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Need To Rise Above Defeatist Mindsets

Are we collectively ready for a treading that path of light and glory?

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We are the masters of our own destiny. What we fearlessly dream of and work for come true... So too with the destiny of India’s higher education. We can see two possible scenarios: Metaphorically that of a proud caparisoned elephant and, conversely, that of a thick-skinned lump of an animal, a dismal suffering pachyderm in distress.

First the optimistic scenario. There is flowering of the soft power of the country aided by its higher education sector. The caparisoned elephant is agile, powerful, and beautiful. It does not feed on the competitive weakness of others; it feeds on the choicest of herbivorous treats. It shows its might only where it warrants.

The Indian higher education is shining light on the frontiers of knowledge. It is beginning to show there is a way to deliver humanity away from the grip of dualistic thinking that underpinned the Aristotelian educational philosophy of yore. Even if hazy, the rays of a new inclusive vision is beginning to fill the gap between the rural and the urban, the national and the global, and between the sciences and the humanities. In cooperation with the global community of scholars it is showing that higher education can deliver solutions to mankind’s hitherto intractable problems with new integral ways of thinking, new technologies, new multi-disciplinarity and new social and ecological consciousness.

Meanwhile at various universities the students on their part are beginning to be autonomous drivers of their own intellectual, professional and holistic growth plans.

The faculty body on their part is beginning to be networked meaningfully with research laboratories, manufacturing plants, agriculture, social medicine, communication, entertainment and leisure segments, etc. There is co-evolution in the use of internet of things, nanotechnology, neural networks, all with a new understanding of human psychology, sociality and ecological sustainability.

The universities are bringing in the best of the world into the classroom; anywhere, anytime, in any form. Educators are gripped by a vision of the future that needs their collective attention. They are, after all, the shapers of the future human energy.

The regulators have realised the power of unleashing the imagination of those they govern. With greater inter-institutional collaborations and strong signaling mechanisms they have been able to positively influence excellence in institutions of higher education. These changes could not have been dreamed of just ten years ago.

We have to be also forewarned of the dismal possibility. Behold the sight of a huge tottering animal barely able to move now. A spent aggression that does not show any promise of recovery. It could have been an important member of a caravan to support the march towards new lands. But it is not to be. Instead, it has tied itself down with confusion, lassitude and misdirected energy.

We are storytellers. The reality would lie somewhere in between. We barely distinguish between history and mythology; Itihas is history salted and peppered with huge doses of poetic liberty. The imagery we create in our minds, mostly sub-conscious, are more powerful for us than “outcome-based education, learning rubrics, invigilation and bell shaped distribution”.

We need to rise above the defeatist mindsets still stunned and incapacitated by the colonist-feudal-casteist sting. The academicians are no more technicians but action-inducing visionaries. The academia needs to rise to embrace new “reality-stories”... of heroism, idealism and mighty actions.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Magazine 28 April 2018 education anniversary special

K. Sankaran

The author is Head, Justice KS Hegde Institute of Mgmt, Nitte

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