Interview on education - Track 2

Interviewer: When we compare it to the West like, we so much dynamism, would you like throw the light on this dynamism present there is that the ideal dynamism in the sense that you talk about the lack of dynamism in India and we talk about that which is overflowing dynamic life, is that ideal or is there something which...

 Prof. Kireet Joshi: You know in the West there is no doubt a good deal of dynamism. But sources of dynamism in the ultimate analysis are spiritual. And the difficulty is this that this dynamism of the West, if West does not go back to the spiritual sources will gradually decline. That is why some of the great thinkers speak of decline of the West. I don’t share myself with that idea because I believe that West having one very great virtue, – enquiry. So they are inquiring and because they are inquiring I am quite sure they will be able to recover the source of dynamism, the true source of dynamism and they will knock the doors of spirituality. And if you see in the West there are many, many young people today who feel that the direction of their dynamism does not fulfil them. They want to return to something but unfortunately they do not know what is that source? Western people do need to know what India has discovered long ago, although not fully implemented but this can come about only when India applies spirituality to life and that message will be directly relevant to the West.

 Interviewer: So there is something that the each has to learn from the other.

Prof. Kireet Joshi: You are right. Spirituality has to be applied to life, for that life has to bubble, pulsate and become a powerful dynamo and then spirituality will be needed much more imperatively than today. And when that thing happens in India, India will be able to stand before the world and provide to the world a message which is absolutely indispensible. And the West also, it has to give a gift of the dynamism to India and we have to receive that gift but receiving the gift wisely and that is also another problem, another malady today because since you are asking of maladies, this is also a malady. We are not ready to receive it and in the way in which we ought to receive.

Interviewer: That is the whole point, like seeing that there is so much lethargy towards idealism, the child is too young, so let him be. The youth is too young, it is his time to think of his career, so where is the chance for idealism, he has to think of his career. The householder has his family, where is the chance for idealism. They work so hard the whole of their lives so let them be in peace till they die. So idealism is kicked.

Prof. Kireet Joshi: Well! I think what you are saying is extremely meaningful and you have now brought to me another dimension, you have made a transition from maladies to another issue.

Interviewer: Which I think is a malady too, for every strata of society, whatever age, think they have a reason for not being idealistic.

Prof. Kireet Joshi: I think what I need to suggest is the following. How to reach children, how to reach the youth, how to reach young people who are on the threshold of their employment, those who are in employment, how to reach them? How to galvanise the leaders of the country? It’s a kind of an array of questions and I am prepared to reflect with you on these important questions and I don’t know how much time you have but otherwise all these questions need to be answered in detail. I would suggest that you put one question for about ten, fifteen minutes and then you come to the next question and give me fifteen minutes and we can then not rush through the questions but give sufficient attention to the question. Take for example children, how to reach children? Normally we say children are to be looked after by parents and largely in India it is the mothers who look after the children and admirable are the women of India, they look after the children as before, they are working as now that is the demand of the present moment and they are able to satisfy both the demands and you can see how much every women of India is working in the working world, how cheerful the women are inspite of tremendous, great burden they are shouldering. Merely by saying how admirable they are we are not answering the question. We have to answer the question more fundamentally. I believe that our society has to take a major decision. Who is the most important element in the society and where should be the fundamental concentration of the society? Where should leaders of India spend their thought, energy, capacities, facilities – where should they spend most? My answer is – children. I speak of the sovereignty of the child. As never before our children need to be looked after most centrally, sovereignly. On account of various kinds of pulls and counter pulls which are going on in our country and in the world, we speak of sovereignty of the consumer, we speak of the sovereignty of the parliament but can’t we speak of the sovereignty of the child?  If this is so, we must say that all our resources, if they are to be employed, the major portion of the resources will ensure that every child in our country receives the best possible opportunities and facilities for the highest degree of education. Make all your planning on this fundamental premise. To take a small example, in such a beautiful city like Delhi children of very rich people collect together in a street and they play cricket in a street where almost every five minutes one car gives a horn so that their cricket game is disturbed. It’s only a stray example I am giving, the kind of condition in which our children are developing. Why should it be? We have created one Bal Bhawan in Delhi, it has some branches here and there, ideally speaking for every ten thousand children you need to have one Bal Bhawan. Why should our country not undertake a task of creating one Bal Bhawan for every ten thousand children in the whole country. I know people will immediately say where is the money? But is it really true? Ask yourself really where is the priority? It’s a question of priority.

Why should not people of India rise and tell the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance and the Prime Minister, kindly give us a blue print for having Bal Bhawan in every corner of our country, so that for every ten thousand children a Bal Bhawan exists of the kind we have in Delhi. Why not, children are all alike, equality. You speak of fundamental right of education today, do we really mean it? This is education, create a Bal Bhawan for every ten thousand children and come with all the finances you can create in your country. I don’t think it’s only a question of finance. It’s a question of vision first of all, our sense of priority, which is a metal exercise, understanding and the care you should bestow upon the child.   

Interviewer: So then the entire perception of the adult population of India has to undergo a massive shift, their perception about the importance of the child. And also when you say to a mother your child is supposed to be of primary importance to you, she is obliviously going to say but my child is but the problem lies right there and what she thinks is she is fulfilling her duties, which is actually speaking not enough because she probably sees him as a child, I must feed him, make him wear good clothes, send him to the park that is the end of it but is that enough?

Prof. Kireet Joshi: Even parks, who are sending their children to the parks. You just see how many parks of India or even Delhi are empty. Why? As you rightly said students in our country are under the big burden of books, they can’t lift their heads from the books or television. Where is the time for parks, why? It’s again another problem. It is because our whole system is so galvanised in wrong directions that we have no good habits formed for the children, no good facilities provided to them, no programs being made for them, in fact children are least important in our country.