Over the past couple of months all major news channels have been rife with reports of protests being conducted in the national capital by JNU students labouring against a fee hike. Even though I am far away in foreign land, every time I streamed a live news debate, the entire issue spilled into my living room. This was also brought in focus when Sadhguru was besieged by leftist newbies in a few college campuses in the country. Time and again, therefore I have been forced to ruminate on this recurring manifestation of the Left in college campuses and why are universities particularly so vulnerable to it!
The blame in my opinion, must surely lie with India’s defunct education system. Our education system is not in consonance with the land it lives and thrives on!
Prior to colonization had a Gurukul system, where the richest and poorest kids shared living quarters, learnt farming, archery, strategy, Sanskrit from their masters. They took care of the cattle and treated their teacher – the Guru and his wife as parents.
As a child, I was first made aware of the nuances of our Gurukul system while watching Ramayan, where Lord Ram, a prince, shared quarters with his not so affluent friends. A slightly older me, admired the education system practised during the time of Mahabharat, when Lord Krishna took care of his cattle during his childhood. If one were to judge them by the standards laid down by our present education system, we would term both Lord Ram and Lord Krishna as uneducated.
That this knowledge passed down from our ancestors, helped us thrive can be gauged from the fact that prosperous ancient India was host to world’s most premiere seat of education, the Nalanda. This prosperity drew many invaders who systematically destroyed our temple architecture and butchered the monks, burnt a million books of ancient wisdom that were housed in Nalanda, 800 years ago. The fire, it is said, burnt for months!
Then came the British:
Our persistent, education system of the Gurukuls was turning out to be quite a show stopper for the British. There was resistance to the Empire and this could be traced back to our ancient education system. Enter Macaulay with his “Education Reform” of 1835.
Macaulay denigrated our traditional education system, openly calling it inferior.
“I have never found one among the Orientalists who could deny that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India…..It is, I believe, no exaggeration to say, that all the historical information which has been collected from all the books written in the Sanskrit language is less valuable than what may be found in the most paltry abridgments used at preparatory schools in England.”
This passage, these words are taken directly from Lord Macaulay’s Minute on Indian Education.
In the Minute, he goes on to argue for creation of a different class of Indians.
“We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect.”
Macaulay’s words became a reality for British India. Over time the funding to vernacular language teaching and study of Sanskrit was reduced. The Gurukul education system was allowed to stutter and die. The education system, in India started producing a whole race of Brown Sahibs, who to quote Macaulay, looked Indian but were British in opinion and thoughts!
In 1947, over 100 years after those words were uttered by Macaulay, the British recovering from the wounds of two World Wars, withdrew from India. But they left behind a breed of Brown Sahibs and their British education system still intent on producing more such Indians with British Soul. In fact, if one were to argue then the reigns of the country were left in the hands of a group of Brown Sahibs. This was primarily due to the fact that the benchmarks of intelligence at that time, were all British. These Brown Sahibs, hobnobbing with their colonizers in the corridors of Oxford and Cambridge picked up some uniquely European diseases, namely Socialism and Marxism. An independent India, at that time, seemed like a fertile ground for these diseases to grow. And grow they did.
In the absence of an empire to serve, an ideology to adhere to, the British Education system produced more and more Brown Sahibs who, in their effort to align with Europe but rebel against Britain, became socialists, communists. Still disconnected from the land of their ancestors, they professed their allegiance to Karl Marx in Europe instead of the British crown.
The death of this anti India Education System, ought to have happened in 1991, when the Economy was opened. A liberalized India, post Y2k, owes its prosperity more to America than to any European country. Large number of Indians are populating the most developed country in the world, prospering there, on the basis of their brains and mathematical abilities. A gift that now research tells us, can be traced to our Vedic, Sanskrit routes.
Persisting with an education system that does not honour our Vedic routes is the reason why anarchists still continue to be produced. They might learn a few lines of coding to survive in a tech economy but in their hearts, they continue to spout the misguided teachings of Karl Marx and the workings of Mao. High time that the government brings our Education System back a full circle to its Vedic Origins, completely. Time that the government makes School Education about languages, maths and experiential learning, and not just on a piecemeal basis.
In one of the debates I watched, there was a young student leader from JNU, who professed on live TV, that he was the son of a farmer. He went on, in the same breath, to flaunt his esoteric subject for doing a PhD and his mobile phone which was more than his father’s half yearly wage. Why should the tax payer of India fund such scholars? Wouldn’t it have been better if tax payers funds were used to reward a farmer’s son who does some stellar work in Agricultural Sciences, eventually not just adding to the country’s riches but also directly contributing to improve the lives of farmers, such as his own father?
For India, the writing is on the wall:
We need to imagine our future as a continuation of our glorious past. How can that happen if we continue to persist with a neither-here-nor-there education system, producing ideological anarchists! How can that happen if we continue to pander to European standards of excellence, instead of developing our own benchmarks! How can that happen if we do not integrate our modern education system to the ancient ones, the Nalandas, the Gurukuls, that have nurtured, sustained our civilization for ages!