Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Feeding Others Feeds and Liberates Us

HAVE PATIENCE OF A GOLD MINER - SWAMI SUKHABODHANANDA

The Lord invited angels and demons for a dinner and said, "There will be divine food on the menu. Anyone who eats it would become immortal."

So both groups turned up at the Lord's residence, for the dinner. The Lord thanked them for coming and said, "You can have the food but to attain immortality you should ensure that you do not bend your arms at the elbows while you eat."

The demons tried their best to eat without bending their elbow and utterly failed. Cursing the Lord they went back. Angels did not have any problems. Each took a morsel of food and fed the other. Thus, mutually feeding each other, they attained immortality.

A quality of a good leader is in learning the art of managing people. Andrew Carnegie said, "Take away my people, but leave my factories, and soon grass will grow on the factory floors. Take away my factories, but leave my people, and soon we will have a new and better factory."

In managing people one has to keep their hopes alive. One has to teach them to manage their disappointments. A good leader does not worry too much about his career but works on the careers of others. When a successful man was asked what was his greatest asset he answered, "I consider the ability to awaken the enthusiasm in my people as the greatest asset that I possess."

To awaken people's enthusiasm is the greatest skill that a leader can possess. When Andrew Carnegie was asked about the secrets of his success he answered, "One should have a patience of a gold miner when working with people. To get a little gold you have to patiently remove a lot of dust." Someone has stated beautifully, "There is difference between a boss and a leader."

The boss pushes the subordinates; the leader inspires them.

The boss depends on authority; the leader on good will.

The boss says 'I'; the leader says 'We'.

The boss says "You go'; the leader says 'Let us go'.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

HIGHER EDUCATION IN INDIA TODAY



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HIGHER EDUCATION IN INDIA - EXISTING AND IDEAL

by Thimmappa M S 



Higher Education Indian scenario




There are several excellent institutions of higher education in the country some of them compares well with the best in the world such as Indian Institute of Science, Indian Institutes of Technology, Indian Institutes of Management, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, National Institute of Mental Health and other institutions of higher learning under private sector. Yet, considering the enormous size and talent in the Country it is not enough and far below the national requirement.Infact, the enrolment for higher education of the age group concerned is too low as compared to several other countries and much below the global average of 15%.



           

 _Enrolment Ratio



USA                 80.90%

Canada           87.30%

Australia        79.80%

Finland           74.10%

UK                    52.30%

France             51.00%

Norway           62.00%

Belgium          56.30%

New Zealand 62.60%

China               23.00%

India                13.00%



Source:UNESCO,The World Education Report,2000





There is a dire need to increase the enrolment to at least to 20% in another ten years to achieve envisaged national development. We have too few Universities in the Country to accomplish the task.     



    Universities per population



Countries      Population     Universities

                       (in crores)    

USA               27.60          2466

Japan            12.70             726

Germany        8.20             350

UK                    5.98             125

Indonesia     21.70          1770

Philippines      7.90         1495

China           130.60          2000
India          110.00         342



We need about 1500 Universities to meet the requirement. However the mindset of the bureaucracy (power without expertise)which largely controls higher education in the country considers it as non-merit good and would at the earliest opportunity wash off  its hand from higher education by handing over to private initiative and foreign universities! Higher education need to be considered as investment in human resource development. The role of human resource in national development is up to 65%, the natural resources up to 25% and the remaining 10% depends on infrastructure.



Issues in Higher Education



                  

Major issues in Indian Higher Education are quality and relevance, access and equity, infrastructure and the large number. The quality educational institutions available are either very few considering the demand for it or not affordable to the majority of the people who can benefit from it. They are also found wanting in ensuring social justice by enabling socially disadvantaged students such as dalits, women and differently able to have access. The majority of other institutions are poor in quality in imparting instructions and providing required infrastructure. Providing quality education at an affordable cost for the vast majority of the seekers is the urgent need of the hour.Otherwise,only the rich will continue to have quality higher education, get posh jobs and the poor will remain with no jobs or only 'mean'/menial jobs. A country where majority cannot afford the best of civilization cannot be called a developed country. Indian government is spending under 1% of the national income on higher education and it is unlikely that it is in a position to spend more. The government needs to enable the Private and Foreign initiative to enter the field in a big way. The well founded apprehension that it would harm the interest of social justice should be addressed by a well mandated strategy to take care of our sociocultural and historical necessities before joining with the Private sector. There is also an urgent need to cast off the bureaucratic structure governing the Universities. Our education has not had any major change even after nearly 60 years of Independence. We hardly respect professional competence while managing our affairs. In fact, we are in the down 50th position out of 53 Countries studied on the use of professional managers(Global Competitiveness Report,2004).We must move towards giving full autonomy,independence,responsibility and freedom to the competent experts for managing our institutions of higher learning.



 Further, the time has come to question the very purpose of education. Education must help in developing all the resources available in the individual to the benefit of self and the society and usher in peace and prosperity. Failure on these fronts is quite glaring.Although, studies on these lines is hard to come by, the findings of the two committees in this regard in the United States is noteworthy. Reports of James Coleman(1966)and Daniel Moynihan(1965)on the role of education in contributing to social equality and success(achievement)in later life is quite revealing:Genes,IQ,education and school quality have little effect on economic success or in bringing  equality. Social status (socioeconomic level) has some bearing. Only political and economic changes can bring greater equality and not through education. In fact, the success depends on "varieties of luck “and "on the job competence" and even there it is more of personality than technical skills and only moderately related to family background, schooling or scores on tests.Therefore,we must realize that the development of a total person should become the main purpose of education.





Ideal/True Education: Self Development



Self Development refers to the development of the total person, what all a person is and can be. The total person consists of mind, body and soul; the head, heart, hand and higher reaches of being. Education should address to the development of all those four ‘h’, not just the Head alone as most of the modern education is concerned with. According to Indian ancient wisdom education consists of intellectual, emotional and spiritual dimensions of the individual. Even the idol of goddess of learning Saraswati/Sharada depicts these dimensions: on the one hand she holds the book, on the other two hands Veena,a string musical instrument, is held across her chest and the remaining hand holds the garland of beads(japamala).Mundaka Upanishad talks of two types of knowledge/education:para(spiritual) and apara(material):



  • Dve vidye veditavye iti ha sma yad brahmavido vadanti, paracaivapara ca.(1.1.4)
  • Two kinds of knowledge are to be known, as indeed, the knower of Brahman declare-The Higher(spiritual) as well as The Lower(material) sciences.

The material knowledge consisted of physical, chemical, biological, mathematical, language, humanities,social and cosmological sciences. The spiritual is concerned with the imperishable part of the reality:

  • Tatra apara rg-vedo yajurvedah sama-vedo tharva-vedah siksha kalpo vyakaranam niruktam cando jyotisam-iti.Para yaya tad aksaram adhigamyate.(1.1.5)
  • Of these,the lower is the Rg veda,the Yajurveda,the Samaveda,theAthurveda,Phonetics,Ritual,Grammer,Etymology,Metrics and Astrology.The higher is that by which undecaying is apprehended.
  •  

Isha Upanishad calls para vidya as just vidya and apara vidya is abbreviated as avidya and declares that knower of only any one of the two is a fool:

· Andam tamah pravishanti yo’vdyam upasate tato bhuya iva tamo ya u vidyayam ratah(-9-)

· Into blinding darkness enter those who worship science only and those who delight in spirituality only enter into greater darkness.

In the two knowledge, each have different purpose:

· Anyad eva ahuh vidyaya,anyad ahuh avidyaya iti susruma dhiranam ya nas tad vicacaksire(-10-).

· Spirituality has its own distinct purpose.Science also has its own,a different purpose.Thus we have heard from the brave explorers(of both realms)who explained all this to us.

It further states that both should be studied as one help conquer death and the other to attain immortality:

· Vidyam ca avidyam ca yah tad veda ubhayam saha,avidyaya mrtyum tirtva vidyaya amritam asnute(-11-)

· One who masters both science and spirituality together,conquers death through science and tastes immortality through spirituality.



The two types of knowledge,infact,corresponds two aspects of reality itself. In the Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna states that there is two aspects to Nature-para(spiritual) and apara(material).The material part consists of five elements as well as mind,intelligence and ego:

· Bhumir apo nalo vayu kham mano buddir eva ca,ahankara itiyam me bhinna prakritir astadha(7.4)

· Earth,water,fire,air,ether,mind,intelligence and ego-all together these eight constitute my separate material nature.

The spiritual part is other than the above material and which in fact holds everything that exist:

· Apareyam itas tu anyam prakritim viddhi me param,jiva bhutam mahabaho yayedam dharyate jagat(7.5)

· Besides these,O’mighty armed, there is another higher(spiritual) nature of mine which holds the whole universe.

He further states that all that exists are interconnected as the beads in a garland:

· Mayi sarvam idam protram sutre mani gana iva(7.7).

· Everything rests on me as pearls are strung on a thread.



Educational Implications.



True education should develop both the material and spiritual nature of people.Apara is the visible (material) part and the para is the invisible(spiritual) part.Invisible is subtler,stronger,all pervasive, rich and nurturing.We need to access both before embarking on any activity. We have attained some competence in mastering the material but too na├»ve in contacting the spiritual.Spirituality is too serious and too urgently to be brought to the mundane that it can not be left in the hands of religion alone.It is ordained that it should become part of the routine.Yogastha kuru karmani-perform action in the state of Yoga(B.G.2.48).Yogah karmasu kaushalam-yoga is skill in action(B.G.2.50) states the Bhagavad Gita.Educationist must come forward to incorporate these in the curriculum for the benefit of all students.There are well knit treatises on how to kindle spirituality among people.It essentially involve quietening of our material components so that the spiritual part awakens and takes control.Yoga is silencing mental activities-yoga cittavritti nirodah(Y.S.1.2).Then the seer is established in his nature-tada drashtuh svarupe avasthanam(Y.S.1.3) Both are from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra that are indicative of the spiritual attainment.The classical methodologies and practices are advocated for accessing the invisible part of reality.Two such practices are given below.

Patanjali Yoga:

· Yama,niyama,asana,pranayama,pratyahara,dharana,dhyana,samadhiyah ashtavangani.

· Discipline-internal and external,posture,breathing,withdrawing senses from its objects,focusing,meditation,tuning in with Reality are the eight limbs of yoga.

Buddha-Dhyana:

· Kayanu paschana-observe the body

· Vedananu paschana-observe the sensation

· Chittanu paschana-observe the mind

· Dammanu paschana-observe the Order


Behavioral Implications


For a Westerner self development is concerned with satisfaction of ones needs such as need for hunger, thirst, sex,belongings,love,status and actualization of potentialities.The Eastern view is that aiming at satisfaction of needs is like pouring oil to the fire, it will never quench the thirst in real sense but instead it burns us up.Bhoga(consumption) can never satisfy, only tyaga(renunciation) can. Prosperity with peace is the real development. Many increasing stress related disorders of today is an indicator of suffering amidst plenty! Discovering and developing ones unique talents and capabilities and dedicating it to the welfare of others who need them is the true development where peace prevails along with prosperity, gratification of ones need is taken care as seeking ones development through development of others will ensure ones development along with social,national,and global development. It is for nothing that great sage Vyasa said:paropakarah punyaya papaya parapidanam,helping others is the virtue,inflicting pain on others is sin.Vedas say:yo vy bhooma tatsukham nalpe sukhamasti,who hones into the big and the large is happy not the petty. World is the family-vasudaiva kutumbakam. Get connected to the Whole and remain always there.

Reference: 

Coleman(1966):Equality of Educational Oppurtunity,US Govt.Printing press, Washington.

Jenks,C.(1972):Inequality: A reassessment of the effects of family and schooling in America, Basic Books, New York.

Kulandai Swamy,V.C.(2006):Reconstruction of Higher Education in India,ICFAI Univ.Press,Hyderabad.

Moynihan,D.et.al.(1965):Moynihan Report,US Govt.Washington


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Education: Decline on Fast Track

Higher Education - Decline on Fast Track!

Today's(14 February 2013) News on Higher Education: Minister for Higher Education(who is Pro Chancellor of all Universities) Government of Karnataka, carries the Bill in the Legislature for more power for Pro Chancellor such as having a say in the appointment of Vice Chancellors, Order Enquiry and action on the report on Vice Chancellors, on his own, among other powers. Two MLCs say of corruption in the selection of Vice Chancellor to Universities amounting up to Rs. six crores each. Constitution of a Board with Minister for Higher Education as Chairman for inter-university transfer of teachers. Closing of University Department if there are are less than 10 student for two consecutive years, and so on. Legislature passes the Bill.

The Minister wants to assume more power on the universities because, apparently, the Chancellor(who is the Governor of the State) who has all powers now is working against the interest of higher education in the State. Imagine what would happen if both the Chancellor and the Pro Chancellor are not 'all right' in a given time, - a deadly mix of poison, a death knell to the cause of higher education in the state.

The present Chancellor is the worst among all the Chancellors Karnataka has seen. Governors like Kursheed Alam Khan, Tara Devi or T N Chaturvedi, only a few as example, were clean handed and conducted themselves most gracefully. Whereas the present one  indulges in flagrant violation of Law(Acts, Statutes, Ordinances and Regulations), supports and encourages corrupt and the mal-practitioners even after judicial indictment on them (e.g. Continuing in charge VC against Rules, inaction on the two VCs  against a proven criminal charges of the heinous kind).

Government closing the university department for less number of students reflect the high handedness and lack of understanding of centres of higher learning. It is the contribution and adding to the knowledge rather than mere dissemination of knowledge is of utmost importance in higher education and as such research must play a pre eminent role there. Students may be less in the class but research in that subject can go on continuously and for ever by the teachers and the department exist for the same. Just because many of the present day teachers do not indulge in research( it is neither mandatory or encouraged now), we can not forget their primary role and we must ensure its presence rather than closing the department.

Transfer of teachers to other universities too is beset with many ills. Ideally, each university and each teacher in it has ones own orientation in the multidimensionality in each subject/topic and it makes nonsense academically by a blind transfer of teachers. Besides, it may degenerate into a source of personal income to the people concerned in the government as, such a corruption is seen widely wherever transfer are seen in the government.

Government (Chancellor or Pro Chancellor) assuming more powers is not the remedy for the existing malady in Higher Education, in fact, doing so would be worse than a disease itself. Look at the best universities/institutes/centre for higher learning in the world including a few such in our own country, we see clearly an absence of government control and interference there. Teachers feel more responsible and accountable in such an autonomous situation unlike the many teachers now in the other large number of universities where they can easily play excuses or blame game and get away. It is not more governmental control but of least control, supportive of autonomy and freedom of teachers to self govern and lead the students to their higher reaches that ensure quality, excellence and creativity in education and that can be achieved by little empowerment and training of teachers in that regard.