Thursday, January 12, 2012

The education India needs

This is on occasion of Swami Vivekananda's anniversary. Linked here is a letter Swami Vivekananda wrote to Shrimati Sarala Ghoshal, editor of the Bharati, Darjeeling on the 24th of April, 1897. I will attempt to paraphrase the points I find interesting.

Most (perhaps all) things about education from the letter still apply. For instance, I doubt if India has made any seminal progress in making its people think independently. Intrinsic feudal attitudes that Swami Vivekanand observes that might have set in from the Islamic age were the first such attempt that stunted India's spirit of independent thought. In the British age, Macaulayite education was the culprit and this can be observed in today's rote learning that goes on in schools and even colleges. In the feudal age, this might not have mattered much because the royals would have thought for the people. But in a democracy, where public discourse is paramount, trust in the self is important. 

As per Swamiji, this lack of self trust could be because of monopolization of education in the hands of the few, which was the tone of the time Swami Vivekananda wrote the letter in and persists in this day due to left liberals. The latter is evident when you consider the poor portrayal of rich Indian cultural tapestry, and distorted adoptions of Indian ideologies such as secularism, 'vasudhaiva kutumbkam', socialist spending etc which just serve leftist propaganda. As per him, education has to be spread among the masses, and I must add here that it has to reflect the entire spectrum of thought from left to the right, and allow the masses to choose what pleases them which is in vogue with what they need for the moment. 

The next point Swamiji raises about is lack of originality. In my view, this will follow from independent thought and decentralization of education. Another feature that is needed for originality is devotion (Shraddha) to work, which Swamiji considers next. This is absent in today's Indian education as it is based on more of vocational training. While that is absolutely necessary, there is a need of education that inspires intrinsic love and duty for the vocation, which should not be a matter of merely performing an act for money, but something for which a man takes extra pains and performs in his vocation considering it a mission of his life. Swamiji suggests that the solution to all of the problems affecting India's education is self realization as advocated by Vedanta, and then expresses a desire that the editor spread this knowledge to the world. 


PP said...

What kind of education do you envision for India,today? We know the English education today prepares us only for work in the corporates and gives us no/little time to understand Hindu scriptures and the socio-economic model that prevailed before. As per A Beautiful Tree by Shri.Dharampal, in 18th century India, each jathi learnt what was needed for its occupation right from young age. But after 2 centuries of English education, we look down upon our jathi system with contempt and ensure they leave all that knowledge behind and work in MNCs. So the Hindu Right should bring in more clarity on the word "education". Is it for making India like US, very urban competitive and dysfunctional or the Old Bharath with its jathi and duty based setup which has stood the test of time?

Karmasura said...

Thanks for commenting. I think we need a bit of both. The old bharath with its jati and duty based set up can help us in labor intensive jobs. The English education can prepare us for cutting edge innovation.

The problem with the English education we inherited was that we took what was given to us and that setup did not inspire us to think independently. People studying the same stuff in South Korea, Japan, Singapore, etc places are far more innovative than us. We have to rejig the triad of education, management and economics in such a way that innovation should be the end goal of the triad. About your mention of the US being dysfunctional, that is because the US education system is breaking down too. Until the US education system was good, US didn't have much of a problem.

PP said...

The problem is that once people see other jathis willing to take up the English education system (happened initially with Brahmins ) and move out of india to enjoy the goods the world has to offer, why would anyone agree to learn only what their jathi did centuries before?

PP said...

Why do you think US educational system is breaking? Moreover I called US dysfunctional because of the societal problems, not necessarily the educational aspect of it.

Karmasura said...

My comment was about the US public education system. The onus on performance has gone down there and it is not giving the bang on the buck that it was giving before. There is also a lot of racial politics going on. The societal problems arise because the public education system is what caters to the poor and if the education system is corrupt, that section of the society that feeds on it will falter too. The groups that are well educated in the US are doing as well as before.