By Manju Gupta
Educating to Confuse and Disrupt by Makkhan Lal with Rajendra Dixit; India First Foundation; pp 415; Rs 600.00
Written by an archaeologist and historian in collaboration with Rajendra Dixit, who is a professor of English, the book throws light on the educational system in our country, particularly with reference to the subject of history. They try to address certain pertinent questions like: Why should short-term political considerations lead to interference in education? What is the suitable substance that should form the core of school curriculum? What is the advantage of a centralised and regimented pattern of designing the syllabi by government-controlled bodies and the preparation and imposition of school textbooks?
The authors begin by quoting the late Prime Minster, Jawaharlal Nehru, who at the convocation address at Aligarh Muslim University, said, ?I am proud of our inheritance and our ancestors who gave an intellectual and cultural pre-eminence to India. How do you feel about this past? Do you feel that you are also a sharer in it, and inheritor of it and therefore, proud of something that belongs to you as much as to me?? They say that these words were even targeted at a certain section of the people who have not only disowned and distanced themselves from the glorious past of India, ?but also distorted and denigrated it?.
They then trace the history of the nation when India'sancient civilisation was impeded for several centuries, what with having to struggle through tornados of Islamic and imperial invasions which had shattered even the other ancient civilisations of the world into smithereens. They praise the efforts of rishis, mahatmas and intellectuals to save whatever they could of the ancient civilisation for over a century. They also laud Mahatma Gandhi'sefforts to provide the ideological basis of freedom and work towards establishment of Ramrajya, and regret that successive leaders regarded his concept of Ramrajya as narrow, sectarian and communal. They are forthright in their criticism of the British rulers who introduced a system of education that could produce ?a class of people? who would be native in their flesh, blood and colour, but ?English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.? Secondly, they blame the imperialists for embarking on complete destruction of the nation'shistory and it culture.
Against this backdrop, there developed an education system that was totally devoid of all social, moral and ethical values. ?It had little concern for and accountability towards the nation and the native populace. India'shistory and heritage were unscrupulously distorted and defiled in the new system. The country'sglorious achievements in the realms of science, literature, philosophy and education were either completely written off or distorted beyond recognition.? The authors say that the ultimate goal of such an educational system was expressed by Max Mueller in his letter to the Duke of Argyll, written on December 16, 1868: ?India has been conquered once, but India must be conquered again and the second conquest should be a conquest by education.?
The book takes a close look at the British system of education and the underlying compulsions shaping it. It analyses the causes and consequences of the unhealthy nexus between the British politicians and bureaucrats on the one hand and the Church and the European indologists, on the other. The authors lament that successive governments avoided introduction of any insignificant educational reforms and allowed Marxist historians to dominate the Indian academia and despite a well-meaning and balanced approach on the issue in 2000, the ?Marxist intellectual terrorism? spread in academic life. ?Thus for all practical purposes, two types of educational systems were created and continue even today in India?one for the privileged class that produced and sustained ?Brown Sahibs? and the other, comprising of village schools that catered to all and sundry with the miserable small grants.?
The authors advise that India needs to emerge from the shadow of ?this intellectual terrorism that has resulted in deplorable erosion of values? and ?focus on the onerous task of forging a new system of education, in keeping with India'sethos. India'spsyche and the Indian people?, because if this is not done, then India would disintegrate not only as a geographical unit but also as a cultural and, eventually, political unit.
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