“Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power.” Lao Tzu
“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating.”(Kofi Annan) – Everybody desires to be empowered enough to lead a peaceful and comfortable life-style. But how? Hardly anyone tries to understand. Quite often, while talking about empowerment, many intellectuals and political leaders are trapped within the caucus of economic and political empowerment, not the real one. The real empowerment comes from within. Do not wait for any outside agency , government or society for power to be given.
Therefore instead of empowerment, emphasis should be more on enlightenment – enlightenment through wisdom. Wisdom is required to choose the right path, generate positive energies and saves human mind from confusion as what to do and what not. For enlightenment and wisdom, knowledge is important. Knowledge is necessary for giving “deeds or actions” its due meaning, direction and value. Kofi Annan comments “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating.” Liberation to do what one wants to do is empowerment.
Politics on empowerment – Today in political world, leaders talk about empowerment. Politics and government is there mainly to take care of its people and look-after their welfare. Merely talking about empowerment does not empower the people or leads to their sustainable development. Sri Sri Ravi Shanker says, “If everyone understood this, the country will gain a lot. We need to spiritualize politics, socialize business and secularize religion. Devoid of spirituality, politics breeds corruption.”
Wisdom/Enlightenment, “Knowing others, is intelligence, knowing yourself is true wisdom” – Hindu philosophy shows high regards for wisdom/knowledge, virtues, characters and will power. According to it, senses are superior to body, mind is superior to senses and knowledge/wisdom/intellect is superior to mind. Bhagwat Gita’ suggests that human action/deed needs to be combined with wisdom/intellect for enlightenment and empowerment.
According to Hindu philosophy, the whole world of activities is a result of complex intermixing of three basic qualities of human nature – goodness (Satwa), Passion (Rajas) and dullness (Tamas). `Goodness” is associated with purity, peace and knowledge; `Passion” with comfort and action; and `Tamas” with ignorance, sloth, sleep and carelessness.
These qualities determine the tendencies, potentialities, limitations, traits and character of individuals and give them direction for action. `Adharma” (immoral behavior), “Alasya” (laziness) and Agyan (ignorance) are responsible for negative behavior like becoming victims of evils, unhappiness and miseries.
Balance between desires and righteousness – People should be empowered enough to enjoy material success and fulfil all worldly desires. If desires are suppressed, one day it may erupt like a volcano and create troubles. But simultaneously, it is also necessary to achieve one’s dreams in a right way and keep a balance between desires and righteousness. It is the wisdom that balances the two and leads to the path of knowledge and righteousness.
Materialism influences most of the people in modern times. It is difficult for them to resist worldly temptations. The desire to enjoy sensual pleasures and be happy without much efforts traps them in a vicious circle. To save their comfort-zone encourages, they desire to hold enough economic and political power in their hands, so that they can do what they want and control the destiny of masses. People with weak minds easily become the victims of such ambitious leaders. Their ignorance makes their efforts futile and destroys their sense of direction. Awareness, knowledge and discipline needs to be inculcated amongst poor masses to empower them and save them from negative forces. Wisdom/intellect needs to be developed to make their mind strong and deeds rational. A mind governed by wisdom makes a person empowered, calm and content.
Empowerment – Meaning of empowerment and approach to be empowered differ from person to person and place to place. As Toffler says, there are three main sources of power – ‘knowledge, wealth, and muscle’. In a way, ‘empowerment is an inter-play of all these variables. During ancient times in agricultural societies, power was mainly based on force. After Industrial Revolution, wealth was the source of power and in modern times, it is mainly based on knowledge.
Power achieved through money or force is short-lived. It can never lead to sustainable development of the poor and needy people. In agricultural society, power was based on force, in industrial societies on wealth and now in present information -technology period, it is based on knowledge. long long ago, even Chanakya also believed that knowledge is wealth. Knowledge was his greatest weapon, strength, asset and power through which he created emperors like Chandragupta Maurya and Ashoka.
Positive and negative energies – There are choices before human beings to follow the path of positive thinking or opt for negative mindset. Developing positive attitude/thinking is not an easy task. For attaining it, one needs tremendous perseverance, hard work, and dedication and determination/will power.
Style of thinking and working of people with positive or negative attitude differs very much from each other. People having positive attitude are empowered in its true sense. Positive energies develops the mind, enlarges the vision, enlightens and guides a person to take wise actions with using one’s intellect or wisdom.
Negative mindset – Negative mindset makes mind weak. Actions taken with weak mind is bridled with suspicion, lust and desires – mainly depending on emotions, impulses, hatred, greed and selfishness. It, quite often leads to agitation/aggression and discontentment.
Role of wisdom in empowerment – It is a reality that it is wisdom that empowers a human being and enlightens his/her path. Wisdom can be achieved:
- Through reflection, which is the noblest;
- Through imitation, which is easiest and
- By experiencing, which is the bitterest.”
Role of empowerment – ‘Empowerment’ or sharing of power has become a keyword of the modern political world. In politics, everything revolves around the world ’empowerment’.
Problems created by over-emphasizing ‘empowerment – Following are some of the problems –
- Split in society – Recently, focus on empowerment has created split in society. The attention of the people on empowerment has given rise to the pursuance of sectional interests.
- Encouragement to sectional interests over national interests – In the name of ‘empowerment’, various pressure groups are encouraged by the authorities to pursue their own sectional interests. Almost all the political parties make different kinds of promises to ‘empower’ the upcoming or deprived groups. They do not even hesitate to adopt such populist/paternalistic policies, which are against the national interest in a long run.
- Means to grab the political power – Present day politicians care for knowledge only up-to the extent, so far as it enhances their chances of entering into the corridors of ‘power’ and control the levers of authority.
- Rat race – Attitude to be ‘one up’ does not encourage healthy competition. Rather it pushes individuals/groups towards ‘rat-race’, pulls others down and care only for ‘I, my and me”.
- Increasing corruption and manipulation – With this sole mission in their mind, most of the upcoming politicians concentrate on amassing more and more wealth/empires to buy muscle-power and conscience of common man. They concentrate their efforts/energies to acquire as much money as they can by hook or crook. There is no limit to their greed. The only mission is to hold so much economic and political power in their hands, so that they could lead a luxurious life-style on tax-payers money and whenever they or their supporters are caught doing something wrong, they can get away easily.
- The word ‘empowerment’ exclusive not inclusive in nature – Empowerment, by nature is ‘exclusive’, which separates individuals/different sections of society starts a cut-throat competition amongst different individuals/sections of society/nations. The word ‘Empowerment’ generates excessive desire in individuals to establish their superiority/authority over others, so that they can control the destiny of others.
True Knowledge necessary for enlightenment – For enlightenment, acquisition of true knowledge is necessary. It is knowledge, which inculcates in a person, qualities like self-confidence, self-reliance, self-discipline, self-control and self-respect.
Sound education necessary for enlightenment as well as empowerment – True knowledge inculcates positive attitude, which ultimately leads towards happiness and prosperity.Wisdom depends on knowledge. Sound education is necessary to make people knowledgeable.
Negative mindset – People with negative mind-set care about knowledge only up-to the extent, that enhances their chances of entering into the corridors of ‘power’, get control over levers of authority and over the destiny of masses. They concentrate on amassing wealth/empires to buy muscle-power and conscience of poor people.
In political world, politicians and political parties are generally not much interested in maintaining law and order in the country. They are more interested in propaganda, creation of vote banks and grabbing power – become PM (Prime Minister), CM (Chief Minister), DM (District Magistrates) and GM (General Manager) by hook or crook and thus accessing more space in the corridor of power, so that they can control the destiny of masses/common men and hold the reigns of state authority.
Role of enlightenment in a democracy – Atifete Jahjaga has rightly said, “Democracy must be built through open societies that share information. When there is information, there is enlightenment. When there is debate, there are solutions. When there is no sharing of power, rule of law and accountability, there is abuse, corruption…”
Many superficial measures are being taken by the government or other organizations (governmental or NGOs) to help and empower poor and underprivileged sections of society. But it has not yielded desired results. Why, because no superficial measure or action can empower any person or section of society. The efforts for empowerment should be from within – be it an individual, a group within a society, a society or a nation.”
The enforced measures of empowerment leads to conflicts and even denial of the rights to other section/sections of society. One’ own efforts and intellect can empower a person in its true sense and guide him how to apply his knowledge gainfully. Lack of intellect leads a person to vices like egoism, superiority/inferiority complex etc. and creates many problems for him as well as for others around him. Only intellect can control human mind and lead his mind towards Enlightenment. When intellect becomes weak, negative thinking and reasoning take over mind.
How to become empowered – Lao Tzu says “Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power.” True empowerment can be achieved not through holding political power or access/entry/influence in the corridors of authority/power, but through ‘Enlightenment’/true wisdom’.
Emphasis only on empowerment leads to rat race – Present day’s scenario more emphasis is given to “Empowerment” without understanding what ‘empowerment’ really means and how to make people really empowered. Such an approach has led to a rat race between different sections of society for being one-up by hook or crook.
Too much emphasis on the word ‘empowerment’ incites/agitates the minds of people and generates negative energy in them. It has done irreparable loss to the society and given rise to different kinds of problems.
‘Empowerment’ of ‘Haves-nots – Almost all the societies are divided into two sections – ‘haves’ and ‘haves-not’. There is unrest in the minds of ‘Haves-not’. They also desire and naturally so, to lead a peaceful and comfortable life-style. Modern politicians allure poor by talking too much about ‘empowerment’. They are not concerned so much about the advancement of poor section of society, as about creating vote-banks necessary for holding the reigns of state authority/power.
False promises to allure poor masses – In the modern materialistic and consumerist world, everyday many new gadgets are coming in the market every-day, which makes the life more comfortable. But for majority of people, it is difficult to afford it. Many a times, it becomes difficult for the poor people or persons with weak minds to resist the temptations. False promises of present day politicians attract such persons easily.
Enlightenment ‘inclusive’ by nature – Enlightenment develops respect for positive attitude, right knowledge and respect for truth and ethical values. It teaches people ‘United we stand, divided we fall’. It inculcates in people an attitude to work for common good, to support each other and move forward together. It guides people to keep their ‘ego’ under control. The only way to control it lies within each human being.
Acceptance for others – Enlightenment tells people to be respectful to others knowledge. Access to knowledge through sound system of education is the basic right of every human being. As Jyotirao Phule has said “Lack of ‘Education’ leads to lack of ‘Wisdom’; which leads to lack of ‘Morals’; which leads to lack of ‘Progress’; which leads to lack of ‘Money’; ‘which leads to ‘Oppression’ of vulnerable classes.”
Conclusion – ‘Enlightenment, not empowerment, is the real source of power’. ‘Enlightenment’ through self-introspect can only lead to sustainable development and true ‘empowerment’, not through extraneous/artificially/superficially imposed measures. Focus on ‘empowerment’ by superficial means quite often leads to negative attitude. ‘Enlightenment’ through right kind of knowledge makes people intelligent, generates positive energies in them and leads to their sustainable development.
Resist temptations? – For making mind strong enough to resist temptations, one has to raise the level of consciousness. Human mind has three dimensions – conscious, sub-conscious and super-conscious mind. Once the conscious mind is regulated, sub-conscious and super-conscious state of mind automatically gets controlled.
Conscience is always guided by intellect. Intellect automatically develops the inherent potential of individuals and keeps them away from lust and greed. Only ‘intellect’, knowledge, education and positive attitude of enlightened persons can make them so powerful that they can contribute to make a difference for betterment and not to indulge themselves in sinful activities for their self-interest. It would ultimately bring in prosperity and transform the whole society.
On the occasion of birth-anniversary, we pay homage to Lal Bahadur Shastri, who not only understood the value of the invaluable services of our farmers and armed forces, but also appreciated it – farmers who work hard to feed about one and a half crore people of India, and our soldiers who without caring for their sleep and comforts defend our country from external aggression. Today every Indian feels proud for the surgical operation done by Indian army on 29th September in POK to destroy terrorists’ training centres. No doubt, the health, wealth and prosperity of the nation depends on their efficient performance.
The ideals and sacrifices of India’s Second Prime Minister, (1964-1966) Sri Lal Bahadur Shastri, has set an example for today’s political leaders, as to how through simplicity, modesty, firmness and commitment to the cause of the poor and downtrodden, they can identify themselves with the common-men, Jawans (soldiers) and Kisans (farmers) of India.
Feeling of being not treated fairly in Armed Forces – In recent past, a feeling in armed forces is growing that they are being treated unfairly by the authorities. The nation does not pay due regards to the sacrifices, they make for the safety and security of the nation and peaceful living of the people of India– they give up their today, so that others could sleep peacefully throughout the nation. Armed forces, while living in remote areas continuously take care of the safety and security of the nation from external aggression, and help the people at the times of natural disasters or internal aggression.
The Armed Forces feel hurt, not so much about the monetary benefits, but because of status of Armed forces in the hierarchy of service and command, vis-a-vis other civilian government services. Over the last 15-20 years, it has slowly declined in stature and relative importance and positioning vis-à-vis other government services. Civil services due to their proximity to political powers have put armed forces under total subservience of political and civil authorities and left them in cold.
Position of Farmers – Also, drought and debt continue to claim lives of a number of farmers in India. The administration has not been able to reach to farmers and find solutions for their genuine problems. Consequent to untimely and sudden demise of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru in 1964, Shastriji with his quality leadership and the nation confronted with many critical issues like food shortage, rising prices, language riots and the mounting threats of aggression from China and Pakistan. At that time, Lal Bahadur Shastri, then the Prime Minister of India had taken many challenging decisions and dealt effectively during that crucial hour of Indian history. It would have unnerved even a seasoned leader. His good governance and efficient leadership enabled India to undergo a smooth transition, consolidating on the gains of freedom even further.
An Exemplary National Leader, Lal Bahadur Shastri
After the sad demise of Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri became the Prime Minister of India on June 9, 1964. At that time nobody thought that Shastriji would prove to be a tower of strength, an astute politician and a man gifted with rare qualities of head and heart. People were skeptical about his being a worthy successor of Pt. Nehru as the Prime Minister of India. Some had the feeling that he was simple and too modest a person and, as such, he would be eclipsed by the Congress Party’s Syndicate. But soon they were disillusioned when K. Kamraj, the then Congress President, went all out to get him elected as the leader of the Congress Party and the Prime Minister of India.
It was not long before when the people realized that his modesty was due to the traditional Indian refinement and not a symptom of lack of firmness or courage. He believed that Prime Minister’s own functions and responsibilities could not be shared by others and in no case by persons outside the government, however high and mighty they be in the party hierarchy. It was not in his blood to be any Tom Dick and Harry’s satellite or henchman. He proved to the world that he was not a prisoner of indecisiveness and could act on his own, however, formidable the task might be.
Even as Prime Minister, he kept himself away from the bed of roses. From the very inception, he was confronted with ticklish problems. He inherited the legacy of thorny issues like food shortage, rising prices, language riots and last but not the least the mounting threats of aggression from China and Pakistan. He took many challenging decisions, which otherwise would have unnerved even seasoned leaders. He won the hearts of his countrymen by virtue of his humble yet firm handling of national problems. His transparent honesty, unimpeachable integrity, love with the masses and unassuming identification with progressive ideas and forces endeared him to all and sundry.
Shastriji was sure that the finances of the country could be improved only its economy was planned in a more rational and scientific manner. He accorded high priority to agriculture. But he attached equal importance to industry. In his view, the improved agriculture and industry alone could take the country on the road to prosperity.
He believed that the shattered confidence of the people could be restored through the welfare schemes and the Five-Year Plans yielding concrete and immediate results for the well-being of common-men. In this context Shastriji said, “The strain that have shown up in the recent months cannot be ignored. I believe that first task is to provide food, clothing, shelter and medical to the millions. I have, therefore, suggest that planning should be geared up to face these primary needs, at the same time as we pursue other goals.”
Shastriji established Food-grains Trading Corporation to purchase grains within the country at remunerative prices and to distribute it equitably. An Agricultural Price Commission was set up to fix a reasonable margin of price to be enforced at wholesalers and retailers’ level with due consideration to the cost involved in processing, storage and transport etc. Implementation of Minor Irrigation Programs received special attention and the Chief Ministers of States were directed to improve the output of crops. Various steps were taken to bring about coordination of administrative activities at different levels e.g. Central, State, District, Block and Village. Coordination Committees were set up both at Cabinet and Secretariat levels in the States for discussion to expedite the development programs relating to the departments of Agriculture, Irrigation, Revenue, Animal Husbandry, Cooperation, Community Development, Panchayats etc.
Shastriji gave a number of slogans, namely “Self-Reliance”, “Grow More Food”, “Miss a meal”, “Jai Jawaan, Jai Kisaan” etc., to boost the morale of the peasants and jawaans in particular and the people of the country in general. He appealed to the nation to lend a hand in solving the problem of food shortage. All-out efforts were made to hasten self-sufficiency in food. Steps were also taken to control prices of essential commodities. He made available to the common man, the essential goods at fair price shops. Successful programs were instituted to control the sky-rocking prices and unearth the vast quantities of black money.
Shastriji laid great emphasis on administrative reforms. A campaign was launched to curb the evil of corruption and mal-practices. He took deterrent action against black-marketers, hoarders, and foreign exchange racketeers. He accepted most of the recommendations of the ‘Santhanam Committee’ to make an end of the corrupt practices on war footing. He drew a code of conduct for the Ministers, according to which they had to disclose to the Prime Minister and the Chief Ministers in the state, their assets and liabilities every year. It also laid down ‘Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’ for raising funds by the political parties.
Within twenty four hours of the Das Commission’s adverse report against Pratap Singh Kairon, the then the Chief Minister of Punjab, Shastriji took drastic action and asked him to resign his post. It was a remarkable feat of smooth-sailing with which the succession question in the Punjab was handled by him and Comrade Ram Kishan was made Chief Minister of Punjab.
The firm action he took in the case of Sri T.T. Krishmachari proved to be the hit that whenever necessity arose. Shastriji was capable of taking very harsh decisions without fear or favour. He accepted Mr. Krishmachary’s resignation after Mundra episode and without loss of time, he appointed his successor.
The fierce language riots in the South were a threat to the unity and integrity of the country. The handling of the grave situation called for statesmanship, imagination and determination. The Government has to make sure that any measure taken to pacify South did not have repercussions elsewhere in the country. As a sequel to the disturbances in the South, the Prime Minister convened a meeting of the Chief Ministers of the States; and with the emerging consensus, it was decided to introduce Hindi for official purposes without displacing English until people in non-Hindi speaking areas were willing for a change-over. The language crisis thus blew over without much ado.
Shastriji’s participation in the Non-Aligned Summit held in Cairo was his first big international event. It was a resounding success. His 5-Point Peace Plan presented at this Conference was not only received with enthusiasm from all concerned at his historic conference, but also formed in a large measure the basis of the final resolution passed on the ‘International Peace’. It brought him laurals and recognition as a protagonist of world peace and peaceful co-existence.
His displayed wisdom, grit and determination against the Pakistan infiltration in the Rann of Kutch and Jammu and Kashmir. He repelled the attacks by force of arms and led India to victory in the battle-field. A ceasefire was brought about with the good offices of the British Government.
Pakistan, after sometime, again intruded into the Indian Territory in a more planned manner than ever before. Shastriji once again picked up the gauntlet. Throughout the three week war with Pakistan, he continued fighting and did not look back. His cool composure and unambiguous strong language of his statements and broadcasts to the nation from time to time boosted up the morale of the brave Indian soldiers against Pakistan’s wanton aggression. In this context, Shastriji said, “India’s faith in peace is unshakeable. With us, it is a matter principle and not of expediency. But adherence to peace does not mean that we should not take up arms to defend ourselves when attacked. Let us not slacken our efforts and activities. We must remain alert and vigilant. All the people of India should be ready and determined to defend the Motherland in any emergency with all their hearts and all their might. … when freedom is threatened and territorial integrity is endangered, there is only one duty, the duty to meet the challenge with all our might.”
Shastriji’s rejection of the “Three-day” Chinese ultimatum was equally irrevocable. It called the Peking’s bluff and their ultimatum and their ultimatum fizzled out. After the crisis was over, Shastriji’s addressing the nation inter alia observed, If the experience of the recent past hold any lesson for us all, it is that we must endeavor to be as self-reliant as possible. In the ultimate analysis, it is the strength of the nation itself which matters more and which is our best safeguard.”
In January, 1966, when Shastriji, as Prime Minister of India, went to Tashkent to hold talks with President Ayub of Pakistan and the Prime Minister of USSR, there he played his cards well as an astute negotiator. And after in-depth discussion and exchange of views with the other two stalwarts, he signed the historic, ‘Tashkent Declaration’. It was sheer irony of fate that he did not live to enjoy the fruits of his pyrrhic victory over Pakistan.
There is no doubt that Shastriji as Prime Minister of India in his brief tenure of 18 months, not only brought about unity in the country but also put it on the road of self-reliance and self-sufficiency. He left to his heirs a richer legacy than he himself had inherited. His sagacious and Herculean efforts earned respect for him and for his country.
(This post was published in Saga of Lal Bahadur Shastri, pp. 222 to 224 in 1987 under the title ‘Dharti Ka Lal, released by then the Prime Minister Sri Rajiv Gandhi)
“The illiterate of twenty-first century will not be those who can not read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” Toffler
“Knowledge, the object of knowledge and application of the knowledge – all the three are equally important for motivating to take a wise ction.” Khalil Gibran
“Education is the great engine of personal development … It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.” Nelson Mandella
“There is no knowledge without right faith. No conduct is possible without knowledge. Without conduct, there is no liberation. And without liberation, no deliverance,” Mahavira
Long, long ago, Newton had said that he was ‘like a child, who is picking pebbles at sea-shore while the great ocean of knowledge lies before me’. Since then, knowledge has grown enormously at a much faster speed than human ability to cope with it.
Technological advancements of twentieth century, especially during post 1970’s due to revolution in the field of information technology, have changed the whole scenario. Entering into world of knowledge is like going into a dense forest. Only way out is to develop clarity of thought/mind, as to what one wants to know and make sincere efforts to pursue relevant knowledge in that specific area.
“Neti Neti” (no end to learning) – J Krishnamurty has very rightly said, “There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.” Also it is equally important to upgrade knowledge continuously. As Alvin Toffler, renowned writer has said, “The illiterate of twenty-first century will not be those who can not read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”
Purpose of education
Literacy, not only the knowledge of three ‘R’s – Unfortunately, meaning and purpose of literacy and education is misunderstood. Literacy does not merely mean the knowledge of three ‘R’s, nor does it mean only academic or theoretical studies/knowledge leading to award of degrees. Increasing knowledge-base through available information is also not the purpose of learning. Bookish-knowledge and award of degrees through formal education without effective training-systems neither serve any purpose nor lead the people to get employed gainfully. Henry Kravis comments, “If you don’t have integrity, You have nothing. You can not buy it. You can have all the money in the world, but if you are not a moral and ethic person, you really have nothing.”
Valuable is the knowledge, that acts – As Khalil Gibran has said – knowledge, the object of knowledge and application of the knowledge – all the three are equally important for motivating to take a wise action. A little knowledge that acts is worth more than much knowledge that is inactive. One, whose knowledge is confined to books, can not use his wealth of knowledge, whenever required.
The scope of education – The scope of education is much broader. It is a continuous process. It means complete up-bringing of the individual starting from the childhood till end. In its wider sense, literacy and education embraces within itself reading, observation, thought and its application in real life situations. Within its jurisdiction, also comes formation of habits, manners, character, attitude and aptitude along with imparting knowledge. Learning at each and every stage of life increases knowledge-base, understanding and attitudes of a person.
A well-planned and sound system of education inspires human beings to control their senses, mind and intellect, so that they could be adjusted better in real life’s environment. It guides people to achieve their goals within time and cost parameters and to channelize their efforts towards desired direction. In short, a sound education system imparts knowledge, shapes attitudes, cultivates skills and builds work habits of the people.
Distinction between action, forbidden action, and in-action – Knowledge has been considered essential for the purpose of giving activities, their due meaning and value. According to Hindu philosophy even a wise man may get puzzled without knowledge about do’s and don’ts. It is only after the acquisition of knowledge, that a person understands the real nature of work and could distinguish correctly between action, forbidden action and in-action.
India and its Education system
High regard for knowledge- India has always given importance to and showed a high regards for knowledge, wisdom, virtues, characters and will power. According to Indian philosophy, ‘Wealth of knowledge is supreme among all forms of wealth’. (Vidya dhanam sarvadhana pradhanam). Therefore, knowledge is the greatest thing to be sought after. A human being is human because he has the organic capacity to think and seek knowledge.
More importance to knowledge than wealth – Unlike India, in Western countries, more importance is being given to creation of wealth. Wealth is the ultimate aim of the people, yardstick of success and a status symbol. Traditional India was not so materialistic. Its systems had separated pursuit and achievement in knowledge from temptations of worldly comforts, wealth or power-politics. According to Indian philosophy, when a person runs blindly after money and forgets about the real purpose of knowledge, both wealth and knowledge vanishes from their lives. The only judicious way to generate wealth and gain power goes via the path of true knowledge.
Knowledge as the base of ranking – Earlier the greatness of a person, institution or a nation was judged on the basis of the degree of righteousness and justice. Greatness of a nation was judged with which its administration governed lives of the common men or their character. It was not on the basis of the size of a state, its military power or its treasury/bank-balance. Similarly, in the society, a person or a caste was ranked on the basis of knowledge, discipline and moral standards, and not on the basis of material success, muscle or money power or of having controlling power over the destiny of common man.
Respect for knowledgeable persons – In ancient India, apart from Brahmins, others were also paid respect by the society for their learning, character, spirituality and ability to guide general masses. The system was quite liberal in this matter. It gracefully accepted the right and opportunity to get to the top from the humblest origin and earn the respect of the whole society. For example, Vashishtha, the principal of the conservative school of Brahmanism, was the son of Uravshi, a prostitute. Vishwamitra, the maker of the very Gayatri Mantra, the quintessence of the Vedic Brahmanism, was a Kshatriya. Aitreya, after whom the sacramental part of Rig-Veda is named as Aitreya Brahamana, was the son from a non-Aryan wife of a Brahman sage. Vyasa of Mahabharata fame was the son of a fish-woman (belonging to Mahr community – Dalit according to present standards and to which Dr Ambedkar, the messiah of Dalits belonged). Balmiki, an untouchable according to present standards, the original author of Ramayana, is highly respected all over India. None of them were not ashamed of their origin. They still hold a very high position in general public minds.
Close connection between Knowledge and hard work -For acquiring knowledge, training mind in a scientific manner and concentrating energies of mind, one has to struggle, work hard, make sincere efforts and face many challenges in life. Now-a-days, courage to struggle or work hard is missing except in a few students, who still keep the fire of seeking knowledge burning all the time. Without hard-work, search for knowledge remains incomplete and superficial.
In ancient India sages (Rishi-Munies) had worked day and night to acquire true knowledge. The love for knowledge inspired many students to walk from different parts of the country to centers of learning at that time like Taxila or Nalanda. A powerful Emperor, like Ashoka the great, thought it his duty, to bow before the monks “as a mark of my deep respect for their learning, wisdom and sacrifice. What matters in life, are not a person’s status or position, but his virtues and wisdom. Only when you have raised yourself up from ignorance, can you recognize the greatness of a few in a sea of humanity.”
For creating modern civilization, sincere knowledge seekers in Western world also did not care for inconveniences or challenges. They had sacrificed their time (for about two centuries), energies and comforts in search of knowledge. Then only they could develop great modern scientific knowledge, technique and wealth.
Education in modern India
Sixty four years after independence and self-rule, literacy-rate has gone up to 74% from 65%. For males it has risen to 82% from 75%, for females to 65% from 54%. In absolute number, the figure is alarming. No nation can afford to have a large number of its population to remain illiterate, ignorant and unskilled.
That all is not well in education system in India – has been noted by distinguished academicians, policy-makers, political leaders, other eminent persons, commissions and committees. Now and then, they have pointed out its failures in one area or another. It has always been felt that Modern education has become increasingly unrelated to national needs and aspirations, insufficient, wasteful and dysfunctional.
Education system loaded with external and internal problems – In addition to what constraints that have already been existing in the education system, many more external and internal problems, paradoxes and constraints have cropped up. Some defects in modern education based on colonized British Grammar School type education, were pointed out by Gandhiji like –
- It is based upon foreign culture to the almost entire exclusion of the indigenous culture.
- It ignores the culture of heart and hand and confines itself simply to head
- Real education is impossible through foreign medium.
- Externally, socio-economic and political pressures have violated its identity and autonomy. Some changes have taken place in the recent past in the character, role and inter-relationship of these main constituent of the national elites – the political executive, the legislators, the businessmen, the media persons, the organized workers, the surplus farmers and the bureaucrats. It brought into the forefront some undesirable social changes and political turmoil. It has affected adversely the whole atmosphere in the field of education as well.
- Population explosion has put a heavy pressure on present education system and its available infrastructure. Narrow loyalties, sectional interests and sub-cultures like – favoritism, nepotism and corruption have fast become an accepted way of life. Result is that communal, regional and caste conflicts and unhealthy competition between different powerful lobbies are increasing every day to have their exclusive hold on scarce resources available in the field of education or for power and pelf.
- Few persons and groups, who have the power in their hands, control almost every walk of national life and are working to deny justice to common men. The reflection of all these social evils is found in the educational system as well.
Internal Constraints – Internally the system has been fractured along the lines of discipline deteriorating standard of education in general and student sub-culture. Slowly but steadily, the education system lost its capacity to equip the younger generation with relevant knowledge and skills for enabling them to get gainfully employed and to perform their jobs with a sense of responsibility. It has failed to produce much-needed dynamism in youth as well. Now people have started questioning the legitimacy of a modern education system itself.
Disintegrated society – Instead of being an instrument of social integration, education system divides people into two groups – ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’. There is government or government aided schools that give education to poor masses. It is economical, but do not maintain good standard. On the other hand there are private schools, which caters mainly the needs of ‘Haves’, because it is very costly.
Deteriorating standards – After independence, India is facing a rapid deterioration in standards of education. In the past, though education was thinly spread, it had maintained some standard. Now in an attempt to do quantitative expansion of education, quality of education suffered a lot. The examination and evaluation system tests only a narrow range of skills, especially those of memory. Standard of general education has deteriorated considerably and suffers from grave errors. In addition to it, there is lot of interference and control of the government at every stage of the educational process.
Unfit for original work – Education system in advanced countries makes student a lively, inquisitive and original thinking person. There, it has been able to develop certain special qualities like regards for laws of the nation, awareness, contempt for hypocrisy, sympathy for underdog and courage to resist cruelty or misuse of power and authority. An educated youth in India generally fails to display genuine social conscience.
Store-house of information – Importance of information in knowledge, which provides the basis of all the thinking, cannot be denied. However, present education system at all stages of education, from preliminary through secondary right up-to the college stage makes mind a store-house of information/knowledge and discourages original thinking. It lays emphasis on giving students ready-made knowledge, systematically and neatly organized in the form of lessons, units and text book. R W Emerson comments on modern education, “We are students of words: we are shut up in schools and colleges and recitation-rooms, for ten or fifteen years and come out at last with a bag of wind, a memory of words and do not know a thing.” ‘
English medium – English medium puts extra strain upon the nerves of students and makes them crammers, imitators and unfit for original work and thought. Masses remains deprived. System is producing mostly the youth, who are unable to express clearly in any language, including their own and lack woefully the competence and confidence to assume responsibilities.
Early childhood Teaching – Early childhood learning plays a vital in improving the quality and quantity of learning. Latest brain researches tell that first 2000 days are the most important in a child’s life, when children develop learning strategies, learn how to think and problem-solve. Children are born with billions of brain cells. Unless these are interacted with properly, they actually die off. Such programs needs to be developed that encourage the synaptic connections between those cells.
Early childhood Teaching, instruction and methodology is necessary for developing lifelong qualities in children. It is necessary to understand the importance to encourage Children to think, ask questions and develop problem-solving ability in them. There should be more interaction between adults and the children.
Higher secondary, the weakest link in Indian education system – Higher secondaryeducation is considered to be insufficient and a weakest link in Indian education system. It needs sincere efforts to improve the Academic standards, curricula and methods of teaching at higher secondary level. In western countries the standard of higher secondary education is sufficiently high to ensure recruits of higher intellectual attainment to join various jobs at this stage.
Degree-oriented: The whole system of education and employment is degree oriented. Degree is the master-key to a nice and respectable career giving status, authority and final reprieve from manual work. Such a narrow mind-set has put tremendous pressure on higher education system. A large number of new substandard and superfluous institutions are being created every day to meet the demand. Government also encourages mass entry into universities and colleges. Rush in institutions are of such students as well, who want degree as a passport and are not interested in studies. Such students seize every opportunity to spoil the academic atmosphere and breed indiscipline.
Indiscipline- There is a growing unrest in the student community. Youth of the day want to be absolutely free from all compulsions. For them, discipline and observance of rules are supposed to be unnecessary and irrational. They have no respect for rules/discipline/morality or for elders, teachers or authority. Their interests lie in all that is sensuous, in material gains and in enjoying pleasures in life. Indiscipline in student’s world leads to chaos and violence. It makes people slaves of their weaknesses.
Employability – One of the major aims of education is to make youth employable. At present it is difficult to find out and recruit well qualified persons for various jobs in government, public or private sectors. At pre-employment stage, education needs to be comprehensive in scope and sound in nature for making youth acceptable in job-market. It needs to be supplemented by rigorous foundation training telling the fundamentals of their specific jobs and inculcating in them relevant knowledge and skills, otherwise effectiveness, efficiency and quality of work gets a setback. At present, all the basics about their jobs are told to employees after their join work-force, which requires a much more massive effort in order to make employees do their jobs well.
Unrealistic Manpower Assessment – Assessment of manpower requirement for economic growth is not done rationally according to national needs. After Independence, the need for technical people was felt and in recent past for management experts. The Government created large number of professional institutions in these areas without assessing the needs of the nation. It resulted in educated unemployment. A large number of scientists, doctors, engineer’s technicians and management graduates have to go abroad in search of suitable jobs.
Therefore, for streamlining the performance of people at work after employment, most essential and fundamental requirement is that the character and scope of pre-employment educational system should be redesigned in such a way, that it could continuously provide men and women of vitality, vigor, initiative and imagination with intellectual accomplishments, qualifications and soundness of character needed in different disciplines and at different levels at job market.
Where the fault lies? – For all these lacunas, students blame teachers, teachers blame students. Both together try to blame educationists. They, in turn, attack social system. The present system of education can not be changed or improved overnight. It needs concentrated efforts of all – students, teachers and the society. Then only a larger base of skilled and trained manpower could be created.
Rational thinking needs to be done about the real problems and the role of education in modern life after understanding its basics, fundamentals and aims correctly.
The requirement of a university degree as a Passport for starting nice and respectable career (white collard jobs) has made a mockery of higher education. Such an attitude has by-passed the need to “educate all”, resulted in negligence of primary and higher secondary education and in over-crowding the institutions of learning. The stress on quantitative increase has subverted all the attempts to improve the quality of teaching and learning. It has led to continuous fall in the academic standards and students’ discipline, regional imbalances in the growth of educational institutions and politics in the temples of learning.
In the present times of neck to neck competition, one should continuously upgrade knowledge. It is the best way to create a larger base of skilled and trained manpower. Education should instill in students problem-solving attitude and develop the courage to meet the challenges of real life bravely. Instead of offering excuses or blaming others for one’s failures and dissatisfaction, it should inculcate in students the spirit to face the difficult situations in life and make efforts to change their destiny themselves. Education must teach people always try to have control over ones life’s situations and to stand up on his own feet rather than depending on others for moving forward. Success in life depends on developing capacity and courage to take right decisions at right time.
Only sound system of education and training can provide a lasting solution for various problems, people are facing today. It can lead the youth towards rational, positive and creative thinking. It would make youth capable to make right decision at right time, plan rationally about their career that would suit to their attitude and aptitude and to shoulder their responsibilities properly. It would enable them to act judiciously and promptly, give them courage to avoid out-dated traditions and dogmatic ways of doing things, courage to face realities and challenges. For doing so, it is required that –
- It is necessary to understand the psychology of students and the changes happening every day in today’s world.
- There should be a collaborative and distributive system between the teaching staff and students in such a way that teachers should encourage the students to share knowledge and express their thoughts and views freely and frankly.
- An atmosphere of healthy competition should be created in schools and colleges. They should not try to let others down while competing with each other.
- Sub-standard education should be avoided. Standards of teaching should be high. All schools and colleges should have a good faculty. Finding committed teachers is not an easy task, but is urgently required for keeping standards of education high.
- Educational institutions should not be used as money-minting machines.
- Every student can not learn and understand at the same pace and his/her doubts need to be clear. To do so, students in any educational institution need individual attention. For giving individual attention to all the students, the number of enrollments should not be large in one batch.
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love, what you do.” Steve Jobs
“If we want to give jobs to 400-500 million illiterates and 200-250 million semi-ill-literates, we have to go in for low-tech manufacturing that does not require high levels of education. … This is how China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea did it”
World-over, almost all the national governments are facing in full blast many severe problems, especially after the ‘great economic depression’ of 2008. Unemployment amongst youth, (especially amongst unskilled individuals looking for jobs) is one of the biggest worries for the government and the people, who are facing difficulty in finding a job. Jobs remain elusive.
Youth of the day wants jobs, not quotas. Jacques Santer has rightly said, “A quota is always something artificial that can only last for a certain perod of time.” Over last 15 years, millions of people have moved out of agriculture. Manufacturing and services sector have been so far unable to provide enough jobs for all of them. Enhancing the quality of education, providing enough opportunities to such people to attain income-generating skills and dismantling licence raj may help people to get suitable place in job-market.
The overall situation on this front is not very encouraging. MGNREGS applications hit all-time records. Till the third week of March 2016, it was as high as 8.3 crore according to a survey done by eight industries. Job-market shows little hope. The Patel agitation in Gujrat, Jats in Haryana; Gujjars in Rajsthan, Marathas in Maharashtra and unrest in J&K shows the rising unrest and impatience of unemployed youth among neo-middle class, which is thoroughly frustrated with current picture of joblessness.
Profession has a direct effect on the life-style and mindset of a person. It creates one’s specific identity and status in the society. Normally a person is known and ranked by their profession.
About India, the absolute number of illiterates and semi-literates is very high. Infosys co-founder Narayan Murthy (TOI, 16.2.16, p.17) rightly says “If we want to give jobs to 400-500 million illiterates and 200-250 million semi-ill-literates, we have to go in for low-tech manufacturing that does not require high levels of education. … This is how China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea did it” For not so well educated unemployed youth, who are looking for menial jobs and find no jobs, opportunities can be generated y giving them training in low-tech manufacturing skills.
Change in pattern and nature of employment – Pattern and nature of employment keeps on changing with time. With it changes the demands and systems in job-market and values of people, while in search of a job, Time has created a big difference between the nature and pattern of modern and traditional form of employment. The nature of jobs was quite different during agricultural societies before industrialization, then after industrialization it changed and now with advancement of technologies, modernization and globalization, it has changed drastically.
Before industrialization, most of the people were engaged in agriculture and other professions related with it. During industrialization, process of urbanization began. People preferred to work in some factories/industries and earn more money. And now with advanced technologies, modernization and globalization, the pattern of employment and work-culture has changed tremendously allover the world.
People in India have been a little late in keeping pace with the trends of modern world of professionalism. The result is a large number of unemployment.
Number of unemployed in India – According to the data released in September, 2014, over 11.3 crore persons in India (about 15% of the working from 15 to 60 years of age group) are available for work. They are unemployed. As reported previously by Times of India, over 20% of youth between 15 to 24 years of age were jobless. In absolute number, it is about 47 million. In J&K, it is 48%, in Bihar 35%, in Assam 38%, in W. Bengal 54%, in Jharkhand 42%, in Odisha 39% and in Kerala 42%. (Figures quoted from Times of India, p.11, 24.9.14). The situation is quite alarming and the issue of unemployment needs the attention of the government on priority basis.
Government as creator of jobs – Today jobs-creation and inflation have become the prime concern for almost each and every democratic and government of a welfare state after the two world wars, more so after the great economic depression of 2007-8. Instead of playing a role as a facilitator, the government has become the generator/creator of jobs. The government is supposed to create enough employment opportunities for all the youth.
At present India needs to create 10 million jobs a year for next five years (2014-2019) or four times more than it has been creating over the past five years. It is a big challenge before the government.
No unemployment problem in ancient India – In ancient India, there was work, employment, dignity and honour for all . There was no dearth of employment opportunities for persons willing to work. Everybody was usually busy in one’s own hereditary/traditional occupations. Instead of holding others responsible for their unemployment, the system blamed “Adharma” (immoral behavior), “Alasya” (laziness) and “Agyan” (ignorance) for unemployment and all evils like exploitation, poverty and helplessness that follow unemployment automatically.
Problem started during Industrialization – The process of industrialization modernization, which began during British rule, has adversely affected employment prospects of unskilled workers, especially in rural areas. New kinds of occupations have been continuously being added to the traditional jobs of pre-industrial-society. Many traditional occupations have become obsolete. With it, different kinds of problems are cropping up every day.
White collared jobs have gained popularity, access to which depends on formal education, certificates/degrees/diplomas. For it, people need to go to centers of learning/institutions, hone their skills through formal training and attain certificates/diplomas to get employment and to further their future prospects. But there is an acute shortage of such kind of training centers as well to cater the needs of a large number of aspirants for proper jobs.
Unemployment is one of the acute problems in India ever since its independence. Now it becoming more and more difficult to provide jobs to all youths. Present day dilemma is that millions of youth are not able to get employment anywhere in the government, private or public sectors. There is cut-throat competition for positions of power. Craze for white-collared jobs has escalated. There has been growing aversion for menial jobs or traditional occupations. Modernity has given freedom to individuals to pursue an occupation of ones own choice. With it emerged different kinds of problems. come out of the web of modernity.
According to a UNDP’s Human Development Report, India has to provide jobs to 63.5 million new entrants into the workforce between 2011 and 2016, of which bulk are in the 20-35 age group. A study jointly conducted by CII and Deloitte reports about aspirations and concerns of a multi-generational workforce as “Indian workplaces have become an interesting blend of three generations – the business leaders and CEOs of baby-boomer generation (45 plus) management teams and senior professionals from Gen X (23 to 45) and young Gen Y professional (under 23)”.
Adding to it, generation gap has led to differences in working and communication styles as well as motivation. It is important for baby-boomers, who are leading organizations, to understand the working style and beliefs of the younger generations. The younger generation do not see themselves staying at one organization for long, but their commitment and dedication towards work and responsibilities has not reduced. Also they prefer a fair system, where processes are more transparent and the system is less bureaucratic. (Quoted from TOI, N. Delhi, P., 19, 24 Aug. 2013)
There is a tough competition for any job. People blame each-others for their unemployment. They have been caught in the vicious circle of traditionalism and modernity. They are moving in circles in an effort to find out a foolproof system. Neither traditional nor modern occupations are fool-proof/flawless. Then once changed, systems never return to their original forms, howsoever difficult situation becomes.
Both the systems of occupations have their own strength, weaknesses and professional hazards. Only one has to keep a balance and be mentally prepared to meet the present-day challenges coming on the way. Also it has to be kept in mind, ‘Once changed, the system never returns to its original form. While trying to find out a better system, people should not ignore simple solutions to the present problems.
Problems of traditional pattern of employment – Occupations being community based, individuals did not have much choice in matter of occupations. With the passage of time, the rigidity of the system suffocated the creative minds of those individuals, who could contribute much more to the society while working in the areas of their own interests. The rigidity led to heartburn and heart-burn to changes, somewhere rationally, and somewhere it happened in a jest for change.
Problems of Modern pattern of employment – Modern system of occupation has generated new kinds of problems such as
- Too much dependence of people on government for creating jobs for them.
- Government the creator of job opportunities – Instead of being facilitator, the government has become the generator/creator of employment/jobs-opportunities, It is supposed to create jobs, whether job-market demands it or not.
- Government the ‘Messiah’ and common-men ‘pigmies’ – In its role of a provider, those in positions of power – political or bureaucratic – in the government have assumed absolute power to control the destiny of common men. They have become ‘Messiahs’, and down-sized common-men to ‘pigmies’.
- Dependence on government-jobs – Government has become the biggest employer, people’s prefer jobs in government as it gives to its employees regular fixed salaries and job security.
- Increased corruption – For each and everything, people look up at the Government and seek the blessings or support of those who occupy places in echelons of power. It has corrupted the whole system.
- Bleak career prospects for unskilled labor – The process of modernization has adversely affected employment prospects of unskilled workers, especially in rural areas.
- Stress on degree/diplomas – Access to modern occupations and advancement in career depend on formal education, certificates/degrees/diplomas. People now learn and hone their skills in formal centers of education and training.
- In present competitive world even a degree is not enough to get work. Recruiters look for multi-skilled candidates. A job-seekers need to equip himself with other skills in extra curricular activities in different fields.
- Shortage of the formal institutions – Employment and advancement in career depend on formal degrees and training. But there is an acute shortage of the formal training institutions to attain necessary qualifications for the large number of aspirants mainly because of population explosion. It deprives many, especially belonging to weaker sections to get admission in educational and training institutions.
- Rush for white-collared jobs – Industrialization and technological developments have made white collared-jobs popular. Most of the time energy and effort of youth are wasted in search and pursuit of those jobs, for which they neither have aptitude nor attitude or which are beyond their reach for one reason or the other. This time they could have utilized otherwise for constructive purposes.
- Added confusion – At present, choice in matter of employment and non-availability of jobs in the sphere of their choice has confused young minds. A modern youth gets confused as to what career/profession, he/she should opt. Some times employees lack the mindset needed prior to entering into a profession.
- Increased unemployment – Aversion of modern youths from their traditional occupations has today rendered millions of them unemployed or underemployed. Besides, there is a cut throat competition for each and every job with the result that unemployment or under-employment is continuously increasing in absolute numbers.
System of Employment in ancient and medieval India
Principles behind the traditional way of Occupations- In ancient and medieval India, assignment of work was based on certain realities, principles and way of life –
- Human actions dependent on attitude and aptitude – In traditional system, it is believed that the whole world of activities is a result of complex intermixing of three basic qualities of human nature – goodness (Satwa), Passion (Rajas) and dullness (Tamas). `Goodness’ is associated with purity, peace and knowledge; `Passion’ with comfort and action; and `Tamas’ with ignorance, sloth, sleep and carelessness.These qualities determined the tendencies, potentialities, limitations, traits and character of individuals and give them direction for action. It makes individuals different from each other in attitude, aptitude, physical and mental capacity, aspirations, like and dislikes, inclination and expectations.
- Principles of ‘Varna, karma and Dharma’ – Principle of Varna had assigned duties to different groups according to people’s natural instincts and qualities. Principles of ‘Dharma’ and ‘Karma’ developed clear-cut vision of rights and duties/responsibilities of each group, considering the requirements of different occupations.
- Stress on “duty, tolerance and sacrifice” – Whereas, modern Westernized culture have grown around the idea of `rights” forming the natural foundation of human relationship, systems in India evolved around the concept of “duty, tolerance and sacrifice”. Emphasis on duty had made people or groups humble and tolerant. Sacrifice was regarded far more important than success, and renunciation was regarded as the crowning achievement.
- Work, employment and dignity for all – In ancient and medieval India, there was work, employment and dignity and honour for all in India. There was no dearth of employment opportunities for persons willing to work.
- “Adharma”, “Alasya” and “Agyan” responsible – Instead of blaming others for unemployment, “Adharma” (immoral behavior), “Alasya” (laziness) and “Agyan” (ignorance) were held responsible for unemployment and for all evils like discrimination, exploitation, poverty, miseries and helplessness of the people that follow unemployment automatically.
- Maintained differentiation between various occupations – The traditional system of occupations had maintained differentiation between various occupations. All functions needed for the maintenance and growth of the society were divided into different occupations, which were distributed amongst different sections of society according to their attitude and aptitude. People were usually engaged in their own hereditary/traditional occupations. They learnt the skills and tricks of their trade in a natural way with every breath while growing up. The system managed well the daily necessities and day to day relation of its members. It encouraged interdependence in social matters.
- Principle of ‘Varna’ – Accordingly, Principle of ‘Varna’ did fourfold division of occupations and their performers – Brahmins were assigned the work of learning, research and development, kshhatriyas the job of defense and maintenance of law and order in the society, Vaishyas of trade and commerce, and Shudras all kinds of service functions.
- Principle of Dharma – Principle of Dharma assigned each group a specific work to do and developed a clear-cut vision of rights and duties/responsibility of each group based on its traditional occupation. It boosted morale of the people and promoted social equilibrium and solidarity. There was automatic de-centralization of control systems and authority. The separation of rights and duties combined with the principle of inter-dependence developed its own system of checks and balances over arbitrary use of one’s authority.
- Principle of ‘Karma’ – Principle of ‘Karma’ created the work culture. It gave stress to duty.
- Sense of duty – Occupational pattern of India had filled the community with a sense of duty and trained them in obedience. Sense of duty stopped those in power to exercise coercion against its working class. Also it prevented resentment amongst masses. It helped Indians to adjust themselves, without much difficulty, to most drastic changes in the past. The systems stopped people from taking law in their own hands. While other nations passed through many bloody revolutions, India kept on adapting itself to changing times. In ancient Greece, Rome or other European countries, people were made to work under the threat of a whip.
- Importance to ‘Self-discipline’, self-direction and ‘Self-effort’ – Every group was expected to lead a self restraint and self disciplined life in all respect, be it in the matter of daily routine, occupation or inter-group relationship.
- Segmental Ranking according to relevance and contribution to society – Segmental ranking of different groups was done according to relevance and contribution of their occupations to society. Social status of different occupational groups was dependent on their relative self-discipline (relative purity), morality, knowledge and spiritual standards. Considerations of self-discipline, hygiene and cleanliness on the basis of climatic conditions of the region were given importance.
- Ranking system did not put different groups within a framework of hierarchical layers of social order, each fitting neatly below the other, but more or less as a series of vertical parallels. ‘
- No hard and fast rule of ranking – In ancient India, there was no hard and fast rule of ranking various groups. Usefulness of a profession to society as a whole, conduct and way of living of different people were the factors to determine social, economic or political status of a group in society vis-a vis others. There were times when gap between Vaishyas and Shudras became narrow or when Shudras acquired a better position in the society.
- No group placed in greater or lesser disadvantageous position – Categorization of people as forwards or backwards or as weaker sections was almost non-existent at that time. The system was so conceived by the genius sages and ‘Munies’ (intelligentsia of ancient India) that there was hardly any room for any Varna to consider itself, as being placed in greater or lesser disadvantageous position with reference to another.
- Respect or honor not dependent on birth – Khatriyas and Shudra were accepted and revered as philosophers or spiritual teachers. Great respect had even earned by persons from humblest origin as a right. They had the all opportunity to pursue knowledge and reach up-to the top.
For example, Sage Vashishta was the son of Uravshi, a prostitute, but he is highly respected allover India as the principal of the conservative school of Brahmanism. So was ‘Kshatriya’ Vishwamitra, the maker of the Gayatri Mantra, the quintessence of the Vedic Brahmanism, is recited even as of today almost in every house every day and on all auspicious occassions. Aitreya, after whom the sacramental part of Rig-Veda is named as Aitreya Brahamana, was the son from a non-Aryan wife of a Brahman sage. Vyasa of Mahabharata fame was the son of a fish-woman. Balmiki, the original author of Ramayana, was an untouchable according to present standards, but is still highly respected.
- Self-restrictions – Higher a group, greater were the self-restrictions on its conduct through rituals. Brahmins (intelligentsia) commanded respect of the whole society. They, being at highest place in the society, were put under maximum restrictions. They were supposed to lead a simple life, devoted to the spiritual and intellectual pursuits and denied accumulation of wealth.
- System not too rigid – The system was not too rigid as far as pursuing an occupation was concerned. The work in the sectors of agriculture or army was open to all. Members of particular Varna did not exercise monopoly over authority or respect. It is an established fact of Indian History that Brahmin or even Shudras sometimes became the kings. There were times, when inter group marriages took place in the past in order to increase their strength.
HT Colebrooke, one of the early Sanskrit Scholars says, “It may be received as a general maxim that occupation appointed for each tribe is entitled merely to a preference. Every profession, with few exceptions, was open to every description of persons and the discouragement arising from religious prejudices is not greater than what exists in Great Britain from the effects of Municipal and Corporate laws.” (Quoted from ‘Indian Express’, dated 18.9.90, p 8). In England also it was not uncommon for a clergyman, a lawyer or soldier to educate and train his sons for his own profession. So was it in India. (Quoted fromShore Fredrick John Notes on India Affairs Vol II P.473)
Salient features of employment and training in ancient India
Traditional occupational pattern of India was unique in many ways –
v Employment, dignity and honor for all – Traditional occupational pattern had provided employment, dignity and honor to all. The system led to accomplish skill, specialization, success and happiness, decentralized authority and resources, made management within each unit effective and organized human and social behavior in tune with the objectives of the society.
v Disassociation between Wealth and knowledge/skills – Unlike West, there is disassociation between Wealth and knowledge/skills. The value system of India has separated wealth from status, power from authority, pursuit and achievement in knowledge from temptations of worldly comforts.
v Stress on attitude and aptitude rather than birth – According to “Smritis” it was not birth, but the qualities and deeds of an individual, that fitted him into a particular group of occupation. Later on, upbringing, atmosphere and convenience tended to make these occupational groups hereditary. Gradually different hereditary occupational groups emerged in the society. People found it more economical and convenient to practice one’s own traditional occupation.
v Stress on knowledge and duty – Whereas, in Western societies social status of a person or organization has always been associated with material success or control of power, authority. In India, status of a person is determined on the basis of its knowledge, purity, discipline and moral standards.
v Division of labour – In the world of occupation there had been division of labor. All functions needed for the maintenance and growth of the society were divided into different occupations. On the basis of natural endowments, intelligence, aptitudes, attitudes, skills, personal needs and other innate characteristics, each group was assigned a distinct function to perform.
v Specialization – System as a whole evolved an atmosphere, where a high level of specialization and wisdom in different areas of activities could be achieved. Being constantly in contact with the family occupation, it was natural for the people to learn maximum about their traditional occupations.
v Spawning bed for social and technical skills – The system served as a spawning bed for social and technical skills. There was a tendency to bring in the most diversified skills to high level of excellence. By its very nature, it encouraged the development and preservation of local skills. The manner, in which social, technical and occupational knowledge and skills were transferred and developed, was through practice and experience; not through formal classroom lectures, which often kills originality and verve of people.
v Natural training without investment -The system inheritance in matter of assignment of different functions to different groups led the people to learn basic qualifications and tricks of the trade within their families itself from their elders. Skills were learnt more on job under the training and guidance of ‘elders’, already there on various jobs/occupations.
v Skills passed on from one generation to another – The system transmitted knowledge, expertise and tricks of a trade, intelligence, abilities, experiences, values and skills from one generation to another in a natural way. Children, while growing up, learnt about hidden intricacies of a profession and solutions of their occupational problems, informally from their elders. The system as a whole increased the confidence of the workers and saved them from confusion or unhealthy competition.
v Reservoir of natural leaders – Don Martindale said that India possessed a reservoir of natural leaders – Brahman naturally trained in literary skills, Kashitryas in art of leadership and different service groups in skills. It has been seen that a Marwari, traditionally belonging to business community, invests his money in share market with more ease and confidence than a graduate from other communities possessing a degree in business management.
v No confusion – The system saved common-men from confusion or unhealthy competition. It avoided rivalry or bitterness for pelf, power or position amongst different sections of society. There was no confusion, unhealthy rivalry or frustration on matter of work, because every body had his traditional occupation.
v Clear vision of responsibilities– Principles of Dharma and Karma made clear-cut vision of rights and duties of each group, based on and due consideration of the requirements of different occupations. It developed understanding amongst people for their liberties, limits and responsibilities.
v Each occupational group having an independent entity – Each occupational group had an independent entity, having its own hierarchy, based either on a tribal identity or an occupational identity. There was not much disparity between different occupational groups or between urban and rural people in ancient India.
v Job-satisfaction – the system gave job-satisfaction to almost all individuals except for a few and managed smoothly daily necessities and day to day relation of its members. All castes including untouchables were assigned important social duties. Harijan women helped all castes at time of child-birth, Harijan males beat drums in front of Hindu’s houses or in front of a procession on auspicious occasions/ceremonies. Village barber spread news, arranged marriages and served food during celebrations. Occasionally non-Brahmins or Harijans served as priests of temples of goddesses like Sita or Kali, where all castes made offerings.
v Automatic system of checks and balances – Such a system of division of labor developed its own systems of checks and balances over arbitrary use of its authority. Separation of rights and duties combined with the principle of inter dependence provided its own system of checks and balances over arbitrary use of one’s authority. There was an automatic decentralization of authority. The principles behind the whole system together provided the society a quality of life.
v Interdependence – Local character and semi-autonomous nature of the system made close interaction and cooperation between different groups a reality. Not a single group could claim to be self sufficient, capable to survive alone and fulfill all needs of its people. Still people enjoyed a large measure of freedom in respect of their personal matters. The system as a whole was capable to fulfill all the needs of its people.
v Combination of inter-dependence and self-reliance – Inter-dependence in social life and self-reliance in personal life were the intrinsic features of ancient system making each local area self-sufficient. Interdependence of different groups made it possible to have close contact amongst the people living in a local area. People whether living in a village or city, were bound together by economic and social ties and had a strong bond of mutual dependence.
v Developed a common bond– The system developed a common bond underlying their activities and minds. There was closeness and cooperation within each and every group, engaged in common occupation due to common callings, common problems, and common solutions.
v All professions worth pursuing – All occupations were regarded worth pursuing. Principle of Dharma inspired people to do their jobs well, as all worldly honor and spiritual happiness were vested there. It assured the people that proper performance of one’s work, whether high or humble, whether of a priest, warrior, Shudra or yogi were equally important for the society and were, therefore, right, respectable and worth pursuing. It brought worldly honor and spiritual happiness for individuals and provided the whole society a quality of life.
v No confusion, bitterness, rivalry or frustration on matter of work – Each individual and every group served the community in one way or the other and was, therefore, satisfied. All the social groups lived the life of dignity and honor with the feeling that they, too, were contributing something to the society.
v Benefit of knowledge to the ignorant and illiterate masses – In ancient India, illiterate masses got the benefit of researches and knowledge of intelligentsia – learned sages and Munies. On the basis of their scholarly researches and experiences, the sages prescribed certain guidelines in the form of rituals to for the benefit of common men and keeping order in the society. In modern societies, this job is done by the national governments by enacting laws and forcing people to follow them.
v Downward filtration of culture – It made downward filtration of culture, sophisticated language and knowledge possible. In modern society, everybody lives in one’s own world, hardly having any interaction with others. There are watertight compartments between different groups living in an area.
v Control over natural resources of the nation – Society as a whole had control over its natural resources. All local groups, whether high or low, living in an area mutually depended and supported for fulfilling different kind of needs and cared for each other.
The traditional system of occupation of ancient India had led the society to have more production, economic efficiency and expertise in almost all the areas and activities like spinning, weaving, pottery making, bead making, seal making, terra-cotta, handicrafts, brick-laying, metal work etc. The system worked so well that when the world was passing through the Dark Age, India was full of light. The first few centuries are recognized as the golden period of Indian history. During this period, arts, commerce, crafts, philosophy and knowledge flourished magnificently.
Many travelers visiting India, from alien lands at different points of time, confirmed that India possessed huge wealth, knowledge, and quality of life. It was a cheerful land. Each person found a niche in the social system. Its people reached a high level of intelligence having specialization in different areas. An average Indian, according to Dr. Albert Swheitzen, “Did not find life a vale of tears, from which to escape at all costs, rather he was willing to accept the world, as he finds it and, extract, what happiness he could, from it”. Recently U.S. Ambassador John Kenneth Galbrigth remarked, “While he had seen poverty in many countries of the world, he found an unusual attribute among the poor of India. There is richness in their poverty. They did not count wealth in money alone”.
Changes in scenario with industrialization
Industrial revolution started during late eighteenth century. The systems and economics of industrial era were built around long lasting structures like that of agricultural society. But it had undermined every pillar of old agricultural societies. Industrialization process along with modernization has changed the traditional job-pattern and work culture tremendously especially during 19th and 20th centuries under British rule. Instead of learning the tricks of the trade from their elders and getting advantage of their long experiences, the dependence on formal income-generating skills training programs and their certificates increased for getting employed.
Initial period of industrialization – Initially technologies were developed for lessening the strain on human muscles and designed for illiterate labour force. Machines were heavy, rigid and capital intensive. Work was unskilled, standardized and broken into simplest possible operations. All the workers were equally good, easily interchangeable like parts of a machine. Numerous unemployed people were always available. The workers were kept ignorant and powerless by keeping information restricted. These workers were chained to industrial discipline. Their life in the factory was tightly regimented,
Casualty of workers first, afterwards their work style – Outcome of industrialization has been casualty of workers first, afterwards their work style, commitment, motivation and culture. Many traditional occupations were discredited. Indian handicrafts and cottage industry were destructed. Efforts, sense of direction and manufacturing skills of millions of artisans, craftsmen and weavers were scattered. They lost their creativity, sense of achievement and pride.
Unemployment increased – Majority of people could neither enter into modern sector, nor could stick to their traditional occupations. Very few of them could join modern occupations. In the near absence of industrial, commercial or social service activity, most of them had no option, but either to join band of agricultural laborers, industrial workers and marginal labor for their survival or increase number of unemployed or under employed.
More freedom to individuals to select occupation of their choice – Industrialization gave more freedom to individuals to select occupation of their choice.
Opposed by feudal agrarian – In the beginning of industrial era, the changes, brought in by industrial revolution, were opposed strongly by forces of feudal agrarianism, landed gentry, hierarchical church and the intellectual and cultural elite.
Major changes due to industrialization – Industrial Revolution made drastic changes in the social life of people. There had been shifts in population, ecology, technology, culture and relationships. The behavior, life style, values, and attitudes as well as in the power equations and inter-relationship of various individuals, groups and organizations of the agrarian societies had changes. Along with it changed the pattern of family life, work-atmosphere, and political environment and business culture of the nation.
The industrial societies assimilated different regional groups. They could feel more liberated, while living in anonymity in urban areas. The need for a homogeneous workforce gradually shifted the individual and mass loyalties from society/village to nation. The power of the rural feudal faded.
Industrialization developed mass-culture – Industrialization has initiated the culture of mass capital, mass production, mass-consumption, mass media and mass democracy.
The pace of changes faster – The pace of social, economic and political changes, brought in during the industrial era, was much faster than that of agricultural era. It has influenced the thinking, behavior pattern and work-culture of the societies allover the world.
Money the prime motivator of workforce – Industrialization shifted the attention of the people to generate more wealth. People were desperately dependent on money for their survival. Money became the prime motivator of workforce, the main tool of social control and political power. (Toffler, Power shift) The most basic struggle was over the distribution of wealth-who gets what?
Urbanization – Migration of millions from villages started. Rural landowners shifted to cities, to explore their luck in expanding industrial arena. They relied on new technological developments, machines and material for generating more money. Along with them, many peasants and traditional professionals migrated to cities in search of jobs, as the industrial labour. They became urban workers subordinated to private or public employers.
Many traditional jobs became obsolete – Industrialization has made many traditional jobs obsolete. Many more occupations were considered less paying, more hazardous or time consuming. Millions found their income threatened, their ways of work obsolete, their future uncertain and their power slashed.
Benefitted rich people – Rich and privileged class took advantage of technological knowledge and new opportunities and became richer. But the general masses became poorer and more miserable. The social and economic condition of rural people deteriorated continuously. Consumerism had increased the economic and cultural differences enormously between the elite and the masses of a society.
Changes, modernization brought – Traditional system of occupations has already been weakened. Many new kinds of jobs have emerged. In some sectors Indians have brought in revolutionary changes. In addition to traditional occupations many new jobs have been emerged in IT industry, manufacturing arena, automobiles industry, pharmaceuticals sectors, construction business and telecommunication sectors etc.
Gap between theory and practice – Modernization gave rise to the concept of democracy. People are supposed to be the supreme power. With it emerged the concepts of liberty, equality, and fraternity and concepts like “Welfare State” and “Development administration”. But in real life, the systems developed in recent past have placed immense power in the hands of the elites and executives. Rulers, politicians, bureaucrats, industrialists, investors and intellectuals now control the natural resources and reap the benefits of developments of modern industrialized world. The power of this privileged class is continuously increasing. They have monopolized the access to knowledge and formed chain of commands to control workforce and mobs.
Process of modernization gave rise to many new kinds of jobs in organized sector in addition to the traditional occupations in unorganized sector. Institutions like the post office, telegraph, telephone, newspaper, magazines, movies, radios and television, each working independently and capable of conveying the same message to millions simultaneously came into existence. Also institutions like bureaucracy, corporations, hospitals, schools etc. have emerged in the modern world.
Dehumanized face of modern institutions- The dehumanization of institutions had weakened the most, the institution of family and eroded the power of elders in a society. Industrialization had relegated family to a purely social and non-economic position. Executives as well as workers were equally torn between the workplace and home in a physical sense and between family and organization in an emotional sense. This conflict had adversely affected the motivation, morale and productivity in modern societies. Many functions of “family” were transferred to other institutions, like education and training to schools, caring of elders and destitute to state and work to factory or office. Individualism and materialism reigned supreme during industrial era.
Popularity of White collared jobs – White collared jobs gained importance and popularity. Menial work was considered derogatory More a person withdraws from physical labor, more honored, civilized and qualified, he/she is regarded by modern society. The trend of easy and quick money started.
Domination of a few sections of society – New elite like bureaucrats, lawyers, professionals, journalists, industrialists dominated the scene. They seized control over workforce and the mobs. Instead of community reviewing work and pressurizing individuals to perform their duties, a new power structure hierarchical and impersonal-known as bureaucracy, came into being and flourished gradually.
Aversion from their traditional occupations – Total aversion of modern youth from their traditional occupations has today rendered millions of them unemployed or underemployed, thus wasting their time, energy and efforts in pursuit of those jobs, for which they neither have aptitude nor attitude or which are beyond their reach for one reason or the other. This they could have utilized otherwise for constructive purposes.
System benefitted “Haves” only – Some young entrepreneurs, having education, money and awareness, did market survey and hijacked many discarded traditional occupations. They modernized such disdained and contemptuous jobs like mechanization of fishing or leather industry and made them profit oriented. Less capital-intensive occupations like that of barber or washer-men have been overtaken by educated middle class. They re-christened them as saloon, laundry etc and employed those poor traditional workers, who were earlier practicing such occupations independently.
Cut-throat completion for fewer jobs in organized sector – Still there is neck to neck competition for fewer jobs in the market, especially in organized sector. Rivalry and bitterness for pelf, power or position is continuously increasing. Indian government of ‘socialist’ and ‘Welfare state’ has become provider of jobs instead of being a facilitator. Rather than focusing its attention on teaching people ‘how to fish’, the benevolent government believes in ‘giving a fish’ to needy persons. They have taken up responsibility to provide employment to its citizens, which led to centralization of control systems in matter of occupations.
Wastage of most creative and impressionable time of human-life – Stiff competition at present everywhere has pushed millions towards a situation, where they face hardships in getting a satisfactory job for themselves. It has rendered majority of them unemployed or underemployed, who are wasting all their efforts and most energetic and creative time of their lives in constant search for a job. By proper career planning, this valuable time could have utilized for constructive purposes.
Increased mobility – Increased mobility, due to developments in the field of transport and quicker means of mass communications have given rise to mobility and urbanization.
Family no longer a support – Agrarian families, living for generations under a single roof, gave way to nucleus families. It reduced the influence of elders (patriarchs) in the society. The social control mechanisms, which traditionally held the community together for centuries, have lost its grip. As the culture of nucleus family grew, family no longer provides support system to needy and poor relatives of extended family. The safety net provided by the well to do individuals of the community gradually vanished. The poor increasingly became not only poorer, but also destitute.
Human needs increased enormously – Instead of all the attempts to lessen the strain on human beings and making life more comfortable, the life of a person has become more complex. The needs of people have increased enormously in present day materialistic/consumerist society. Everybody is running after money and is trying to get as much as one can by hook or crook.
Degradation moral values – The last three centuries saw the degradation of social, moral and political values. Throughout the period of last few centuries fundamentalism grew, stronger exploited the weak, majority persecuted a minority, and ruling elite oppressed the masses. Uncertainty of mob moods compelled the politicians to get divided into numerous small, temporary, sectional or single issue groups, continually forming, breaking and reforming alliances. Bureaucratic power had joined hands with politicians. It increased favoritism, pay-off and corruption. In such an atmosphere of hostility, communities were torn by moral conflicts, drugs, crimes, corruption, ruthlessness, exploitation, and authoritarianism under the garb of social welfare, family break-up and other agonies. Industrial ecological by-products started threatening urban systems, health systems, welfare systems, educational systems, transport systems, almost all the most basic systems of human life.
Human-life becomes more complex – Diverse demands of the people increased complexity in politics. The redistribution of wealth, power and resources increased rivalry and conflict between various groups and regions. Inter class and intra-class group tensions and conflicts continuously increased due to economic inequality and disparity. The democratic Government could satisfy the demands of strong pressure groups only.
Mal-distribution of wealth and power – The whole scenario has led to many wars including the two world wars. Industrialization is responsible for gross mal-distribution of wealth between different individuals or groups or nations. It has made some very rich and others very poor. Better-industrialized western nations attempted to influence or control the economy of the developing or underdeveloped nations, in order to increase their power and position in international sphere.
Industrial revolution originated in Europe, therefore, during initial period of industrial revolution money power was centered in Europe. It was after Second World War, that USA became financially the strongest. The collapse of USSR in 1990 as superpower, made economic dominance of USA unchallenged. The developing and underdeveloped nations are trying hard to make their place in world economy. Within a nation sharp social and economic differences were seen between different regions, and between rural and urban areas. Prosperity and poverty grew simultaneously in this era.
Chaos everywhere – Once known, it becomes easier to cope with the changes strategically. However, the industrial revolution and modernization process together have overloaded individuals, organizations and nations, with too many changes too soon, and led to disorientation and incapacity of human beings to guide its course. As a result, began chaos, disparity and uncertainty in almost all the nations, particularly in the developing and underdeveloped nations. People blamed each other as well as their social, political and economic structures and their systems. They dealt with these changes haphazardly, on a one to one basis. In this way, industrialization started disintegrating under its own weight. Everywhere people got sick of too much consumerism and materialism. Some of them even desired to return to pre-industrial culture. By 1970s and 1980s, signs of crisis in industrial societies appeared.
Information technology revolution – Before people could cope with too many changes in too short a time, the world has moved in for yet another major revolution of Information technology somewhere around 1970. It has again changed the power structure, values, work-culture and socio-economic-political atmosphere of the whole world.
Demands of Twenty first century India
Abundance of natural resources for development – Modern India has all the resources, a nation needs for development – men money and material, most important amongst the three being human resource. Its total labour-force is about half a million.
It is estimated that by 2020, India will have the largest and youngest labour force in the world. Its average age will be less than 30 years. There is no dearth of talent, intelligence, quality or knowledge in any given area. There is tremendous amount of skilled and unskilled manpower, all kinds of raw materials, a good legal system, a huge market and potential to export virtually everything, provided the cost of its inputs are kept at international levels. India is the 11th largest economy in the world and is 4th largest purchasing power parity.
It is the world’s youngest country and land of entrepreneurship with largest number of self employed. About 52% of Indians are self-employed, about 55% in rural communities and 41% in urban areas. Many of these (about 20%, according to the international labor organization) are at the bottom of pyramid.
During recent global financial and economic turmoil, India has shown that it has talent for creativity in the face of adversity. It has the capacity to emerge without much difficulty from the crisis. Bringing together India’s creativity in entrepreneurship and youthful dynamism could lead to sustained inclusive growth and overcome the recent economic slowdown.
Not to reject out-rightly family occupation – Modern youth should not out-rightly reject the option of following traditional professions. Rather, it should be encouraged. The qualities and knowledge inherited due to family background could always be honed further in various training institutions by making youth aware of recent technological developments.
Even today, when there is full freedom to an individual to choose a job of one’s own liking, many youth prefer to follow their family occupations. And they are doing very well. In 21st century, the trend of following family occupations is increasing continuously in many sectors, like the Film world, legal profession, business world.
In a changing world, nothing can be more disabling than its isolation of past. Nothing is more needed than the constant interpretation of what was seen then in terms of what is seen now. Today must be a constant challenge to the opinions, systems and practices of yester times. Therefore people should not retain a system or outlook, which in the light of modern times can be replaced by a better form and which could be more effective and beneficial to the people. At the same time, society must not sacrifice an ancient form or system to an unreasoning passion for change.
The 21st century is passing through an exceptional time of human history. The process of change started since 1970. The world began leaving behind the industrial era and has ushered into a super-symbolic electronic era based on extra-intelligent networks. Now ‘Power’ to exercise control ‘men,, money and material’ and to have control over one’s own destiny and destinies of others is based on knowledge, which is easily available on net to all educated persons on any subject. Land, labour, raw material and capital – all these conventional forms of production are increasingly becoming less important.
Through sound system of education and training people are required to be prepared to cope up with the recent changes and knowledge about the proper use of modern technologies, combining it with the traditional system of training, which had led the society to have more production, economic efficiency and specialization in various areas of activities.
It is high time for vocational education. The process of training on different skills according to attitude and aptitude needs to be started with Class XI in school, when the minds of students is in most formative, creative and energetic stage. It will help people to get proper wage employment without much difficulty. Nature has equipped every individual with some skill so that he/she can earn enough to fulfil their basic needs and learn to live their life within means. Vocational training can hone the inherent that skill and make the person aware of all possible options in that particular area. Vocational education and training provides practical skills needed for employment.
In ever increasing competitive world of employment, it is difficult for people to get proper employment. There is a great need for skilled persons across all sectors and job roles. Hence through vocational education and training, which offers a wide range of job opportunities, people should continue to enhance their skills and experience.
If India sincerely wants to tackle the problem of unemployment, its government can take into consideration the suggestion of Narayan Murthy: “If we want to give jobs to 400-500 million illiterates and 200-250 million semi-ill-literates, we have to go in for low-tech manufacturing that does not require high levels of education. … This is how China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea did it”
i”Corruption, embezzlement, fraud, these are all characteristics which exist everywhere. It is regrettably the way human nature functions, whether we like it or not. What successful economies do is to keep it to a minimum.” Alan Greenspan
“Peace and progress can only happen through reconciliation and reform. Reform cannot happen out of anger or hatred. We need a calm and clear mind, a compassionate approach, along with the whole-hearted participation of the parties concern.”
Sri Sri Ravi Shanker
Common man in India is still waiting hopefully for good governance. With the changes of political parties coming into power with majority and forming governments at state and centre, people’s disregard for coalition government, advancement in technology, it has become easier for the ruling authority to provide good governance to the country. But instead of giving relief to the common man, different national and regional parties are fighting over distribution of powers between national and provincial governments. They are busy in ‘propaganda, publicity and populism’. Political parties now use publicity campaigns to connect themselves with people. They misuse public funds on “publicity driven” campaigns, through print media, social media, television, radio, advertisements etc.
What does good governance mean?
In modern times, of all acts of civilized society, perhaps, governance is one of the most difficult tasks, as it deals with issues – political, economic or social, that directly affect public life of living human beings, who are full of psychological and sociological complexes and prone to unpredictable behavior. Good governance is the foundation stone to build a forward- looking society.
Tasks of the government earlier and now
Earlier in the nineteenth Century the main tasks of an administration were universally the maintenance of law and order and revenue collection. But in the post war period in general, development consciousness and development efforts, emerged in the new nations of Asia, Africa, Latin America and parts of Europe, which required a government of integrity, equipped with administrative ability and practical sagacity for development. The emphasis in administration has now shifted to the welfare plans, national reconstruction and development.
Tasks of a Government in a ‘Welfare State’
French Revolution, Bolshevik Revolution, Industrial Revolution and Contemporary developments had a great impact in widening the scope of State activities. Poverty and misery, which were earlier accepted as the lot of masses, are no longer regarded as inevitable. The ultimate aim of governance is to help common men live a peaceful, safe and secure life. Today, this simple and powerful truth is too often forgotten. Common-men themselves have started demanding, with persisting insistence, better standard of living, better housing, better education and better medical facilities. The masses now wish themselves to be benefited as much as possible, from the resources of their nation. The desire of public to go forward quickly and to establish a new economic order, in which common people could have better deal, gave rise to the concept of `Welfare State’ and Developmental Administration, the former being the objective and the later the machinery to achieve these objectives.
In a welfare state the government assumes and aims at improving the quality of life of its masses and the responsibility of its citizens from `womb to tomb’. It tries to bring about `social, political and economic justice’. The main aim of initiating and nurturing this concept is to bring about betterment to the lots of weaker section of society by building up a rapidly expanding and technologically progressive economy. It aims to uplift the marginalized sections of society. Provision of basic necessities to all irrespective of their caste or creed, the voluntary abdication of riches and power – that these riches brings and establishment of a productive, vigorous and creative political and social life are the aims of a national government.
Goals of the government
In short its objective is a massive attack on five major evils of society – want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness. The welfare concept of state has no utility in itself unless it is translated into action. The instrument deployed for achieving welfare goals – national reconstruction and development – is that of the development of administration through the institution of civil service, which puts all its energies at bringing about socio-economic and political development of the nation as a whole. An efficient administration can successfully comprehend what is attainable, what is practical and what can help the agencies in the community to formulate plans and policies, by which the community can seek to assure welfare of all its members.
Maintenance of law and order, most important
Maintenance of law and order all over the country is still very important. Then only, good governance could become a reality and desired objectives for the sustainable development of the nation could be achieved. Those engaged in the task of governance could yield maximum results with minimum labor and resources within time and cost parameters and provide convenience to public at large.
In the post war period in general, development consciousness and development efforts, emerged in the new nations of Asia, Africa, Latin America and parts of Europe, required a civil service of integrity, equipped with administrative ability and practical sagacity for development.
Following are the requirements needed for those engaged in development administration –
- Mental framework – Their mental framework should never be conservative. It should have a scientific outlook and should be progressive, innovative, reformist and even revolutionary in mental attitudes and approaches.
- Knowledge – They should have knowledge of science, technology and social sciences.
- Skills – it requires conceptual skills (ability for innovative problem – analysis), planning skills, technical skills, managerial skills and human skills.
- Vision – A development administration requires the vision of a statesman and not that of either narrow-minded politicians or a rule-minded bureaucrat.
- Structures – Good administration requires less hierarchical and more team – like structures such as Commissions, Boards, and Corporations etc.
- Behavior – The behavioral pattern should consist of (a) action and achievement orientation (b) responsiveness (c) responsibility (d) all round smooth relations inside with juniors and seniors and outside with clientele and the public (e) commitment to development ideologies and goals.
Besides, there should be –
- A working partnership between politicians, bureaucrats and the people.
- A sense of service, a spirit of dedication, a feeling of involvement and a will to sacrifice for the public welfare.
- A pragmatic application of the basic democratic principles. The goverment should provide the required leadership to the lower levels of administration.
- Constant field inspection by leaders and senior officials – (a) to provide the government with the ability to be in constant contact with the people; and (b) to make the people conscious that the government is alive to their problem;
- Smooth relationship between elected representatives of the people, generalist administrators and experts specialists.
- Training from time to time to understand the success already achieved in the field of development administration and the efforts to be initiated in future.
Correct diagnosis is necessary for curing a disease. If diagnosis is not correct, it would be difficult to treat the disease properly. Similarly if a nation is not able to assess correctly its weaknesses, which are putting hurdles on the way of its development and tackles it properly, it would become difficult for it to achieve its targets within time and cost parameters.
India has everything, a nation needs for its development – like tremendous amount of skilled and unskilled manpower, all kinds of raw materials in abundance, a good legal system, a huge market and potential to export virtually everything, provided cost of its inputs are kept at international levels. Still success is far away and still much more is required to be done to achieve its desired goals. Everything depends on how those in the realm of authority perceive and handle them.
In India, there are many factors, which have made good governance difficult. As a developing nation, it is reeling between many internal contradictions like between prosperity-poverty, between plenty of resource endowments-scarcity of their management, between its culture of peace and tolerance-its tendency of sliding towards violence, intolerance and discrimination. Corruption and pursuance of sectional interests over national interests putting hurdles on its way to development.
Somehow, by the late sixties, a spirit of frustration and despair with `development administration’ and with `development’ in general had set in. For one thing, it became evident that externally induced modernization had failed to eradicate the basic problems of under-developed, it purported to solve. Whilst some significant increase in GNP had indeed taken place, poverty, disease and hunger had either worsened or remained unaltered. The same could be said of the growing gap between the rich and the poor nations or between different social strata within a nation. By seventies, the decaying trends had become noticeable in all the nations of developing world including India. Events like the major industrial countries and a crisis of liberal democracy in the seventies and the early eighties have dampened most traces of early optimism.
Due to arbitrariness of few powerful groups or persons, lawlessness is prevalent all over the country. There is a sense of frustration, distrust, venom and agitation/violence amongst masses, which threatens to shake the whole system and its structures. General public has become so inured that any amount of harassment, violence, assaults on human dignity and human rights, bloodshed, caste-wars, carnage, riots, corruption, scams or scandals hardly fazes him anymore. One feels secure, until not affected personally, but how long?
The greatest damage to the nation has been done by intellectuals belonging to the following main constituents of national elites of the country – political executive, legislators, businessmen, organized workers, surplus farmers, bureaucrats and media. In recent past, some unpleasant developments have taken place and are continuously happening in the character, role and inter-relationship of these groups.
In such an atmosphere, it is not easy for upright persons in echelons of power responsible for the good governance of the country to give free and frank opinion to their political masters. For their own security and career prospects, they have to play safe.
One of the main reasons behind it is that there is difference of opinion amongst decision making authorities about the issues to be tackled on priority basis and its possible solutions. Like “Four Blind Men and the Elephant”, different people and groups in power echelons or leaders of political parties perceive and project disparate parts of nation’s issues differently. Usually they ignore harsh realities/facts and see only those aspects of a problem what pleases them ignoring the root cause of the problems or bothering about the psyche of the common men. Damage is usually done by vested interests of various pressure groups, which usually form opinions on half cooked knowledge or incomplete data. They are interested in short term gains.
It is easier for the authorities to play on emotions of the populace rather than to make efforts address real issues. To divert mob attention from real issues, most of the politicians put emphasis on abstract ones based on the emotions of the people, like “Equity”, “Secularism”, “Social Justice”, “ reservation” etc., which gives at-least some hope to the people. But the end result of all this is that instead of bringing prosperity, it has incited people to pit emotional venom against each other, bred in them intolerance, inflexibility, narrowness, unadulterated materialism or/and feeling of otherness/estrangement. The result is persistent backwardness and endemic instability.
According to Ferrel Heady (Ferrel Heady, Public Administration, A comparative perspective), the main hindrances on the way of effective development are:
- All developing nations have inherited many things from their past. Their colonial heritage has meant a carry-over of the colonial bureaucratic traditions like elitism, authoritarianism, aloofness, red-tapism and paternalistic tendencies;
- There is a deficiency in skilled manpower necessary for development program. It is caused by inadequacies and deficiencies in the educational system, training schemes and brain drain. There is lack of achievement orientation.
- The emphasis of civil servants is usually not on program goals, but on personal expediency, status-orientation on superficial grounds. Reason for this is the persistence of traditional value system. Results of this tendency are `institutionalized’ and `socially sanctioned’ large-scale corruption and `over-staffing’ in lower bureaucracy.
- Discrepancy between form and reality. There is wide gulf between the administrative form and reality due to a superficial change to modernizing values and substantial continuation of the traditional ideas. As a result, we find superfluous and excessive legislation or rules (which are normally violated), false delegations and decentralizations, eye-washing reports and actions with continuing backwardness.
- Bureaucratic Autonomy – Due to various factors like colonial tradition monopoly and prestige of expertise for development available in bureaucracy, monopoly of coercive power, the tiredness, inadequacies and instability of political leadership and the near absence or weakness of groups exercising countervailing force over bureaucracy, have all made it more self-serving than development oriented.
According to Valson (E.H. Valsan, Development Bureaucracy, A Tentative Model) The higher-level development bureaucracy suffers from four constraints:
- disagreements with political bosses;
- the relatively better economic and social status of civil servants;
- Supremacy of seniority and patronage than qualifications in promotions; and
- Unwillingness of bureaucrats to accept new ideas and technology for fear of loss of power and positions.
Middle level is constrained by: –
- conflict between young and old minds in civil service;
- a high level of corruption;
- low commitment to development; and
- Conflict with higher level development bureaucracy and local politicians.
The lower level has to face:
- insufficient qualifications;
- poor salary;
- loss of morale and loss of faith in development ideology due to frustrating field experience; and
- loss of initiative, crippling subservience to seniors and sacrifice to developmental objectives.
Making government capable to serve development is not an impossible thing. It requires a development of administration itself. Development of Administration means “a pattern of increasing effectiveness in the utilisation of available means to achieve prescribed goals”. (E.H. Valsan – Development Bureaucracy – A Tentative Model) Administration mainly means increasing the effectiveness of the human resource of administration termed as personnel or civil service. For an effective development administration, the role of entire personnel system should be efficient. But relatively speaking, the role of the higher civil service or the managerial class of service is always more important, because in development administration, it can generate and apply with vision, values, ideas, plans and programmes necessary for the development of the nation as a whole. Mr. Bata K. Dey has rightly said, “By and large, for development administration, the bureaucrats of major interest are those, who occupy managerial roles, who are in some directive capacity in either central agencies or in the field, who are concerned with the policy and plans formulation, programme implementation and evaluation”. The directing services are obviously the higher generalist, specialist and managerial services.
An appropriate designing and sincere shaping of the administrative set-up for making it an effective instrument for the required purpose can be done by:
- Renovating the Administrative structure; and
- Re-patterning the behaviour of those in power corridor. Behavioural changes in bureaucratic patterns at all levels are obviously more important.
These dimensions can be achieved either through reforms (structural) or through proper education and training. Apart from renovating the bureaucracy, the development of nation demands awareness and a sense of responsibility amongst masses as well. Political leaders need to find out honestly the real issues posing challenges before the government rather than wasting their efforts on peripheral/abstract issues for their short terms gains. Everybody together needs to make sincere efforts to address basic problems.
Until and unless basic issues are analyzed and tackled sincerely and honestly taking the total scenario in view, it will be difficult for India to achieve the sustainable development of the nation as a whole.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 59,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 22 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
“Woman has various dimensions to her personality – that of a daughter, sister, wife, a mother, a grand-mother – each one adds to the happiness in life.”
‘When I was born, A Woman was there to hold me…… My Mother; As I grew up as a child, a woman was there to care & play with me…..My Sister; I went to school, a woman was there to help me learn….. My teacher; I needed compatibility, company and love, a woman was there….. My wife; I became tough, a woman will be there to melt me… My daughter; When I will die, a woman will be there to absorb me…. Motherland. If you are a man, value every woman…If you are a woman. Feel proud to be one. (Quoted from Facebook)
Introduction – On the basis of day-today observations it can be said empowerment of women without enlightenment, their disoriented psyche and ruthless competition with men have created a situation, where in a modern society gender bias gets reversed. There are diverse views on the issue – whether it is good for the society or not. Munshi Premchand, a famous Hindi novelist commented that when a man acquires the qualities of woman, he becomes a ‘Devta’ (just like God). On the contrary if a woman apes man, she can very easily destroy the peace of a family.
Overlooks her familial responsibilities – Some people say that in her hurry to win the race and further her career, a modern woman prefers to think, act or behave like men and be away from home as long as possible. She feels more comfortable outside her home, and. She craves for the freedom, liberty and carefree life-style -till now men were enjoying – so much that many a times, she overlooks her social/familial responsibilities. And to compensate her absence at home, her male counterpart is taking up the responsibilities of household chores, in addition to earning and financially supporting the families.
Role reversal – There has been a role reversal within the family. Mama has become a tiger and Papa a lamb. Yester year’s hero ‘He Man’, the protector and provider as head of a family, today, willingly performs the role of ‘diaper-changing’ Dad. And yesterday’s loving and caring ‘lady of the house’ scares all family members. She can make or mar the peace of the whole family within no time – it depends on her mood.
Why women lagged behind men? – Many times the confidence gap in females prevents them from facing the challenges, for which men do not hesitate. That is one of the reason that they lag behind males in job-market.
Developing strong and smooth relationship – Man as a husband and woman as a wife are the two strong pillars of family. Developing smooth relationship between them depends, when –
- There is constructive communication between the two,
- They have mutual respect for and patience to listen each-other’s views attentively, emphatically and actively without any bias or preconceived notions,
- There is mutual support and encouragement to fulfil their dreams,
- The role is based on aptitude of each one with independent decision-making
- Understanding for each other’s likes and dislikes is there.
- They agree or disagree after having constructive dialogue.
- Relationship between them is reciprocal based on the feeling of ‘give and take’.
- Relationship based on thinking about hypothetical situations creates complications.
Women superior to men – Dr. Konner, a professor in anthropology at Emory University, says in his book, “Women After All” that “Women are, in every way that matters, superior to men and moreover, that this superiority is finally becoming evident in our societies.” In making this argument, he ranges from evolutionary biology, through ethology, neurobiology, embryology, anthropology and history, with digressions into economics and politics.” …. “They live longer, have lower mortality at all ages, are more resistant to most categories of disease and are less likely to suffer from brain disorders that lead to disruptive and even destructive behavior. And of course most fundamentally they are capable of producing new life from their own bodies, a stressful, and costly burden in biological terms, to which men literally add only the tiniest biological contribution – and one that in the not-too-distant future could probably be done without.” In addition, women’s superiority in judgement, their trustworthiness, reliability, fairness working and playing well with others relative freedom from distracting sexual impulses and lower levels of prejudice, bigotry and violence make them biologically superior. (The wall street journal, March 28-29, 2015)
If so, then where is the problem? – Actually the problem lies in the silence of women. They keep on tolerating all kinds of atrocities without uttering a word mainly to save the ‘family honour’. As Dr. Konner tells, nature has itself empowered the women. Through introspection, they have to realize it. No outsider can make them empowered.
Already broken glass ceilings – Modern woman has already broken all glass-ceilings, moved forward and joined ‘man’ in nation-building activities. She works shoulder-to-shoulder with man. She has proved her worth and is second to none in any sphere of work, be it industry, politics, social works and social reforms, managers, civil services, armed forces etc. which are far away from her traditional role of a home-maker.
Women’s issues of earlier times – Earlier in twentieth century, main issues of women were of physical strain, constant psychological pressures to conform to socially induced images of femininity – to be a good wife, perfect mother, efficient home-maker. Their concerns revolved around issues like dowry, domestic violence, rape, equal opportunities and equal pay etc.
Immediately after independence, in 1950′s, free young India embodied a liberal and inclusive vision of India. People understood and interpreted liberally the problems of caste, gender, community, rural-urban areas, meaning of social-economic-legal justice and attempted to resolve the issues rationally.
1950′s and 60′s was the time, when society was in general conservative, attitude hardly rebellion against social norms, talks being all about sacrifice. 1970′s and 80′s was the period of transition, when though people were still family and society-oriented, rebellion attitude started. Those were the years of social and political turmoil. Women gradually achieved success in various fields. Gender bias started vanishing.
Now, women have acquired more education, economic and social power on their own without craving for any concession unlike other so-called weaker sections of society like SCs, STs or OBCs. A new wave swept across the woman’s world – many young women joined the workforce becoming students, teachers, administrators or activists in different social movements. Modernity, technological advancements, info-tech revolution have changed the role of women, her equations with others, her perspective and ambitions. Economic independence has made them stronger, confident and more vociferous.
However, along with it , since 1990′s, rebellion attitude started in gender relationships and norms have undergone a sea-change because of changed socio-economic atmosphere and a change in expectations. It has ironically increased conflicts. Now is the time to maintain balance between femininity and ambitions of women for better future. came dominant. Family and society were considered major obstacles on the way to progress. In matter of employment, it is not so difficult for women to ` get jobs as it was earlier. Women were placed more or less on equal footing with men. Now many liberated females focus their attention on teaching males a lesson, prove their worth/superiority in those areas as well, which were earlier regarded as man’s domain and be ahead of them everywhere.
Movement of ‘Women-lib’ – As movement of women’s lib along with the ideas like “I will do what I want”, “I do not care for anybody” is gaining momentum, the workload on men is increasing – in rearing up infants and toddlers and doing other household chores. A drastic transition is taking place in the roles of both males and females within family. Man now shoulders more domestic responsibilities than his counterpart. Also his say in family matters is diminishing. Usually voice of the lady of the house prevails, men finds himself helpless.
“Who wears the pants in the family”? – Now a days, women plays a major role within the family, assumed almost all the rights to take all major decisions and to dictate her own terms. She does whatever she wants to do and enjoys life in her own way. There is no denial to the fact that full freedom should be given to women to make her own decisions and to lead her life the way she wants. But it should be done in a decent and civilized manner by exercising some amount of self-control and self-discipline, so that her actions does not adversely affect the feelings or living of other family-members, especially her in-laws.
Too much attention on ‘Self’ – For a liberated modern young women nothing, but ‘self’ matters in life. She pays more attention to grab as much attention, power and money as she can within the family, further their career. In many cases, she desires to set herself free from all familial bondages. Some women prefer to settle down in foreign lands, far away from their native places to enjoy more freedom. They do not like to have any kind of social pressure and desires to lead their life, the way they want, get total control over activities of their spouses and enforce on everybody else in the family their own dictates/rules.
Sheen of the institution, called ‘family’, gone – Such an attitude has taken away sheen from the centuries old social institution known as ‘family’. Till now, ‘family’ has been giving refuge toddlers under the loving care of mother and emotional support to all – young as well as old members of the family. The toddlers are now sent to nursery, pre-school, children to schools and hobby-classes. Older generation has to take shelter in old-age homes. It has developed insecurity in minds of children, adolescents and old people.
Keeping balance in femininity and ambitions – Modern way of thinking, technological advancements, info-tech revolution has changed the role of women. Along with it changed her perspective, ambitions and equations with others. Economic independence has made them stronger, more confident and more vocal. Now they are aware and well-informed about their needs, problems and solutions. But even for a modern woman, both family and career are equally important in life. At every stage of life, she has to face many challenges. To face them courageously, she has to maintain a balance between femininity and her ambitions. Balancing career with familial responsibilities is a tough job, a very crucial one in modern woman’s life.
She needs to set priorities rationally after analyzing what is more important ‘right now’. She has to make many compromises. Most of women have made compromise on the home front.
“Men from Mars, women from Venus?” – Thinking, working style, personal qualifications and abilities and sense of responsibility differ from person to person. Seeing the attitude and aptitude of various individuals, the theory of division of labour gains importance. Assignment of responsibility does not necessarily depend on one’s ‘gender’. It is unfair to generalize attributes of men-women on gender ground. Still it is difficult to ignore gender gap, that nature has created in their physique, mindset, style of working and attitudes.
It is difficult for a woman, how-so-ever hard she tries to bring to an end those inherent dissimilarities bestowed by nature itself. Mostly men are by nature more rational/sensible, more focused, faster in taking decisions or actions, less reactive and considerate. They have more physical strength, energy and authority. It is difficult for a woman ignore the charm of his physical strength and his ability to provide her and her family security – as a husband, father or son. As far as women are concerned, they are more loving, more caring and more social and maintain harmonious relationship with people around them. They have understanding and capacity to think practically. They are more attractive. However, sometimes the confidence gap in females tend them to look up to their male counter-parts to boost up their morale.
Roles of men and women in family are complementary, not competitive – Healthy relationship between husband and wife makes the world more colourful, comfortable and give each other purpose of life. It gives them incentive to work hard, move forward and make everybody happy within the family. But when they work on impulses and emotions, life becomes difficult for the whole family, as it is practically impossible for an impulsive mind to think rationally.
“Michelle Obama”, a classic example of the positive role
Michelle, (America’s first African-American First Lady) has been the more professionally successful of the two Obamas, studying in Harvard Law School, working as a lawyer, as an associate dean at the University of Chicago and eventually as a highly paid executive at the university hospital. As her husband’s career took off, she became a steading force behind her husband. Instead of becoming an intensely political first lady, she championed mostly non-political causes. When she makes the case of healthier school lunches, she sounds like a parent, not a politician. Obama seems to have made a point of keeping family routine intact despite the pressures if life in the White House. She has instructed her staff to avoid events after 5 p.m. so that she could have dinner with her daughters, just as she did with her own parents on South Euclid Avenue. (Quoted from The Wall Street Journal, 8.4.2015, P. A 11)
Within a family, neither husband nor wife should try to impose one’s superiority over other. Both should accept life as it comes, discipline their mind-sets to meet together the challenges in life. Both husband and wife, the main pillars of the family life, are supposed to supplement each others weaknesses and become a stronger unit to give required support to other dependent members of the family. Harmonious relationship between man and woman makes life interesting, enjoyable and worthwhile for themselves as well as for everybody else in the family and society.
Seeing the strengths and weaknesses of both the sexes, it can be said that roles of men and women within a family and society are complimentary and not competitive. A women should not try to ape, act or behave like a man. There is much more grace in femininity.
Mahabharata and Ramayana are the two great epics of India. ‘Srimad Bhagwat Geeta’ is a part of Mahabharata – the 25th to 42nd chapters of Bhishma Parva of Mahabharata. In the entire Bhagwat Geeta, there are seven hundred stanzas and 18 chapters. The aim of Lord Krishna’s preaching was to pull out Arjuna from his dejection and despondency. In short, Krishna explains to Arjuna the principles of Reincarnation followed by Immorality. Immorality can be obtained by Karma. Stress is on Detachment and Equanimity. For achieving detachment or renunciation, Knowledge and intellect play an important role.
A Summary Of Bhagvat Gita
Justice Shanker Dayal Khare (Retd), Allahabad, 28.10.1975
We seek happiness. We desire that happiness we sometimes feel may last for ever. Do we succeed? Do we get peace of mind?
Gita throws light on these subjects. We may find its philosophy interesting and useful. There is no harm in giving exercise to our minds in the same manner as we give yogic exercises to our bodies.
Philosophy is simple: – ‘Rely on (your own) Laws and Traditions. Keep on doing deeds as you have been doing them. Do your deeds without hesitation and with complete devotion towards God, and achieve what is generally achieved by such deeds.
Detachment is the doorway to self-realization and to have control over restless mind. If you want peace of mind try not to feel elated with the feeling that you are the doer of the deeds. Dedicate the results of all your deeds to God. Then you should not have any attachment towards the results of your deeds.
In that manner you should reach beyond the scope of the three qualities – (saintly, worldly lethargic).
Have complete faith in the Creator and He will help you in establishing such faith in Himself.
I shall feel happy if some people, like me, find this summary useful.
After both the parties had drawn themselves up in battle array, Arjun, accompanied by Lord Krishna, went to the battle field to see those who have come to oppose the Pandavas (party with just cause) and to support Kaurvas (party with an unjust cause). For Arjun it was most disheartening to see that even his own kith and kin, and very near relations were supporting the unjust cause and opposing the just cause. Was it proper for him to fight all those people, who had come to oppose him? Arjun, in retrospect, said, “NO”. He observed that in such circumstances it was better to be killed than be the killer. The situation being very confusing Arjun asked for the advice of Lord Krishna.
PROCESS OF REASONING
Arjun was advised to put up a fight, because –
- Being a member of the fighting community it was his duty to fight for the right cause. In such a fight death secured Heaven and survival the pleasures of this world.
- It was foolish to think of destroying others in the process. Soul is indestructible. None of the five elements (fire, air, water, earth or sky) is capable of destroying it. Body is, no doubt, destructible. This body, however, does not retain its original form or shape even during one life time. It keeps on changing from childhood to young age and from young age to old age. Death merely changes the form of the body.
- People regard you invincible. You shall fall in their estimates in case you refuse to fight. They shall call you a coward. That shall be worse than death.
- Why worry about the result of the fight? How can the result of any deed be controlled? It is always the best to do a deed and leave the result of the deed to God. That is a well recognized method (of doing deeds without feeling attached to them). It is par excellent. The practice of this method shall lead one to detachment and to the attainment of Salvation. Such deeds bear no fruits, piety or sin
Arjun asked: – “Can a person firmly established in this method of doing deeds be spotted out?”
Lord Krishna replied: – “Yes! Such a person is always fully satisfied with his own soul. Pleasure nor pain, good luck nor bad luck, can ever perturb him. He withdraws his senses from all objects of pleasure and is without any feeling of attachment, fear and anger. Control over mind and practice lead to such a state. Such person devotes himself fully towards God.”
PROCESS OF DEEDS
Arjun asked again: – “When acquisition of wisdom is supreme why should one do deeds, the results of some of which might be dreadful?”
Lord Krishna replied: – The universe and the deeds were created at one and the same time. Everything has to be achieved through deeds. One’s quality determines the nature of one’s deeds. One’s existence even for a moment, is not possible without doing deeds.
One should do only the natural and the prescribed deeds, that should keep him free from the feeling of attachment and envy.
Arjun thereupon asked: – When people do deeds perforce (according their quality) why should those deeds saddle them with sins?”
Lord Krishna replied: – Attachment and envy, born of worldly quality, lead people to partake in sin. Attachment has its abode in senses, mind and intellect. Attachment, with the help of all these three, eclipses wisdom. Senses are strong, mind is stronger and the intellect is strongest of the three. Soul is even more powerful than intellect.
Concentrating on soul, taking the help of one’s intellect and controlling one’s mind and senses, one can destroy ATTACHMENT, which is the supreme enemy.
“I had told about this method (of doing deeds without any feeling of attachment towards them) to Sun when the Universe started. Sun passed on that knowledge to some of his descendants. However for a very long time that method had been forgotten. The same method is repeats to you, my devotee.”
Arjun asked how Lord Krishna could be there at the time the universe started. The reply of Lord Krishna was: –
“God and soul have always existed. God, however, revealed himself only in each era to give relief to the pious minded and destroy the evil-minded. The apparent birth and deeds of God Almighty are most unusual.
Four classifications have been made for the doers of all sorts of deeds. The scriptures (Vedas) contain a description of different kinds of deeds. The attainment of True Knowledge is the ultimate aim of all such deeds. True knowledge can be attained only by devotion service and honest questioning. Those who have already acquired true knowledge must guide others. True knowledge is like a huge ball of fire. It destroys the feeling of attachment and burns out all sins, which are merely the results of attachment. The soul which has acquired True Knowledge gets absolute peace and qualifies for God realization.
After being free from the feeling of attachment and envy, one should remain content with whatever comes in stride. Happiness or unhappiness, or attainment or nonattainmentof his objects should not stir him in the least.Ultimately he is bound to get absolute peace.
OF DOING DEEDS WITHOUT ATTACHMENT
Asked Arjun: – Which of the two is better – the Process of Reasoning or the Process of Deeds?”
The reply was: – Both are equally good and lead to the same result. However the Process of Deeds may be said to be the better of the two. True Knowledge can also be acquired by means of Deeds done without any feeling of attachment. When a person has full control over his mind and body, when his soul has become pure and when he is totally bereft of ego and remains unattached while doing deeds, he can not be bound down to the fruits of his deeds and can never commit any sin. He attains peace.
The doer of deeds without any feeling of attachment keeps on doing deeds for the purification of his soul, but all the time his senses, mind, body and intellect remain free from attachment.
One must consider everybody alike and remain moderate inhabit and behavior. He must remain firm in his belief and strive hard to attain True Knowledge.
The attainment of salvation leads to unending peace and happiness. The quest for worldly pleasures is futile. Worldly pleasures are innumerable, perishable and in themselves sourses of unhappiness. Only those persons can attain peace who are free from the feeling of attachment and envy and who have control over their senses, mind, body and intellect.
UPLIFTING OF SOUL
Lord Krishna said: – A person who does deeds without any feeling of attachment is both a Renouncer and a Doer of Deeds. A person, who has control over his senses, mind, body and intellect has no real interest in preserving or amassing wealth. His continuous effort is only to uplift the Soul.
For purification of Soul practice has to be done in a proper manner. Everything (eating, sleeping. Rest) should be done in moderation. One’s state of mind should be that of a lamp kept at a place where there is no breeze. One must always have faith in his belief and should never feel bored. He is bound to discern the existence of the Supreme Being in all the objects.”
Arjun observed: – “It is not easy to control one’s mind. To attain mastery in such practice must, therefore, be very very difficult”.
The reply was: – “Yes! That is so. But by constant practice one may master it.”
Asked Arjuna: – “That being a long and drawn out process, will not a person engaged in such practice get lost and annihilated in the same manner as a cloud, which disintegrates into nothing?”
Lord Krishna replied: – “No. Each stage reached by constant practice, remains secure. One starts from that stage in the next birth.”
“The acquisition of no other knowledge can be compared to the attainment of Divine Knowledge. It is something grand. One should know what God is.
Every person has two components – the body and the soul. The body is made up of eight elements (earth, water, air, sky, fire, mind, intellect and ego). The other component, which gives life to the system is different.
God is the Creator and the Destroyer of the entire universe. God is present in all the objects. Even the feelings, which beget the three qualities (Saintly, worldly and lethargic) are created by God. A grand illusion is the result of the interplay of these qualities. No one can escape that illusion unless he worships God continuously. One, whose wisdom is eclipsed by illusion, does not worship God.
Four kinds of people worship God. These are of: –
- People in quest of worldly objects,
- People anxious to avert unhappy events,
- People desirous of knowing God, and
- People whose every deed is dedicated to God.
Out of them the fourth class is the best.
People desirous of getting rid of the pangs of rebirth and death must depend only on God.Their faith in Him must be firm.Such a person is not likely to forget God even at the time of his death.
COMMUNION WITH GOD
“A person, who can manage to remember God even at the time of his death, attain salvation. What one thinks during the last moments of his life, determines his status after death. A person, who can restrain his senses from drifting towards the objects of pleasure, who stations his mind firmly in his heart, and his life force in his forehead, who remains firmly established in such practice, thinks of God only and, at the time of his death pronounce His name (OM) is bound to attain Salvation.
The doer of deeds with feeling of attachment towards them can go upto heaven only. He returns to earth after the effect of his pious deeds is over. But one who attains Salvation is not born again. The stage of salvation can be reached only by continuous practice and devotion.
What is time? One day of Supreme Being is equivalent to one thousand eras. Similarly one night of the Supreme Being is also equal to one thousand eras. The Universe was created when the day of the Supreme Being started. It shall get annihilated when the night of Supreme Being starts. The process shall keep on repeating. The Supreme Being alone is undestructable.
There are two clear-cut paths – one leading to God and other leading to ancestors. A doer of deeds, without any feeling of attachment, takes the first path and does not come back to earth. A doer of deeds with a feeling of attachment takes to the second path and comes back to the earth.
A person, who fully knows all this, does not get attached to the results of his deeds. He continuously exercises his mind for the attainment of God. The attainment of this True Knowledge is far Superior to the knowledge of the Sacred Scripts and the doing of penance and charity.”
SUPREME FAITH… MOST SACRED
“The Supreme faith is the king of all other faiths. It is most sacred, very pure, very nice, consistent with everybody’s code of conduct, easy to follow, good for all times and capable of yielding quick results.
The entire universe is full of the Supreme Being in the same manner as ice is full of water. However, neither the Supreme Being is stationed in worldly objects nor are the worldly objects stationed in the Supreme Being.
The Supreme Being is the creator of all worldly objects. It holds them and feeds them. But the Supreme Being is not Stationed in them. To affirm that all the objects are stationed in the Supreme Being is tantamount to affirming that air is stationed in the sky.
The grand illusion, which is the creation of the inter-ply of the three qualities (saintly, worldly and lethargic), coupled with the Grace of God create all worldly objects.
Foolish people, relying on vain hopes, indulging in vain deeds, and attaining vain knowledge, acquire the quality of the demons. They feel attracted by those qualities and adopt them. But saintly people, being of saintly quality, do not do so. On the other hand they worship God with full faith and devotion – either with the feeling of oneness with God, or with a variety of other feelins, such as of master and servant or of the lover and the beloved.
The doer of deeds with a feeling of attachment towards the deeds worships god of his choice and attains his object soon. He can even reach heaven. Ultimately he must return to earth. One worshipping god with full faith attains Salvation. God helps him in establishing his faith in Him.
Faith and continuous devotion turn one into perfect saint. Even a worst sinner may hope to become a saint.”
“God is the creator of all and, therefore, no one can know about the origin of God. It was as a result of a resolve of God that the seven Rishis, the four Sankads and the fourteen Manus, all who control this world, were created. Even the feelings such as wisdom, forgiveness, happiness, power of control over senses and contentment have been created by God.
It is only with the help of one’s own soul stationed in his own heart that he may realize God. God is the beginning, the middle and the end of all. One may realize God by looking at things that are remarkable, full of glory and full of power. All such objects have been created by a fragment of God’s glory. The grand illusion created by him holds the entire universe.
Thus one may reaize the glory of God by thinking of Varun amongst the sons of Aditya, of Sun amongst astrologers, of Shanker amongst the eleven Rudras, of fire amongst the eight Vasus, of sea amongst water, of king amongst men and so on.
The act of continuously repeating the name of God is the king of all the deeds.
Asked Arjun: – Is it possible that I may see you in your true form with all your power, grace and Glory?”
The reply was: – “Yes. But not with the mortal eyes. You can see Me with the divine eyes bestowed by Me.”
The Form then revealed to Arjun had many faces and many eyes. It consisted of a variety of strange forms, all dressed in divine apparels, fully decorated and armed with all sorts of weapons. The entire form looked strange and Limitless. All over it was divine perfume. The brilliance of one thousand suns put together could hardly equal its brilliance. All parts of the universe could be seen in that Form. The Supreme Being, the Rishis and the divine serpants were also in that Form. One could neither see nor perceive its beginning, its middle and its end. Arjun described it thus: –
“I cannot see its beginning, its middle or its end. Eyes are like Sun and Moon. Mouths are like burning fires. It contains the Earth, the Heaven, the intervening sky and all the directions. Everybody is getting afraid after seeing this Limitless Form. It has many facets, is very bright and touches the sky. All that can be seen around is annihilation. All the known warriors are seen entering its fierce mouths and getting perished therein. Who are you?” asked Arjun.
The reply was: – “I am Time (the destroyer) and am here to annihilate this world. All these warriors are bound to be killed. Be the means, attain victory and rule your kingdom.”
Arjun told Lord Krishna that like others he too had lost his bearings and was not finding peace and solace. He requested him to show his Chaturbhuj (Human with four hands) Form.
Lord Krishna revealed to him his Chaturbhuj Form also and told him that none had seen it before and none of two forms could be seen by Penance, Charity, practice or knowledge of scriptures.
Arjun asked: – “What is better … worship of the abstract or the worship of God after ascribing him a Form?”
The reply was: – “The first is more advanced form of meditation andtherefore, more difficult. People, who themselves have forms, find it easier to worship God after ascribing to Him a Form. Otherwise both the methods are correct.
There is yet another method which is simpler and easier. Have perfect faith in God, devote yourself to God and dedicate all your deeds to God. Very soon you will be relieved from this turmoil of the sea of death.
Try to have perfect devotion with the aid of Mind and intellect. Mind should be applied towards devotion by continuous practice. If that process is difficult try to do all your deeds for the sake of God only. If you find that process also difficult try to feel no attachment towards the results of the deeds. That, by itself, will result in the attainment of peace.
Do not think ill of others. Have love for others without regard of personal gain. There should be no ego. Happiness and unhappiness should be considered alike. Try to forgive even your enemy. Be content. Have control over senses, mind and body.Have absolute faith in God and fully devote your mind and intellect to Him.
Do not stir commotion in others. Do not permit others to stir any commotion in you. Be free from ambition and grief. Do not take sides. Complete the work for which you are destined.
Avoid feeling exceedingly happy about anything. Avoid feeling envious. Have no desire. Never repent. Leave the fruits… good or bad … of all your deeds to God.
Remain steady whether you be among friends or amongst enemies. Regard honour or dishonor alike. Have no craving for heat or cold, happiness or unhappiness. Be free from attachment. Regard praise and abuse alike. Remain content. Have a steady mind. That should be your code of conduct.”
BODY AND SOUL…. DIFFERENCE
“So many questions crop up. What are you? Are you the body or are you the soul? Is your body part of something bigger, brighter and better? Why has it been separated from bigger body? Where in lies the salvation of soul?
What is body? What is soul? How body and soul get together? What is the cause of rebirth?
True knowledge is to know the answers of these questions. The body consists of five elements (earth, water, fire, air and sky), ego plus intellect plus the illusion created by the interplay of the three qualities (Saintly. Worldly and Lethargic), plus ten organs (skin, smell, taste, speech, ears, eyes, hands, feet, genital organs and anus), plus the feelings (desire, jealousy, happiness, unhappiness, awareness and aim), plus rest of the body. The forms may be different, but these component parts in each body are the same.
It is the Supreme Being, who puts life into the body. The Supreme Being has no beginning and no end and is beyond the scope of three qualities and the ten senses enumerated above. But He knows their working. The Supreme Being is all pervading but without any (feeling of) attachment. It is all pervading like the sky or the rays of the sun.
Life is created when the Supreme Being comes into contact with body. The part of the Supreme Being that enters body, gets attached to the body by means of the three qualities (saintly, worldly, Lethargic) to which it has become firmly attached.
The Supreme Being is beyond the scope and the influence of the aforesaid three qualities. The separate flame of life (soul) in order to be one with the Supreme Being, has to attain similar status – it has also to reach beyond the scope of three qualities. Then only the Salvation is possible.
DIVISION INTO THREE QUALITIES
“What is your aim?” True wisdom or right course of action? If that be so follow the course of saintly quality and all that it implies. It will lead you to contentment and wisdom. After death you shall attain Heaven and coming back to this earth you shall be born in good family.
In case your aim is to attain worldly objects follow the course of ‘Worldly’ quality and attain all it implies. It will create greed in you, make you work hard for the attainment of your objects. Take you through the illusion of success and ultimately leave you unhappy. After death you eill be born amongst the people of the same quality.
In case you cannot raise yourself beyond useless efforts and seek lethargic or idle pleasure, follow the course of ‘Lethargic’ quality and all that it implies. If you die in that stage, you may be born low, even as an insect or a cattle.
By making effort you can change over from one quality to another. Suppress ‘worldly’ quality and ‘Lethargic quality in yourself and you will attain ‘Saintly’ quality in abundance. Similarly if you suppress the ‘saintly” quality and the ‘Lethargic’ quality in yourself, you will get the ‘worldly quality in abundance. Suppress both the ‘saintly’ quality and the ‘worldly’ quality in yourself and much of what would be left in you would be the ‘Lethargic’ quality.
If your aim is to achieve Supreme Nectar, Supreme righteousness and the everlasting Bliss, try to be one with God. For that you have got to leave the feeling of attachment behind and go beyond the ambit of the three qualities. One need not hate or despise any of these three qualities. However, to be one with God and attain everlasting Bliss, one has just to leave them behind.
TO BE ONE WITH THE SUPREME BEING
“If you have a look at the tree of life, you will find everything tipsy tarvy. The roots are above and the branches are below. Down below, the growth is luxurious and it spreads in all directions. But there is no firmness in the branches.
The root is the Supreme Being. The branches, spreading downwards, are watered by the three qualities and their growth reaches all directions.
The main branches are of saintly people, of worldly people and of Lethargic people, Desire, attachment and ego keep the people of each branch fastened to their own branch, and its subsidiary growths. The directions of these growths is determined by the deeds of the people. Mind and senses are the feeders of these branches.
One should never forget his main root and keep on thinking what is best for him. He should prune all the unnecessary growths. For that the only weapon available is the feeling of non attachment. After having finished the pruning you shall be able to concentrate on the main root.
Soul is eternal. Body is perishable. God alone is worth knowing. Take the help of scriptures, purify yourself and make further effort. It is only then that you can attain True Knowledge. Without purifying oneself it is not possible to attain True Knowledge. Effort otherwise is useless.
After one has got away from the unrealities of life and become one with the Supreme Being, there can be no rebirth.”
NATURE …DIVINE AND DEMONLIKE
“One should always act according to Laws and Traditions, and take their guidance, otherwise nothing shall be achieved. The feelings of attachment, greed and anger are tree doors that lead to Hell. Avoid them.
The saintly nature consists of :- (1) Fearlessness, (2) Cleanliness of mind and body, (3) Devotion towards God, (4) Acquisition of true knowledge, (5) Suppression of the senses, (6) Study of scriptures, (7) Recitation of God’s name, (8) Taking pain in following one’s own code of conduct, (9) Simplicity of mind, inner self and senses, (10)Non-violence in all its forms, (11) Speaking Truth in a pleasant manner, (12) Absense of anger, (13) Non attachment, (14) Peace of mind, (15) Not speaking ill of others, (16) Kindness towards all, (17) Forgiveness, (18) Patience, (19) Lack of ego and (20) Feeling ashamed while doing something against Laws or Traditions.
The demon-like nature manifests itself in (1) the show off, (2) pride, (3) ego, (4) anger, (5) harsh words, (6) lack of knowledge and (7) falsehood.
People having the nature of demons think that there is no one on whom they can rely, that the world is without any Truth and without any Supreme Being, that the main object of life is to enjoy, and it is because men and women get together that children are born. The acquisition of wealth is their main aim and they are unmindful of the means, which may be fair or foul. They remain very attached towards the results of their deeds. They remain tied down to the ropes of vain hopes. They seek happiness but in its place they get worry and restlessness. They feel that they are strong and shall be able to subjugate their enemies. They consider themselves superior to others. They act even against Laws and traditions. They are sinful and cruel towards others. They are the cause of their own degradation and go down towards dirty Hell.
Saintly Nature leads to Salvation and demon like nature to bondage.
THREE KINDS OF FAITH
Arjun asked, “Why is it that one should act according to Laws and Traditions? Is perfect faith and devotion not quite enough? What is the quality of a person having perfect faith and devotion?
Lord Krishna replied: – Perfect faith (confidence) or devotion (sincerity) is a must for the achievement of any object…be it for this world or for the next. It is better if it is of saintly quality. The quality of a person determines also the nature of his faith and devotion. A saintly person, while doing deeds according to his own code of conduct, follows Laws and Traditions.
Food habits and deeds of persons of three different qualities are of three different kinds. A saintly person will eat person will eat saintly food, do saintly deeds, penance and charity and have saintly faith and devotion. A worldly quality will eat worldly food, do worldly deeds, penance and charity, and have worldly faith and devotion. A person of Lethargic quality will prefer food creating lethargy, do lethargic deeds, penance and charity and lethargic faith and devotion. Thus the faith and devotion of persons of each class will differ materially from the faith and devotion of other two classes. In each sphere a member of any particular class will follow the pattern of his own quality.
The Supreme Being is called by three names. When a good deed is started in His name, He is called “Om”. When one dedicates his deeds to God, he calls Him by the name “Tat”. In ultimate analysis, the name of the Supreme Being is “Sat” (Truth).
SALVATION BY RENUNCIATION
“There need not be renunciation of deeds. It is enough if renunciation is of the feeling (1) that one himself is the door of the deeds and (2) of attachment towards the results of the deeds. This latter kind of renunciation is excellent and most desirable.
Penance and Charity, being good acts, need not be given up. Such acts, if done in a saintly manner, purify the inner self. Other deeds may have defects. But they too need not be given up. It is enough if the feeling of attachment towards the results of those deeds is given up. And renounced. There after those deeds become non-deeds and yield no result – nether piety nor sin.
Even the renunciation of the feeling of attachment towards the results of the deeds is of three kinds. Similarly the deeds, the doer, the intellect, the aim and the happiness are of three kinds each.
If doing a saintly deed, there is no pride in the doer, and there is no wish for the results of the deeds. It is done without any feeling of attachment and without any anger.
The effect of these three qualities on the Society has been to divide it into four classes – the intelligentsia, the warrior class, the traders and the doers of rough work. The work of each class is different, but in itself, it is neither good nor bad. Any person, to whatever classification, he belongs, may attain salvation while doing deeds according to his own code of conduct. The method, which shall have to be adopted, is to convert deeds into non-deeds by giving up the feeling of attachment towards the results of his deeds. When that stage is reached, the deed of that person will turn into a big zero resulting for him neither in piety nor in sin.
As long as one confines himself to deeds strictly in accordance with his own code of conduct, he cannot commit any sin. However, if he tries to deeds according to the code of conduct meant for others, all that he will experience is fear. One should follow well his own code of conduct. That is the easiest method of achieving salvation.
Remain unattached and thereby convert all your deeds into non deeds, acquire pure wisdom, lead quiet and healthy life, eat light food, be the master of your mind, body and speech, give up anger, control the inner-self and devote yourself to God. Give up pride, reliance on body force, ego, desire and anger. Thus, even while doing all sorts of deeds according to your own code of conduct, you shall attain inner peace and ultimately salvation.”
Closing the sermon, Lord Krishna asked: – “Have you got rid of your false notions? You will not be able to rise above your inherent quality because of these false notions. You are of warrior class and that quality of yours will assert itself and lead you to war.
Listen to my teachings once again. Think of me alone. Have faith only in Me. Have respect for Me always. I love you, I promise that ultimately you shall attain salvation.”
Arjun replied: – “All my false notions are gone. I have become wise. I shall act as directed by you.”
Note 1 – Karma Yog leads to Yoga Budhhi (True intellect) and Yoga Budhhi to Sankhya Budhhi (Salvation). Karma Yog includes in itself – (1) Balanced mind (Samatva Budhhi), (2) Path of righteousness (Sva-dharma Buddhi), (3) Devotion (Samarpan Budhhi), work not to satisfy ones own ego or anybody else’s, (4) Detatchment (Asang Budhhi) and (5) Whatever comes, accept it (Prasaad Buddhi).
Note 2 – Gita prescribes for ‘action’/’deed’ combined with intellect. There are choices before human beings – take action with developed mind/intellect or action with weak mind, bridled with desire, based on emotion, impulse, hatred, greed and selfishness. It quite often leads to agitation/aggression and discontent. Intellect needs to be developed to make mind rational. A mind governed by intellect makes a person calm and content.
Note 3 – Dr. K. V. Swaminathan, an eminent Scientist, Engineer, Technocrat engaged in Technology transfer and above all a man well-versed in the knowledge of the Holy book of Hindus, ‘Bhagwat Gita’ has analyzed and synthesized Gita in just 37 verses. These are grouped in three parts.
A set of nine principles can be chosen, each explaining a principle to be learnt from Gita, are put in the pack of 27 stanzas selected from the 573 stanzas from Gita. These nine principles are inherent in Hindu philosophy. The foundation is laid for doing one’s duty. In each segment, the three stanzas selected come from different chapters of Gita. The principle in the first stanza of each segment is reinforced by the following two stanzas –
- Recognition of the greatness
It tells that senses are superior to the body, mind is superior to the senses and knowledge or intellect is superior to the mind. It tells : Knowledge is better than ‘abhyas’ (practice) meditation is better than knowledge and renunciation of the fruits of action is still better than meditation because peace immediately follows.
The first part consists of 7 stanzas, which he called ‘Sapta Sloka Bhagwad Gita’. These are the first stanzas of Dhritrashtra (pronounces only one stanza in the entire Gita of 700 stanzas), Sanjaya, Arjun and Lord Krishna together with the last stanzas of Lord Krishna, Arjuna and Sanjaya.
These seven stanzas briefly states : Dritrashtra asks Sanjay to report what is happening at the battle field; Sanjay immediately starts reporting; Arjuna asks to place his chariot in the middle of the battlefield and on seeing those arrayed Arjuna is choked with emotion and refuses to fight; Lord Krishna admonishes him for his feebleness and advises him in great length about his duties; Lord then asks him whether he has understood what he had advised him. Arjuna responds that he has recovered from his delusion and is now ready to fight; ans Sanjay concludes predicting victory where Lord Krishna will be there.
The principal lessons to be learnt from Bhagwad Gita and come out of delusion are a set of nine principles as following –
- Principle of non-duality – The ‘Creator’ (God) and the ‘Creation (every living thing in this world) is an integral part of the same ‘Parmatma’/God/Creator, therefore inter-linked.
- Reincarnation – (described in stanzas – 22nd of II Chapter, 43rd of VI Chapter 19th of VII Chapter) After several births and deaths of body, one can reach a state of immortality. A person is reborn depending on his deeds of previous birth.
- Immortality/Salvation – (Stanza 9 of Chapter IV, Stanza 13 of Chapter VIII and Stanza 12 of Chapter XIII) The final objective of all humans is to reach to the state of ‘Moksha’ or immortality – getting free from the cycle of multiple rebirths and deaths. In order to reach that status, one should do one’s duties.
- Karma – (Stanza 47 of II Chapter, 11 of V chapter and 47 of XVII Chapter) This is perhaps the centre piece of Bhagwat Gita. Everyone has a role to play in ones life as per one’s karmas and destiny. One must know truth about action, inaction and wrong action. Actions should be free from desire.While performing one’s duty/action, one should develop detachment – indicating, one should not bother for fruits of Action.
- Detachment – (Stanza 62 of Chapter II, Stanza 19 of Chapter III, and Stanza 22 of Chapter V) – Association with sense object breeds attachment, attachment begets desire and desire covers knowledge by passion and generates anger. Men are mislead or indulge themselves in wrong actions when their knowledge is covered by ignorance. By conquering mind, one can do his duties. Therefore he should constantly use his mind and intellect and keep himself free from desires or expect fruits of action.
- Equanimity – (Stanza 14 of Chapter II, Stanza 22 of Chapter IV and Stanza 7 of chapter IV) Contact of senses with objects create feelings like cold and heat, pain or pleasures. These feelings are temporary in nature. By conquering the Mind One should try to be equanimous by overcoming the influence of the “pair of opposites” like heat or cold; pleasure or pain and honor or dishonor. A person who is satisfied with what naturally comes by, can remain cool to success and failure of his action. A self-controlled person can overcome and remain unaffected by all pairs of opposites – pain and pleasure; or praise ridicule.
- Knowledge – (Stanza 42 of Chapter III, Stanza 35 of of Chapter IV and Stanza 16 of Chapter V) Desire is the enemy. It covers mind with passion. Passion is seated in sense organs, mind and even intellect. Therefore, one should first contrl the senses and all sinful passions. As per Gita, senses are superior to the body, mind is superior to the senses and knowledge or intellect is superior to the mind. (Stanza 42 of Chapter III)
- Renunciation – (Stanza 21 of Chapter IV, Stanza 13 of Chapter V and Stanza 12 of Chapter XII) Normally people worship God wishing for rewards. One should not seek fruits for actions. Wise persons know truth about action, inaction and wrong action. They conquer their minds and do not care for material objects, pleasures and desires. They do their duties and do not seek fruits for their actions. Gita tells: knowledge is better than abhyas (practice), meditation is better than knowledge and renunciation of the fruits of action is still better than meditation as peace immediately follows such renunciation. (Stanza 12 of Chapter XII)
- Four stages in life – For living life fully and fruitfully and aging gracefully, everyone one has to pass through four stages of life and perform different duties in different stages of life – before marriage learning; married life raising a family as householder; delegation of authority to next generation and spending time in contemplation; and after fulfilling familial liabilities, complete detachment and renunciation of worldly pleasures. Detachment frees an individual from the fear of birth and death.
- Tolerance and acceptance/interdependence – Hindu philosophy values interdependence, acceptance and tolerance as – (a) It accepts that there are different paths leading to God and be humane; (b)It gives complete liberty to worship any god or goddess of their choice, as well as use their own methods of worship; (c)It does not impose its own codes of conduct on other faiths; (d) It is liberal enough to see atheism as a legitimate pursuit.
- Avatars – The Supreme power visits earth from time to time in some form to make human-beings free from evil and tend them follow virtue. So far, according to Hindu mythology human evolution began with Matsyavatar (fish), then to Kurma (tortoise));Varaha (wild boar); Narsimha (half animal half mam); Vamana (dwarf); Parushrama with axe (tool); Rama the Maryadapurusha; Krishna the playful and serious avatar; and ninth, Budha the enlightened one. It is now expecting 10th avatar in the form of Kalki, a genetically supreme bionic man. (Quoted from ‘Know your religion through its philosophy by Prakash Shesh, the Speaking tree, TOI, p. 20)
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