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The professions which lost their greatness

Human culture and civilisation have passed through several generations. The flow is an infinitive process as it goes. The passage of time has resulted in an erosion of the three professions’ greatness. Along with it, a massive depletion in values that human beings once used to cherish throughout the period of shaping culture and civilisation has now come to a sorry state. Can teachers, doctors and lawyers restore their profession’s majesty? 

Three professions that have shaped human civilisation are the practices of teaching, medicine and law. Teachers, medical practitioners and lawyers constitute the pack of great men in the world. They were philosophers, visionaries and men of great knowledge. That was the reason in every primitive epic, these three professions were characterized by legends. These professions have gone through a massive transformation not with a desirable amount of value in them but with a drastic size of deterioration in value. Sadly, over a time, they lost their majestic impression.

No other animal on this planet practices any of these professions. What makes human beings civilised are obviously these three bulwarks, which structure civilised human society. When the terms like guru metamorphosed into the English term of teacher, apothecary into physician and Dharmasutra into law, we have lost their splendidness too. To put it in short, in the undercurrent of modernisation and the resultant change in social behaviour as well as a lust for pelf and power, all the three professions lost their civilisational nobilities. 

In every culture and civilisation, a teacher is considered a holy embodiment of God. The Sun was worshipped in almost every ancient culture. In India, the Sun is known as an Adi Guru (the first teacher). Guru means one who removes the darkness of ignorance. So big a place of respect a teacher used to occupy in everyone’s mind.

That has been the very reason in India, the Guru Puja (worship of teacher) is celebrated as an auspicious festival. The event signifies a disciple’s reciprocity to his teacher, a tribute to his teacher, and gesture of repaying in whatever possible forms. A Guru teaches his disciples neither for monetary reason nor for any other accomplishment, but with a sense of dedication and integrity. That was a priestly job. Still, great intellectuals like to know themselves by their role as faculties. 

The sanctity of the profession remained intact until our turn into the modern era dominated by western culture. Thereafter, the sanctity that the profession commanded remained a history. The noblest profession has now become the last option of a job for laymen. Today, one can hardly find a school teacher, who has become a teacher by passion or by a sense of mission. Similarly, the Guru-Shishya relationship has gone for a toss. Shishya lost all respect to his Guru, who is a paid employee or a hired governess of our education system.

Today, no educated individual prefers to land a teaching job, though a teacher has to be essentially an educated person. In cities, teaching is the last option for an educated person with brilliant records of academic performance. In a service-oriented society, the process of seeking just a job for permanent income ends in becoming a teacher. In Kerala’s context, a teaching job in aided private schools comes for a staggering cost of millions of rupees. The same job in unaided schools is opted by those who find no other job for the time being and life-time. The quality of teaching and honesty in the job are, thus, only presumable. Those who have spent a staggering amount for securing a vacancy have only one aim; that is the recovery of what was “invested”. The other category carries with them a kind of frustration because most of them are not taken care in a remunerative manner. It is under this social reality our primary education begins. More worrying is the depletion in competitiveness among teachers. It is here another reason for the erosion of respect to the once noble profession is found.

While the teaching profession is fast losing its majesty, medical practice has fallen into being incapable of making patients happy in all senses of the term. The practice of law and management of justice has turned into being merely a job of ensuring that no justice is delivered to those who deserve it. We couldn’t make out the precise juncture of this horrid turn, but it turned into a stage of repentance, as we saw the mind-boggling evaporation of dignity from all the professions. The erosion in respect has been steeper as we have entered an era of post-colonial social change inspired by what carefree mindset.

So is the state of medical practice. That is worsening day-by-day. Today, a very narrow percentage of people agree that doctors follow ethics. Such an opinion is formed, perhaps, out of public suspicion. But these suspicions are based on circumstantial experiences of each one. When medicines are made free-trading commodities and drug makers are wielding clout over medical practitioners, ethics have no space. Today, the apothecaries are not doctors, but the masters of doctors. That is not a physician’s fault alone. The systems of generating physicians are made so. By the time a student becomes a physician or a surgeon, he or she might have accumulated huge financial liabilities. The liabilities are to be repaid. That is possible only by squeezing patients and getting handsome commissions from pharmacies and pharma companies.

In ancient times, physicians were known for delivering service to humanity with no reciprocal expectation. In today’s world, such charity is unimaginable. Physicians are not born but made of money and desire. Capabilities and consciences are pawned to various compulsions. At a time, they encounter two ends – patients who beg for a remedy and medicine makers who want doctors to sell medicines. Patients are more afraid of doctors’ ill-intentions than their own disorders. That has damaged doctor-patient relationships, as we see in a guru-shishya relationship.

From time immemorial, the practice of law and justice has always been a highly dignified profession like the other two. Lawyers and judges were equally revered figures. In a way, both the classes ought to be philosophers with sound prudence. But most of the time, it is neither with any prudence nor a philosophy, they perform their duties. Judges are untrusted as people disbelieve the system of electing a judge as to the right method. It is ultimately the law-makers, essentially politicians, who have set in place a system of choosing judges and promoting them. Politicians can never be impartial, so could be a system they put in place. Like every human being, judges and lawyers have their own concern about prospects and desires. No one’s desires and dreams can ever be driven by any professional ethics. Everyone always looks for new spaces, new posts and new vistas for rich gains. Many judges have been thus blessed with brighter fortunes by rulers’ generosity, maybe for a favour. 

In this process, what we overlook is that a misled approach of a law practitioner has wide social ramification. When the more influential class with money power overrides the justice system at the cost of the legally deprived class, what we call jungle rule takes place. That shaves off all claims of human civility. The disloyalty of judges and lawyers with those who deserve justice topples the spirit of civilisation.

For everything there are exceptions. There are exceptional teachers, doctors and lawyers. It is through them the last iota of the fabulousness of the profession remains. Let us cultivate the nobilities for fabulous harvesting.

Sajikumar Nair
Sajikumar Nair
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4 Comments

  1. Very true and undeniable facts which is on our face. If no changes take place for good in the said three professions the society is surely going for a toss.

      1. What you have stated are almost true with very few exceptions which one will be able to find rarely depending on the personal experience but what happens in professions like the one you have selected , the true professionals will be living a life of misserable hardships even after retirements except a handful of them work life long and earn name and respect by thier own will power and culture and tradition and one has to encourage such class of people and respect them and show them as example s to the new generation to follow. I appreciate your concern and share the same.

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