Addressing core issues in Education: Understanding Indian Psyche and Identity

“Education Begins at home”, from a long time people had been referring to this. The family itself was a ground where the first education of the child began and mother, father, grand parents were the mentors whether it was related to moral values, character building or to learn anything they receive in inheritance. For being mentors to their child the parents did not have to belong to hi-fi family, nor they had to be literate and follow the modern education system. The agriculturists could teach their own experience, pot-maker could teach from their skill in pot making and the weavers could teach all the details of weaving to the younger generations without any difficulty and the joint family taught them to prosper with all the love and co-operation in the family by being bonded together. Why did we lose this delicate intricacies of our society which started to be lured in everything that the so-called educated western world did and followed. In broader perspective seeing the dissatisfaction in the society, increased suicidal rate, increased divorce rate and leading a mechanical lonely life and even behaving like complete robots, sans emotions; and educated we called them.

A journalist in an article on Indian film and refers Mumbai film industry as “Bollywood”, passes the same judgement on global warming as the west; without his own logic and relates everything with global warming; passes judgement no holds barred referring to an accident and describing the deceased human beings ‘dead’ as  if they were animal; blows Arushi’s case out of proportion, accusing her father of all foul things. A father communicating with his children only in English and that too incorrect English; and the new generation children reacting to every situation saying ‘oh shit’. A mother is unmindful of the garish dress that her daughter is wearing, whether she is able to carry it.

The child brings a complain about his teacher, making him an escape goat and the parents side up with their children, and in front of the child abuse their teacher, denting his psyche for learning forever. We have started living in a society where the journalist do not know the language they are using, what words, where to use the words, what will be the impact of these words; the parents are unaware of and unmindful of the impact of their body language on the child, the youth are completely oblivious of the surrounding around them that they do not even notice the dominantly western facial and body features of the mannequins and frequently go for public display of flesh and affection which is so characteristic of the west. Day by day we are becoming judgemental, we are imitating judgements, becoming cynical and negative.

Why are we behaving the way we are behaving, why don’t we feel bad when we call Digboi still Digboi, we compulsively speak English without any purpose, compete for being the best snob, and do not have any accountability for our body language and rash behaviour, to ourself.

The general behaviour of the Indian masses, their dualistic approach confused body language, identity lacking and far from original expressions; all point to a deeper malaise within the society than merely being the imitation of the west or the impact of globalisation.

The journalist’s choice of words, their feelingless expression, the childrens lack of regard for the institution, the trivialisation of their family norms, the general lack of respect for the fellow Indian’s the insulting attitude towards our heritage, the mindless following, imitation for a western yardstick of culture, all are not normal symptoms for a going to be youthful nation, and a superpower in the making.

A very objective analysis will point out that the root cause of all our anomalies and contradiction is the way we have been brought up, our parenting our basic and primary education.

The present Congress regime is all over for education, bringing in myriad type of reforms. The Government thinks that the people in India need to be educated, and rightly so. The Government is trying everything from innovating teaching technology to making students happy, taking their stress out by structural reforms in the examination, introduction of technology to make their job of learning easy, and improving the reach and then utilising the resources for furthering the growth of economy. With all these positive efforts is the government addressing the core issue, of education?

All the reforms being talked about are only talking about giving information to students, making information availability and assimilation easy, or making them literate, or making them consumers for the western style crafted products or in the name of globalisation make India one of the biggest consumer market in the world.

Globalisation will ultimately benefit the west for if it is to benefit India, Indians must have their own identity, their own character their own thinking, their own logic, their own vision where they can fit in. Globalisation must be for Indianess, Indians and their identity.

The government wants to create a good workforce, a force that will have money and no identity or does it want to create future citizens who are so, strong in their character that they can be a force to reckon with in shaping the development oriented growth attitude. Does the government really believes “character is the end of education”, and they are harping for it.

Our problems lie somewhere, we are solving the problem somewhere else. The present form of education must evolve to address the problem of identity loss, the present form must not always address the problem quantitatively. It will require, apart from quantitative reach a much more elaborate qualitatively oriented ‘education’ that is not merely information, and literacy.

Through this present education form, and change we will again not be addressing the core problem, we will make only some cosmetic change. This of course is required but when a lot of things can be done in a parallel manner, why not do it, why only superficial changes. We required to be taught that we have an identity, our past was glorious, and our perception of having been better and be better than the rest has some solid footholds “Colonialism killed India’s capacity to know our past and self, and globalisation threatens to destroy our will to know ourself our heritage, our past.” Who are we? We don’t have an answer.

Why character and identity building in India is so weak?

That in India, we are losing love for our country, our patriotism we are losing our value for relationship, social bonding, disregarding population as a social capital, our own expression, our language, our fashion, our institutionalised form of meeting between boys and girls (Dandiya Ras) as well as our way of lovemaking, is not a simple problem.

Consequently, although we may not realise that, but we have started lacking in will to develop our character that can define itself into a sustainable happy life with dignity and we are not taking any concrete step to prevent the rot in that steep fall in values.

The reasons for this rot lies in the way Indians have been educated.

The western model of education banks itself on physical infrastructure like buildings, equipments classroom while in India the emphasis had always been on the teacher, the bonding between guru shishya and among the shishya itself. The western model aimed at creating isolated groups by breaking bonds among the people and aimed at making them a good workforce and good consumers. The fact is, it is the bonding and community feeling that helps making people a resource. The western model only recently realised that there is something called “social capital” which was known to us centuries back. Without this community feeling the ‘social capital’ there can be no understanding of the people, between the people and consequently self realisation, of one’s mistake, strength and vision.

The western model of education harps on inequality and resource availability. Those who have resources and those who have influence will have access to it. This was the only way the west could have thought of it and which ultimately leads to perceptual distortions in the society. In India, it has been the other way round, all the students irrespective of their position in the society were asked to wear single unstitched cloth, shave their head, go begging to run the ashram they belonged to. The mode served dual purpose of bringing the level of ego down and homogenised the entire student group. Both of these conditions increased the ability and propensity to learn and mechanism to learn.

The Indian value based education always considered youth to be full of energy, sharpness, instinctiveness capable of very good learning. The western model took it differently advocating youth is for fun frolic and enjoyment.

Teachers are still considered as commodities and students as consumers in the western society. Something that is associated with creative thinking, creative learning can never be, and never ever be reduced to so mundane and mechanical. Teaching like music best flourishes in non mechanical ambience fuelled by respect and affection the teachers and/or singers get from their students and audiences. The mentors in Indian case had always been full of gravity and character, never as agents of public relations, as in the west.

Indian learning has been and always been intuitive and logical learning in comparison to only logical learning of the west. Intuitive learning is many times more powerful than logical learning as it allows one to draw conclusion much faster and affectively. The west has acknowledged intuitive learning only after Osho went on to make them understand that. West has somehow attributed logical learning as correct and intuitive learning as incorrect. In order to allow logical learning to take place we have scarified intuitive abilities of our people.

Indians used to learn being loners, being worriers. They have never been very happy learners in groups and being blithe. Play and learn concept has always been there but the west has only now recognised the value and role of worriers. Our culture never thought to the extreme that anxiety is toxic. Anxious temperament does offer certain benefits: caution, introspection, the capacity to work alone. Worriers are likely to be the most thorough workers and the most attentive friends.

Indians learned from everything-nature, plants, animals local people downtrodden, big and small. Their core concept was based on evolving, understanding enlarging and respecting, local wisdom. The various water harvesting techniques that have evolved-ahar, pyne, johad, zing, thingal are examples of genius of local wisdom in resource management. Unfortunately, we have followed the west in emulating their resource ‘exploitation’ by building large dams, completely ignoring the local wisdom, and the results are for everyone to see. Dams may have solved a problem or two, but they have created more problems than they have solved.

Indians decision making ability was never borne out of objective knowledge like the west. In the west, there was never an ethical, moral dimension of decision making unlike what Indians learnt. Indian kids learnt most about ethical and moral dimension in decision making from stories of Vikram and Vetal and Panchtantra. The west on the other hand followed ‘should be’ and prescriptive approach to the practical problems of life and never took on the attitudinal modification at so early a stage in their children.

Some inputs to Policy thinking

India will become a superpower not by jumping around and celebrating here and there that “We will become superpower”. The notion of a superpower wrests more in perception rather than reality. India will be perceived as a superpower not because of its military might but because of its “soft power” status enshrined in its people’s ability, willingness the attitude of the people, the lifestyle and their vision and more importantly their bonding.

And, if the people are devoid of identity, character and conviction, they will never be able to make themselves heard, respected and thus cannot influence decision making and policy.

Merely a large consumer population is no ticket to becoming superpower. One of the key to making India a superpower is making its presence felt throughout the world in education, and not the propagation of western model of education, rather the propagation of the type of “Indianness in education” that has evolved out of 6,000 years of long trial and error, analysis and interpretation of local wisdom and emphasis on creativity, intuition, and risk taking.

Any education related policy if it is not involving the future vision will help India become a population of money earners devoid of any personality, identity and character devoid of logic, wisdom and ability to distinguish between right and wrong.

Indianess, Indian form of learning, Indian ethos like intuitive learning, gurukul parampara, guru shishya parampara with an inbuilt mechanism of seeding them with truly Indian form, “Plan with Indian ethos, design with technology” need to be followed.

A new model, thus is required to be created which can meet the objective of not only solving the problem of primary, secondary and tertiary education, but also to create a new socio political force, help brand the society futuristically and create a new nationalistic force with an instiable desire to diffuse knowledge give the world an alternative method of learning along with creating a market for Indian lifestyle, India products, Indian thinking, Indian fashion, Indian drama, Indian movies only then we will be truly powerful power, a power that will rule the mind of the people which will become a major and create a niche market of its own.

The large population resource with its rich cultural inheritance has to be preserved as the world’s biggest asset and it will also set a precious example for the whole world and make it a better place to live in. But the core of the education must take into account Indianness, social and moral values, our awareness related to our decentralised resource management whether be it water, mineral, energy or our environment. The conservation of all the resources must be given the first priority so that our coming generations must come to know how rich we had been and how rich we can become. The mechanical world talking of globalisation does not know, it is the understanding of problems with the core of the heart that will really bring the solutions. Ecology must always be given priority over technology and robotic personality emotion driven passion, and passion driven decision making motivational behaviour with intuitive learning has to be the core of our education…………Each Indian must be educated to the extent what exactly India has learnt from its past is and why they must be proud about, and this how they can solve global problems then will be call truly globalised world.




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