Aspects of Education: An Indian Perspective; Author: Dr Nithyanantha Bhat; Publication:‘Sukrtindra Oriental Research Institute, Kuthapady, Thammanam,KOCHI – 682032; Rs 200.00
When we were under the British yoke, we were thoroughly opposed to the system of education introduced in our country by the British. During those days, we believed that the educational pattern introduced by the British was aimed at shaping us into their slaves, devoid of any sense of national pride or patriotism. So, we established national educational institutions with the avowed aim of inculcating patriotism in our children and to mentally prepare them not to cooperate with our British rulers in any way.
However, the moment we attained political Independence from the British on August 15, 1947, we made a volte face and overnight the British system of education became virtuous and sacrosanct for us. What could be the reason?
“Nehru was the perfect replica of a certain type of Englishman. He often used the expression ‘continental people,’ with an amused and sarcastic manner, to designate French and Italians. He despised non-Anglicised Indians and had a very superficial and partial knowledge of India,” said Alain Danielou, the noted French intellectual and Indologist. So, it was Pandit Nehru’s antipathy to things Bharatiya and his queer definition of the simple English word, secular, that mainly forced his Government to continue with the Thomas Babington Macaulay’s English system education in India, the idea behind which he had made unequivocally clear, without mincing words. He wrote to his father: “The effect of this education on Hindoos is prodigious. No Hindoo who has received an English education ever continues to be sincerely attached to his religion… The case with Mahometans is very different. The best educated Mahometan often continues to be a Mahometan still.”
It was Pandit Nehru’s antipathy to things Bharatiya and his queer definition of the simple English word, secular, that mainly forced his Government to continue with the Thomas Babington Macaulay’s English system education in India
As a result, apart from our failure to realise Nehru’s ‘secular dream,’ in the words of renowned jurist, Nani A. Palkhivala, “We continue to churn out ethical illiterates and moral idiots. Our education continues to be value-agnostic and value-neutral.”
For over seven decades after gaining Independence, our political leadership had neither the time nor the inclination to review our obsolete pedagogy or curriculum. Also, we never felt it necessary to change our out-dated textbooks or our antiquated teaching techniques.
Fortunately, the National Education Policy 2020, introduced by the NDA Government, which, among things, says, “Recognising, identifying, and fostering the unique capabilities of each student, by sensitising teachers as well as parents to promote student’s holistic development in both academic and non-academic spheres,” gives enough room to believe that sooner than later our education sector will be back on the rails.
It is in this context the book, Aspects of Education: An Indian Perspective, by Dr. Nithyanantha Bhat, assumes special significance. The Foreword to the book by Professor J.S. Rajput, Padma Shri Awardee and India’s Representative to UNESCO Executive Board, adds to its grandeur.
In the Foreword, Prof: Rajput reminds us of our “responsibility as a nation globally acknowledged as the ancient civilisation in exploring spirituality, and relating it to the daily life of human beings.” He also recalls how “Indian tradition of knowledge quest, its creation, generation and transfer to the generations ahead attracted learners from far and wide, to institutions like Nalanda, Vikramshila and Taxila when these were at their peak.”
The author, in the first chapter, Education in the Vedic Age, unequivocally establishes that the main objective of the Vedic education was development of physical, moral and intellectual powers of man and attaining salvation through it.
In the next chapter, True Education, presenting the views of Mahatma Gandhiji, Aurobindo, Rabindranath Tagore, etc., he concludes that the Bharatiya approach to education has been holistic and integral.
The only solution to the grave crisis our educational system is faced with, he argues, is the implementation of a system of education in keeping with our national character, and related to the life, needs and aspirations of our people.
Quoting the S.B. Chavan Committee’s report on education, the author stresses the importance and inevitability of value-based education, rooted in Satya (truth), Dharma (righteous conduct), Shanti (peace), Prem (love) and Ahimsa (non-violence), the universal values representing respectively the five domains – intellectual, physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual – of human personality.
The atmosphere in schools should be congenial and the students should be in a position to imbibe that atmosphere so as to find out their aptitude and develop along those lines.
Parents, being the first teachers of their children, have a pivotal role to play in their education, and the first thing for them to do is to educate themselves, and should become conscious and establish mastery over themselves so as not to set a bad example to their children.
During olden days, the preceptor (teacher) was assigned more importance compared to any institutional set-up in the field of education. And the preceptor used to teach his pupils more through his personal example than imparting theoretical knowledge to them. As the fuel poured into the fire becoming fire in its turn, the devotion of the students towards their teacher used to prompt them to imbibe all the qualities of the teacher. Hence, the role of teachers in the life of students is most important.
As far as students are concerned, apart from striving hard to utilise the facilities to the full and striving towards excellence in studies, realising that self-knowledge, self-reliance and self-control constitute the most effective means of self-development, they should endeavour for holistic development of their personality, taking care of its physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual aspects.
In the last chapter, the learned author stresses that, instead of employing the methods of fear, force and artificial authority, which will, in effect, destroy the sound sentiment, the sincerity, and the self-confidence of the pupil, they should be provided with the opportunity for gaining knowledge, as suggested by Rabindranath Tagore, through love of life.
I am sure the thoughts on education from the Indian perspective, presented by Dr. Nithyanantha Bhat in his book, will serve to be a great asset to not only laymen like me but also to educationists and academicians.