This is easier said than done, however. For instance I became sceptical of my university education midway through my five year graduation course. Even though I had decided that I would not join the organised sector, nevertheless, family pressure was such that I completed my graduation. Thereafter, I pursued a life among the Adivasis organising them to demand their due from the organised sector!! I learned many things from the Adivasis that no university can teach and apart from some basic reading, writing and arithmetic skills, no part of my university education was of any use to me. However, there came a time after a decade when it was not possible to keep body and soul together and also continue with my organisation work without participating in money making in the organised sector. So I had to join the organised sector, not as a salaried employee, but as a consultant and the university degree that I had helped me to do this. The money I make from my consultancies is mainly due to skills I have picked up on my own and not what I have learnt in formal university education. Just my school education was good enough for me to pick up these skills but without the university degree, especially since it was from an elite institution, I wouldn't have landed these consultancies.
Later, I decided to get a Phd degree to enhance my money earning capacity!! With time the fight against the organised sector has become more expensive and so one must try and loot more from it!!! University after university that I applied to said that I would have to spend two years doing course work to learn various subjects before I could actually get down to doing research and for this I would have to attend classes full time which I obviously could not do given my work in the unorganised sector where, in my small organisation, I was the only one with some crucial skills required to interact with the organised sector. All my arguments that I had umpteen publications in reputed academic journals and a wealth of field experience fell on deaf ears as the learned professors said that they could not bend the rules for me and so I was left high and dry.
Then I got to know of one new private technical university that did not insist on course work and also allowed the researchers to choose multi-disciplinary subjects and guides from outside the university for the same. I jumped at the opportunity and registered for Phd. Since I chose my subjects and my guides, I had a nice time doing the research and once again I learnt many things for which university education was not required, especially since by now the huge world of the internet was available. But finally when it came to writing my dissertation I had to come face to face with reality. The thesis would go for review to three external reviewers who were bound to be orthodox university professors. Therefore, I couldn't write just what I wanted and in the free flowing modified Joycean Stream of Consciousness form that I had adopted for writing my book "Recovering the Lost Tongue" and instead would have to follow the strait jacket of received scholarly norms, as otherwise it would get rejected. So I had to curtail many things that I would have liked to write and stylistic extravagance and turn in a standard thesis. But what I know about the subject matter of my research, water, is much more due to the work I have done in the field, most of which I have not included in the thesis. I know a lot about many other things also but as I said earlier, very little of that did I learn in the university. Unfortunately for others who would like to pursue such relatively freewheeling Phds, the University Grants Commission later arm twisted this university of mine into closing this programme and instead starting a standard Phd programme in which course work and attendance is compulsory!!
University academics, is not really concerned with gaining knowledge that will enhance the livelihoods and lifestyles of the masses in an equitable and sustainable manner. It is instead all about weaning intellectuals away from organising the unorganised sector and turning them into apologists for the organised sector and the ruling classes. In fact many activists who have at some point of time worked in the unorganised sector, mobilising them to fight for their rights, have later switched completely to academics and the security it offers. Fausts who have sold their souls to Mephistopheles!!
I have tried to convince many young students who are graduating from universities and who too are sceptical about what they have learnt there, to take the leap and jump into the vast unorganised sector. But till date not one has done so, preferring to stay in the organised sector. Seeing the huge ferment among students in JNU and HCU which has struck resonating chords in other universities also I can't help wondering if some of them at least will not turn a cold shoulder to the organised sector!!