Reactions to the issues for discussion in the
theme paper of Chairman NCRI
By Prof. S. Muthukumaran

1.What is the relevance of ‘Nai Talim’ system of education in the present scenario? Where do we introduce the system? What are likely benefits of the Nai Talim system of Education? What are the likely limitations?

Gandiji pointed out in Young India (1.09.1921) the defects of the existing system of education as follows:

  • It is based upon foreign culture to the almost entire exclusion of indigenous culture.
  • It ignores the culture of the heart and the hand and confines itself simply to the head.
  • Real education is impossible through a foreign medium.

Eighty seven years later, we find that these defects continue. It is clear if India has to make real progress, these defects will have to be eliminated from our educational system.

Gandiji had explained on several occasions about his views on the details of the new education. He had also explained the out come of education or the essence of what is to be expected out of education. Today the details may need to be reexamined but the essence will have to be understood and based on our experience the details may have to be worked out.

First, the education should have a bearing with our culture and should correspond with the home life of the children. The text books should “have a bearing on and correspondence with the home life so that a boy as he learns may react upon his immediate surroundings”. (Young India 1.09.1921).

Gandiji observed “it is a crime to make education merely literary and to unfit boys and girls for manual work in after – life”. The widespread unemployment in India is due to the policy of making every child go through an education which makes them hate manual work. Gandiji’s observation “The introduction of manual training ………………….. will teach them an occupation on which they can fall back upon in after – life if they choose for earning a living. Such a system must make our children self – reliant.” is worth pondering upon.

Finally Gandiji insists that the medium of education will have to be the home language. He wants that English should not continue to be the medium of instruction. At the same time he pointed out that some who can learn will be encouraged to learn English and provide translations of the latest developments that may be reported in English.

To summarize, the essence of Gandiji’s views on new education is as follows:

The text books may be based on indigenous thought and must reflect the immediate surroundings and our culture. Education can be through manual training and therefore all children must learn at least one vocation which may be useful to them in later life. The medium of instruction will have to be the home language. However those children who have an aptitude to learn languages may learn other languages and in later life provide translations of the rich thoughts and new findings found in the publications of those languages. In the present scenario, new education is to be introduced in all schools. The benefits are obvious; our young ones will have good character and will be self reliant will be proud to belong to this country and will be able to contribute by way of adding new knowledge and by contributing to the wealth of the nation through their productive work. There are no limitations. Only some persons in high positions who have gone through the present form of education may stand in the way of introduction of the new education.

2.What are rural institutes? What are their unique features? Do we confine ourselves to traditional and functioning rural institutes such as GRU, Gujarat Vidyapeeth, Mahatma Gandhi Gramodaya Viswa Vidyalaya? Or Do we broadbase the concept of rural institutes? If so, how do we go about? What criteria do we propose to follow to define the scope of proposed rural institutes?

At the higher level of education, there is a need to specialize in certain area of knowledge and certain professional field. For instance, the preparation for a doctor who proposes to practice in a rural area will differ from that of one who is to practice in an urban area. The one in the rural area will have to be prepared to deal with all types of patients, whereas the one in the city may be a specialist in a certain narrow area. Thus we may have to have higher institutions which may specialize in certain areas of knowledge. All institutes may not be able to provide specialized education in every area of knowledge known to humanity.

3.Of the various rural institutions promoted, only a few have been able to withstand the test of the time. The rest have withered away. What were the reasons behind the success of a few rural institutes and failure of many rural institutes? The examination of factors behind failure / success would help us to position the existing and emerging rural institutes in proper perspective.?

I do not have personal knowledge on the functioning of rural institutes except GRI. Therefore I am unable to comment on this issue.

4.There are different institutions ranging from Government to grass root organizations working towards the promotion of well-being of rural community. Coordination among these agencies is lacking. As result, schemes and programmers do not converge to create a discernible impact on the rural community. Can NCRI play the role of coordinating at least Gandhian Institutions to create a sort of synergy in the working of these institutions? If so how should NCRI go about it?

There is a need for NCRI to take the role of a coordinating agency for all Gandhian Institutions, if they join on a voluntary basis. By exchange of experiences and development plans of the institutes substantial benefits will accrue. Monthly exchange of thoughts and experiences through a journal and annual meetings or conferences at different institutions will help.

5.Certain Rural institutes have taken up the task of training the grass root functionaries in local governance, community based organizations, micro-finance, micro-plan, leadership, peace and conflict resolution, etc. What kind of role can NCRI play in such programmes?

NCRI may assess the effectiveness of the programmes and advise the institution on the modifications that may be necessary. It may also make available to other institutions the framework for offering such programmes.

6.Can we think of introducing innovative programme in the Rural Institute? (e.g Samaj silphis (Change Agents), values and social responsibilities, village as classroom for certain specific programme, etc.)?

Yes, certainly. In the annual meetings this issue may be discussed.

7.What should be the relation between NCRI and the rural institutes? What do rural Institutes expect from NCRI? What should be the role of NCRI in promoting and developing rural institutes? What are the activities that NCRI in nurturing and strengthening the network?

It may be a coordinating agency. More details may be worked out based on experience and discussions in annual meetings.

8.Should we have the network of teachers Acharyakul of Rural Institutes? If so what should be the kind of network and what should be the functions of such Network?

Network details may be such that each institute continues to enjoy its autonomy and benefits by guidance from NCRI and experience of other sister institutions.

9. Should we have the network of teachers Acharyakul of Rural Institutes? If so what should be the kind of network and what should be the functions of such network?

No. Such network may ultimately lead to a NCRI service like IAS, IPS etc., to the detriment of autonomy of the individual institutions. Autonomy is necessary for creative thinking and progress.

10.Rural research, especially action-based participatory research involving different stakeholders is the need of the hour in the rapidly changing socio-economic scenario of the rural India. What type of research can be taken up? What can be the broad areas of research? Can it be collaborative research? If so, how do we go about?

There is a need for promoting Rural Research. At present there is no incentive for such research. There has to be a recognition not only by NCRI but also by UGC, AICTE etc., on achievements of researchers in rural development.

11.What are the changes proposed in the functioning of NCRI?

As I am not fully aware of the functioning of NCRI, I am unable to say anything except that whatever changes that may be needed may have to be effected to meet the tasks cited in the earlier paragraphs.