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.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Yato’bhyudaya-nihshreyasa siddhih sa Dharmah -Professor Dr. Ravindra Kumar

The title of this short write up, Yato’bhyudaya-nihshreyasa siddhih sa Dharmah, is, in fact, a couplet defining Dharma according to Maharishi Kanada, the founder of the Vaisheshika philosophy –one of the six foremost schools of thoughts* within the ambit of the Vedic-Hindu philosophy or the view of life, and which is known as empiricist school of atomism minutely explaining, discussing and analyzing issues related to matter, apparent universe, atom and nuclear in particular. The meaning of this couplet is as follows:          
“That, which directs and leads to the attainment of abhyudaya in the world; that shows the pathway to cessation of grieves and pains in toto, and get the one to nihshreyasa thereafter, is Dharma.”
This definition accorded by Maharishi Kanada through this short couplet is considered as one of the best descriptions of Dharma revealing not only the basic spirit in the root of the word Dharma itself, but explaining the purpose and importance of Dharma in life simultaneously. Along with this, Kanada’s definition categorically divulges the eastern viewpoint of Dharma –the great Indian perspective pertaining to it in particular. It could be well analyzed, comprehended and understood on the basis of the review of just two words incorporated in this statement, which are, in fact, the central points of the whole of the proclamation made by Maharishi Kanada. The reality of the couplet could also be well realized by the review of these two words.          

The two words emerging predominantly in this couplet are: Abhyudaya and Nihshreyasa. Abhyudaya signifies rise, progress or development of a human being. It is undoubtedly dedicated to his prosperity. Nihshreyasa on the other hand divulges eternal bliss –infinite happiness with contentment, which is, in fact, the state of Mukti, Moksha or the Nirvana –liberation of soul.                

Hence, Dharma is, if analyzed by having these two words in the centre, the way and means to lead a human being to the prosperity in the world on the one hand, and to direct him to achieve the state of Moksha –liberation on the other. In other words, Dharma is an injunction to direct man to his all-round development, to attain prosperity in the world on the basis of development and prosperity to achieve Moksha, which is the real goal of life. Thus, just from the brief analysis of these two words –Abhyudaya and Nihshreyasa, which have been used by Maharishi Kanada in his above short couplet or the statement, the meaning and the basic spirit in the root of the word Dharma become clear and it reveals its significance in life all together. Along with this, through this the eastern viewpoint pertaining to Dharma, the great Indian perspective predominantly and that is based on the Vedic-Hindu philosophy in particular, also becomes obvious.       
In this very perspective it should be borne firmly in mind that the short discussion, which we have had about Abhyudaya [rise and prosperity] and Nihshreyasa [attainment of goal], despite deeming individualistic or focusing on an individual, is, in reality, not an individualist viewpoint. The Vaisheshika school of thought developed by Maharishi Kanada is a part of the Vedic-Hindu philosophy that is dedicated to the universal acceptance and unity of all. Therefore, it cannot confine to the welfare, prosperity and development of an individual. In reality it cannot be individualist; otherwise, in case of its being so, it would categorically violate the great proclamation of the Atharvaveda in which it has been said, “Prithvim Dharmana Dhritam” –meaning thereby, this world is uphold by Dharma.       
Reality is this that the beginning of Abhyudaya –prosperity takes place from the individual level. The goal is achieved on the strength of one’s own righteous acts. However, both the achieved prosperity and the goal of the one work simultaneously in following two ways for the welfare and rise of others:
·         By making efforts for the rise and prosperity of others along with one’s own self; and
·         By emerging as an ideal and, thus, by inspiring others to follow the suit.
Hence, similar to the message of Gautama Buddha in which he called all, general and particular to follow the principle of “Appo Dipo Bhava” [be a light unto yourself], it is the prime duty of man to make his own life meaningful and worthy first, while passing through the inevitable process of Karmas on the one hand, and to inspire and assist others simultaneously to their rise and prosperity on the other. This is the basic spirit in the root of the word Dharma in reality.     
Not only this, through one’s own righteous and continuous practices, while passing through the inevitable process of Karmas –actions, overcoming of numerous obstacles, difficulties and miseries at various levels, which are also investable in worldly routines, getting rise –Abhyudaya and on the basis of it achieving the goal –Nihshreyasa is the focal point or the part and parcel of the basic spirit in the root of the word Dharma and the purpose of following it. That is why; Dharma has been declared as the eternal and natural law, which leads man to realize and follow the sense of duty, and also leads him to the pathway to liberation –the Moksha. The popular message of the Gita, “Yato Dharma Tato Jaya”victory is where Dharma prevails, could be well observed in this very perspective. It could also be seen categorically in another short statement, Yato Dharmastato Jaya”, which appears in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad [1:4:14], and which views Dharma as the universal principle of law, order and harmony, and meaning of which is, “Where there is Righteousness [Dharma], there shall be victory.”
Dharma, thus, accords an art of living well in the world and to make the life meaningful thereafter. So, explanation of Dharma, “Yato’bhyudaya-nihshreyasa siddhih sa Dharmah” given by Maharishi Kanada through this short couplet deems not only the best, but seems real as well.                                      ______________________________________________________________________________
*In the six schools of thoughts besides Vaisheshika, the other five include: 1-Samkhya –expositioning consciousness and matter; 2-Yoga –emphasizing the importance of meditation, contemplation and liberation [Moksha]; 3-Nyaya –exploring source of knowledge; 4-Mimansa –emerging as an anti-ascetic and anti-mystic school of orthopraxy; and Vedanta –the last segment of knowledge in the Vedas [Janna-Kanda].