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.