Our Trust, Gokula Education Foundation, has completed 50years of its existence. We have just concluded the Golden Jubilee celebrations. The vision of one man, late Sri. M. S. Ramaiah, our beloved father, made this to happen. He started Gokula Education Foundation which gave birth to the first institution, M.S.Ramaiah College of Engineering, with a humble beginning of 80 students and two branches. It has now become 25 institutions ranging from engineering sciences, health sciences and general sciences. I attribute this growth and popularity to the core philosophy which has been set by the visionary late Sri. M. S. Ramaiah, that is
to deliver education and health care for the betterment of the mankind.
I propose to retrospect on this philosophy to guide us to achieve a greater prospects for the M. S. Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences.
Education is seen as a journey – undertaken with the exploration in mind and soul. Through this journey we learn and evolve certain human values. Human values are constant and have to be interpreted and re-interpreted in every new and changing, complex realities. During times of crisis/change, human values remain constant. Our values enable us to address complex crisis observed in the contemporary world.
Today, we witness a sense of awakening to re-visit our indigenous philosophical texts about value-based education. Whilst there are examples of education systems across globe who ignore reflections. While we see the latter perspectives emerging rather rapidly particularly in our neighborhood. I would like to pose a caution. Countries in our neighborhood including ours, once considered as islands of excellence in education, today are leading towards islands of mediocrity, in the sea of modern/western education.
I would like to reflect on what education should do for the Country, the need for us to introspect on how freedom (of thought/nurturing) and responsibility (for nature) are inextricably linked, how education should build our democratic and demographic dividend and enhance sustainable development, and India’s place in the World.
Traditionally, Universities in India were established with a task for comprehensive social emancipation. The centers of higher learning in the subcontinent like the Taxila (earlier to 5th century BC) and Nalanda (giver of knowledge -6th Century AD) thrived in a climate of eclecticism, freedom and cross-cultural knowledge sharing. Thus, establishing an active partnership between the Universities and society towards social transformation.
The larger philosophy of the universities underwent a phase of westernization during the colonial regime in this region. As stated by Macaulay in his minutes on Indian education in 1835 stated that the purpose of the universities in India would be to produce a new generation of English speaking Indians – loyal to the British crown – to act as an army of clerks.
"I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this 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 Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation"
- Lord Macaulay’s speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835
One of our great Indian modern thinkers like Sri. Aurobindo outlines fundamental principles of integral education. The first is that “nothing can be taught”
. He indicated that the proper role of the educator is not to instruct or impart knowledge to the pupil, but rather to help and guide the student in acquiring knowledge for herself or himself.
The second principle is related to the first. It is that “the mind has to be consulted in its own growth"
. This means, again not to impose knowledge on the pupil, nor to arrange for the student to develop particular qualities, capacities, ideas or a prearranged career.
The great modern historian Arnold Toynbee in his "A study of history"
, describes the rise and fall of 23 civilizations in human history. One of the attractive things about the book is that it draws attention to the fact that there have been many highly developed civilizations in human history. Understandably, history lessons in the west focus on western civilization and its roots in the Greek and Roman cultures, but the achievements of the Chinese, Indian, Mayan, Islamic and many other civilizations deserve recognition and their successes and failures merit discussion. According to Toynbee, civilization start to decay when they lose their moral fiber and cultural elite turns parasitic, exploiting the masses and creating an internal and external proletariat.
China’s higher education has expanded at an unprecedented pace since 1999 generating the much needed momentum for China to complete the transition from elite to mass higher education in 2002, well ahead of the targeted year of 2010. Many a times such explosive expansion may lead to cultural contraction.
I do not deny the role and relevance of education for employment, but I am critical about the fact that employment should not be the only goal of education and educational institutions, but a thoughtful combination of education for social emancipation and employment. Thus, develop a knowledge base that could link (effectively) the learner with the society and create a sustainable world.
Sri. Radhakrishna, great philosopher, in his talk about education tells, any satisfactory system of education should aim at a balanced growth of the individual. It should insist on both knowledge and wisdom. It should not only train the intellect, but also bring grace into the heart of man. Wisdom is more easily gained through the study of literature, philosophy and religion. The need of the hour is to rekindle our ancient wisdom and align the same with the contemporary needs and construct a hybrid of these two divergent orientations and develop a model education system, which adapts to both the East and West.
Education system in the east ought to envision such a combination. It is time to revisit our ancient wisdom on education with focus on value-based education and cater to the contemporary needs of labour market. We need to re-invent ourselves and develop an education model that is based on the philosophy of social responsibility.
While we reinvent there is need to focus on promoting creative and critical thinking among the key actors of the University. The contemporary world is changing at a rapid pace, causing more challenges to the mankind and the nature we live-in. In my opinion, a crisis-ridden world needs creative and critical response and an education model that focuses on this aspect is the way forward. I suggest M.S. Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences to run on this philosophy and work for the larger good.
Once again I welcome one and all to the University
Dr. M. R. Jayaram