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!
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!