The narrative techniques of the centuries-old Panchatantra may soon be used while designing the course curriculum of future Indian administrators.
A committee, headed by retired bureaucrat R.V. Vaidyanatha Ayyar, which was constituted to overhaul the training syllabus for Indian Administrative Service probationers, has told the government that theoretical subjects, like economics, need to be “dressed up” to make them pupil-friendly.
“There is merit in adopting the pedagogic techniques used for the popularisation of mathematics and science — or to give an example from nearer home, the Panchatantra,” the committee's report says.
Many academics who conduct courses for bureaucrats told the panel that they feared losing the attention of the next generation of administrators.
The Ayyar committee also wants more economics included in the training course. “Economic logic is one of the core competencies that every IAS officer should have,” the panel argues.
It was felt that modifying the course content alone would not be enough; teaching methods had to change to win and retain the probationers' attention. “Heavy, lengthy courses of the kind taught at universities would put off civil-service trainees anywhere,” the panel says.
The committee has thus chosen to adopt the Panchatantra formula, and hopes that using stories to teach the principles of political science and economics will work wonders with India’s bureaucrats-to-be.