Saturday, July 11, 2009

Is Education really educating us ?

When I read through the papers about the various terrorists , I am amazed to learn that most of them happen to be well "educated". Perhaps, a purist would consider my previous statement self-contradicting, considering the fact that education enlightens one to not indulge in activities that may, in any way, cause harm to others, living or otherwise. In a recent terrorist attack, it was observed that a majority of the involved were Doctors and Engineers. If Education, the main purpose of which is to facilitate living, itself becomes a weapon to grab lives of the innocent, then one question definitely starts haunting our mind- "Is Education really educating us?"

Until the invasion of the country by the numerous rulers from the west, including the British, the Gurukulas served the educational needs of the masses. It is to be noted that, the Gurukula system was a wonderful system wherein, unlike the present system, a disciple learnt virtually everything. Gurukula, in sanskrit means Family(kula) of the Teacher(Guru). Unlike the present day institutions, no fee was demanded and the student was free to give anything of his choice as Guru-Dakshina at the end of his education in the gurukula (education, as such is never ending). The gurus prepared their pupils not in any particular discipline, but in every aspect necessary to face the challenges of the world. There was no fixed period of study, and the students were deemed to have completed their studies when the Guru felt that the student was versed enough. Knowledge was the driving force of the Gurukula, in constrast to Money being the driving force of its modern counterpart. The knowledge of the student itself served as a certification of his completion of studies. India is known to have mastered every possible disciplines viz. Mathematics, astrology, astronomy, ayurveda, philosophy, warfare* to name a few. Many sciences developed in India, render even the scientists of the present day dumbstruck. Many evidences of the razor-sharp wit of the Vedic-Indians, exist even today.

India which prospered in the presence of these Gurukuls, began to notice first signs of terror, when the western-rulers, submersed in their lust for wealth, attacked India. As India, which always ( and still continues to) prayed for the peace of the entire world**, least anticipated such attacks, it had to give way to the treachery of these rulers. These rulers, apart from looting wealth from India, began ill-treating Indians, by shutting down gurukulas and forcibly restraining people from their millenniums-old practices. People were threatened to get converted to other religions. Those who revolted were killed, if not massacred to death . The entire backbone of the country was ruptured. The worst was yet to happen. In the eighteenth century the British, attracted by the wealth of India, finally succeeded in establishing their reign in India. The British mercilessly tortured the Indians, depriving them off their land and property. In an attempt to completely wipe off Indian culture from this land, the British scrapped the ancient system of education and introduced the English Education. Incidentally Lord Macaulay is reported to have written to the British parliament, after visiting India, thus,

"I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we could ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation."
[ A copy of the manuscript of this letter was recently displayed in a central-government organised demonstration. ]

Western Education was then Introduced in India, sowing the first seeds of hatred among the people. The culture of India which had, for thousands of years, boldly stood undismayed, began to decline. An Indian, who had considered crossing the oceans a great taboo, began to develop a great liking for western culture. Indians began replacing their age-old styles with their so-called modern counterparts. However, the modernisation which was supposed to make the lives of people easier, happened to work in exactly the counter-sense. It is a disgrace that it took more than a century for our people to realise that they were leading lives in slavery. Revolts against the british were ignited at various corners of the country. As they lacked unity, the british found it simple to suppress them. Finally in 1947, the british realised that the they could no longer sustain the attacks (and also that it was no longer worth dominating India, for they had already looted everything possible) and decided to leave the country. In order to cause a permanent dent in the future of India, they split the country into two, based on religion. 15th August, India became free from the british officially, however, the seeds sown by them continue to subsist in our midst. It is to be noted that only Power transfer from the "White English" to the "Black English" took place, otherwise the country saw no change. Whatever policies used to be followed during the time of the british, still continue in Indian Administration. The penal code and other laws which owe their origin to the british continue to prevail. Education didn't stay behind in following the trails of the british. The text books hardly saw much difference in their contents except that the British Lords(who were the major Attention grabbers in the textbooks) were replaced with the, equally demagogue, Indian people, then in power. It is such a shame that, in our text books, there is hardly any mention of leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekar Azad. Whatever little mention has been made of the latter, is sufficient enough to create the notion that they were mere terrorists. While most of the history text book is dedicated to the Akbars and Aurangazebs, hardly any mention is made of the Brave Indian rulers like Rana Pratap, Shivaji Maharaj, Jhansi Rani Laxmi Bai, Kittur Rani Chennamma, Guru Gobind Singh, who courageously fought them.

Education has mainly become a means of propaganda for the political parties in power. It is a pity that we learn a lot about other countries in our text books, that we hardly know anything about our own. We learn how to design huge machines, but nowhere do we learn that it is wrong to hurt others, physically or otherwise. We fail to understand that we ought not damage the property of this country. As rightly said by our former President Dr.A.P.J. Abdul Kalam(in one of his speeches, the salient points of which have been forwarded across the country as e-mails),

[ Am sure, those who have had the patience to read through this post would have a few minutes to go through the following lines from the "Living Great".]

Why are we, as a nation so obsessed with foreign things? We want foreign T.Vs, we want foreign shirts, we want foreign technology.Why this obsession with everything imported. Do we not realize that self-respect comes with self-reliance?

YOU say that the municipality does not pick up the garbage.YOU say that the phones don't work, the railways are a joke. The airline is the worst in the world, mails never reach their destination. YOU say that our country has been fed to the dogs and is the absolute pits.YOU say, say and say. What do YOU do about it?

Take a person on his way to Singapore . Give him a name - 'YOURS'. Give him a face - 'YOURS'. YOU walk out of the airport and you are at your International best. In Singapore you don't throw cigarette butts on the roads or eat in the stores. YOU are as proud of their Underground links as they are. You pay $5 (approx. Rs. 60) to drive through Orchard Road (equivalent of Mahim Causeway or Pedder Road) between 5 PM and 8 PM. YOU come back to the parking lot to punch your parking ticket if you have over stayed in a restaurant or a shopping mall irrespective of your status identity… In Singapore you don't say anything, DO YOU? YOU wouldn't dare to eat in public during Ramadan, in Dubai . YOU would not dare to go out without your head covered in Jeddah. YOU would not dare to buy an employee of the telephone exchange in London at 10 pounds (Rs.650) a month to, 'see to it that my STD and ISD calls are billed to someone else. 'YOU would not dare to speed beyond 55 mph (88 km/h) in Washington and then tell the traffic cop, 'Jaanta hai main kaun hoon (Do you know who I am?). I am so and so's son. Take your two bucks and get lost. YOU wouldn't chuck an empty coconut shell anywhere other than the garbage pail on the beaches in Australia and New Zealand . Why don't YOU spit Paan on the streets of Tokyo ? Why don't YOU use examination jockeys or buy fake certificates in Boston ??? We are still talking of the same YOU. YOU who can respect and conform to a foreign system in other countries but cannot in your own. You who will throw papers and cigarettes on the road the moment you touch Indian ground. If you can be an involved and appreciative citizen in an alien country, why cannot you be the same here in India ?In America every dog owner has to clean up, after his pet has done the job. Same in Japan .Will the Indian citizen do that here?' He's right. We go to the polls to choose a government and after that forfeit all responsibility. We sit back wanting to be pampered and expect the government to do everything for us whilst our contribution is totally negative. We expect the government to clean up but we are not going to stop chucking garbage all over the place nor are we going to stop to pick up a stray piece of paper and throw it in the bin. We expect the railways to provide clean bathrooms but we are not going to learn the proper use of bathrooms.We want Indian Airlines and Air India to provide the best of food and toiletries but we are not going to stop pilfering at the least opportunity.This applies even to the staff who is known not to pass on the service to the public.
When it comes to burning social issues like those related to women, dowry, girl child! and others, we make loud drawing room protestations and continue to do the reverse at home. Our excuse? 'It's the whole system which has to change, how will it matter if I alone forego my sons' rights to a dowry.' So who's going to change the system?What does a system consist of? Very conveniently for us it consists of our neighbours, other households, other cities, other communities and the government. But definitely not me and YOU. When it comes to us actually making a positive contribution to the system we lock ourselves along with our families into a safe cocoon and look into the distance at countries far away and wait for a Mr.Clean to come along & work miracles for us with a majestic sweep of his hand or we leave the country and run away.
Like lazy cowards hounded by our fears we run to America to bask in their glory and praise their system. When New York becomes insecure we run to England . When England experiences unemployment, we take the next flight out to the Gulf. When the Gulf is war struck, we demand to be rescued and brought home by the Indian government. Everybody is out to abuse and rape the country. Nobody thinks of feeding the system. Our conscience is mortgaged to money.
Dear Indians, The article is highly thought inductive, calls for a great deal of introspection and pricks one's conscience too…. I am echoing J. F. Kennedy's words to his fellow Americans to relate to Indians…..

Having said thus, the question still remains, "Is Education really educating us?".

* It is to be noted that in India Warfare was learnt for self-defence rather than for aggression. It is not surprising that history reveals no instances of an Indian ruler raising attack on a foreign country. All battles in India were an invited result of the aggression of foreign rulers.

** In India, even today, it is a common practice to chant the "Shanti Mantra" proceeding every prayer.
ॐ असतो मा सद्गमय ।
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।
मृत्योर्मामृतं गमय ।।
ॐ शान्तिः, शान्तिः, शान्तिः ||

(Brihadaranyaka Upanishad — I.iii.28)

Lead me from untruth to truth,
Lead me from darkness into light,
Lead me from death to immortality. "
Peace Peace Peace

No comments: