Saturday, July 24, 2004

Why we need to 'Indianise' our education system

Why we need to 'Indianise' our education system

I felt like scratching myself on reading this. I am sorry if I come along as extremely caustic but that is just the feeling I get.

This is not a negative reaction to the article but a positive one. But on reading what it had to say, I, when totally agreeing with the author, felt a sense of helplessness and anger. Just look, Lord Curzon told a gathering of Indian Princes how they had to remain Indian intrinsically. This was told a hundred years ago and that too by a viceroy of an imperial power.

Now what is being Indian ? India is not just the land, trees, rivers and mountains. India is her people. India has always been her people. The religion of the land, regardless of whatever some stupid people say, has been overwhelmingly sanAtana dharma and its derivatives. I do not say Hinduism because sanAtana dharma is a term that encompasses views that are seen to be beyond the current form of Hinduism. Indian Civilization at its height, was undoubtedly, sanatana-dharmic in character, a feeling echoed by the author here. This view is mostly beyond debate, except for a few rotten eggs, who wish to serve a contrary view.

With this knowledge, why do we then, not recognize that most, if not all of the character of Indian Civilization is Hindu ? Why do we feel ashamed ? Islam and other religions have definitely contributed something to the Indian Civilization, but they are more like seasonings and spices added to a cauldron of rice. The cauldron of rice can be labeled a container of seasoned and spiced rice, but it is not just seasonings and spices. It is mainly rice and we should understand that. Similarly, Indian Civilization is definitely Hindu civilization.

When the BJP government was in power, Murli Manohar Joshi advocated a rewrite of NCERT textbooks and this was termed saffronization by the so-called 'secular' parties. It is to be admitted, as the author does here, that the changes he actually caused were few and mostly it was just rhetoric. On the other hand, the new government has an ass of an education minister in Arjun Singh. He simply considers everything Hindu as toxic. This is not just a misunderstanding, it is bordering anti-nationalism. When we know that India is mainly Hindu in character, it makes sense to portray reality in the textbooks. But this man goes overboard when he talks of 'detoxification'. What a vile term !

This is one of those issues that makes me go really ballistic. When madrasas can directly preach sedition by preaching that allegiance to Islam is greater than that to the country, what is the problem when an effort is made to instill a love for the country in school children ? I totally agree that praise to somebody should not mean demeaning other cultures, but there have been examples of Hindu ethnic cleansing by some of the Islamic kings in India. We should not commit the folly of ignoring and not learning from history and risk repeating it.

The composite character of the Indian civilization should be emphasised, but its essential Hindu character cannot be just wished away.

A completely different aspect is children growing up without knowing either English or their native languages. This has not been done by Shri Arjun Singh, but the general tendency in India is to look down upon people who do not know English.

Shri Prabhushankar, a well known Kannada litterateur, mentioned in passing in one of his lectures that second-string writers in contemporary Kannada literature easily eclipse international Nobel Laureates when it comes to the sheer exquisiteness in writing and expressing themselves. When this can be said of just second string writers, what of the greater first rate writers in Kannada ? And what about those who write in other Indian languages, each of which has an illustrious literary history ? Unfortunately, it is not possible to translate these works for the benefit of International readers for it iis well known that translations are limited in exposing the efficacy of the real work.

I am proud to be an Indian and a Kannadiga and proud to say that I can read and write in Kannada and Samskrit. This blog should have been in Kannada, as some of my other blogs have been. But since the article was in English, I started out in English itself. I will write a separate Kannada version and put it online for somebody (hopefully) to read.

sarve janAH sukhino bhavantu !

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