Mistaken ambitions

March 14, 1997

Your editorial said: "Civil servants do not deliver lectures, carry out research, write books and papers or win Nobel prizes. The people who do are entitled to insist on being properly valued and respected by the people who do not." When I read that I cringed. Can we argue our case without climbing on to our high horses and looking down? It is not as though every academic had a Nobel prize.

Some academics say we deserve special status because we do not dance to the whims of the moment: our work is meant to last. Well, that puts us on a par with bricklayers. If we want more respect, a little less arrogance and a little more humility might go some way towards gaining it.

Charles Polidano

Institute for development policy and management University of Manchester

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