Saturday, 25 February 2017

Institutes of 'Higher Learning'

I met a JNU professor today, an old friend. I told him, in conversation, that if JNU shut down it was no loss to the country. He was lost for a response to a such a blasphemous statement. He blinked and blinked. And I got away, escaping a wasteful debate
JNU is irrelevent to us. The reality of India is in every local village and town., and the people and youth there. And those who have gone to make their lives there with them. Understanding the local, and crafting the questions and answers therein.
Elite institutes, with profound and radical theories, do not count in my understanding. The reality, localized and grounded counts.


Aparna Krishnan Villages and towns are where all learning should go on. Close all 'temples of higher learning'. Let the children go to farmers and artisans and sculptors and learn. Does it sound too naive ? Or too radical ?

Sanjay Maharishi Yechuri made a telling comment when he spoke in jnu. He said IAS, IFS people sitting in ministries have gone from here. For me these are hardly the pinnacle to aim for. And he said when we were agitating as students we had threatened to burn the building down. I'm not say you should do this, but this what we did. It seems to me these guys have not come out of the univ mode. Yet.


Arvind Jha if we loose sight of the forest only to focus on trees, we will have shifted to an unbalanced position. Making villages & town self-sufficient is a noble goal. Building institutions that can push boundaries of science, tech, social studies, literature is ALSO critically important. We can not grow as a society, nation and people without both abstract and field level thinking.
Aparna Krishnan Sure Arvind. Let IITs stand. On their own strength as do the village ironsmiths. But let the learning they grant (which only feeds a capitalist industrial model) not be seen as superior to what can be learnt at the feet of the sthapathi. Regarding sociological institutes - these are in villages, amongst people. Live in a village, or start a small enterprise - and you learn about India more than in all the tomes. Yes, but they also serve a humble role, as does everything under the sun.
 
Aparna Krishnan I am questioning mainly the assumed eliteness and superiority. An elite (and therefore alienated) educated in IIT, versus a grounded farmer's son educated in the local college - whom would you consider more (or less) important to the nation ?
 
Arvind Jha You are doing that but also you are dismissing all the academic work done at institutes of higher learning. You are hinting, nay saying that ALL the output feeds capitalist industrial model which is absolutely not true - look up Harish Hande, Rahul Banerjee to cite a few of my own KGP contemporaries. Also dont forget Kejriwal.
 
Aparna Krishnan To continue - the same JNU professor, before I escaped the debate, told me that it was my anglicized education that opened my doors to my village. To suggest that social sensitivity needs the English education, or otherwise an IIT training, showed a level of servility to the white man's structures, and a matching disdain for the people of this country, their strengths, and their institutions. 

In line with that argument next the professor might have suiggested that our having been colonized was a good thing, as it broadened our horizons ! Arvind, to understand our Indian structures, the deep sensitivities and generosities and courage of ordinary people, and where it is anchored, and how it may be collectively built on further is, in my understanding, the need. And these strengths in ordinary people, in my own experience is far vaster than of any IIT alumnus - though there are always the odd exceptions everywhere as you have also cited mentioning Rahul, and I can offer another ten names from other IITs also. To render them insignificant are the lakhs of graduates from there who have locked themselves in ivory towers.
 
Aparna Krishnan And of course temples of modern science and technology only feed into the modern industrial system - capitalist or communist. Just as learning from a sthapathi or a handloom weaver feeds only into localized dispersed economies.
 
Rahul Banerjee In the indian context the relevance of any institution is determined by its contribution to ensuring socio-economic equity and a dignified life for all and on that count all institutions have failed singularly by largely serving the global and national ruling class.
 
Aparna Krishnan Totally agree. That sense of social responsibility is the first and last need. And I randomly question the IITs because many from there have a chip on their shoulder, and some even feel 'cream of the country'. Anyway I do not personally quarrel with the graduates, because the very learning there is structured only tro make them cogs in a industrilized world. Those friends who after IIT moved to saner worlds, simply wrote off those Laplace Transforms and Second Law of Thermodynamics learnings, and started from scratch on the ground in villages. In Madras IIT 1988 batch, two moved to work with weavers, one to a Krishnamurthy school and thence to larger responsibilties, one moved to a village in AP and started planting trees, and doing watershed work with the people. I do not think their IIT degree was ever used, or referred to. This batch had an exceptionally large number of people who thought thro' and walked the talk. I think it was the influence of a particular professor they had. 
Sunitha Choudhry Everything counts in the big picture. Both JNU and the reality on the ground. One cannot be at the expense of the other. So yes I agree that the JNU issue is being blown out of proportion for political mileage, at the expense of other more serious and pressing problems but the targeting of JNU as an institution is part of a larger sinister design to discredit that which has gone before in the name of the first pm of India.
 
Aparna Krishnan Its ok. Let it be. IIIT, IIM, JNU can stay - without feeling that they are saviours of this land ! The saviours are elsewhere, and working quietly on the ground. The issue of both SC students, and the outdated law of sedition are serious and need to be taken up on a broad forum.
 
Karthikeya Sivasenapathy If JNU is not needed first Iim or Iit should be banned
Aparna Krishnan let them all stay ! Not considering themselves any more important to india than my chittoor colleges peopled by children from rural rooted families.
Anil Gupta How myopic of you Aparna on this issue. I generally admire your insights from ground but on this case you are completely off the mark. You don't get any marks for this comment. Elite institutions educate mind and imbue samvedana in some of the scholars. They in turn design or run institutions which are supposed to work fir poor. Some work, some don't. But do we throw away such institutions. Yes I agree all scholars should share their work with communities in local languages as Hbn has been advocating for last 26 years. Thanks and please don't mind
 
Aparna Krishnan They dont have that much of value to share !

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