Coming of the 21 st Century:
Implications for New Orientations for Education
An important fact that we need to underline is that humanity is undergoing an unprecedented crisis today, and we cannot hazard to look into the coming of the 21st century without taking serious note of this crisis, and how it has developed through the course of the 20th century.
The 20th century has been an unquiet age of gigantic ferment, chaos of ideas and inventions, clash of enormous forces, creation, catastrophe and dissolution amid the formidable agony and tension of the body and soul of humankind. During this period, the age of reason reached its highest pinnacles and widest amplitudes. Rationalistic and experimental science, armed with efficient technology, registered phenomenal developments. The result was, however, a mixture of good and evil for humanity. While new heights of excellence were experienced by it, it also got dwarfed as never before. A series of rivalries among nations dominated the scene; two stupendous world devastating Wars swept over the globe and they were accompanied or followed by revolutions with far reaching consequences. A League of Nations was formed, but broke down after some time; the United Nations Organisation came to be built, but its deficiencies and weaknesses are forcing leaders to think of radical changes in its Constitution and working; even its replacement by a World State, which may be a boon or a curse, depending upon how it is constituted, has also come to be conceived and may become inevitable under certain possible circumstances.
Asymmetrical relations among nations have created tensions between the North and the South, and they tend to be aggravated. Armaments have been piled up in huge quantities and although they have recently been reduced or restrained, military expenditures are being ruthlessly planned at the cost of many important priorities. And science still continues to minister ingeniously to the art of collective massacre. Environment has come to be vastly disturbed and, in spite of warnings and wise talks, it continues to be alarmingly ruined. Expensive life styles have been fashioned and advocated, and men, women and children are being increasingly led to isolated and divided lives. Multiplying complexities of the inner and outer life have been turning into complications and unresolved dilemmas; and the chaos of views of life, each with only relative validity, has been shaking, for good or evil, the foundations erected by ethical systems and religions. Individualism, the child of Reason and Revolt, which at one stage encouraged discovery of the inner realms of ends, has been overtaken by the egoism and selfish indulgence of impulses and passions.
This and much more has led humanity to a state of crisis of serious or even unprecedented proportions. We can, however, discern two major imperatives which seem to be pressing themselves for their fulfilment. The first is visible in a continuous pressure of events towards the unity of the entire humanity. With the unprecedented shrinking of Space and Time, there is an irresistible drive towards economic, administrative, legislative and social centralisation and there is an emerging need of unification of regions, continents, and even of establishment of a single World State. It is being increasingly felt that the world can become sage and prosperous only if human unity can come to be built up. The second imperative that seems to have asserted itself is to impress upon human kind that unity, peace and lasting welfare can come about only if human nature can be radically changed. What exactly this would mean or entail is a matter of research and experimentation, but there is a growing feeling that, at the minimum level, human way of feeling, thinking and acting should be based upon a new foundation of universal wideness, voluntary optimism and unfailing goodwill. In a significant statement made in 1967, U Thant,
the then Secretary General of the United Nations Organisation, expressed quite clearly these two imperatives. He had stated:
"That a fraction of the amounts that are going to be spent in 1967 on arms could finance economic, social, national and world programmes to an extent so far unimaginable is a notion within the grasp of the man in the street. Men, if they unite, are now capable of foreseeing and, to a certain point, determining the future of human development. This, however, is possible if we stop fearing and harassing one another and if together we accept, welcome and prepare the changes that must inevitably take place. If this means a change in human nature, well, it is high time we worked for it; what must surely change is certain political attitudes and habits man has."*
As a matter of fact, almost from the beginning of our present century, themes of the ideal of human unity and of the necessity of change of human nature, had seized the movements of the resurgence of Asia and intellectual idealism of Europe. Asiatic peoples had begun to make bold and clear claims to equality and independence and they had behind them centuries of inner culture and discovery of spiritual knowledge which, if applied to life, could serve as effective means of the change of human nature. In Europe, the contest between Capital and Labour had entered into a crucial phase, and the Great First World War became memorable for the Russian Revolution that burst out even when that war was centred on the goal of the downfall of Germany. This Revolution was a sign that a phase of civilisation had begun to pass and the Time Spirit was preparing a new phase and a new order. There was, at that time, a possibility of the realisation of the larger human hope as a result of the evolution of the socialistic society and the resurgence of Asia. Unfortunately, the turn of events belied the bright hopes.
Socialism soon turned into state socialism, and while it brought in greater equality and a closer association into human life, it remained confined only to a material change. It missed
* La Suisse, Geneva, April, 1967.
many other needed things and even aggravated the mechanical bur den of humanity and crushed more heavily towards the earth its spirit. The resurgence of Asia, in spite of its glorious moments of achievements, meant eventually only a redressing or shifting of international balance. It became quite dormant, and in spite of great inner preparations, it has still not been able to provide the required condition of the step forward which is the one thing needful. It is also noteworthy that the international policy of labour had carried a promise of an international comity of free nations. But over a period of its development, the spirit of internationalism came to be overcome by the power of national egoism. It became clear that mere idealism of internationalism is not enough; what is truly important is the spiritual change that would make internationalism a vital need in the lives of nations of the entire humanity.
Much hope, however, lies in the fact that despite numerous set backs, the need for unity of humankind continues to persist. The idea of internationalism has grown in humanity and it is at work on our minds and influences from above our actions. It is also pressing itself to be turned into something more than an idea so that it may become a central motive and fixed part of human nature as also of human organisation. It is remarkable that the First Great War gave birth to a League of Nations. It is true that the conception of this League was not happy or well inspired, and it was destined to collapse. But that such an organised endeavour should be launched and proceed on its way for some time without an early breakdown was in itself an event of capital importance. The defects of the League arose directly from the conditions of the world at that time. Its composition proved that it was an oligarchy of big powers, each drawing behind it a retinue of small States. The absence of America and the position of Russia had helped to make the final ill success of this venture a natural consequence. However, the significance of the League was that even when it failed , it could not be allowed to remain without a sequel. Accordingly, the League of Nations disappeared, but the force of idea remained active behind the succeeding years, including the terrible years of the Second World War. That War stirred the deeper depths of humanity and its leaders, and the United Nations Organisation came into existence. Today, this
Organisation stands in the forefront of the world and struggles towards some kind of secure permanence and success. It is also significant that many defects of the League of Nations have been avoided in the Constitution of the UNO. And yet, one major defect remains because of the preponderant place that has been assigned to the five great Powers in the Security Council; and this defect has been clinched by the power of veto given to these Powers. That in recent years there is a serious demand from some quarters to get this defect removed is a significant development. For, to leave this defect unmodified prolongs a malaise and absence of harmony and smooth working. In critical situations, this defect generates widespread feeling of futility.
But apart from this defect, the real danger to the ideal of human unity lay in the division of peoples in two camps which tended to be natural opponents. Survival of these two camps for more than 40 years, and that too, in the condition of a continuous cold war, prevented any major progress towards the growth of the inner spirit of internationalism. At the same time, the fact that this cold war did not generate into a hot war must be noted as truly remark able. It is also a matter that gives comfort to the anxious mind and heart of humanity.
It was, of course, envisaged as a possibility that if the design of using ideological struggle as a means for world domination could come to be weakened or eliminated, then co existence of two ideologies in the world could not be at all out of question. And, as a matter of fact, the world moved towards a greater development of the principle of State control over the life of the community and created a considerable force of balance of power through the movement of non alignment. On the other hand, capitalism itself got modified by virtue of the welfare policies adopted by the powers of the free world. Nevertheless, tensions remained, overwhelming frictions continued to occur and it is only now when USSR collapsed and Eastern European countries asserted their independence, adopting market economy, that the world has ceased to be bipolar and we find ourselves today in a new situation.
Has the climate for human unity become more favourable under the new situation? When we ask this question, however, it
must be remembered that a greater social or political unity is not necessarily a boon in itself; it is only worth pursuing in so far as it provides a means and framework for a better, richer, more happy and puissant individual and collective life. Looking at the past examples of large aggregates such as we find under the Roman Empire and others, we are likely to conclude that if there were to come about today a social, administrative and political unification of humanity, the organisation would be so massive and tremendous that both individual and regional life would become crushed and dwarfed. And this would mean for humanity, after perhaps one first outburst of satisfied and joyous activity, a long period of mere conservation, increasing stagnancy and ultimate decay. Therefore, the unity which is to be pursued as an imperative of the present state of humanity, must be under other conditions and with safeguards which will keep the human race intact in its roots of vitality and its oneness will be kept richly diverse.
The great beneficial consequence of the recent collapse of USSR is that the world has ceased to be bipolar, and consequently, the danger of the outbreak of world conflict has greatly disappeared. Another salutary consequence which has arisen is the collapse of the oppressive system of state socialism. This has reduced greatly the peril of the coming into being of that form of the World State under which State machinery could suppress freedom of speech and thought. Had this form not disappeared, and if an all regulating socialistic World State were to be established, freedom of thought under such a regime would necessarily have meant criticism not only of the details, but of the very principles of the existing state of things. The World State could not have afforded to tolerate for long this criticism or even its possibility. Ultimately, the State would have imposed strict regulation of the mental life and extended it to the totality of life. The necessary consequence would have been a static order of society, since with out the freedom of the individual, a society cannot remain progressive. We may note that a salutary form of world government must respect and encourage the freedom of the individual, and this form has now gained a new force. This is the third important con sequence. For, with the break up of the Soviet Union, several of
its constituents have emerged as new independent and sovereign states. This even reaffirms the psychological and moral principle of self determination, which was originally announced by Russia itself during the early phase of the Revolution when its idealism was fresh and sincere.
Under the pressure of the need to resort to the principle of government by force, a contradictory element was brought in. This endangered the progress of nationalism, and the principle of free choice for each nation to choose its own line of development and association. It is true than the component States of Sovietic Russia were allowed a certain cultural, linguistic, and some other kind of autonomy, but in other matters they had come to be, in fact, governed by the force of a highly centralised autocracy of the Labourite despotism. That freedom, which was put aside or crushed earlier, has now emerged, and this is bound to provide added force and strength to the movement towards the free world union in which the principle of free self determination must be a preliminary movement.
The modern world has, however, grown increasingly commercial in character. A powerful impulsion of our times is towards the industrialising of the human race and the perfection of the life of society as an economic and productive organism. The European idealism, which was manifest to some extent in Communism;. could not be sustained in the Socialist Soviet Union. Marxian principle itself proceeded on the premise that the reign of socialism has to be preceded by an age of bourgeois capitalism and should seize upon its work and organisation in order to turn it to its own uses and modify it by its own principles and methods. It intended, indeed, to substitute Labour as the Master instead of Capital. But this meant merely a change from one side of the economism to the other. The story of eight decades of the development of USSR did not impel change from domination of economism to the domination of some other and higher motive of human life. And now, when the socialistic economy has fallen and is being rapidly replaced by market economy, basic economism will remain unaltered, except that the capitalistic competition will become more unbridled than ever before.
This competition and the goals it seeks to satisfy constitute the uppermost subjects all over the world. The futuristic studies of today are concentrated on issue of economic activity, on latest technologies of communication and processing of information, on developing markets and commercial competition among USA, Japan, EEC, China, and newly industrialising countries. If science were not developed as it has today, if modern warfare did not require the high level of scientific and technological efficiency as today, the present situation could have witnessed a fresh invasion from the primitive peoples so as to subvert and destroy our weary and crisis ridden civilisation. But while that peril stands eliminated, the real peril that we face today is the resurgence of the barbarian in ourselves, in civilised people, and this is what we see all around us.
We are not grateful that the third World War has not broken out and that prospects of peace have become brighter; we are, however, engrossed with understanding the new equations between economic change and military preparedness. We are not worried about building the defences of peace in the minds of men, and secure true foundations of human unity; is it not the task given away to UNESCO so that we can indulge in the freedom to do something else? And what is that something else if not questions of economic concerns and financial gains? We are not grappling with issues of knowledge and wisdom, but we are getting absorbed in the problems of power shift which are caused by "softonomics", the technologies which are related to software that produces and processes information with ever increasing speed. In other words, we are interested in knowledge to the extent to which it gets related to money making. What is our centre of gravity? It is the economic social ultimate — an ideal material organisation of civilisation and comfort, and the use of reason and science and education for the channelisation of a utilitarian rationality which will create mechanisms and systems for vital and material satisfactions surrounded by luxuries of intellectual and aesthetic pastimes.
The contemporary crisis of humanity arises from this centre of gravity; humanity is slipping more and more into the mire of
this pit. While its inner soul feels mutely the agony of this plunge and wants to be uplifted and liberated, it is unable to assist itself and to break its chains. There is a deeper reason for this, and we may try to understand it.
This is important if we are to envisage more accurately the transition that are likely to take place in the XXIst century.
Since the last five hundred years, humanity has been living in the Age of Reason. In previous cycles of human history, there have been periods where intellect dominated, but they never reached the sweep, pitch and intensity as our modern Age in cultivating, subtlising and fathoming the depths and applications of our rational faculties. The Age of Reason is, therefore, of special significance, particularly when we realise that the human being is distinguishable from other species by virtue of its Reason. We can expect from the Age those results which the human beings can obtain at their maximum level of development. And, indeed, during this period, rationalism flourished uninhibitedly and produced results of highest excellence. But it also showed quite decisively what it can accomplish and what it cannot. Two articles of faith, underlying the march of Reason, came to be fully tested and disproved. The first article was the faith that Reason can arrive at truth, comprehensive truth and certainty of truth. At the end of its march, it has come to declare that the concept of Truth has rather limited and relative meaning in terms of rationality, and that what can be known by Reason will always be circumscribed within the limits of varying degrees of probability. The second article was that Reason can, with its capacity to observe, know and govern impartially, apply itself to human life and arrive at the right relationship between the individual and collectivity. Reason also erected in this connection three great ideals of progress, — Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, — and dreamt of their harmonious fulfilment in a rational order of society. At the end of its inarch in our own century, Reason has now demonstrated, particularly with the collapse of the socialist experiment in USSR, that
Reason can neither harmonise the individual and the collectivity nor can it synthesise freedom, equality and brotherhood. It is seen that Reason can succeed only in establishing a limited rule of Law over uneasy springs of freedom and a narrow rule of efficient organisation by imposing on all concerned a heavy hand and compulsion and uniformity. It has proved that Reason as a governor of society can secure freedom only by overriding the demands of equality, and if it attempts to secure equality, it is obliged to strangulate freedom. As for fraternity, the highest that Reason could achieve was temporary comradeship and pragmatic or utilitarian co operation.
Having reached this end of the road, Reason now stands bereft of any agenda; its fundamental search seems to have ended; its basic experimentation seems to have come to a close; it can only turn now in expanding or contracting circles of probabilities in the field of knowledge and those of compromise in the field of practical life. It can, of course, take another course, if it can choose to become sufficiently revolutionary and institute an inquiry into those ulterior sources from which its articles of faith regarding Truth and certainty and the ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity sprang into its ken and sustained its long journey, which, even when declared to be unrealisable, keep on knocking and calling us insistently for their fulfilment.
But this is more a question of choice, of will, of a deliberate effort. It is easy to refuse, and to find reasons for the refusal. For it may be argued that all articles of faith, even of Reason, invite a return to the domain of religion or of the supra rational against which Reason had declared an open revolt at the very commencement of its march into the modern age. Or else, it may be argued that the deliverances of the supra rational create for the mental thought antinomies which are insoluble and therefore unacceptable. We, therefore, hear the cacophony of declarations that the supra rational is non existent or unreal and that the best counsel for reason is to limit its activities to the practical and immediate problems of their material existence in the universe.
What is the consequence? Reason by itself cannot long maintain the race in its progress; it is the inner spiritual necessity, the
push from what is yet unrealised that maintains the progressive or evolutionary stress, the spiritual nisus. But if that is refused or renounced, there is bound to occur a crisis. The contemporary crisis of humanity is a crisis of this kind. It is not a sociological, political or economic crisis; it is what Sri Aurobindo calls an evolutionary crisis
An evolutionary crisis can occur only at an extremely crucial moment of the life of a species. It is when a certain level of consciousness has effected an ascent to the next level of conscious ness, integrated the powers and activities of the lower conscious ness into those of the higher level of consciousness, when the integrated powers have achieved acute subtilisation and refinement, — then the moment arrives for taking a leap into the still higher level of consciousness. If at that moment there is obstruction or failure to secure the necessary push, a crisis sets in which continues to concentrate on the issue of the next ascent until the necessary conditions are created which would facilitate the ascent or mutation of the species. Or else, if there is repeated failure, the concerned species gives place to a new species and gets itself either extinct or relapses into a certain type of fixed movement, bereft of a nisus for a higher ascent or mutation. With humanity today such a point of crisis has been reached; this is evidenced by the fact that its highest faculty of Reason has accomplished the tasks of maxi mum possible integration, subtilisation and amplitude of multi sided development; having reached this stage of accomplishment, its limitations have been made bare and acknowledged; it is very clear that the deeper powers lying behind Reason are in need of a surge, and they are being blocked by the achieved circuit of grooves set up by Reason. It is only if Reason consents to allow deeper powers to rise to a new stage of the ascent of conscious ness, that further progress of humanity could be possible. That is why Sri Aurobindo states:
At present mankind is undergoing an evolutionary crisis in which is concealed a choice of its destiny."*
*Sri Aurobindo: The Life Divine, Centenary Edition, Vol 19, p 1053.
Elucidating the nature and basic cause of this crisis, Sri Aurobindo writes:
... a. stage has been reached in which the human mind. has reached in certain directions an enormous development while in others it stands arrested and bewildered and can no longer find its way. A structure of the external life has been raised up by man's ever active mind and life will, a structure of an unmanageable hugeness and complexity, for the service of his mental, vital, physical claims and urges, a complex political, social, administrative, economic, cultural machinery, an organised collective means for his intellectual, sensational, aesthetic and material satisfaction. Man has created a system of civilisation which has become too big for his limited mental capacity and understanding and his still more limited spiritual and moral capacity to utilise and manage, a too dangerous servant of his blundering ego and its appetites. For no greater seeing mind, no intuitive soul of knowledge has yet come to his surface of consciousness which could make this basic full ness of life a condition that exceed it.''*
Unity of life, unity of humanity, a world union has become a necessity; but this unity must not be uniformity; it must not be mechanical; it must be fully diverse and harmonious. Reason can not realise this goal; it has laboured intensely for five centuries and acknowledged its inability. Corresponding to the unity of life, there must be unity of consciousness, unity of knowledge. There must, therefore, be a push towards the next stage of evolution where new powers of consciousness can manifest. This is the central issue.
And this is where we need to turn to the new orientations that we require in the field of education.
(•Sri Aurobindo: The Life Divine, Centenary Edition, Vol. 19, p 1053.)
As we enter into the XXIst century, there is bound to grow more and more insistently the awareness that education is an evolutionary force and that it ought to be made a most powerful instrument of the evolutionary mutation towards which human ity seems to be proceeding. This awareness is bound to impel a thorough revolution of education in which the aim would be to cultivate, sharpen and transform the faculties and powers of personality leading towards an unprecedented perfection that would enhance man's capacities to collaborate consciously with the upward march of evolution.
It is imperative that humanity rises in maturity so as to make the right use of scientific discoveries and inventions in order that they are not utilised in the service of lower urges but for raising the heights of cultural life.
It is also necessary that nations of the world co operate with each other in assuring environmental protection and raising the standards of life even of the least developed countries.
And, above all, pursuit of scientific knowledge and value oriented education should be raised to such a high level that human beings are aided in becoming global in their consciousness as also capable of generating the practice of universal brotherhood.
In practical terms, we shall need to propose radical changes in the aims, methods and contents of education.
A significant fact in this context is that there has been in India intensive experiments which embrace all these ideas and many more. It is true that these experiments have not yet made any appreciable impact, but there is a growing need to recognise the value of these experiments and to allow their results to have an influence on the new orientation that Indian education needs so urgently and imperatively. The Indian experiment began indigenously with the modern renaissance in India, and it was nurtured by the pre independence nationalist movement. In due course, it absorbed deeply the western ideas of new and progressive education. But, at the same time, it took a great care to integrate them with the profoundest concepts of our own educational psychology.
For this reason, the Indian Experiment has been rather slow in showing its results. For its data were larger and the elements which had to be harmonised were more difficult and more numerous.
The mature fruit of the Indian Experiment is to be found in the concept of the four fold personality. It has been pointed out that there are four central values and powers of personality, and, if these are rightly balanced throughout the process of developments, and if an healthy equilibrium of these powers is upheld progressively, then the youth could be assured of a continuous life long integral development of personality that would constantly release freshness and creativity, enthusiasm and courage, and spontaneous dedication and consecration to all that is highest and noblest. These four values belong to the deepest and highest being, but their expressions are to be found in varying degrees, in all our instruments, body, life and mind. These four values are: Knowledge, Power, Harmony and Skill in works.
It is, indeed, recognised that this is an extraordinary programme, which implies a life long process of integral development, in which physical, vital, intellectual, ethical, aesthetic powers are to be purified, sharpened and perfected under the overarching inspiration and progressive guidance of psychic and spiritual consciousness. But it is underlined that it must begin right from the beginning, and even earlier levels of education must be so restructured as to permit the development of the student on new lines.
It is premature to say whether the ideas and experiences generated by the Indian Experiment will be able to revolutionise the Indian educational situation. But there are bright prospects. Firstly, there is an irresistible demand among large sections of people to replace as soon as possible the educational system that the British designed for India. This demand is persistent, and it is likely to become insistent. Secondly, India cannot afford to perpetuate the rigidity and inelasticity of the present system of education, if India has to attend the needs of very large number of children and youths who cannot all be accommodated in the for mal system of education. Thirdly, the Indian Experiment is at once
Indian and international, and with the growing tide of radical ideas that are growing everywhere in the world, India is bound to look more and more searchingly within its own experiment where these radical ideas have been assimilated. And, finally, India needs a new kind of manpower not only for higher purposes of evolution but even for its economic prosperity and for cultural efflorescence. And it is likely to be recognised more and more increasingly that the Indian Experiment has a special relevance to the creation of the needed new kind of manpower.
Let us make certain specific proposals that may guide us in providing new educational orientations for the initial period of the XXIst century. And it may be underlined that these are only preliminary in character and need to be followed up by more radical proposals as we move forward in the new century.
In the first place, India needs to take a decision that in pursuance of the Indian educational experiment, as also of the latest educational thought of the world, India should aim at realising and actualising the ideal of learning society, and India should co ordinate and involve all sectors of society in the teaching learning processes. And we have to realise that the sovereignty in the learning society rests in the child and the youth. As a result, the child and the youth should be kept in the centre of nation's care and concern.
One of chief characteristics of the learning society is that it should reject the idea that only a few should climb to the higher levels of achievement and that the rest should remain content with lower ranges of activities and fulfilment. Education for all aiming at the integral upliftment of all is a natural corollary of the idea of the learning society. And the two basic requirements that follow, in the context of the Indian situation, are universalisation of elementary education and elimination of adult illiteracy. Therefore, a top priority must be given to the realisation of the goals of these programmes within a fixed timetable. Programmes of midday meal and garments for girls should be adopted all over the country. A special emphasis must be laid on the education of girls and women. Special measures should be taken to encourage education among disadvantaged groups, particularly among the physically handicapped and scheduled castes and tribes.
While efforts should continue to strengthen and consolidate the gains achieved so far, a special emphasis should be laid on innovations and certain radical changes. Non formal education should be developed as a full fledged alternative system at all stages of education. Suitable linkages between the formal and non formal education should also be forged. Non formal education should encourage multipoint entry system, and it should be made flexible so as to suit the learners' needs from the point of view of space, time and curriculum. The formal system, too, should be so refined that it can provide to students of non formal education a choice of lateral entry into it at appropriate levels of studies.
Harmony of Man with Nature has been the chief theme of our culture, and the quest of man of himself and the universe has been the chief theme of education. These themes are closely interrelated, and it is increasingly realised that this interrelation ship needs to be effectively reflected in our educational system. Education promoting culture, and culture promoting education, will characterise the new effort. Culture depends on large and wise strides of imagination, emotion and thought, on works of art and craft, on beautiful arrangements of things, plants and flowers. Therefore, facilities should be created, both at the national and local levels, to encourage teachers, students and educational institutions to promote fine arts and activities of imagination, local folklore, folk art and craftsmanship, and to weave artistic sensitivity and sensibility into every educational activity. Right from attention to the neatness and beauty of handwriting to the harmony of forms of thought and composition, various activities of learning should be encouraged so as to transmute them into experiences of creative expansion and progress. Cultural refinement will be sought not only as an aim of education but also as integral element of the educational process.
That every Indian student should receive an adequate exposure to Indian culture seems obvious, and yet, despite previous efforts, much remains to be attempted and achieved to promote among students the study, understanding and appreciation of Indian culture. This involves an arduous task, as it implies not only reorientation of textbooks but also preparation of new leaning materials,
promotion of exhibitions and films, and creation of the proper environment and atmosphere through which the aims and manifestations of Indian culture could be properly communicated to students at various levels of education. This task should be encouraged, and a special effort should be made to underline the need to study Indian culture not only to appreciate its past glories but also to chalk out the paths of Indian future. Not revivalism but rooted ness, reconstruction and new creation should be the central motive.
It is universally acknowledged that the educational needs of rural India have not received the attention that they deserve, despite certain laudable schemes which have brought about salutary changes in certain aspects. The vast human potential in the rural India has remained untapped, although powerful currents of Indian culture have continued to irrigate the minds and hearts of the rural people. The Indian peasant has often been found to possess untutored wisdom and instinctive sensibility to realities of life. But what is instinctive in him needs to be brought out in awakened self consciousness, and this demands a new approach. Learning materials have to be so designed that they are relevant to the rural environment and ethos. Technical know how, which needs to be transferred to the rural areas has to be judiciously determined. In particular, scientific and technical knowledge regarding alternative and non conventional sources of energy must receive highest priority in the educational programmes. Consequent upon the increasing development of agro industrial complexes in rural areas, there should be a growing demand for the relevant talent and skills, which, in turn, should impose a special dimension to education. This need must be met adequately and effectively. Rural employment schemes must also be linked with specially designed relevant programmes of education. And, overarching these efforts, there should be launched for the youth in the rural areas a massive programme of education that would centre on activities of physical culture, general knowledge and basic skills. This programme should be promoted and monitored by a staff exclusively charged with it.
Considering that mediocrity of linguistic competence obstructs the development of intellectual processes of thought and reflection, a major thrust of the new educational policy should be to
promote among students and people increasing capacity of linguistic comprehension, articulation and excellence. Emphasis should be laid on correctness of pronunciation, spelling and expression in the languages learnt and taught at various levels of education, formal and non formal.
Educational reconstruction should necessitate certain fundamental innovations. The following programmes should particularly be promoted:
- Review and re determination of the contents of education in the light of the emerging needs of the synthesis of knowledge and culture as also of increasing demands of scientific and technological skills, promotion of values and integral development of personality;
-Lightening the burden of books on children and adolescents;
- Changes in the methodology of education so as to meet the total needs of the cognitive, affective and conative growth of students;
- Radical changes in the examination system so as to achieve the goal of de linking of degrees from jobs and to develop national tests that would be both objective and reliable and would test not only competence in a few selected subjects but also achievements in the fields of value oriented education, physical fitness, skills for specific works and overall development of harmonious personality;
- Development of centres of educational innovation and experimentation directly related to the emerging demands of the XXIst century; and
- Programme of autonomous schools and colleges.
Research is indispensable, not only for attaining educational excellence but also for securing an increasing rate of economic growth, productivity and development. High priority should be assigned to the promotion of research, both scientific and humanistic. The learned councils or research institutes of advanced studies should be encouraged to coordinate their research efforts and to develop the manpower that can continue to remain at the frontiers of knowledge and lead the growing generation to reach these frontiers rapidly and fruitfully. In particular, encouragement should be
given not only to discover new and rich contents of ethical and spiritual domains but also to open up a new domain where the modern trends of science can meet and converge on the ancient and renascent knowledge of the secrets of spiritual perfection.
A new orientation in the teachers' training programmes has become inevitable. Consequent upon the explosion of information, increasing relevance of education to all domains of the world of i work, and increasing stress on the themes of unity and integration, international understanding and peace, and individual and collective excellence, new demands are being made on the teacher. The role of the teacher is undergoing a process of rapid change. The teacher as a task master if fading out of the educational scene, and the teacher is being increasingly looked upon as a guide and an inspirer. The teacher is also expected to contribute significantly to the task of integrating education with development. He is required to become an innovator and inventor of dynamic methods of education. And he is also expected to become a leading agent of change. He is also called upon to play an active role in the fashioning of a learning society. It is against this background that major changes need to be introduced in the aims, methods and contents of programmes of teacher education, both pre service and in service.
Appropriate to the new and heavy demands on the teacher, working conditions of the teacher should be improved, and measures should be taken to raise the status of the teacher. At the same time, the teacher should be expected to set a high standard of performance and discharge of responsibilities.
A question may be raised if we have the needed resources, in terms of finance and manpower, to implement all this that we have conceived. The answer to this question cannot be given merely in terms of statistics. The answer must lie in what we, as people, would like to give to our children for their highest welfare. If we take a voluntary decision to generate a will to change, to turn human life into the divine life, then we can visualise in the coming years, a period of fruitful and successful implementation of the needed ideas and programmes.