Let’s Blend Our Rich Heritage with Modern Systems
We fought British colonialism valiantly and ended their rule on August 15, 1947. But the vestiges of the Raj continue to haunt some of us in our thinking and more so in our education system. There was so much of merit in our Gurukul system of education, where students were taught by a master, who brought out every child’s innate potential and positivity. Now for our educationists, teaching is more of a business profession. Precious little is left of the Gurukul model.
While we talk about patriotism, many young men and women are happier studying in foreign universities and securing fancy degrees at exorbitant costs, creating a drain on our national exchequer. These youngsters then quite often stay abroad and work on lucrative jobs. As Non-Resident Indians, they command a great deal of respect and power. Those that return are considered even superior to their peers, who have been faithful to their motherland and studied in top Indian universities. Let’s face it ― we consider a person with a foreign MBA more qualified than an Indian MBA. Why the job market, even in the marriage market, a foreign returned son-in-law is a more attractive proposition than an indigenous groom. Isn’t that a shame?
And there is a rush for immigration, like the gold rush. For it seems that the streets of the West are paved with gold. Indians, indeed, are welcomed in foreign lands. The West treats them like treasures. India produces some of the most highly intelligent people in the Western meaning of the word. They hold leading global positions in many fields from medical to legal to business to IT. If all those of Indian origin born abroad or those who have migrated or are working in foreign countries were to return to India, the Indian economy would be boosted manifold, while other national economies may collapse. But will this ever happen? Will every Indian place national interest above self-interest?
It would be of great interest to know how much of Indian history we teach our students, in comparison to what other countries teach their children about their own country’s history. Indian history goes back to the Vedas which is at least 5,000 years old or beyond. How much of our school syllabus is devoted to the Vedas? Isn’t our educational system more attuned to Western thought? How many of our schools, especially the so-called mainstream ones, teach students the meaning of Sanatan Dharma, which means the eternal dharma, which is a life in harmony with the rhythms of nature and non-harm to all that exists. Although the fundamental ‘non-harm’ or ahimsa concept is at the core of Indian knowledge systems, doing harm is permitted for dharma, which, of course, includes self-defence and other situations which uphold dharma.
Don’t get me wrong. I am a British Indian living in India and love India to its core. Though I was born and bred through a western education system, I have chosen to live in India because I feel, despite our long history of colonialism, the core heart of India remains in place. I have studied Sanskrit, and various Indian Knowledge systems as well as Western ones, but I believe the systems of India are the most logical. I come from a mathematics, legal, Sanskrit and Ayurveda background and have the ability to rationalise and use my logic in terms of what could be an expansive educational system in the modern world.
I remember studying for my MSc in Ayurveda in the British Library, a beautiful place full of Indian gems. Rather ironic that I studied an Indian knowledge system there. But you know what, I came to India to study for a Doctor’s degree in Ayurveda, but left because the system of education was an archaic form of British education. The British system on the other hand has moved on in time and the students can be more interactive with the teachers than is the case in India. I also continue to study Ayurveda with my mentor from Kerala, as I believe I have received the real essence of Ayurveda from him.
The monetary power of the West has by far superseded India’s, even though, at one time, our nation was one of the richest countries of the world, both monetarily and culturally. The advertisements depicting the ‘western dream’ have captured the mind of some Indians and this is ever expanding through the internet and other media systems.
India was and is a very tolerant and giving nation as the country believes in ahimsa and does not shove her teachings down others’ throats. The West tried to destroy India by attempting to erode her spirituality. Our modernised education system was misused for this purpose. But, we fought for our Independence and won. We must now fight for the return of those glorious days of the past by blending it with the goodness of present-day modern systems.