Thursday 7 May 2015

Prof. Sunil Pandey: "Stop copying West"


Presently, our education system is based on ‘progressive’ western knowledge, science and technology. It is pertinent to bethink that this system was forced on us by a concerted effort of British colonizers after Lord Macaulay submitted his report to the British Crown in 1835. Main excerpt from the report reads:

“I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation”.

Perhaps this is the reason why the line between literacy and education is blurred for us even after 67 years of independence. The system satisfies itself by terming a literate person as an educated person. The variable notion of ‘Literacy’ has only enabled us to vaguely image the western system of education and import technology. This system of education has in fact made us a nation of “followers and mental slaves”.The present system hasn’t been able to keep pace with the dynamic and diverse societal & technological needs of the country. Our education system has failed to make the nation walk on the path of progress and development. The main reason, probably, for not having a single world class university is the absence of a strong and healthy higher education system in place. The fact that we don’t have any university in the elite group of top 100 varsities globally only supports the above supposition.The best ranking ever achieved is by Punjab University which is still ranked amongst the top 223-250. The so called institutes of national importance have managed rankings amongst the top 351-400. It is time we abandon the present system and redefine national goals so as to regain our “self-esteem & self-confidence”.

Some of the current drawbacks in India education system are:
  • Non-availability of books reflective of the needs of Indian society. A plethora of books are based entirely on western fundamentals.
  • Plagiarized and manipulated information, statistics and data. The race is for number of publications and not for qualityr esearch (or its industrial utility).
  • Attaining proficiency in using software packages is termed research.
  • Lack of drive to lead.
  • Inferiority complex.
  • Undermining research by viewing it through the prism of western literature surveys.
  • Engineering education based on western technology and books.
  • Challenging and application based problems and case studies based on resource person’s experience are seldom discussed. There’s practically no brain storming.
  • Stereo-typed assessment procedures.
  • Selection criteria for a resource person / faculty are far from realizing objectives. The systems in place as a matter of fact are promoting pseudo-intellectualism. “Quality” presently is on back-burner. Interference and recommendations be it from any quarter / corrupt practices (financial, moral, ethical) are also the reason for killing excellence in education and research.
  • Selection criteria / recruitment rules for the selection of faculty are not uniformly applied. This system of selection hasn’t been able to deliver and needs to be revamped completely. Existing norms are also assisting the mediocre applicants to get through.
  • Perks to faculty and staff are not performance linked.
  • Most engineering graduates in Indian industries are like fish out of water.
  • Owing to bad curriculum planning, higher educational institutions produce largely un-employable graduates.
We must produce “Ranchos” 
It is right time to identify pseudo intellectuals on priority and not let them continue to damage the education sector. On the other hand, we also need to identify and eliminate all hindrances in developing grass root technology through education and research. We need to produce only “Ranchos” and not the “ChaturRamalingams”, the two distinct characters of famous Hindi movie “Three Idiots”. Unfortunately our education system is presently in the clutches of “ChaturRamalingams” and our determination should be to change the long persistent status-quo.

It is time for India to lead from the front and this can be realised only when we as Indians overcome the psychological barriers which are acting akin fetters in the times of rapid industrial and economic growth.

Stop copying West 
Education sector is one of the major sectors that are contributing to high foreign exchange outflows. We are spending multi-million dollars, without accountability on higher education and research.

The philosophy that “everything from west is always good” is serving as the greatest psychological barrier that we need to overcome. We must “stop looking towards west for technology & solutions”. At the same time, there are areas where we need to redefine our national objectives. One of them is to plug the leakage of foreign exchange taking place for attaining higher education and divert/ channelize it to the core areas of Indian economy like defence preparedness and other centric needs.USA’s Per Capita Income for 2013-14 at Rs. 265505/month is 13X that of India at Rs. 20385/month. Per capita income is a measure of a country’s living standard. According to IMF, India lags behind 132 nation-states in terms of per capita income.

Brain storming should be the key word at every level for achieving this goal; for its education and not literacy that makes a nation strong. We ought to realize our potential through self-reliance and walk on the highway of growth.
  • “Be the leader, rather than a follower”
  • “Innovate or perish”
  • “If they can (western countries), why can’t we?”
Broaden research frontiers
One of the best gifts to the nation that we expect from the new Government is the broadening of contours of educational and research needs of the nation.

Before expanding IIMs, IITs
I appreciate the intention of starting new IITs and IIMs. However, mere establishment of new Central Universities without threadbare analysis of the existing system by dedicated professionals won’t help the nation gain significantly. Concentrated efforts must be made to first determine the “Productivity” or“Performance index” of existing IITs and NITs before expanding the platform which may otherwise prove counterproductive.

The web of corruption is stronger than steel at present. However, I wish and pray to Almighty to give us enough wisdom for building a corruption free education system that is dynamic enough to feed the technological needs of the country.

I am happy to note that the ministry of HRD has highlighted the fact that the current education system and its policies have not been able to build an honest system. Keeping the same in mind, they’ve decided to add ‘anti-corruption’as a subject in the curriculum. The nation will succeed in curbing corruption only when honest and committed officers are supported and protected by the government. It’s time to do some soul searching.


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