We need to recast our humanities education to revamp Indian attitudes and character. The British legacy seems to have had not a so positive an impact. We have not become a self confident nation! Not yet. Why this is relevant today? Education at present in India is stagnant. Why we say so? We see this for various reasons. More and more our education is becoming narrow and standards of public conduct and values are deteriorating. Corruption in public life goes unnoticed and many new institution like Lokpal and Lokayukta remain unattended.
There is violence in the air, sort of anarchical behaviour is noticeable. Yes, we have a new education policy (NEP) since some six months now; already the BJP ideology inspired new government in power for some six years, the many attempts made by this government to draft a new education policy didn’t succeed for many reasons. Many committee’s respect for values, truth, honesty, restraint etc. are lacking and no one seems to care for such values in public life. Education policy making committee constituted didn’t produce a credible result for long and at last a committee presided over by veteran scientist Dr.K.Kasturirangan has produced one and this report is now getting delayed; it is already six months gone by and no visible movement seems to have taken place.
Now,there are issues and more issues. The schools and colleges unfortunately remain closed owing to the Covid Pandemic and also for other reasons, perhaps. Education reforms is not an easy task. The dominant trend today seems to be towards EdTech, teaching STEM skills to prepare students for various professional courses, the many competitive exams have given rise to a variety of coaching institutes and one or two have become billion dollar unicorns!
Anyway, the shift from humanities towards the science and engineering courses is marked. As we have pointed out elsewhere, there is a heavy drain of Indian talents, some 2 lakh or so Indian students, next to the Chinese contingent, migrate every year from India and China to the Western countries, specially to the UK, USA and Australia for higher education. These Western countries literally steal so much of precious foreign exchange, in the range of Rs.40/70 lakh from every foreign student! Can’t we say this is a continuation of the old imperialism education? Is this worth the value of so much expenditure?
What skills Indian students, researchers seem to seek? There are already some of the best, international level sciences and engineering, maths and sciences schools in India. We have already proved that we can produce vaccine to attack the deadly viruses! What Oxford University could produce we have produced equally speedily the very same type of vaccine within a short period. The vaccine is produced by two individuals, a talented couple. And the current crisis proved that Indian scientific talent is now mature enough to stand up to international challenges and succeed.
What I like to draw attention to is that we Indians might have migrated in large numbers but our numerical strength doesn’t match our intellectual capabilities. What has gone wrong? This is a matter I have given much thought. We Indians seem not to have acquired the unique talents, or qualities or intellectual confidence in our own inherent talents. We lack faith and confidence in our selves. This is where our traditional Indian education has led us to. We seem to have gone too far, too long in taking our British-given clerical education too seriously. Our education has become, in one word, jobs, careers dependent. See the mushrooming number of IAS training academies. Also see the late emerging disappointments. Many newly recruited IAS, IPS trainees leaving their jobs!
So, in brief, we like to suggest, a radical reform of education with a strong dose of humanities teaching. As outward by the internationally reputed philosopher, Martha C.Nussbaum (Why democracy needs the humanities).
At Oxford now they train Indians, Indian research students to look at Indian history, look at the British empire experience having done lot of good. No Indian researcher student can take a critical look. Even in the USA, Indian students after their education stay back and spend their entire life in academic field. The salary and security is much preferred than back in where you would be forced only to work under less cultivated (may be even illiterate) leaders!