Do you know for what reasons? In house plot ownership trouble! Let us appoint foreign faculty in Indian universities!
Who doesn’t know Prof.Amartya Sen, the second Nobel Prize winner from that remote, desolate land of Santiniketan, which every Indian knows and feels proud of – as an innovative university founded by Rabindranath Tagore? The Nobel Laureate now lives in the US at Harvard University. Santiniketan is no more as the one seat of learning universally adored and admired!
Why recall his name now right at the fag end of his academic career? Simply because he criticized Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government policies as a public intellectual. This in India right now is considered as a great sin and as everyday events. Those who don’t want their names to be dragged in are in a silent mode, and the country pays heavily in terms of rare opportunities to grow and prosper.
Sen is an old friend, since we were contemporaries in the late 1950s at Santiniketan! Now, his name is dragged by the Santiniketan administration. The situation is so bad that at the recent celebration of the Santiniketan centenary celebration, the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was not invited. Many others were left out including its famous student Prof.Amartya Sen himself. What a shame, we might say. But who cares these days for refinement and restraint. When everyone in politics and outside can speak on any topic and even call names and all that will be acceptable and passes on! Now, shall we say something about education? On the present-day education?
The so-called New Education Policy (NEP) is neither new nor is a policy as such! Why do we say this? Since independence, India became an independent nation with such a history and legacy. India didn’t pay as much attention to its education and reforms as we should have. Why? It is a big question. First, Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy, his own views on education, called Basic Education, was left unquestioned even now. How can we question the views and basic beliefs of the Father of the Nation? Second, the successive education ministers. Today the education portfolio is managed by people, especially now by people who can’t even speak in English. So the status of education in the states where the language patriotism leads to an obstacle to modernise the syllabus and the mother tongue is also a problem, especially in demands for teaching in the mother tongue. The whole thinking on education is problematic in terms of any issues we can’t go into right here!
As for our own view, we are publishing this journal for almost half a century, and readers might see our old issues to know how we have started to change Indian education. Now, we like to draw the attention of Indian educators of the present times about where is the current scenario moving?
As per a recent account in the London Financial Times dated 22 April 2020, overseas students studying in the USA, UK, and other countries are from India 2,11,015, from China 5,46666, in Canada 36,326, also from other countries like Mexico, Japan, Saudi Arabia (66,408), South Korea(,69,659) and so on. This year there is a steep decline because of Covid. The drop is 4 billion dollars. The so-called developed countries receive about 5 million overseas students. Now, take India. We are sending more than 2 lakh students every year to the UK and the USA. Do you know the cost for an Indian student is Rs 55 lakhs! For inland, domestic students in the UK, it is only some Rs.10 lakh only. Let us think of Indian history. We have been taught under the British Raj to rate everything British superior to whites Indian, be it education or teach for truth! Our simple submission here is that we seek to revise this foreign obsession, be it education or culture. Let us provide world-class education right here in India.
Let our new education policy draw a policy to appoint high-class foreign faculty to teach in our universities, starting with new private universities, then going to public universities. The education market in India is almost exploding. So, this is the right moment. The so-called new education policy is not new at all. It is just a failure to stand up and think and look out at the new world. Enough for this time, we think!
There is as of now, as we writes massive trust deficit between the farmers and the government and this trust deficit must somehow be brought to an end. How is the unresolved question.
Farmers’ agitation and the way the deadlock is going to be resolved. The role of the media in creating mutual understanding and trust critical. Why the farmers’ s agitation has taken the turns and twists it has done and thus vitiated the political environment so badly. It is really sad to see that a good package of farm reforms is thoroughly mis-turned into a total negative step.
Agriculture specially must be a great national priority and it is even now. The agitations must have been foreseen when the bills were rushed through many sections of opinion felt so when the rush through Parliament took place. However, the way the agitation was pushed forward is really unfortunate. Now, what matters is the resolution of the overblown issues.
Many of the provisions in the three contentious laws are really good and conceived in good spirit. Some compromise and give and take is in place. And let us hope that instead of further hardening of postures on both the sides, much goodwill is brought to bear on the issues. The media, both print and the news channels played a very restrained role and in fact we needed much more open expression of opinions from all sides and we are sorry to note that many those who participated in the TV debates almost people accustomed to participate in such debated and most of them seemed to have been based in Delhi and most of them if we can say, are professional speakers and commentators.
In a field like agriculture we need to reach out to people in the States and also those engaged in farming activities and local bodies, like Zilla Parishads and gram panchayats. We are really disappointed that senior leaders and authorities like former Prime Ministers, and even State Chief Ministers (like Deve Gowda, Kumarasamy and why even those from other regional parties and well-known farmers leaders were not interviewed and a diverse sections of people who are better placed to give the government and the public a better and balanced views on such matters like MSP and contract farming etc.
Leaders like Sharad Pawar and Deve Gowda as Chief Ministers of Maharashtra and Karnataka have proposed many farm reforms like land ceiling laws and tenancy farming had long ago had spoken about such issues now covered by the three farm legislations.
Surely, the media comments on the ongoing controversial debated is in our opinion is an old hat, to put it bluntly and the farm issues now covered is still only a starting point. Much more in-depth debates are required to turn the farm sector into a reasonably profitable track.
Even in the current agitation we heard from many sections of the participating. Farmers, both men and even women agitators talking of the future of farmers in bleak terms. Surely, farming for the marginal and small holder farming it is not a field for future for their heirs and we have to do many more things than what we have envisaged so far. There are other sociological issues that cover lives in the Indian hinterlands.
So, let not the current urban -focused TV news content deceive us to think we know all the current realities. We need more genuine spread of panchayat raj and much more modernisation, in terms of communications and why even in education and employment prospects and the very entrenched bureaucracy at the district and panchayat levels.
There are issues after issues in the Indian villages.
Let us all, both the government, the already enriched and entrenched political class learn to be humble and even make a partial withdrawal from the self-sure hardening attitude.
Let our brave farmers also learn some humility in taking the issues beyond the breaking points.
But peaceful protests can’t be prolonged or unlimited!
The current farmers protests in Delhi has created a new phenomenon from starting as a peaceful protest by farmers from Punjab and Haryana, mostly Jat-Sikh farmers who, as everyone in the rest of the country knows, are relatively well-off comparatively and well organised as a professional group, they have done well in pressurising the centre.
As we write this on the 14th day of the farmers agitation in which lakhs of farmers mainly from Punjab and Haryana and the nearby areas including western UP who have gathered in massive protests and creating a great deal of misery for the farmers themselves and also for the rest of the country there are concerns about the turn the agitation might take in the next few days.
Also the agitation by India’s, perhaps the most powerful, by land holdings as well as the earning power, no less their political clout all add up to a new political dynamics, gives Indian politics its own dynamism in the world outside as well inside India. Why this sudden upsurge in Indian politics when India is also caught up with its own inherent strengths and if any, its own vulnerabilities?
The time of the farmers’ agitation seems to be a bit unfortunate. There is a widespread feeling, rather very extensively, both inside as well as outside India at the way Indian democracy’s many very strong features are suddenly forgotten it seems, by our other friends and also the perceived unfriendly countries. Of course, Chinese is the one country and people who have suddenly gone off track and have sought to speed up its unfriendly moves by amassing thousands of new troops on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and thus destabilising India’s borders and the neighbourhood countries. areas and also entering into a new memorandum of understanding with the Pakistani army and other unfriendly acts. And this is a subject on which much has been said and here there is no new comment to make.
Now, coming to the current issues that agitate the countrymen ,we have to see that in our practice of democratic values we seem to be not so very sensitive. The recent happenings apart, the very passing of the three farm laws that are now holding up a fruitful outcome of the farmers-government dialogues, in a significant manners owing to the way we had enacted the very same laws.
Why hurry in passing the laws by voice vote, not by due process of a parliamentary debate?
Also there are many other instances, in the recent past when we see many other important laws are also rushed through, why even the Question Hours an important feature of a Parliamentary democracy was done away with, debates are not conducted as they should and also some important and even controversial laws might have been referred to Parliamentary Panels so that many controversies might have been settled at the Panels stage?
There are a long list of issues that need to be referred to here but our observations are limited to few instances only. There is an air of tension and discomfort in the country. A Parliamentary democracy is like a mother ship, it must accommodate very many diverse opinions.
Indian agriculture sector has drawn disproportionately high irrational, politically driven cynical disbursement of high subsidies.
As per a latest RBI report India has disbursed (or written off) nearly Rs.2.12 trillion as farm loans since 2008 in 11 years. This was done of course by the UPA regimes and one stark lesson is that this type of farm loan waivers s wood do any more in the future. So the current three farm laws were enacted in good faith we admit. But then negotiations’ few amendments of the current laws are in ordering farmers must also see reason and withdraw the agitations in some good faith.
Democratic government is a government in dialogue with the citizen groups. We appeal to all sections let us sit together, debate and engage in very broader consensus. Conflict resolution is the very essence of a democratic government.
Democracy and democratic traditions must be defended by all means and upheld much more extensively. Today, both inside India as well as in the outside world, the cause of democracy is not having a positive environment. The so-called big powers are not shining examples of a vigorous. Democratic world, far from it, there is a distorted picture of a world in turmoil. See the great democratic country like the USA with its well-defined features.
An elected President is held up at the doors, so to say, by a loser with his own ego and much else. This is a great shame to the entire world that pins hopes on a world open to multi-cultures and very enriched democratic traditions and history. And see the US has a written, rather well-written constitution and yet the one who wins a popular mandate must be gracefully welcome by the one who loses the mandate. See what Donald Trump is doing!
As for other big powers, in Russia and China and for that matter others who are middle level countries, in the Middle East and elsewhere, there are many deficiencies in terms of what we would call the very many democratic traditions and values.
In India, we have a very strange scenario of contradictions and very many discomforts too. See, the Indian Prime Minister on the occasion of laying the foundation stone for a new Parliament complex, what should be a very appreciative tones from many sections, we have a prolonged farmers agitation going on and the very foundation stone ceremony is marked with a Supreme Court stay order and the injunction that no physical alteration can take place before the apex court gives its final verdict.
Of course this is a discordant note and also the Opposition parties’ criticisms are far from complimentary. The PM has observed that India is the mother of democracy, fine! It requires a more thought-out observation that would have made a wider appeal.
India is of course a great democracy. It has the largest written Constitution and also, it has incorporated the best features of values and documents from other countries and a secular democracy. Why bring in the Hindu priests in the ceremonies and give a rather less than full robust secular feature?
Exercise of power Exercise of power is a very tricky affair. Running a State is not an easy option. The office of the Prime Minister in a democracy and that too in the size of Indian democracy to put it bluntly has never been practised before in any other country and that too in a country under an elaborate Constitution like that of India has no precedence in history. We are a new country with just less than a century of actual practice of democracy. The last 70 odd years of Independence, now looking back we can say with some confidence is far from satisfactory seen from several points of view.
Pandit Nehru perhaps was fairly successful to uphold and even taught in a way many aspects of Parliament behaviour. But after Nehru’s things went out of hands and Indira Gandhi most destroyed the very fabric of democratic norms, arbitrary exercise of power took the fairly democratic foundations off the track and since then we have been not proceeding on any sound path with coalitions intervening. We have also to note very seriously the damage done by the great nationalist party, the Indian National Congress which starting from Indira Gandhi to her successors, from dynastic heirs to other cronies had the unfortunate impact of further destroying the democratic values and leading the very apparatus of the party and the government machinery into the unforeseen path of further ossification of both the party and the government institutions.
This is also very critical for any further efforts for the revival of the institutions. So we have to accept the harsh fact that in the eyes of the outside world, wherever democracy and democratic values are upheld the deficiencies of Indian democratic institutions would be seen critically and we have to introspect seriously the short-comings in our democratic practices.
Democracy has many more meanings, liberal atmosphere is the first condition for an open society. Today we don’t find any such atmosphere. There is a pervasive fear everywhere, at many levels.
The critical feature of democracy is an open debate and a free criticism in the media. We have to also refer to the many deficiencies in the media freedom, there is the phenomenon of social media restrictions, fake news and an atmosphere of aggressive polarization of issues, many other social and religious issues.
The economy India is not only the world’s largest democracy with the largest population, India is also a very large economy, the world’s fifth largest. So, Indian economy’s performance matters a great deal not only for signing the living standards of the Indian people, we have one of the largest poor people, malnutrition and the socio-economic condition of the largest number of people is of serious concern.
How is the Indian economy performing? Considering India also has a peculiar distinction of a large professional economists population fortunately or unfortunately most of these clever population have now migrated and we don’t have the expertise of such high nature are settled in the USA and they at best make periodical visit to their mother country and give sporadic advice and thus we are deprived of some of the high quality expertise.
We have poorly viewed this pool of abundant talents and one of the suggestions here is that our Prime Minister must sit with the experts who might not support the new ideology of Hindutva and so we have to make special efforts to get this talent to serve the country.
Surely, professional economists alone won’t suffice but we have to go beyond the current practice of slogan-based catch phrases to pull the economy out of the present negative GDP growth paradigm. Economic growth is not as straight, as we find the pronouncements of the government functionaries.
The world is much more integrated and economic growth of any country is tied to the wider world. And no one country alone can prosper at the cost of others, big or small. See the current negotiations between the European Union chief executive and the British Prime Minister, World economic growth is interdependent. And India is luckily poised for a balanced all round growth and our resources, land, water and geographical spread the regions are so favourable that India could be a large world agriculture economy. We are first in agri exports, especially rice and milk products and so we have much stake in agricultural reforms.
In all these issues, we need greater consensus building, more democratic. The consultations with various stake-holders would only produce good outcomes. Based as we are in the South, we confess we don’t know the ground realities. As we see on the 18th day of protests continuing, there is now politics in the goals of the on-going agitations and so we need more patience and more negotiations.
Also engage the leaders of public opinion, genuine independent experts from sciences and technology and also the IT experts and progressive experts from medicine, entrepreneurship and other fields to pull the education sector that is now hijacked by the brutal exploiters of the education Sector. Education for a country like India needs some very radical thinking. Already, the education sector is out living its current utility. In the engineering sector there is wasteful excess capacity. In the Management Education there again wishful investment.
We have to reverse the current trend of Indian students migrating to the USA and UK. The few these areas very unacceptable, each Indian student pays 40-50 lakhs for a three year undergraduate course that is not needed in the first place.
We offer to list with the planners, bureaucrats and like to share our inputs. We have travelled recently twice to Oxford University and found out how therein UK too, there is quota for State Schools and so the quality of education for the Indian students is far from world class.
So, education, economy and economics, there is a very urgent need to think beyond the routine courses. One more final word on farm reforms. You see the average Indian farmers are not earning any net surplus. This is not a great discovery.
All these issues are complex and we request the Central government functionaries to consult the really qualified experts and draw inputs from a wide spectrum of society. In Tamil Nadu we see the admissions for the capitation-fee-driven.
We at Vadamalai Media have a long commitment to education sector and for the half a century we are publishing an English language journal, School Education Unique Journal and we don’t like to divert here from the main issues of farmers’ agitation. But education reform also can’t wait. Anyone and given the Prime Minister’s capacity for radical reforms of now, how many of the Indian educators know. That India is losing out about 2-3 billion dollars annually by way of high education fees charged by both the UK and US education sector?
India is facing many challenges and the one current headline grabber has hit media freedom. A well-known name in the TV channels is the Republic TV promoted and anchored by the well-known professional, Arnab Goswamy, has been arrested, yes arrested in a not dignified way, he was manhandled by what we can see and kept under arrest for a day and produced in the court the next day and what we learn from the reports he was treated in all manner of indignity gives rise to feelings of dismay and disgust . Media freedoms in India came by way of many restrictions from the British Raj days onwards.
The story is well told many times over. We need not repeat the same again here. Today in the prevailing circumstances media freedoms are under some sort of threat and fear and intimidation. The career opportunities for the media professionals is now not assured and many reputed journalists, both print media and TV anchors had withered away and many new accounts of what is going on in the many TV companies give us many unsavoury pictures.
First, there is the financial troubles from what we have learnt that the promoters, why most of them come not from any business backgrounds and they are of course skilled and uniquely gifted ones and yet they very soon get caught up in some tangles and thus we learn that even the many gifted anchor-promoters. Find themselves in some trouble or other and they are forced to borrow funds, this often happens by getting “caught” by the big guns! Thus, you will find some, why even the top quality channels are not deep. Debts in the hands of billionaire businessmen. Media ownership is not a big mystery! We don’t really know who owes how much from whom!
There are so many tricks of the “trade”. And thus we see the new changes and also new faces and new partners. The money laundering tangle is one of the big mysteries. And the end result is that today the 900 odd news channels compete in all manner of sorts and what is news and fake news and genuine news are all big questions for the pundits to get involved with.
So the whole business of creating news, genuine news, reliable news from fake news is a totally unwelcome media landscape.
The future seems to be online versions and to that extent the future of the print media. Industry is a question mark. In such an uncertain future of the media industry and the whole question of what a government can do to ensure the So too the career profiles of some of the most respected or once respected names and faces.
Also, the health of the media industry. Even the once much respected venerable BBC TV channel is now going easy on many news items. So too even in India we see even the most committed channels are using the entertainment element, mixing Amitabh Bachan and a film actress or some glamorous faces to draw and retain interest in the serious news watchers.
Is there political patronage for the news channels?
This is a question we have to explore separately. It is better to read some of the latest print stories of the News channels. As for the pine media industry too are suffering because of the steep fall in the sales of print copies of newspapers.
Citizens freedoms – Is a debate for the hardcore veterans. Media freedoms are a much valued part of any democratic or why even to the dictator governments.
In India as we have stated many times over that we need a new media policy to ensure the time-honoured respect and protection of media freedoms. Citizens must be feeling a sense of genuine freedoms in their day to day lives. That is the very heart of a democratic government.
And as we see that freedom really means to discuss and debate issues openly, there would be conflicts of opinion and there would be as the Arnab case shows even class with the executive, why even with the arms of the government like, say, the police and such acts of right and wrong, such excesses have to be dealt with in the exercise of the due process of law.
The courts, why even the political parties and the members of the legislatures have to ensure an atmosphere of tolerance. India’s freedom struggle too was marked by several phases. Our own political history too much was affected by world history, from Soviet Revolution to other happenings and so what we today in India need to keep in mind is that political ideologies, even the current ones, from the Congress to the BJP and other minor or major formulations have to be seen and analysed and applied in the true historic context.
Today, we are driven by much confusion and contradictions formulation of our contradictory political formulations.