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Monday Musings: RSS Pune conclave; Priorities for Indian education

Let us not forget that our social reformers and freedom fighters were deeply influenced by Western ideas of freedom and justice.

pune Updated: Nov 06, 2017 14:59 IST
Abhay Vaidya
Abhay Vaidya
Hindustan Times, Pune
Monday Musings,RSS Pune conclave,Priorities for Indian education
Many educationists, intellectuals and scholars attended the two-day (November 2-November 4) seminar entitled ‘National Ethos in Bhartiya Tradition of Education and Contemporary Context’ organised by Prabhodhan Manch, Pune, the educational think tank of the RSS, at Savitribai Phule Pune University in Pune.(HT PHOTO)

We do not know the reason, but it was wise of India’s highest decision-maker in education, Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar, to skip the two-day conclave on ‘National Ethos on Bharatiya Tradition of Education and Contemporary Context’, that concluded in the city on Sunday.

While textbooks are being altered in BJP-ruled states one after the other, in addition to those produced centrally by the NCERT (National Council for Education, Research and Training), the broad thinking of the RSS on Indian education became amply clear at the two- day conclave in the city which was inaugurated by Gujarat governor OP Kohli.

The conclave attended by a number of educationists, including Savitribai Phule Pune University’s vice-chancellor Nitin Karmalkar, was on the need to overhaul the existing educational system in favour of ‘Indianisation of Education’.

The presence of former principal of Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce (BMCC), Aniruddha Deshpande, was conspicuous, but of course, not surprising given the fact that he is a senior functionary of the RSS.

According to the learned speakers, the problem with the Indian educational system as it exists today is that it is a legacy of the British Raj and generates an inferiority complex among the masses, and that it amounts to an onslaught of Western values on Indian thinking.

Governor Kohli said that while Indians withstood the cultural imposition of 950 years of Muslim rule (a view that can be easily challenged), “we surrendered mentally and politically to Western values” during the 200 years of British rule.

The fundamental solution he and others advocated was education that discards Western values; is based on ‘vedic values’ and rooted in Indian culture and tradition.

The moot question is, what is fundamentally wrong with Indian education?

That it is not ‘vedic based’?

Or is it that education at the grassroots, especially in government and municipal schools, continues to be of a poor quality while professional education has become highly expensive and commercialised.

With all its warts and deficiencies, let’s not forget it is the Indian educational system which gave us scientists like APJ Abdul Kalam and Jayant Narlikar; information technology (IT) leaders like NR Narayana Murty and Satya Nadella; and intellectuals like Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and Ramchandra Guha, all of whom have made a mark internationally.

Let us also not forget that the early set of social reformers and freedom fighters including Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Mahatma Gandhi and Veer Savarkar, were deeply influenced by Western ideas of freedom, justice and social thought.

Even the great Karma Yogi, Swami Vivekananda, was deeply influenced by Western thought, inspired as he was by Indian spirituality, the Vedas and the Upanishads.

It was at his suggestion that the great philanthropist Jamshedji Tata established the pre-eminent Indian Institute of Science.

While we do need to be immensely proud of Indian culture and traditions, at the same time, there is a lot to be gained from Western thought, ideas and philosophy.

It is quite a tragedy that intellectuals in the RSS have missed out on the real priorities for Indian education.

First Published: Nov 05, 2017 23:33 IST