What the School Journal’s mission is like?
It will give an alternative to the current fear and despondency of many journals and newspapers!
We have been publishing the School Journal for almost by now some 45 years, if you take the year 1965 as the year of launching our very modest school newsletter. This was done by then what was called by cyclostyling the typed matter by a Gesner machine. Even before that we just typed by hand and distributed to visitors to our school which I founded in the year in 1962 in a remote village. There was this American Quaker volunteer sent out by the American Friends Association. The Quakers were also called Friends, the pacifist group, which opposed war and refused to join recruitment and preferred jail terms during the world wars.
They sought peace through various ways. One way was to go out and work among the people in different parts of the world. That was how Mr.Sheldon Clark, the volunteer who came to the village and lived there for more than a year. He almost created a minor revolution in the village. He made by unlettered mother to converse with him in English! He would bring the cow from the farm to our home, would milk the cow and do all the household work done by my mother!
It was Sheldon’s idea to start the International School Newsletter to tell the visiting American friends about our work and this was started as a modest affair. The visitors would give small donations, 20 dollars the most and very soon we were posting the newsletter to some of the top names in America. One was I remember one Arthur…something who was once the chairman of the prestigious Tennessee Valley Authority, the model for India’s own Deodar Valley Authority.
Then only I realised the potential of a newsletter. Then we started printing the newsletter for some time. After Sheldon left I continued it off and on and I don’t now remember how long this continued. My own school itself earned reputation far and wide, in Delhi and outside India.
That was how one French Protestant Father got interested in my school and the friendship led to an invitation to visit France and speak to schools and the general public. I went with my family in the year 1971 and spent three months in the Paris suburbs and also sometime in Paris. I met among other some of the leading French intellectuals, one day M.Guy Molly, the former French President of the Fourth Republic! He was a Socialist and I learn a lot from him about the evolution of the French Socialism. My interest in the subject still endures.
I spoke in Paris and in the lycees and my speeches were reported in the French newspapers and even the stiff state controlled French TV showed us on its reports!
Now, the school stopped functioning a long time ago and yet I am glad to see the news letter has been transformed and now in a magazine format the publication has reached an all India audience.Now as the readers can notice there is a very different content and we cover practically all news and developments, besides formal education, primary, secondary and university education, all topics that impinge upon education or what broader education and culture and society are like and the various developments, from IT to careers and the aspirations and articulations of the modern society.
I have also now been focusing more and more on certain core themes. Given my background of education at Santiniketan and Oxford, I am very much concerned how the Indian identity is evolving. Our colonial hang-up had impacted Indians in a peculiar way. We still are burdened by the bureaucratic culture, by our baboodom, we feel subservient, lack self-confidence and feel unsure to express our opinions freely and we are still subjected to the authority of all sorts.
Now, the globalisation and the IT revolution, we are impacted by the Yankee culture, our new educated middle class, including the new millionaire and billionaire class are either over-awed by the US wealth and the US might or intimidated by the white skin and we feel inadequate in various ways.
Our Prime Minister is a prime example and role model about all that is best and all, shall I dare to say, that is worst in the Indian character!
Now my mission is to create a new Indian identity, a self-confident nation, proud of our status as a software superpower and as such we Indians must become more self-assertive and must dare to speak out on a variety of issues and must feel that we are capable of taking our place in the world.
This seems to me still a long way. There is no cultural maturity still. We don’t yet have a bhandralok middle class, as we had in Bengal during the 19th and early 20th century Bengal.
Specially in the South, in the Madras Province of the British times, there was this well-educated middle class; the Madrassis became a byword for efficient work and skills in English language etc.
But today, in the South where the English language is supposed to be better than what we see in the North, I am appalled by the degenerate politics where neither Tamil nor the English is doing well. The Tamil literature today, so too the Tamil and the English press too is degenerate. One day I saw the full-blown picture of leading editors of the newspapers and magazines in which I saw N.Ram, the editor in chief of The Hindu hand in hand with the editors of yellow magazines!
Such is the penetration of brain washing propaganda and toeing the line of the ruling party.
Even the otherwise much-admired Hindu newspaper carries more foreign news columns, reproductions and practically no contributions from within the country!
What sort of loss of faith or loss of nerve? So, I thought, our School Journal would be the alternative to The Hindu opinion on various issues: politics, society, economy, education, music and arts and IT and the exciting developments that would engage the new generation. Our print and online, internet media covers a whole gamut of the latest developments in knowledge and comment and in-depth examination of new ideas and thoughts.
I was a student of Sir Isaiah Berlin and Sir Maurice Bowra, both later became Presidents of the British Academy.
Readers can see some of the latest developments in new ideas and new thoughts are covered in these pages, within the constraints.