By Vijay Sanghvi
A must read case study taught in almost all journalism classes is how a newspaper sub-editor was sacked for showing too much creativity. The sub-editor’s fault was that he insensitively headlined a story on a mad man escaping after raping a woman — as “Nut screws and bolts”.
This is the case with the Indian Education System where creativity and out-of-the-box ideas are dismissed disdainfully.
India attained independence in August 1947. With it came the end of the five centuries of alien rule. The British masters suspected the Indians of being ever-ready to overthrow the foreign yokel given the opportunity. Hence their energies, their creativeness and their intents needed to be curbed. Thus they made laws and imposed regulations of restrictive nature.
With the attainment of political freedom, social, economic and cultural needs of India had undergone a change and rule by Indians was expected to liberate Indian creativity from curbs of five centuries. Most immediate need was of reforms in education system to bring it in tune with the transformed needs. The British regime had devised the education system to serve their needs and academic calendar for comforts of children of their officers.
The independence was marked by the communal frenzy, due to division of the sub-continent, to divert attention of the authorities and the political establishment to douse fires of communal hatred and provide relief. Immediate changes were not expected nor demanded. The government was expected to slowly attend to the need of desired changes that did not come. On the contrary; the new government found more comfort and convenience in governing with the British law enforcement, judicial and educational systems. Bureaucrats maintained their isolation from the subjects as they had in the British regime as the representatives of the crown. Now they raised their levels far above the ordinary people as symbols of power. They could not come down to levels of masses. Continuation of the British laws did not allow subjects in the British regime to be citizens of free India as they continued to be suspects in eyes of law. The British did not need to make a clear distinction between few with criminal tendencies and rest of innocence and with fear of evil doing. New government did not treat its people differently.
The first Prime Minister considered capitalism as means of exploitation. But also did not prefer communism as it denied individual liberties. He evolved a product mix of the two ideologies and unique concept of liberal political structure and controlled economic structure. He did not abolish private ownership of existing production capacities but he also denied opportunity for new ventures or expansion of existing ones without the sanction from the government. He preferred to go in for giant projects without due consideration that for centuries Indians had excelled in dealing with small and handicrafts. Above all he trusted only men and women who had rigorous mind sets for discipline regimented during their education and training in administrative services. They could not bring about mentality of business in public sector units given to their care. Corruption and lack of trading concepts had virtually led many of public sector units to be white elephants guzzling only resources without delivering any returns.
The economic model with giant machine plants needed skilled hands to work on them. No scheme was introduced for imparting skills before projects came up for commencing production though higher technical education was reformed to meet need of engineers for construction and mechanism buildings. Nehru has always been criticized for failure to introduce system of training in skills during eleven years of schooling even though need for skilled hands for his economic development model was apparent and striking. There was also need for revisiting intents of education as well as for changes in academic calendar to meet changing socio economic needs and also climate and religious needs.
There was also need for readjusting calendar to serve needs of social and religious occasions of Indians. However calendar and curriculum continued with replacement of stories of British heroes by stories relating to Indian heroes.
(To be continued)