CITIZEN DEVELOPMENT SOCIETY INDIA INTERNATIONAL CENTRE RASHTRIYA JAGRITI SANSTHAN
DHARAM HINDUJA INTERNATIONAL CENTRE OF INDIC RESEARCH
CITIZENS AND THE CONSTITUTION
DHARAM HINDUJA INTERNATIONAL CENTRE OF INDIC RESEARCH
2nd MARCH, 1998
INDIA INTERNATIONAL CENTRE ANNEXE 40, LODI ESTATE, NEW DELHI
May I begin by congratulating Dr. Subhash Kashyap for his extremely instructive book — "Citizen and the Constitution". It abounds with insights and penetrating comments that throw open the heart of the Constitution and provide valuable guidance to the citizen so as to make him or her a living, vibrant and even a combative limb of the society.
Dr. Subhash Kashyap and Mr. Justice Verma have also provided stimulating expositions of various aspects of our Constitution, how this Constitution expresses the will of the people and how citizens derive their rights and obligations as also their value-system from the provisions of the Constitution. The insights which they have presented are valuable not only in respect of jurisprudence and legal interpretation but also in respect of the guidance that can be derived for an extremely important domain in the field of education, namely, that of value-education.
Educationists have been spending a great deal of time in listing values that should form part of the curriculum; but often they forget to underline those values which have been enunciated in the Constitution.
The Preamble itself speaks of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity.
Articles 14-19 bring out Fundamental Rights, which follow from the basic values laid down in the Preamble. Articles 25-30 lay down further rights in respect of conscience, religion, management of religious affairs and protection of interests of minorities. Certain social values have also been underlined in the Directive Principles of the State. And, significantly, Article 51-A lays down Fundamental Duties, detailed enunciation of which provides ample guidance in fixing incontrovertible values that citizens of the country must pursue.
There are, however, three most important words in the very Preamble of the Constitution; they represent the basic features of the Indian constitutional polity, a number of values can be derived from them, but they deserve to be discussed in a spirit of partnership among educationists, jurists and other experts for purposes of clarification and for deriving proper guidance. They are: Democracy, Socialism and Secularism.
The first question is as to what is democracy and what values we can derive from this great principle. Normally, democracy has come to mean in our country Parliamentary democracy, processes of elections, and
values of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity, all of which have been encumbered with certain restrictions. These restrictions are necessary for practical guidance and legal enforceability, but in the field of education, where values are to be fostered, not merely from the point of view of enforceability but even in terms of intentionality and in terms of intrinsic axiological sense, we must have a wider canvas of understanding, defining and practising.
At the highest level, democracy is based upon the idea of categorical imperative of which Immanuel Kant, the famous German Philosopher, gave certain alternative formulations, one of which is directly relevant to our purposes here. In that formulation, we are asked to treat every individual as a member of realm of ends and to treat every individual not merely as a means to an end but as an end in himself or herself.
Educationally, therefore, we need to underline this individualistic sense of democracy and its deeper consequences for the educational methodology and contents. It is necessary in the educational processes to bring home to students the value of their own individuality as also of all others, and to guide them as to how to discover the core of their
individuality, and yet at the same time, to be so universal and unegoistic that the core of individuality of all others comes to be respected; understood and embraced. And, it would also be necessary to bring out in the educational methodology how teachers have to respect the individuality of every student and, therefore, how educational process should not be merely child-centred but centred on the deeper soul of the child which has its own intrinsic value and which is, therefore, an end in itself. It would also seem in order if, in the contents of education, it is brought out that what is valuable is not democracy in any particular form, which easily becomes plutocracy, but something that may rightly be called democratic democracy.
Similarly, when we speak of socialism as a value, we need to go to its root-value rather than its various forms, which are current in the world, and all of which are not necessarily value-oriented. The real value of socialism lies in creating the awareness that the individual needs to universalise himself or herself to such an extent that one contributes to the highest social welfare, and that those who represent the collective mind and soul must strive to bring about the highest welfare of each individual. Mere poltical or legalistic view of socialism may not necessarily approximate to the deepest values that need to be conveyed through the education system. In the present political situation of the country, we do not know whether our country is deviating from socialism in its increasing advocacy of privatisation, and we do not know what would be the judicial view of many economic reforms, if they are challenged on the ground that they are inconsistent with socialism, which is the basic feature of our Constitution.
Similarly, we need to have greater clarity in regard to the word "secular", which occurs in the Preamble. In a certain sense, materialism and materialistic values can incontrovertibly be defended as secular, whereas many other values can be controverted, since they can be shown to be inconsistent with what is defined as secularism in several dictionaries. Even the statement of objects and reasons provided in the 80th Amendment Bill of 1993, which was introduced but not ultimately passed, and which attempted to give a clearer definition of "secularism", may not be found to be satisfactory, when we try to understand this word in the context of the great Indian secular tradition, which emphasises the synthetic view that encourages the bringing about of unity of religions on the basis of shared moral and spiritual values.
In fact, the lack of clarity in regard to secularism has seriously crippled educational concerns for value-education and education for character development. And if the present crisis through which our country is passing today is really that of crisis of character, we cannot but feel greatly pained that the lack of clarity in regard to this important word has been a major contributory to the present deplorable situation. In fact, if a wise policy has to be devised in respect of value-education, we shall have to appeal to our experts in the country to clarify the concept of secularism in great detail, — particularly, keeping in view the entire theme of value-education as discussed in the important reports of Education Commissions, such as those of Dr. Radhakrishnan and Dr. Kothari and also many other reports, books, and reflections, which have been brought out not merely after the independence, but even before, when our great freedom struggle was being fought in the country. In this connection, it would be useful to make reference to the very important book written by Dr. Subhash Kashyap "Delinking Religion and Politics", which is incisive in presenting many important issues, and which has in particular dealt with the question of values in the context of Secularism.
This study, as also many other studies, should be taken into account while framing the national policy on value-education. We should remove those obstacles which have prevented the implementation of even elementary but salutary recommendations which were made by Dr. Radhakrishnan that education about religions is not inconsistent with the Constitution and that at least at the higher levels of education, students should be acquainted with the main principles of different religions.
The question of the autonomy of moral values and dependence of these values on religions should also be brought out very clearly. We should also make a distinction between moral and spiritual values, on the one hand, and those values, which are tied to any particular religion and creed. This will help in fostering the study of moral and spiritual values,
which are normally discouraged under the fear that they may be anti- secular. The concept of dharma also has to be brought out clearly in contrast to the meaning that is attached-to-the word "religion", "religionism", "sectarianism", etc.
May I suggest that value-education is extremely important and deserves to be given the highest priority in the educational agenda of the country.
Eminent leaders like Mr. Justice Verma, Dr. Subhash Kashyap, Dr. Lall and many others who are present here should come together to discuss this important theme so that the educational world may get greater clarity from the experts of the Constitution, jurisprudence, dharma shastra, and other luminaries.
Apart from the problems that we have discussed so far, there are important issues even with regard to other aspects of the Constitution, even in regard to Article 51-A, which lays down Fundamental Duties.
Let us hasten to state that the very idea of introducing Fundamental Duties in the Constitution is not only remarkable but is in total harmony with the Indian ethos, which has given greater importance to the concept of obligations, duties and questions of allegiance than to that of Rights.
However, having introduced this very important Article, certain important problems in regard to value-education have arisen. What were, it is asked, actually the noble ideals, which inspired our national struggle for freedom? Are they all homogeneous and free from conflicts?
What exactly is the duty that follows from the injunction to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture? What duty, for example, follows from the fact that this rich heritage cannot rightly be preserved if Sanskrit, Tamil, Persian or Arabic are not only accorded importance but even such a special importance that increasing number of students get encouraged and facilitated to learn these languages, particularly, when the present language policy is increasingly alienating our new generations from the rich heritage of our composite culture, mainly because we have not provided to them any adequate competence in these languages?
It is understandable that the Constitution cannot be expected to provide full guidance to the theme of value-education. Educationists and other experts have to work diligently in developing full contents and scope of value-orientation in education. For example, pertaining to each aspect of human personality, there are a number of values, which should be cultivated in order to promote the ideal of integral education. Thus, for example, physical education promotes values of health and harmony of physical beauty; vital education should promote values of love, light, courage and heroism; mental education should promote values of clarity,
synthesis and mental silence; moral education should cultivate good-will, and goodness, — both in the internal life and in the external life;
aesthetic education should promote the values of joy and creativity; and spiritual education should promote widest universality, unity and oneness. One of the important issues in this connection is to resolve dilemmas that occur from the conflict between the rational and the ethical and the aesthetic, the aesthetic and the ethical, and the rational and the moral and the spiritual. This is an extremely difficult task but must be dealt with squarely by educationists so as to provide the right guidance to all connected with education and, indeed, to all committed to national development.
We also speak of Indian system of values, which need to be promoted in order to preserve Indian identity and promote the synthesis of Indianness with the growing demands of universality and synthesis of cultures.
Here, too, the Constitution can come to our help but not fully. One of the important values that Indian culture specially emphasises is the pursuit of transcending egoism, and ego itself. Another important value is that of comprehensiveness, and the pursuit of this value requires us to look upon our own preferred idea as something temporary and provisional, demanding the arrival of such comprehensiveness that our own preferred idea and even the diametrically opposite ideas get so united, that we become free from attachment to our own ideas and opinions and allow the comprehensive idea to succeed. A third value is special emphasis on shreyas as opposed to preyas, — the value of the moral and spiritual good as opposed to that which is merely pleasant. Another Indian value is contained in the concept of dharma, which is uniquely Indian, which is at once positive and normative, in the sense that is describes the underlying rhythm of life and the law of harmony and also prescribes it and prohibits deviation from it. Again, the value that we attach to the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom is something uniquely Indian in the sense that they are valued most and they are cherished more, and on the call of which we are inspired to renounce everything. How to emphasise these Indian values is an important item in the agenda of educationists working on value-education.
In addition, we also need to take into account how these values can be reconciled with those values, which are pouring upon us from the West, and which are also valuable both for the progress of India and of the world. These values include those of work ethos, prosperity and dynamism; they also include values of scientific temper and thought, of originality and criticality. At higher levels of the question of cultural synthesis, we need to emphasise the values that the French culture lays on clarity and precision, that the German culture lays upon organisation, that the English culture lays upon utility and accommodation, that the Japanese culture lays upon beauty, that the American culture lays upon freshness, openness and stress upon results. In the context of the new emphasis on what Swami Vivekananda calls "man-making education", we must include the values that make each one of us a citizen of the world. We need, therefore, to look into all these aspects, and although the time available here is rather limited, it remains to be emphasised that a very difficult task remains to be accomplished, if we are to provide to our system of education, the right and comprehensive orientation towards values.
While the guidance available from Constitution is of immense value, since it can provide us basic components of value-education and describe to us the rights and duties of the citizens, we should at the same time emphasise that the human being is more than a citizen; for the soul and spirit has its own special needs, demands, rights and duties, and allegiances, and these fall within the special domain of education and these domains teach us how to go beyond law lawfully and how to build higher and higher systems of law, higher and higher demands of civilisation and culture.
It is in fashioning the values appropriate to these deeper aspects that the responsibilities of the educationists assume their proper and vast significance. And this task also brings out the need for greater collaboration between educationists and experts in the domain of the Constitution.