You are on page 1of 16

-89Our Education System Major problems of our education system are well known strong at the college &

; post graduate level and weak at the school level, particularly in the rural areas with teachers absent, lack of infra structure and the like !n interesting insight into the inade"uacies of our education system is provided by the following #$n a television discussion about the %ood &ill, the anchor at one point asked in e'asperation, ()ow long can the middle classes be e'pected to subsidise the poor*+ # said )arsh Mander on page ,- of )industan .imes , the /0th March, /1,/ 2et us discuss the pros & cons of the "uestion posed by such a wise, all knowing member of our media 3avan 4arma in his very illuminating & a very readable book, #.he 5reat $ndian Middle 6lass7 opines that our middle class has hijacked $ndia )e reveals, if $ remember right, that on adding up the total budget spent on education by the centre and states together over the , st 01 years of our independence, it stands out that the budget spent on school education has been a small fraction of budget devoted for the college level and post graduate level education 8here does the bulk of our population live* $n villages was their education at the gradate & post graduate 8ho was scenario* primary need after independence for

level or the school level * 9o who benefited most from this generosity* .he middle classes 8ho were the decision makers* .he middle classes subsidi:ing whom, in this

)owever, one initiative with a vision of some thing like a ;oon 9chool in every district of $ndia is alive and kicking, but is hardly remembered, which is hardly talked about these days )ere is a success story that $ heard from some one who was actively involved in running this initiative and deserves to be better known .he reference is to a system of schools started in ,980 - .he <avoday 9chools

-91, .here are around 001 plus such schools today, one in each district of $ndia, e'cept for .amil <adu , .hese are fully residential schools, with all to ,/th classes / .hese are located in rural areas & not in urban centres, with primary aim of providing "uality education to the rural talent >0? seats are meant for rural children -, !dmission is thru@ a central !ll $ndia test conducted by <6AB. & it is said that here is one system where no recommendation works %or one year the students are shifted to another school, in another state <avoday school, whose language they have learnt already upto 9th class, under other the policy that children will learn three their own languages - )indi, Anglish and one of the local $ndian languages, than <ormally, we critici:e the media for focusing on the negative, thus promoting cynicism among the people and not reporting the positive achievements in our country change fact file+
<umber of 9chools 0>= <umber of students - /0 lacs of which -=,0>8 were admitted in /118 5ender divide -=? are girls

e'penses paid by the

government of $ndia, providing seven years of free education from =th

%or once there is a

9ample this report from )industan .imes, - / /119

+ ! school of hope Cawahar 2al <ehru <avodaya 4idyalaya, C<4

&ackground of students >8? from rural areas, fathers of about DD? small farmers or labourers or rickshaw pullers, ,,? parents are illiterate, parents of />? earn less than Bs ,111E pm

-9, ! 9uccess 9tory in march /11> careers of -D111 students were analysed /9 had joined into $!9, --> got into state civil service, =D8> got admission in engineering colleges, /=8D were doing management courses, ,,-D got admission in $$.79 & $$M79F &B!4G

$ncidentally, .alking to a teacher from a <ovodaya school, she stated, # $t is a pleasure to teach these kidsH they are so sharp selected thru7 objective tests and 81? of these are from rural areas 7 )ere is one interesting response on the recently enacted Right to Education Act [RTE]: # <irmal 4erma, a daily wage earner in $ndore, dreamt of sending his daughter to the same school as his employer7s child )is wish came true through the B.A ;hanvantri, his daughter, not only got admission in class $ but has turned out to be a consistent topper numerous success stories .here are instances of children from the low-income groups doing better than their richer counterparts $n the junior classes comple'es do not e'ist and students learn from each otherF 8hile the centre has increased the allocation for B.A by /, > ? to Bs /0,000 corres in the budget, academicians feel it is not enoughFF, + B.A is not just about buildings, uniforms & te't books, it must also focus on the outcomes of learning + #
!n e'cerpt from the front page of )industan .imes, !pril 1,, /1,1

B.A, which makes elementary education

compulsory in the =-,D age group, completes / yrs on 9unday and boasts of

)owever, talking to a teacher in one of the good private ;elhi school, who have implemented the provision to e'tend facilities to lower income groups, the

problem of such children adjusting to a new and different environment does e'ist and it does re"uire a lot of patient and empathetic handling

-9/Our Democracy

&efore thinking and discussing about the health of our democracy in $ndia to day, let us have a "uick look back as to what was the state of affairs prior to our e'periment with democracy 8hat kind of rulers we had had , what did they do or did not do and how did they treat their people* Gn an early morning of ,9DD, we the young brigade of a large joint family , were asked by our Chacha ji [ fathers younger brother] to rush to his study and remove & hide post haste all the bundles of some propaganda material, which our young group had only the other day unloaded and arranged it in shelves 8e could not understand the significance of this instruction , but carried out what our dear Chacha ji desired !bout an hour later we saw a group of uniformed police enter our house and search all over including the study, but could not find anything and returned empty handed .his was a raid ordered by the 3rime Minster to the Maharaja Gf 6hamba, against the movement our Chacha JI had started to end the Begar Syste in the state !s a child $ had seen earlier a number of times when my father , a forest officer in the Maharaja7s administration, had to proceed on tour , the headman of the village would be summoned $ clearly remember the head men of many villages asking the same "uestion, ! Janab" #itne begaroo bhejun$
begaroos should $ send*J I sir, how many

!nd the term Begaroo referred to unpaid labour from the village, who had to put in days of work shifting the luggage of Maharaja7s officers trudging manually up and down hills, since there were no motor road those days nor could tongas

ply on the hilly terrain .hey were also not supposed to be fed and were e'pected to manage on their own, though my father, may his soul rest in peace, being a kindly hearted man would always arrange for their meals !nd this was the routine for any officer going on tour !nd would you agree that this was certainly a representative practice of the times* 2et us savour the following K -9-# .he king granted land and in return the recipient was re"uired to provide the king with troops and money )e was given complete autonomy in the administration of his affairsFFF .hey got the land cultivated from serfs, slaves and forced labour .he Maha-samantas and samantas were the main stay of the governmentFF .he king waged war but did not ruleH the great landowners ruled but no longer as official, but as independent lordsFFF .hey desperately fought on the battle fields and wasted their time in harems .hey took pride in love making and indulged in intriguesFFF .heir halls were decorated with gold, jewels and embroideriesFF Avery noble had the ambition to con"uer the enemies or rivals of his country .hat resulted in regional rivalries and wars which crippled the morale and strength of the country F .he practice was to set fire to the towns and villages and the result was that all things e'cept stones and pebbles were consumed by the fire .he earth was strewn with broken skulls and fleshless skeletonsFF .he people were trained for warfare from the beginningFF Avery thing led to a fight or war Aven a marriage procession was turned into a battlefieldFF .he nobles robbed the temples and fleeced the people .hey plundered the country .hey showed utmost boorishness and brutality in their actions #
I A'cerpt from chapter, #$ndia on the eve of Muslim con"uest7 in the beginning of ,,th century , 7 )istory of medieval $ndia7 by 4 ; Mahajan I,DJ

$t must have been an absolute hell for ordinary folks in those days

( !ccording to ;r L 9 2al, the horrib%e sac# of &e%hi ['()*] was a crime as barbarous as it was unwarranted )owever Ti ur +%eaded innocence," -hen he -rote K # &y the will of 5od and by no wish or direction of mine all the three cities of ;elhi had been plunderedF $t was my earnest wish that no evil might happen to the people of the place But it -as ordained by .od that the city shou%d be ruined/ )e therefore inspired the infidel inhabitants with a spirit of resistance so that they brought on themselves that fate which was inevitable 7 .his was in reference to K -9D( F on %riday night there were about ,0111 men in the city, who were engaged from early evening till morning in plundering & burning Gn the ,8 th I;ecemberJ the like plundering went on Avery soldier obtained more than /1 persons as slaves & some brought ,11 men women & children as slaves out of the city .he other plunder & spoils were K immense gems and jewels of all sorts, rubies, diamonds F Gn the ,9th many infidel )indus had fled and taken refuge in a mos"ue, where they were prepared to defend themselves Malik & 9ultan with 011 trusted men proceeded against them F dispatched them to hell )igh tower were made of the heads of )indusF+ # $n ,D98 4asco da 5ama FF
I,DJ

reached the $ndian coast

.he open

harbour of Lo:hikode Ialso called 6alicutJ was filled with vessels of different si:es and the beach was lined up with shop and ware housesFFF )e was soon heading back to Aurope <ot surprisingly, he was given a hero7s welcome in 2isbonFFF .he 3ortuguese lost no time in following up on their discovery ! fleet of thirteen ships and ,/11 men was dispatched under the command of 3edro !lvares 6abral .hey were heavily armed with cannons and guns, still unknown in the $ndian GceanFFFF Gn reaching 6alicut, 6abral presented the 9amudrin with many lavish gifts putting forward the demand that he e'pel the !rabs and trade e'clusively with the 3ortuguese .he 9amudrin was understandably taken aback 8hile these negotiations were taking place , a Meccan ship loaded with cargo prepared to leave for !den .he 3ortuguese

sei:ed it , that triggered riots in which a number of 3ortuguese were killed 6abral responded by lining up his ships and firing broadside into the city .he 9amudrin was forced to flee from his palace ! number of merchant ships were sei:ed and their sailors were burnt alive in full view of the people on shore .hus began the Auropean domination of the $ndian ocean that would last till the middle of twentieth centuryFFFF 8ithin a few decades the 3ortuguese used their cannon to establish a string of outposts in the $ndian ocean 6ontrol over 9cotra and Muscat allowed -90them to control the red sea and 3ersian gulf respectively $n ,0,1 they con"uered 5oa FFF 9oon they had trading posts at Macau and <agasaki .he 3ortuguese maintained their control over the seas with an iron fist, and even by the standards of the time gained a reputation for e'treme cruelty and religious bigotry .hey destroyed many )indu temples, persecuted the 9yrian 6hristians and harassed ships carrying Muslims for )ajj, on occasion burning the ships mid-sea with the pilgrims still on board 3erhaps no one suffered more from
I/,J

3ortuguese repression than the 9ri 2ankans, both .amils and 9inhalese 7 timesK

)ere is an account from the pen of Cawaharlal <ehru about the &ritish # %or the monstrous financial immorality of the Anglish conduct in $ndia 6live was largely responsible FFF $t was pure loot .he #3agoda tree7 was shaken again and again till the most terrible famines ravaged &engal FFF there are few instances in history of anything like itFFF .he outright plunder gradually took the shape of legali:ed e'ploitation, which though not so obvious , was in reality worse .he corruption, venality, nepotism, violence and greed of money of these early generation of &ritish rule in $ndia is some thing which surpasses comprehension .he result of all this , even in its early stages , was the famine of ,>>1 , which swept away a third of the population of &engal and &ihar &ut it was all in the cause of progress and &engal can take pride in the fact that she helped

greatly in giving birth to the industrial revolution in Angland .he !merican writer, &rooke !dams, tells us e'actly how this happened K .he influ' of $ndian treasure , by adding consistently to the nation7s cash capital , not only increased its stock of energy, but added much to its fle'ibility and the rapidity of its movement 4ery soon after 3lassey, the &engal plunder began to arrive in 2ondon and the effect appears to have been instantaneous %or all authorities agree that the industrial revolution began with year ,>>1FF 3lassey was fought in ,>0> and probably nothing has e"ualed the rapidity of the change that followed $n ,>=1 the flying shuttle appeared and coal began to replace the wood in smelting -9=$n ,>=D )argreaves invented the spinning jenny, in ,>>= 6rompton contrived the mule, in ,>80 6artwright patented the power loom and in ,>>= 8att matured the steam engineFFFF $n themselves machines are passive F waiting for a sufficient store of force to have accumulated to set them working .hat store must take the shape of money, and money not hoarded but in motion &efore the influ' of $ndian treasure and the e'pansion of credit which followed , no force sufficient for this purpose e'isted F 3ossibly since the world began, no investment has ever yielded the profit reaped from the $ndian plunder , because nearly for fifty yeas 5reat &ritain stood without a competitor # Lennedy reinforces the above point of 9hri <ehru Relative share of world Manufacturing output 6GM<.BN ,>0 ,81 1 D,9 > ,81 90 ,> = ,8= 1 ,9 9 8= ,88 1 // 9 /8 ,911 ,8 0 ,>
I//J

.he .able below, courtesy, # .he Bise and fall of 5reat 3owers7 by 3aul
I-=J

1 Mnited Lingdom , 9 $ndia E 3akistan /D 0

8ithin a period of ,-1 years I ,>01 to ,881J, the share of manufacturing of Mnited Lingdom multiplied more than ,/ timesH where as that of $ndia E 3akistan got s"uee:ed around 9 times Gf course one has to accept that, apart from the undesirable colonial policies, this was also due to a high rise in productivity arising from the machines introduced as part of the industrial revolution %rom that background, let us step into democratic thinking %ranklin ;elano Boosevelt, past 3resident of the Mnited 9tates of !merica, author of the <ew ;eal , who revived the economy after the great economic crash of ,9/9, and helped millions out of misery, had this to say about democracy K -9># $t is difficult for us who live in the present day to reali:e what a tremendous change this is from the time, a comparatively recent in the world7s history , when the state was the instrument of despots for their own aggrandi:ement and the great body of its citi:ens were mere serfs, chattels or cannon fodder at the service of their overlords 8e speak lightly of this being the era of democracy without reali:ing what tremendous change has been brought about, or how it has revolutioni:ed the every day e'istence of every one of us $n this building up of a theory of a government , ( by the people, for the people+ our country has been the leader of the civili:ed nations of the world 7 I/-J $t is worthwhile remembering that over the last two centuries roughly, no two democracies of the world have gone to war against each other # .here are two things that will always be difficult for democratic people to doK to start a war and finish it )e thought this was so because democracy cannot maintain idealism for too long a stretch K those who live under it put prosperity and material well being above all ;emocracies can successfully only fight defensive wars7 says !le'is ;e .o"ueville in ;emocracy in !merica
I/DJ

9ome notes form the famous author , %rancis %ukyama from his book, #.he end of )istory and the last man7 would be very much in order K !ccording to him the 5erman philosopher, )egel, attributes recognition as the fundamental driver of human behaviour $n the Master 9lave Belationship K .hose who were willing to fight and risk their lives became mastersH and those unwilling to do so, preferring security accepted to become slaves .he masters thus gained acceptance in the eyes of the slaves that they are superior )owever, they soon got fed up of this recognition from slaves .hus they waged wars with neighbouring tribes, the neighbouring king to gain more territory and thus prove that they are superior -98.hus the human story goes on K trying to prove that my community E caste is superior, my religion is superior, my country E nation is superior etc 6hristianity is the ,st religion that raised the concept of e"uality in the eyes of 5od &ut it remained the religion of slaves, since in practice it did not push the concept E aim to bring about change and accepted the status "uo as the will of 5od !dvent of liberal democracy, is thus figuratively the end of history, since it meets the human aspirations substantially .he slaves can overthrow the masters after some interval 2iberal democracy has the added facet of being able to voice your opinion on any theme E topic of your choice, which as a slave was not possible ! better system is unlikely to be found, only refinement in practice is feasible
I.he end of )istory and the last man7 &y %rancis %ukuyamaJ I/0J

$t would be worthwhile now to dwell on how well our democracy has done when the same was ushered in with 6onstitution of $ndia being adopted by the constituent assembly in ,901 # %ew states created after the end of Auropean empire have been able to maintain democratic routinesH and $ndia7s own past , as well as the contingencies

of its unity, prepared it very poorly for democracy )uge, impoverished, crowded with cultural and religious distinctions, with a hierarchical social order, almost deliberately designed to resist the idea of political e"uality, $ndia had little prospective reason to e'pect it could operate as a democracy Net fifty tears later $ndia continues to have parliaments, courts of law, political parties and free press, and elections for which hundreds of millions of voters turn out , as a result governments fall and are formedFF the democratic idea has penetrated the $ndian political imagination and has begun to corrode the authority of the social order and of a paternalist state 7
I,0J

-99)aving been a witness to all the elections to the 3arliament and the state assemblies right from ,90, onwards, it can be stated with confidence that elections have been held regularly, power has changed hands at the behest of the electorate, the process has become more fair courtesy one man Mr . < 9heshan making a huge difference to start with 9tories of booth capturing, vote rigging are rarely heard these days ;ecision making in a democratic set up is subject to many checks and balances and the process appears many a time slow and messy )owever, some times a firm "uick decision turns out to be much worse than the slow messy decision making in a democracy $ clearly remember the very serious agitation that developed in our country against )indi being made the national language as well as for the demand for reorgani:ation of states on the linguistic basis Bailway stations were being burnt, all hell had broken loose $t seemed if the chaos would not come under control !nd then slowly three language formula evolved, states have been reorgani:ed on linguistic basis and today language is no longer an issue in our country today 6ontrast this with what happened in 9ri 2anka where 9inhalese was announced as the national language unilaterally and we are familiar with the

violent conflict with the .amil population over decades, which has only recently been brutally suppressed, with many alleged human rights violations $n 3akistan # Cinnah,FF declared Mrdu as the only official language F when less than ,1 ? of the people spoke urdu but 0=? spoke in &engali .hus he sowed the seeds for &angladesh 7
I,J

.he first democratic elections were held in 3akistan in ,9>1, when the Aast 3akistan political party of 9heikh Mujibur Behman won majority of seats !s the 3akistani military junta refused to honor election results, mass protests erupted across Aast 3akistan demanding that the results be honored or to allow independence &ut this prospect of &engalis ruling over 3akistan was not acceptable to the west 3akistanis 5eneral Nahya Lhan took a "uick decision and took strong action by dispatching a large military force to teach the &engalis -,11a lesson !nd they proceeded to do a thorough job again with brutality, rapes and terror .he result we all know was the separation of Aast 3akistan and birth of a new country &angla ;esh 2et us see how the outside world views this phenomenon .)A $<;$!< A2A6.$G<9 <A8 NGBL .$MA9, March, /1,/
I/=J

# $t is truly the greatest show on Aarth, an ode to a diverse and democratic ethos, where >11 million O of humanity vote, providing their small part in directing their ancient civili:ation into the future $t is no less impressive when done in a neighborhood which includes de-stabili:ing and violent 3akistan, 6hina, and &urma $ts challenges are immense, more so probably than anywhere else, particularly in development and fending off terrorism -- but considering these challenges and its neighbors, it is even more astounding that the most diverse nation on Aarth, with hundreds of languages, all religions and cultures, is not only surviving, but thriving .he nation where )induism, &uddhism, Cainism, and 9ikhism were born, which is the second largest Muslim nation on AarthH where 6hristianity has e'isted for /111 yearsH where the oldest Cewish synagogues and Cewish communities have

resided since the Bomans burnt their /nd templeH where the ;alai 2ama and the .ibetan government in e'ile resideH where the Porostrians from 3ersia have thrived since being thrown out of their ancient homelandH where !rmenians and 9yrians and many others have come to liveH where the 3aris-based GA6; said was the largest economy on Aarth for ,011 of the last /111 years, including the /nd largest, only /11 years agoH where three Muslim 3residents have been elected, where a 9ikh is 3rime Minister and the head of the ruling party a 6atholic $talian woman, where the 3resident is also a woman, succeeding a Muslim 3resident who as a rocket scientist is a hero in the nationH where a booming economy is lifting D1 million out of poverty each year and is e'pected to have the majority of its population in the middle class already, e"ual to the entire M9 population, by /1/0H where its optimism and vibrancy is manifested in its -,1,movies, arts, economic growth, and voting, despite all the incredible challenges and hardshipsH where all the great powers are vying for influence, as it itself finds its place in the world 8here all of this is happening, is $ndia, and as greater than ,E,1th of humanity gets ready to vote, it is an inspiration to all the 8orld #
Nork, <NJ I4 Mitchell, <ew

!t the same time, we cannot afford to forget what those crores still below the poverty line are likely to say, # 8hat use democracy for usQ7 $n spite of a, #national study conducted in ,99=, when more than >1? of electorate rejected the suggestion that $ndia would be better governed without political parties and elections, attests to the authority of the democratic idea7
I,0J,

let us not fool ourselves Gur democratic system is under significant threat today in /1,- with the perception being built up that $ndian economy is on a sinking path, that corruption cannot be controlled, that democracy is slow and messy in comparison to the fast pace of things in 6hina 2ook at the similarity in situation in ,9-17s in M9! and Aurope

9ubse"uent to the great economic depression

around ,9/9, when

3resident %ranklin ;elano Boosevelt took office in the united 9tates, # dictatorship- indeed totalitarianism was being accepted in several nations as a more efficient mode of government than democracy 9uch was the case in 5ermany, $taly and the 9oviet Mnion and the efficacy of democracy and capitalism was in serious "uestion in many other countriesFFFF .he depression cataly:ed )itler7s rise to power and later world war $$ $t provided )itler a rationale that persuaded enough 5ermans to go along with his e'tremist programmes of anti-9emitism, dictatorship, nationalism and militarism 7
I/-J

!re we subconsciously , thoughtlessly getting cajoled towards accepting a dictatorship when some one like )itler may claim that he would set every thing straight )ere is one of my blog postings on that theme K -102-102-

BEWARE - YOUNG INDIANS & Business CEO's of their fondness for AUTHORITARIAN re i!es
A %oo#bac# in history R directed by the state as to what they could produce, how much & at

what price, burdened by increasing ta'ation & milked by steep and never ending @special contributions@ to the party, the businessmen -ho had -e%co ed 0it%er1s regi e so enthusiastica%%y" because they e'pected it to destroy organi:ed labour and allow an entrepreneur to practice untrammeled free enterprise, beca e great%y disi%%usioned Gne of them was %rit: .hyssen, one of the earliest & biggest contributors to the party %leeing 5ermany at the outbreak of war, he recogni:ed that the @<a:i Begime@ had ruined 5erman industry

!nd to all he met abroad he proclaimed, 8!9@ R


9hirer I-DJ

@ 8)!. ! %GG2 $

I3age -=1 of @.he Bise and %all of the third Beich@ by 8 2

!nd of course, the wise businessmen could not foresee that lacs of Cews are going to be murdered by )itler ;emocracy has stood us in good stead !ccording to !martya 9en, # ;emocracy has been the greatest development of the /1th century F ;emocracy is a demanding system7 where, # political and civil rights , especially those related to guaranteeing informed and considered choices 7
)industan .imes, 9unday Cune 19, /1,-

of open

discussion, debate, criticism and dissent are central to the process of generating

-,1-2et us protect our democracy ;o not forego your right to critici:e, when things go wrong, but we need to do that in a balanced manner without jeopardi:ing the very e'istence of this delicate plant that has been nurtured so far and is sprouting into a healthy young sapling S S S S S