Interview on education - Track 1

Interviewer: While I was contemplating on the subject, I was forced to think first about our society and its maladies. For is it not true the quality of a pie depends on the apples used in making it. So my question to you is: What are the maladies that inflict our society today and where do we stand today?

Prof. Kireet Joshi: you know this question can be answered at length and can be answered very briefly. So let me answer the question for the present moment briefly. The malady of our present society is first that it does not have a leadership which is devoted to creating visions of the future and educating members of the society in visualising the future and we can design better and more prosperous future of the country, this is the first and foremost malady. However it is not true that our country has no vision at all. There are visions but these visions are not being debated at the highest levels in our society. If you read newspapers, magazines apart from Dr Kalam, I don’t think any recent leader has raised the question of visions for India. Even then there are people who have visions and if you make inquiry, visions are available. I always think of the vision that Sri Aurobindo has given for the future. But how many people know that Sri Aurobindo has given a great vision for the future, a future which is practicable, realisable and his own rational arguments for developing that vision and realising that vision. Why is it our people do not have even the idea that such a vision is available in our country. It’s a malady, there is a sickness in our country that this dimension is absent.

Interviewer: So the vision of the people is very myopic, they only think of their little self and little surroundings and their little life, they are not able to look beyond themselves.

Prof. Kireet Joshi: You are right. Take for example one of the important areas for visualising the future is the frontiers of knowledge. We have many scholars in our country; some of them are of the highest order. They are experts who can give you their visions of the frontiers of knowledge. Unfortunately our society doesn’t go to them and they have no means of communicating what they are thinking. Our magazines for example are totally silent on this subject.

Interviewer: So that means there is a big gulf between governance and thinker.

Prof. Kireet Joshi: Not only governance but also among the large masses of people and the few individuals who are at the top of their visions. How to make those visions made available to different strata of society, neither from lower level the aspiration goes up nor the answers that are available, that could be made available are made available to the people. It’s a big gulf as you rightly said.

Interviewer: and also the gulf is between those who can do something about it, like the help of those who have vision, it’s like a triangle. You have the masses and you have the government on one side which is probably visionless but for President Kalam, and you have the thinkers. Thinker do not have the executive power, the leaders don’t have the vision and the masses are stuck in their own little myopic world.

Prof. Kireet Joshi: Exactly, this is the malady in our country and you rightly pointed out, when you spoke of governance, I agree with you that in that respect there is a big lacuna in the governance of the country from this point of view. But this is only one malady. There is a second malady of which I would like to speak a little. And that is the lethargy. In our country there is lack of dynamism, there are many reasons for it. You remember when Swami Vivekananda rose to the heights of his meteoric carrier, he spoke of the message of strength and dynamism. He spoke of Vedanta, in the football and he wanted to give to our youths muscles of steel and he wanted the brain power of Indian youths to be galvanised. Unfortunately India has not responded to that great call. Sri Aurobindo wrote a small article which is extremely important Brain of India. We have not been able to create a great intellectual ability in our young people. Our young people are educated in our country in universities which are manufacturing young people, half baked, unemployable.

Interviewer: So essentially when we talk about lethargy, it is to do with the intellect of the Indian mind is lethargic, it does not want to make the effort to think beyond its routine.

Prof. Kireet Joshi: You are right, that is to say intellect can be a very powerful instrument of energising the people.

Interviewer: So there is fatigue in the intellect.

Prof. Kireet Joshi: Not only fatigue, it is idleness.

Interviewer: There is no aspiration to even make an effort to look beyond....

Prof. Kireet Joshi: There are some young people who would say I would like to read hundred great books of the world. If you go round the country and ask them: how many young people want to read hundred books of the world. That would give the measurement of our intellectual ability.

Interviewer: What is the cause of this, why is it so peculiar to India specifically. I mean we do see countries in the West which, when one visits that it is throbbing and there is a pulse that says that I want to read. Is it just a fallacy or is it the difference between the intellectual development currently in India and the West?

Prof. Kireet Joshi: Well, if you want the answer at the deeper level, I would say that right from the ancient times, barring the very early Vedic age where the principle of dynamism was very greatly emphasised. Even in the Upanishads like Ishopanishad the philosophy of dynamism was given to our country. Even the Gita is a tremendous dynamo, inspiration to awake the people to work ‘Karma yoga’ and to be engaged in action, despite this very rich message available to India, soon thereafter a period came where meaninglessness of life began to be advocated. And sometimes they say that our spirituality of India is at fault. I would like to reject this idea.  Our spiritual capacity of the country is so great that I would say that even today if we are alive and kicking to some extent, it is because of our spirituality.

Interviewer: So according to you it is the wrong interpretation of our scriptures that resulted in the ruinous theory that it being the cause for this.

Prof. Kireet Joshi: Yes, there is this illusionism, meaninglessness of life and asking the best people to renounce, not that the renunciation is wrong but renounce so that you become completely escapists.

Interviewer: So basically it is this kind of understanding that caused people to renounce life itself, instead of the renunciation of desires and that which makes a man out of man.

Prof. Kireet Joshi: Yes, this is it. You are right. So our great difficulty has arisen since this meaninglessness of life has been advocated and it is that which has to be corrected, you have to find out what is the meaning of life. Life on earth is not meaningless, it’s very meaningful and that is why the reason for why I go to the message of Sri Aurobindo is where he equates Yoga and Life and he says: ‘All life is yoga’, and he wants dynamism of divine consciousness to work upon the earth.