A country is without an education policy
Education is not just a day-to-day activity as it is with a large number of stake-holders today. Education in India has become a highly commercial activity. Take a newspaper or turn a TV screen, they scream with full-page ads that proclaim, if we can so put it, a new millennium on the horizon. What do you want to become tomorrow? All the promises are on display. Various tuition centers are called by many fancy names. There are well-dressed boys and girls swarming the gates of many newly opened academies with fancy names. All things promised under the sky! It is rather becoming a sickening experience. These screams and shouts!
This is gross display of total insentivity. We never thought that education would degenerate so much. Education is a very noble, very uplifting thought and experience. Even in today’s world, education and culture shape the character of not only an individual but also of a country. The very essence and distinction of people are all traced to the sort of education and schools. This is so from the time of Greeks, at the height of their glory in the 5th century BC onwards. Greeks in particular gave the world the unique definition of an ethos that you can find out in reading Plato, why, even in Socrates’ dialogues when the great sage questioned everyone he met on the streets of ancient Agora where he lived and walked every day.
Man becomes civilised when he interacts with his fellow human being and when questions are asked and answers are sought. Education has a long history. The Encyclopedia Britannica has almost hundred and odd pages on the subject of education. And education history too has a long process of how man throughout questioned and doubted and became skeptical and argued and pushed the boundaries of knowledge. That is how ethics, what is right and wrong were asked and also how philosophy and science were reached. From medieval times onwards to the Renaissance to the French Enlightenment and modern day world of science and technology, Industrial Revolution to the present day, the Information Technology and Internet we have reached the current world of great many mental breakthroughs. Modern man’s mind today is uncluttered and also cluttered in some areas.
Education today stands at the threshold of many new breakthroughs. It is quite a long time since the world faced two unmitigated world wars and destroyed many mental blocks. The Western countries, mainly the Western European societies have advanced much in many learning streams, mainly in humanities and sciences and also in shaping and governing societies. Thus politics as a humanities branch again emerges as a high priority field. India stands very much at a threshold.
In one respect, India is at a very high threshold, in the sense; we run the world’s largest democracy. This has become rather tried and tired old reiteration. What does it mean to be a great democracy with 1.3 billion people? It is a very complex and contradictory statement.
How sure are we, the common people, to live in a democracy? It is what makes our many current convictions and governance complicated. India after seventy years of independence seem to have not realized, neither fully nor partially what freedom and independence means for the average citizen.
Has anyone pronounced the very meaning of the concept of freedom and liberty? I need not presume I can do adequate justice here. Sir Isaiah Berlin, my professor of political and social science, taught at Oxford in the 1960s had expounded it at some length as positive and negative liberties. In the Indian context it should mean absence of fear and anxiety of the authority. In recent times, in many democratic countries, the democratic government also ensures some mental peace and happiness. This mental happiness can come only when a government acts with absolute neutrality and in short what is called in the BJP parlance, raj dharma!
The present day concern is that no articulation is available. No one is talking out! It is the task of educated and enlightened public opinion to enable a discourse on raj dharma. It is the critical task of education to enable education and culture and much of other learned men and women to ask for further enlightenment. So, education becomes rather very critical.
Education policy is making the most demanding task. This task is not for bureaucrats. It is for creative thinkers and public intellectuals. Unfortunately, Delhi is populated with full of bureaucrats, retired and serving, they won’t be forthcoming with new thinking and ideas! It is for the Prime Minister and his close associates to undertake this demanding task. The country can’t wait further to create a more liberal, secular and a more open society!