Indian Education Uncategorized

How India used education to self-destruct

One of the most impressive features of a rainforest is the loftiness of trees. The reason why these trees grow really tall is competition for sunlight.

What is interesting to note is, each tree has talent to grow, but each tree grows only till it beats the competition. In a forest with 200 feet trees, no tree grows to 250 feet. This is because growing far beyond the competition is a waste that nature, a great optimiser would never indulge into. So, there is an innate switch inside all life forms that curbs growth beyond the competitors.

The same process has another dimension, and that pushes Federer’s training partner to become Wawrinka. Presence of a great talent automatically drives those around him to greater hight than they otherwise would. 

This is because all life forms are designed to try and respond to competition to the best of their abilities, but not go too far ahead of competition.

This mechanism is fundamental to dynamics of life, and yet, we in India have chosen to ignore it and destroyed a apparently unrelated domain, i.e. Indian education.

If we have to zero down to find out those responsible for India’s quest for self-destruction in the era of knowledge, our education policymakers would win hands down.

Competitive exams that converted learning to rote undermined Indian education, but their genesis, i.e. establishment of institutions of excellence such as IITs, actually caused an even worse damage that we haven’t registered yet. 

By forming IITs, we have picked up trees that can drive the competition in classrooms across the nation and planted them in isolation. While we are celebrating these small isolated forests for their lofty trees, we are failing to realise what they did to the growth of the rest of India.

With top layer removed, those in the middle are now peerless and are not pushed to compete. IITs may have done wonder to the toppers, but they took away the core of competitiveness and prevented the rest from getting pushed to rise above. 

What made is worse is, IITs put our best crop in one basket that West found easy to steal. And the really diabolical part is how we aided their cause.

We picked up our best brains who could have been thought leaders for local communities and imprisoned them into campuses with high walls away from human society. This prevented them from social participation required to develop multidimensional intellect. This process turned most IITians into socially inept beings with no real connection with their roots.

By doing this, we have almost replicated the process used by nurseries that need to grow trees for transportation. Living out of a plastic bag of social isolation, an IITian is ready-to-ship product for exporting to West. He is systematically prevented to grow roots into the soil outside so he has very little problem moving out of India.

All that is needed in the initial years of translocation is to feed him with artificial fertilisers like money and environment conducive to his scientific curiosity. West manages this process so well that, even after having social roots and family in India, an IITian manages to settle down in an alien society and contributes to its advancement. 

The brutal reality is, the great Indian experiment with education has conclusively failed to serve the nation.

We need to seriously consider destroying the notion of institutions of excellence, as they have created a culture of rote and worked on uprooting our talented kids from society they should have been a critical part of.

We need our best intellects to get socially rooted to our nation and be part of driving our overall growth. We don’t need isolated nurseries to export our trees. We need forests growing all over India.

I am happy to admit that I have managed surviving till now with minimum effort as all my intellect has be used to avoid doing anything meaningful. As I needed to while all the free time I generated in course of being lazy, science has been my favorite muse that I have enjoyed company of. As an effort to kill time (in a way, to get even with it) one fine day I decided to write a science column, more for my personal amusement than to attract readers. After getting educated about the attention span of modern readers from my editor, it became more like a challenge to tackle esoteric subjects in 600 words that I have managed to remain interested in for more than a year now. I do not want to add my worldly profile here as these are ideas that need to be considered only on the merits they carry and not as an opinion of a certain human being.

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