ENDANGERED INDIAN HIGHER EDUCATION
LEARN FROM RAMAYANA AND MAHABHARATHA
“Over the next few decades, as we tried to reach education to the lowest common denominator, we constantly lowered standards so that the weakest could catch up. As a result the average intellectual capacity of our nation today is determined not by our brightest, but by our dumbest.” (Ghazala Wahab
India enjoyed an enviable reputation in the international theatre due to her very rich culture and heritage derived from high level of education. Bharath produced many scholars, philosophers and scientists whose research works were stepping stones for the entire world.
Education which brought fame and respect to India all these centuries is being spoiled by short sighted approaches and deliberate dilution of standards. Indian education which was in the hands of highly dedicated and erudite scholars supported by philanthropists who respected education is now being managed by selfish and rapacious politicians, movie magnates and fake holy men. Education which was revered and respected is now reduced to a business where students are looked upon as customers.
There is a big clamour about the declining standard of our education and the below 30% employability of the graduates/post graduates. The unscrupulous mass education programme has precipitated several malpractices like bribery , paper chasing, fake certificates/degrees, showering of high marks , appointment of less qualified tutors, mark sheet manipulations, name changing , copying in exams, impersonation of candidates, tampering question papers, plagiarism, cut &paste practice in research papers, making qualification insignificant to price tags for admission to professional courses and for recruitment of teaching staff and many more. Majority of the students who have little interest and seriousness in learning but ambitious to get a degree are being pushed to pursue higher education.
Lowering the standards to help the undeserving to get through is a dangerous trend that is swamping the educational system which will have a serious negative impact on the growth of the nation.
Lesson from Ramayana
Private universities boast about their modern building, A/C classrooms, high style furnishing, restaurants, large play area, cultural activities and foreign tours etc. but are silent about the quality of faculty and standards of curriculum. They try to sell not only low quality education but also false dreams to the innocent and ignorant boys and girls. All universities circle around marks, grades and placements.
King Dasaratha got his four sons after a long wait. He brought them up like jewels. He was a very learned person who had a complete sense of value on education. He could have easily built a mansion for the Guru Vasishta and asked him to give tuition to the princes for their education. Instead, he sent them to Gurukulam where the boys had to stay at the Guru’s hut, sleep on the floor, fetch him water, clean his house, wash his clothes, do all services and try to learn as much as possible. They learned the disciplined way and realized the value of education.
Education has to be earned. It is neither a product that can be bought over the counter nor a gift or compliment. “Mahatha Shramena, Mahatha Shradhaya cha” - We earn education with lot of efforts and dedication.
LESSON FROM MAHABHARATHA
Removing all the bars like ethnicity, caste, religion, gender and financial capacity should be in place so that equal opportunity is given to all; but the standard bar should be elevated in post graduate and research studies to maintain high quality. Higher education should be only for those who have the interest and ability to pursue it.
Guru Dhronacharya in Mahabharatha made it clear that he will teach and guide only the Kshatriyas (Royal family) in the art of warfare. Secular social scientists criticized it as arrogance of casteism. His approach had no caste discrimination; it was pure rational thinking. Kshatriyas have the natural inclination and seriousness to learn because it is required for them to run the government and protect their citizens. Dhronocharya wanted only such students having the commitment and concentration to learn.
Ekaliva was an exception and not an example. Similarly a Sheppard called Kalidasa who became a great poet by the grace of Goddess Saraswathi was also an exception.
Dedicated teachers are vexed with the influx of unfit and disinterested students. The system is further roiled as the teachers are made scapegoats for their poor performance. The teacher/student relationship has become meaningless without mutual respect and trust.
The low employability is not only due to rote education system but also the dilution of its standards.
Prof. Arun Kumar of JNU, Delhi wrote “Many Indian intellectuals tend to be “derived intellectuals” recycling knowledge from the West. Government’s ‘Make in India’ programme depends on strong R&D capability which in turn requires a dynamic system of higher education.”(The Hindu Jan/8/2015)
Scholars including the President of India have been blathering about the poor quality of education. No action will be taken because dilution has become a populist game to influence vote banks. The deterioration is also due to depriving the deserved from pursuing higher education due to socio-political pressure. Over pampering the weak at the cost of the qualified will backfire on the quality of the future teaching staff.
Indian education is becoming a factory where the students are manufactured rather than developed and groomed. An army of mediocre graduates /post graduates rolled out of diluted education system are now available for the progress of India. Indian intellects are already puzzled to find the prestigious IITs and IIMs rank after 200 in the list of top universities in the world; netting them into the dilution process will push them further down in the list. Education, the powerful weapon of India, is getting blunted; a bold corrective action is required sooner than later.
The procedure of Ramayana and Mahbharatha may not be suitable now, but they had the right approach for quality education.
Dr. Krishnan Arunachalam
( Published in The Mylapore Club Magazine February/2015)