Confusing the means and ends!
Universities in crisis
There seems to be utter confusion in education sector. Policy makers seem helpless! Even the initial noises seem to have died! Yes, the statistics and budgets are on paper. On the ground nothing is happening!
Once a while it is nice to stand up and have a pause! Education? Oh, it is such a rat race! Education is such a busy activity, such a big business everyone is engaged in it and everyone is running! Relentlessly! There is always tension, anxiety and unlimited ambition! In the young minds! To add to the intensity of education is some of our leaders. The President of India has been talking, for one so relentlessly, as igniting the young minds! It looks that all the young minds of India can be ignited as if in some big explosion! Suddenly India in 2005 would become instantly, overnight, the India of 2020! A developing India suddenly a developed India!
No, such intensity is no education! That is why great thoughts had been contemplated by our ancient thinkers in great isolation, in the great far away places, forests or hills or even caves! Now, for our immediate thoughts: education, as we say, is an engagement of the mind! Education is an engagement of the mind with itself, first, then with the outside world! Education is an engagement with the knowledge. Knowledge of the inner self and the knowledge of the outer world!
Seen in purely abstract terms, education is a process of knowing, getting to come to terms with ourselves, first, then, with the outside agencies of varied kinds and powers. Education is, yes, is all about money, at one end! We have to live in this material world. Unfortunately, like our own mental make-up. Indians haven’t thought of anything other than self-survival. So, in India we have this peculiar history, we never had an independent country for thousand years, we have never been one country, we have always thought in terms of some narrow hierarchies, castes, social groups, divisions and as such our learning traditions had never had the Western type, Greek or Roman traditions of long empires or long memories. So, Indian education tradition, in our view, was flared in some critical categories. The more we contemplated the inner self, the more spiritual we thought, the more impoverished we became in material terms or in our historic evolution.
So, in our view, when the white men came we again fell victims. Yes, we took to British education and gained. But only for jobs and self survival! This lack of a national entity of which we are part, we Indians had never got the sense of nationhood till some new, fundamental thoughts occurred in Europe. The French Revolution, its many wonderful conceptualization of man, his individual freedom, equality, the very Enlightenment didn’t penetrate into Indian education. Thanks to the British type of clerks-producing education in which we, Indians excelled!
So, now after sixty years of Freedom, we have a Prime Minister who goes to Oxford, the bastion of the white men’s pride and prejudices to confess: we Indians learnt from you good governance! Comes back and again we are back in the bureaucratic existence!
Our Prime Minister and our President of the Republic, with due respect to their exalted offices, are still moulded in the old deferential mode of conduct. Indian education has to become self-assertive in a world of competitive nations. Indian education! Education skills at least must be brought into the current international mode! At least we have to realise that we can’t become a developed nation, unless we become a developed, mature culture, a mature tradition. Yes, our IT skills now make us a software superpower! But this can be sustained and made to serve their large Indian personality only when we become a robust culture. Statistics is one side of the education process. Yes, we are running short on numbers. A third of our people have no access to education! True. Our universities are falling behind world standards. How we hope to become a developed country? Hard questions. Supreme Court ruled: no quotas please, in professional colleges!
Bold decisions in education can trigger changes! For the ultimate good! Let us prescribe the same courses, the same texts in universities as they do in Oxford and Cambridge! Some of the best talents of the world are now concentrated in the USA. All the new and young brains are propelling the American new economy: many Internet ventures are in this category. We need the brains to stay in India and create these innovative ventures and create an environment when India will win more Nobel Prizes. India must be an education for the world! Even if you can’t do it, we say: make India an education centre for the world!
Education is a slow process. A slow processing of blossoming! Blossoming of the mind. Mind is a beautiful bud, becomes a flower, and spreads its scents of such diverse richness into far and wide! Yes, we often think that education’s many meanings, its many dimensions need a deeper introspection and contemplation.