Friday, June 29, 2007

What the World thinks of Nalanda Univ revival

Pls have a look at the New York Times op ed page article

I could not but help notice the sharp contrast between the article in TOI with its propagation of regional chauvinism of a very low order vs the very enlightened view expressed in the NYT post.

I would like to quote

"But Nalanda represents much of what Asia could use today — a great global university that reaches deep into the region’s underlying cultural heritage, restores many of the peaceful links among peoples and cultures that once existed, and gives Asia the kind of soft power of influence and attraction that it doesn’t have now. The West has a long tradition of rediscovering its ancient Greek and Roman roots, and is much stronger for that. Asia could and should do the same, using the Nalanda project as a springboard but creating a modern, future-oriented context for a new university.....

The problem is that the key Asian officials are not thinking big enough. There is more talk about making Nalanda a cultural site or a center for philosophy than a first-rate modern university. The financial figures being thrown around are a fraction of the endowments of Harvard, Yale or Columbia today. A bolder vision is in order.....

But the bigger issue is imagination and willpower. It is not clear that the Asian nations are prepared to unite behind anything concrete except trade agreements,.......... "

Hope we also learn to think BIG and think VISION than mire ourselves in a quagmire.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Revival of Nalanda and real politics

The idea was first propounded by President Kalam and enthusiastically sought to be implemented by the Govt of Bihar. In a remarkable show of pan global view, the Dy CM of Bihar announced the name of Prof Amartya Sen as Chairman of the proposed Nalanda University.

But what do we see? Pranab Mukherjee is trying to monopolise the idea as a diplomatic masterstroke to fight Chinese hegemony in south east asia and the our easterly neighbours still thinking of creation of Bihar in 1913 as a insult to them (thank god it is a miniscule minority now) are pushing their narrow regional agenda.

Read this article in the TOI :

An ancient institution to be re-built with the help of several nations including China is first sought to be reduced to a tool of real politik in the hands of Pranab Mukherjee and then Shilbhadra is projected as a Bengali!! Did Bengal or Bengali language even exist in the seventh century? Maithil Kokil Vidyapati is seen by some linguists as the first poet of Bengali language and he was born much later!

There is not even a mention of the 500 acres of land that the govt of Bihar is acquiring for the university. Why dont we leave at least a few things alone for overall betterment than put real politics into everything?

Monday, June 04, 2007

End of a dream

The passion driven idealism of a Mathematics genius and a police officer which got 122 students out of 150 from the poorer sections of the society coached by them successful in the highly competitive IIT over five years has come to an abrupt end. The commerical coaching institutes poached their students by offering them the lure of the lucre and claimed them as their own. Thus an experiment which could have been a template of empowering the un empowered has ended.

It is a very sad day indeed. Even more sad is that this end would be unlamented. The national media is busy debating the far more saleable Gurjar agitation in Rajasthan. How can the mere closure of an institute run from a thatched hut in a poor lower middle class locality of Patna compete as a news item with the armed to the teeth militants of Rajasthan? Who has time for the bright eyed boys from backward Bihar who merely wield pens? Earlier there was the excuse by the national media to dismiss the successful JEE candidates from Bihar as those belonging to the 'forward' castes from privileged background. This time around, the students of Super 30 were children of the deprived sections of the society - belonging to families which did not even know where the next meal is going to come from. It thoroughly exposes the anti Bihar attitude of most journalists and media men who have merely used the name of Bihar to denigrate and demonise this economically deprived state. As if on cue, the 'national' newspapers, deprived of their regular quota of bad news from Bihar for the last several days, have again got their chance to deal in muck.

The inaction of the central government is also lamentable. Arjun Singh had sought to become a messiah of the students of the backward community when he introduced reservation in the government owned institutions. The country erupted with very divisive debate on this contentious issue. Super 30 showed that students from the backward castes can succeed without reservation. It underlined they need information about the opportunities and guidance to make the most of these opportunities far more than any reservation. But then the success of this would not fetch votes for the UPA - merely equal opportunities for some deprived sections of the society. For such a small gain, why bother about niceties like oversight of the publicity by the commercial coaching institutes? Commercial Coaching institutes have been known to offer lavish gifts to successful candidates to claim them as their own. So what is new if a couple of them falsely claim to have coached the Super 30 candidates?

What business do middle class idealists like Abhayanand and Anand Kumar have to dabble in such esoteric ideas as equal opportunity to the deprived? Let us question their motives. Let us drag them through muck. Let us be insensitive to their sensitivity and mock them for their over sensitivity. Let us prove that only ventures with a profit motive can succeed. Let us proclaim from our roof tops that the only sustainable success is that obtained through unfair means. And hound them out from our society. For if idealists are around, they will end up showing a mirror to us and make us look bad.