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!

Or, who knows today’s villages better?

rural-india22It is our firm belief that only those who live in the villages or those who have links with the rural India as landowners, traditional owners of agricultural lands, are those with much stake and can speak for the villagers’ points of view.

Unfortunately the Indian media industry, both the print and the new style TV news channels like to print or present the rural India still in standard old-fashioned ways.

Villagers  are still, after 70 years of Independence  and also a great deal of economic development where you see almost every village has changed, why transformed  into sort of well-connected roads and telecommunications, the Internet and the mobile phones have really put even the illiterate people in the know of things.

In states like Tamil Nadu, to cite one example, rural roads are such an advanced development while in the nearby AP, in the border district of Chittoor which was once the constituency of Chandrababu Naidu where once we missed one rural route and the struggle and the fear we went through till we reached the Bangalore highway, it was a nightmare. The AP rural roads is a hell even now. This is one instance again.

The point is that rural India is still neglected in the over-all development perspective of the governments.

Also, for the rural distress we have to add the related political culture, the parties, more so the regional parties have added the multiple issues of widespread corruption, poor media reporting, the corruption-ridden administration means the many government services are not reaching the people, pensions are not paid and the 100-days work schemes don’t pay the wages and so on.

Again, taking TN as a state for reference, the TN state was once well-administered but not anymore.

The two regional parties, DMK and now the AIADMK have played extreme populist policies that   there is a breakdown of the state machinery. The police is at the beck and call of the local village party functionary and the rural issues, a combination of social, caste and other issues, too many to describe here, have led to, as we have seen right now in the state a series of suicides by the very poor people who have been caught in the web of usury.

Just as we write a series of suicides, from the Southern state to the capital where people have borrowed at very high rates of interests.
So the spread of usury means what?

It means that banks are not lending money to the very many segments.
So, what reforms needed?

A whole range of administrative reforms!

How to ensure the future of the villages would be set on some rational grounds?

We need to recognise the rural realities as they are emerging.We need to recognise, we say, by recognising the existing traditional social and economic hierarchies, right.

There will be social and economic inequalities, right?
Inequities right?
How to deal with inequities right?

As of now there is no such rational approach. The current chaotic political culture is one party when captures power dominates the entire society. From universities to the village panchayat, the local party functionaries dictate terms to even the Vice-Chancellor!

The District Collect, Superintendent of Police and even others, we restrain ourselves from mentioning the other branches of the government, these government agencies instead of operating in some independence depends upon the almost whimsical powers exercised by the incumbent Chief Ministers.

So, we are now living in a democracy which is becoming more and more authoritarian. So, the time has come to study the rural issues in some new objective manner.

So, please appoint a high-power commission to suggest the new rural institutions and thereby giving some new freedoms to citizens to become farmers, to buy lands and rent lands and cultivate crops and invest in rural professions and services.

We have to generate employment. One sure way of generating employment is to give freedoms to people, farmers to invest funds in farming.
Today, we have to resort to much illegal means to get things done in the rural areas.

We know much of the same corruption on a larger scale is indulged by the persons in cities.

Corporate corruption we all know. Some of the more powerful politicians have been punished and some are inside jail. Still many are outside the jails and are awaiting sentencing!

All this is now reported in the media for fear of the authorities only.
So, what to be done?

We have to debate. Teach rural sociology in all colleges in the first degrees like B.A. Teach rural sociology and conduct department-led research in all universities.

Let the Prime Minister and the Chief Ministers talk on the great rural issues of the day.

Introduce reforms with well-qualified to do it
Education’s many new challenges!  Education is a public cause!
Not a private profit!   This is the School Journal’s motto!

chairmanBut then there are many new challenges to education as a current ideal. There are practical issues and also theoretical and even philosophical issues. First the current issues. There are great many shortages in the education sector. There are no qualified teachers, you know in many areas like Maths and Science. In the UK they are looking for maths and science teachers. If you have the skills, you get the visas which are sought by Indians for all other jobs. So, there are education skills shortages you must know. Then there are shortages within India itself.

One top public school in India recently advertised for the headmaster’s job. The School advertised at huge costs in all Indian newspapers. Almost a whole year was wasted in the search for a qualified HM. But alas! Only two or three finally turned up! So, the Selection Board, very decoratively titled; panicked and then they wanted another search, after spending huge money on foreign recruiters!

Alas, there are not good graduates from any of the reputed colleges or elsewhere. One from such unheard places like Rohtak and some remote institutions are the ones that helped to send candidates. What is the message here? The message must be loud and clear!

India is not producing the required quantity of talents in a wide variety of fields! How can you become a first class nation with first class citizens. The corporate leaders gathered in Delhi and feted each other on the great strides they have made in economic growth. But do they think of the sectors outside their sphere of activity? We fear they don’t. So too others like politicians, social leaders or the cultural, religious and intellectual thinkers. There is a scarcity of talents in many critical areas, not to speak of education in particular.

Recently, there was this Kerala senior writer and intellectual in his own right, Paul Zacharia, the Malayalam writer and he spoke how the Indian media had destroyed the renaissance spirit in India.

May be this is an extreme view and in our view it is the moneyed class, it is the fund givers to the political parties and the new generation of politicians, selfish and unconcerned for the wider issues, it is this political and, if we can use such an expression, the capitalist class that are contributing to the rise of an authoritarian regime, authoritarian political culture, where the uneducated low caliber political worker calls the shots, the state machinery, the bureaucracy responds to the local police and  the local goondas that runs the state.

Corruption is an area we avoid. Why, now, education itself has become the very corruption breeding sector, where you needn’t study, learn and work at all. You have the money, you get the degree you want! From an LKG admission to a medical degree!

Unless we, the thinking sections wake up, there is every likelihood of Indian society turning to submit itself to an authoritarian regime. No democracy. Not even the semblance of anti-corruption measures taken by the Communist leader XI. Yes, education may be a public cause. But it is has become a business and an exploitation of the helpless society! So, please take education seriously!

How the Indian polity is evolving?
How the ground-realities are evaded?

cm-sir-greek4Yes, there is also a historical cycle to this phenomenon of holding on to power, from ancient Greece to modern day Indian democratic realities!

The Greece we visited recently as a family tour, we mean the journey to the ancient classical Greece of the 5th century BC when the Greek democratic ideal reached its peak under the ancient general and statesman Pericles had its ups and downs.

Of course we all admire the ancient Greek ideal of democracy but then it had its other side, rule by tyrants, rule by the oligarchs and also the rule by the 500, the rule by the 30, all the demos and also when the Greece country had its unparallel thinkers, artists, sportsmen and orators and educators called the sophists and many other brilliant citizens. How can we come out of Greece without recalling the mind soaring Parthenon acropolis temple, built in all white special marble and the names who created such a world wonder and also the sculptors, sportsmen who gave the world the Olympic Games etc.

It is altogether a very inspiring story when we walked on the very spoiled, the very path traversed by Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.
It is a different story right now, today when we see the decline of modern Greece and the one right now saved by three successive bailouts by the European Union!

Now, why this preliminary?

Simply because in India, we all seem to acknowledge and also feel certain pride in saying that India, after centuries of slavery under successive foreign occupiers, have become the world’s greatest democracy with 1.3 billion demos!

Yes, that is something about which every Indian must feel proud.
So, our emphasis on certain basic features and certain values of democracy. How fair, how reasonable and how ethical are our political institutions that make up our democracy?

Here, we like to share with our countrymen some serious reservations.
Yes, the fundamentals, like the Constitution, are strong and almost well-founded. But there are certain grave issues too.

There is an unsaid conspiracy of sorts among the elite in the country.
We seem to have a very poor opinion of ourselves when it comes to practise what we preach. There is a ruling party with certain ideologies, however imperefct. But we don’t seem to believe in a robust Opposition Party or parties.

See the plight of the Congress. It is now almost limping, so to say.
It is bogged down in dynasty. Rahul Gandhi is simply unfit, many say, why even the Congress insiders, the seniors say for themselves! We have interacted with some of the seniors. We can even name them or quote them. Yet, they seem to secretly entertain the fear they might lose their privileges like living in Delhi and getting the small crumbs of like other perks, both monetary and also some network connections.
Why the seniors must hang on with jobs in the party, very minor assignments like leading some delegations etc.

They occupy prime real estate in Delhi and they enjoy vulgar satisfaction of leading a political life!

And Rahul enters this murky world and also proves himself in the public eye what he is capable of. Young men and women must enter politics, fine. But there is some criticism that you must prove your talents for leading a large party like the Congress.

So, to stick to a dynasty and claim to nurture democracy seems gross error. As for other Opposition parties, here too there is some confusion. Nitish Kumar, the Bihar CM, is another contradiction.
What is his articulation of any alternative political path? How can you destroy Opposition unity and in Bihar you still cling on to the mandate that was given for a different combination. Corruption? OH, a very boring and dull topic.

The only contribution of Modi regime so far is to keep a studied silence on corruption. May be, the PM has his own sound reasons not to mention corruption as a high priority. The real losers are the poor!
So, the Indian democracy is seriously flawed and the times we live through are also very unpalatable.

The Election Commission, the Supreme Court wants to pursue the politicians who have accumulated assets in dubious manner to be investigated. Who doesn’t know that the EC is toothless and the political class doesn’t want to give powers to the EC, reform the EC to make it truly a watchdog of the clean political space.

Also, there is a great deal of arbitrariness in governance. Many of the sensitive institutions, from human rights to anti-corruption bodies that are not functional. Corporate power is another issue. If you are a Socialist in the old fashioned way, believe in controlling economic inequality in the economy and society, you would really be a critic of Capitalism. The BJP heavyweights don’t open their mouths in this area. Neither they seem be worried about ethics in governance, so corruption is spreading like wild fire!

So, democracy in India while taking roots there are also certain dangers. History has many facets. We don’t know how much history agitates the BJP think-tanks.

You can’t just live for a five year term politics only, right? You have to have a vision, to use a very tired phrase!

A nation, a people, an ideology must have a historic context. Let thinking sections, the elite, not the Delhi-based cynical retoured bureaucracy, the ones who don’t have any stake other than living there till the end can take such a view. Not the ones who have some serious idealism and commitment to great ideas!

Let Indians of the younger generation dream at least!