  The remarks of Will Durant that “In Asia all roads lead from India” was historically proved.  Alexander the Great was astonished by the knowledge power and was very respectful to India despite conquering the north western parts of India.  A scrutiny of Indian history will, however, reveal that the abundant supply of knowledge power did not help her to be a successful nation.  The reason for her inability to become a powerful nation was mainly due to the  lack of the vital ingredient “discipline”.   The disciplined Moguls were able to rule over India for six centuries in spite of their lesser knowledge strength. The European rulers came in the 16th century and were able to impress with the combination of both superior knowledge and discipline.  India, after independence, continued the British legacy which brought her a general reputation in the world, however, her progress record is very dismal compared to nations like Japan, Korea, China and Singapore.   A rough (by the author) ratio analysis between knowledge and discipline will reveal the secret of success.
Country                    Discipline (%)       Knowledge  (%)          
Singapore                       80                          20
China                             70                          30
Japan                             60                          40
Korea                             50                          50
India                              10                          90
The success depends upon the higher ratio of discipline.  The West followed the military culture for centuries and has evolved a well balanced formula giving due importance for both by which they complement each other.  Knowledge can develop, design, discover, invent, promote and enhance the value of various products and services but it is discipline that can implement them to give end benefits to the people. Knowledge will inform and discipline will perform.  A study of the effectiveness of knowledge power in India will reveal a few surprises.  

The IQ of an average CBSE 12th standard student is definitely higher than his/her counterpart in the USA, Japan and Europe.  Yet, he/she wants to pursue their higher education in the West, Why?There is no continuation of the CBSE standard in college education.  In most colleges the indiscriminate mixing of high and low standards dilutes the general standard which frustrates the studious.  Secondly, bright students are skeptical with the niggardly acknowledgement they receive for their hard work.  The result, the cream of the educated gets exported.   

If we undertake a research we will be surprised to find that there may be at least 10 Bill Gates (William Gates of Microsoft) inside India.  But the Bill gates in USA will be the successful because he is a citizen of USA well known for its discipline and strong system.      

What is discipline?
The practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behaviour, using punishment to correct disobedience.” (Oxford Dictionary)
“Without self-discipline, a person with every blessing of background, education and opportunity will seldom rise above mediocrity.”- (Brian Tracy, Human development trainer and author)  

“The one quality which sets one man apart from another- the key which lifts to every aspiration while others are caught up in the mire of mediocrity-is not talent, formal education, nor intellectual brightness- it is self discipline.  With self-discipline all things are possible. Without it, even the simplest goal can seem like the impossible dream”   (Theodore Roosevelt, 26th president of the USA)

Developed nations give more weight to discipline than knowledge. Discipline is action oriented. It cultivates great qualities required for success like   courage, self control, self esteem, patience, mutual respect, empathy and many more.  

h Dr. Ivan Misner


Due to lack of discipline, India’s vast knowledge has been cleverly exploited by the disciplined foreigners.  History repeats itself.   
We have been copying the West in everything but not their discipline?  Why   we are unable to link our knowledge power with discipline? A billion dollar question.
Is it due to the inherent lethargy, individualism and reluctance to work under rules and regulations?  Even highly educated people are generally not law abiding.    Discipline is considered an unnecessary burden on freedom of action and also a hard way to achieve goal. Discipline is pain but it pays back.

Innumerable talks, discussions, and writings are going on regularly in India for the last 10 years on how to match China.  Talks are more about the statistics of their GDP and foreign reserves not about their methodology and will power that enabled them to scale new heights. 

Take this example:  The Metro rail system (subway) of Shangai in China started in 1994 has now 330 stations, total length of 532 KM and 14 lines, a clear demonstration of a well planed and  organised work. The Kolkata Metro started in 1984 has now 24 stations, total length of 28 KM and 4 lines.   Bengalis are definitely more knowledgeable than the Chinese. What is the use?
Success is about the “doing,” not just the “knowing.” (Dr. Ivan Misner)
India’s anarchic democracy   also adds to the general inertia. Former Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad, said ‘India could be China in terms of development if it was “less democratic” (Hindustan Times), a snide remark on the lack of discipline. 

There are several countries with literacy rate over 90% but only those having good governance and control become the rich and powerful.
India, by opening thousands of colleges all over the country for accumulating knowledge with little focus on discipline, will be only chasing a mirage.  

Dr. Krishnan Arunachalam

Ref: Authors’ speech in Kohinoor Toastmasters club, 1997 (Jan/6/2011)
        www.wikipedia .com  (2/12/2011)
\(Published in Mylapore Club magazine Oct/14 by the author)

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