Disintermediation: The Future of Higher Education (Part-I)

– Sh. Rajiv Malhotra

When I was consulting for AT&T, British Telecom and other IT giants in the 1980s on futuristic strategies, I used the term “disintermediation” to mean getting rid of intermediaries in various industries. The new technology would enable tech companies to replace the middlemen in a variety of fields. I argued that travel agents, stock brokers, record labels, book publishers, etc. were examples of highly vulnerable businesses. Displacing them with tech platforms presented great opportunities for my clients.

At that time, such ideas were considered too far out, but it made a lucrative consulting career for me to dish out path-breaking propositions for very large MNCs. They had virtually unlimited money to spend on exploring futurist ideas. Today, these ideas are considered established and even old school. Not only have the above mentioned intermediaries become obsolete, one can also see the same trend of disintermediation in retailing (i.e., Amazon), taxis (i.e., Uber), e-learning (i.e., education), to name a few.

One of my predictions for disintermediation that has not (yet) come true is politics. I had predicted that rather than democratic elections taking place every few years, there could be real-time measurement of the pulse of the voters and instant polls to make policies and elect/de-elect politicians. Further, one could envision an artificial intelligence system adapting itself in real time to reflect public opinion and have the authority to govern on some matters – subject to human supervision to avoid over-mechanization or abuse of some kind.

We must first understand how and why “intermediation” came about, before fully understanding dis-intermediation.

In the beginning, producers and consumers lived in close proximity to one another. The village was self-sufficient in many ways, and only certain kinds of products had to be imported from the outside. The industrial revolution changed this. It became more efficient and competitive to have middlemen between producers and consumers. The distance between the points of production and consumption increased and have become global. Distribution channels and supply chains are global today and there are many layers of intermediaries. This trend of globalized supply chains and distribution is likely to increase even further. It gives better resource allocation than the local model of small-scale self-sufficiency.

At the same time, every new wave of technology disrupts the supply chain and distribution channels. This means new opportunities for the creative and enterprising minds will continue to present themselves. My focus in this article is on the way such trends are rapidly disrupting the field of education.

Indians were once upon a time (during the days of Nalanda, Taxashila and other world-class universities) the preeminent producers and exporters of knowledge, ideas and values to the rest of Asia. Now we are consumers of what the Western institutions teach us. We are stuck in a system of dependency so serious that our elites feel they must get certified by the West in order to be credible back home in India. But a window of opportunity has opened up and we cannot afford to miss this chance to take back our leadership role as a knowledge producer and exporter. This window is due to the disruptions caused by the internet.

One of the latest trends in US universities is the growing role of foreigners, including Indians, in the affairs of these universities. First this role was only in the form of foreign students bringing in billions of dollars. Many US academic institutions are financially dependent on foreign students because they cannot meet their expenses through domestic student tuitions alone. An effect of this has been that a large number of Indian elites (both in USA and those returning to India) have been influenced by American values and principles, both good and bad. From the US side, this is not only a great source of tuition fees but also a way to spread its intellectual influence.

A more recent trend is for wealthy Indians to invest in US universities for personal brand building. (See an interesting article, titled, ‘Harvard is a hedge fund with a university attached.’) This is shortsighted and dangerous. Indians are giving grants and endowments to US universities without adequately evaluating the subject matter being produced by the scholars. It’s all about wealthy Indians seeking a seat at the high table of prestige in American society. They see their family name on a building or attached to an academic chair as their next step in climbing the social ladder. Few donors get sufficiently involved in the details of the subject matter and the impact that is being created by their donation.

A major contrast between India and China in this regard is that China retains strict control over the disciplines pertaining to its civilization, values, domestic politics and culture. They readily buy (or use unscrupulous means to acquire) Western science, technology and business knowhow. But they do not want to brainwash their youth with Western prejudices in areas of the humanities that are considered sensitive to the interest of national unity and security. India has not been able to appreciate this strategic point even now.

Against this backdrop, I want donors to understand some tectonic trends that are taking place in US higher education which are rapidly making brick and mortar university campuses obsolete. I wish to advise those giving donations to US academic institutions to step back and rethink their strategies keeping the future trends in mind. Most donations being given are wasteful because they fund obsolete models at a time when they should be funding the incubation of new models.

(to be continued….)

Sh. Rajiv Malhotra, Member, Board, WAVES-USA

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Indian Festivals based on the Concept of Yajña (Part-II)

Continued from Part-I

-Sh. Anand Gaikwad

Festivals based on the concept of Yajñā during Aświn and Kārtik :

Sh. Anand Gaikwad along with his wife performing Yajñā

Durgā Pūjā/ Navrātrī: During Durgā Pūjā, Mā Durgā i.e. Ādi Śakti is worshipped. Mā Durgā is worshipped in different forms starting with Śailputrī Devī on first day. The second day is Brahmachāriṇī Pūjā and subsequently Chandraghaṇṭā is worshipped for peace, tranquility and prosperity, Kuśmānḍā for cosmic energy, Skandamātā as a relationship between mother and son. She is also called as Padmāsīnī since she is seated on lotus flower. On day six she is worshipped as Kātyāyīnī, on seventh day as Kalvatri or Mā Kāli and on eighth day as Māhā Gourī the eighth form of Māhā Durgā.Durgā Saptaśati Japas and Havans are performed for “Nav Cadī”, “Śat CadiYajña. Durgā Pūjā is not considered complete without the performance of Havans. In these havans samidhās of Yajña-Vṛkśās are used and different types of havan samugrī are also used which is prepared from aromatic and medicinal herbs.

Daśherā: This day is celebrated as Vijayā Daśamī i.e. success of good over evil. It is considered as a very auspicious day as per Hindu calendar therefore new possessions are acquired. Some Naimittika Yajñas are performed for material well being, health, wealth, peace and prosperity. In agriculture sector, sugar factories worship and start boilers on this day for subsequent starting of new crushing season. This practice is prevalent in Maharashtra, which produces about 35% to 40% of the total sugar produced in the country.

Dīpāvalī:  Festival of lights celebrated by Indians all over the world. The first day of Dīpāvalī is called Vasubaras when, “Savatsā Dhenu“ i.e. lactating cow with young calf  or  entire cow family is worshipped. During ancient times the wealth and prosperity were measured in terms of or judged on the basis of number of cows one possessed. Therefore, ‘Godhan’ was first worshipped before worshipping any other type of ‘Dhan’. For establishing divine relationship and complete integrity with our Homa Farm and Family, we have started performing Havans on Rigveda 10.169, Atharvaveda 4.21 & 3.14 as a part of cow pūjā on Vasubaras day at our farm. Although no specific types of Yajñas are performed during Dīpāvalī days, the houses and surrounding premises are decorated with flowers, mango/ banana leaves, electrical lamps and oil/ ghee lamps are lit to celebrate it as a festival of lights. On Lakṣmī Pūjā Day and Kārtik Pratipadā, flowers, sweets and preparations made from new harvests, dryfruits etc. are offered to the deities as a part of pūjā.

Sh. Anand Gaikwad while worshiping cow

Sankrama Kāl Festivals: This is a transition period when the Sun starts entering Uttarāyaa and Sankrama. Festivals based on the concept of Yajña are celebrated throughout the country under different names.

Māgh Bihu and Meji Fires: Māgh bihu is celebrated in Assam during January to mark the end of harvesting season. It is a thanks-giving celebration to the nature’s bounty as the granaries are full after harvesting the first new crops of the year. On or before the day of Sankrāntī Bellaghars and Mejis are prepared by menfolk with Bamboo sticks and other wood / grass material. Beautiful make-shift cottages in the form of Bellaghars are prepared.People stay overnight in these Bellaghars, enjoys feasts and next day the Bellaghars are lit. The ashes are spread in the fields, rivers and trees for improving soil health and bringing luck for better harvesting next season. On the day of Sankrāntī people gather together in their fields at very early hours and do Meji fires. Meji fire is a ritual in which Agni is worshipped. All the offerings are placed in front of Meji and one of the elders of the community does the honour of lighting up the Meji. A thick cloud of smoke covers the area and the crackling sound of burning bamboos is heard. While the sacred Meji fires burn, people greet each other and enjoy the feasts. Womenfolk distribute the offerings placed before Meji fires as Prasādam.

Lohri: Every year on the previous day of Makar Sankrāntī in Punjab, Haryana and north-western region, the harvesting festival celebrated is known as “Lohri”. This commemorates the passing off of winter solistice and Lohri represents the largest night before the end of winter solistice followed by the shortest day of the year in Māgh as per Hindu calendar. Although Punjab is known for production of wheat, this festival is related to the sugarcane harvesting after the crop reaches the maturity. Sugarcane products such as jaggery and gachak are essential for Lohri along with groundnuts which are also harvested in the season. Traditionally people eat chikki, gajak, sarso dā sāg, makkai de roti, raddish, groundnuts and jaggery during the festival. Lohri celebrates fertility and joy of life. Harvested fields and farmyards are the central attraction. The farmyards are lit up with lights and bonfires. Folk dances are a part of the festival such as men perform Bhāngara whereas women perform graceful Giddā dance. People circle around the bonfires and offer sugarcane, puffed rice, popcorn etc. while performing folk dances with songs and prayers to Agni. The prayers to Agni Devatā are for his blessings for prosperity and fertility of land. The fire signifies the spark of life and prayers are said for goodwill and abundant crops. They also shout, “Ādar Āye Dilather Jāye” i.e.” Let the wealth, prosperity, honour come and poverty vanish.”

Pongal: Pongal is celebrated as a harvesting festival with glory in Tamilnadu, Puducherry, Sri Lanka and by Tamilians. This harvesting festival is dedicated to Sun God. In Tamilnadu it is a four-day festival called “Thai Pongal” usually celebrated every year from 14th to 17th January. It corresponds with Makar Sankrāntī which is celebrated throughout India. Thai Pongal is mainly celebrated to convey appreciation and gratitude to Sun God for bountiful crops and their successful harvesting. Part of the celebration is boiling of the first rice of the season as an offering to Sun God i.e. “Sūrya Mangalam”. The four day Pongal celebrations are Bhogi, Thai, Maatu and Kannuml. On “Bhogi” day, people discard old belongings and celebrate new possessions. Houses are cleaned, painted and decorated to give a festive look and the farmers keep medicinal herbs, neem leaves etc in the north-east corner of each field to prevent crops from diseases and pests.

The main event, “Thai Pongal” takes place on the second day of four day celebrations. On this day, milk is cooked in a vessel and when it starts bubbling and overflowing, freshly harvested rice is added and cooked, as an offering to Sun God. The day marks the start of Uttarāyaṇa i.e. when the Sun enters the 10th house of Indian Zodiac viz. Makar or Capricorn. “Maatu Pongal” is celebrated to recognize and appreciate the cattle for providing dairy products to human beings and fertilizers, labour and transportation for agricultural operations. Cows, buffaloes, oxen are bathed, decorated and fed with mixture of Pongal, jaggery, honey, banana and other fruits. “Kannum Pongal”, the fourth day of the festival marks the end of Pongal. The word ‘Kannum’ in this context means ‘visit’. Many families hold reunions. Villagers visit relatives and friends while in the cities people gather on beaches, theme parks and gardens. The exchange of greetings and gifts take place and the joyful atmosphere prevails in all households.

Makar Sankrāntī: The sun’s entry  in Makar Rāshi and starting of Uttarāyaa is celebrated as Makar Sankrāntī or “Sankrama Parva” in Andhra Pradesh, Bengal, Bihar, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh, while it is celebrated as, ‘Uttarāyaa’ in Gujarat and Rajasthan. In Andhra Pradesh, it is celebrated for four days like Pongal in Tamilnadu. The fourth day here is celebrated as “Mukkanuma” for worshipping cattle. Some people also take non-vegetarian dishes on the fourth day while they do not take any non-vegetarian food during first three days of Makar Sankrāntī.

In Maharashtra, Makar Sankrāntī is celebrated not only for three days but as a Sankrama Parva it extends right up to Rathasaptamī, the 7th day of Śuklapaka of Māgh. The previous day of Makar Sankrāntī is called “Bhogi”. On this day, Bājrā rotī of Til (Bread of Pearl Millets with toppings of Sesame Seeds) is prepared and a bold dish of mix-vegetables consisting mainly of green bengal gram, carrots and various types of beans, which are the produce of new crops is prepared. On the day of Makar Sankrāntī a delicacy of “Gul Poli” (rolled Chapatti/Roti with inside stuffings of jaggery and sesame seeds) is prepared and offered in Pūjā.

During the period from Makar Sankrāntī to Rathasaptami (except the third day which is called, ‘Kinkrant’) “Haldi-Kumkum” programmes are organized and celebrated by ladies. People meet their relatives and friends and offer Laddoo made from Sesame Seeds and Jaggery with greetings for auspicious days of Uttarāyaa and for establishing re-unions and good relationships with each other. On Rathasaptami day Sun god is worshipped in the form of “Sun riding the Chariot of Seven Horses”. On this day milk is boiled in small earthen pots and allowed to overflow as an offering to Sun God. Thus, Makar Sankrāntī with extended period up to Rathsaptami is the largest festival celebrated during Sankrama Parva, while the Sun enters the Makar Rāshi.

In all these festivals the concept of Yajña is deeply rooted. The basic principle is expression of appreciation and gratitude to the nature, nature-spirits and deities for their benevolence and bounty. Sacrifice of something given by nature (Idam na mam!) for ‘Samaṣṭī Kalyān’ and ‘Mānav Kalyān’. The elements of, ‘competition’, ‘Brand building’ or ‘Conflict with Nature and others’; which are the basis of Western Approach to Agriculture or any Business activity , is totally absent here . On the contrary the concept of, ‘Sacrifice for Samddhī‘; i.e. overall prosperity, peace and happiness is very much ingrained in these festivals. Prayers for Bounty or Samddhī to Agni or Sun God are for the purpose of ‘plenty for all and sharing with all’. The concept of Yajñā in these festivals makes the fundamental difference in the Cultures.

to be continued….

Sh. Anand GaikwadKrishi Bhushan Sendriya  Sheti  M. S. & Retd. Executive Director/Company Secretary

Indian Festivals based on the Concept of Yajña (Part -I)

Sh. Anand Gaikwad

Introduction

While I was studying Varāh Mihir’s “Brihat Samhitā” and participating in the exercise of validation of his Rain conception and Rain Delivery (RCRD) theory for Monsoon -2016; the basis of Yajña concept being incorporated in some of the Indian Festivals came to my mind as a realisation. I have been thinking about it ever since the publication of the report about this validation exercise in Asian Agri-History Journal 2018 Vol.22 (2), the International Quarterly Journal of Asian Agri- History Foundation. My association with late Ashwamedhayaji Shri Nanaji Kale for  validation of Suvrushti  Project and RCRD Theory for Monsoon 2016, was a wonderful experience for me; particularly for understanding the greatness of our Ṛśis in theorizing their observations  of nature, environment, atmospheric order and the  Cosmological  System consisting of Sun, Moon, Planets and Nakṣatras. One marvels at the wisdom and expertise in interweaving these theories in social and cultural life for the common benefit of mankind.

All of us are familiar with the Indian Monsoon. The word Monsoon has its origin in Arabic word, ‘Mausam’ which means ‘season’. The word which was originally referred to wind reversals in the Arabian sea, has come to mean the whole range of the phenomena associated with the annual weather cycles in tropical and sub-tropical Asia, Australia and Africa. Therefore, the study of Monsoon weather patterns is of great importance for every Indian farmer, every student of Environmental Science and for that matter every Indian citizen, because Monsoon is the life-line of India. According to world climate patterns and regional geography of Asia and India, Monsoon climate patterns are characterized by large scale seasonal reversals of winds, giving very distinct seasons, ’Summer’ and ‘Winter’. In summer moist air is carried northwards from the Indian Ocean over the Indian sub-continent bringing rains. In winter, cool dry weather is carried southwards. Thus, the year gets divided into wet and dry seasons. In addition a short North-East Monsoon affects the south-east coastal states of India due to winds bringing moisture from Bay of Bengal. The Summer Monsoon arrives in southern India in late May or early June and gradually advances northwards and westwards reaching Jammu-Kashmir, Pakistan by early July. It begins to retreat from north western regions and Pakistan by September and withdraws from south India by November. This pattern of advancement and withdrawal gives Indian sub-continent its characteristic seasonal rainfall pattern which is called Indian Monsoon.

Our great Ṛśis and seers during Vedic Period and Post Vedic Period had studied these weather patterns and encapsulated their findings in scriptures like , “ Brihat Samhitā“ of  Varāh Mihir, “Arthaśastra“ of Kautilya  and “Kṛśi Parashar“ of  Parashar. In addition to these examples of the Science of Rainfall Prediction and Rain Conception Signals, there are many ancient texts of Astrometerology of Vedic traditions like –Parashar Samhitā, Garg Samhitā, Kashyap Samhitā, Maghmala Samhitā, Narad Samhitā etc. which have been mentioned in the reports/ books published by Shri Yogiraj Ved Vidnyan Aśram, Barshi, Dist. Solapur Maharashtra, (Vedaśram) founded by late Ashwamedhayaji Shri Nanaji Kale mentioned above. Vedaśram carried out various experiments of, Suvrushti Projects and Validation of Varāh Mihir’s RCRD Theory by performing Somyāgas, Parjanya Yāgas for establishing scientifically the relationship between Yajñas, Agriculture, Environment and Rainfall.

Varāh Mihir’s Theory of Rain Conception and Rain Delivery ( RCRD):

Varāh Mihir in his, “Brihat Samhitā” gives his theory of Vṛśṭi Garbhadhārana (Rain conception) and Vṛśṭi Prasav (Rain delivery). Chapters 21 to 28 of this book are devoted to this subject-matter. Before laying down his theory, Varāh Mihir explains the importance of the knowledge of Rainfall Prediction, Rain Conception Signals and Rain Delivery at the beginning of chapter 21 entitled “Garbh Lakṣaṇam” (Pregnancy of clouds) in the first verse as follows:

अन्नम् जगत: प्राणा: प्रावृट्कालस्य चान्नमायत्तम् |

यस्मादत: परीक्ष्य: प्रावृट्काल: प्रयत्नेन् ||१||

Annam Jagataḥ Prāṇāḥ Prāvṛṭkālasya Chānnamāyattam  I

Yasmādataḥ Parīkṣyaḥ Prāvṛṭkālaḥ Prayatnen  II1II

It means that as the food is life-giving and life-sustaining force to all living beings and the food is dependent on rainfall (Monsoon) it should be observed, investigated and studied carefully. In India only 35% of the cultivated land is an irrigated land, which means that almost 65% is rain-fed area, which is entirely dependent upon Monsoon. Hence farmer’s knowledge about Rain Conception Signals and Rainfall Prediction is of great significance.

केजिद्वदन्ती कार्तिक शुक्लान्तमतीत्य गर्भदिवसा: स्यु: |

न च तन्मतं बहुनां गर्गादीनां मतं वक्ष्ये II II

Kejidvadantī Kārtika Śuklāntamatītya Garbhadivasāḥ Syuḥ  I

Na Cha Tanmataṁ Bahunāṁ Gargādināṁ  Mataṁ Vakṣye II5II

Thus, some sages say that the days of pregnancy of clouds begins after the full moon of Kārtika month but the opinion is not shared by the majority. Therefore he further says:

मार्गशिर: सितपक्षप्रतिपत्प्रभृति क्षपाकरेआषाढाम् |

पूर्वा वा समुपगते गर्भाणां लक्षणं ज्ञेयम् ||||

Mārgśiraḥ Sitpakṣapratipatbhṛti Kṣapākareāṣāḍhām I

Pūrvā Vā Samupagate Garbhāṇāṁ Lakṣaṇaṁ Jñeyam II 6 II

The symptoms of pregnancy of clouds are to be detected / observed when Moon transits Purvāśāḍha asterism commencing from the first day of Mārgaśirsya. Varāh Mihir’s prime RCRD Theory is stated in verse 7 :

यन्नक्षत्रमुपगते गर्भश्चंद्रे भावेत्स चन्द्रवशात् |

पन्चनवते दिनशते तत्रैव प्रसवमायाति || ||  

Yannakṣatramupagate Garbhaśchandre Bhāvetsa Chandravaśāt I

Panchanavate Dinśate Tatraiva Prasavmāyāti  II7II

The rain-foetus formed during the Moon stay in a particular asterism (Nakṣatra) will be born 195 days (192 calendar days  + or – one day ) later at the time when the Moon will be again in the same asterism according to the laws of her revolution (Moon Cycle). Thus, the RCRD Theory of Varāh Mihir in simple words is that rain conception takes place during dry period (Mārgaśir to Chaitra).The rain conception signals can be observed from the first day of Mārgaśir till Chaitra Māsa. The rain-foetus conceived during this period will give rain delivery after the gestation period of 195 days (approx. six and half months later) at the time of same asterism when the foetus was conceived. The various rain conception signals to be observed are given in other verses and depending on the rain conception signals observed the rain delivery after the gestation period of 195 days  can be predicted . One can prepare a local calendar of rainfall prediction and validate the same with actual rainfall on those days. A farmer can plan his agricultural operations based on this local Agro-climatic calendar.

The relationship of Yajña with Agriculture and Environment :

When one reads the RCRD Theory of Varāh Mihir along with the gospel truth given in Bhagavadagītā Chapter 3 Śloka 14:

अन्नाद् भवन्ति भूतानि पर्ज्यन्यात् अन्नसंभव: |

यज्ञात् भवन्ति भूतानि पर्ज्यन्या: यज्ञ: कर्मसमुद्भव: ||३.१४|| 

Annād bhavanti bhutāni parjanyāt Annasambhavaḥ I

Yajñāt Bhavanti Bhutāni Parjyanyāḥ Yajñaḥ Karmasamudbhavaḥ  II3.14 II

One leads to logical conclusion that Yajñas be performed during the dry period to facilitate rain conception and rain-foetus nourishment during the gestation period. This very concept has been incorporated in our festivals which are based on Yajña/ Havans starting from Durgā Navrātri in Aświn to Rāma Navmī in Chaitra and Akaya-Ttīyā in Vaiśākha. The deities worshipped are Ādi Śakti, Puruśa, Śiva, Agnī and Surya and the offerings are preparations of cereals and pulses of newly harvested crops. Our Ṛśis have interwoven these festivals which are based on ’Suryōpasana’ and ‘Agniupasana’ in our cultural system for celebration / participation by masses.

(to be continued…..)

Sh. Anand GaikwadKrishi Bhushan Sendriya  Sheti  M. S. & Retd. Executive Director/Company Secretary

सर्वरूप अटल : हम सब अटल, हम सबमें अटल

Alok Dwivedi

-Alok Kumar Dwivedi

अटल जी का व्यक्तित्व एवम् जीवन

अटल बिहारी वाजपेयी निहसंदेह भारतीय लोकतंत्र के प्राणपुरुष रहे। ग्वालियर में जन्मे अटल जी को कवि हृदय अपने पिता जी से विरासत में प्राप्त हुई। अटल जी के सम्पूर्ण जीवन में उनका द्रवित कवि हृदय प्रवाहमान रहा। आजकल प्रशासन में नैतिकता की विवेचना करते हुए जो सर्वप्रमुख गुण बतलाया जाता है वह है- ’सम्वेगात्मक बौद्धिकत’ अर्थात् प्रज्ञा और हृदय का सम्मिलित शासन। इस अवस्था में हृदय (भावनाओं) का निर्णयन में महत्वपूर्ण स्थान होता है। भारत में प्रधानमंत्री के रूप में अटल जी अपने इसी गुण के लिए अजातशत्रु के रूप में भी सम्बोधित किए गये। समाजिक व्यक्ति के जीवन में किस प्रकार से बदलाव लाया जाय, उनके जीवन को किस प्रकार से ख़ुशहाल किया जाय, लोकतंत्र में उनकी आवाज़ को सड़क से लेकर संसद तक किस प्रकार से गतिमान किया जाय ये सारी बातें ही अटल जी के अटल अंतस में प्रवाहित होती रहती थी। इसे मूर्त रूप प्रदान करने हेतु अटल जी ने अपना सम्पूर्ण जीवन तपस्या रत रखा। अटल जी का जीवन इतने आयामों को संजोये रहा है कि उनके महाप्रयाण कर जाने पर लोग उनके जीवन के एक-एक पक्ष को अपने में प्रतिबिम्बित होते देख रहें हैं। माता-पिता के प्रति सम्मान का भाव रखने वाला व्यक्ति अटल जी के बचपन में अपना बचपन देख रहा है, पिता से मित्रवत रहने वाला बालक अटल जी के कॉलेज के दिनो में उनमें ख़ुद को देख रहा है क्यूँकि अटल जी कानपुर के डी०ए०वी० कॉलेज में लॉ की पढ़ाई में अपने पिता जी के ही साथ एक ही कक्षा में पढ़ते थे और मित्र की भाँति हॉस्टल के एक ही रूम में रहते थे। पत्रकार अटल जी में पत्रकार देखते थे क्यूँकि प्रारम्भिक दौर में अटल जी पत्रकार थे। छात्र राजनीति में भी अटल जी कॉम्युनिस्ट छात्र विंग एस॰एफ०आई॰ से जुड़े रहे तो छात्र राजनीति में रुचि रखने वाले भी उन्हें अपने आदर्शों में मानते रहे हैं। राष्ट्रप्रेम के भावों से ओतप्रोत हो स्वाधीनता, स्वाभिमान और लोकतंत्रात्मक मूल्यों हेतु राष्ट्रीय महत्व के आंदोलनों में सक्रिय भागीदारी करने वाले लोग अटल जी में ख़ुद को प्रतिबिम्बित मानते हैं। 1930 के दशक के मध्य में अटल जी ने राष्ट्रीय स्वयंसेवक संघ में सक्रिय रूप में जुड़कर स्वतंत्रता आंदोलनों में भागीदारी दी। उन्होंने इस दौरान विभिन्न छात्र संगठनों के छात्रों को स्वतंत्रता आंदोलनों में भागीदारी सुनिश्चित की। आंदोलनों में सफलता या असफलता के पश्चात् किसी संगठन से वैचारिक स्तर पर मतभिन्नता होने पर नए संगठन की आधारशिला रखने वाले लोग अटल जी में अपना यह रूप देखते हैं। स्वतंत्रता प्राप्ति के पश्चात् कश्मीर के मुद्दे पर विचारों की सहमति न होने पर डॉक्टर श्यामा प्रसाद मुखर्जी ने जब जनसंघ की नींव डाली तो अटल जी इसके संस्थापक सदस्य रहें। जो लोग अपनी कार्यक्षमता से किसी-किसी के दिल में विशेष स्थान बना लेते हैं वे लोग  भी स्वयं को अटल जी में देखते हैं। अटल जी की कार्यशैली से अत्यंत प्रभावित होकर पंडित दीनदयाल उपाध्याय जी ने उन्हें संसद सदस्य बनाने हेतु तीन जगहों से लोकसभा का उम्मीदवार बनाया था अपनी कार्यशैली से विरोधियों को भी आत्ममुग्ध करने की शैली रखने वाले अटल जी में ख़ुद को देखते है । यद्यपि नेहरू जी के प्रधानमंत्री रहते हुए संसद में अटल जी कांग्रेस की नीतियों के प्रखर आलोचक रहे परन्तु उनकी वाक्शैली, कार्यक्षमता और जनहित के मुद्दों को प्रभावी रूप से उठाने से मुग्ध होकर नेहरू जी ने एक बार विदेश से आए प्रतिनिधिमंडल से इन्हें मिलवाते हुए कहा था कि यह लड़का भविष्य में इस देश का प्रधानमंत्री बनेगा। हिंदी, हिन्दू और हिंदुस्तान में आस्था रखने वाले लोग भी अटल जी में ख़ुद को देखते हैं जनता पार्टी की सरकार में विदेश मंत्री के रूप में संयुक्त राष्ट्र संघ में भारत का पक्ष रखते हुए अटल जी ने अपना भाषण हिन्दी में देते हुए आपातकाल के पश्चात् भारत में हुए लोकतांत्रिक स्थिरता को मज़बूती से लोगों के सामने रखा। अपनी कविता “हिन्दू तनमन हिन्दू जीवन” में हिंदुत्व के बारे में श्रेष्ठ प्रतीकों का प्रयोग कर हिन्दुत्व का विचार दृढ़ किया। जीवन जीते हुए अपने स्वाभिमान और अपने विचारों से कभी समझौता न करने वाले भी अटल जी में ख़ुद को देखते हैं। अटल जी ने जब भारतीय जनता पार्टी की स्थापना की तो संसद में इसके मात्र दो सदस्य थे परंतु अपनी राष्ट्रवादी विचारधारा और स्वाभिमान के आत्मबल से जन सरोकार के मुद्दों को निरन्तर प्रभावी रूप से सदन के पटल पर रखते हुए एक दिन सबसे बड़ी पार्टी के रूप में सामने आए और दुनिया  सबसे बड़े लोकतंत्र में सरकार बनाकर यह दिखा दिया कि यदि जीवन में निरन्तर हम नैतिकता के पथ पर चलते हैं तो निश्चित ही एक दिन सफलता ज़रूर प्राप्त होगी। व्यक्तिगत और सार्वजनिक जीवन में नैतिकता और मूल्यों को आत्मसात करने वाले लोग भी अटल जी के जीवन के एक पक्ष में ख़ुद को देखते हैं। जब संसद में सरकार को बचाने के लिए एक सदस्य की आवश्यकता थी तब भी ख़रीद फ़रोख़्त की राजनीति से ख़ुद को दूर रखते हुए अपने आदर्शो से समझौता न करते हुए विपक्ष में बैठना स्वीकार किया। १३ दिन के अल्पकालिक सरकार के गिर जाने पर अटल जी के संसद में दिए गये भाषण को लोकतंत्र के श्रेष्ठ राजनीतिक मूल्यों का आप्तवाक्य कहा जाए तो कोई अतिशयोक्ति नहीं होगी। संसद में भाषण के दौरान अटल जी ने कहा था कि “सरकारें आएंगी-जाएंगी, पार्टियां बनेंगी-बिगड़ेंगी पर यह देश रहना चाहिए…इस देश का लोकतंत्र अमर रहना चाहिए….” इन मूल्यों के साथ अटल जी राजनीति में आगे बढ़ते गये। समाज में वे लोग जो आपसी साझेदारी और सहयोग से किसी साध्य की तरफ़ गति करने को श्रेयस्कर मानते हैं वें भी अटल जी में स्वयं को देख सकते हैं। अटल जी ने लगभग २५ पार्टियों को साथ मिलाकर केंद्र की सरकार को सफलतापूर्वक नेतृत्व प्रदान किया यह स्वयं में अद्भुत रहा। इस दौरान देश के जनहित के मुद्दों को भी अटल जी ने सामंजस्यपूर्वक हल करने का प्रयास किया। कवि जो जीवन और जगत की यथार्थता को प्रकट करते हुए अपनी बातों में भविष्य के अंकुर प्रस्फुटित करता है वह भी अटल जी में स्वयं को देख सकता है। अटल जी विशाल हृदय वाले कवि जो जनसामान्य के अंतस के भावों को शब्दों के द्वारा प्रकट कर शासनसत्ता पर बैठे लोगों को उनके कर्तव्यों के निर्वहन हेतु प्रेरित करते रहे। अटल जी की ख़ूबी यह रही कि जब उन्होंने ख़ुद शासन सत्ता की बागडोर सम्भाली तब उन्होंने ख़ुद को भी काव्य के माध्यम से अपने कर्तव्यों और दायित्वों का बोध कराना जारी रखा। जो लोग एक कुशल प्रशासक के रूप में हैं वे भी अटल जी में ख़ुद को देखते हैं। अटल जी दूरदर्शी प्रशासक थे और प्रशासन में सम्वेगात्मक बौद्धिकता को अत्यंत महत्व देते थे। वे अपने पड़ोसियों से सम्बंध को सुधारने के पक्षधर थे और इस क्रम में पाकिस्तान के लाहौर तक मैत्री बस सेवा को प्रारम्भ कर वहाँ स्वयं गये और मित्रता का हाथ बढ़ाया परंतु वहीं दूसरी तरफ़ जब पाकिस्तान ने कारगिल पर हमला किया तो सेना का साहस बढ़ाते हुए भारत के पराक्रम और शौर्य को कम नहीं होने दिया। अमेरिका की तमाम पाबंदियों के बावजूद पोखरन परीक्षण विश्व पटल पर भारत की उपस्थिति का आभास कराया। सर्व शिक्षा अभियान “सब पढ़े सब बढ़े” और स्वर्णिम चतुर्भुज योजना उनकी दूरदर्शिता को प्रकट करती है। एक प्रशासक के रूप में अटल जी पंडित दीन दयाल जी के अंत्योदय के विचार को आत्मसात करते हुए नीति निर्माण करने और उसको मूर्त रूप प्रदान करने को सदैव प्राथमिकता देते रहे। एक प्रशासक के रूप में वह समावेशी विकास के पुरोधा माने जाते हैं।

Atal ji

अटल जी की विचारधारा

लोकतंत्र के प्रहरी अटल जी में स्वयं की दूरदर्शी राजनीति को प्रतिबिम्बित पाते हैं। एक बार संसद में केवल दो सदस्यों के होने पर कांग्रेस द्वारा उपहास करने पर अटल जी ने कहा था कि “आज आप लोग हमारी संख्या बल पर हँस रहें हैं, एक दिन ऐसा आएगा जब केंद्र सहित अन्य सभी राज्यों में हमारी सरकार होगी, हम सत्ता पक्ष में होंगे और आप विपक्ष में होंगे“। इस दृष्टि से अटल जी काल के चक्र घूर्णन को शाश्वत मानते थे। आज जो देश की राजनीतिक दशा है वह उनकी बातो को यथार्थ धरातल प्रदान करती हैं।

वैदिक मूल्यों के पक्षधर  ’अटल जी’ 

अटल जी इस प्रकार अन्य से भिन्न रहे। एक प्रखर राष्ट्रवादी के रूप में वह भारतीय संस्कृति और मूल्यों के उत्थान हेतु सदा प्रतिबद्ध रहे। सामान्यतः यह देखा जाता है कि राजनीतिक लाभ के लिए लोग जाति, धर्म, पंथ इत्यादि के आधार पर समाज को विभक्त करते हैं और अपना लाभ लेने की कोशिश करते हैं पर अटल जी सदा मूल्यों से युक्त राजनीति के पक्षधर रहे। मूल्य वैदिक परम्परा का आधार स्तम्भ रहा है और जब भी व्यक्ति अपने विचारों और कार्यों से मूल्यों के संवर्धन में योगदान करता है तो निश्चित ही वह कहीं न कहीं वैदिक परम्परा का ही संवर्धन करता है। वैदिक सभ्यता के इतिहास के लगभग 5000 वर्ष से अधिक के राजनीतिक इतिहास में सदा ही एक महत्वपूर्ण बात रही कि यहाँ राजनीति का धर्म रहा है, धर्म की राजनीति नहीं रही।अटल जी ने अपने कार्यों और व्यवहार से सदा ही राजनीति के धर्म की वकालत की जिसका ध्येय वाक्य रहा कि समाज में सदैव ही बिना किसी भेदभाव के समाज के समस्त वर्गों के हितो का संरक्षण करना और साथ ही समाज के वंचितो और पिछड़े तबक़ों के उत्थान के प्रयास किया जाय। एक समय देश में ऐसी स्थिति आयी जब लोग बच्चों के प्राथमिक स्तर की शिक्षा से अपने दायित्वों से विमुख होने लगे। इसके परिणाम स्वरूप देश में प्राथमिक स्तर के बच्चों में स्कूल छोड़ने की संख्या में व्यापक बढ़ोत्तरी हुयी। निश्चित ही किसी देश के लिए यह एक काफ़ी विमर्श का विषय होता है। अटल जी जैसे कवि हृदय को काफ़ी व्यथित करने वाली बात थी। इस संवेदना को महसूस करते हुए अटल जी ने शिक्षा के अधिकार को मूल अधिकार अधिकार माना। इसे मूल कर्तव्य की श्रेणी में भी डाला गया। इसके परिणामस्वरूप प्राथमिक स्तर की शिक्षा में बच्चों की संख्या में काफ़ी सुधार हुआ। भारत को परमाणु शक्ति बनाने के सम्बंध में अटल जी का संसद में यह सीधा वक्तव्य था कि देश को अपने सुरक्षा मानकों को लेकर सदा सचेत रहना चाहिए और हर प्रकार से सदैव तैयार रहना चाहिए। पड़ोसियों को लेकर भी अटल जी काफ़ी उदार रहे। वह सदा ही कहा करते थे कि पड़ोसियों से सम्बंध मधुर रखना एक कुशल रणनीति का हिस्सा है क्यूँकि पड़ोसी बदले नहीं जा सकते। इसी आधार पर उन्होंने पाकिस्तान से सम्बंधो को नया आयाम देते हुए भारत पाकिस्तान मैत्री बस सेवा भी शुरू की पर जब पाकिस्तान ने कारगिल पर आक्रमण किया तो उसका भी मुँहतोड़ जवाब देने से बाज़ नहीं आए।

अटल जी का महाप्रयाण अटलसत्य मृत्यु को साहचर्य प्रदान करने जैसा है। जिस प्रकार से संस्कृत का यह प्रसिद्ध श्लोक है-

   “ ॐ पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदं पूर्णात् पूर्णमुदच्यते। पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते॥”

अर्थात् वह जो दिखाई नहीं देता है, वह अनंत और पूर्ण है। यह दृश्यमान जगत भी अनंत है। उस अनंत से विश्व बहिर्गत हुआ। यह अनंत विश्व उस अनंत से बहिर्गत होने पर भी अनंत ही रह गया। इसी प्रकार अटल, अटल मृत्यु से समागम कर अटल सत्य ही रह गया। ना ही कुछ ह्रास हुआ ना ही कुछ वृद्धि हुई।

-Alok Kumar Dwivedi, Research scholar, Department of Philosophy, University of Allahabad

Can we improve Indian education by using technology and going back to tradition?

Rajeev Srinivasan

Prof. Rajeev Srinivasan, IIM Bangalore

Education everywhere is going through trying times. India’s education system has demonstrated particularly poor learning outcomes in primary (India ranked 43rd out of 45th in the last PISA test it took part in. PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) is a standard global test for 15 year olds. In 2013, India debuted, and ranked so close to the bottom of the rankings that it withdrew from the PISA study thereafter. In contrast, China, another debutant in 2013, zoomed right to the top position. In regards to university education, there has not been a single globally lauded invention or discovery from India since 1947.) and tertiary (Dr. Gangan Prathap, a former VC, in 2017: “India has a presence in fifteen of twenty-two subject areas in which there at least 50 institutes globally that have published more than 500 papers. It has no institution which can be counted at this level of size and excellence in seven areas: Arts & Humanities; Business, Management and Accounting; Health Professions; Neuroscience; Nursing; Psychology; and Social Sciences. India’s research base is completely skewed towards the Physical Sciences and Engineering with very little for Biological Sciences and Medicine and virtually none in Social Sciences and Arts and Humanities when excellence at the highest level is considered. Its performance is also bench marked against three nations, namely Australia, the Netherlands and Taiwan which are of similar size in terms of GDP and scientific output… It is seen that although India has the highest GDP among the four countries, its performance lags considerably behind due to the very low expenditure on R&D.”) education. In this context, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s statement of April 23rd is noteworthy: “Serious discussions on how to include the ancient Indian traditions in educational system should begin. India has the capability to combine modern education with its ancient traditions to help solve problems in the world”, said the pontiff.

education-technology

(Source of image : https://edexec.co.uk/technology-vs-tradition-creating-the-perfect-learning-environment/)

It is remarkable that technological progress has made it possible to take in elements of traditional systems including gurukulas. What we have used over the last couple of centuries is a system imposed by British imperialists, driven by their needs at the time. That colonial education system was a product of the (First) Industrial Revolution. Their factories required masses of people who were literate, and able to follow instructions. That’s it: no creativity, please.

There is a contrast between this system and what is generally believed to have existed earlier: a broad, humanistic educational system with significant customization as well as practical problem-solving. The emphasis in India has traditionally been in the practical application of theoretical ideas: eg. in the creation of Vedic fire altars with precise mathematical properties.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution, and especially the proliferation of computing power and Artificial Intelligence, negates the requirements of the First. We no longer need armies of drone workers toiling away. We need creative individuals.

Furthermore, the nature of work is changing. Earlier, people used to change jobs, but now they change careers, often pursuing three or four in sequence. Besides, the very idea of the lifetime job is looking shaky: we may instead have a ‘gig economy’ where free agent workers come together for a specific task, complete it, and move on. A large number of people may become permanently unemployable, too. The trick for each individual is to avoid that fate through choosing education wisely.

Fortunately, we can now envision truly customized education. A curriculum, lesson plans, tests, and self-paced learning that are appropriate for a specific individual are now possible through the application of AI techniques.

In addition, there is learning material out there, available to all via MOOCs (Massively Online Open Courses) and others: Khan Academy, Coursera, Udacity, TED, Wikipedia, edX, YouTube and also Indian equivalents. Much of the content is free.

There is also the tyranny of English, that is to say that English is considered the sina qua non for a person to be deemed ‘educated’ in India. Even if you are a highly-trained and skilled pundit in traditional knowledge, you will be viewed with derision by English-speakers (Ananda K Coomaraswamy on 1908: “Speak to the ordinary graduate of an Indian University, or a student from Ceylon, of the ideals in the Mahabharata—he will hasten to display his knowledge of Shakespeare; talk to him of religious philosophy—you find that he is an atheist of the crude type common in Europe a generation ago, and that not only has he no religion, but is as lacking in philosophy as the average Englishman; talk of him of Indian music—he will produce a gramophone or a harmonium and inflict upon you one or both; talk to him of Indian dress or jewelry—he will tell you that they are uncivilized and barbaric; talk to him of Indian art—it is news to him that such a thing exists; ask him to translate for you a letter written in his mother-tongue—he does not know it. He is indeed a stranger in his own land.”). There was a time when it was believed that English was an advantage for Indians; now it is apparent that it is stunting the development of independent research, not to mention killing off Indian languages.

Here too, technology can be the savior. For the first time, we can see a future where real-time translation enables people to learn in their mother tongue. If automatic translation becomes routine, then it becomes easy for our mother-tongue-speaking students to understand all the material out there in MOOCs: it will be delivered to them in their mother tongues, thanks to machine learning.

What might be useful in traditional education? The curricula documented by Dharampal as prevailing in pre-colonial India included vyakarana, tarka, ganita, rasa, darsana, arthashastra, and pramana. If you step away from the current STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) focus, these subjects would appear to help in the development of fully engaged and innovative  citizens.

Can we move to such a system overnight? Of course not. But the gradual introduction of such subjects into the curriculum will be useful for Indian students to have a competitive advantage in the future.

 

Prof. Rajeev Srinivasan, Adjunct Faculty, Strategy Area, IIM Bangalore

 

Relevance of Gandhi in Today’s World

AS

Dr. Anju Seth

Looking at the present state of affairs in India, the birthplace of Gandhi, one would probably surmise that Gandhism, whatever the term may mean, cannot have any relevance in this twenty-first century. Gandhi is rightly called the Father of the Nation because he single handedly stood up against the mighty British Empire, without any arms, and brought her independence. However, today, Gandhi is mostly forgotten and his relevance questioned even by his ardent devotees. Today Gandhi is remembered in India mostly on his birthday which is celebrated as a national holiday rather as a ritual.

Gandhiji Line Drawings (1)

(Source of Image : http://devang-home.blogspot.com/2011/08/sketches-of-mahatma-gandhi.html)

As a matter of fact, India is not following any of Gandhi’s teachings which are mostly confined to text books. In fact, since independence, the country has witnessed many violent communal riots in this multi communal country. Gandhi’s message of ‘swābalambī’, self-sufficiency with home spun ‘khādī’ cloth is not used now-a-days even as a social slogan. Statistics shows that the country is definitely not following ‘sarvodaya’, a broad Gandhian term meaning ‘universal upliftment’ or ‘progress of all’ reaching the masses. On the contrary, India today has the unique distinction of being the only country in the world which has the richest man in the world while at the same time more than 30 per cent of its population lives in dire poverty.

The above shows that today, Gandhism is a very confused ‘ism’ in India. Today many politicians in India use the term merely as a slogan and the common man make Gandhi almost out of reach of the younger groups by making Gandhi an unwilling ‘avatāra’. That may be one reason why the only photo we see of Gandhi in India is always that of an old man which brings the image of a very simple and pious man who was meek and mild like Jesus Christ. While Gandhi was not a simple man to say the least, the above does not gives the right image of Gandhi and does not bring any inspiration to the younger group, the group most relevant for Gandhi.

But Mahatma Gandhi, in this twentieth century, produced a very sophisticated approach because he implemented that very noble philosophy of ahimsā in modern politics, and he succeeded. That is a very great thing.”

And that is precisely the greatness of Gandhi and that is the message of Gandhi to the modern world. In the past century many places in the world have been drastically changed through the use of brute force, by the power of guns the Soviet Union, China, Tibet, Burma, many communist countries in Africa and South America. But eventually the power of guns will have to be changed by the will of the ordinary people. If we try to analyze the secrets of Gandhi’s success, we would probably find Faith and Action and Populism, the three most important aspects of his life. Gandhi’s extra ordinary communion with the masses of ordinary people was another of his secrets. In contrast to many of our present day leaders of this highly democratic world, Gandhi was a true leader and friend of the people. Disaku Ikeda, the Japanese Buddhist leader who takes great inspiration from Gandhi has this to say about him. “His activism is not mere action but contains many aspects of a spiritual practice that is inspired by the inner urging of the conscience”.

The phenomenal success Gandhi registered in far-away South Africa fighting for human rights and civil liberties has great significance when we find that later his teachings were adopted not only by Nelson Mandela, the South African freedom fighter, but it was also subsequently revealed that the former South African president De Klerk was greatly influenced by Gandhi’s principles. In fact, from Dalai Lama to Desmond Tutu and from Martin Luther King to Nelson Mandela, many world leaders were inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, all in their own different ways.

Gandhi left many valuable sayings for the modern man to fight for goodness in society in a non-violent way. “Good” Gandhi said “travels at a snails pace.” “Non-violence” Gandhi said “is a tree of slow growth. It grows imperceptibly but surely.” And then “Mere goodness is not of much use.” Gandhi stated. “Goodness must be joined with knowledge, courage and conviction. One must cultivate the fine discriminating quality which goes with spiritual courage and character.” The modern man can also take great wisdom from what Gandhi said the seven social sins: Politics without principles; Wealth without work; Commerce without morality; Education without character; Pleasure without conscience; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice.

It was the unique non-violent movement under his leadership that earned for India freedom from the colonial rule. In spearheading the campaign against the alien rule, Gandhiji adopted the innovative techniques of civil disobedience and social transformation, which had several exemplary features.

The Gandhian technique of mobilizing people has been successfully employed by many oppressed societies around the world under the leadership of people like Martin Luther King in the United States, Nelson Mandela in South Africa, and now Aung Saan Sun Kyi in Myanmar, which is an eloquent testimony to the continuing relevance of Mahatma Gandhi.

In India, economic development has been mostly confined to the urban conglomerates. In the process, the rural India that comprises 700 million people has been given short shrift. Gandhiji’s philosophy of inclusive growth is fundamental to the building of a resurgent rural India. He believed in “production by the masses” rather than in mass production, a distinctive feature of the industrial revolution. It is surprising, even paradoxical, that these days Gandhian philosophy should find increasing expression through the most modern technology! Now, it is possible to establish small-scale and medium-scale factories in smaller towns and remote corners of the country, thanks to the phenomenal innovations in communication and information technologies. New technologies have brought in widespread and low-cost electronic connectivity that enables instantaneous contact between industrial units and the sellers and consumers of their products. Location and logistics are no more a limitation or constraint for industrial development.

If we say that the twenty-first century is the century of the common man, then we see that Gandhism has even more relevance in this age, and Gandhi will inspire generations of individuals fighting for goodness of the society. If today we find that Gandhism is in severe test in countries like India, it is not because there is certain inherent weakness in Gandhism, but it is because we have not seen in India strong leaders with the required courage and conviction to fight the evils in society. We may borrow Gandhi’s own words on Ahimsā, and say that Gandhism is only for the courageous people.

-Dr. Anju Seth, Associate Professor, Department of Sanskrit, Satyawati College (Day), University of Delhi, Delhi, India