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Education of the Mind

Tarun Kumar Choudhury | New Delhi |


The Committee on evolution of the New Education Policy (NEP) has reportedly submitted its report along with recommendations  to  the Human Resources Development ministry. The new HRD minister has recently announced  the constitution of  another committee, to be headed by an eminent educationist, to take yet another call  on the issue before  NEP is finalised. Incidentally, in an effort to change and cleanse the system of corruption and generation of black money, the Prime Minister demonetised high-value currency as a step in that direction.  Interestingly enough, human thought  and action are correlated with the mind, which is an entity beyond  a person’s  body and intellect as Arjuna had told  Lord Krishna in the Mahabharata.

Regretfully, the legacy of colonial education, formulated by Lord Macaulay, is still the foundation of education policy in post-independent India with cosmetic experiments and changes  based on the recommendations of various Education Commissions. In 1835, Lord Macaulay told the British Parliament that he had dislodged India’s traditional moral principles and value lessons in the scheme of Raj education to make people forget their own culture, their self-esteem and to imagine  that all that was foreign and  British  were good and greater than their own. The objective was to put in place a totally dominated nation, bereft of  self-respect and  subservient to the interests of the Empire.  Educationists of the era and even now, with a myopic vision and an eye on material gains, had accepted the argument  that moral lessons and cultivation of values had outlived  their utility with the advent of the scientific renaissance.

However, Swami Vivekananda had anticipated  its implications. He pointed out  unambiguously that if traditional morality and values are not stimulated and developed in the minds of young boys and girls at their tender age in school education, the nation is destined to die in spite of all social reforms, acts of law and material gains. True to his visionary forecast, the trend of  developments in India today show that the nation is running along a downward curve of evolution with aggravated desires, multiplied wants, clashes and conflicts resulting in degeneration of the society. The supreme edifice of philosophical thoughts of the nation has been pulled down to the level of sordid utilitarianism undermining in the process the very foundation of its spiritual and cultural beliefs. Sadly, lack of morality and value cultivation swept the nation off its moorings, in the process destroying the  love for one’s own language and literature and the  arts. There was unhappiness at home and this was reflected in society.

The tide can yet be turned with the restoration in people’s minds of  the values of morality  through the inculcation of gospels and the scriptures of all religions ~ Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Jainism and so on ~ in the school curricula. The Committee of Religion and Moral Instruction, set up by what was then called the Central Education Ministry, had strongly suggested  that “the cure of growing maladies and ills of the society lies in deliberate inculcation of moral and spiritual values from the early years of our life.”

Again, modern researchers have revealed what our rishis were well aware of, specifically that human faculties and character are in a formative stage right from the stage of the  toddler and continues up to the teenage phase when the minds are impressionable. Incidentally, with the adoption of the Right to Education Act  for all,  school education has become a platform for mass education and can help to impart moral and value lessons to all boys and girls through a revamp of the school curriculum and thus usher in an era of morally disciplined people. If a nation is to become strong, virile and prosperous in real terms, its activities need to be based  on the foundation of morality and values. This was the thesis of Swami Vivekananda.

Training of the mind  to impart morality and cultivate values in students at their tender age during school education cannot be overlooked by the proposed new Committee, announced by present HRD Minister, while formulating NEP. Inclusion of comprehensive moral science text books, based on scriptures of all religious sects, highlighting such virtues as truthfulness, honesty, integrity, love, respect, faith, tolerance, gratitude, devotion, piety, forgiveness, modesty, fellow feelings, selflessness, compassion, service to others and so on can combat human vices like greed, corruption, violence, terrorism, excessive materialism, divisiveness, cruelty, selfishness, and other harmful traits of the personality. Provision of weightage for proficiency in moral science subjects in employment interviews can be another  step to awaken the parents to the need to improve the right social and domestic environment for their children.

Ironically, the recommendations of a Group of Secretaries, set up by the Prime Minister, have, reportedly, laid stress on physical and skill development as part of the curricula, but is unfortunately silent on enlightenment of the mind. The British accorded short shrift to the training of the mind in their own interest to make Indians a dominated nation.  Hopefully,  there is no agenda of our governments in independent India to maintain the status quo with regard to mental education. The government appears to have succumbed to the pressure of powerful vested interests. It is also expected that the  educationist, who will head the proposed Committee for framing NEP, would be suitably foresighted to understand the effects of indisciplined minds on the country’s future.

Let the Preamble of NEP be based on India’s greatest modern thinker Swami Vivekananda’s idea of education ~ “We want that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded and by which one can stand on one’s feet”. This is possible only on a strong foundation of  mental  training and a basic condition for the fulfillment of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s  Ek Bharat, Shreshta Bharat dream.

The writer, an IIT alumni, is a freelance contributor and is associated with the NGO called Society of Elders.