A new committee?
Waste, waste, sheer waste! Of time and money and energies and our own imagination!

examsGovernment sets up a committee to probe the leaks! Yes, this is done. It is in our view a big waste! Waste of precious time, energy and our own imagination! The very structure of the highly centralized CBSE itself is the reason for this mistake. The only time we read about the HRD Minister and the School Secretary is only now after this leak has been blown up as if a big tragedy had hit the country. One of the most sober daily newspapers has reported the constitution of this committee as the front page Headlines news! A pity!

We have converted schools education into a highly priced commodity; the very commercialization process had reached unacceptable proportions. All the major daily newspaper now carries, almost routinely, full-page ads of the top tuition industry bodies. We restrain naming them for they are so harmful for the society to pronounce and repeat and recognize them.

In this mindless tuition industry, business has reached billion dollar valuations. This is not education, this is day time cheating, some of the best minds in education have become powerless. No one has enough courage to call this as a big cheat. This is not education; this is commerce of the worst kind, the debasement of the young minds.

The destruction of the teenage dreams and an idealism that must impart a new energy and a new sense of adventure, adventure of the young minds only can give a nation, the best that would transform our lives and inject the best of man’s history and human evolution. Now, to come to this very listless endeavour to reform our education, we suggest the following: Revamp our education system based on some historic basis.

What should constitute an ideal education? Idealism of the mind and its imaginative power. Take some of the great education systems. The Greek education, its public school system originates from Sparta and we generally associate such a system with Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s ‘The Ethics and Politics’. Of course Socrates’ questions as to what makes for good life are the starting point.

So too the others, Plato and Aristotle. Then comes the Roman law and government and the idea of Republic and governance by Senate and Council, the other office bearers. The rule of the people, rule by consensus, the idea of democracy and rule of law are all the origins we inherit in our own modern times. The British (public schools), French (lycee) and in a way, the German (gymnasium) school system has much to teach us.
Of course there were other streams.

We have to have freedoms to experiment and introduce innovations. The many educators whose individual visions are all to be studied! In India, we inherited the British, Macaulay system blindly, even after the independence. It is time, we recognize the historical inheritance. Let there be the old system. But we can distinguish the best from the ordinary, from the classs (though we might deny theoretically) and the mass basis of education.

Now, there are so many new schools, highly expensive and also introducing new innovations. The Baccalaureate is now fancied much. May be, we can introduce languages, other than English too to lessen the vernacular, mother tongue-based education that is much talked about but quietly given a burial! We are a nation of hypocritical people, right?

The point is there must be much freedom in education choices. Let us revive and strengthen the Indian Public Schools Conference and also introduce new subjects like sports and arts in their curriculum. So that this stream is there and valued for producing a leadership style education. Let there be a separate stream of experimental schools, if there are demands. The CBSE must be broken up into, say, four regional autonomous boards; some competition is good in ensuring best practices in school management and curriculum development. Each zone must be managed by a board of governors nominated by the HRD ministry. These are some of our suggestions.

No one wants to take up teaching!
Even the education institutions are not driven by any ideals!

eduIt is money, money, all the way! Society and politics is changing. So too the soaring ambitions of the new generation! Also, education today has changed. It is no more a field to seek knowledge and competence! It is the most incompetent field, we mean, the education field and where all and sundry, the lettered and more successfully, the unlettered, the milkman and the film villain and many others they defy descriptions, which are the most successful Chancellors and founders of large number of education institutions, education complexes in the country today.

Take a trip to Tamil Nadu; perhaps in other states too, you see the huge buildings, even for secondary schools that defy your imagination and intellect. So, when we read that just recently a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resources Department has expressed serious concern over the shortage of teaching staff and delays in recruitments in higher education.

Of course for outsiders this high sounding committee report might look very powerful. Unfortunately it is not so. Only those who know what is what in HRD ministry and how it is overburdened with issues, from CBSE leak of question papers to corruption in Vice-Chancellor appointments  to the VCs also indulging in large scale corruption!

Again in TN which of course has a high enrollment of students into higher education stream and also at the same time a number of VCs, old and new are caught in corruption trap and arrested and cooling their heels behind the bars! So, how to tackle in education some lowering of standards? Here we need inputs from experts. There are many such enlightened persons in the country. It is a question of calling such experts into action. We have to learn from other countries too.

Of course education in this generation has changed beyond recognition. There is any NUMBER OF NEW PROBLEMS in India. We seem to be tired of too many allegations of bad behavior on the part of society’s teachers and educators. Sexual harassment is a national shame. Also, there is a tendency towards centralization of authority in Delhi. Better learn to decentralize decision making. Even policy making can stop at the state capitals for a range of issues. The universities, more so the central universities, we all hoped, would set the trend for further progress. It seems now it is the reverse happening.

The very same Parliamentary Committee report gives out that the number of sanctioned posts in Central University is 16,600 out of which 9,521 are for assistant professors. But do you know how many are lying vacant? Here is the statistics.  Nearly one third, 5,928 posts in these universities are lying vacant! So to other categories in the professorships!

All these problems in education seem too big to be tackled by the minister or his officials. We need outside talent and imagination and also the new technologies to deliver learning courses online and on other channels. Distance education without corruption, open universities and also some emphasis on innovation and quality are also some of the considerations we have to keep in mind.

Yes, it is so from JNU to Anna University and beyond!

jnuJNU as a Central University is its own fashion. It makes news for politicians.  Fine, but then it must also be a centre of top academic performance. Is JNU the number one University? No one has asked. As far as academic standards in India are concerned, nobody knows which University is on the top.

The IISc, Bangalore is ranked first but then it is mostly seen as a science research centre not a typical academic campus where debates takes place and intellectuals come to make speeches. Delhi University with its campus colleges is fine but then there is too much emphasis on scoring marks for admission has somehow reduced the campus to one of low-key ambitions. In one word, there is no aristocracy of a University lifestyle for students.

Now, the higher education as such is itself in a crisis. State universities, taking the South, TN in particular as an example, are marked with high corruption. Three or more VCs; the ex-VCs, are caught up in high corruption. The latest one at Anna University, the newly appointed one is from Karnataka and the Dravidian parties objected to it!

VCs must be from one’s own states, the Dravidian parties argue. This is absurd. No minister, the hon’ble Javadekar or his counterpart from Chennai opened their mouths. The controversy might die off. There has to be some light, some explanation or some sort of policy clarification must help. Unfortunately, the Indian higher education is marked by multiple crises.

How can you lay down the rule that a VC, the best ones are unlikely from local people, nowadays, the best VCs are somewhere in the US or from some other foreign universities. But who can explain this reality? The higher education ministers are often ordinary mortals!

The reasons how huge corruption take place is often with the connivance of the top leadership. In TN this is like daylight! May be elsewhere too! So, first reform in higher education is about preventing corruption. So, what the TN Governor has done is perfectly right. He engaged the Supreme Court judge in the selection. What else he could have done?

The second reform is to make universities autonomous in true spirit. The state CMs can be informed, not even consulted. For her again TN is an example how the great Madras University has been now reduced to sheer impotence. No news from the hollowed portals is worth reporting. So, Indian higher education is going to be an uphill task. May be one more high-powered Higher education commission with some reputed international experts could advise the Indian government/State governments  about how to go about it. But one thing must be clear. You can’t have reputed universities unless you cast your net for talent internationally.

Best talents are as good as nil! Please, politicians, realize! So too, the Indian media, TV channels report local hotheads, including the film actor-turned new style politicians talk less on higher education!

So, Indian education and much else, culture and also mother-tongue chauvinism  are all turned into heady cocktail and this needs to be realized and  conveyed to all concerned. Otherwise, India would be turning out low-performers in all walks of life and we, in India, have to live a very low caliber citizenship.

exam_inside_032918013131A new committee?

Waste, waste, sheer waste! Of time and money and energies and our own imagination!

Government sets up a committee to probe the leaks! Yes, this is done. It is in our view a big waste! Waste of precious time, energy and our own imagination!  The very structure of the highly centralized CBSE itself is the reason for this mistake. The only time we read about the HRD Minister and the School Secretary is only now after this leak has been blown up as if a big tragedy had hit the country. One of the most sober daily newspapers has reported the constitution of this committee as the front page Headlines news! A pity!

We have converted schools education into a highly priced commodity; the very commercialization process had reached unacceptable proportions. All the major daily newspaper now carries, almost routinely, full-page ads of the top tuition industry bodies. We restrain naming them for they are so harmful for the society to pronounce and repeat and recognize them.
In this mindless tuition industry, business has reached billion dollar valuations. This is not education, this is day time cheating, some of the best minds in education have become powerless. No one has enough courage to call this as a big cheat. This is not education; this is commerce of the worst kind, the debasement of the young minds.

The destruction of the teenage dreams and an idealism that must impart a new energy and a new sense of adventure, adventure of the young minds only can give a nation, the best that would transform our lives and inject the best of man’s history and human evolution. Now, to come to this very listless endeavour to reform our education, we suggest the following: Revamp our education system based on some historic basis.

What should constitute an ideal education? Idealism of the mind and its imaginative power. Take some of the great education systems. The Greek education, its public school system originates from Sparta and we generally associate such a system with Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s ‘The Ethics and Politics’. Of course Socrates’ questions as to what makes for good life are the starting point. So too the others, Plato and Aristotle. Then comes the Roman law and government and the idea of Republic and governance by Senate and Council, the other office bearers. The rule of the people, rule by consensus, the idea of democracy and rule of law are all the origins we inherit in our own modern times.

The British (public schools), French (lycee) and in a way, the German (gymnasium) school system has much to teach us.
Of course there were other streams. We have to have freedoms to experiment and introduce innovations. The many educators whose individual visions are all to be studied! In India, we inherited the British, Macaulay system blindly, even after the independence. It is time, we recognize the historical inheritance. Let there be the old system. But we can distinguish the best from the ordinary, from the classs (though we might deny theoretically) and the mass basis of education.

Now, there are so many new schools, highly expensive and also introducing new innovations. The Baccalaureate is now fancied much. May be, we can introduce languages, other than English too to lessen the vernacular, mother tongue-based education that is much talked about but quietly given a burial! We are a nation of hypocritical people, right?

The point is there must be much freedom in education choices. Let us revive and strengthen the Indian Public Schools Conference and also introduce new subjects like sports and arts in their curriculum. So that this stream is there and valued for producing a leadership style education. Let there be a separate stream of experimental schools, if there are demands. The CBSE must be broken up into, say, four regional autonomous boards; some competition is good in ensuring best practices in school management and curriculum development. Each zone must be managed by a board of governors nominated by the HRD ministry. These are some of our suggestions.

We have to search for historic sources

In India today, there is almost a mad rush to make money in education. Almost all the schools and colleges, lately, even the private universities are concentrating on big investments in this line.

While the quantitative expansion of education is welcome, considering the very backward nature of our education content at all levels, it is always good to find out some firm foundations of an education system based on sound ideas and history. We in India just imitate and carry out the long tradition of what the British Empire left behind in the name of education. It is, as I always say, is the Macaulay system of clerical education, learn English and become a pen-pusher. Indian in colour and white man in speaking and writing English!

Now, we have to see how the very same British model of education came about. It was in Britain when the British Empire was at its zenith, around the early twentieth century, there was a realization that Britain had come to acquire an empire almost on the lines of the Roman Empire.

On May 11, 1911, one Francis Haverfield (Camden Professor of Ancient history in the University of Oxford) delivered his inaugural address as President of the newly founded Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies. Those who know Oxford traditions know well that in Oxford there are many similar learned societies, in philosophy there is one Aristotelian Society, Mind Society and so too many other classical studies societies.

It all started from then on, an imaginary comparison of the British empire and the Indian empire! The British are very shrewd people and even today at Oxford they try to teach (or brainwash?) the Indian students who go there for research etc., that the British empire was good for the Indians even today!

That is why you can notice (I don’t know how many have noticed) that even the most learned and most accomplished Indian academics, from Prof.Amartya Sen to Dr.Manmohan Singh and others) that won’t say one adverse view of the British! Unlike the British themselves! For there is one monument on the river bank of the Thames in London, the statue in Bronze, a lady (Boudica) riding on the galloping horses symbolizing that it is the British resistance to the conquering Romans!

On December 22, 1901, Rabindranath Tagore established an experimental school at Santiniketan with five students (including his eldest son) and an equal number of teachers. He originally named it Brahmacharya Ashram, in the tradition of ancient forest hermitages called tapoban.

On December 22, 1901, Rabindranath Tagore established an experimental school at Santiniketan with five students (including his eldest son) and an equal number of teachers. He originally named it Brahmacharya Ashram, in the tradition of ancient forest hermitages called tapoban.

Readers must know that once England, not Scotland or Wales, was after all a province of a conquering power, namely, the Romans! In BC 42 Roman emperor, Claudius invaded Britain. Why, even later emperor, Hadrian invaded Britain again and built the currently standing, meandering long wall across England! Even otherwise Julius Caesar too conquered the Gaul, the part of Britain and France and Ireland too.

The point here is that even now the British scholars can’t but continue to compare and contrast with the two empires, Roman Empire and the British Empire in India. The 1857 Sepoy Revolt also rankles in their minds for it was the Revolt that almost succeeded in destroying the confidence of Britain about their mighty empire in India.

Now, coming to education, culture and modernity Indians have to realize, rather widely at all levels of society and classes that we can safeguard our freedoms only when we have a strong foundation, a belief system based on some strong historical and civilisational basis. One thing we have to recall is that our current education system is bogus, it stands on some surface imitation, get a degree, mostly worthless, no inherent learning input there and seeking jobs, here too often in some namely government jobs. And who are the employers?

Some illiterate, may be some MP or MLA with a bad past, the current statistics show that about 30 per cent of our legislators have a criminal background. Most of our policy makers and policy implementers are again zero characters!

In short, we need a strong foundation in classical studies, Greek and Latin studies, some classical texts, say Cicero or Plato or Aristotle. Then, we have to have an ordered society, law and order-based society, good governance, democratic ethics, democratic spirit must imbue our public life and culture and social behavior. We have to remove fear and subservience from the Indian character. A sense of genuine freedom and a sense of independence of spirit must pervade our education campuses.  A modern, Westernised spirit of liberalism, we have to practice.

One positive outcome could be, let us at least desire, the sort of a class system of education. Now, we have the rigid Indian social hierarchy. In its place we have to evolve a new cultivated genuine aristocratic civil society. A refined culture would prevail in our society only when we abolish the current social evils and the widespread corruption at all levels. See our rulers are themselves compromising, truth is at a severe discount and media is also vulnerable, judiciary at a distance from the people. The suffering of the common man is a visible sign.

After all what is education? It is a citizen-centric confidence in truth and ethics, right? This would come only when we have a sound study of history and the modern times. After all, why we revere Greek and Roman civilizations? They emphasized truth, rule of behavior, rule of law and Constitution and Republican values etc. How far our own Constitution is serving our citizens? How far the Constitutional governance ensures and protects the citizens’ freedoms and their rights?

The time has come to teach the social sciences and humanities from newer perspectives.

The modern world, the new globalization and the new sense of right and wrong, the functioning of many institutions, the various Commissions, from Human Rights Commission to the Right to Education and Information, why, even the Lok Pal and Lokayuktas are now becoming urgent issues of high priority.

A series of reforms from Election Commission to Parties Funding to tackling judicial delays, leaving the voiceless, the under trial prisoners languishing in jails for long are all citizen concerns. So, education must be at the hands of genuine minds and courageous spirits. Success, as they say, comes to those who dare and fight, it seldom comes to the timid and cowardly!