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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Indian Education System Needs A Revamp

Having studied at Indian and foreign varsities, what I've gathered is the startling difference between the oriental (precisely, Indian) and occidental education systems. At the risk of sounding a tad presumptuous, let me state categorically that the existing Indian education system leaves a lot to be desired in terms of classroom teaching and the overall performance of the Indian students. The examination-oriented education system in which students get 596 out of 600 is not just ridiculous, it's outright embarrassing. This bespeaks the accent on memorising and not applying one's brains. This textbook-based and exam-oriented education is outright inimical to the natural intelligence of the students.

I wonder, why UGC has still not dispensed with Lord Macaulay's antediluvian education pattern that aimed at producing English-speaking native babus. What he conceptualised way back in 1832 is still prevalent with minor changes, whereas universities in the West progressed by leaps and bounds in their approach and curriculum. Even Pakistan's premier varsities are far ahead of India in their modernity and revolutionary ideas. Let me tell you with a tinge of sadness and also with a sense of anger that when I approached Lucknow varsity and UGC for my M Phil theory on the homosexual elements in Firaq Gorakhpuri's Urdu poetry (Sukhan-e-Firaq mein humjinsi anasir), I was told that Firaq was a sacrosanct figure in India and I couldn't pursue my M Phil on this controversial aspect of his poetry. The world knows that Firaq was an avowed gay and late Vinod Mehta clearly stated this fact in his memoirs Lucknow Boy. Firaq himself never hid this fact and called himself a homosexual.

I'm sure, the VC of Lucknow University was not aware of this fact. But he outright rejected my intention to pursue an M Phil degree in Urdu on Firaq's rather embarrassing sexual preference. Frustrated, I approached Islamabad varsity and completed my thesis on this aspect of one of the greatest Urdu poets of the last century, that too, without a guide as one can pursue Doctoral/Post Doctoral research works at Pakistani varsities with and without guides. One doesn't have to undergo the rigmarole of seeking the 'guidance' of old-fashioned guides and interminable formalities that are here at Indian varsities. This exasperates me no end. The education system that exists in India, stymies the intellectual queries and is very straight-jacketed. Here, getting high marks is the only criterion of being a brilliant student.

At Al-Azhar (Cairo), where I studied Qura'an and Classical Arabic, and then at the elite British and Ivy League US varsities across the globe, nowhere did I find this morbid stress on marks and parroting. There seems to be no concept of liberal education in India. This very idea is alien to the Indians and the UGC. Until the whole system is revamped in India, you'll continue to see brainless, lousy students with marks over 90/95 percents. Indian education system needs a seismic jolt to come out of its deep slumber.  
                                                       ----Sumit Paul

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