The curious case of curiosity

The HRD ministry under the stewardship of Shri Sibal is trying to reinvent the wheels of  education in India. He describes every initiative he takes to be historic and exemplary. While I am not a critic of our honorable minister who is doing his job much better than his pooh-poohed predecessor I sense there is something other than logic that is driving his decisions in this regard. While doing away wih board exams in totality is a debatable topic of conversation and I for once lie on the minister’s side what with the increasing cases of suicides or attempts of such kind by the kids that grow up in an environment where science is “The” thing and commerce and arts occupy the periphery. While grading with a continuous evaluation methodology may work out fine while driving out the flaws that exist in the much-maligned Indian Education system it will certaily not weed out the one aspect that is plaguing it for long.

The creative appeal of an education system is normally gauged using the research paper index which in simple terms calculates the paper published per person in any particular country. Japan heads the list, Uncle Sam is not so far behind thanks largely to the Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Brazilian, Australian diaspora that exist there because of the exemplary infrastructure as also the research environment created. A multi-level grading system will not work fine until the ‘content’ious thing is sorted out. I have been mightily impressed by the kind of freedom american universities hand out to students out to get a meaningful education, not necessarily an exhausted syllabi.

Critics argue Indians are not born to be creative. They are hard workers all right but when it comes to ideas and its implementation, we lag way behind others.It is for this reason that coming out with a Google, a microsoft or ebay/amazon is not something we can expect from our kiln folks. I strongly disagree. With the right appendages, infrastructure and working environment we can actually reverse the so-called brain drain in its nascent stage and stand tall amidst countries where research and application work at tandem with each other. To foster the spirit of research the art of questioning and naive curiosity is a must. In colleges students in the back benches are the heroes while those seated near to the teacher is considered “muggu” in our parlance or a “geek” elsewhere. Asking questions is a strict no-no for those who need to project images of impassivity and discerned non-chalance. The Gandhi scion pointed this out about a year back and was met with a flat denial from the college authorities.

Indians are people with loads of ego and scrapes of curiosity. The “chalta-hai” attitude is visible here as well. We need to be a bit more proactive and excuse ourselves from taking things lying down if we are to rise from the ashes and create a hot-bed for innovation and a harbinger of ideas.

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4 Comments

  1. your muggu – back-bencher philosophy is totally out of sync of the other logical points you are trying to put forward .. the simplest reason for less papers is poor infrastructure, poor pay .. but in classes we highly appreciate the brains , the terms of nerd etc are all a US creation and while the movies, tv shows probably hype the thing, the athletes are ones who are seen as more cool ..

  2. many of India’s premiere institutes of the likes of iits and iisc etc have considerable infrastructure in place for a conducive research environment yet students here are found to be less indulgent when it comes to research and innovation vis-a-vas their counterparts in the developed nations..this is largely due to the mindset that comes into play when they plan the their course of a career..an academic career is not something one can pursue here…poor pay is not an institutional problem per se…performance based incentives are there for the taking here as well but sadly it has few takers…

  3. The article justly brings out the underlying flaws in planning due to which onward motion for research infrastructure in India appears to hobble when put against the marathons commenced long back in other countries for technical advancement. I for one believe that too much abstract research is one of the major reasons why students hesitate to come out and play. The term research comes with a lot of meaning. For the young generation, its about trying to come up with something that really matters.

    More funding…
    More freedom…
    More Power…
    and more tempting though surmountable problems from real life would surely yield More Research in these institutions.

  4. Some Food For Thought!
    non-indulgence into research by the students might prbbly be because they have been forced to opt for the departments they opted for. Force maybe either parental, peer or just plain herd mentality taking over.

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