A country is without an education policy

Education is not just a day-to-day activity as it is with a large number of stake-holders today. Education in India has become a highly commercial activity. Take a newspaper or turn a TV screen, they scream with full-page ads that proclaim, if we can so put it, a new millennium on the horizon. What do you want to become tomorrow? All the promises are on display. Various tuition centers are called by many fancy names. There are well-dressed boys and girls swarming the gates of many newly opened academies with fancy names. All things promised under the sky! It is rather becoming a sickening experience. These screams and shouts!

This is gross display of total insentivity. We never thought that education would degenerate so much. Education is a very noble, very uplifting thought and experience. Even in today’s world, education and culture shape the character of not only an individual but also of a country. The very essence and distinction of people are all traced to the sort of education and schools. This is so from the time of Greeks, at the height of their glory in the 5th century BC onwards. Greeks in particular gave the world the unique definition of an ethos that you can find out in reading Plato, why, even in Socrates’ dialogues when the great sage questioned everyone he met on the streets of ancient Agora where he lived and walked every day.

Man becomes civilised when he interacts with his fellow human being and when questions are asked and answers are sought. Education has a long history. The Encyclopedia Britannica has almost hundred and odd pages on the subject of education. And education history too has a long process of how man throughout questioned and doubted and became skeptical and argued and pushed the boundaries of knowledge. That is how ethics, what is right and wrong were asked and also how philosophy and science were reached. From medieval times onwards to the Renaissance to the French Enlightenment and modern day world of science and technology, Industrial Revolution to the present day, the Information Technology and Internet we have reached the current world of great many mental breakthroughs. Modern man’s mind today is uncluttered and also cluttered in some areas.

Education today stands at the threshold of many new breakthroughs. It is quite a long time since the world faced two unmitigated world wars and destroyed many mental blocks. The Western countries, mainly the Western European societies have advanced much in many learning streams, mainly in humanities and sciences and also in shaping and governing societies. Thus politics as a humanities branch again emerges as a high priority field. India stands very much at a threshold.

In one respect, India is at a very high threshold, in the sense; we run the world’s largest democracy. This has become rather tried and tired old reiteration. What does it mean to be a great democracy with 1.3 billion people? It is a very complex and contradictory statement.
How sure are we, the common people, to live in a democracy? It is what makes our many current convictions and governance complicated. India after seventy years of independence seem to have not realized, neither fully nor partially what freedom and independence means for the average citizen.

Has anyone pronounced the very meaning of the concept of freedom and liberty? I need not presume I can do adequate justice here. Sir Isaiah Berlin, my professor of political and social science, taught at Oxford in the 1960s had expounded it at some length as positive and negative liberties. In the Indian context it should mean absence of fear and anxiety of the authority. In recent times, in many democratic countries, the democratic government also ensures some mental peace and happiness. This mental happiness can come only when a government acts with absolute neutrality and in short what is called in the BJP parlance, raj dharma!

The present day concern is that no articulation is available. No one is talking out! It is the task of educated and enlightened public opinion to enable a discourse on raj dharma. It is the critical task of education to enable education and culture and much of other learned men and women to ask for further enlightenment. So, education becomes rather very critical.
Education policy is making the most demanding task. This task is not for bureaucrats. It is for creative thinkers and public intellectuals. Unfortunately, Delhi is populated with full of bureaucrats, retired and serving, they won’t be forthcoming with new thinking and ideas! It is for the Prime Minister and his close associates to undertake this demanding task. The country can’t wait further to create a more liberal, secular and a more open society!

Commercialization and money-making?

It has been one full-term and the beginning of the second term! The education policy hasn’t been completed. We don’t want to sound shallow and by any means non-serious. Education is a tough field at any time. Education is as serious as you are and as comprehensive as your learning and perceptions. That is why education in the Encyclopedia Britannica (14th edition) covers nearly one hundred pages! Yes, education is as old as mankind. From Greek times to the present day. Anyway, right now, the BJP government has got a unique opportunity to refashion education policy as it thinks fit and start implementing at least some of its pet ideologies. As things stands, not much progress has been made in some of its critical segments – history, religion, politics, philosophy, sociology and related fields. It suits well to reshape Indian history in a new light.

We at the School Journal strongly believe that Indian history has to be revamped radically. Indian history has to be recast as to make Indians feels confident and not psychologically dependent as regards to how foreigners, invaders to others had come and inflicted some decisive battles, from the Mohammad Ghazni to Ahmad Shah Durrani and Babur to others. These series of big battles, in our view had created a national psychology of inferiority complex and the Indian mind even today is not fully a developed independent mind. We have to travel in Western Europe to see for ourselves how the average Western European citizen feels self-confident, self assured and he or she seem to us, Indians, so independent minded.

This naturally born independent mind is missing in India as I see it. I too learnt to cultivate myself, first at Santiniketan and later at Oxford, England. I can’t narrate my own evolution as a grown up as it is a long story. At Santiniketan, I learnt to appreciate Indian culture’s uniqueness, unique strengths, its old traditions, of course spiritualism which too is a great characteristic. From tradition come much of ancient Indian learning, its caste and religious traditions too. Buddha, in my understanding, is the first secular Indian thinker and sage and the early Hinduism too in its vast and comprehensive sense, with great deal of openness and tolerance has given sort of catholic broadness etc.

So at this age of globalization and much else in the secular world, I won’t go for an intolerant conception of a narrow and short-term based agenda-type Hindu creed. What such a narrow-focused Hindutva, propounded not even by scholars and thinkers but by a set of political persons, spokesmen and others who only help to stir up disharmony and discomfort.

We should not forget we live at a historic period of democracy and not look for divisive forces, be it religion or castes, but search for unity of mankind spread across the world, in almost all countries.

On my visits to European countries of past great many civilizations, Greece and Rome in particular, what impressed me were the solidity of the civilizations that are teaching us even today so many lessons. In Athens we saw of course, the Parthenon, the white marble structures where great thoughts sprouted. Down at the Acropolis grounds, at the Ancient Agora, the public ground which was a market place as well as a government secretariat, the earth on which Socrates walked, Plato and Aristotle, the many other spots where the extant structures even now stand, where they remind us how they conducted the democracy government.

You can’t but be exhilarated by the great foresight and a mentality to search for highest principles from which even now we struggle to find relevance for our own light. Athens is an education to the world! Athens is a school for the world. Liberty is a concept heard for the first time! The same voice we hear from the Roman Forum from Cicero. How to rule from Republican Senate?

Democracy is learnt through tough challenges. Oh, there is much to learn for modern man. Education is for man’s enlightenment. This should be the basic core of any education philosophy and policy. So, let us lay down the first principles of education and then proceed further. Indian education has been borrowing from outside all the time. The last were the British colonial masters! Now, at least after 70 odd years of freedom let us draw a system of education free from imitation. I am all for this mindset. Let we sit together and mull over what can really be done in education at all levels, also in such related fields like culture, sciences and other fields.

The eruption of large scale violence and aftermath of events!
Isn’t it time to call off the controversial legislations?

The violence in UP, the country’s largest State and the hub of the 200 million strong Muslim citizens must be sending all the signals for retreating on the path of the same policies?

By any reckoning democratic politics calls for consultations and building consensus and reconciliation. In the current situation it is the paramount duty of the incumbent government to reach out to the Opposition parties and get a dialogue going on to reach out an end to the arson and further confrontations. It is very unfortunate that no wise counsel is forthcoming from the larger public space still filled with many of the powerful sections .We expect men and leaders and wisemen like all the industry leader, like Rahul Bajaj, why even other, friends of the Prime Minister, like the ones, Mukesh Ambani, Adani, Mahindra Chairman, Anand Mahindra, even Ratan Tata, Kumaramangalam Birla must come out and appeal to the establishment for new initiatives as the great many lesser sections of entrepreneurs are suffering from the large scale shut down of Internet, now the critical instrument to help maintain the industry and enterprises.

What the people of Assam and North East have been experienced from the illegal or otherwise, the migrant populations have been moving out and thus getting the local populations suffer is known to all people in the rest of the country.

But what no one expected is the way the NRC and CAA have brought about, a shock and pain that these two major legislations implementations have caused. The widespread feeling that these two legislations have been aimed at discriminating the brother Muslim people is not yet disproved by the further action on the part of the government.

Let the government speak out, let the TV channels and other media outlets go out and education the public opinion. Instead the Prime Minister and the Home Minister are not forthcoming and explain before the public how they decide to bring the situation under control.

The deaths in UP and Mangaluru, the violence and the imposition of Sec.144, even in cities like Bangalore and also the disconnect caused by the Internet shut down further angered the people. This time in Jammu and Kashmir too the Internet block upset the people there. Jammu and Kashmir is now acknowledged globally as a dark spot on the Internet. Do we continue this tag on a state already on the boil?

Since August 4, after the protests against the CAA began, other States also experiencing shutdown, and the fate of connectivity is being decided by officers empowered by the Temporary suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency and public Safety Rules, 2017 under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, or Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, surely a sign of our outdated laws and legal fictions. This is surely a disruption of an extreme measure.

A case in point is the spread of rumours. This is wrong and the information vacuum had had to be avoided. The social media is active at such situations and the officials must have avoided such things. The Prime Minister, writes an editorial in The Hindu who has fashioned himself as a digital first leader, issued a twitter appeal, issued a twitter appeal to people in Assam on the CAA, but they did not get it as they had no net. The NDA government should also be aware that the connectivity chokehold applied on J&K is proving lethal to entrepreneurship, crippling a new generation running startups and promoting women’s entrepreneurship.

A disrupted Internet is dealing a blow to digital financial transactions across several States, to e-governance initiatives, and economic productivity. It affects education and skill-building, as the Kerala High Court affirmed in an order holding access to the net a fundamental right that could not be denied arbitrarily. The court pointed out that the apprehension of a gadget being misused is not a legitimate ground for denial of
service.

The government should action specific complaints. Yet, since 2015 shut downs of Internet has been rising-134 in 2018 alone! The NDW seems unwilling to change course. In fact from statistics available so far, India has the dubious distinction of becoming the first country to shut down Internet connections!

These are some of the more disturbing trends in a country proclaiming to aim for a 5 trillion dollar economy. More than any other country, India is losing face, notes the editorial as a democracy abroad. The US Senate and other panel have wronged India on its human rights claims. That is wrong, reform and progress vitally need the net in this age of wide awakening all over the world.

Internet penetration is proving a new tool of progress even in the rural areas and the Internet use is spreading among the farmers and rural youth in a big way. Short term issues should not cloud our long-term goals and vision.

What are the short and medium-term implications?
A confrontationist polity? Agri economic slowdown?

Yes, the many critical sectors, agriculture, rural India and the generation of employment for the youth etc are all giving a sense of uncertainty. This is not good. We need to speedily cultivate a collective sense of solidarity, a sense of reconciliation and a new hope and optimism all around.

As we write the country is driven by widespread protests over two legislations passed by Parliament. One is the National Register of Citizens (NRC).The other is the Citizens Amendment Act (CAA). The story behind these two Acts needn’t detain us here.

As we write the TV screens are screaming with gory scenes of popular protests all over India, and mass violence in all the major cities. This sort of protests we have not seen for a very long time. May be this sort of popular unrest must have been there in the 1975 declaration of the Emergency by Indira Gandhi.

Any such widespread agitations often lead to fundamental changes in the polity as well. Even the Mandal Commission Report led to V.P.Singh’s short-lived regime. Many such agitations as the one in 1965 in TN over the Hindi imposition led to a complete change of political history with the advent of the Dravidian politics and an end to the progressive regime of the Kamaraj era.

As things stand these are only the beginning. What the future holds for India’s polity and economy? Both the Prime Minister and the Home Minister have not yet come out with their reactions. The other functionaries of the government are not visible and not speaking out. As commentators have written there is fear and insecurity in the air. Except the top two leaders no other ministers seem to have any standing in the hierarchy of the power structure. Already, the last many years after the Modi government came into existence in 2014, there have been radical changes in the governance style. Many institutions like the police, judiciary and the media, why even in the working of the major institutions like the Cabinet and other ministries there have been changes, not all to the greater good of the public in the conduct of the persons and the power wielders.

Unfortunately, in all these years we were given lots of promises and hopes for so many changes. But at the end of these long years what we have been faced with is the unexpected economic slowdown, the worst in many years.

This economic slowdown, it seems, a very long one. Not many, the experts and bureaucrats, those in such organizations like the NITI AAYOG, are speaking out and shedding any light.
It is these key experts who must be forthcoming to give hope and light to the general public.

As a senior journalist has put it (The Hindu, 20.12.2019) the Prime Ministers stands tall over all his colleagues and no one in his Cabinet don’t seem dare to open his mouth!
Yes, it looks like that and is a sad state of affairs to see the country of such a large size is finding itself none other than the PM, has to take the initiative. How much destruction of public property we have to still endure before the explosive situation can be brought under control?

Apart from all other considerations it is a sad development that no one could foresee for what has happened so far and when will the situation can be brought to a positive solution.
Is this the right time to talk of specific problems of critical sectors like agriculture, rural India, youth and the corporate issues on which depend the growth of the economy?
No, it seems that the public are confused and wonder what will be the future shape of the polity.

In a recent book(The People Vs Democracy by Yascha mounk, a Harvard economist and political theorist has brought out some of the similar recent trends in some other countries, some democracies, some dictatorship of the new varieties like Turkey, Hungary and the reviewer names the Indian Prime Minister too, that these newly elected leaders and also
the newly found enthusiasm for ‘imposing’ popular polices in an undemocratic fashion, a sort of illiberal institutions and authoritarian style governance. Such of these countries and their leaders have also won some widespread praise from foreign government and leaders. As Mr.Modi has liberally earned all through his tireless travels and participation in international summits.

But suddenly hs is caught in unforeseen unfavorable reactions, as from the USA and neighbours like Bangladesh and may be very soon even from far-off countries too.
Already, countries from the European Union, the ones like Finland, Sweden and others who have spoken out on our stand on J&K, we might expect newer criticisms over what the Western nations see as Human Rights violations.

Given current subdued tone of domestic criticism, we shouldn’t be complacent to remain immune what possible fall-out our current predicament might take us to.The point here is that India is after all a mature democracy, for 73 years we have practiced democratic politics, our electoral practices have won universal praise. So too our international policies on many issues.

Our economic strength is fine. But the new challenges on trade issues, especially the agricultural trade policies we have to become more open-minded and we have to become a more dynamic agricultural economy and a participant in multi-lateral trade policies.
We have to co-operate and become worthy partner in more progressive agricultural trade participant.

For all these dreams and hopes fructify we need a more open debate on our basic issues. Religion and communalism, India has a vast territory to traverse and we need to collect more talents in the governing elite. A democracy calls for a new sense of shared values, even an ideological consensus. Consensus-building is the democratic ideal, at all times, let us know.

India passes through a new phase!
How the people and the rulers are understanding issues and challenges?

The Maharashtra inglorious episode is an aberration or a new trend? Let us hope this is just an aberration that is cut short for the common good of all the people of India and also for the wiser counsel among the leaders.

The day when the country and nation must be rejoicing on the 70th year of the Constitution day it was a sad comment when the entire Opposition boycotted the session and the august occasion was seen listening to such a discordant appeals from the top leaders that sounded so gross and so ill-timed.

What sort of nation we are building today. Do we forget the solemn pledge this country made? Do we care for the great many democratic values we have pledged to safeguard? It was really a very sad day indeed!

It was a sad day and the Constitution Day celebration day marked by great many thoughts, let out by the President and the Prime Minister to the entire legislators were so sounded discordant and the country at large thanks to the visual media spread the day must have looked more out of tune and out of context.

But what was also ironical was the very same day when the unseemly and often the most deplorable scenes were enacted by the MLAs belonging to the three main parties, namely, the NCP, Shiv Sena and the Congress, so shuffled along to different locations, was it a tragedy or comedy? They were joined together to stake claims on the formation of a new coalition government.

When such a possibility was sought to be prevented by the BJP in alliance with Ajit Pawar faction of the NCP. Pawar and his uncle, none other than the formidable Sharad Pawar was engaged to turn the tables against the BJP’s well-known tactics to install minority governments with dubious numbers in many States and also getting on with the governance norms, in fact a mockery of governance that was on such a display to the shame of all right-thinking men and women.

Unfortunately, Indian society and politics in the last 70 odd years of freedom, one has to realise, not evolved in the most enlightened Constitution norms and conventions but was ruined by a sense of vengeance or revenge and such unseemly scenes when leaders conducted themselves shamelessly in open defiance of great democratic values.

So many critical comments we heard from so many leaders. The dynastic rule was many times voiced. Ideas of dynastic rule, politics as family fiefdoms and worshipping of unworthy leaders as almost demi-goods. The unqualified persons capture power, we have seen many times in many States. But what dynastic rule has to do with the sort of government we have seen installed in the fist place. You see sloganeers with placards calling the so-called winners by all sorts of exaggerated descriptions and titles.

Of course this half-baked politics came along with some regional parties, first in the South where you had the film star politicians worshiped as demi-gods who were otherwise the most corrupt and the most unworthy of persons. Spending time in jails and also accumulating wealth through all sorts of wrong means has been held out as near unquestionable. Also, politics also had become otherwise all for another sort of butchering democracy and using large scale populist slogans and other fascist methods.
This craze hasn’t gone away still and even now we see such threats to democratic politics, though you can give legal veneers to the gross corruption and why even you can give justification to use of government machinery to cow down peoples’ voices by misuse of official machinery, police and other forces.

As The Hindu editorial (Nov.27) says one saving grace in the current episode is the Supreme Court acted with great appropriate manner, acted in the needed haste and promptness so that the usual tricks and twisted the ruling parties employ have been prevented and the honour and prestige of the Constitutional order has been restored. Of course in all this happening one leader, namely Sharad Pawar had emerged as the icon of sorts, given his long career that had seen so many setbacks.One more observation: it is talked about that the three party coalitions is a contradiction of ideologies. What ideologies.

Hindutva vs secularism? Or what?

To put things in perspective, it is a strategic coalition of parties that wanted to prevent an ideology, namely, the BJP ruling combine that resorted to a direct capture of power at once at whatever be the cost to Constitutional norms and political morality.

Power must be sought by some principles. Here in the new strategic coalition power is sought on some publically known aims and goals. Now this is an open society and also a society with all liberal values is promised and people are free to know and judge things for themselves. It is a liberal society of freedoms and not an illiberal society of fears and anxieties.

Let people decide. That is a healthy alternative.