EDUCATION, POLITICS - AND PATRIOTISM

PREAMBLE AND PERSONAL THOUGHTS


Recents events have brought students and universities {well, one particular university at least} to the forefront of the public discourse and media attention, alongwith all its sad and regrettable consequents; this has given rise to yet another impassioned debate in Social Media, Media as well as normal homes  - with both the Pro BJP and the anti BJP lobbies again rising to the occasion, as it were. FB posts, Whatsapp updates in support of the BJP, or questioning it are the order of the day once again, after a short breather...


Next, the Government : I am a middle roader. I criticize where criticism is warranted, praise where praise is due. I have begun to note a clear polarisation of camps into pro and anti BJP, and that makes me highly uncomfortable; both camps claiming the other is wrong, and both sides being demonstrably and completely wrong in at least some of their contentions. Having been questioned by close friends and family on this, I intend to keep my peace. The way forward cannot be arguments with the people you love. Some of my readers have stated I am dodging the issue...


What you call dodging is in reality steering clear of issues where no clear evidence is available for me to take a defined position; that is why I have avoided the specific issue of Mr Kanhaiyya, and have transposed it into the larger College issue. I do not have access to information that enables me to take a stand, and taking a position based on opinionated Media peices is not me. Neither is such a position fair, nor is it desirable.




THE EPISODE


On what evidence are we saying Kanhaiyya is guilty? Conversely, on what evidence are we saying he is innocent? I have seen nothing that confirms either way. If he is guilty, frankly, as a proud Indian, I stand solidly with the pro-BJP camp on this. No one  can be allowed to shout anti-India slogans, and that is my stated position on this : note the the clear and big "if"


Conversely, if he is innocent, {as well as the others}, then he should be exonerated. Then the public will be justified in asking the Government for answers on the episode - not before. I can raise many questions - droves of them - on either side of the coin, none of which has satisfactory answers. Thus, if I am to state an opinion basis available data that I have run across, it would be erroneous.  If he is innocent, far more good would be done by first approaching in a calm manner, laying the complete facts before the public...


It would be really tragic if he turns out to be innocent; that I readily grant. Then, the questions will be asked. The question is how can I as an individual help in such a scenario, given I dont know him, or anything about him? Answer : keeping my peace, hoping in and trusting the Judiciary, and God. Time will tell. It would be a capital mistake to fan emotions by taking any stance in the absence of direction and information. That way lies a path none of us want to take...




 

THE LARGER QUESTION OF OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM

 

HISTORY : LETS US MOVE ON


I draw your attention to Mrs Irani's speech, specifically the third part on youtube. Watch it carefully - not for her intonations, and skills - but for the facts she states. She raises several interesting - deeply interesting - points. I would rather you read it than listen; I prefer reading speeches minus the emotion that distorts understanding. Try and answer those points: Mahishasur, Dalit, Aryan, Aurangzeb, Shivaji and others; all making reference to History. That is one. Then look at the books she shows used in our classrooms, or were used at any rate. That is two.


Moving on - there are two sides : or rather three. History,  Common Sense, and Politics. Regarding History and its related matters, it would be best for me, as well as others, to maintain silence, at least on matters with modern relevance, as these have many parameters than need negotiation, and is thus beyond the scope or recommendation of a blog without a proper detailed study. {Look at my history articles to get an idea of what a study entails; and such dicey matters require far more solid research before any attempt at penning an opinion can be made}


PATRIOTISM AND EDUCATION


Much has been said about nationalism and patriotism; you regard Universities as places of Patriotism? The people who run away from India, change citizenship come from our universities, dont they? What are we doing wrong in our education system? Are we creating Indians, or are we creating people who place self above nation,  who run away, people for whom professional achievement is above national purpose?


The ones who choose self above nation, are ALL highly educated. How many IITians have joined the Army, pray tell? {Just an example}. So yes, the ones who run away DO come from Universities, and . the damage from these has never been calculated; if it were done, I for one would not be surprised if the number beats hollow any benefits accrued, and then some. But let us leave this line of thought here, lest we digress from the topic at hand.


Sure, the Universities produce patriots as well; I could name them at length, for years and years, the list is so long. But few of these are patriots because of what they learnt in college. Statement of simple fact. Do we teach nationalism, patriotism, tales of sacrifice and courage in our Colleges, outside of History Graduation? We dont. QED.


Why do you attend college? To study, get an education - or to indulge in sloganeering? I too have been to college, and never did anything of the sort. Why are politics allowed within the colleges is not the point; what the hell are students doing is the point. I dont buy the nonsense of student activism; students are meant to study, play and get skilled for the nation – not indulge in politics, in my humble opinion


It is for this reason I have a total lack of connect with any students who indulge in this nonsense on any side of the debate. Sorry. Our parents dont send us to college, sacrificing sweat, blood and toil for us to scream slogans against real or imagined injustices. Not done. Period; Try doing politics in your offices, and see how long you survive! Open Challenge!


Was there over-reaction? Maybe. Were they guilty? No idea; on balance - unlikely, but am no expert. Did they deserve the public thrashing? Obviously, no. That does NOT absolve them in my mind in soiling the halloed place of learning we should rightly be calling a Gurukul, a place where we should be on our knees in front of The Goddess Saraswati {for Sanaatanis} ... and giving our thanks for giving us this opportunity that was not given to more than 70% other Indians!


My views may not be shared by you; fine by me. But to me a place of learning isnt a bloody political battlefield, but a place next only to a Temple, a place of dedication and worship no less than a Temple. As a matter of fact, to quote my friend and senior Amitabh Sinha, Vishal, if you're a Sanatani - as you claim you are - you know that a temple is anywhere where the Sanatani performs his karm pooja. So when you say the University is 'next only to a temple' I'm afraid you make a mistake. A University IS a temple for it is here where the teacher and the taught both offer their karm pooja. Is this the way to behave in a temple? Othermay have their views, but this doesn’t fit in mine. Go ahead, Call me an idealist...


{For the record : Me and Amit Sir have our differences of opinion, and the above quote is part of a much longer argument or discussion, with all its varied mutual disagreements}


We scream blue murder just on the question of flying the beloved Tricolor above our universities! The thankless people who go away, after feasting on scarce tax-payers money, scarce seats : where are they from? The UNIVERSITIES. What value and moral education is imparted? Lessons on patriotism, and the sacrifices people have done so that these students can study? This isnt taught - and that is fine. So, by corollary, how can politics be acceptable? First introduce value education, nation concepts as a part of the curricula, and THEN think of politics.


Sure politics has a place in every feature in life; but not active politics. Therein lies the difference. At best, places of learning can be places where opinions are formed, to be expressed later in more mature fora; but wasting the time of your Guru, your teachers, the nation, your parents is not done. Can you hold such enclaves in the workplace? Why not? Then how is something not allowed in the office be allowed in the Temple of Education? We cant have double standards!


Would the Army allow such sloganeering? Why not? Would Infosys? Brittannia? Nestle? Hero? Parle? TCS? TISCO? Tata Steel? Godrej? Bajaj? Reliance Group? Cello?  What's good for the goose should be good for the gander. As it isnt allowed, obviously there is some very practical reason for it: call it what you will. What are we doing in places of education indulging in something that 95+% of the time will have zero positive career impetus, and will in fact, as has proven to be the case, become a major career hindrance?



I can only indulge in a fervent and innocent hope that this incident is a one-off, does not represent the trend in our colleges and Universities, that 95%+ of our educational institutions are actually free from political interference in a major way at least insofar as performance of the core function of imparting knowledge to students is concerned... it may be an idealist hope, sound far-fetched... but then, optimists and realists have never changed the world...

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