Sunday, 28 March 2021

Need for discipline in the university

The nation needs discipline and peace in the university campuses. It can only flourish with dedicated academicians and meritorious learners. Universities have been established to impart knowledge. Their role is most important in making the nation and society- wise and well-informed. 

However, in the name of freedom of expression and autonomy, their most important aim of knowledge has weakened. Now, academicians, as well as the learners, want that the government should finance them fully and leave them free of any government guideline and regulation. They must have complete autonomy about all the matters.

So many shoddy forums and institutes have come-up to misguide or instigate the teachers and learners about the so-called academic freedom and autonomy. One such institute the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPI) has established The Academic Freedom Index that described that academic autonomy and freedom has been under attack in universities in many nations. Here, it would be in the fitness of things the famous comment by Albert Einstein, "By academic freedom, I understand the right to search for truth and to publish and teach what one holds to be true. This right also implies a duty: One must not conceal any part of what one has recognised to be true."

All want liberal financial support by the government, certificate and degrees with high grades, good hostel facilities, flexible time frame, quotas, scholarships, government jobs with high perks and no work and whatnot but nobody wants any duty, restrictions, discipline and rule of law.

During the last few years, vested interests have turned the university into a place only for freebies, strikes, dharnas, demonstrations, the boycott of classes and exams and shut down. Their only aim is to de-stabilize the system. These elements want their complete say right from admissions to the appointment of the Vice-chancellor and professors. They only want academic freedom and institutional autonomy but no to regulatory strictness. They involve politicians, media, caste and communal leaders, NGOs, professional activists in the name of academic freedom and public debate.

The nation needs to understand this deep conspiracy, which will disturb the workings and future of Indian universities in India and across the world. At the very outset, it should be clear to all that if academicians and learners want academic freedom as fundamental and the most important issue, then they should also arrange their financial resources. They should not look at the taxpayers' money to fill their coffers for their enjoyment. They should understand their duties as teachers and students. There was a time when the nation took pride in its universities and educational institutions. However, this excellence has been ruined in the name of freedom of speech and autonomy.

It is good to enjoy the freedom of expression but it must be free from ideological manipulations. Stakeholders must understand their duty with discipline in a democracy promoting knowledge and morals. As educators should understand their complex role as a guide to society. They should not be swayed by the ideological pressures: favouring one or disfavouring the other. They should design academic freedom within the academic context. They should not follow the historical, social, political and economical aspects blindly.

For this, recruitment should be done by the faculty. Appraisal and assessment of faculty and staff ought to be done by regular and senior faculty within the university. They must be seniority cum performance-based, following their contribution to teaching and the institution. The authority for decision and policy-making must be vested in the college or university's senior-most faculty, which includes the VC, principals, deans and professors appointed based on seniority.  Outsiders, including politicians, bureaucrats, donors, and faculty on long leave should be excluded from this process.  Internal governance of a college and university have to be led by the regular teaching faculty and not anybody from outside the university. Even faculty on long leave in the name of projects, research, visiting fellows etc should be denied all the promotions and offices.

Internal and senior faculty members should be appointed as Vice-chancellors, principals, deans, professors and head of the departments permanently. They will be better equipped to tackle and solve the problems of the universities and colleges in a much better way.  

Preparation of programmes, courses, curriculum, teaching methods, and administration of colleges/departments ought to be within the university administration as per recognized system, rules and regulations of the university with all powers of decision-making controlled by the faculty and staff of the university. Internal evaluation system and internal assessment system should be discouraged and discontinued. All the decisions are taken following the laws, rules, regulations and guidelines given by the government and regulatory bodies. Nobody from outside the university system is encouraged to exercise control or influence decisions and workings.

The emphasis should be on teaching. Research and project work should not be encouraged at the cost of teaching and classes. In such matters, the head of the department's ought to have full freedom and academic autonomy. Those faculty members who're involved in projects, academic research ought to be treated as junior to those who are involved in teaching and institutional work. There should be separate institutions for research work and publications. It is commonly seen that incompetent teachers hide their incompetency behind research, projects and publication.

With academic freedom, the university system should give meaningful importance to higher regulatory bodies. The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has visualized substantive regulatory reforms to empower Indian universities. Multiple stakeholders for governance should be reduced. Multiple stakeholders just create confusion, corruption and delays and achieve nothing.

No university can function in an honestly autonomous manner without the support of the government. NEP 2020 is very clear about this. There will be a regulatory framework to ensure integrity, efficiency, transparency and resource generation. For research, innovation and new ideas separate research institutions are envisaged in NEP 2020.  

However, for decision-making one has to give acceptance and legitimacy to the seniority and commitment to teaching and institution should be the hallmark. Politics, strikes, nepotism, boycott and favouritism  and disagreements lead to acrimonious engagements that can vitiate the academic and intellectual and academic ecosystem, and universities and colleges must be cautious against that.

The vision and imagination of NEP 2020, if implemented honestly, will enable Indian universities to endow with world-class education, while promoting excellence and contributing to nation-building. 'Atmanirbharta', for the society and nation, institutions, especially educational institutions and universities, is tangled with the fundamental principles of freedom, excellence, autonomy and governance and India will be 'Vishvaguru' once again.


Thursday, 25 March 2021

Technologies: Slayer of mind and body

The world is full of technical gadgets. Now few people use pen, pencil, diary or notebook. Now all use a mobile phone, digital diary, tab, laptop, or commputers for writing and keeping the records. There was a time when writing kits, pen sets, or diaries were given as popular gifts but this popular practice has become a thing of the past. This has on one hand killed the market and business of these items and on the other hand-creativity has been killed.


There was a time people used to have proud of their good and artistic handwriting and language skills. But this generation is completely ignorant about this creativity and skill. Diary writing was another art that is altogether forgotten. People used to keep stylish pen and pencils to demonstrate their style and mannerism. This generation has no idea about this taste.


There was another family feature when people have different colours of ink and inkpots and their hands, handkerchiefs, clothes etc have also marks of the ink they and their children use. Special soaps were used to clean the stains and marks of the inks. Children have special freedom and game to ruin the dupattas, sarees, shirts of their fathers', mothers', sisters' and brothers' were spoiled by the stains. All such games and naughty pleasures and family love have now vanished with the over-use of technologies. Now users are always tensed about safety due to the high cost and high maintenance cost of the gadgets.


Pen, paper and writing siklls give physical and mental satisfaction. If one is an expert in writing and calculations, it develops a certain intense connection about this bond, a closeness that is missing from any other electronic gadgets i.e. computer, laptop, smartphones and calculators. It is the possession and contact of the pen and paper, the flow of ink, the speed of the pen, the alliance and intimacy of all with the human hand and the hand's link with the mind of the writer vibrate the mind and body with energy. This is all the role of the pen and the significance of the paper. Man's overdependence and overindulgence with computers, smartphones and calculators have killed this relationship and broken the joint family into nothingness.


Even if now somebody uses a pen, they use a high-quality one. It rarely spoils anything. People are so lazy now that they do not re-use or re-fill the ink. The used pen is thrown. It is the total casualness. Now, the study table is without ink-pot, eraser, blotting paper, diary, writing pads or sharpener. People are the complete slave of smartphones, tabs, laptops, computers, digital diaries and calculators. Due to this mental slavery, people are crippled that they cannot do any simple calculation without the help of the calculator.


Technology has distorted our lives, mentality, behaviour and persona. Our thinking, memorizing and writing sense are heavily damaged.  We don't use these technologies judiciously but rather we are over-reliant and slave of them. If they are not with us we become uneasy and annoying. We feel a sense of loss and vacuum around us.


Around a few years back, the beg of school-going children was fully prepared and equipped by their mothers with copies, diaries, pens, pencils, pen-holders, nibs, and ink-pots. All the children have a pencil box equipped with pencils, scales, erasers, sharpeners etc. Desks in the schools were made with an ink-hole for ink.


Students had to dip the nib of the holder into this ink-hole of blue or black ink repeatedly and then fight away to write few words before again dropping the nib into the ink-hole. Good writing was a prized art. It was a good mental exercise of mind, body, hands, eyes and concentration.


This was a very strenuous task; but this process shaped and produced Dickens, Mark Twain, Shaw, Tolstoy, Kipling, Munshi Prem Chand, Tagore, R.K.Narayan and Dr S.Radhakrishnan ---dip and write, dip and write, for days, weeks, months and years. People and writers were very meticulous and careful about handwriting, spellings, grammar, and punctuation so that the readers, compositor, or teacher can understand and appreciate the writing. But smartphones, laptop, tab, etc have killed this art and mental work out.


Letter writing and diary writing are the biggest causalities of this technology colony. There was a time when diary writing and letter writings were big documents and art. Letters and diaries used to discuss and narrate families, relations, news, philosophy, society, politics, environment, nature, psychology, weather and whatnot. The art of diary and letter writing produces some of the greatest intellectual minds and literarily pieces. Diaries and letters of Matthew Arnold, Arthur Hugh Clough, Bernard Shaw, Anne Frank, Mahatma Gandhi, Emily Dickinson, P.G.Wodehouse, Nehru, John F. Kennedy, Robert Scott, Meena Kumari etc., are now big and popular literary books.


Mathematical abilities and calculation power have been destroyed by the slavery of computers, calculators and computers. Now the majority of people are incapable of solving the easy and simple mathematical calculation without using calculators. The slavery of technology has mentally crippled this generation.


Above all, writing art and skills develops the personality of a person and makes him disciplined and efficient. The handwriting of a man indicates and specify the personality and behavioural aspects of a person. Matthew Arnold, Abraham Lincoln, John F Kennedy, Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi, Dr.S.Radhakrishnan had very good handwriting and everyone knows they were great creative writers and statesmen. On the other hand the handwriting of Hitler, Mussolini and Jinnah were very poor. Their mind and behaviour were also very destructive.  


There is a very interesting fact about handwriting. Henry Wainwright was a very dangerous criminal but had neat elegant handwriting. This refined him as a meticulous criminal and clean prisoner. The same was true to another dreaded criminal Charles Shobraj. Shobraj was a very shrewd conspirator and criminal and he was also a skilled writer.


Commuters, laptops, smartphones, and calculators have also killed the art of good teaching. Now teachers are also dependent on these gadgets. Without the help of these gadgets, they are almost handicapped.  There was a time, good teachers used to memorize everything and they used to teach writing on the blackboard, neat and fast. They always emphasized the memorising and significance of good handwriting. Neat and open handwriting develop a cultured, disciplined, organised and orderly mind. Incompetent teachers hide their incompetency behind gadgets.


The mind has become so much crippled due to the over-dependence on technology that to check the coping and cheating Plagiarism Checker Apps are used because human beings have no power of reasoning, memory and judgment now. However, these plagiarism checker apps have only the mechanism to check the copying of the language. However, only a creative mind can write the unidentical language. They do not have the power to check the coping of points, contents and other major issues. This method is again very absurd like electronic gadgets.


Unfortunately, computers and smartphones have spoiled all these qualities of mind and body. Now, nobody wants to take pains of writing, oral calculations and mathematical calculations. Now, teachers and students are crippled due to their slavery to smartphones and computers. Good handwriting and capability of oral calculations keep mind and body in good shape and alert.


Over-dependence on smartphones are also responsible for a large number of accidents. Thousands of people die every year in accidents using mobile phones. Similarly, the over-use of electronic gadgets is turning modern youth casual, undisciplined and ill-mannered. Educational campuses are full of such Tommies.