In what direction Indian education is evolving?
Education is a topic on which everybody has an opinion, right?
We feel discouraged to speak on education simply for this very reason. Fortunately, there is so much wide awareness of the importance of education that everyone, from the rich to the poor, from the ignoramus to the well-educated middle class, why even the rich upper class know what they want for their children. Yet, there are serious issues that concern the country, the very fabric of Indian society, the very ethos that defines India today and India tomorrow. All these concerns come from what sort of education India has and India has to have now and in the future. That is why education concerns the best minds, the intellectuals, and thinkers and also concerns the politicians.
India is a big country. Education is spreading fast and yet there are deprivations as education is still not accessible to vast areas and classes. So, says Amartya Sen (see interview). But then thinkers like Sen are also unhelpful in some significant way. He is an academic, working in the USA and won’t ‘dirty’ his hands with specific policies and also certain basic questions of education philosophy. What sort of education India should have? What is our position on the so-called Macaulay model of education? Should India imitate from the USA model or from the British model of today or, from the French or some other model? This question has not been asked and answered so far.
This is our opinion. Certainly, the new government of Modi is also groping in the dark, we say. See the developments so far in the last 18 or so months. There is a bureaucrats-headed New Education Policy! We saw the other day on the NDTV an interview or interaction with the top bureaucrat in discussion. As soon as we saw his face we shut off the TV! Why? What a faceless bureaucrat can tell us? Tell educationists or thinkers or other experts like scientists and others.
What sort of a government we have when an education minister has no respect for academics even, let alone other more independent thinkers or experts. So said some educators, professors from reputed institutions like JNU and Tata institute of social sciences and other eminent names. Just as soon as the Indian Science Congress concluded, C.N.R.Rao, the eminent scientist said Modi needs good scientists as his science advisers. But the government didn’t respond. So, the present style of education policy making simply doesn’t lend to any sense. In the Western society you can use the word nonsense that which doesn’t make any sense is nonsense, right. Here is an offensive expression! However it is unacceptable for the modern-minded elites.
It is not that the present education opinion is all right. That is simply the burden of our argument. India can’t imitate Chinese education. It is not liberal and open society-friendly. India has a long history and tradition. We have our own ethos. We can’t afford to imitate Macaulay model either. We have to have a more current, contemporary, modern and secular education.
We have to educate a new generation in an Internet age. More science, social sciences and even cultural, secular, religion-based ethics and leadership education. The burden of India’s history had sapped our energies; we suffer from an inferiority complex, slavishness, servile mentality at many levels of society.
The very bureaucratic mind-set affected even the political classes. So, we need an open-society minded education, teaching about democratic norms, personal freedoms and a range of urgent reforms to create a more self-confident nation. Who can say all these things? Only a tiny minority of independent people.
So, this is the way we have to go and promote an independent, liberal and more equitable education as knowledge and awareness. We have to educate a whole new generation of citizens as world citizens. Let us think this way.