India is targeting to be the next big Global Innovation Hub, screams one headline. In a country of 1.2 billion souls, having gained its freedom 69 years to the month and vying for the top spot in terms of innovation and creativity in the world; India, to say the least, has a long way to go.
To put this in context, in a recent report tabled in the Parliament tells us that over 100,000 schools in our country have just one teacher. We have the now famous case of Film and Television Institute of India protest against their new director allegedly appointed for political reasons rather than contribution to the industry. The infamous case of dissidence and supposed sedition in JNU and other universities have been seen and digested by the Indian public for many months now. While in Kota, the hub of preparatory classes in the country is only now waking up to the extreme stress which has caused many students to commit suicide rather than face the dreaded exam hall.
For a country which has revered its teachers, be it Buddha, Valmiki or Guru Gobind Singh, the present state of education in our country is horrendous. School education, the tender years where the child is most curious and full of energy have been relegated to rote learning of facts. Even if, that is, they are printed right by the concerned education department and left unmolested by the politics of our nation. On one hand we have our own HRD Ministers getting their facts wrong in the well of the Indian Parliament (Mrs. Irani on the case of Rohith Vemmula’s suicide); on the other we have reports of the slow change in textbooks and the disappearance of lessons from books dealing with the most basic rights and duties of a well-educated citizen of the country (Rajasthan school text books have been accused of intentionally leaving out the parts dealing with the Right To Information). In trying to make India great again by the perspective of a few politicians, we endanger the future of our country in a blissfully unaware and apathetic manner.
When we come right down to it, the truth of the matter is that the education system of the country has been designed in a way as to impart marketable skills with little or no development of the individual. Keeping the mandatory accreditation has left our institutes in a rush of compliance and zero learning, be it at any level. To show a successful school education, we made it so that the students don’t know and can’t deal with failure. Colleges are now more concerned about showing their patriotism than the quality of their faculty. Industries can only look on in silent horror while their talent pool gets cut up by caste politics, class politics, gender politics etc, while listening to ironic slogans of “Incredible India”, “Digital India” and “Make In India”.
Indian colleges have some great teachers, but also a ton of pond scum. Bitter, broken, awful people who should not be allowed near kids.
— Rohan (@mojorojo) 16 August 2016
A recent incident, the suicide of an Amity Law college student, brought up another aspect of this disturbing reality. That of egotistical people in the system who use their power to have a power trip, endangering lives and futures of children and young adults.
This was summarised rather neatly in a series of tweets by comedian Rohan Joshi, which attracted a lot of attention on the social media. He talked about a professor he faced while doing his engineering. While the incident is a common phenomenon faced by many students across the country, we choose to remain blissfully ignorant. For a country which has elevated the position of teachers to that above god and has millennia to do so, it is disturbing to see how people at such positions do so with impunity.
And I bet he’s still there, lording it over his fiefdom, wrecking careers, tearing apart kids’ interest in his subject.
— Rohan (@mojorojo) 16 August 2016
It is an uncontested fact that the Indian education system, from primary to graduate and even post graduate level, is in dire need of change from the culture of compliance of ministry guidelines to that which answers to the needs of the students. While at the national level we continue to debate concept of our nation, the basis of the future of our country, our society is being systematically destroyed, and we, as a society, continue to fail the future that stands innocent of the sins of their predecessors but suffering from it.
Ranveer Raj Bhatnagar