Many new initiatives have and are been taken in education which are laudable. The Right to Education Act (RTE), the Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation initiative (CCE) and changes to the class X board examinations, a major step up in the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at all levels and a revamp of higher education are all very positive steps. However, unless there is a much greater Heritage Input HI) into education it will remain incomplete. Education should ensure a reasonable quality of life, nurturing the intellectual, spiritual and materialistic growth of the people. There must be a fine balance between the outer and the inner development of the individual. The outer domain (science, technology, economics, business administration, sports etc.) has been taken to great heights largely by the Western world which we are and should make efforts to catch up with. However, our ancestors have contributed immensely in researching the inner domain, which is not being given enough attention in our upbringing today. Traditionally, the home and the society looked after this aspect. However, with the breaking up of the joint family system and with society placing far greater emphasis on material progress, the onus of the individual’s growth in this area also falls on the education system. Exposure to Literature, our Classical arts, Philosophy and Spirituality (not narrow religiosity) leads to the development of a complete human being. The lack of importance being placed on these areas is resulting in an imbalance in human beings today. We have bright students cracking the IIT-JEE exam who can tell a lie without batting an eyelid, IAS bureaucrats accepting bribes etc. The ‘I’, ‘Me’ and ‘Myself’ syndrome, together with making it at any cost, together with, most disturbingly, a very superficial understanding of the legacy handed down to us by our ancestors, has resulted in an increase in violence, a decrease in tolerance levels and an insensitivity towards other human beings, nature and the environment.
Inner development results in a value system, as everything, then, is not measured in monetary terms. This can be achieved through the medium of parables, mystic and moral tales, stories of the lives of evolved masters, by an exposure to good music, art and literature and to readings from the Bible, the Quran, the Guru Granth Sahib, the Gita and many other spiritual texts. This is not to say that these elements are not present in the education system today. However, their proportion is too small and also the effect is largely cosmetic. Many schools do employ classical music teachers but they are mostly used to train students in light music to be presented in competitions and on annual day functions. Students join art colleges largely to pursue lucrative careers in commercial art and join music colleges with the aim of finally singing in Bollywood. A number of classically trained musicians have made their way through competitions like ‘Indian Idol’. Thus, even subjects that are innately subtle, abstract, inspiring and even mystical (four elements greatly missing in the education system) have been devalued and brought into the materialistic domain. This is because of a general lack of patience and faith (traditionally inculcated in the children by their parents).
Secularism should not exclude, but should include profound thoughts developed by masters who have lived in different part of our great earth at different points of time. Our beautiful Composite Heritage (currently under much strain) is an example for the whole world and should increasingly be brought into the lives of everyone through the education process at all levels. We have not done this enough and are therefore suffering its consequences.
The need of the hour is to bring this HI into the formal and informal education system in a significant way, while making all the wonderful changes which are currently in progress.