GANDHI IN ACTION network

the Spirit of Mahatma Gandhi lives through every nonviolent action

Prof. Dr. Yogendra Yadav

Senior Gandhian Scholar, Professor, Editor and Linguist

Gandhi International Study and Research Institute, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India

Contact No. – 09404955338, 09415777229

E-mail- dr.yadav.yogendra@gandhifoundation.net;

dr.yogendragandhi@gmail.com

Mailing Address- C- 29, Swaraj Nagar, Panki, Kanpur- 208020, Uttar Pradesh, India

 

University Education and Mahatma Gandhi

 

 

Though in view of the evidence submitted to them the Commissioners could not be persuaded to lay down a policy for the future in favour of vernacularizing university education also, it is equally true that they could not find anything in the evidence which supported the Anglicists or the bilinguists. Thus, though the replies to the Commissioners’ questions do not in themselves decide the future, they do. 1 Thus we find that though the evidence before Dr. Sadler’s Commission is not today in favour of vernacularizing university education, it does hold high hopes for the future of the cause of the vernacular medium. Time was when the vernacularisms’ cause was looked upon with distrust. There is now not only no distrust but confidence has taken its place. Two important institutions have recently joined the cause. The Women’s University of Poona1 and the Osmania University of Hyderabad are using the vernaculars as the sole medium. Their progress is being keenly watched by many. Their success will, as Justice Sir Abdul Rahim says, make the solution of the problem of the vernaculars easier. At the last convocation of the Hindu University, the Hon. Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya invited all the eminent vernacularisms to meet in a conference. We hope that such an organized effort will hasten full recognition of the vernaculars as media of instruction. 2

It is to be noted here that there is no reason assigned for the ban on anti-drink propaganda. On the contrary, one would expect explicit instructions to these conservators of health to instruct the people about the evil effects of drink on the body under a popular Government. They would be required to tell the people how deadly the effect of alcohol is upon the human body and show by magic lantern slides in a graphic manner the ruin that alcohol brings wherever it finds a place. But it is madness to expect the existing Government to do any such thing. One may as well expect the keeper of a public house to warn its visitors against running into the death-trap. Is not the Government the keeper of all the public houses of India? It is the 25 crores revenue that enables us to give University education to our children. It enables the Government to impose Pax Britannica upon us. Not till the people realize their duty and develop strength to resist the Government in its pro-drink policy will it be possible to have a dry India. 3

I have tried to show in those three articles how child education could become inexpensive, almost self-supporting. If we can fashion a university education which will aid primary education, it can be made inexpensive and students can acquire the necessary knowledge useful to the nation. If the phrase “solid education” implies education similar to that provided by Government schools, the question is irrelevant, as I do not regard that education as solid. The education given in the national university or primary schools is distinct from that provided by Government schools and is very often of a novel and original kind. It is therefore solid in its own way. 4 It is as truer as it is false. Where there is blind worship of intellectual education, I would certainly say that vocational training covers everything. In my definition of education, there is no wall of brick and cement separating intellectual training from vocational training, but the latter includes the former, that is, it provides scope for the development of the intellect. I would make bold to say that a true development of the intellect is not possible without vocational training. The knowledge a mason requires to earn his livelihood is not education at all in my opinion. His education should comprise knowledge of the place of his vocation in society, of bricks and their importance, of the need for houses and what they should be like and how closely they are connected with civilization. We often wrongly believe that intellectual education implies a general knowledge of events. A full development of the intellect is possible without such knowledge. The educationist who turns the student’s brain into a storehouse of innumerable facts has himself not learnt the very first lesson in education. It must have been clear by now what is said in the question is both true and false. It is false if you accept my view of intellectual and vocational education. It is true if these are regarded as mutually exclusive, if there is misconception concerning education and if in framing the question this misconceived education has been kept in mind. It should now be understood why and under what conditions I welcome university education. The university which I visualize will consist of masons, carpenters and weavers who will be truly intellectual social workers; they will not be only masons, carpenters and weavers having knowledge of their trades sufficient merely for them to earn their livelihood. From this university I look forward to seeing a Kabir arise from the weavers, a Bhoja Bhagat from the cobblers, an Akha from the goldsmiths and a Guru Govind from the farmers. I regard all these four as having received intellectual education. 5 

Mahatmaji thought that the best education for girls and women was not the kind of university education that they were getting in schools but that they should be taught thoroughly to master the art of spinning and carding. The message of the charkha must be popularized throughout the length and breadth of the country and women were best fitted for the propagation of this message. If every woman learnt to spin and cultivated the habit of wearing only self-made khaddar clothes they would go a long way in winning their freedom. 6 The medium of instruction for university education will be the language of the linguistic area. Hindustani (either script) and a foreign language should be compulsory subjects. This compulsion of learning additional languages need not apply to higher technical courses, though knowledge of languages is desirable even there. 7 I admit my limitations. I have no university education worth the name. My high school career was never above the average. I was thankful if I could pass my examinations. Distinction in the school was beyond my aspiration. Nevertheless I do hold very strong views on education in general, including what is called higher education. And I owe it to the country that my views should be clearly known and taken for what they may be worth. I must shed the timidity that has led almost to self-suppression. I must not fear ridicule, and even loss of popularity or prestige. If I hide my belief, I shall never correct errors of judgment. I am always eager to discover them and more than eager to correct them. 8

University education does not serve much purpose. On the contrary it is harmful because an educated young man then can think of nothing except taking up a job. There are quite a few such young men who, to my knowledge, are totally ignorant in spite of their education and are unable to earn a single pice. On the other hand an illiterate artisan is quite capable of earning at least Rs. 6070 a month. These college educated young men without jobs are driven from pillar to post. They do require, nonetheless, a minimum standard of clothing, shoes, etc., to suit their education. Thus parents first spend money on their education and then spend as much again to keep up their ‘position’ even during their unemployment. Our students today are in such a state of bankruptcy—and as a result the plight of the people is equally miserable. In order to improve the lot of our people, therefore, it is essential to launch a campaign for education through crafts. But such changes cannot be brought about merely by making speeches or issuing official circulars. No doubt they will help to some extent. But if the leaders, i.e., those in power, were to devote regularly an hour or so daily to some craft, it would have a tremendous impact. How was it that a handful of Englishmen could keep us in bondage for so many years? One of the reasons was that they introduced a system of education that could produce only clerks. 9

 

References:

 

  1. Young India, 21-4-1920
  2. Young India, 21-4-1920
  3. Young India, 6-5-1926
  4. Navajivan, 3-6-1928
  5. Navajivan, 17-6-1928
  6. The Bombay Chronicle, 27-6-1931
  7. Harijan, 21-8-1937
  8. Harijan, 9-7-1938
  9. Biharni Komi Agman, pp. 225-6

 

 

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