Intellectual Property is valuable

How corrupt is the soul of our nation? When our leaders resort to the unethical behaviour of buying pirated textbooks for our school children to be educated, we know our nation’s soul lies in a moral mess.

That news out of Georgetown that the Government buys pirated textbooks for public schools stunned the world.

The connected global village, in this Knowledge Age, could not believe that the Guyana Government, governing a 21st century nation, would fund and support outright stealing of Intellectual Property.

Given that in recent years the IP question generates generous debate around the world, the Government’s shameless sanctioning of the violation of international law is shocking.

If we want to build a society that embraces the 21st century’s Knowledge Economy, we cannot afford to be so flagrant, fraudulent and careless about knowledge.

We cannot walk around assuming that the world’s storehouse of knowledge lacks value.

Google, with its goal of managing all the world’s information, itself a gargantuan task, most revolutionized how we see knowledge and information as we build a global digital economy.

And from the Google experience, we see that knowledge and information costs.

An enormous amount of free knowledge floats around for anyone to grab online, and the Gutenberg Project, houses millions of free literature and other books, scanned from libraries all across the world.

Anyone can access this storehouse of free knowledge, from anywhere in the world, at anytime.

The goal is to build a global digital knowledge culture. Once that culture is laid, a global digital economy will be overlaid on it, for digitized Intellectual Property to embody value.

The Guyana Government is in no such pioneering mode. Rather, it seeks the cheap way out, with unethical practices.

Human society today revolves around information. And the generation of information that masses of people find valuable and useful, that creation of content, drives our world forward. It’s a world floating on the digital foundation of information and knowledge.

We cannot just grab a piece of that knowledge pie and share it around for commercial benefit as we please.

Creating content takes time. It takes research and intellectual effort and talent and man-hours.

For the Guyana Government to assume that it could grant a multimillion dollar contract to an unethical printing company to just pirate textbooks is scandalously shocking.
One source said that Cabinet “has done this for years”.

This year, for some strange reason, Government spokesman Roger Luncheon boasted of the demeaning deed.

And, following a national outcry of shock and shame that reverberated around the globe, Ministers of the Government, including the Minister of Education and several well-educated ones, came out defending this stupid State behaviour – even calling it a “policy”.

One is lost for words to denounce this draconian lack of ethics, of moral conscience, on behalf of the Guyana Government.

For Prime Minister Sam Hinds, and the other Ministers who studied abroad and hold Masters and Doctorate degrees, and Education Minister Priya Manickchand, to sit in Cabinet and sanction this terrible sin is beyond comprehension.

Government’s defence of this stunning symptom of our moral decay is that the country is poor. A couple of Ministers even insulted our intelligence to say that pirated textbooks keep a whole national industry making money.

These arguments do not deserve a response.

Even more shocking is the silence of Education Minister Priya Manickchand on this matter.

We see a clear picture emerging from Cabinet: group-think runs the show. These Government leaders all spout the same words. They seem to write the script in Cabinet, and come out talking in unison.

It shows a shocking lack of intellectual effort at our cabinet level.

At the highest governing body in the land, our leaders seem to lack the energy, talent, ethics and dedication to apply intellectual effort to managing this nation’s future.

They seem to take the easy way out, with the prevailing argument being: whatever is cheapest. Shunning ethics, conscience, moral leadership and sound management of the national well-being, these leaders apply “cheap” to educating our future generations.

Not one single Government leader showed any kind of moral courage or ethical conscientiousness to speak out against this despicable behaviour.

The Education Minister remained silent and just flowed along with the Cabinet crowd, blinded by its greed to save a buck, never mind the billions wasted in corrupt contract deals and hiring of incompetent State officials.

Knowledge is valuable. No one should treat a text book like it’s a cheap piece of imitation art. Knowledge means everything to a person’s life.

We have to show our children that knowledge is valuable. Our school children must not be made to feel that they receive cheap knowledge, but that it calls for hard work, discipline, sacrifice to possess a book in one’s hand.

Such blatant ignorance at the level of State should frighten us as a nation. Our future lies in the hands of unethical leaders who think little of Intellectual Property.

How many of these leaders read literature daily? How many live the exhortation of our literary giant, Ian McDonald, to read and to embrace a love of language, thinking and knowledge?

This Cabinet decision, so obviously based on group-think, with the unethical voice prevailing over the rest, indicts President Donald Ramotar as a leader of poor judgement. It shows up Prime Minister Sam Hinds, a Canadian educated leader, as lacking the kind of conscience to speak out against such fraudulent practices.

These leaders seem to please only Party and Government, at whatever expense to the people, including the Guyanese children who depend on them to chart a great future ahead.
Our nation sunk to a low of the most abysmal lack of ethics and conscience, with this Cabinet decision.
The world became disgusted at us.

And no one in the Government, no State leader, speaks out. Allegiance to the group-think of an unthinking Cabinet becomes the paramount concern of our leaders, even if the world scorns our sense of ethics.

The corruption of the soul of the Guyanese nation rises for all the world to see.

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