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Thursday, August 31, 2006

400 Blows

We are back to school. Not in the literal sense, but yes... the amount of rows that've been happening, or perhaps the media has chosen to focus on... it makes one touch upon the efficacy of education.

First, Headlines Today (or was it CNN-IBN?) ran a story on Educated Illiterates or Literate but Uneducated - about how kids at school these days are being dumbed through dumping of information in the name of knowledge so that they get educated, acquire degrees and hit the job market as successful whatevers! But do they really know their math or the three Rs effectively? In the research poll they showed... some of the so called forward states such as Tamil Nadu (ranked 4th) were not so literate inspite of being educated and the traditional boon-dog Bihar was *surprise surprise* one of the top most literate state. What does this show?

And then we had the girls college in Chandigarh in news (is still!). A teacher slapped a girl for using mobile phone in the class. The former defended it is within the spirit and letter of educational institutional law. The girls protested saying they were not anymore in school, but are adults since they are in college. Any logic in that? And the girls won the struggle and used the media to talk about all this even while saying the media blew the issue up and it was essentially an intra-college affair that must have been settled so! What sense??

Of course, we had a Professor in Ujjain being killed by Students! Whither education??? Latest news... the perpetrators have surrendered in police station, meaning which we can deduce they have found someone to bail them out. And 21 more involved people arrested. Does it matter? Did it matter in the case of Stanes or Jessica or umpteen others? This country requires more than 400 Blows.

Then it was the turn of Meerut. Appalling news when we learnt that the University exam papers were routed by the VC of Charan Singh College (or whatever) to be corrected by unqualified, young 5th and 7th grade school students. The students of the college of course protested. But the protest drew shit. And the TV showed three girls (aptly and conveniently) named 3 musketeers jumping the tall iron gates of the VC's house and demolishing and destroying anything in their path ending up with bashing the VC's scooter to smithereens before being taken into custody. It melt my heart with warmth to see one of the girls - Monica - shouting "today his property, tomorrow him!" What love between the educators and the educated!

So where does this all lead to? Shout your piece in the comments!

Oh by the way, did I tell you? There was this other news about an Indian Muslim going to US for MBA via UK, detained at Heathrow!!!

And that still leaves two more education-related incidents to discuss: 1) a minority muslim institution in Kerala - Kozhikode to be precise - refusing the students to celebrate a festival that has been traditionally considered pan-Kerala secular event. Suddenly, in the name of religious sentiments the students of a Muslim college cannot celebrate ONAM in their campus. Stuff and non-sense. 2) BJP warming up to electoral manifestoes for the future - VANDE MATARAM must be sung mandatorily in all schools, colleges and institutions including places of worship, irrespective of religious beliefs! A very honorable motto!! After all, it used to be front runner for our national anthem and perhaps if the Bongs had taken the Prime ministership back then, VM would be sharing podium with JGM for being the National Anthem and India would have been the only country to have two anthems being played. What an aural experience it would have been to hear them at sports championships if we won! Of course, to think what would have happened at the recent SAF Games where we returned with 118 Gold Medals is another conjecture!!!
Question is: If this is a secular country, then irrespective of religious beliefs, one must uphold the principal tenets of the country and sing national song. But the Muslims see it other way. For them it is against religious principles. Again! My question is, if the religious sentiments are so water-tight and more important to the minorities (whatever be their religion), then should they seriously not consider migrating to a climate where the religious tenets are primary and welcomed than manipulating the Minority card expecting the majority to keep bending down and keep getting bumped on the head? The day this country becomes minority Hindu state like how TN has been made completely minority Brahmin state... they will be happy. But there is no guarantee that the non-Hindu minority turned majority would stop ill-treating majority turned minority Hindu. Am neither for nor against, but this be the truth... as is vindicated in the perpetual anti-Brahmin sentiment. Talk of secularism is just another VoteBank jargon. And we are suckers, all us voters!

Fresh from a production of FINAL SOLUTIONS by Mahesh Dattani, it stirs up in me both nationalistic feelings as well as rational based arguments. But since they go also beyond the confines of educational focus, we take these things in a separate post!

Until later!


eyefry said...

Let's take a look at some of the things we obviously lack, as far as being a democracy is concerned (taking into account, for perspective, just the events of the last week or two):

(a) Transparency (as evidenced in the proposed amendment to the RTI Act to withhold file notations);

(b) Accountability (the reluctance of police to bring to book the two accused in the Ujjain professor's murder case);

(c)Secularism (or is it "Secularity"?) (oh, for god's sake, do I even NEED to give examples for this? Still, in keeping with the trend: Kerala.) Really, I wonder if the poor Uniform Civil Code will ever get past the proposal stage...;

(d)Freedom of Speech (the eternal war between Khushboo and PMK, f'rinstance.)

I was thinking of going beyond an enumeration of basic democratic principles and throwing in "Common Sense" for good measure, but the irony'd be too much to bear.

If you ask me, the problem with this country is that we're a bit TOO tolerant, if you get my drift...

Krishna Kumar said...

Ha, Vinayak!

It's a little more daft and stupid thing than tolerance what we've done. It's called shooting oneself in the leg knees and balls all over. We took pride in calling ourself a socialist democracy. How can one be a socialist democracy, I don't understand, as though Marx and Jefferson can't ever have coffee together! And we had to try and show ourselves secular in the face of other so-called non-secular states because we wanted to be different, besides the fact that our peninsula hangs like the dick of asia in the world map. And now we have to bear the cross for it, because the same secular face-off has become a burden and threatening to subsume the majority into minority. We have to keep somehow our "secular" face because word is honour in letter and spirit, right! Somewhere - I guess one of the old The Week - I read, there is no point blaming our constitution or penal code, because unless we revamp the codes governing the two prime bodies - the Police and Politics, nothing can be changed. I wish ppl had that much loyalty to their places of work like that Komal fellow or sincerity to their places of worship like those who prefer their religion than the country.

R.E.B.E.L said...

To start with, all the 24 hour news channels should be banned. They have absolutely nothing to keep people informed for 24 hours everyday so they decide to show Karan Johar talk about his latest 'bold movie' simultaneously on all channels. When they get time out of all this they decide to 'make news' out of a domestic feud or something as silly as a teacher hitting a student. Not that teacher's have the right to do so, but all this has been happening all along and it is extremely wierd and disappointing to see that the student decided to 'talk to the media' about it!

It's high time the news channels and newspapers understand what news actually is and stop dramatising events just to increase TRPs.

Well, I still remember TOI printing the results of an all-India sex survey and an article accompanying the same on the front page. Well, who said tha sex sells only for music videos!

sykora said...

Firstly, on the education scenario, which is one I can contribute to :

Richard P Feynman, a Nobel Laureate in Physics and a generally very nice guy, state in his autobiography about the education in Brazil :

'''A Professor of Greek, went to another country, where he was delighted to find so many students learning greek, from the youngest of ages. He went in to the exam hall, expectations brimming, and asked a student, "What were Socrates' views on the relationship between Truth and Beauty?", and the student couldn't answer. Without missing a beat, the professor asked the student, "What did Socrates say to Plato in the Third Symposium?", and the student would light up, and repeat what Socrates said, word for word, in flawless Greek. What they missed, was that it was during the Third Symposium, that Socrates elaborated to Plato, his views on the relationship between Truth and Beauty.'''

Our Education system has us accumulate a lot of facts. However, they do not motivate us to find out the underlying reasons for those facts, nor how those facts are interrelated or used to obtain other facts. Any Joe can memorize. What makes a human is his ability to reason, and produce new knowledge from exisiting knowledge.

Our problem is that we have quantity over quality. We have a large number of teachers, an even larger number of students, but most of them are bordering on average. Those who are brilliant go overseas and stay there, where their talent is appreciated, and Indian education is left in the lurch.

I don't think I should comment on religious issues, I doubt any of them would be able to make me believe that religion is necessary in any way.

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