Macualay Ghost still dominates Indian Education?

Yes,ever since I bought the hardcover edition of Akio Morita’s”Made in Japan”,way back in 1985 or so, I was drawn to Morita’s story.

I remember the day  when  the Janata party was in power in Delhi. I one day went to see the education minister Dr.P.C. Chundar. Now his name must be a mere memory for all in education but Chundar was a different man. He was a great scholar and writer and, as I know Bengali society well,  he was the typical bhadralok middle class intellectual who knows so much and yet he was unperturbed by the burden of office. He was perhaps the best qualified to occupy Shastri Bhavan and yet I am not sure what impact he made on the Indian education scene. Perhaps others who knew him well and worked with him can comment. The point is that he received me one day as if I was one more admirer or a favour seeker. But I was neither. Yet here was the Cabinet Minister at his residence pouring over some papers and he looked like a typical writer or one devoted to some academic research.He talked with me politely and listening to my outpourings of the many woes of the education sector.
I was at that point of time running a semi- residential rural  secondary school in my native village and it was famously named an International school.

I think, as I recall now, my school had already met with some problems, a mix of local and state politics. I was in a disillusioned mood. May be that might have been the reason I was impelled to call on the education minister. As he soon as he came to know of my education background, Santiniketan and Oxford he became more attentive and gave me a patient hearing. At times I noticed he was keenly also watching the many projects and programmes I was narrating about in my school. At that time the UN and Unesco were very much active and in the news and so we bought many of the Unesco model textbooks on teaching history and geography in problem countries like Israel and other such countries with border disputes and also history disputes as  was in Japan. Read More →

Kamaraj as  I knew him

Kamaraj had played historic roles in the evolution of modern India. In Pre- Independent India he built up the Congress Party in Tamil Nadu as a strong well-knit organisation. In post-Independent India he became a role model for efficient administration. His Chief Ministership took TN to the forefront of development. He introduced free education, free meals scheme which now has become the education development model for the whole of India. The author had the rare  privilege of working closely with Kamaraj for well over a decade till his last days. Here he shares some rare information and insights.

Kamaraj as President of the Congress party

It was at this time I came into personal contact with Kamaraj! I was drafted to the AICC assignment through my Bengal contacts by Atulya Ghosh, the then Congress Treasurer.  As I was the only Tamil speaking AICC political expert and as I was always active in AICC affairs, I used to visit Kamaraj at his residence almost every evening to be with him.
It was  the time when visitors, more so the journalists and favour seekers would throng his residence, I  came in handy for Kamaraj to answer some of the queries and also communicate with him all sorts of matters and information. So,  I was eye-witness to some of the dramatic events too. Read More →

It was a revolt of the masses and the intellectuals!

Has the world become a better and safer place after the fall of Communism? Views could differ. America as the sole Superpower is a good thing? or, what are the alternatives? All big and difficult questions. Politicians are no better judges,as they are transitory persons. Today they would hit the headlines, tomorrow they would be gone!

Yes, the intellectuals could help.But who are intellectuals and how many are really independent? Historians are better guides. They look at the past, the current situation and interpret what they know. Paul Johnson, Eric Hobsbawm I had read just once again. Johnson in his Modern Times and Hobsbawm in his, The Age of Extremes, a history of the world, 1914-1991 have much to say on how the fall of Communism in 1989 came about how it can be understood in the wider context. Johnson, given his broad sweep of historical look,puts the emphasis on religious forces, Catholicism in Poland, the late Pope John Paul’s involvement with the Polish trade union, Solidarity as the real trigger for the subsequent events. Given the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the post -Communist historic phase, may be the religious forces could have played a role. In Eric Hobsbawm’s (he still calls himself a Marxist historian) view the fall of Communism was owing to the internal contradictions in the former Soviet Union.

Johnson, in a telling anecdote says how in 1987 during the Gorbachev-Reagan summit, Mrs.Gorbachev (Raisa Gorbachev) went for shopping in New York with her American Express Gold card.An illegality in Soviet Russia but Russia was crumbling and succumbing to the capitalist economic forces.

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Prof.Irfan Habib’s  insightful criticism of the PM!

What is at stake?

Dr.Manmohan  Singh, the Prime   Minister,   had been duly honoured by Oxford  University with a honorary degree. It is Doctor of Civil Law, not D.Phil, as the Hindu newspaper’s typical longer than usual ponderous editorial wrongly carried it! On reflection I thought it is how the Indian mind still works! Dr.Singh’s speech to suit the occasion with lots of scholars present was mild and quite typical of the man, soft spoken Singh had soft pedalled many touchy topics. The India-British connection is at best a controversial one.

As we grow into a mature country, with a sense of mature independence and with some wisdom, we Indians must also grow into a more assertive self confidence. By this we don’t mean we should be offensive to other’s sentiments. At the same time an occasion like the Oxford crowd gives one a rare opportunity to give an indication of what India today means to Indians as well as to the outside world. In this perspective the Prime Minister of India hadn’t done his job in keeping with the power and prestige of his high office. The PM had dwelt with certain light-hearted, if not lightweight observations. May be he and his speech writers would have wasted quite a lot of time as to come up with some typical English sahibs’ style self-deprecatory humbug! There is every indication in the carefully written (or constructed) with many juicy ordinary jocular-like remarks on Indian English is “okay” provided you also give some “embs” to the so-called stiff upper lips in the audience!

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Studied economics, didn’t become an economist !
I became an entrepreneur!

I had always wanted to become an entrepreneur, wanted to have my own independence, I wanted money, lots of money and do a great many things! In this I encountered obstacles at every turn.

Yes, it is ironical that I studied economics both at Santiniketan and Oxford and yet I didn’t become an economist!

Instead I had always wanted to become an entrepreneur, wanted to have my own independence, I wanted money, lots of money and do a great many things! In this I encountered obstacles at every turn. More cruel irony is that these sorts of obstacles continued when my son came back from Oxford and when I wanted to induct him into an independent entrepreneurial career! Somehow in our home there was this aversion for jobs from a very early age of my life. Perhaps, my going to a Gandhian school must have put in me much of an idealist outlook. More than that perhaps is my rural or rather feudal background. I always looked upon others, the society from my family’s point of view. Our family had a fiercely independent existence and the very village environment gave us this, robustness. My mother was known for her extraordinary mental courage and resolve. She always faced uphill situations, so her in-born native courage stood her well. May be, I might have inherited this trait from her, so, I believe. Read More →