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%.
New Zealand 62.60%
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
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.
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 naïve 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.
·Discipline-internal and external,posture,breathing,withdrawing senses from its objects,focusing,meditation,tuning in with Reality are the eight limbs of yoga.
·Kayanu paschana-observe the body
·Vedananu paschana-observe the sensation
·Chittanu paschana-observe the mind
·Dammanu paschana-observe the Order
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.