Modern India’s education system, once again, is one that is largely inherited from the British. Though there have been developments post-independence, especially in technical and management education through the roll out of the IIT’s (Indian Institutes of Technology), with help from various countries, the opening of regional engineering colleges, setting up of the IIM’s and some opening up to private sector investment and the consequent setting up and development of numerous private universities and institutes over the past 25 odd years.
The system still smacks more of political gamesmanship and bureaucratese, rather than a genuinely innovative, dynamic and continuously evolving and healthy sector that is delivering to the nation’s youth, the education that prepares them for work and living a fulfilling life while contributing to nation building.
Unfortunately, as things stand, the country’s education system is churning out unemployable graduates; over 80% of them who pass through the system are, by the governments own admission, unemployable. This has led to a huge and persisting demand-supply gap for good, to great education, to the point that the outward flow of Indian students to universities overseas, to over 40 countries, continues to grow year on year till it is now over 250,000 students in 2017-18. The annual foreign exchange outflow and spend on this is so large that if it were made available to Indian education, it would transform the sector beyond recognition.
While India was building redundancies in its education system, the world changed. We now stand at the crossroad of a world where AI (artificial intelligence), digitization and automation is blowing away jobs every passing day. It is reported and anticipated that over the next 5 to 7 years, more than 800 million jobs will vanish worldwide. Arguments that the technology shifts will in turn create job opportunities are head-in-the sand, and unfounded, at best with no studies to back up claims other than to quote the past narrative of the industrial-post industrial revolution scenarios that have little connect to the current unfolding story of economic activity as a means for job creation in the 21st century.
Professions that were seen as stable and having the capacity to provide life-long employment, are on the AI-Digitization-Tech hit list, and include such areas as Chartered Accountants, lawyers, except perhaps those barristers who argue before the bench, doctors, pilots, secretaries, retail assistants, even domestic help, and so very many more. Software is now writing software, machines are designing machines, data crunching is going entirely to the AI domain, menial or semi-skilled work such as drivers, waiters, cleaners, even farmers and so on, that one never thought could be taken over by machines, is already done, and so on and on, the story goes.
No government in the world is talking about this new paradigm that has come, in a manner of speaking, as a bolt out of the blue; nor is any, least of all the Indian government, talking of any policy initiatives, to use, or mitigate, the emerging story in a manner that creates new functional education prototypes for society to cope with these emerging hard realities.
The core of the Indian system laid out by the British was an abridged version of the one being rolled out and developed in Britain, with the teaching of English at its core; even as they were busy decimating the ancient but robust Indian education system that was studied in depth by them and which made them realize that the education being imparted in India was vastly superior to their own, and was deep in the development of the human mind.
The British knew that to rule India they had to convince the population that they were the superior race, and they partly did this by replacing the Indian education system with their own, which was a major initiative on their governance-path through the 19th century. The agenda was to suppress and put down Indian development, while fulfilling the need to churn out clerks and impart skills needed by the empire to manage the natives.
The British had commissioned a detailed study of the Indian education system in or around 1820’s through a directive to the “Collectors / Deputy Commissioners” in place, in the areas they then ruled. The collectors carried out detailed studies of their Districts and sent back comprehensive reports, with statistics on number of education intuitions, students enrolled, courses taught and methodologies employed to teach in their areas.
It became clear to the British that the Indian education then, was vastly superior to their own, as it was imparting true education such that the students emerged smart, lateral thinkers; compared to their own education system in place at the time, given that a major part of the curriculum was rooted in the teaching of Vedic knowledge including Mathematic, then known science, mind-body development narrative through Yoga etc., all of which produced healthy wholesome students.
This story has been studied in penetrating detail by Mr. Dharampal who has done the nation a huge favour that has gone largely unnoticed. He went to the UK, obtained access to the British archives and hand copied the reports sent back at the time and his work makes for fascinating and illuminating reading, and should be essential reading at Indian schools and amongst Indian educationists.
It would certainly make them aware that our own system that survived since ancient times was not only superior but had inbuilt ability and flexibility to evolve in any direction in the hands of true educationists in changing times. The only impediment, if any at the time, would have been the fixed and traditionalist mindset and attitudes of the then intelligentsia. That has been a core problem and issue with India to this day. The only thing India’s intelligentsia display today are giant sized egos, and not much intelligence.
This system of education for India was designed by the British, firstly to perpetuate a second-class knowledge base leading to second class citizenry that did not have a hope of moving up the value chain but, rather, provided only limited numeracy and skills that were needed by the foreign ruler to administer the huge civilization, it happened to chance upon to rule and derive its wealth from.
The fact also is, that the western education system, in place in India, was designed to fulfill the needs of the industrial revolution and its aftermath. It was and is designed to produce humans who acquired narrow based skills, minds that largely did not question authority or the bosses, to fill defined narrow roles of industry and business in the West, leave alone India. Hence narrow linear education designed to fit roles, rather than one that develops human minds that can cope with many roles.
Central to the thinking, and of designing the new Education Policy are these facts as also the new world AI-Digitization-Tech scenario being rolled out globally, leading to automated and digitized creation of wealth, leading to job-less growth of economies, even as the world population explodes.
The question in these times that governments and people need to ask is, “what system of education should be built, to teach; for what jobs in the 21st century?” The Rising India Party is putting center stage this very question, and as core to its thrust to building a sensible and doable Education policy that takes into the policy frame the impact of emerging technologies including artificial intelligence, automation etc. in the building of, and within its Education Policy narrative,
The Rising India party would actively seek ideas of the best thinkers from across the world such that an evolving policy architecture that would tackle this phenomenon head-on is formed and India and Indians emerge as the growth and change drivers of the world, and not abject followers and beggars as is the case now.
The Rising India Party, on winning elections will kick-off the new Education Policy frame as described below for the Indian citizens to discuss, debate and vote upon