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Ethics essential for value education - The Times of India

P L Jaiswal ()
October 30, 1998

Title: Ethics essential for value education
Author: P L Jaiswal
Publication: The Times of India
Date: October 30, 1998

The current controversy over the HRD ministry's move to
"Indianise, nationalise and spiritualise" education - in
particular the proposal to teach Sanskrit and include the vedas
and the upanishads in school curricula - is a shocking example
of the levels to which politics has descended in this country.
Even Saraswati Vandana, an invocation prayer to Saraswati, the
goddess of learning, is not above being insulted, it would seem.

Many eminent leaders of the pre-Independence era had favoured
the concept now being advanced by the HRD ministry, among them
Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya, Lokmanya B G Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi and
Yogi Arvind. Before founding the Banaras Hindu University,
Malaviya had said: "To revitalise India as a nation, it is
necessary to feed her youth with old spiritual and moral values
and religion must be made a part of education based on Indian
ideals. A revival of Hindu learning must precede any
advancement". He had, however, clarified that Hinduism was not
so much a religion as a way of life. Hinduism does not represent
any single religion but treats the human race as a whole as
Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam or its own family.

In 1925, Mahatma Gandhi wrote in Nav Jeevan, "The emancipation
of India depends on how Hindus defend their religion". Religion
and culture are inseparable. In other words, education in India
must be inspired by Indian culture, and not based on a foreign
model, whose only objective is to raise the standards of living.

Supreme Sacrifices

However, after Independence, our leaders adopted a 'pseudo-
secular' model of education. The discontinuance of religious
education in educational institutions is perhaps the one single
factor that has done the greatest damage to the moral fabric of
the nation. Mr Nani Palakhivala has rightly said that "Our
besetting sin is secular fundamentalism. Fundamentalism is the
triumph of the letter over the spirit. The letter killeth but
the spirit growth life."

The two generations born after 1947 are unaware of the supreme
sacrifices made by our elders during the freedom struggle. We
have failed in passing to the younger generation values that we
once cherished - the spirit of sacrifice for the motherland, the
restlessness o to alleviate the miseries of our poverty-stricken
masses, and the urge to build a strong India, restoring to it
the pride of place in the community of nations. We have failed
to inculcate in them love for our cultural values based on the
concept of sacrifice and service - not only to our fellow
countrymen but humanity as a whole.

The growth of local, regional linguistic and state loyalties has
further led to the neglect of national interests. The religious
and cultural bonds which kept Indian society together in the
past have weakened and there is no effective programme to
replace them with a new sense of social responsibility.
Consequently, signs of social disintegration are evident
everywhere and are continually on the increase.

Moral Values

It is in this context that the role of education needs to be re-
defined. Education should aim for integrated development in the
student physical, mental, moral and spiritual, besides imparting
knowledge in various disciplines. It should strive to make
him/her ideal citizens capable of shouldering the
responsibilities of national reconstruction.

This is not to say that only the best of Hindu culture and
religion should be taught. The best teachings of other major
religions could also be included but the former, in that it
symbolises ancient Indian culture, would constitute the dominant
part of the curricula.

There is no stress on moral values and character building in
today's education. The trouble, in fact, started in 1951 when
the government adopted secularism and decided to discontinue
religious education in educational institutions. Even morning
prayers were dispensed with and education rendered soulless.
With family influence on the wane and little to learn from the
acharan of the acharya, there was no motivation left to direct
the young to the right course. The youth of today is
increasingly under the influence of western culture being
promoted by the electronic media with its accent on quick
acquisition of position and wealth by fair means or foul.

Dogma-free religious education would go a long way in building
the character of our youth and helping them to engage in various
tasks of national reconstruction.

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