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Wisdom/Enlightenment and empowerment

 “Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power.” Lao Tzu

Introduction 

“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:

  1. Through reflection, which is the noblest;
  2. Through imitation, which is easiest and
  3. 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.

February 18, 2017 Posted by | General | Leave a comment

“Jai Jawaan, Jai Kissan’

Introduction

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)

July 1, 2016 Posted by | General | , , | Leave a comment

Culture of India and modern education system

“My culture is my identity and personality. It gives me spiritual, intellectual, emotional distinction from others and I am proud of it.”  N.F. Moonzajer       

 “Culture makes people understand each other better. And if they understand each other in their soul, it is easier to overcome economic and political barriers. But first they have to understand that their neighbor is, in the end, just like them, with the same problems, the same questions.”          Paulo Coelho 

          ” Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.”             Immanuel Kant

           ” I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is beggar, who is a thief, such wealth I have seen in the country, such high moral values, people of such caliber, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indian think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.” Lord Macaulay’s address to the British parliament on 2nd Feb. 1835.

‘Introduction

The modern education, since its inception, has influenced the Indian society and its culture in a big way. It has both of constructive and destructive effects on its culture. On one hand, it offered to Indian intelligentsia the key to the treasures of scientific and democratic thoughts of Modern ‘West’, on the other hand, it had disassociated Indian people from their culture, classical roots, knowledge and traditional way of living. Along with it, faded Indian values, philosophies and traditions.

Issues

The issues that arise here are – what ‘Culture’ is? What is the culture of India? When and why the system of education was changed? How has it been affecting the indigenous culture of India? How can Indians remain rooted to their own Culture? How can its culture be further enriched by taking advantages of the wide horizon of knowledge, modern education offers and of the technologies developed in the Western world? And how people in general could be prevented from being swayed away by the glamour and materialism of alien way of life and its culture?

Animal instincts within human being – History of evolution points out that in the beginning, animal instincts within a human were quite prominent. Thomas Hobbes has described that at that time the life of man was “nasty, brutish and short”. Degree of selfishness was at its peak. Only fittest could manage to survive in that hostile environment.

Formation of civilized society – At some point of time, people joined hands and started living together. Human beings made conscientious effort to overcome the animal instincts hidden within them. They developed empathy and the spirit to cooperate and help each other. It was through socializing and development of norms that people learnt, how to live together or how to treat others and others him. That was the beginning of culture/mannerism, which inspired human to form a cultured civil society.

Dictionary meaning of the term ‘culture’– According to dictionary, meaning of the term ‘culture’, it is –

  • an integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior of a group that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations,
  • the customary beliefs, social norms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group;
  • The characteristic features of everyday existence (a way of life}.
  • The set of attitudes, values, goals, and practices shared by people in a place or time.

Features that reflect Culture – Culture includes within itself all the following features collectively like

  • Sophisticated language as medium of expression; arts and sciences as forms of human expression;
  • Thinking process as the way, people perceive, interpret, and understand the world around them;
  • social activities;
  • Smooth interaction with others fellow-beings; and
  • Spirituality as a path to salvation of soul,

All these qualities together and way of life transmitted through generations for the welfare of people, expressed through language and actions are included in culture.

United Nation on ‘culture’ – According to United Nation, a culture is a set of values, attitudes, language and ways of life. Whenever layers of culture and civilization are overshadowed, man’s real nature with all its animal instinct is exposed. Everything works well, when people are humane and familiar with the basics of their culture.

Culture leading to refinement – For keeping humans disciplined, every society enforces its own social, ethical, or legal rules. Culture leads to betterment or refinement, whether it is an individual, society or a nation. The more one follows those norms, the more cultured one is.

In short, culture of a society includes within itself knowledge, belief and behavior as well as attitudes values, goals and practices of that society. Culture is the full range of refined human behavior patterns.  It constantly changes. Across different nations all cultures are concerned about values that are humane and universal.

                                  Culture of India

Cultural richness – India presents a fascinating picture of cultural richness, which is mainly based on Vedic literature and philosophy.  Civilization of India is one of the oldest alive civilizations of the world. Because of its tolerance and capacity of internalizing alien influences, its culture has been able to be one of the oldest, continuous and uninterrupted living culture of the world.( The other three being Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece)

Many principles and cultures developed in the past, within India as well as elsewhere in the world, had created such a wave that swept over the entire world for some time. An anti-wave, replacing such waves, emerged soon. It wiped off the previous influence. The Vedic culture and its basic tenets, however, have been proved to be an exception in this regard. It happened due to basic tenets of Vedic culture, which have always been very close to every Indian.

Vedic culture

 The word ‘Vedic’ is derived from the word ‘Vid’ meaning ‘Knowledge’ and signifies’ ‘knowledge par excellence’. The Vedic culture came into being due to intermixing of the culture of Aryan invaders, who came to India in waves, with the culture of indigenous tribal people of India during 2nd century BC to 650 AD.

The Indian culture is identified with the whole of India. To foreigners, it represents the ancient culture in its eternity. It mainly originated and flourished in northern parts of India and later on spread throughout India.

Origin of Vedic culture

The origin of the Vedic knowledge and its culture can not be traced in any single founder; neither can it be confined in one single authoritative text. Its sacred knowledge has been handed down from time immemorial, earlier by verbal transmission and later on, in written form by the ancestor to succeeding generations.

Never ending process (‘Neti’, ‘Neti’) – Vedas teach that creation and quest for knowledge is a constant process, without any beginning or an end. It is a never ending process (‘Neti’, ‘Neti’). The Sages (Rishis and Munies) were believed that even Vedas were not the end for quest for knowledge or prescribes any final absolutes.

Strength of Vedic culture

The strength of Vedic culture is proved by the facts: –

  • Despite centuries of foreign rule over 75% of Indian population remains Hindu.
  • Had it become obsolete, it would have given place to other religions and cultures.
  • It influenced almost all other religions found in India.

Basic tenets of Indian culture

The basic tenets of Indian culture, which kept its continuity intact, despite numerous foreign invasions, migrations and assimilation of various groups, are as following:

Principles of ‘Varna’ ‘Dharma’, ‘Karma’ The foundation pillars of systems of Indian culture were the principles of ‘Varna, karma and Dharma’. Principles of Varna, Dharma and Karma together provided the whole society a quality of life and contributed to its growth.

‘Principle of Varna’ – Doctrine of Varna has given the Indian Society a stable, sustainable social structure. In the past, it had assigned duties to different groups according to their natural endowments, instincts and qualities.

Principle of ‘Karma’ – Knowledge is supposed to be necessary for giving Karma”, its due meaning, direction and value. Ignorance is considered to be leading to futile efforts destroying direction. Doctrine of Karma teaches people to accept their surroundings, as they are and extract as much happiness as possible. Principles of Karma make the inequalities, prevalent a society, tolerable.

Principle of Dharma – Principle of Dharma defines the duties and inspires people to do their jobs well, as all worldly honor and spiritual happiness were vested there. It assures the people that proper performance of one’s work, whether high or humble, whether of a priest, warrior, Shudra or yogi are equally important for the society and were, therefore, right, respectable and worth pursuing.

Sanatan Dharma (Concept of Eternal Values)- Sanatan Dharma (Concept of Eternal Values) nurtured the basic instincts of human beings over nature, after a deep study of natural instincts, inherent attributes and natural behavioral pattern and taking care of the basic physical, mental and spiritual needs of the human beings at different stages of life.

Spirit of Tolerance

Amongst all factors, which contributed to enrich and continuity of India’s culture has been the spirit of tolerance of Indian people.

  • Concedes validity to all the religions -Tolerance is most evident in the field of religion. Hinduism concedes validity to all the religions and does not lay down strictures against any faith or reject any religion or its god as false. That is why, all the twelve major religions of the world are present and flourishing in India without much hindrance. Hindu faith in an all pervading omnipresent god, multiplicity of god and goddesses as representing some portion of the infinite aspect of the Supreme Being, inspires it to accommodate people of all faiths.
  • No conversions – India has adopted the path of assimilation. Its main religion Hinduism does not believe in conversion or imposing its beliefs, practices and customs on others. It has neither repulsed any trend vehemently, nor allowed others to sweep its own established culture off the roots.
  • Truth, Ahimsa, peace and non-aggression – Tolerance is not confined to religion alone. It is seen everywhere in the Indian way of life. Firm belief in the principles, ‘Live and let live’, ‘to each according to his needs and from each according to his capacity’, ‘simple living and high thinking’ and faith in Truth, Ahimsa, peace and non-aggression have always been the part of Indian ethos.
  • Whole world is one family – ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, the whole world is one family Indians is the hallmark of Indian culture. In the past, people endure injustice and unfairness until they are pushed right to the wall. John Fischer mentions, Even during Bengal famine, an extreme situation – when necessity knows no laws, people did not take law in their own hands, nor was there any violence. No grocery stall, no rice warehouse, none of the wealthy clubs or restaurants was ever threatened by a hungry mob… They just died with docility, which to most Americans is the most shocking thing about India.’(John Fischer, India’s insoluble Hunger – 1947)

Positive effect of tolerance

 Many times in the past, Indians had accepted oppression and exploitation without much protest, while such situations would have led to bloody revolutions elsewhere in the world.

Negative effects of tolerance

Even today, the people are tolerating the corruption, scams, scandals and criminal activities developed in political sphere, as well as inefficiency seeped deeply in administration without much protest. Administration is one such area, where tolerance is harmful, as it not only hinders the development, but also pushes the nation backwards.

Effect of these principles on society of ancient India

All these principles together had organized orderly performance of various functions needed to provide a quality of life to its people in the past. It gave them a distinct character, defined roles and organized inter-relationship of various sections of society. It prepared an atmosphere for co-existence of different sections of the society – be it ruler or ruled, be it rich or poor. It served to give Indian society coherence, stability and continuity; and held together different castes and communities having diverse languages and practices for generations – thus making unity in diversity a reality.

Composite Culture of India

The composite culture of India has absorbed the good points of other cultures enriching it further. More than anywhere else in the world, it holds a multitude of thoughts, processes them and practices them. There has been co-existence of varied belief, pattern and thought due to inter-mixing and cultural mingling.

The composite culture of India grew out of: –

  • Growth, influence and refinement of values of different religions generated within land of India.
  • Creative interaction between values of indigenous religions and religions of diverse migrating or foreign communities like Islam, Christianity, Zoroastrianism etc.

All the sects present in India, whether foreign or indigenous, have been influenced greatly by Vedic culture – its thinking, practices and systems. For a few centuries after the downfall of Hindu’s rule (around 5th-6th centuries), first under the rule of Turks or Muslim, the culture of Islam and their style of living, practices, traditions influenced the Indian society and afterwards Christianity under British rule flourished and dominated the scene allover in India.

Fusion of different cultures

The wonderful process of assimilation and fusion of different cultures has been a continuous process of the India civilization. It contributed to the cultural richness of India. Such flexibility is not seen in the West. When Christianity broke away from Judaism, it departed totally from the common cultural traditions. Therefore, it is very difficult for the Western world to understand and appreciate Indian culture fully.

  • Composite culture of ancient times – Before 6th century, a cultural synthesis took place. In ancient India, the assimilation of various racial, immigrants, locals, tribal, professionals or other groups under its mainstream was done through caste system by assigning each new group a separate caste identity. Assimilation of different social groups was done without imposing on them Hindu value system or annihilating the originality, internal order, customs or language of new groups joining the mainstream. India provided the atmosphere and opportunity the culture of each identity, coming into its fold, to flourish in its own way. A major cultural synthesis took place during 6th and 10th century between Vedic Hindu culture, Buddhism and Dravidian culture between Vedic Hindu culture, Buddhism and Dravidian culture.
  • Composite culture during medieval period – After the downfall of Hindu’s rule, under Turks, Muslim and British rule, Islam and Christianity received substantial state patronage for sufficiently long period. Their cultures flourished and dominated the scene allover in India. It led to another major cultural synthesis. After the 10th century, the thinking of Arabs, Turks and Afghan, mainly guided by reason, influenced Indian thought. As a result, Sufi and Bhakti movements emerged into the scene. These two sects taught the people to love and respect all human beings irrespective of caste or creed. These two sects taught the people to love and respect all human beings irrespective of caste or creed. These also brought changes in the nature of mutual understanding, communal amity and accommodation.
  • Modern times – Once again, during the period of 18th to 20th century, major cultural synthesis took place with modernization and industrialization ushered in by the British.

Survived vicissitudes of time

Culture of India has survived the vicissitudes of time, saved itself by erosion from within and assault from outside only because of the adaptability.

Maintained continuity

The composite culture of India managed to continue despite numerous castes and communities living here for time immemorial; despite numerous foreign invasions, migrations and assimilation of new groups; and despite cultures of Hindus, Islam and Christians receiving substantial state patronage for sufficiently long period at different points of time.

Every time Vedic culture re-emerged 

There were periods during its long period of evolution, when its main Vedic culture had weakened and shaken the confidence of people in Vedic literature and its philosophies, especially under foreign rules. However, every time, it re-emerged and whenever it re-emerged; it did not destroy the culture of other sects, but assimilated their good points within itself.

Major force retain the cultural identity

The composite culture of India acted as a major force for the failure of Islam, Christianity and other religions to make headway in India even after mass conversion. Through it, Hindus could retain their cultural identity, while living under an alien political order, whether it was Turks, Mughal, Portuguese or British.

Vedic literature not only religious books

‘Vedic literature’ is a gold mine of Indian philosophy. The ancient Vedic philosophy and literature are found in Indian scriptures known as ‘Vedas’, ‘Smritis’ ‘Sutras’, and ‘Upanishad’. These scriptures are not only revered scriptures of Hinduism or religious books, but hold in itself a vast reservoir of knowledge and experiences of great Indian scholars called Rishies, who had devoted their life in search of knowledge. It is a perfect guide to the art of living.

  • “Ocean of knowledge in a jar”- According to Basham, these Epics contains “an ocean of knowledge in a jar.” (Wonder, That Was India). Vedic literature is a vast reservoir of knowledge. It presents a magnificent example of scientific division and orderly arrangement of rules, in a few words, in different branches of human knowledge, covering almost all the aspects of life, be it phonetics, arts, literature, medicine, polity, metrics, law, philosophy, astrology or astronomy.
  • Perfect guide to art of livingVedic literature is a perfect guide to art of living. It speaks of everything- on staying healthy, social values, improving concentration and tenets of behavior, which are relevant till today. Its rituals are techniques for leading a harmonious life.
  • Self-restraint and self-discipline – In the past, culture of India had encouraged Indians to adopt a self-restraint and self-disciplined life-style; be in tune with the forces of nature; live harmoniously and peacefully with their fellow beings; practice non-violence in thought, action and speech and not cause pain to anyone including oneself. It advised people to lead a self-disciplined life, to do one’s own work sincerely, not to interfere in other’s work and escape from apathy or indifference. It taught people to be self-observant and try to mend one’s own mannerism rather than telling others behave.
  • Stress on contentment – It has advised to be contented, to be self sufficient and to be satisfied with what one can earn honestly, but not to be greedy, jealous or too competitive; not to hoard or accumulate beyond one’s need; not to steal, beg, borrow or snatch belongings of others with or without their knowledge. According to Hindu philosophy, nature has provided enough for everybody’s need, but not enough for even one person’s greed.
  • No destructive activity – It has advised people not to waste energy or over-indulge oneself in wasteful and destructive activity. People should be honest and willing to help others; observe austerity, simplicity and discipline in life; maintain cleanliness of diet, body and mind. In short, it advised people always to try to rise above the animal instincts hidden inside human-beings.
  • Work is worship – Principle of Karma teaches people that Work is Worship. In modern world, when people are so conscious about ‘blue colored or white colored jobs’ and asserts their rights, pay scant attention to their duties, the faith in ‘Principle of Karma’ can inspires common man to do their duties sincerely. It teaches that any kind of work is worth pursuing and respectable. Any work done in its true spirit could never be derogatory or a waste. They should try for action par excellence. A work should not be valued so much for its external reward, as for the intrinsic satisfaction towards realization of Swadharma.
  • No Revenge or putting blame on others – No human has any control over taking birth in a family of one’s choice. Very few are born with silver spoon in their mouth. Everybody else has to make efforts for a better future. Principle of Karma also offers a convincing explanation for inequality, affluence, poverty and happiness. It prevents people from being revengeful or putting blame on others for their own failures, miseries. Everybody has to face the inexorable consequences of one’s doings. It teaches people that they are not the slaves of circumstances/environment, over which they do not have any control. Principle of Karma teaches common man to keep on making efforts for better future. None of their effort goes waste.
  • Hopes for better tomorrow – Nobody knows ‘when one is going to hook a fish’. Principle of Karma gives hope to people not to get disappointed by their present unfavorable circumstances. One should constantly make efforts to improve situation by performing one’s own duties well. By channelizing efforts, energies and capacities in proper direction and working hard, one can specialize in his specific area of work, strengthen character, improve economic status and contribute in social/national reconstruction.

Education restricted to those, who can keep its sanctity

In ancient India, education was confined to a very small section of Indian society. It was not so much that common people were debarred or denied access to education because of discrimination, as it was because of the method of education. In absence of any written material, priestly schools in India had devised a most remarkable and effective system of transferring knowledge to succeeding generations in form of hymns. They restricted it only to those, who possessed brilliant feats of memory and capability to keep its extreme sanctity. Opening verse of Chapter (IV) says, “I gave this philosophy of (life and action called) Yoga to men of responsibility, so that, through this philosophy, they will become strong to serve and protect the people, to nourish the people.”

Rituals guidelines to lead a harmonious, disciplined and healthy life

The rituals were the techniques to help and guide the masses of all sects of India to lead a harmonious, disciplined and healthy life. Some rules were prescribed to be observed in day to day life to stay healthy, others to live in a hygienically clean atmosphere, live a self-restraint and self- disciplined life and to develop human relationship including the give-and-take of socialization especially during a variety of festivities and life-celebrating events.

Essence of the knowledge and experiences of Intelligentsia – The knowledge and experiences of Intelligentsia of ancient India (Yogis, sages and Munies) benefitted the whole community from top to bottom. The sages of ancient India prescribed certain rules, customs and rituals to be observed by the common men. Through these rituals, masses benefitted by the deep thinking and experiences of sages of many generations; and the vast treasures of Indian philosophy, rational. These rituals gave a sense of direction to the masses. Masses were disciplined through infinite variety of rituals, prayers, practices, customs and meditation envisaged/prescribed by the learned sages.

Wrong practices developed deformities – Most of rituals, customs and traditions have lost their sanctity and developed many distortions because people started following them blindly and in a wrong way. People are losing the spirit of these rituals and festivals. It is necessary to understand correctly what for they actually meant, or what the messages behind it are. For example –

  • Festival of Holi in India was traditionally played by making colors from the flowers and herbs. Gulal was popular for its soothing qualities. But over the years, natural colors have been replaced by synthetic colors. Synthetic colors spoil the fun. They can cause serious skin problems, eye irritation and from skin allergies can lead to cancer.
  • The purpose of Holi festival is to inspire people to meet and greet each other with love and affection, forgetting old rivalries and enmity. Now many a times, people get beserk. They think holi is meant for fun. In the name of fun (mauj and masti), they play Holi in rowdy manner, misbehave and take advantage thinking it a good time to settle old scores. They use everything available to give others a really tough time, – pucca paints, dyes, grease, mud, throw each other in a pit of mud, throw balloons filled with water/coloured water and drink bhaang and get intoxicated and sometimes violent.
  • The ill-effect of this change is that people dread to move out their houses almost a week before Holi. There are many fatal/serious accidents due to drunken driving, dangerous driving, over-speeding, triple riding, driving without helmets or seat-belts is common sight during Holi

Wrong practices, quite often develops a widespread misunderstanding and give birth to social evils, caste-conflicts, feudal oppressions and mass poverty.

Impact of Vedic philosophy and literature on Indian society

The impact of Vedic philosophy and literature on Indian society was as following –

  • No confusion in matter of work – All the functions needed for the maintenance and growth of the society were divided amongst different groups. Each group was assigned a distinct function to perform. There was no confusion or frustration on matter of work, because every body had his traditional occupation.
  • Dignity and honor for everyone –One of the unique features was that it provided work and employment to all. It avoided rivalry or bitterness for pelf, power or position amongst different sections of society. Each and every group served the community. All the groups lived with dignity and honor with the feeling that they, too, were contributing something to the society.
  • Clear vision of responsibilities – Clear-cut definition of rights and duties for each group, based on its traditional occupation, developed clear vision of its responsibilities.
  • Checks and balances – Orderly division of labor based on certain principles and its combination with the principle of inter dependence developed its own systems of checks and balances over arbitrary use of its authority.
  • Decentralization of authority – There was an automatic decentralization of authority.
  • Inculcated discipline in masses – Discipline was inculcated amongst ignorant masses through infinite variety of rituals, prayers, practices, customs and meditation envisaged/prescribed by the learned sages.

Contribution of some saints

Tulsi, a Follower of Bhakti (Devotion) MargTulsidas took Rama out of Temples (Mandirs) or massive structures, freed Him from the clutches of Brahmins and placed Him in the hearts of common man. Importance of Ramayana, according to Sri Satya Sai Baba, is that principles of Ramayana teach peace, love humanity and unity. It teaches value of detachment from objective pursuits and realization the presence of Divine in every being. Renunciation leads to joy and attainment brings worries. The characters of Ramayana represents – Dasaratha is the representative of physical senses, three queens queens of three qualities (gunas) – serenity (satwa), passion (Rajas), sloth (tamas). The four goals of life are to get over ‘Kaam, Kroth, Lobh, Moh’. Rama represents righteousness in deed, word and thought, ever pure and totally free from blemish. Lakshmana symbolizes intellect, sugriva wisdom (viveka), Baali despair, Hanuman embodiment of courage. The three demon chiefs are personification of Passion (Rajasic), slothness (taamasic) and serenity (satwic). Sita is awareness of Universal Absolute (Brahma-jnana)

Kabir (15th century Sufi ‘Nirgun’ Sant) and Sufi philosophers – Kabir as well as other Sufi philosophers did not believe in idol worship and criticized numbo-jumbo of rituals, communal and fanatic attitude. All their life they fought against orthodoxy, the ritualistic interpretation of religion and advocated spiritual uplift of a person. But after their death, most of them were caged in the same circle of rituals.

Vivekanand (a 19th century scholar saint) – To Vivekanand, Dharma meant fulfilling duties, not performing mere rituals. Religions are the ways to reach the divine and not to confront any other faith. He did not believe in conversion and advised people to stick to their own religion. In his famous 1893 Chicago speech at World Parliament of Religions said, “I am proud of my Hinduism, which is tolerant and inclusive.” However, some fanatics did great disservice when they use this message not to spread Hinduism’s message of tolerance, but to express a supremacist mentality.

                                           II

                         Modern education

During British rule in India, in 1834, new modern education system was launched in India, which was based on colonized British Grammar School type education. The traditional Indian system of education had withered away for the lack of official support.

Modern education in India (Before Independence) – In 1835, Lord Macauley successfully laid the foundation of modern education in India. In 1844 through a Declaration knowledge of English was made compulsory for Government employment. It made English medium schools very popular.

The universities at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras were started in 1837 and higher education spread rapidly thereafter. Since the British were not much interested in scientific and technical education, only three Medical Colleges one each at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras was established by 1857. There was only one good engineering college at Roorkee.

Purpose of introducing Modern Education system

Lord Macaulay’s address to the British parliament on 2nd Feb. 1835. “I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is beggar, who is a thief, such wealth I have seen in the country, such high moral values, people of such caliber, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indian think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”

Finding it too costly and perhaps practically impossible to import enough Englishmen to man the large and increasing number of subordinate or lower posts in administration, British rulers planned of educating Indians in such a way that they “should through western education get Anglicized in terms of both cultural and intellectual attainments”. Lord Macauley clearly said that, “we must at present do our best to form a class, who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indians in blood and color, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.”

Served Double purpose

 Introduction of modern education had served a double purpose for the British rulers- they got the credit for the amelioration of the Indian society. But at the same time, through it, they devised a unique method of distribution of power, kept balance of power and prolonged their rule in India by keeping the natives busy in their in-fights.

Welcomed by all

The atmosphere was completely ready, when Lord Macauley to lay the foundation of modern education in India by 1835. Missionaries as well as National leaders, intellectuals and Reformers not only welcomed but exerted pressure on the company to encourage and promote western education in India.

For Missionaries

For Missionaries, modern education was a good recipe to brainwash Indians and to attract many Indians especially belonging to lower strata towards Christianity. Modern education and preaching of religious minded Westerners like William Webberforce or Charles Grant etc. had made their job easy. Formal education in educational institutions under British government led to mass conversion into Christianity. It had succeeded in leaving a deep influence in the minds of both educated and uneducated.

  • Brainwashing educated Indians – In educational institutions under British government or in Missionary schools, an ideological attack was launched purposely on Indian value systems. Indian social structure and its values and systems were described as “discriminatory,” “iniquitous,” “exploitative,” “oppressive” “barbarous,” “uncivilized” and “highly stratified”. Indian social-structure, based on caste system, was held responsible for all evil social practices, feudalistic attitude, backward thinking, belief in dogmas and superstitions sustained by a unique set of rituals, and whimsical concept of purity and pollution.

Formal education in missionary or government aided schools and colleges developed a complex in the minds of educated Indians about primitiveness of Indian society and its value system. Many educated Indians were influenced greatly by the alien culture. Some of them got converted into Christianity.

  • Education and employment an attraction for poor – Missionaries had attracted the attention of poor ignorant masses by preaching and by providing for submerged sections of Indian society opportunities to get free modern education in missionary schools and permanent jobs.  Liberal grants were given by the British government to missionaries and their schools for this purpose. It helped missionaries to lure the downtrodden/people, belonging to lower strata, towards Christianity.

Hopes, national leaders and Reformists had from ‘Modern Education’

Humanitarians, intellectuals, leaders and leaders and social reformers welcomed rationality and other good features of Modern English education. They hoped that modern education would –

  • Enlighten Indians by giving them the key to open the treasures of scientific discoveries and democratic, liberal and humanitarian thoughts of the modern ‘West’ through Western literature and philosophy.
  • Make people aware of the real issues hampering the progress of Indian society, remedy the social, political and economic ills of the country and improve the life of common men by enabling them to conquer ignorance, hunger, poverty and disease.
  • Spread of the Principles of Democracy across the nation to bring to an end imperialism and tyranny of British rule.

Impact of the efforts of National leaders

Modern education did produce much-needed manpower for lower levels of administration, as desired by the rulers. But it also generated groups of visionary national leaders, intellectuals and reformers during second half of the nineteenth century and beginning of twentieth century like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Dadabhai Naoroji, Ferozeshah Mehta, Gokhale, Gandhi, Jinnah, Ambedkar, Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Moti Lal Nehru, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Neta Subhash Chandra Bose, Patel etc.

Aim, Economic and social uplift – The thrust of Indian leaders and intelligentsia was purely an economic and social. They put emphasis on education and science. They took upon themselves the responsibility to build a modern, open, plural, culturally rich, prosperous and powerful India out of a fragmented, poverty stricken, superstitious, weak, indifferent, backward and inward looking society.

Constructive Influence of modern education on Indian society

Eighteenth century onwards, modern education led to social awakening, gave impetus to social progress and brought many reforms. It had influenced substantially the working style and thinking of missionaries, reformers, educationists and many Indians, especially those belonging to elite and intellectual sections of society. Some of the positive effects of modern education on Indian society were as follows –

  • Opened up the doors of the knowledge – Modern education opened up the doors of the knowledge flourished in Europe after Renaissance movement of Middle Ages. It had widened the mental horizons of Indian intelligentsia.
  • Highlighted evil practices – Modern education had highlighted the weaknesses and real issues, which had developed in the system like rigidity and harshness of social customs and practices prevalent at that time for the weaker sections of the society i.e. women and lower strata of society.
  • Attracted attention of social reformers – Modern education had attracted the attention of social reformers towards social evils caused by ignorance, superstitions or irrationality like mumbo-jumbo of rituals and superstitions created by some selfish people to entangle the ignorant and poor masses, un-touch-ability and inhuman treatment to women, Sati, Polygamy, child marriage etc. etc. prevalent at that time.
  • Realization of the worth of liberty and freedom – Indians realised the worth of liberty and freedom. They got exposure to the philosophies of thinkers like Locke, Mill, Roussseau, Voltaire, Spencer and Burke etc. They came to know about the reasons and impact of English, French, American revolutions. It equipped national leaders with the intellectual tools, with which they fought the oppressive British Raj.

The destructive effects of modern education on Indian society

Some of the adverse effects of modern education system on Indian society were –

  • Disintegration of Indian society – Divisive policies of British rulers divided the whole of Indian society into many uncompromising groups. The primary aim of British rulers was to ‘divide and rule’ and keep the natives busy in their in-fights.  They adopted racial discrimination and many repressive policies in order to disintegrate Indian society. On surface, everything appeared fine, but in reality it compartmentalized the Indian society into uncompromising groups by taking the path of discrimination. National leaders, Reformers and a section of intelligentsia could feel the damage, British racial discrimination and their repressive policies were doing.
  • Rise to unhealthy competition – Modernization of the pattern of education and occupations (making knowledge of English as basic qualification for white collared jobs especially in government) along with industrialization increased role of formal education and training for furthering future prospects of people.

In near absence of industrial, commercial or social service activity, people had to depend entirely on modern education and Government jobs for earning respectfully. Stiff competition for getting enough space in modern callings divided the Indian society. Opportunities in modern education and government jobs became the bone of contention between different sections of the society. The monopoly of Brahmins in these areas cautioned the British and generated anger amongst the non-Brahmin communities and Muslims. In the Southern states, there emerged two rival groups – Brahmins and Non-Brahmins and in the North – Hindu and Muslims.

  • Biased census operation – British rulers redefined the structure of Indian society through Census operations according to their administrative convenience. Census operations divided Indian society into different political groups – Upper castes, Lower castes, Backward castes, minorities Tribals and untouchables – on basis of race, religion, caste, creed, or place. The government recognized all these groups officially. It divided Indian population into different un-bridgeable groups. It politicized caste and community, which were made tools for Indians to fight amongst them from now onwards.

The government allowed forming their own pressure groups. It gave encouragement to all of them to pursue their sectional interests or to insist for their claims in the areas of education, white collared jobs and power- structure of the country.

  • Racial discrimination giving birth to National movement – During 1858 to 1905, the British Government adopted a racist attitude under the garb of the policy of apparent association. British, philosophers and writers started propagating theories of racial superiority and thereby, justified the domination of white races over dark races of the globe. Historians like Mill, Wilson, Ward vehemently denounced the culture, character and social structure of the native people.

The discriminatory and repressive policies and practices of British rulers alarmed the national leaders. Racial discrimination in the areas of education and jobs and their repressive policies elsewhere; Economic loot; political subjugation; assertion of lordly superiority over the subject on the ground of race; assumption of a haughty exclusiveness; persistent insulting and supercilious behavior towards all Indians; exclusion of Indians from all places of honor, authority and responsibility; and denial of their capacity for self-governance united Indians against British rule. The destructive character of repressive policies of British rulers lit the fire and gave birth to national movement.

  • Masses remained illiterate – Though during second half of the nineteenth century, British government in India opened the doors of education to all sections of Indian society, irrespective of caste or creed, very few amongst the general public could avail the advantages of formal modern education. Education remained confined within a small section of societyIt was only impoverished group of Brahmin and caste Hindus in search of respectful livelihood, who opted for modern education. Educating general public was not the aim of British rulers. Relentless efforts of missionaries, with an aim to convert poor people into Christianity, could educate a very small number of people from amongst them. Reasons being:
    • Modern education was very costly and, therefore, unaffordable by the masses.
    • Masses did not see any immediate use of education. It was more important for them to work and arrange two square meals day.
    • English as a medium of instructions in education and as Official language. It alienated the masses from the educated Indians. English gradually became the language of elite section of Indian society.
  • White collared jobs- Introduction of modern education in 1835 and introduction of Wood’s dispatch of 1854, known as Magna Carta, which declared English as an official language, changed the scenario. It gave importance and popularity to ‘White collared jobs’ in organized sector. Declaration of English as Official language pushed the masses away from new employment opportunities. More a person withdraws from physical labor, more honored; civilized and qualified he/she is considered by modern society. The trend of easy and quick money started.
  • Discredited traditional occupations – Emergence of white-collared jobs based on formal education tended to make many traditional occupations obsolete, as they were considered less paying, more hazardous or time consuming. It scattered the efforts, sense of direction and manufacturing skills of millions of artisans, craftsman, weavers etc. There had been casualty of workers first, afterwards their work style, commitment, motivation and culture. They lost their creativity, sense of achievement and pride. Work culture has changed tremendously since then.
  • Unemployment increased – Very few of them could join modern occupations. Majority of people could neither enter into modern sector, nor could stick to their traditional occupations considering the menial work derogatory. In the near absence of industrial, commercial or social service activity, most of them had no option, but either to join band of agricultural labors, industrial workers and marginal labor for their survival or increase number of unemployed or under employed.
  • Traditional jobs hijacked by educated entrepreneurs – 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. Even less capital-intensive occupations like that of barber or washer-men have been hijacked 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.

Modern education and Reform movements                 

Social reforms of 19th and early 20th century – The thrust of reformers was purely social. They got alarmed at the erosion of rich ancient Culture of India. Modern education was steadily disassociating Indians from their traditional way of learning, classical roots and knowledge. They undertook the path of internal reforms. They tried to revive it through Sanskritization.

  • Formation of Social reform organizations in 19th and early 20th century – The thrust of reformers was purely social. Many organizations were formed allover India, like Brahma Samaj founded by Raja Ram Mohan Roy (1828) in Bengal or Prarthana Samaj in Maharashtra (1867). Arya Samaj (1875) was founded by Swami Dayanand in Northern India, and Rama Krishna Mission, Theosophical Society of India (1879), Dev Samaj in Lahore and Servants of India society. They suggested people to form similar organizations allover India spread awareness amongst common man.
  • Efforts to awaken the masses and interpret religion rationally – Social reformers took upon themselves the job to revive their own rich ancient culture and prevent the masses from being swayed away by the glamour and materialism of alien culture.

They organized people, held conferences and published articles to inspire and spread awareness amongst the people allover India. They interpreted religion rationally. They familiarized the masses with the greatness of Hindu Vedic culture and about Vedas as the source of all knowledge and truth. The intellectual ferment was strongest in West Bengal, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu as there was more rigidity than other parts of India in observances of various rituals and rules. Illiterate and ignorant masses followed them blindly.

Advice of social reformers to Indians

Social reformers drew attention of the public towards the real issues hampering the progress of Indian society and guided people to remain firmly rooted to Indian Culture.  

  • Advice to eradicate social evils – Social reformers told people to stop all forms of exploitation, inequality and injustice and then move forward. Emphasis was laid on education and science. They asked people to fight against all inhuman practices or treatment given to women and lower strata of society at that time. Women were victimized because of evil practices like Sati, Polygamy, child marriage etc. And practice of untouchablity, which developed into the system made millions of people from lowest strata of society to suffer because of arrogance, ego and irresponsible behavior of some persons. Such persons were responsible for creating the mumbo-jumbo of rituals and superstitions to serve their own vested interests and entangle/exploit the ignorant and poor masses.
  • Free Hinduism from all degenerate featuresSocial reformers advised people to set free Hinduism from all degenerate features without foreign intervention. They asked the submerged sections of society to fight with “Abhava” (Scarcity), “Agyan” (Ignorance), “Annyaya” (Injustice), and “Alasya” (Laziness), as these were the causes of all evils. 
  • Not the principles, but practices went wrong – Reformers believed that it was not the Hindu principles, but the practices, which went wrong. Vivekanand who founded the Rama Krishna Mission said, It is we, who are responsible for our degradation. … He said, “Each nation like each individual has a theme in this life, which is its center, the principle note, around which every other note comes to form the harmony. If any nation attempts to throw off its national vitality, the direction, which has become its own through the transmission of centuries, that nation dies.” i
  • Call to ’Return to Vedas’ – Swami Vivekanand and many other reformers asserted the superiority of Hindu Vedic culture.  They gave a call to “Return to Vedas”, as Vedas were to them source of all knowledge and truth. They advised Indians to interpret religion rationally and remain firmly rooted to their own Culture.

Familiarizing the masses of India and the Western World

Awareness about its greatness confined within a small group – For a long time, the greatness of Indian culture and its philosophy was known only in India, that too, not to the whole of India, but only to a few Sanskrit scholars. For the first time in the 8th century Sankaracharya placed it before the people. Even then, its worth was realized within the world of few scholars and saints.

Later on, during 19th and 20 centuries, Saint Jnanesvar, Vivekanand, Rama Krishna Mission), Lokmanya Tilak, Theosophical Society of India and others tried to reveal to the common man and Western world the greatness of Indian Philosophy and culture as well as the charm and graciousness of Vedic literature. They contributed in making Vedic culture popular all over India.

Inspiration not only Indians, but foreigners as well – From now onwards, this gold mine of knowledge and vast treasures of Hindu philosophy with all its rational thinking, social and religious experiences contained in Indian Scriptures and Epics have inspired not only Indians, but foreigners also, not only in the past, but at present as well. Indian philosophy and its value system gave to people, a purpose to live for and ideals to be achieved. It commanded the respect and attention of an average Indian once more. German scholars, in the early Nineteenth Century and English scholars in the late Nineteenth Century and early Twentieth Century were deeply fascinated by Hindu philosophy and its rich spiritual and traditional treasures, accumulated through centuries.

Scholars reinterpreted it for a rational mind – Intellectuals from India as well as various countries have translated it in their own languages and reinterpreted it for a rational mind with an aim to spread it throughout the world.

.                                                  After Independence

With minor changes here and there, the education system basically remained the same. Karl Marx remarked that British, had a double mission in India, one destructive, the other regenerating; the annihilation of the old Asiatic Society and laying the material foundation of Western Society in Asia.I (Dutt RP, India Today, p476) The regenerating character can be seen in the social transformation in India through modern education. British rulers made English language as a medium of learning and official language. There was modernization in economic sphere. It led to political unification of the country and laid foundations for many democratic institutions.

The reactionary and destructive character was seen in the economic and social sphere. The growth of casteism had a close connection with these developments. Its result on Indian society was –

Complex in the minds of many educated Indians about their social values –Modern education has developed a complex in the minds of many educated Indians about the primitiveness of Indian society and about efficacy of its value systems. Many educated Indians have lost faith in social customs and practices altogether. Some Indians consider Hindu philosophies and its way of life impractical, or its social practices indefensible.

Apathy towards their values and systems – Apathy towards their value systems has made a large number of intelligentsia alien in their own country. It has disassociated them from their own way of living, classical roots and traditional knowledge. With it; are fading steadily Indian value-system, philosophies and traditions. Usually a person becomes miserable, when he is cut off from his source of life – his own roots. A large number of educated Indians have lost faith in the traditional values, principles and way of life. They have lost faith not only in their fellow-beings, but also in themselves.

Wide gulf between common man and educated – Quality of education, especially in government or government-aided educational institutions has also deteriorated to a great extent. The costly nature of quality education especially in private institutions has further alienated uneducated masses from educated ones. Quality education has become a monopoly of the richer classes and city dwellers. Their youth have become quite insensitive, arrogant and does not hesitate speaking their minds bluntly.

Culture of Neo-rich – A drastic change is visible in the values, behavior and etiquette of a new educated neo- rich youth of elitist class, which has emerged especially in urban areas and Metros. Their life style and value system have been gradually replaced by the Western ones. They want to enjoy pleasures of modern life at any cost. They are more conscious of their rights.

Undisciplined behavior – Present-day youth want to enjoy life fully in any possible way without any bondage/restriction/comment on their behavior or way of life. Loosening grip of social bondage and observances has made many of them selfish, self-willed and arrogant. Some of them have become so intolerant and aggressive, that they out-rightly discard all social norms and etiquette. Their thinking and value systems are quite different from the older ones.

Failure of Present Education System – Education is supposed to develop positive thinking in learners, so that they can channelize their efforts, make their thinking-base broader and flexible, increase openness to information and enhance spirit to work hard, sincerely in a responsible manner in order to attain desired goals. Present system of education has miserably failed to inculcate in youth these qualities. They do not have a clear vision about their aims and ambitions, courage to own responsibilities, face bravely the challenges in life and a balanced approach towards one’s rights and duties, which are the basic ingredients of any cultured/matured/civil society.

Large population of Illiterates and unskilled work-force – ‘Education for all’ and ‘employment for all’ is still a dream. Lack of proper education and training systems combined with illiteracy and lack of skills amongst a large number of people has turned the visions of national development into empty dreams. Only 64.84 people are literate according to 2001 census, (Males – 75.26% and Females – 53.67%). 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. Not only the number of illiterates and unskilled is a matter of concern, but also quality and insufficient resources of education and training are the matter of great concern.  Population explosion has put a heavy pressure on available infrastructure of education and training.

All powerful Government making common man a pigmy – Being a ‘socialist’ and ‘Welfare state’, government has assumed absolute power and taken over itself the responsibility of improving the quality of life of its people from `womb to tomb’. Instead of being a facilitator, it has become the provider. Instead of teaching people ‘how to fish’, it obliges different sections of society by ‘giving a fish’. It has led to centralization of all control systems and made common man a pigmy.

Populist policies to catch vote-banks – In order to create vote banks discriminatory populist policies are being pursued in the name of ‘equality’ or ‘social justice’. More emphasis is being given in pursuing abstract and emotional issues rather than solving the real problems of people. Attempts for social changes make a virtue of narrow loyalties of caste and religion, generating sub-cultures like favoritism, lure for easy money, nepotism and, in-discipline in the society. Caste and communal conflicts are increasing. There are sectarian and regional imbalances generating social and psychological tensions.

Unhealthy competition – There is neck to neck competition for a few places in educational institutions of repute or in employment, especially in organized sector. Rivalry and bitterness for pelf, power or position is continuously increasing. Total aversion of youth from their traditional occupations and stiff competition elsewhere for employment pushed millions to poverty. It has rendered millions of people unemployed or underemployed, who are now wasting all their efforts and most energetic and creative time of their lives, while hunting for a job.

Effect of Political turmoils on Indian society – Recent political turmoils have adversely affected the whole atmosphere. A few Individuals and groups, with political, money or muscle power control the destiny of millions and have say in almost every walk of national life. They are working day and night to deny justice to common men and upright citizens. Favouritism, in-discipline, violence, corruption, lure for easy money, nepotism and chase of materialism based on ruthless competition have weakened the social fabric beyond repair. The erosion of basic moral and human values has turned the life of men, “nasty, brutish and short”.

Standard of Administration – Standard of governance has declined. Work culture in government offices whether at Centre, state or local level, has been degenerated. Under-currents of caste politics have made the task of governance difficult, making the governance difficult and ineffective. It has given birth to sectarian and regional imbalances generating social and psychological tensions. People are disgusted with the non-performance of government. The administration has become incompetent to solve the burning national issues.

Technological advancement – Scientific and technological developments has endowed human with tremendous power both to preserve and destroy. At slightest provocation, people do not hesitate to unleash destructive powers accessible to them. That is one of the reasons for increase in the incidents of violence and crimes.

Conclusion

There is no denial to the fact that Modern education has brought social awakening and awareness amongst people all over India. Recent revolutionary developments in the areas Science and technology, information technology and mass media have brought tremendous changes in the life style and working of people. Thanks to it, now any kind of information in any area of human knowledge or about any aspects of life is easily accessible, that too at the door-step of each and every individual. It has made the present generation much more informed about the developments happening anywhere in the whole world and knowledgeable than previous generations. But only gaining knowledge is not enough.

Khalil Gibran has pointed out that a little knowledge that acts is worth more than much knowledge that remains inactive. A person, whose knowledge is confined to books, is unable to use his wealth of knowledge, when the need arises. Knowledge, the object of knowledge and application of the knowledge – all the three are equally important for motivating to take a wise action.

According to Hindu philosophy, human beings possess three shakties (Powers) – knowledge, will and action. A human mind consists of right knowledge, wrong knowledge, fancy imagination (illusion), sleep, memory. It is only the right kind of knowledge, which gives essence and which is the source of spiritual light and remover of all ignorance. Knowledge brings in understanding and consciousness that vibrates with different types of learning. Right kind of knowledge, like a rock, is a solid support to human beings, which stays with them all the time. Spiritually it brings harmony and peace of mind and materially happiness, relaxation and celebration in life.

There is a difference between knowledge gained through information (intelligence) and its application to real day today life (intellect or wisdom). Intelligence leads to the world of information and knowledge. And intellect enables one to analyze, reason, judge the thinking process and distinguish between facts/realities and opinion. Intellect guides how to apply knowledge. It is lack of intellect that leads a person to vices like egoism, superiority complex etc and creates problems in people’s life and in the world. Only intellect can control human mind and lead it mind to right direction. When intellect becomes weak, negative reasoning takes over mind.

Intellect shows the path to come in touch with ones own inner truth, becoming truly aware of oneself. Self realization/self introspection changes the attitude of a person. After knowing ones strengths and weaknesses, rise above ‘I, me and myself’. It makes a person to put stress on life principles, understand better oneself and other people around without bias, make more intelligent choices and stay calm in the face of crisis and chaos.

Modern education led to ‘Intelligence’, but not to ‘intellect’ – Modern education has made people intelligent and knowledgeable, but could not develop the ‘intellect’ of people properly. Revolutionary developments in the areas Science and technology, information technology and mass media made all kind of knowledge accessible and organized knowledge, but could not guide people to organized life.

Deficiencies of modern education system – Modern education, which has been inherited from the British, has brought social awakening and awareness all over India amongst Indian people. But there are also certain deficiencies in it.  Internally, as Mahatma Gandhi had pointed out long ago, modern education based on colonized British Grammar School type education has deprived masses. English medium has put undue strain upon the nerves of the Indian students, made them crammers, imitators and unfit them for original work and thought. India’s massive human resource needs to be cultivated through sound system of education and training to get out of the rut of mediocrity.

Ignored the culture of heart – Modern education has ignored the culture of heart and hand and confined itself simply to head. It has made people aware of their rights, but unfortunately not about their duties. It has pushed modern youth away from their roots and their own culture, which advised them to adopt a self-restrained and self- disciplined life style, to learn to be contented, honest and willing to help others; to observe austerity, simplicity; to maintain cleanliness of diet, body and mind and; not to waste energy or over-indulge oneself in wasteful and destructive activity. In short, it advised people to rise above the animal instincts hidden inside human-beings.

Pushed people away from their indigenous culture – It has not taught youth of the day to have pride in their surroundings. More modern and advanced they become, the farther they are removed from their surroundings and at the end, becoming estranged from their surroundings. People basically become miserable when they are cut off from his source of life- one’s roots.

Today, people are loosing their natural character, because they are getting away from roots, from their traditional aspirations and values in preference to the western materialism. The traditional culture in its true form can still give to the people, a purpose to live for and ideals to be achieved. Modern educated intelligentsia needs to stop imitating the ‘West’ blindly.

Suggestions

Common men in India still have faith in good intentions and wisdom of their ancestors, who have contributed in developing the culture of India. Rajgopalachari has said, “If there is honesty in India today, any hospitality, any charity— any aversion to evil, any love to be good, it is due to whatever remains of the old faith and the old culture”.

Today, when Indians are getting away from their roots, it is important to keep their feet firmly on the ground and to instill right values in them. In recent past, traditional values have lost their sanctity and developed many distortions because people started following them blindly and in a wrong way. It developed a widespread misunderstanding. Apathy of people towards the value system of Indian society has generated caste-conflicts, feudal oppressions, exploitation of vulnerable sections of society and mass poverty. Only after understanding the rationale behind them, people should follow them systematically.

Traditional value system still gives to the people, a purpose to live for and ideals to be achieved. Blind following quite often leads to practice social customs and practices incorrectly or in a wrong way. Later on, with the passage of time, there develops many deformities into the system and harms the whole of the society. All the principles, rituals or customs of ancient India should not be followed blindly without understanding the logic behind it.

But there are some values and systems, which are still relevant and inspire common men to lead a disciplined life style. After evaluating its worth in the light of present circumstances, people should follow them systematically. Modern times and circumstances have changed completely especially after 1970 with information technology revolution. There were many things which the ancestors did not know like World Wars, nuclear weapons, technological advancements in the areas of media, transport, and communications or in the world of computers.

Education should guide youth to have a clear-cut vision of one’s responsibilities and a balanced approach towards one rights and duties, which is a must for any matured/civilized society. It should lead to positive thinking, which could channelize human efforts in proper direction, make vision broader, thinking flexible, increase openness to information and enhance spirit to work hard. Discipline and productivity are also necessary for a sound system of education.

Modern intelligentsia, who have some faith in traditional values and system welcome the rationality and other good features of Modern education, but wish to remain firmly rooted to Indian Culture.

Reformers and intellectuals have shown their anguish at the declining moral and ethical standards and discipline of the modern society. They try to combat negative forces like deceit, treachery, violence, crimes and degradation of values and make the society a better place to live in. There is enough goodness inside and around every human being. Only people need to channelize their ambitions, desires and energies towards right direction through sound education system.

In the recant past, it is not the principles, but the practices, which went wrong. Today, when Indians are getting away from their roots,  nothing is more needed than the constant interpretation of past experiences and present circumstances. Present should be a constant challenge to the opinions of past. A value or a system, which in the light of modern times appears more effective and beneficial, should be replaced by a better one. At the same time, it would be suicidal to sacrifice ancient value systems to an increasing passion for change.

After raising oneself from ignorance, and with a rational and open mind, a person can understand the greatness of the Indian culture and its value system. A knowledgeable and civilized person like a jeweller should spot out gems from amongst worthless pebbles from this ocean of knowledge; pick them up and leave the undesired obsolete elements developed into it with passage of time. In a changing world, nothing can be more disabling than its idolization of past.

June 28, 2016 Posted by | General, Social and political values and systems | | 1 Comment

Role of Education in 21st Century

“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

Introduction

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- It is rightly said -education is not the name of any degree or certificate that can be shown to others as a proof .. But education is the name of attitude, actions, language, behavior and personality of a person in real life.

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.

Constraints

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.

External Constraints

  • 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.

Conclusion

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 –

  1. It is necessary to understand the psychology of students and the changes happening every day in today’s world.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Educational institutions should not be used as money-minting machines.
  6. 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.

May 1, 2016 Posted by | General | | 1 Comment

Discrimination and caste system

“All confrontation is based on deception.” Paul Watson, Canadian activist

Each is unique in its own way. “In nature, no two objects are identical. Comparisons and their limiting effect scan be reversed by our acknowledging the uniqueness of each individual we meet, including ourselves.” Swami Swaroopanand

“A society that puts equality (of outcome) ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom and force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests.”  Thomas Sowell        

“The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal” Aristotle

             “Opportunities present themselves every day. You just have to be alert and ready to act.” Marc Ostrofsky, an US Entrepreneur 

 “Equality consists in the same treatment of similar persons”         Aristotle

Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at right time and for right purpose and in right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.   Aristotle

Introduction – Marc Ostrofsky, an US Entrepreneur has very correctly commented that “Opportunities present themselves every day. You just have to be alert and ready to act.” Nobody can deny opportunities to a person, who keeps his eyes, ears open and tries to make use of the opportunities present before him. Opportunities are not served in a platter to anyone by the government or the society. Both the government and the society are abstract institutions, which can not be seen or act directly. All the sections of a society or representatives of the people together form these institutions.

Discrimination – Guru Govind Singh has commented, “All human beings have the same eyes, the same ears. The same body composed of earth, air, fire and water. The names  Allah and bhekh are for the same God  : Recognize ye the whole human race as one.”

No doubt, discrimination of any kind is undesirable. But at the same time, not all difference is discrimination, it can be circumstantial. Discrimination is objectionable, when it is intentional and done with some selfish motive. There are some people in every society, who in their self-interest act inhumanly, irrationally and harm others, especially commoners – the excluded, the downtrodden and the forgotten. There is no justification for any irrational, which later on give rise to discriminatory practices.

Reality is much deeper than what is seen on the surface. It is not desirable to pass on comments based on half cooked information, half a truth, partial or incomplete knowledge, which could be harmful for the whole society. Many a times, irresponsible acts of some irrational and cynic persons create misunderstandings. National policies and plans of any nation should not be based on irrational acts of a few irrational people. Also it would not be right to blame the whole system or a society for  irresponsible acts of a few.

President Obama, while in India, has commented, “The dreams of those who do menial jobs are just as worthy as ours. In India and US the grandson of a cook can be President, A Dalit can help write the Constitution, a tea-seller can become a PM.” (President Obama, Quoted from TOI, Jan 18,2015) On the basis of the personal experiences of the two leaders of USA and India – both of whom have risen from humble backgrounds to top positions.

Caste system – One should not criticize any system or form an opinion or take a decision without analyzing rationally the whole scenario. Many misconceptions have been spread around about caste-system of India and its nature by vested interests of certain people during the last few centuries.

Ancient India did not sanctify discrimination. The present birth-based caste-discrimination, exploitation, oppression and suppression is a blot on India and is more recent than is told by vested interests. Ambedkar himself in his famous book, ‘who were Shudras’ said that in ancient times, India had widely respected Shudras rulers as well, and the oppressive scriptural verses justifying discrimination and casteism were included into the texts later. According to Bhagwat Gita, four Varnas were based on guna (attibutes) and Karma (deeds). Rishis/sages were accorded the highest status in ancient India. The two most popular epics ‘Ramayana’ and ‘Mahabharata’ were composed by Valmiki (a Shudra according to present ranking) and Ved Vyas (a backward caste).

Arvind Sharma, a Professor in McGill University says that caste rigidity and discrimination emerged in the Smriti priod (from after the birth of Jesus Christ and extending upto 1200 CE). During Medieval period, it was challenged by Bhakti movement led by many non-upper caste saints. At that time some powerful empires led by Shudra rulers  like Kakatiyas emerged. Caste discrimination became rigid again during British rule. Now education, economic reforms and urbanization can remove caste discrimination and poverty to a great extent.     For sustainable development of the nation, all Indians must oppose and fight against any kind of discrimination

Issue

Bitter criticism of the caste system – Caste system is vehemently criticized in modern world without understanding and analyzing what caste as a system is. How, when and why, the system got derailed and how to bring it back on rails.

Recently Rikke Nohrlind, co-ordinator of the International Dalit Solidarity Network said, ” Caste discrimination is a global issue, affecting hundreds of millions of people in many parts of the country” Therefore, an amendment in Equality Act 2010 has been made to outlaw Caste in UK to give legal protection to 816,633 Hindus based in the UK.  Till now, the Act prohibited race discrimination, harassment and victimization in the work-place. “Very strong views have been expressed in the Lords on this (caste) matter and we have reconsidered our position and agreed to introduce caste-related legislation. … We hope that this decision will serve as an example to other countries” Jo Swinson – Equalities Minister, U.K. (Quoted from daily Newspaper, Times of India, P.24)

Dalit pressure group criticizes ‘Caste system’ for its being highly discriminatory. The Imperial British rulers had condemned the Caste system strongly earlier also before the Independence. Now many political parties, many intellectuals Dalit activists and their leaders have joined them. They are born, educated and brought-up in an atmosphere, which is deeply influenced by rhymes and reasons of western societies.

Needs an analysis – Blaming caste system for all discriminatory practices or suggesting bringing to an end a well established and accepted system in the name of discrimination, needs to be given a second thought. For understanding the problem, answer of the following questions with an impartial, rational, sensitive and perceptive mindset is required –

  • Is it that discrimination exist only in India because its social structure is based on Caste System. Other society especially the Western free from any kind of discriminatory practices socially or politically?
  • Are really the practices and values of caste-system problematic and complicated?
  • Is it the caste-system, which is responsible for discrimination and exploitation of weaker/ unprivileged sections of society?
  • What is the position of different castes as it exists presently in ground realities?
  • Why the system is politicized?
  • What is the difference between caste as a system and casteism?

Discrimination elsewhere in the world

Discrimination to some extent exists everywhere in one form or other – be it a social, political and economic system or institution, be it a big or small institution as small as that of a family. Vulnerable individuals or weaker sections of society have always become an easy prey for discrimination. Within a family, vulnerable family members like children, old or widowed parents, poor relatives or unemployed youth become an easy prey of discrimination. And in a society, poor, illiterate and ignorant people quite often become victims of exploitation. Fear of being discriminated or exploited springs from ignorance.

Equality of all exists only in theory , but no power on earth can ever turn it into a reality.

Racism and Western World 

Racism is a much more serious problem than caste in matter of discrimination, as it is based on the color of the skin, which can not be hidden. Societies in Western World are divided sharply into four water-tight compartments. “Whites” at the top of social hierarchy, then comes Yellows (Japanese, Chinese or Philippines) followed by “Browns” (Indians, Pakistanis and people from other South-Eastern nations and at the bottom “Blacks”. The western world is witnessing a rise in white supremacist movements. Last two categories have always been humiliated. They have to struggle to get suitable jobs according to their qualifications. They are forced to work for less money, accused for snatching jobs from “whites” and having slavish mentality.

Treatment to Indian students in western nations

Every year, on an average 430,000 odd Indian students go to Western nations for further studies. In recent past, in Australia, Europe and America, Indian and Pakistani students along with Vietnamese students of middle-class background are being targeted, racially abused, insulted, ridiculed and assaulted physically now and then by Whites. They take bank loans, borrow money and pass through many difficulties to get a degree from foreign university. Life is not easy for them in any way. They have to work very hard to fund their education there.

Despite everything the exodus of students from upper castes continues because due to reverse discrimination policies, they are being treated as second rate citizens in their own country. It is an anomaly that Western society, where discrimination on racial grounds has always been a part of life (only it is being highlighted by media now), wants to reform India.

Reasons behind discrimination

Intolerance – Usually, in every society, differences in behavior, character, education, language, way of life, culture, social background create a distance between two individuals or groups. Resistance to tolerate, adapt or appreciate each other widens the distance. Some become so aggressive that they openly abuse or oppress others. In order to be one up, either they let down others or try to control their destiny by adopting discriminatory practices. And in this rat-race, stronger always wins and weaker suffers.

Grounds for discrimination – In every society and a nation there exists numerous identities based on factors like race, class, caste, religion, gender, language or region. Craving for more power – muscle, money or political – of some individuals or groups tends people to adopt discriminatory practices. Discriminatory practices work on whims and fancies/likes and dislikes of strong persons. Controlling the destiny of others satisfies their ego and serves their interests.

Caste system and British rulers

In the past, British rulers in India, while laying foundation of democratic institutions of India, started many discriminatory practices. In order to keep balance of power and counter Brahmins hold on Indian society passed some discriminatory Acts like Act of 1919 (Minto Morely Reforms)or Communal Award of 1932.Till 1947, they kept their railway compartments, waiting rooms, parks, clubs, hotels, places of other entertainment and residences segregated.

Two aspects of caste system have amazed the British rulers in the past –

  • influence of Caste system on Indian society;
  • Reluctance of its people to convert into other religions, on the ground that all religions are valid.

Dalit Activists and caste system

Dalit Activists criticize caste system vehemently and hold it responsible for keeping 750 million Hindus – dalits, tribals and other backward classes – poor, “subjugated, discriminated against and humiliated.” “Technologies for human survival …. were all developed by lower castes”, but “upper castes took away the fruits of their labour and invention.” “In the hearts of the oppressed castes, there is anger and hatred.” ‘Social-justice’ demands their emancipation by ending all kind of discrimination.

There are two options: “either complete equality to Dalit Bahujan communities or their conversion into other religions.” Such comments of Dalit Activists and political leaders arouse emotional sentiments of poor masses, generate venom in their heart and create a feeling of ‘otherness’.

According to Pr. Kancha Ilaiah, an activist, complete equality means –

  • Embracing all lower castes,
  • Eating with them,
  • Treating them as their equal, and
  • An end to the allegation that they are merit-deficient.

Inspite of all such comments, it is the lower segment of society, which is sticking strongly to its caste-identities.

India and ‘Caste’ as a ‘System’ 

Caste is a very old and indigenous system, conceptualized, developed and practiced exclusively in India. It is difficult for the western world to understand its role – past or present – in Indian society or because of its complete localization and unfamiliarity to see it in its totality.

Strong features of ‘caste-system’ – The strength of caste system has been proved by the following facts:

  • Despite centuries of foreign rule over 75% of Indian population remains Hindu and have strong feelings for caste-system.
  • Had caste system become obsolete, it would have given place to other system.
  • Caste system has influenced all other communities living in India.

Following are the strong features of ‘caste’ as a system –

  • Assimilation of different social groups without conversion– In the past, caste assimilated numerous social groups – immigrants, locals, tribal, professionals or others into its mainstream without any conversion. It assigned each incoming new group a separate caste identity and made them its integral part in due course of time.
  • Freedom to prosper according to their internal rhythm – This way, neither it disturbed its existing internal social order nor prevented new groups to join the mainstream. It did not annihilate the faith, way of living, internal order, customs, culture or language of new groups. Instead, it gave them freedom to prosper according to their internal rhythm.
  • Caste regarded as a natural institution by Hindus – Indian society regards family, extended family, Kula, Caste and religion as fundamental social institutions. An individual is a natural member of a family, which is a unit of an extended family, extended family of Kula, Kula of a tribe (Vish) – and a tribe of a Jana of Jati (Caste). Caste is second only to the family in widening a person’s social radius and in getting importance in his/her private and occupational life.
  • Equal status to all within a caste – All the members within a caste enjoy equal social status vise-a-vise other castes. Caste values, beliefs, prejudices, injunctions as well as distortions of reality become an indivisible part of a person’s psyche and conscience. They share moments of joy and sorrow.
  • Closer relations with like-minded persons – It is natural that relation between like-minded people are closer than others in any society. In India, a person’s relation with his caste-fellows is closer than with those belonging to other castes. Internalized caste norms define an individual role in the society. A person feels good and loved, when he lives up to these norms, and anxious and guilty, when he transgresses them.
  • Caste, providing social security and stability – Earlier, instead of government, elders of each caste (having sense of belonging, not a desire to exercise authority) used to take care of maintaining discipline within the caste and helped its destitute/helpless members.Caste provided to all its members social security and stability. Even as today, it does so in rural areas. Each caste still maintains its own rules, regulations, customs, and way of life and controls the conduct of its members. It encourages self-discipline, conscious, self-control, and self-direction.
  • Castes as a series of vertical parallels – The key, to understand the caste system, is not in seeing it as a framework of hierarchical layers of social order, each fitting neatly below the other, as pointed out by census operations done during imperial rule, but as a series of vertical parallels. Each caste is an independent entity, with its own hierarchy, based either on a tribal identity or an occupational identity.
  • Inter-dependence an integral part of caste system – In ancient and medieval India, all people living in a village or city were bound together by economic and social ties. All castes living in a local area, whether high or low, had a strong bond of mutual dependence, caring, sharing and supporting each other in fulfilling different kind of needs. There was hardly any room for any section of society to consider itself, as being placed in greater or lesser disadvantageous position with reference to another. Concept of forwards or backwards or feeling of exploitation of lower strata by upper castes was almost non-existent at that time. Industrialization and modernization have changed the scene.

Criticism

Some people blame Caste system for its being ‘discriminatory’ in nature. They say, it serves the interests of “haves “and enhances the agonies of “have-nots”. But it is an anomaly, that still it is only the ‘have-nots’, who cling more tightly to their caste identities today. Caste system has been criticized for –

  • Giving importance to birth -_Caste system has been alleged for giving rise to disparities in the society, because it gives importance to birth in determining social status of a person. But same is the position in Western world also, where wealth determines social status. Wealth is also acquired through birth. There also exists a sharp distinction between the Aristocratic/elite society and common man.
  • Critics say that for centuries in the past and even at present, people born in lower castes have been suppressed or oppressed by people belonging to upper castes. Upper castes are accountable and punishable for the miseries of lower caste. They should make reparations for the sins/historical wrong done by their ancestors. However their opponents argue why should the present generation of so-called upper castes be punished for the injustices done by their ancestors centuries ago? Justice ‘Social, economic and political’ never allows punishing somebody else for the crimes committed by others.
  • No access to education – It is alleged that upper castes has kept its monopoly on education to reinforce its traditional dominance and prevented lower castes from getting educated. When British rulers allowed legally admission to all irrespective of caste or creed in government schools, higher castes opposed admission of the children belonging to lower strata.

Reason for illiteracy of masses, poverty – It is only half truth that backward castes were debarred or denied access to education because of discriminatory caste system. Masses remained uneducated mainly because of their poverty. The relentless effort of missionaries and the reformers could educate a very small number of people from lower-castes. Mostly it was the impoverished group caste Hindus in search of livelihood, who looked upon modern education as means to earn their living respectfully and devoted their scarce resources on it. The reasons for mass-illiteracy were the following  –

  • Modern education system was very costly and therefore, unaffordable by masses. The costly nature of education tended to make it a monopoly of the richer classes and city dwellers.
  • The medium of instruction was a foreign language – English.
  • Lower-castes did see any immediate use of education. It was more important for them to work and arrange two square meals day rather than spending on education.

Ranking – In the past, ranking of different social groups was done on some principles. Self-discipline, hygiene, cleanliness, morality, knowledge, spirituality of different social groups i.e. castes and usefulness of their work to the society as a whole were the considerations, which determined the social, economic or political status of a group in society vise-a vise others. Higher a caste, purer it was considered, and greater were the self-restrictions on its behavior through rituals.

Mobility – Mobility of individuals from one caste to another was restricted in the past. But upward mobility of a group in the social scale was though difficult, but not impossible. Ancient India had allowed upward mobility of a caste through good deeds – by adopting more orthodox practices, cleaner habits, self-discipline and observance of rituals or the position of a caste could be improved. This way, lower-castes were encouraged to follow discipline in life.

Now different castes prefer to be called backwards. They are racing to get a tag of backward castes, so that they can avail the benefits of quota fixed for backward castes in jobs an.

Wealth – Doors for honor or wealth were always open to deserving individuals/groups of any caste. History is the proof that even the lowest rank attained even sovereignty in India such as Maratha Kings, who fought their way up-to the throne against Mohammedan and commanded respect of all Indians. From fourteenth to the eighteenth century, soldiers came from all strata of society including the lowest in the ritual term. There was no discrimination in the recruitment and treatment of soldiers on caste basis. Rajput status was given to soldiers.

Occupation –Critics of Caste system allege that there was no freedom/choice to individuals in matter of occupation in the past. They were forced people to employ themselves in hereditary occupations. This allegation is not wholly truth.

In ancient Europe and Asia also, occupations were not only hereditary, but also limited it to be followed by specific classes only. It was considered natural and convenient for a person to do a job, which he knew, the knowledge of which, he acquired in a natural way.

  • Changes brought in by Industrial revolution

It was the industrial revolution, which had changed the trend. Now total aversion of modern youth from their traditional occupation has rendered millions unemployed or underemployed or confused about what they want to do. They waste their time, energy and efforts in search of white collared jobs rather than pursuing jobs, which suits to their knowledge, aptitude and qualifications. There is more job-satisfaction, happiness, success or contentment in doing a job, one knows well rather than in stepping on someone else’s toes.

Sir John Shore, who was Governor General of India during 1793-1798, observed that there was considerable latitude in matter of work in India. Among many castes, it was constantly found that one brother pursuing hereditary vocation and another entering army. HT Colebrooke also confirms it, “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.”

  • Alternative ideologies to provide breathing space

In the past, whenever rigidities and discriminatory practices of society in the name of caste system suffocated Indian society, there arose alternative ideologies or styles of life, which gave people breathing space. Rise of Buddhism in Ancient India, Sufi tradition of Islam and Bhakti movement of Hindus in medieval India (around 10th century), and reform movements of 19th and 20th centuries taught sympathetic attitude towards lesser human beings, brotherly love for each other and fellowship, love and respect all human beings irrespective of caste or creed and rejected practice of elaborate rituals and caste pretensions.

Modern India 

Most of the allegations against caste system, which were there in the past, can not be justified now in modern India. Process of modernization, industrialization, spread of education and growing awareness among masses have already brought to an end slowly but steadily many of the discriminatory practices of Caste system. It has become more liberal and less restrictive in all walks of life. Castes no longer enjoy legal or religious sanctions. Expulsion from castes means little, while earlier it meant complete social ostracism. Old style of authority and power exercised by caste-elders has already diminished. Restrictions or interactions between different castes arising due to considerations for purity and pollution are fading away from public life even from rural areas. Traditional barriers on marriage, hereditary occupations and commonality are loosing its importance.

Constitution of India

Preamble of the Indian Constitution promisesto secure to all its citizens: JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation. Article 15 of the Constitution prohibits any kind of discrimination on grounds of caste, race, religion, gender or place of birth; Article 16 gives equality of opportunity in matter of public employment, Article 338 creates National commission for Scheduled Castes to safeguard their interests etc.

Legislations for equal opportunities

A number of amendments in the Constitution and legislation have been passed to remove the disabilities of backward people. Un-touchability has been declared a crime. Bonded labor is abolished by law. Civil Rights Act, 1955, aims to eliminate injustice against weaker sections. Amendment to Prevention of Atrocities Act (SCT) 1989 provides for stern punishments for offenses committed against SCT by Upper Castes. Special Courts, under SCT Act, have been established for punishing officials, if found guilty. Still, there is no respite from discriminatory practices. Why?

Reasons for the miseries of downtrodden

There are many reasons, why people do not get respite from discriminatory practices. There is no denial of the fact that with the passage of time, and for a long time, living under alien rule, caste system had developed many deformities. The system became too rigid to keep its identity continuing. Still it is not so much because of the caste-system, but because of bad politics and poor governance, that millions of people have still to suffer discrimination and exploitation in modern India. Some of the causes are as following –

  • Emergence of Political Identities

During their imperial rule, the British had divided the Indian society into five major groups, giving each one an independent political identity based on the political power and the amount of wealth, they hold. The water-tight compartmentalization of Indian society had been done by Censuses during British rule into Minorities, Scheduled Castes, now popularly known as Dalits or SCs, Scheduled Tribes (STs), Other Backward castes (OBCs) and Higher Castes.

  • Political compartmentalization of Indian society

Modern Indian society has been polarized on caste and communal basis into following unbridgeable sections – Upper castes, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled tribes, Other Backward Class and Minorities. Stratification of Indian society has been done in most insensitive manner for the purpose of balancing the power. It has become a bye-word for Indian politicians.

  • Poor execution of rules and regulations

Indian society is sharply divided into two broad divisions- “haves” and “have-nots”. The most important factors responsible for disparities are present-day-politics, irrational and corrupt ways of pursuing the paternal policies of the government at cetral and State levels and government’s failure to address real issues.

  • Use of ‘Caste’ as the most powerful tool to create vote-banks

 ‘Caste’ has become for the present-day political leaders as the easiest and most powerful tool to sway public emotionally and to create a larger vote bank. It may be called ossification of caste-system fallen into the hands of power brokers and vote guzzlers.

  • Priority to abstract issues in order to divert public attention

Day in and day out, public attention is being diverted from real issues and public sentiments are aroused by floating in political world abstract issues like discrimination, social justice, affirmative action/reservations, secularism. Sectional interests are being promoted on caste basis. Real issues like mass-scale illiteracy, poverty, unemployment, inflation, deteriorated law and order situation, increasing violence or general coarsening of moral fiber of the Indian society are pushed into the background.

  • Centralization of control systems

There is complete centralization of control systems in the hands of a few individuals, families and groups irrespective of castes or creed. They have enough money, muscle and political power plus and the support of criminals.  They are flourishing day by day and control almost all the national resources. They enjoy life at cost of tax-payers. This very small section of society virtually controls the destiny of millions. They have a say in almost every walk of national life.

  • Corruption

Corruption has become a major/perennial impediment to implement various developmental schemes. Ignorance and pessimist attitude of masses makes corrupt persons bold. Once the public raises its voice against arbitrary behavior/actions of powerful lobby, all discrimination and malpractices would get automatically controlled.

  • Aversion form human, moral or traditional values

Aversion of people from human, moral or traditional values has aggravated the problem. The total concentration of educated people is on pursuit of money and materialistic pleasures by hook or crook. Favoritism, in-discipline, violence, corruption, and chase of materialism based on ruthless competition have given sharp rise to disparities and discrimination. It leads to cut-throat competition and creates rift amongst different groups. Political expediency and opportunism has made sectional forces more assertive/aggressive in attitude and vocal about their rights but ignores duties.

  • Reconcile the claims of growth with the claims of equity

It is one of the big challenges for the government to reconcile the claims of growth with the claims of equity. Compassion, sensitivity, equality or fraternity can not be imposed or enforced by any outside agency or authority. Such a step may prove to be a cause of social unrest. It has to be in-built in the social economic and political system of a country through education and awareness – education, which is the source of knowledge and power; and awareness, which comes from availability of information.

  • Narrow loyalties of caste and religion

Narrow loyalties of caste and religion are encouraged generating sub-cultures like caste-ism, favoritism, and lure for easy money, nepotism, parochialism, communalism, regionalism, bigoted sentiments and irresponsible comments, spreading in-discipline in the society. The rising aspirations and demands of people, with the spread of education and awareness, has created added problem for the government.

  • Discriminatory measures taken by the Government

In Independent India, Governments at centre and the provinces are continuously thrusting upon the public many discriminatory/lofty/populist rules, regulations and policies in the name of helping “poor masses”. Common men especially belonging to upper castes feel threatened, helpless and suffer from discriminatory policies of the government. Protective policies and laws can neither convert an iniquitous Society into an equitable one, nor does it help in any way the vulnerable, oppressed and submerged masses.

Most of measures taken by the Governmental authorities touch the problems superficially at its periphery only. Most of the solutions pursued by the government are totally unrelated to day to day problems of common man in real life. Instead of benefiting or helping the poor, on one hand such developmental programs increase corruption, and on the other it encourages lethargy, agitation and attitude to depend on authorities for each and everything.

‘Reservation policy’ as means to end discrimination

Successive governments both at the centre and provinces are trying to tackle problem of discrimination and disparity by openly favouring policies of ‘reverse discrimination’, which give more importance to distribute power on pro-rata basis by fixing quota. The sustainable development of submerged sections can be achieved by providing quality of education to everybody and making people aware of different opportunities available to them.

Reservation policy can hardly be able to bring in desired transformation in the society. In a democratic country, discrimination anywhere or in any form – be it positive or negative – is the most objectionable thing. The problem of discrimination or disparities can not be tackled by fixing up quotas or by adopting the path of reverse discrimination or treating a few sections of society more than equals by entitling them for preferential treatment by the governmental agencies in different spheres of life.

Political leaders of various political parties desire to fix up quotas in all governmental institutions for different sections of society on pro-rata basis. Such a demand is based on negative exhortations. The government’s policy of Reservation in jobs and education has resulted in a tough competition amongst various castes to demand a lower status, so that they can also avail more concessions and facilities.

Under-currents of caste politics have made the government incapable to solve the burning national issues. It has made to maintain law and order difficult. Inter-caste and intra-caste, inter-community and intra-community and inter-tribal and intra-tribal conflicts are increasing day by day in order to get more space in the corridors of power.

Meaning of ‘No Discrimination’

‘No discrimination’ does not mean sharing power equally. More than thousand million people can not be accommodated in power echelons. It means a harmonious partnership between people belonging to different sections of society and the authorities responsible for governance. Governance should be done on the basis of mutual help, mutual respect and mutual trust. Governance is a continuing process, through which conflicting interests and diverse needs of all the people are looked-after and a cooperative action is taken.

Pathetic condition of upper castes belonging to middle class

Middle class has always been the backbone of society. Now the voice of upright and honest people belonging to middle class is being continuously throttled mercilessly. They are being punished for following sincerely family-planning norms, which has decreased their numbers. In present day vote-bank politics based on game of numbers, it is very easy now for the pursuers of political power to sideline them.

Lower castes more tenacious about their caste-identity

Today lower castes, which are more tenacious about their caste than the higher, could be easily swayed emotionally in the name of caste-based reservations. Reservations Policy has given the ‘backwards’ an identity as a composite and powerful political pressure group. They have grouped together and increased their numerical strength. It has helped them to emerge as a powerful and assertive pressure group and unite, organize and fight vigorously for the seats of power.

A large number of educated people of so-called ‘Backward-castes’ have already entered into the corridors of power and are occupying important places, exercising authority. Dalits and Muslims are being wooed with vigor by all major national political parties. Even Naxalite groups find in Dalits an allies, as most of their action squads are formed of Harijans. No political party could dare to annoy them. All concede to their demands openly or discreetly.

The transformation of untouchables into Harijans, Depressed class and now Dalits is a classic example, where a fraction of society is increasingly distancing itself from the mainstream and establishing firmly its separate identity. The organized intolerance of some groups due to over-consciousness about their separate identity has grown out of proportions now, perpetuating agitation and violence. They desire a complete hold on political power plus protection of those laws and policies indefinitely, which were started sixty years ago for enabling them to join the mainstream. They want to have a cake and eat it too, but without much effort or blending their ways.

Conclusion

It is a matter of shame that after giving so much constitutional and government protection to weaker sections, incidents of discrimination keep on increasing. Instead of over-looking the interests of the whole society or whole of the nation, it is desirable that law-implementing machinery should get tough on perpetrators of injustice. Discriminatory practices or oppression of weaker sections of society is unacceptable to the whole of humanity.

Instead of blaming an invisible institution (caste-system) for discrimination, deep wisdom and honesty of purpose is needed to find out right methods and courage to strive for it sincerely.

So-called ‘Backward castes’ need to understand the spirit of Indian Constitution and try to adapt thinking, culture and life-style of the mainstream of the nation. Otherwise, there will always be cultural rifts, both in their lives and minds, threatening the unity of the nation from time to time.

Today, when the whole world is reeling between economic depression and and terrorism, people expect from the government to bring in change in economic situation and in fight against terrorism. Hate, jealousy, anxiety or fear leads to violence and give rise to wars, riots, antagonisms and class or caste conflicts.

After-effects of the great economic depression of 2008 has brought many social and economic changes and aggravated the problems for present government. The GDP growth has fallen there, business investment has dipped alarmingly. Unemployment has risen.

Therefore, Government needs to be very careful, while planning for measures – developmental or punitive – to be taken. The needs and aspirations of the people as a whole should be taken care of by the government, not of any specific section of the society.

Present atmosphere demands to resolve sensibly the differences and clashes of interests peacefully with rational thinking and understanding for each other. For a change, India needs collective nation building efforts of both the authorities and the public with a sense of justice, commitment to the nation, understanding for each other and consciousness about duties along with rights.

Winding up

Following steps could to be taken to bring to an end discrimination of any kind –

  • First of all, government should find out root causes of discrimination and deprivation,
  • Government should identify without bias vulnerable groups, which are discriminated against by the present modern society. It should not be on the basis of caste.
  • Identify the special needs or problems of each group separately,
  • Accordingly plan about the measures to be taken to protect the interests of vulnerable individuals.
  • Well meaning judicious laws, which could directly improve day today life of common men, should be carefully legislated.
  • Such laws should not remain only on papers but have to be executed/implemented in real life for dealing with social injustice effectively.
  • To give relief to ‘Have-nots’, the way out is to tackle effectively local crimes against common man whether in rural or urban areas and improve law and order position.
  • The money meant for the development purposes should actually be spent for which it is intended i.e. the betterment of submerged sections of society.
  • Power generally rests with physical strength, wealth and knowledge. Knowledge brings in both physical strength and wealth. Therefore, stress on knowledge through ‘education for all’ should be the top priority for the government for empowerment of weaker sections, which are victims of discrimination.
  • Widespread human rights violations should be stopped by punishing the culprits.
  • It is necessary to put honest and right persons at crucial positions. There are very few people, who have the knowledge/understanding what to do, how to do and when to do;

A strong political will and courage is needed to bring to an end caste-ism and with it all kinds of discriminatory attitudes, repressive laws and practices. For the prosperity of the nation and tension-free/stress-free life of common man, as suggested by First Backward class Commission’s Chairman Kaka Kalelkar in mid fifties, “National solidarity in a democratic set up demands Government to recognize only two ends – the individual at one end and the nation as a whole at the other. Nothing should be encouraged to organize itself in between these two ends to the detriment of the freedom of the individual and solidarity of the nation. All communal and denominational organizations and groupings of lesser and narrower units have to be watched carefully, so that they do not jeopardize the national solidarity and do not weaken the efforts of the nation to serve the various elements in the body politic with equity. Mutual help, mutual respect and mutual trust are the touchstone, on which all communal and denominational activities will be tested.”

April 14, 2016 Posted by | General, Social and political values and systems | | Leave a comment

Unemployment in India

 

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“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”

Narayan Murthy

Introduction

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.

Issues

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 employmentModern 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 –

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Modernization

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.

Suggestions

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.

Conclusion

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”

 

February 20, 2016 Posted by | General | | Leave a comment

Development through Good Governance

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

Introduction

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.

Requirements for efficient governance

 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.

Decaying trends

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.

 Constraints

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.

Remedy

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.

Conclusion

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.

 

January 22, 2016 Posted by | General | 3 Comments

2015 in review of latasinha.wordpress.com

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.

Click here to see the complete report.

January 13, 2016 Posted by | General | Leave a comment

Reversed gender bias

“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.

 Conclusion

“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.  

April 6, 2015 Posted by | General, Women's issues | , , | 1 Comment

A Summary of ‘Bhagvat Gita’

Introduction

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.

‘s

A Summary Of Bhagvat Gita

     By

           Justice Shanker Dayal Khare (Retd), Allahabad, 28.10.1975

INTRODUCTION

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.

Allahabad                                                                                         S.D.Khare

28-10-75

                                                           CHAPTER ONE

                                                          DESPONDENCY

         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.

                                                   CHAPTER TWO

                                         PROCESS OF REASONING

      Arjun was advised to put up a fight, because –

  1. 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.
  2.  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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.”

 CHAPTER THREE

                                                      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.

 CHAPTER FOUR

                                                           TRUE WISDOM

         “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.

CHAPTER FIVE

                            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.

CHAPTER SIX

                                                  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.”

                                                         CHAPTER SEVEN

KNOWLEDGE DIVINE

             “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: –

  1. People in quest of worldly objects,
  2. People anxious to avert unhappy events,
  3. People desirous of knowing God, and
  4. 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.

CHAPTER EIGHT

                                                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.”

CHAPTER NINE

                                   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.”

CHAPTER TEN

                                                         GOD’S GLORY

                     “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.

 

 

CHAPTER ELEVEN

                                                     GOD REALIZATION

 

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.

 

CHAPTER TWELVE

                                                     PERFECT DEVOTION

 

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.”

 

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

                                   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.

 

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

                                  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.

 

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

                              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.”

 

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

                               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.

 

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

                                                 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).

 

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

                                        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 –

  • Devotion
  • Recognition of the greatness
  • Reincarnation
  • Immortality
  • Action/Karma
  • Detachment
  • Equanimity
  • Knowledge
  • Intellect

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 –

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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)
  8. 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)
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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)

March 30, 2015 Posted by | General | , , , , | 2 Comments