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recasting educational policy alongside other policie



     Your mail on educational policy and the balance which is required 
     between primary and higher education is an excellent starting point 
     for any reconsideration of the subject.
     
     My two-paise contribution to the debate:
     
     1.  There is no reason why we should have linked "chains" of such 
     institutions of higher education in the country (overly bureaucratic). 
     
     Independent institutions which slug it out in the market for students, 
     for funds, for developing particular areas of academic excellence, for 
     recruiting researchers and teachers at whatever rates of pay they deem 
     fit to attract such people, etc. is what is best: why lumber the 
     nation with a so-called "common" approach in institutions of higher 
     education?  
     
     Research and teaching which is truly pioneering is not developed by a 
     "committee" approach to such things, but by allowing free rein to the 
     entrepreneurialism of knowledge producers and knowledge communicators.
     
     2.  You cannot build nationwide primary education by looking at 
     education alone. Why?  Because we already tried to do that in the 
     First Plan period and discovered that it was difficult if not 
     impossible.  
     
     For what reasons?  
     (a) the resources required were too huge; 
     (b) under the influence of our leading Socialist/ Marxist economic 
     thinkers at that time, the lobby for "draining the countryside of 
     economic resources to build up the cities and focus development 
     efforts in order to take us to world levels" was too strong to resist, 
     so that the Second Plan itself reversed the First Plan's intention of 
     improving the overall development of the nation's rural areas (by the 
     way, the First Plan was not entirely unsuccessful); 
     (c) we did not have sufficiently trained AND MOTIVATED people who 
     would go to the countryside - I recollect that, when I entered 
     University in 1965, I was shocked by newspaper stories that we had 
     60,000 registered unemployed doctors; in my second year, there were 
     newspaper stories that we have 70,000 registered unemployed 
     engineeers!  All the while, it did not take extraordinary intelligence 
     or perception to see that there were enormous areas of the country 
     dying because of lack of such skills as these doctors and engineers 
     had.  So why could the country not match demand and supply?  
     
     Because NONE OF THESE 130,000 TRAINED PEOPLE  
     W A N T E D  
     TO GO TO RURAL AREAS.  
     
     Of course, for a host of completely understandable reasons.  Such as 
     guaranteed low pay in rural areas as against at least the hope of 
     better pay in the cities; lack of facilities for basic communication 
     and health and education for themselves and their wives and children; 
     and simple quality of life issues.  
     
     
     In a country such as India, a commitment to raise the overall income 
     in ten years by even a MILLION times will be meaningless for the 
     average person unless we have a properly integrated plan (I do not 
     mean at the bureaucratic level but at the policy level) for the 
     overall development of our rural areas.
     
     In practice, this means that any policies for developing nationwide 
     primary education cannot be divorced from policies to develop 
     nationwide primary health care, nationwide sanitation and irrigation 
     systems, nationwide integrated transport systems, and nationwide 
     integrated communication systems.
     
     Most important, we need to integrate all that with a change in the 
     ruling BELIEFS of our country.   People who contributed most to 
     India's development, such as William Carey in the eighteenth century, 
     saw this most clearly.  
     
     What is the ruling belief in India today?  It is personal survival, 
     maximising personal prosperity, maximising personal consumption, 
     maximising personal glory, maximising personal power - by any means, 
     and even at the cost of basic survival for others.  (Please note: I am 
     not talking about the beliefs by which people such as those on the IP 
     list, live; I am talking about the beliefs by which the few tens of 
     thousands who form the Indian Establishment and actually rule the 
     country, live).
     
     Bollywood films specifically glorify the glittering lights of our 
     cities and the rush to maximise personal happiness in the city.
     
     Why can Bollywood not join the IP group in glorifying people who will 
     go (and in cases such as those of Vishal Mangalwadi and Chandra Kant 
     Shourie HAVE gone) to distant rural villages in order to struggle with 
     rebuilding them?  
     
     What stops people finding stories of romance, struggle, sacrifice and 
     success in the struggle to transform our society instead of the 
     present pap that we feed our people?  
     
     We need a tremendous movement of our educated people, inspired by the 
     possibility of changing our country, prepared to struggle with the 
     difficulties of rural transformation.
     
     If we do not want to do that on the basis of Marxist compulsion (and I 
     don't think any of us on the IP list do want to do that) then the only 
     other way is by incentivising people to go to the countryside.  THat 
     is, by reversing the present system by which a primary school teacher 
     even in our cities is paid almost nothing anyway and of course even 
     less than that in the countryside.  
     
     What is an attractive level of pay for a rural primary teacher?  For a 
     rural doctor?  Such are the questions we need to answer if we want to 
     get good qualified people into the rural areas.
     
     The points in the above para need to be seen in the context of what is 
     the minimum investment that is required in railways and roads and 
     telecoms to create a really integrated development for our rural 
     areas?  Because without basic infrastructure we continue an invisible 
     disincentive, for which we can of course compensate financially but 
     few people will respond, in my view.   In any case, the investment for 
     this item we can get from private industry anyway (at least for 
     reasonably major trunk routes).  
     
     But do we have any idea of what it would cost to develop the nation in 
     any systematic way so far as basic nationwide healthcare and education 
     is concerned?  Let us do our calculations, taking regional differences 
     into account (Kerala and West Bengal, for example, have reasonably 
     good systems of rural primary education).  
     
     Let us also properly analyse what has made such areas more progressive 
     than others in India so that the lessons can be applied to other areas 
     of the country.  
     
     This is the only way of getting beyond merely pie-in-the-sky policies, 
     and of putting forward PROPERLY COSTED policies which have been 
     developed in the light of our HISTORY and of PRESENT REALITY ....
     
     The experience of people such as Mangalwadi and Shourie shows clearly 
     that getting people to go is actually the LEAST of the issues.  The 
     crux of the issue is can we get the RIGHT SORT of people to go?  
     People who are realistic about the nature of the struggles involved in 
     transforming the countryside, and who have the stamina and 
     stickability to last through the struggle.... 
     
     By the way, for those who are interested in reading about the struggle 
     that the Mangalwadis had, and the lessons they drew from it, there is 
     an interesting book by him, TRUTH AND SOCIAL REFORM, now out of print 
     in the UK, but probably still in print in the USA as well as of course 
     in India, available from Good Books, Ivy Cottage, Landour, Mussoorie, 
     U.P., India.  I think in the USA, the book is still available from The 
     MacLaurin Institute, University of Minnesota, 331 Seventeenth Avenue 
     SE, Minneapolis MINN 55414 (Tel/fax: 00-1-612-378.1935 or 2159).  
     
     My view is that the Mangalwadis experience is not valid for the 
     country as a whole, but is probably valid for most of the 
     Hindi-speaking belt, perhaps most of what can be called North (as 
     against South) India.  I should make it clear that I do not agree with 
     everything that Mangalwadi says, or with all of his beliefs.  But what 
     he shares of his experience and of the lessons he learned regarding 
     what is necessary to change our countryside is revealing and 
     stimulating.
     
     Prabhu
     
     Professor Prabhu Guptara
     Director, Organisational and Executive Development
     Wolfsberg Executive Development Centre
     (a subsidiary of UBS AG)
     CH-8272 Ermatingen
     Switzerland
     Tel: + 41.71.663.5605
     Fax: +41.71.663.5590
     e-mail: prabhu.guptara@ubs.com


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