Thursday, December 26, 2013

Relevance of Gandhian Thought on Youth and Women in Current Perspective –Dr. Ravindra Kumar

As a great humanist Mahatma Gandhi put forth before the world from-to-time his views on almost all subjects related to life. He discussed at length all walks of life –importance, impact and related problems thereof in particular. How was it then possible that he could remain indifferent to the role, significance and contribution of youth and women to the society, nation and humanity as a whole? Rather, he had sanguine thoughts about them. His views pertaining to youth and women were unique. They are still matchless and worth considering in current perspective. How? Before taking this in course of discussion and analysis, it is necessary be familiarity with extracts of some of the statements and articles Mahatma Gandhi penned on youth and women.
Talking of importance and the role of the youth, Gandhiji asserted, “Youth are life of the nation. They must [therefore] be ready to discharge responsibility as it will prepare them to become mature and worthy….They have their duties towards society and the nation….they are needed [always].” [Youth and Politics, page 26]      
Further, calling the youth the Mahatma urged, “Young men…claiming…to be the father of tomorrow, [you], should be the salt of the nation. If the salt loses its flavour, wherewith shall it be salted?” And, “You [youth] go forth as messengers of God carrying balm for the wounded soul…” [Young India, December 22, 1927]    
Likewise, declaring a woman the shaper and the moulder of society and the nation in the same measure as the man, Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Man and woman are of equal rank…they are a peerless pair being supplementary to one-another; each helps the other, so that without one the existence of the other cannot be conceived, and therefore it follows as a necessary corollary from these facts that anything that will impair the status of either of them will involve the equal ruin of them both.” [Harijan, February 27, 1927]
That is why; while discussing the issue pertaining to rights of women, he firmly stated, “I am uncompromising in the matter of women’s rights….treat the daughters and sons on a footing of perfect equality.” [Young India, October 17, 1929]   
From the above-mentioned short statements of the Mahatma the following two things become categorically clear:   
1.      The youth [girls and boys, both] are the most imperative as is amply clear from two words –the life and the salt [of the nation] used therein; and the equality of woman and man is beyond any iota of doubt; and
2.      The role and contribution of youth and women in the making of society and the nation are of utmost importance, and for this they have their own responsibilities and duties to discharge.   
The Gandhian view [undoubtedly based on realities of life and premised around Mahatma Gandhi’s experiments with truth in particular] is one of the best approaches available to mankind for real progress and prosperity in life. Its distinctiveness lies in the fact that it incorporates high human values –especially the supreme value of Ahimsa [non-violence]. Moreover, it is committed to morality and ethics –the two foremost features of Ahimsa itself. It ordains carrying out day-to-day activities on the basis of morality and ethics. It is important to note that it makes discharging one’s responsibilities and performing duties the acid test of her or his morality and ethics. That is why; the Gandhian view emerges as the most significant in the context of youth and women. Simultaneously, it is capable of giving appropriate direction to youth on one hand and on the other to bring women to the same platform as men making their contribution to the building of society, the nation and humanity as a whole transparent and appreciable.      
How? This can also be well grasped from the message in the root of the above-mentioned statements, and the practical application thereof. Categorically, the message is to understand well one’s duties and responsibilities and discharge them most dispassionately. The Gandhian way expects this from one and all at all levels and in all walks of life.
In all issues related to youth –their march in the right direction, their contribution in social, political and economic fields in particular; obstacles or problems that dogged them in the past, or are bothering them currently, obviously stem from sloppy discharge of duties and responsibilities by those who were, or are, in one way or other the part and parcel of their learning process. This reality can be accessed from a dispassionate examination and analysis of the subject in hand.       
In context of women –their condition, particularly arising from centuries of inequality and injustice, lack of responsibility of men towards daughters, mothers and sisters is to blame. Man has exploited woman in numerous ways, and he is still doing it as Mahatma Gandhi himself admits, “Women has been suppressed under custom and law for which man was responsible and in the shaping of which she had no hand.” The Mahatma went on to add that, “They [women] can never be imposed from outside. Men have not realized this truth in its fullness in their behaviour towards women. They have considered themselves to be lords and masters of women instead of considering them as their friends and co-workers. [India of My Dreams, page 224] 
Hence, the clarity we find in the Gandhian view pertaining to youth and women seems unique and such a thing is not often found in ideas, addresses and writings of thinkers. Mahatma Gandhi himself was matchless in this regards. For his clarity of reality-based thoughts he still rules the roost. Apart from this, the manner in which he prepared ground for active participation of youth and women in national liberation movement of India and simultaneously engaged them in constructive work for enhancement of their own self-sufficiency, was astonishing, and remains unparalleled till today.
From every part of the country –from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from NWFP to NEFA, youths in their thousands came to join the national liberation movement under the leadership of the Mahatma. Simultaneously they become the part and parcel of various constructive programmes under the guidance of the spearhead team of Mahatma and his colleagues.
Not only this, Kasturba Gandhi [1869-1944], Sarojini Naidu [1879-1949], Sucheta Kriplani [1908-74], Aruna Asaf Ali [1909-6], Durgabai Deshmukh [1909-81], Mnibehn Vallabhbhai Patel [1903-90], Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay [1903-88], Muthulakshmi Reddy [1886-1968], Rajkumari Amrit Kaur [1889-1964], Begum Hamid Ali, Renuka Ray [1904-97], Usha Mehta [1920-2000], Padmaja Naidu [1900-75], Vijay Laxmi Pandit [1900-90], Rukmini Laxmipatti [1892-1951], Meerabehn [1892-1982],  Bibi Amtuslam, Mithubehn Petit, Indumati Chimanlal Seth and Premebehn Kantak [1906-85], were some of the iconic figures  among  thousands of brave women who came in the forefront during the national liberation movement on Mahatma Gandhi’s call. They played a vital role in the fight for freedom and by way of multifarious constrictive programmes they worked for self-sufficiency and the uplift of common man, and in the building of society and the nation during the freedom struggle and in the post- independence India. Most of them emerged as public figures and exemplary social workers.
This was the result of the Gandhian approach to woman and his commitment of bringing women to the main stream of society. Mahatma Gandhi used to say, “[Women] should not be doll and objects of indulgence, but should be treated as honoured comrades in common service.” [Constructive Programme, page 17] Moreover, whatever he said he practiced in his life with total commitment.
Unfortunately, the Gandhian viewpoint particularly pertaining to women did not receive due response in free India. The Mahatma urged for social reforms so that men could realize the importance of women’s role in their time space. He desired men to change their mentality towards women. The Mahatma longed for women’s equality in socio-political and economic fields and surety of their participation in the system.
For this gigantic task Mahatma Gandhi wished men to come forward considering it as their duty-bound moral responsibility and jettison vanity of being superior to women. He emphasized the need for rooting out such social wrongs committed against women through the ages, as made them slaves and deprived them of their legitimate rights. Though this alone could a proper and real progress of society, the nation and humanity as a whole be possible. There is no other way superior to this, i.e. a change in men’s mentality toward women and justice to women by granting them equality and freedom at par with men.
In the same way, it is the responsibility of men that they accord right direction to the youth. Accepting the fact that only on the strength of enthusiasm and energy of youth a society, nation and the world can achieve what is expected for the wellbeing of one and all, they must make sure that the role and contribution of youth in the developmental process at all levels and in all walks of life is duly acknowledged. India has lagged behind on this count in the past. It is still lagging to a large extent, which is a sad and unfortunate.
Until and unless the role and contribution of youth and women are not acknowledged, men do not proactively work for this taking it as their moral responsibility; welfaristic state cannot become a reality. This is the message of the Gandhian viewpoint pertaining to the two –youth and women. Based as it is on duty-bound morality and responsibility, the Gandhian viewpoint is not only worthy of consideration, but seems indeed quite significant and relevant in current perspective.             

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Contemporary Indian history cannot complete without a mention of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, his work and vision. He was a fearless leader, deft organizer, great freedom fighter, administrator, statesman and a visionary. His role in nation-building remains extraordinary till date and will remain so for all times to come. Sardar Patel’s sharp political acumen enabled him to accomplish the impossible and he worked tirelessly for his motherland till his last breath.               
Sardar Patel spearheaded India’s fight for freedom under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. His contribution in making the Congress a strong organization by mobilizing masses into its fold and engaging them in constructive work remains unique to this day.   
Immediately after independence he played a vital role in reorganizing administrative structure of India; for he established the two All India levels services namely, the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service. Further, his role in making the Constitution of India as Jan Samvidhan [People’s Constitution] is praiseworthy. He was the Chairman of three important committees which recommended for provisions for the Indian Constitution, namely: the Fundamental Rights’ Committee, the State Constitution Committee and the Committee for Minorities. Partition of undivided India into two nations created serious problems of law and order. Patel took these problems head on resolved them with amazing felicity. Migration of population and relief and rehabilitation of those who were coming from the parts of newly established nation of Pakistan were the most daunting of challenging facing Sardar Patel. Once the border lines were established, about 14.5 million people crossed over to the nation of their choice. From India 7, 226, 000 people went to Pakistan, and from Pakistan 7, 250, 000 people moved to India after the announcement of division. This cross migration was a huge task and Sardar Patel worked day and night to deliver goods. In the process he took some out of the box decisions and implemented them with iron hand. This saved the Indian nation in many ways.
In brief, the accomplishments made by Sardar Patel in a short period of less than four years [1947 to 1950] have no parallel in the entire Indian history. Perhaps such examples are not available even in world history. Dedication for the nation, sincerity and vision were his hallmarks. Whenever and wherever necessary, he took lightening decisions with great foresight, keeping national interest first and foremost. Hence the opening sentence of this presentation that without Sardar Patel the history of contemporary India is not complete.
Above all the most herculean and astonishing task that Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel accomplished was the vast political integration of India, which is unprecedented in the annals of India’s long and chequered history.
In fact, soon after his arrival as the last British Viceroy to India, Lord Mountbatten announced the independence of the country along with its partition into two –India and Pakistan on June 3, 1947. This partition was slated to be completed by August 15, 1947. The most important and challenging task before India then was the geographical integration of the country. Around 560 odd and scattered princely states consisting of total area of 6, 00, 000 square miles were to be merged into the Union of India in a short period of just 72 days, i.e. by August 14, 1947 and that too in a volatile socio-political situation. There were four major problems that India faced at that point of time:
·                     Newly created Pakistan’s policy of grabbing as many states as possible by taking advantage of flux situation was a great threat to India’s territorial integrity. Pakistan pined for States of Junagarh and Hyderabad most obtrusively. Jinnah’s move of bargaining with the rulers of states, especially of Jaisalmer and Jodhpur, was also inimical to India’s interests;
·                      Separatist forces which desired India to be a weak nation had started so-called people’s movements in the name of religion and regional identity. This was most evident from incidents in Punjab and northeastern parts of the country;
·                      Most of the officials in the higher echelons of government services were English who had already left for their native place. Therefore, administration was inefficient and phlegmatic at the most critical hours of the nascent freedom; and
·                     False vanity of some of the rulers of states to maintain their own separate kingdoms, as evident from their moves and misdeeds, was impeding the process of integration.                    
In such a situation, seventy-two years old Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, without caring much of his health, took the challenge of a gigantic task with indomitable courage and firm determination. He asserted emphatically, “Now, when we have arrived at the door of long-awaited freedom, we cannot take any more risk for our nation –cannot compromise for its unity and integrity.”    
He worked day and night and finally accomplished the much-awaited task of political integration of India in a short period, that too largely in an atmosphere of harmony, co-ordination and co-operation. The name of VP Menon is worthy of mention here as member of Patel’s dedicated team of workers. It was undoubtedly a task that has no parallel in the world history. Dr. Rajendra Prasad had rightly said, “The great tasks that Vallabhbhai Patel accomplished have no other example in the history of our nation, and not even in the history of other nations of the world.”
 India was never ever integrated politically to such a large scale in colonial as well as pre-colonial period of her history. Even after the division that carved out a new nation Pakistan out of it, India remains largest politically integrated land mass ever in her long history of ups and downs. For this, undoubtedly, the credit goes exclusively to the mature and razor sharp statesmanship of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
The State of Junagarh [comprising of total area of 3336 square miles] came within the fold of the Indian Union due to Sardar’s able and exemplary non-violence-based diplomacy while the State of Hyderabad [containing area of 1, 00, 465 square miles in total, equivalent of France] became a part of India on sheer strength of  his unwavering political will. The State of Jammu and Kashmir [holding total 84, 471 square miles of area] became part of India only due Sardar Patel’s policy of implementing political decisions into quick action.       
India must be a strong nation and it should be safe internally and externally, both. Each and every citizen should contribute towards unity, integrity and development of the nation.  Everyone must get equal opportunity to rise. Along with this, there should be no compromise with nation’s unity and security. All activities related to separatism, segregation and regionalism are dangerous. They should not be allowed. Rather, they should be met with firm and speedy action. All efforts should be made towards this end by overcoming of differences of ideas and perceptions with the spirit of national unity. This was Sardar’s socio-political approach. In his own words, “No one would be permitted to try to damage the unity, security and integration of India. People and organizations indulging in separatist activities should control themselves and get into the mainstream as soon as possible. If they do not do so then there would be no hesitation in taking hard steps against them.”

On the basis of his sanguine nationalist ideas Sardar Patel could integrate India, which would be remembered by his compatriots for long time to come. Moreover, we can learn a lot from his ideas and work-ethos to keep India united and find our due place at international level, and trough this to contribute to peace and prosperity all over the world.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Quality Assurance in Education and Research -Professor Dr. Ravindra Kumar

The topic, Quality Assurance in Education and Research, comprising of four words, is quite important and it is one of the vital subjects being discussed extensively these days all over the world. Why so? Before knowing and analysing this, it would be appropriate to get familiarized with the meaning of and the spirit behind the four words that make for this heading.
Education: A lifelong process, purpose of which is to realize what already exists within; to develop virtues and on the basis of this to ensure all-round progress of one’s personality. This is the only truth about education, both from the meaning and the spirit point of view. That is why; more than two thousand four hundred years ago Socrates [469-399 BC], a great philosopher from Greece had rightly said, “Education means to bring out what already exists within.” Approximately seventy years ago, Mahatma Gandhi also said, “All-round development of one’s personality on the basis of virtues is education.”       
Research: Generally, it is a process to systematically add to a knowledge pool. Moreover, it serves to divulge the reality on the basis of studies and intensive analysis and paves way to make the available knowledge adaptable to the future needs. In short, research is a method, process and system for the addition and advancement of human knowledge, which opens new doors in the field of education for the larger welfare of mankind. Therefore, research is essentially connected to the process of education. It is an inseparable aspect of education, which makes the process of education worthwhile.
Quality: A virtue that accords expected top-end result, or delivery on the strength of organization, observation, checks and balances, and control. It aims at making the modus- operandi of education and research relevant and result-oriented for the present, and dynamic, exemplary and modifiable for the future, i.e. to make education truly welfaristic in a lager interest as per the demand of time and space. The process of education, evidently, calls for assessment and observation, comparative evaluation, and must deliver on promised objectives; therefore, the quality is one element that cannot be compromised with. It is indispensable for the process of education. It is rightly said that the quality is the means through which an institution ensures that such conditions as enable students to achieve the standards set by it or by another awarding body, are put in place.
Assurance: It is the commitment to accomplish a given task. Making sure that the needful is done timely and rightly. Moreover, assurance consists of responsibility, dedication and reliability as its chief attributes. Hence, assurance is an indivisible aspect of educational process.
Hence, the subject in hand, Quality Assurance in Education and Research is, as a whole an important and significant topic. All the four word incorporated in it –education, research, quality and assurance, eloquently reveal its importance. Now, after getting familiar with meaning and spirit in the root of all of these four words separately as well as their syntax union, the value and worthiness of the subject become crystal clear, and nothing more can be added to enhance clarity and understanding in this regard.
Thanks to its sanguine importance, practical value and central significance that it is being discussed at all levels –local, regional, national and international, particularly so because education system is lacking in values and delivery mechanisms. The level of commitment in the process is much below expectations. People are busy individually as well as collectively in more than one million researches in different subjects of sciences, commerce and arts, in hundreds of thousands of universities and institutions of higher studies or learning [colleges] all over the world. Internationally known organizations such as the British Council, the NAFSA [National Association of Foreign Student Advisor; it is for International Student Exchange and Aid with its headquarter in Washington, USA], the CONAHEC [Consortium for North American Higher Education Collaboration comprising membership of universities and colleges of the US, Mexico and Canada]*, the HEDBIB [Bibliographical Database on Higher Education], and the UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization]** are extending full support to the vast body of research works all over the world. The support is financial as well as in the form of technical guidance. Organizations like the UGC [University Grants Commission]***, the ICSSR [Indian Council of Social Science Research], the ICHR [Indian Council of Historical Research], the ICPR [Indian Council of Philosophical Research], the CSIR [Council of Scientific and Industrial Research], the ICAR [Indian Council of Agricultural Research], the ICMR [Indian Council of Medical Research], the SCHE [State Council of Higher Education], and so many others bodies, both at the central and provincial levels, work to assist, guide and support  research works all over the country. 
Despite this, there is a lack of quality assurance in education and research both at the national and global level and it is indeed a matter of great concern. Situation is more serious in India for several reasons. The foremost reason for this according to me is the lack of morality, which emerges from the core intention of duty and responsibility. When I talk about this, it covers the responsibilities and duties of all those who are involved directly or indirectly, more or less, or at any of the levels of the process of education.
Education and research, both, demand dedication to duty and a keen sense of responsibility. This is, in fact, the acid test of morality. Indifference to it results in lowering of quality and commitment or assurance in education and research. The indifference is being observed these days particularly on the following lines.
1.      Haste and shortcut in most research works leading to pedestrian, unexpected and unusable results;
2.      Focus on individual gain in most of the works and worst thing that could be observed in many cases is that research works are completed just to get the thing done in formal manner;
3.      Deficiency in developing new methods, which are critically required as per the demand of time and space; and
4.      Lack of healthy debates, critical analysis and logical conclusion calling for concrete steps to be taken for a progressive future.
This is the situation in general, i.e., almost in all disciplines. However, it is more serious in subjects related to humanities and social science. Even as this is the reality all over the world in general, India is particularly lagging behind in comparison to many nations of America, Europe and Oceania.
India was a World Guru in distant past. Right from the ancient times, sound thoughts and contemplation, healthy and critical analysis, experiments and discussions have been the part and parcel of Indian tradition pertaining to Shiksha – the education. Intensive and result-oriented research formed the basis of the teaching methodology in India. But, the current scenario is undoubtedly full of disappointment and, as stated already, it makes the situation grim. It calls for serious retrospection and troubleshooting with following three things in mind:
1.                  To work individually and collectively, both, with commitment at all levels for quality assurance;
2.                  To fix the responsibility at state and institutional level, both, without compromising with quality in any manner; and
3.                  To decide certain standard for education and research, both, for institutional level in particular and to motivate students and researchers to work accordingly.
It can be said in conclusion that responsibility and duty, which are the acid test of morality, are the nucleus of the process of education; they are the basics, the means to assure quality in education and research. We ought to realize this and come forward to work accordingly.    

Note: This piece is based on extracts of a speech delivered as the chief guest of the inaugural session of a national seminar organized by the Guru Gobind Singh College of Education [For Women] at Giddarbaha, Punjab [India].
*Formed in 1994 the CONAHEC is promoting academic collaboration among institutions of higher education and research, it has developed in outgoing years successful partnership with the key national umbrella higher education organizations in the NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement Region], the ACE [American Council on Education], the AACC [American Association of Community Colleges], the AUCC [Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada], the ACCC [ Association of Canadian Community Colleges] and the ANUIES [Association of National Universities and Institutions of Education Superior] of Mexico.
**Founded on November 4, 1946 and having 195 states at its members at present, the UNESCO is functioning as a laboratory of ideas and as a medium for international co-operation, complementing and giving leadership to know-how for social and economic development through institutions of higher learning, study and research throughout the world. 
***Established in 1956, the UGS is the key agency promoting and guiding 567 universities in India as per the information available up to June 2012 including 42 central, 285 state and 112 private universities respectively. 


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Peace Education: A View -Professor Dr. Ravindra Kumar

Peace [Shanti in Sanskrit] –a word signifying the state of harmony in a holistic perspective, calls for peak of human dynamics and proactive co-operation of all fellow-beings. Bliss, calmness, serenity and tranquility are the words synonymous to it.       
 Thomas Stearns Eliot [1934-65] –a US born eminent English lyricist, social critic, Nobel laureate [1948] and composer of famous poem, The West Land, wonderfully opines that Shanti is the state to accord understanding that is worth consideration. But, which type of understanding? It is, in one way or the other, the understanding of co-operation. Therefore, the state of peace is the source of origin of mutual understanding, of co-operation, and a clarion call for prosperity of one and all –in the larger interest of humanity. Hence, it is not an ordinary state. Rather, the state of peace is extraordinary. That is why; Shanti occupies pride of place in the Vedic prayers, which  is well illustrated in the Shanti Prakaran [peace-perception], as a predominant maxim [Mool-Mantra] calling for peace in every nook and corner of the universe:           
“Om Dyau Shanti Rantariksha Gwam
Shanti Prithvi Shanti Rapah
Shanti Roshadhayah Shanti Vanas Patayah
Shanti Vishwed Devah Shanti Brahma
Sarvag Wam
Shanti Shanti Reva Shanti Sa Ma Shanti Redhi
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om”
“Unto the Heaven be peace, unto the Sky and the Earth be peace; peace be unto the Water, unto the herbs and trees be Peace; unto all the gods be peace, unto Brahma and unto all be Peace; and may we realize that peace.”
Doubtless, peace is vitally important in life. It is indispensable for creating atmosphere of mutual understanding and harmony for common development. It is, therefore, a crucial link in the chain of life.
Education is a process that continues till the end of life. It is a lifelong process leading a human being to realize and develop virtues already present within his genome, and achieve prosperity in life on the basis of these intrinsic virtues.
Epithets like knowledge, skill and talent, frequently eluded to education, are, in fact, in-born qualities, which remain dormant in man for continuous exploration and enhancement. For the realization and proper development of these qualities direction and guidance are necessary and only a teacher [Guru] can do this. The indispensability and importance of education in life are known to all. It is the education and education only, which accords identity to man –makes him a true human being. 
Peace and education must go forward simultaneously. Both of them aim all-round development of human beings. Education brings out what already exists within for the unfolding of personality while the state of peace creates atmosphere and accords certainty to this act. Further, both of them call for proactive co-operation and manage to gather it. Such is the vibe and virtue of peace and education.
It is for this reason that various aspects related peace and education [peace education] are being discussed and analyzed regularly through symposiums and seminars at different levels –national and international, particularly in colleges and universities and at social forums all over the world. Scholars of repute and subject specialist are discussing the way and means to make it an essential part of educational process and about pedagogies to be adopted for the same. In many institutions work has been started. But, a lot has to be done in this regard. The process must go on continuously and in a planned manner.
Although scholars and subject specialists are in agreement for inclusion of peace education in syllabi, they also cede to its urgency, yet they have not been able to suggest a cogent action plan for the same.
In this regard I am of the opinion that the work of imparting peace education should start from the higher secondary level. It is for the simple reason that peer pressure, interpersonal jealousies and competitive rivalries amongst students begin building up at this level of education giving rise to acrimony, disputes and sharp differences of opinion culminating in chaos and disharmony.
Therefore, initiative must be taken from this stage and as first lesson students should be familiarized with life, works and views of leading lights of world peace that brought harmony in society through love, compassion, non-violence and practicing in their own personal lives what they preached to others. Along with this, initiatives should be taken by the community of teachers to train students to settle their differences and resolve disputes by way of arbitration in primary stage itself. In this regard, the following suggestion would be helpful:
1.            Realizing the value and significance of peace education, teachers must take it up as their personal responsibility;
2.            Keeping practices of peace messengers as nuclei, they should prepare students for self-settling of  their disputes,  or if necessary, teachers may themselves play role of arbitrator in resolving disputes; and
3.            Having the intent of developing the spirit of peace, teacher should convince students that living in harmony with each other and their environment is their social, national and global responsibility.
As the higher secondary level is the most important phase of the entire educational process, it can, therefore, play a vital role in a fundament change in the education system. More than one million higher secondary schools impart education all over the world. In India the number of such schools is more than 1, 20, 000 [one lakh twenty thousand] in which approximately 2, 00, 00, 000 [two cores] students are enrolled.
Further, at higher level of studies, in colleges and universities, there is a need of special pedagogy-based curriculum. Both –theoretical and practical aspects should be the essential part of that curriculum and it should appear as a combination of art and science subjects. In addition, the course curriculum could be prepared as per the demand of space and time of national-regional and global contexts.           
              As a whole, there is a need to take the work for peace education relentlessly in a planned way, as top end responsibility. There is no other way available to accomplish this task. The task is not difficult, but it demands sincerity and commitment, sacrifice and above all a holistic outlook for the welfare of all beings.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Non-Violence and Peace Education –Professor Dr. Ravindra Kumar

Ahimsa [non-violence] and Shanti [peace] are integral to each other. Likewise, both of them deserve to be part of formal education system at the global level, not just as reference points, but as full-fledged major subject. Further, non-violence and peace deserve as much, if not more, of practical treatment as theoretical dispensation. They are, as a matter of fact, for the development of a holistic personality, which is the ultimate objective of education all over the world. In simple words, they are a subject matter of day-to-day dealings; therefore, the subject of harmony and camaraderie in practical living. That is why; Mahatma Gandhi, while explaining the basic sprit in the root of word Ahimsa has said that non-violence in true and applied sense is active goodwill toward life in totality. Similarly, Gautama Buddha, while analyzing Shanti has rightly pointed out that equality and harmony are the bed rocks of sustainable peace. Apart from this, both of them called upon each and everyone human being for creating the atmosphere brimming with social equality and harmony. To achieve this objective, they worked for awakening of the masses and motivated them for actions with their own personal examples. It was, thus, categorically the best of education in their respective times, and is well worthy of consideration in current perspective as well as for all times to come. It is high time to ponder over this reality –particularly by those who are concerned with lack of harmony and goodwill in today’s educated youth and are charged with desire to change this status. Undoubtedly, the only way out to this end is through non-violence and peace education. Let us tread this way, the way of non-violence and peace education.

Monday, September 16, 2013


Mahatma Gandhi, in spite of not getting recognition as an educationist or a scholar in the academic sense, became nucleus of study and research for many around the world in his life time. Gandhi’s works and views on almost all issues related to his own life and day-to-day practices of common man in particular, are the subjects of analysis, observation, study and research even today, not only in India, but in all the six continents of the globe, Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America. The scientist like Albert Einstein, who was a contemporary of the Mahatma, wrote about his life, works and views. Gandhi finds place in the writings of a Russian philosopher like Leo Tolstoy. A modern historian RB Cribb mentioned about the worth and value of Gandhi’s thoughts declaring his own ethical thinking to be greatly influenced by him. A scholar like Louis Fischer wrote the biography of Mahatma under the title, The Life of Mahatma Gandhi. This is, in reality, for the reason that Gandhi is one of the few prominent figures of the world, drawn predominantly from socio-political spheres, who even after so many years of their passing away remain alive in hearts of masses world over on the strength of their exemplary works and the views centred around the supreme human value of Ahimsa.
            Those who are familiar with Mahatma Gandhi’s views on different aspects of life know it well that the Mahatma had extraordinary and distinctive viewpoint pertaining to a subject like education. Gandhi illuminated education for its true worthy sense. After Socrates who was of the firm opinion that education is to draw out what is already within, Gandhi was perhaps the second in the entire history of the world to observe education categorically and defined it with sound logic as per the basic spirit in the root of the word education.
            Explaining education Mahatma Gandhi said, “By education I mean an all-round drawing out of the best in child and man –body, mind and spirit. Literacy is not the end of education nor even the beginning. It is only one of the means whereby man and woman can be educated. Literacy in itself is no education.” [Harijan, July 7, 1937].
            He also said, “I hold that true education of the intellect can only come through a proper exercise and training of the bodily organs, e.g. hands, feet, eyes, ears, nose, etc. In other words, an intelligent use of the bodily organs in a child provides the best and quickest way of developing his intellect. But unless the development of the mind and body goes hand-in-hand with a corresponding awakening of the soul, the former alone would prove to be a poor lop-sided affair…A proper and all-round development of the mind, therefore, can take place only when it proceeds pari passu with the education of the physical and spiritual faculties of the child. They constitute an indivisible whole. According to this…, therefore, it would be a gross fallacy to suppose that they can be developed piecemeal or independently of one another.” [Harijan, May 8, 1937]      
            In this very perspective he had also mentioned, “It is a superstition to think that the fullest development of man is impossible without knowledge of the art of reading and writing. That knowledge undoubtedly adds grace to life, but it is in no way indispensible for man’s moral, physical, or material growth.” [Harijan, March 8, 1935]         
            After a general observation and analysis of the above three statements of the Mahatma about the meaning of education and also the basic spirit in its root, it is easy to grasp the merit of his viewpoint in this regard. After understanding this, no one can deny the uniqueness of his ideas espousing all-round development of one’s personality in particular. However, if one analyses the Gandhian viewpoint of education minutely, particularly in the light of the above three statements of the Mahatma, he will undoubtedly arrive to the following three noteworthy conclusions:
l           Education of the Gandhian view is a continuous process of drawing out the best, which is already there within every individual, with the sole purpose of all-round development of one’s personality for making the life meaningful with absolute freedom as per the old Indian dictum of Sa Vidya ya Vimuktaye;
2.         The process of education essentially and inevitably includes the development of both –body and mind and, thus, it is the means for self-sufficiency of a human being in all manners, again to pave the way for making the life worth living; for, Mahatma Gandhi himself categorically mentioned, “I hold that the highest development of the mind and the soul is possible under such a system of education”; and
3.         The sole purpose of education of the Gandhian view is to make man complete through his all-round development, and self-sufficiency that is attained by co-ordination and harmony; hence, education, in fact, emerges, as the most important aspect of man’s life.
            All the above three conclusions, drawn from the short discussion on the subject in hand, prove the significance of the Gandhian view of education in current perspective especially for the reasons as follows:
l           From the spirit in the root of the Gandhian view of education, and also from viewpoint of explanation of the subject in hand, development of one’s personality in toto in particular, it emerges as apt and timely –in current perspective as well as in times to come, provided it is applied in its refined form in consonance with the prevailing situations of space;
2.         Starting with harmony, the Gandhian view of education pines for co-ordination and wider co-operation, hence this viewpoint becomes exemplary. It does not matter if it calls for starting from individual level to pave the way for the larger welfare of humanity; and     
3.         It is fully applicable –all over the world and not just to a particular region, or a country like India, due to its potential to self-sufficiency and to achieve an expected goal in life.
            After assessing and observing the relevance of the Gandhian view of education, it is also inevitable to comprehend the basic and practical plan or the programme connected to it [particularly without touching and discussing plans or suggestions made from time-to-times in the presence of Mahatma Gandhi himself like that of Wardha Scheme of 1937, contents of which may be worthy of consideration in current perspective, if these contents and suggestions are refined in prevailing situation of the county, or as per the demand of time] we, nevertheless, need to analyze and discuss the steps to be taken in current perspective while having the Gandhian viewpoint as the nuclei for making the process of learning real and result oriented.
            In this regard, it can be mentioned here with certainty that the Gandhian view of education starts from the primary level of learning in a school, Pathshala in Indian terms. It is the stage when a child, free of worldly affairs to a large extent; in other words, with purity of heart and mind, can start well. At this very level, as per the desire of the Mahatma and also the stress laid by him, primary or basic level of education must include the process of physical, intellectual and moral development of a student on the one hand and the learning of the handicraft on the other. The learning of the handicraft can be well observed in context of preparing the learner for self-sufficiency by efforts or work in a particular direction, making her or him capable of earning thereby creating conducive situations for a bright future from economic viewpoint.
            As the economic aspect is one of the most important aspects of life; it plays a vital role in the making man’s life, which according to Vedic-Hinduism is the Artha –one of the four Purusharthas [aims] of human life to achieve a goal. Therefore, considering this to be the vital in man’s life, Mahatma Gandhi mentioned in short, but very cogently in the Harijan on April 6, 1540, “I hold that any scheme [or plan], which is sound from the educative point of view and is efficiently managed is bound to be sound economically.”
            Thus, in short, Gandhi truly emphasized the need of a fourfold education system, essentially comprising of learning as per the prescribed syllabi, that I call general education; physical exercises for the proper growth of body and mind; imparting moral and ethical knowledge for realizing and understanding one’s duty and responsibility towards community, society, nation and humanity as a whole, and making them the basis of her/his day-to-day practices and technical [takniki] know-how for self-sufficiency, prosperity, especially in the economic sphere. Accordingly he also stressed on starting from the primary stage of learning so that a concrete foundation could be laid to build a strong structure of one’s personality. This could be well observed in the spirit of one of Mahatma Gandhi’s write ups that appeared in the Harijan on November 2, 1947 in which he, while making the concept of Buniyadi Shiksha as the nuclei, asserted, “All education must be self-supporting, that is to say, in the end it will pay its expenses excepting the capital which will remain intact.”   
            This process, in the same manner as it starts from the primary level, goes further with the sole purpose of making one capable of one’s self-sufficiency. For her/his all-round development of personality through learning and working, both, and as said already, it starts from the primary level, proceeding further to the secondary and from the secondary to the higher level of education. In this process the most important and worth mentioning thing is this that it prepares one for self-sufficiency in all manners of the fourfold education system right from the beginning, i.e. primary level of learning. A student gains knowledge and training step-by-step and along with a degree in higher education, and even before that, becomes capable of economic self-sufficiency on the basis of technical knowledge [Buniyadi Shiksha] in a particular vocation along with moral-ethical and physical education.
            This process has a sound prospective to make the learner, a student, capable of self-sufficiency, including economic autonomy even before completion of her/his graduation or post-graduation, if she/he goes by the rule book. Without seeking for a government job she/he can become capable enough to start her/his own work [business] on the basis of the skill acquired as the Buniyadi Shiksha in a particular field. Doubtless, the role of teachers in this process in critically important. However, if one goes further for higher studies, she/he must pass through this very fourfold educational process, which, to repeat, essentially includes technical education and the following observation of Mahatma Gandhi, in respect of higher education:
            “There would be degrees for mechanical and other engineers. They would be attached to the different industries, which should [manage] for the training of the graduates as per the need.”

            Hence, from the discussion and analysis till now, having the Gandhian view of education in mind, it is clear that self-sufficiency is expected of man on the basis of his all-round development. Further, it is in sync with the basic spirit in the root of the word education, and also the purpose of imparting it. Therefore, significance of this cannot be underestimated in current perspective. Rather, it is important and worthy of application not only in India, but in other countries of the world also, if it is refined according to the demand of prevailing situation.                                                    

Sunday, June 16, 2013

For Harmony –Professor Dr. Ravindra Kumar

Harmony, the term derived of harmonia of the Greek, symbolizes of agreement, concord or to join. The spirit in the root of the word harmony is to fit together, to join others for common cause, to work together for general welfare, or the common good. In the Indian perspective it is Sauhard or Sadbhavana, a means to connect people by heart to pave the way to work together. It is, thus, inevitable for existence and development, particularly for the reason that it emerges as the basis of cooperation that is necessary for the purpose. It is, therefore, harmony that has been nuclei through the ages not only in ideas of right thinking people, but it has always been the foremost in their works. Efforts have always been made to create the atmosphere of harmony; thus, for broad cooperation. This process still continues and will be so in all times to come. People from the field of education –intelligentsia, professors, scholars and teachers in particular are through symposiums, seminars and talks are discussing and analyzing the various issues related to harmony and cooperation, which is, undoubtedly, praiseworthy. However, only analysis and discussions are not enough in this regard. Harmony cannot prevail taking it by this way only. Corers of people are still hungry all over the world. They have no means to survive well. So many of them are deprived of justice, freedom and equality; they have no opportunities to rise. In such a situation how important can be the harmony for them just in theoretical perspective? How can, thus, the talk of harmony be effective. Hence, when there are talks of harmony, or seminars and symposiums are organized to discuss and analyze this, it is necessary for organizers, or those who are really concerned of it that they must discuss the issues related to people’s hunger, freedom, equality in  opportunities, and justice. They must work for these simultaneously. It is needed and without it there is no concrete result in this regard.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Capacity-Building Programmes for Social Sciences Teachers -Professor Dr. Ravindra Kumar

The theme capacity-building programmes for social sciences teachers is quite important and significant involving four focal points –capacity-building, teachers, social sciences and programmes. It categorically calls for necessity of those specific programmers, which should be initiated or the steps that can be taken to capacity-building of teachers-educators associated with various disciplines in social sciences. That is why; I have already started with my pre-observation of the theme by using the words like important and significant. To pass the observation its acid test let us now discuss all the four focal points, one-by-one, and thus to prove the importance and significance of the theme itself.
First of all about capacity-building that undoubtedly divulges ability of a person to perform actions in the right direction and on the basis of them the creation of a solid structure or an unyielding and secured construction. Each and every human being has within her or his unprecedented virtuous abilities and their development through actions is the key to bliss and rise, therefore, to achieve in life. This essentially and precisely include knowledge, which is also based on realization and practices, thus emphatically on actions as a lifelong process and, therefore, it is called education –Shiksha in Indian terms. For, Socrates can be quoted here, who rightly stated, “…education is to draw out what are already within…” [Global Peace International Journal, August, 2012] and also Mahatma Gandhi who said, By education I mean an all-round drawing out of the best in child and man –body, mind and spirit. Literacy is not the end of education not even the beginning. It is one of the means whereby man and women can be educated. Literacy in itself is no education.” [Gandhi in Current Perspective, page 81] Hence, capacity-building is, in fact, a continuous process; it is an education in true sense to pave the way to all-round development of one’s personality.
Secondly, a teacher or an educator –a person imparting knowledge in general; however, as per the basic spirit in the root of the word teaching, or education itself he is expected to bring out what a disciple or student has already within for her or his all-round development. Moreover, and undoubtedly representing the great Guru tradition of India, well represented by people like Tirthankara Mahavira, Shakyamuni Gautama Buddha, Adi Shankaracharaya and Ramakrishna Paramahansa. A teacher plays the key role in the whole process of education –besides imparting knowledge and giving training for the character building, thus assuring aspects related to morality and ethics a certainty. He also makes them sound and continue, which is essential for proper conduction of the order from individual to universal level. For, his place in society becomes the vital. As an educator awakens joy in creative expression and knowledge, and it is, in the noteworthy words of Albert Einstein “the supreme art of the teacher”; further, as has been well said by Khalil Gibran “the teacher…leads ….to the threshold of mind” to make the one creative in all manners to take the right way, he definitely emerges as the maker of society. Therefore, capacity-building of the one, who is herself or himself the maker and shaper of society and the builder of the future of a nation to a large extent, cannot be undervalued. Further, I can venture to say humanity as whole looks at teacher’s work and performance for its wellbeing.
The next point relates to social sciences that refer to various branches connected with the society –analyzing, observing and opening rooms for study and research of different aspects of society systematically, and mutual dealings and relations between the two or among the individuals within a society in particular. Not only sociology, but disciplines like anthropology, economics, philosophy, political science and psychology are also within the ambit of social sciences. Further, archeology, communication, cultural-civilizational studies, education, history, law and linguistics, despite relying on empirical approaches and being covered by humanities as well, are within the domain of social sciences. It is because all of them relate to society –social dealings or issues and subjects related to society. Moreover, they essentially affect one-another; thus, each one of them becomes the part and parcel of the one unit –one entity, the society. No need to mention much of the importance of social sciences –study, research and analysis of numerous aspects related to them with the purpose of people’s interaction for improving society –conducts, inevitable dealings, interaction and mutual relations for the common cause or the general welfare to a large extent. For, contemporary social scientists have used while having the viewpoint and observation of ancient Geek philosopher Aristotle as the nuclei the term collective goods
Further studies of social sciences immensely provide us with so many important answers to vital question related to the improvement and understanding of our lives for worth living. It has been rightly pointed out by known researchers of social studies in health and medicine like Susan Weller of the University of Texas and Roberta Baer of the University of South Florida in their notable works with a conclusion providing us the term ability of riding out the storm for this.  That is why; I consider social sciences the most important of subjects of study, research and analysis. Therefore, I call for necessity of their study by each and every student, it does not matter if it is done up to a certain level of learning. In this very context I also endorse to a large extent the statement of an eminent scholar like Robert Audi in which he has declared them to be the most important and significant among all branches of knowledge, study and research. For, he has mentioned “the study of the logic and methods of the social sciences, the criteria of a good social explanation.” [Robert Audi: Introduction]
Finally, it is the programmes –sequences of orders, scheduled in black and white in general and undoubtedly to perform a particular task systematically. As the word science is connected with social, therefore, it is, but natural that related programmes to be carried out or the tasks to be accomplished through social sciences should be in order, methodologically with proper planning, management, coordination and arrangement. Furthermore, they should be based on a pedagogy befitting as per the demand of time and space. As the matter relates to the disciplines of social sciences –the most important aspect of education, planning and programmes related to it and that too having the teachers and educators in the centre, therefore, significance of it reveals automatically.
Thus, after discussing and analyzing all the four focal point of the theme capacity-building programmes for social sciences teachers in brief, it becomes apparent that along with broad and open discussion on topic like this, and other themes similar to it, workshops, seminars and symposiums are not only the need of the honour, but their  organization from time-to-time is necessary. In other words, organizing activities and events like this continuously is inevitable and indispensable, and no one can deny this fact.
Now, let us come to the main point, which undoubtedly relates to planning with methods –systematic analysis, studies and research in particular, and that too having the popular viewpoints of social scientists of our time in the centre. We are all well aware of the fact that social scientists have for years been utilizing a variety of methods or techniques to furthering the tasks –easing the works related to their study, research, observation and analysis. It is also an undeniable fact that adopted methods have got dimensions, one after the other from time-to-time. Some of them have lost their relevance almost, if not in toto, in current perspective, while many of them have been modified and refined as per the demand of time and space, for there is no need to go in additional details. In this era of unprecedented development and continuously increasing process of globalization the social scientists are adopting new, more concrete and practical approaches and methods. They are stepping forward with planning particularly in order to analyze issues related to social sciences to facilitate their respective programmes, definitely with the purpose of bringing concrete results –for befitting answers, solutions and to pave the way further.
In this regard, the foremost among the methods, which are being adopted by social scientists or the ways being taken by them all over the world in general, and that can be of special mention here on priority in current perspective, are: enhancing the quality and strength of experiential scientific research with systematic study and observation, collecting data yielding insights into the human experience in particular for the purpose along with using suitable techniques, sharing resources with the intention of fostering broad collaboration, innovation and exchanging expertise not only at regional and national levels, but in these days of rapidly increasing process of globalization at international level also, definitely with the intention of sound and exemplary results. All of these methods are worthy, significant and important; moreover, they are result oriented.
Just some years ago the situations and circumstances were not the same, as they are today. Undoubtedly, the whole of the process at all levels and in all walks of life, pertaining to society and, therefore, social sciences in particular is the subject of continuous change. It is inevitable and definitely within the ambit of the law of change and, therefore, without the change; for, Gautama Buddha has two thousand and five hundred years ago truly declared, “The law of change is without the change.” Thus, it can be repeated, workshops, symposiums, seminars and open discussions like methods or techniques are the best to provide platform to pave the way to explore and proceed further. There is no other alternative available superior or better than these today. However, what I am to urge, first of all, particularly having the theme in hand as the nuclei is to make these methods and techniques more concrete, effective, sincere and transparent. It is needed in a country like India where programmes for capacity-building of teachers and educators associated with various disciplines within the scope of social sciences have their own special significance; however, we do lack this in general. Our various programmes may seem well planned, sound and attractive, but in the absence of these we definitely lack expected and worthy results.    
Secondly, while making programmes for capacity-building of teachers-educators of social sciences in context of other significant method or techniques and which are also being adopted frequently in these days by our global colleagues all over the world such as strategies, linkage, evaluation, policy research and practical training, and more particularly regarding the partnership at national and international levels, both, it does not matter if the thinking in the root of them remains in global context, but it is absolutely necessary that local and regional perspectives must be focal during the action. In more clear words, local and regional circumstances should be the nuclei in the action plans. It is for the reason that the impact of local, regional and national [particularly in case of a small nation] circumstances or situations over a society remains deep and intact. Social sciences are in reality for the dealing with social problems on the capability of those associated with various disciplines within their ambit. Therefore, only by this way their capacity-building could bring expected fruits and prove to be the welfaristic.
Now, the other important thing I am to state here again is about morality and ethics, which are, in fact, the two foremost pillars of value education on the one hand and definitely the acid test of capacity built through various programmes and planning on the other. When I talk of morality and ethics, especially about their worth, place and importance in life, I make duties and responsibilities to be their acid test. If the one performs her or his duties well, she or he discharges her or his responsibilities, she or he, thus, categorically follows morality and ethics. Societies to a large extent function appropriately and smoothly on the strength of duties performed by its members and on the basis of responsibilities discharged by those who make it. This is the worth and importance of these two. We emphatically observe how the spirit of duties and responsibilities is in the want today, and as consequent shaking foundations of social institutions or societies. Therefore, capacity-building of those associated with disciplines of social sciences on the basis of them is inevitable and necessary. In all the programmes, planning, techniques and strategies their presence is essential. Therefore, in all of the programmes concerned this aspect has its own significance and importance, and it calls for appropriate action in this regard.  
*Note: Based on extracts of a lecture at Academic Staff College of Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya, Indore [Madhya Pradesh], India on May 28, 2013.
·         Audi, Robert, Ed. 1955. The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy. London [UK]: The Cambridge University Press.
·         Kumar, Ravindra. 2013. Gandhi in Current Perspective. New Delhi [india]: Gyan Publishing House.
·         Kumar, Kumar, Ed. 2012, August. Global Peace International Journal of Philosophy, Peace, Education, Culture and Civilization –Special Issue. Meerut: World Peace Movement Trust.