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Oct 23, 2014

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Our Educational System And The Delhi School Shooting

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By Dr. B. M. Hegde, India [ Published Date: December 16, 2007 ]

Dr. B. M. Hegde MD, FRCP, FRCPE, FRCPG, FRCPI, FACC, FAMS, is presently the Chairman of State Health Society, Govt. of Bihar, India, Visiting Prof. Cardiology at The Middlesex Hospital Medical School - University of London, Affiliate Prof. of Human Health - Northern Colorado University, Visiting Prof. Indian Institute of Advanced Studies - Shimla,  Retd.  Vice Chancellor, MAHE University - Manipal. Prof Hedge regularly gives talks on AIR, Doordarshan, BBC and Zee TV, London. 

Recent Delhi school shooting did not come as a surprise. May be, it had to happen sooner than later. We are very good at aping the west, specially the US, not that Europe is far behind the US in this dismal societal malady. Our intellectual slavery extends far beyond the field of education. The immediate remedy for school shooting suggested would be to call the parents and teachers to find the reason for that tragedy. Little do we realise that this is a cancer that is spreading like wild fire in our misguided educational system. We seem to hate the hoary Indian tradition in education that imparts both para and apara vidya-knowledge of the world as also the wisdom of the inner world of man. Today we seem to have a rudderless system best described in the words of T. S. Eliot, the great American poet, "where is the wisdom we seem to have lost in knowledge, and where is that knowledge that is lost in information?"

When we claim to have progressed in our country by external technological marvels, we seem to be receding in our internal engineering to produce better human beings through education. The latter starts the day the zygote, the product of mother’s ovum and father’s sperm, starts its journey slowly but steadily eventually to the grave. The education of the future child starts there. The home atmosphere, the mother’s environment, as also that of the family would all be able to influence that child in the womb with its prenatal consciousness. Postnatal education is only at home until the child goes to preschool. The media, both print and electronic, plays a vital role in educating the whole family. More than 90% of what one views there has some criminal content, some of it being very provocative. Recently, the UK’s secret service felt the pinch when young boys wanting to have a job there wanted the job mainly to satisfy their criminal tendencies!

I disagree with all those that think that technological advance is the key to progress. I feel that internal development of man is the key to a healthy future. If the former were to be the yardstick America should have been the happiest society. Alas, it is anything but that! People at the helm of educational administration seem to have misunderstood education today. Education is not imparting information from outside. It is trying to bring out the best in man from inside. E=out and ducare=deliver. The zygote, mentioned above, has the universal consciousness postori and priori from day one!

Children do not learn from parents and teachers preaching to them. They learn by imitating their parents, teachers and elders in society as their role models. If parents and teachers imbibe the best in human character in their dealings with children, the latter will certainly follow that example. Indian culture teaches us that" one shall not do anything that one does not want the world to know." In short, if parents and teachers walk their talk there will be better future generation. That would be the best education. Let not our "schools come in the way of our education." We seem to have come a full circle from the days of Socrates.

Single parent children, the number going up steadily by the day, and children of both parents busy working to earn their living, are the victims of circumstances that leave them little choice but their peers and the media to get educated. Both the latter are bad examples. Good books of yester years and the wisdom of the elders in a joint family system that most children could get in the past have all but disappeared today. Market forces work on education as well.  A young boy or a girl, after simple graduation, could aspire to get a fat salary from the BPO or IT industry while professionals like doctors and engineers will have to wait a little longer. This leads to misery inside due to jealousy. Students join medical course mainly to get degrees and earn fast. There is no altruism there. They have not had an aptitude test at the entrance level to see if they fit into the rigors of a long course and a life long learning journey.

Medical students have gone on strike as their course threatens to get lengthened. They have a point there. The already too long a course needs to be cut short, if anything, with benefit, if only we could rationalize the syllabus. Medical education needs a wholesale change in both its duration and content.  On the contrary, the Hon. Health Minister also has a point in that he has to devise methods to cater to the needs of the nearly 75% of the poor in our villages that do not get the taste of modern hi-tech medicine. Both are right and both are wrong. This is not the place to go into the debate and hope to write a separate piece on that with my nearly half a century experience in that area both as a student, teacher and an administrator. I can easily over-stand medical education while many try to understand that.

Let us have a national debate on primary education that needs careful re-evaluation if we are serious in not letting Delhi shootings to spread to other areas of education. Whereas we need private participation in education to cater to the needs of millions of young men and women looking for education in the near future in India with our demographics showing a big swing towards the younger population, we should be careful to see that anti-social elements do not get respectability as educationists to launder their ill-gotten wealth through the educational system. At the same time the Govt. tightening its noose round good set ups is to be curbed with an iron hand too. More regulations make for more corruption, may be that is the motto to begin with. We do not need license raj in education. We need society, the buyer, to choose the best. The worst will die a natural death in the buyers market. To that end, we must allow a free flow of educational facilities.

In conclusion, one cannot have a reductionist view of the unfortunate Delhi incident. That needs a holistic approach by parents, teachers, educationists and thinkers in society without the powers that be forcing any short-term quick fixes. The media should be more human and humane in not eulogizing criminality in their content. Happy news should get preference over criminal acts. 24 hour TVs have been a curse in that they keep repeating the bad incidents all through the day. I must have seen the Delhi incident many times over with the same words and pictures shown over and over again. All ills of society like communal hatred etc have a media hand in them! Let all the stakeholders take care to see that sensitive matters are handled very carefully for the common good.

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Amarnath Bantwal, Kuwait:
Dr Hegde,

Absolutely spot on with the current happenings. Loved your analogy on happiness and technological advancement... :)

Its been a while since we saw you write here, welcome back and please do take time out to enlighten us.
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