Sunday, April 13, 2014

Indian Nationalism: A View –Professor Dr. Ravindra Kumar

Nationalism has been interpreted differently by different writers across the globe. But the essence of each one of them lies in defining nationalism as a sentiment dedicated to a particular nation. It is an idea revealing people’s devotion and loyalty to their respective nation. It also categorically reflects disposition of people [a particular society in broader sense] in which they treat themselves cohesive on the basis of history, values, traditions, language, culture and so on. Further, to work for the nation having national interest as the nucleus is the foremost of the ideas of nationalism. Thus, the idea of nationalism generally applies to a particular nation, a country, or a nation-state, a word that emerged from contemporary Western ideas.1
The one who is dedicated to national interest and keeps the cause of the nation as the foremost in his ideas and works, both, she/he is called a nationalist in general. In other words, musing on nation’s interest and development, and striving to achieve it, is the basis of one’s being a nationalist. Further, along with indigenous values, culture, and language etc. prevailing circumstances of space and available resources remain in the centre while work for nation’s growth is undertaken. It is because these elements could ascertain national progress. Categorically, the large scaled progress of the nation as per the demand of time and space remain the supreme here. This, undoubtedly, paves the way for the development of the nation concerned.
Basic elements, particularly national values, culture, language and the way of living, are established through a long process of development in all walks of life. National standards set by a large-scaled consensus of people with the purpose of welfare of one and all accord speed to that process. And people’s cooperation plays a vital role in making this consensus and speed grow further. Those very standards are in fact the signs of identity of people and their respective nation.       
Religious mechanism has contributed predominantly in setting, guiding and spreading values, living-style and culture along with the view and way of life. These have also remained the foremost in identifying national standards and people of a nation. They are still significant in this regard. In context of India it can be said with certainty as religious values have contributed unprecedentedly in the making of the national culture, setting standards and for the identity of Indians. In India, religious values have contributed distinctively in widening the thought processes weaving a thread of unity among the people and instilling in them a sense of dedication for common causes. This is why; having the Indian context as the nucleus, I have mentioned in one of my books entitled, The India Way [Bharatiya Marg], “If the Indian way and the Vedic-Hindu view of life are called supplementary to one-another, there is nothing unusual in it.”   
As per the general notion the first aspect of Indian nationalism is fully dedicated to India’s unity and integrity –in the building of a strong and a prosperous Bharat; essentially, in the all-round progress of India. History of Indian nationalism is quite old, perhaps oldest in the whole of the world. The supreme human values developed from the Vedic-Hindu view of life2 predominantly while values of Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism etc. in general have chiefly contributed towards establishing and strengthening the Indian nationalism. The welfare of one and all and broad outlook towards life remain the basic spirit of Indian nationalism.
As the welfare of one and all and broad outlook towards life are integrally connected to Indian nationalism; strong and prosperous Bharat is in reality committed to the progress of humanity at large; therefore, Indian concept of nationalism is rather different from other viewpoints pertaining to it. The nationalism of the Indian view is not similar to that one emerged and developed during the contemporary time in the West. This dissimilarity from the Western viewpoint is the second, but the real aspect of Indian nationalism.
The firm commitment of Indian nationalism to the welfare and rise of one and all could be well perused from the popular Vedic-Hindu mentions like that of Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam3 and Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah.4 It could be known from the tasks accomplished by great Indians for the whole of humanity since ancient times. Indian nationalism in its basic spirit and intent does not expect the solidarity and integrity of Bharat at the cost of others. It does not wish grabbing and scrambling, or exploitation of others for the sake of India’s prosperity. Rather, the nationalism of the Indian view could be observed in its longing for others’ well-being and their defence on the basis of its own strength; in its wish for others’ progress and prosperity through its own development. Hence, the scope of Indian nationalism is very vast. Furthermore, nationalism of the Indian view is broad enough. In its real form it is undoubtedly committed to internationalism; further, Indian nationalism is dedicated to universalism. 
Generally, the concept of nationalism is viewed and analyzed with a narrow outlook. Further, it seems losing significance in these days of rapidly increasing process of globalization. Even then, the nationalism of the Indian views, due to its call for global-universal unity and rise of one and all, remains imperative and worth considering. The notion of Indian nationalism is completely different from the viewpoint of contemporary scientist like Elbert Einstein who declared nationalism as a child disease. It is also contrary to the views of Albert Guerard in which he found hatred in the concept of nationalism. Likewise, it has to do nothing with that opinion of George Orwell, which reflects desire for power in ideas and practices in the name of nationalism. On the other hand, the nationalism of the Indian view could be well comprehended in the proclamation of one of the great contemporary Indians like Guru Gobind Singh in which he recognised all of mankind as a single caste of humanity. It could be observed in the basic spirit latent in the root of Swami Vivekananda’s belief of Dharma, fully imbued with the spirit of duty and purity of heart; in the statement, Satyamev Jayate of Madan Mohan Malviya and in the slogan, Swarajya is my birth right given by Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Moreover, the reality of Indian nationalism could be well previewed in the statement of Mahatma Gandhi in which he said, “My National-Dharma is for the whole of humanity” and in Swadeshi and decentralization-centred ideas of integral humanism presented by Deen Dayal Upadhyaya. All of them were the great contemporary Indians. They were the best of Bharatiyas and finest nationalists as well.     
1. A concept developed in the West identifying and accepting a particular territory as the nation-state on the basis of its own political legitimacy as a sovereign entity.
2. In which the Supremacy of God, human-unity, Ahimsa [non-violence] and perpetuity of the law of change are of particular mention. These values appear in the first Sukta of the first chapter of the Rig-Veda itself. Along with this, they appear categorically in Upanishads and other Vedic treatises also.
3.  Ayam nijah paroveti gananaa laghuchetasaam udaaracharitaam tu vasudhaiv kutumbakam.
4. Sarve bhavantu sukhinah, sarve santu nira-maya-ah; sarve bhadranipashyantu ma-kaschit dukha-bhag bhavet.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Forthcoming Lok Sabha Elections –Professor Dr. Ravindra Kumar

The forthcoming Lok Sabha elections are very important for us, the Indians. They are most significant, perhaps, since India’s freedom from the colonial rule from the viewpoint of country’s unity, integrity and a national polity. Besides India’s broad-based nationalism [dedicated eventually to the cause of whole of humanity], culture, way of life and its place in the Twenty-First Century world in particular would be decided most tellingly from these elections. It is, therefore, the duty of all of Indians to ensure their participation in the election process. They should overcome all caste, class and religious-community based discriminations and elect representatives in the overall interest of the Indian nation.

We, Indians, are once again on the verge of making history. It is the time to showcase our unity and exercise our franchise to build a mature political mandate, which we have been lacking for quite some time, but which none the less is absolutely necessary for our worthy existence, prosperity and rightful place in world.  

Friday, March 21, 2014

Values in Life: An Analysis –Ravindra Kumar

“Let us work together, let us speak together, let our minds and hearts be united for a great cause.”The Rig-Veda 
            Values have always been imperative to man’s life. That is why; analysis and discussion about the worth and significance of values has been there right from the beginning. A life without values is considered as useless, meaningless and baseless. In such a situation, i.e. indispensability of values in life, the first and foremost question that emerges in mind is: How to define value?
Origin/Meaning of the Word Value: As quoted in the beginning of this discourse, Value that is Mulya in the Indian term, is one of the most important subjects that has the pride of place in the oldest Vedic-Hindu scriptures including the Rig-Veda. Value is the word used in English for Mulya and it originates from Valere of Latin; also from Valoir of the old French, which means the cost or the worth. In its basic spirit this word most cogently reflects man’s quality and ability; in other words, a man’s perfection and core competence in life. Along with this, it clearly reveals the truth that a life based on values alone could be the best, honourable, just and exemplary. Socrates, a great ancient Greek philosopher rightly said, “To live well, honourably and justly are [one and] the same things.”
After above brief on meaning and origin of the word value, it can verily be  concluded that values accord positive strength to man’s life; values get one to realize and identify one’s reality, and by developing one’s own virtues they enable all-round growth of mankind. Indeed, values give worth, glory and baseline to life. In this context the statement of American novelist Jennifer Crusie [Jennifer Smith] that “values are not buses...they are not supposed to get you anywhere; they are supposed to define who you are” is most apt and revealing.
No doubt, the importance of values in leading a man to his true identity and reality, and develop virtues that he already possesses within; and thereby making his life meaningful and successful on the path of  truth, is too obvious to be emphasized. A cryptic line from Mahatma Gandhi, “your values become your destiny”, says it best.
Getting familiar with values, deliberating on them, fine tuning them to present day needs, and approving them for implementation in routine living, is welfaristic necessity for human growth. This is the reality –the truth, not only of the past, but also of the present and for all times to come. There can be no alternative or replacement to this reality.
Values are, it can be repeated, inseparable to life. Having human life as the nuclei it can be said with certainty that values are as necessary for him as air to breathe, water and food to thrive and cloths to separate man from other living beings as the superior of creatures on this planet.
Values are the soul of ethics. They are the central force in making deeds truthful; in other words, it is values that contribute to make acts real and excellent. Further, values are the means of nourishing morality –the fountainhead of justice and good governance at all levels, from individual to universal. Values make man responsible. They make situations conducive for him as per the demand of time and space. They bring him within the domain of truth and lead him to all-round progress.
If truth prevails in behaviours, the spirit of wellbeing and welfare of one and all remains intact, and acts are done dutifully; the task is accomplished with unity holistically and also for human unity. Values are, therefore, serious matters for establishment, development and refinement as per the demand of time and space. Moreover, as values are the subject of contemplation and discourse; they are intrinsically connected to human nature and actions; they are not, therefore, beyond the reality of the eternal law of change. Values are no exception to the law of change. Truth –true acts for the large scale human welfare and unity, as said in the foregoing, is the acid-test of values. It is for this reason that a political thinker like Henry David Thoreau has verily said, “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me [the value of] truth.”
Hence, the significance, necessity and indispensability of values in life, which, besides staying within the domain of truth are dedicated to the overall human welfare and prosperity, is self evident. It is for this very reason that a life without values is not only imperfect, but worthless and meaningless. Values are a measure of the worth and peaks of one’s life. 
We can very much talk about and discuss about development of values that are critically needed in the current perspective, as also about those that are necessary today to accord certainty to the welfare of an individual, the state and the society. However, the significance of working together with heart and soul for the wellbeing of one and all has always been central to human endeavours. The realization, development and application of this thought process is much more needed today than ever before, especially as the whole world is rapidly converting into a global village, and regional and national concerns are fast becoming global concerns. Therefore, it is expected of institutions imparting education at all levels that they take values as their prime responsibility and work meticulously to make them part and parcel of human affairs. Taking this as their core duty and responsibility, they must come forward for character building of students on the basis of values, the value of cooperation, coordination, collation and working together in peace and harmony. This is also the way leading to join heart to hearts, to develop the best spirit of responsibility, necessarily needed for the purpose.                     

Friday, January 31, 2014

Morality: Essence and Reality –Professor Dr. Ravindra Kumar

“The very essence of our civilization is that we give a paramount place to morality in all our affairs, public or private.” –MK Gandhi

The word morality is essentially associated with man’s practices, his character, intention and dealings in particular. Along with this, morality accords strength to judge what is wrong and right, and enables to choose the right and welfaristic. That is why; the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius had mentioned in this regard, “Wisdom, compassion and courage are the three universally recognized moral...”
It is now evident that morality is not just an idea or a theoretical concept. Rather, it is a subject related to human behaviour. Further, if we go into reality of basic spirit in the root of word morality, we categorically observe that the acid test of morality is the performance of duty or discharging responsibility. Therefore, it is inevitable for proper governance of the system, from individual to universal. Subscribing to morality is necessary to make life worthy and meaningful.
Morality is timeless and significant. It is, however, not beyond the domain of law of change. It is a subject matter of refinement as per the demand of time.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Significance of Gandhian Viewpoint of Value Education in the Twenty-First Century –Professor Dr. Ravindra Kumar

 “The ancient aphorism, ‘Education is that which liberates’ is as true today as it was before. Education here does not mean mere spiritual knowledge, nor does liberation signify only spiritual liberation after death. Knowledge includes all training that is useful for the service of mankind and liberation means freedom from all manners of servitude even in the present life. Servitude is of two kinds: slavery to domination from outside and one’s own artificial needs. The knowledge acquired in the pursuit of this ideal alone constitutes true study.” –MK Gandhi      

The above statement of Mahatma Gandhi categorically reveals what he expected out of education. For the Mahatma, as is evident from the above, education [Shiksha in Indian term] is the pathway to liberation, i.e.: Sa Vidya Ya Vimuktaye. It is a process that leads to all-round development of one’s personality, to take her or him to a desired goal. Hence, it is meant for making life worthy and meaningful. It is, therefore, an endless imagination, a radical concept and an enormous process to make the life full of joy and prosperity.
The process of education continues lifelong. It ends with one’s last breath. Mahatma Gandhi fully subscribed to this reality of education, i.e. it being a lifelong process. Through this process a human being learns till her or his last breath, acquiring knowledge and developing skill. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi himself, “Education is an unending process.” Moreover, “Education…helps mould and shape human body, mind and character in such a manner that they act as means to achieve joy and efficiency.” [Gandhi in Current Perspective, page 84]
“This”, Mahatma Gandhi says further, “works for the all-round development of man right from the beginning till the end. Its ultimate aim is to turn human knowledge into his ability. It is for the purpose of making his life worthy and meaningful…” [Essays on Gandhism and Peace, page 10]
This is a process, the Mahatma states, “of all-round drawing out of the best in child and man –in body, mind and spirit.” [Harijan, July 31, 1937]
From the above statements of the Gandhi, everything becomes clear about his viewpoint pertaining to meaning and purpose of education. We can, however, draw following conclusions from these statements:
·         Education is a lifelong process;       
·         Education brings out whatever already exists within;
·         Education, on the basis of virtues, paves the way for all-round development of one’s personality; and
·         Education helps one to make the life worthy and purposeful –to achieve the expected goal.
Undoubtedly, this is one of the finest explanations and estimations of education. From this, the importance of the Gandhian view of education could be well understood, observed and evaluated.  
Further, the worth and importance of the Gandhian view of education increases tremendously when it is assessed from value education viewpoint and that too in current perspective, in the Twenty-First Century, a time space that is rapidly converting earth into a global village. Moreover, a Century that is calling one and all to a nest of togetherness;  to come forward to work with the sole spirit of co-ordination and co-operation at all levels and in all walks of life. The Gandhian view of value education predominantly consists of the following two aspects:
·         Duty and responsibility-bound morality [commitment of pursuing the good –welfaristic to one and all] and ethics [choosing the right –following the truth in life, personal and public]; and
·         Learning or knowledge centred on self-sufficiency.
Along with this, the value education of the Gandhian view is dedicated to the welfare of one and all. It is, in fact, not only a message or the sermon of making value education real as per its literal meaning as well as the spirit in the root of it, but it is also an effort at translating it into action.
The moral and ethical learning is the process of infusing one with the commitment to duties and responsibilities right from the beginning. This process calls upon man to imbibe virtues and make them integral part of his practices. Thus, it is the way of character-building alongside the natural growth of body and mind, so that one becomes one’s own candle and is enabled, as Mahatma Gandhi pointed out, “to identify with the whole mankind.” [Harijan, December 24, 1938] Only on the strength of this learning and knowledge can one proceed towards an all-round development of personality and achieve her/his set goals in life. That is why; in Gandhian view, morality and ethics are the first and foremost aspects of value education as well as the acid test of how deft one is in discharging one’s duties and responsibilities.
Doubtless, self-sufficiency of woman and man is the second vital aspect of value education of Gandhian view. The learning should be such that after completing education one is not left worried about her or his future. Rather, she or he is so enabled that on the basis of her or his learning and knowledge she or he continues moving forward on the pathway to progress and achieve the desired goal. Mahatma Gandhi, during his lifetime, proposed it as Buniyadi [basic] education. However, it is always a subject open to refinement and modification as per the demands of time and space, and also as per the available resources at local and national levels.                   
For this, Mahatma Gandhi specifically urged for preparing a suitable ground by way of such schemes and plans for education that could pave way for all-round development of personality in prevailing situations of time and space, and without compromising with values and their blending with the process of education. This could be well observed from the following two short statements of Mahatma Gandhi, “Education must be of new type for the sake of the creation of a new world.” [Harijan, September 8, 1946] And, “It is not literacy or learning, which makes a man, but education for real life.” [Harijan, February 2, 1947]
A critical and unbiased analysis of above two worthy statements of Mahatma Gandhi can suffice to prove adaptability and significance of the Gandhian view of value education. Mahatma Gandhi remained cogently committed to progress and newer avenues, but without giving up on values. He never embraced centuries old dogmatic beliefs, traditions, or superstitions. He desired the same from fellow beings –general and elite, that they overcome fallacies and make their life meaningful.  
Mahatma Gandhi’s views on value education and his works thereof should be assessed, examined and monitored sans prejudice, keeping above-mentioned facts in mind. From this, the adaptability and significance of the Gandhian viewpoint of value education in current perspective –in the Twenty-First Century, would automatically become clear.