Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Spirit of Cultural Harmony Marks Deepawali: Ravindra Kumar's article in the Bhavan's Journal, Mumbai [India], October, 2014






Friday, October 24, 2014

Common Features of the Cultures of India and Myanmar: Binding the Two Bilaterally –Professor Dr. Ravindra Kumar

Culture is the mirror of a society. It presents before the world those iconic characteristics of people within its ambit, which are the signs of their own identity. Along with this, they become ideals to be followed by others. A culture envelops ideas, works, planning, values and achievements of people of its domain. Especially, values and virtues occupy the foremost place in a culture. They are the result of a long-term process of thoughts and actions. That is why; some of them emerged as doubtless and timeless accepted greatly and widely. They prove to be exemplary for generations to come. Along with guiding people for the best and their large scaled welfare, they cause a long term impact on those in its direct range. Hence, importance of culture in life is self-evident.
Example of Indian culture and its unique features are well before us. We all know that many of extraordinary features of Indian culture became ideal long ago for the people all over the world. They are still exemplary and inspiring. Not only this, they will be so for the next thousands of years. It is exclusive qualities of Indian culture, which established Hindustan as a leading nation of the world, the Adhyatmik Vishwa-Guru [spiritual world-teacher] even in ancient times. It can be said without a doubt that Indian culture contributed significantly in building India’s position unique. Further, it played a vital role in the making the identity of Indians distinctive in the world. 
The three, harmony [amalgamation], co-ordination and evolutionary approach, are the leading qualities of Indian culture. The basic spirit of Indian culture is to guide and lead each and everyone through these basics to the pathway to universal welfare. Along with this, Indian culture on the strength of forbearance and tolerance, the two best and the most practical expressions of the supreme human value of Ahimsa [that is an essential condition for the safety of existence, progress and achieving goal also], calls everyone on this planet to think and work for the development and rise of one and all, and peace in the world so that the whole humanity comes blissfully within the scope of unity. Not only this, in accordance with its true meaning and purpose, Indian culture has in its long journey of more than five thousand years continuously stepped forward urging people to tread the pathway to progress with large scaled co-operation and co-ordination. It has always made the people remind the message of the Vedas, the Rigveda in particular, to think and act as per the demand of time and space, and has also led them in making situations conducive. In this process, Indian culture has also incorporated all welfaristic features of cultures of the world, which came in its contact from time-to-time. Keeping its own basic identity intact that is Swadeshikaran [indigenousness], it has been safeguarding and nurturing cultural values of others as well as infusing life in other cultures of the world. It has, thus, contributed tremendously in making the globe civilized and unified.
This is the only reality about Indian culture. In other words, it is the real picture of Bharatiya Sanskriti and anything contrary to this has nothing to do with Indian culture and its basic spirit. Indian culture is, as is well-known, one of oldest cultures of the world with its glorious history of thousands of years and high respect and recognition the world over. I do not need to go in any further details in this regard.   
II
Burma, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar today [nomenclature of the both of which emerged from the Bamar ethnic group, which further emerged from the unique and historical blend of the early tribes that reached in the region from India like Piyu, from Tibet like Lisu and from China like Miao, and Myanmar is itself in a way or the other the literary formation of the word Burma], is one of the oldest country of the South Asian region with its old and wonderful history and civilization. Before it got its name as Burma it was, in fact, Bagan a variated pronunciation of Pugan [a present day Burmese name of a city] that is again derived from Pukam origin of which could be well found in the Pali word Arimaddana-Pura, the city of templesIt is also said that Bamar is derived from the Vedic-Hindu word Brahmin [related to priestly class]; therefore, Burma is itself a variation of the word Brahmin
There are evidences of hardworking inhabitants in this region since eleven thousands BC [the Stone Age]. It is also evident from the engravings on a number of stones and cave-paintings that people of the region of today’s Myanmar were engaged in nature care [plantation and harvest growing] and animal rearing [domestication] in ancient period [between 10000-6000 BC] as is evident from the cave paintings near Taunggyi city, the current capital of Shan province of Myanmar. This also reflects people’s engagement in developing art, caring for environment and carrying out a number of other constructive works even in those days. Further, it has had in its splendid history the famous Pagan Empire, known as the Pagan Dynasty also [the first kingdom to unify during its rule for approximately 250 year between 1044 and 1287 AD the regions that would later constitute Burma and Myanmar of the day, and the Taungoo Dynasty, particularly responsible for creating a legal and political system during its reign of approximately 266 year between 1486 and 1752 AD in the region in the medieval period while the Konbaung Dynasty, the last dynasty, which ruled Burma from 1752 to 1885 AD and created the second largest empire in the history of the region, the Burmese history, and continued the administrative reforms begun by the Toungoo Dynasty in the Nineteenth Century AD in particular.
This series of events undoubtedly proves that like India the region of Myanmar was stepping forward on the pathway to development since ancient time. People of the region were marching ahead with a spirit of mutual understanding, harmony, co-operation and co-ordination, which is self-proved from unprecedented amalgamation and unity of tribes, arrived in the region especially from India, China and Tibet. This also eventually endorses the presence of a culture in Myanmar of which harmony, co-operation, co-ordination and acceptability were the leading features, quite similar to the qualities of Indian culture. Hence, without a doubt it is easy to be familiar with reality of common qualities of cultures of India and Myanmar. Along with this, these foremost features of the culture of Myanmar, like those of Indian culture, have remained ideal for others.
Along with this, developed art and method of music [known as the multileveled hierarchical system, melodious and combined with verses into songs], singing [retain melodic and stylistic patterns in particular] and dancing [especially traditional dance started during the Pyu period in 802 AD through ingenious musical instruments], creating literature [both in poetry and prose and focusing local folklore and culture, and using words from Pali], dressing [quite typical, in fact adopting lungi from India, being wore by both, man and woman ], games [mainly the Chinlone as an indigenous sport, utilizing a rattan ball and it is played using especially the feet and the knees, but the head and the arms may also be used except one’s hands] and cuisines [a good combination of Indian, Chinese and Thai cuisines with domestic ethnic cuisines] of Myanmar have been unique for hundreds of years and this state of affair is also similar to India. Burmese traditions and many ceremonies, wedding and funeral, celebrations and people’s respect for social values, [morality and ethics in particular], and making them the part of day-to-day practices could also be equated with those practiced in India. Like Bharat, convention of faith and devotion, mutual respect and goodwill too are the vital features of the culture of Myanmar.
III
Along with other elements, local-indigenous beliefs and traditions, people’s conduct, way of thinking and working, and their dynamism in particular, the Indian philosophy have also played a vital role in the development of features of the culture of Myanmar. It is entirely true that the basic source or the basis of development of cultures of India and Myanmar, both, remained the Indian philosophical tradition, the way of life and values. In this process the Vedic-Hindu philosophy, traditions and values have contributed significantly. They left a deep impression on life and works of people of the region, which could categorically be observed even today from daily practices of people of Myanmar.
Later since the first half of the Third Century BC Buddhism started becoming nucleus in life and practices of the people of Burma. It was the time of reign of the Great Mauryan King Ashoka in India. Ashoka, the Great, sent the two, Sona and Uttra, in 228 BC to Suwarnabhoomi [Burma] to propagate Buddhism there. Buddhism undoubtedly accorded a new dimension to the culture of Burma [Myanmar], deeply affected socio-religious life of the region. It is still so, which could be well comprehended from the number of Buddhist monks and nuns and temples in Myanmar. The number of Buddhist monks in Myanmar is approximately five lacs out of more than one million Buddhist monks in the whole world. In comparison to Burma in Thailand, one of the leading Buddhist countries of the world, the number of Buddhist monks is three lacs. The monks of Myanmar are besides religious teachers and guides, social activists, reformers and workers. There are more than 50, 000 Buddhist nuns and ten thousand temples in this country. 
Basic sources or the basis of cultures of both the countries, Indian philosophy indeed, has for thousands of years contributed predominantly in developing mutual relations between the two, India and Myanmar. History of deep mutual relations between them speaks by itself. It is glorious, magnificent and inspirational, and is available in many of socio-religious treatises, especially in the Buddhist scriptures of Myanmar. In this regard the names of other works namely Maha yazawin gyi and Hmannan yazawin dawgyi by Burmese scholars presenting history of the region could also be mentioned. Cultures of both the countries have also contributed significantly in developing their mutual economic co-operation, besides social relation. This process still continues and can be noticed from current economic-commercial relations between India and Myanmar. Currently, India is the fourth largest trading partner of Myanmar after Thailand, China and Singapore. Hindustan is the second largest exporter of goods to Myanmar after Thailand, and it absorbs twenty-five percent of total exports of Burma. Further, India is the seventh most important source of imports from Myanmar.
IV
            India and Myanmar are not just the two neighbours, but the people of both the counties have somehow blood relations also. They are, therefore, inseparable from one-another. Further, they have, for thousands of years, been connected to one-another on the strength of a combined culture –values, traditions and rituals. A combination emerged on the basis of cultural values does not break easily. That is why; interests of people of India and Myanmar are naturally common and no one can separate them from one-another. It is, therefore, the demand of time that people of both the countries taking it as their responsibility come forward, having the common features of cultures of the both, India and Myanmar as the nuclei, to smoothen social, political and economic relations between them. It is also necessary and inevitable in these days of rapidly growing process of development at global level that they work in this direction for the security and balance in the region. It will pave the way to the common welfare and progress of people of both the countries and will also accord strength to all the positive and constructive efforts being made for peace in the world.               

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Managements in a University –Dr. Ravindra Kumar



“One whose knowledge is confined to books and whose wealth is in the passion of others can use neither his knowledge nor wealth when the need for them arises.” 
        –Vishnugupta Chanakya
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Before starting a discussion about the role and importance of management in a university, which contributes tremendously in developing man’s personality, or which accords a dimension to human life, it is appropriate to get first of all familiarity with the meaning and purpose of management.
Management, an academic discipline, covering all faculties of the process of education, is, in reality, the function to co-ordinate the efforts of people to accomplish objectives and achieve the goals using available resources efficiently and effectively. Further, planning, organizing, staffing, directing and leading, controlling and taking initiatives to reach the goal are the parts and parcels of management. Along with this, deployment and arrangement of human resources, financial resources, learning resources, technological and natural resources are the prime features of management.
Thus, how important is management and how vital is its role in the ongoing process of globalization, it could be well comprehended from the short discussion we have had. Especially, when forecast, plan, organization, command, co-ordination and control emerge as its important tools, the worth and significance of management at all levels and in all walks of life become apparent.
II
Education is, undoubtedly, the most important feature in human life. It is a lifelong process. Ramakrishna Paramahansa, a great contemporary mystic from India, rightly said, As long I live, so long do I learn.”  The all-round development of one’s personality is possible only through education –Shiksha in Indian terms.
The Vedic-Hindu philosophy calls for a worthy living. It urges that each and everyone can make her or his life valuable by taking it to a moral and spiritual height. The acid test of worthy living, the high life, is to base her or his life on purity; in other words, imbuing it with ethics and dedicating actions to the great cause of the welfare of humanity as a whole. It is, in fact, an altruistic notion and urge of Vedic-Hindu philosophy with a universal objective. In this regard, important is that the Vedic-Hindu philosophy declares education as the only basis, means or the way to achieve the goal. From this, the significance of the process of education could also be realized. It is due to this reality that a person like Mandela has admitted, “Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world.”  
In such a significant discipline, which, to re-iterate, plays the vital role in making and shaping one’s life, or leads a human being towards achieving a goal, the importance of management is also self-evident. In this regard, it can be said with certainty that at every level of the process of education from primary to higher stage, proper and smooth management is inevitable. Along with this, in comparison to primary and secondary levels, it is more important at higher stage of education, institutions of higher studies, or universities. Why? This question could naturally emerge in one’s mind. In answer to this, it could be said firmly:
1-A university or an institution of higher studies is a centre of knowledge and learning for people of high age-group. Co-ordination between teaching staff [Professors] and managers and those who are of high age-group is naturally important and, at the same time, it is also a challenging task. For this, there is a great need for the best and co-operative management;
2-A university or an institution of a similar stature is essentially a centre for a wide range of researches and experiments besides imparting education through various faculties at the higher level. Here, education is not confined to attending classes for lectures and reading books as it cannot take to the real task. The accomplishment of task of generating energy is very much expected for the development of one’s personality, mental level in particular, and achieving the fixed objective or the one previewed already. It is possible only through an able-bodied management, by its foremost features mentioned above;       
3-A university, an institution of higher erudition, plays a vital role as directing-force through studies and by conducting tests including field work, to raise a man as a law-abiding and responsible citizen, under the supervision of well experienced and knowledgeable professors. It is quite necessary for proper conduction of the system –from individual to national, from national to global and from global to universal level. For this, planning, which is the foremost and preliminary part of management, is required; and
4-A university or an institution is meant to prepare, in a nutshell, a solid ground for the one, who studies and carry out research to achieve the goal. It plays a vital role by providing varied experiences for making one’s personality, or in developing individuality, not only for her/his own sake, but, in fact, for the purpose of working on the basis of her/his achievements for the progress and uplift of the society and humanity as a whole. This is indeed the purpose of education and the basic spirit is in its root. True education urges for use of each and every accomplishment, newly developed whole-person approach, method or model for larger welfare of one and all. It necessarily demands utilization of built up programmes, organizations, and human systems for people without any kind of discrimination –racial, gender or community-oriented. It is to integrate all fellow beings by promoting goodwill through human services in all manners.
The brief discussion we have had till now, particularly having the four points in the centre, categorically reveals itself the importance of a university or an institution of higher studies in the making of one’s life. It emphatically unveils side-by-side, the role, contribution and significance of management in achieving the desired goals.     
III
Currently, the world has reached to its new and unprecedented state. In reality, it is rapidly converting into a global village as per Indian dictum of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. In such a situation, stepping forward together has become necessary, and for this, co-operation of each and everyone and co-ordination among the all persons on this planet is a pre-requisite. For certainty of this, the role of process of education is vital, especially, well-managed education in the universities, or institutions of higher studies and that too directed by ethical values could lead the world for the purpose. This can pave the way to accord appropriate opportunities to everyone to rise.     
Today, there are a number of challenges before any university. Non-preparedness for adequate studies1 and shortage of competent teachers-professors2, low standard, non-availability of sufficient facilities and finances3, high cost, lack of co-ordination among faculties, or continuously increasing competition at the different levels, could be counted in this regard. They hinder studies and research, both; the skill development. Almost all universities face these challenges, more especially in developing countries of the world.
All these challenges or other related problems could be met only by effective and accountable management. Through available resources at local and regional levels, and by gathering national and international support in the form of co-operation and co-ordination, university education could be made more conclusive for universal good.
Management is itself an act to solve the problem, or to meet challenges and to pave the way to achieve. This is the only effective way to solution and to accomplish as per the expectations. But, while doing so, the significance of values cannot be overlooked, as they are the only base to make the tool of management, worthy and meaningful.
References:
1.       In the United States of America, almost half of the students [fifty percent] in four-year degree programmes do not graduate. In the Netherlands, the completion rate for students enrolled in four or five years programme is approximately fifty percent. In New Zealand, the completion rate for students enrolled in Bachelors programmes is little less than fifty percent.
2.       For various reasons, renowned universities in India like DU, JNU, Madurai Kamaraj University, Patna University, and IITs are, according to the report, lack in professors-teachers up to fifty percent. It has been reported recently by P Pushkar, a research fellow at the Institute for Study of International Development at the McGill University through  his article entitled,  In Search of India’s ‘Missing’ Professors, which has appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education [September 12, 2014] that India faces a shortage of 3,00,000 faculty members in its universities and colleges. It further estimated that the shortage will increase at the rate of 1,00,000 each year. These are big numbers even for a country of one billion-plus people and counting.
3.       This is the problem being faced more or less by every university or an institution of higher studies in the world. Just for an example, one of the prestigious universities of the world, the St. Augustine’s University at Raleigh, North California, United States of America, was in heavy debts due to lack of funds, it has stopped payments of many bills of which one amounting to approximately $675,000 came to disclose in 2013.