India is a land of many religions, many cultures, many traditions and diverse people. In spite of having our share of differences we have not only survived but flourished as a civilization in this land we inhabit to south of the Hindu Kush Mountain range. India has in fact been able to sustain and nourish its identity in spite of many invaders, foreign occupations and the like. We have been able to do so majorly because our ancient beginnings were rooted in a ‘thirst for knowledge’ than over the need to ‘spread our dominion’.
‘Bharat’ as a nation concept first took shape when the great philosopher and teacher Chanakya coordinated to have our northern states come together collectively, to stand against the approaching threat of Alexander the Great and his armies. The idea behind bringing the royals, the chieftains and their various kingdoms together was to protect and preserve our ‘way of life’. The second time we agreed to stand together effectively was in our resolve to free ourselves from a foreign tyrant. What brought us together this time was not only our push to attain freedom from an oppressor but also a dream to be build an independent, prosperous and empowered nation state. The sheer idea of freedom stems in an enlightened spirit who refuses to be persecuted.
India has taught this world the concept of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ – the world is one family. Over various millennia, we have lived this doctrine by not only actively assimilating other cultures in ours but also in aiding other cultures survive extermination. India’s enlightenment to such wonderful virtues comes from its belief that in ‘education’ lies the road to ‘moksha’. Men ranging from Gautam Buddha to Kazi Nazrul Islam have sought the refuge of education in some form or the other to help uplift mankind and preserve humanity. Education is both a great motivator and an effective tool. It instils amongst people such courage and conviction that no fanaticism of race, religion or political affiliation can deter.
Divisionary forces have been active ever since the birth of our nation and they have been both external and internal. What has helped eliminate their threat effectively has been our steadfast commitment at seeking redemption in ‘education’. Right from the time when free India’s first educational policy was structured, drafted and enforced; in keeping with the ideals of freedom of choice, we did not impose education as compulsory to all but rather resolved it as ‘Right to Education’. As a nation and its people, we persevere to ensure that education is available to all – unreserved from any prejudice of political thought, religious connect or for that matter even affiliation to an alma-mater or fraternity. In India, access to education is literally as per the will of the one who seeks the course. This is how it has been from the start and this is how it shall continue to be in our future.
With each passing year since our Independence what has helped consolidate our ideals – ranging from free speech to free press to freedom of religion and expression has been our belief in the sanctity of the written word. It is matter of great pride that most of our nation’s governments have connected with this need to strengthen and embolden education and played pivotal role in transforming and upgrading the education sector from time to time. However, there still lies a huge potential in terms of reforms which shall help connect education to national identity. At a time when anti-national forces are working overtime to divide us on caste, sectarian, political, regional and religious grounds, we remain resolute to our pledge ‘sarveatra sukhinah santu, sarve santu niramayah, sarve bhadrani pashyantu, ma kashchid-duhkya-bhaag bhavet’ meaning – ‘May everyone be happy. May everyone be free from disease. May everyone realise goodness. May no one be subject to misery. Peace be to all’
The true responsibility of championing the cause of education lies with ‘a teacher’. A teacher or an institution is truly glorified when the nation is glorified. And a nation is glorified when it is competent and successful in upholding its ancient values and traditions. A nation becomes competent and successful when a teacher is successful in fulfilling his responsibility. Most importantly a teacher will be called successful only when he is successful in developing a national character in every person. If a person is devoid of nationalism or is unaware of his nationalism, then it is the teacher’s failure. We have learnt from our past experiences that in the absence of a national character we have the nation being insulted. Our own experience shows us that that we have lost due to the lack of knowledge before we could lose to the weapons. We could not make educators and warriors aware of our nationalism and our nationalism was shattered even before our people. The teacher failed to arouse the nationalism and competence of this country. But if the teacher accepts defeat, it will be fatal for the nation. There is an ever-growing need today that education not only uplifts people from poverty but also connects them with one-another in terms of a national identity.
It is extremely essential that along with the pursuit to research and development, for thirst of knowledge, an equal measure of quest be to develop a sense of nationhood among our people. It is important to make the people and people’s governments to realize that if people lose faith in their devotion for the nation then all other spheres of human nature will not be strife free either. Thus uniting people to the society and society to the nation is essential. The only thread that can connect them all together is ‘Education’. It is important that a teacher accepts this challenge and help build this nation by helping to build its nationals. Sometimes in this pursuit a teacher may have to contest the system and it is critical to remember that the nation is far more important than the system and its rulers. Interests of a nation are more important than any political aspirations. And if political power needs to be sacrificed in the interest of education and nation, then the teacher shouldn’t hesitate.
History is witness that politics of power and selfishness, that our inability to make a united-stand against divisive forces have always harmed this nation. Now, we must take a solemn oath to only think about the welfare of this nation and the roadmap for that lies in Education. In this expedition, if a teacher finds help in the system, it is fine; else the teacher must remember the fame and virtues of their ancestors and fulfil his responsibilities. Success is certain. The success of the culture of the people of ‘Sapt-Sindhu’ (seven rivers) is certain. It is certain that the ancient values of this nation will triumph. Triumph of this nation is certain. All that is needed is a call to unity of our belief in education.
For a country, which is the world’s largest and truest democracy and is the world’s second most populous state; our social and economical landscape is rapidly changing. Slowly we move from being known as an agricultural economy to the world’s fastest growing and most promising industrial economy. The only factor which helps achieve this transition, which helps realise this dream of a strong, thriving and ever-growing nation is Education. Education and Development go hand-in-hand. In fact development comes as a result of education. The only way, the only true weapon in our fight against the divisive forces which benefit from dividing us; from not only resisting their dominion but in defeating them at their source lies in Education. Education helps us identify the hollowness, helps realise how petty and insignificant the issue raised by the anti-nationals are. Education is our retribution against the secessionists. But while we proudly reiterate that, we also unequivocally believe in loving our country along with caring for the world. It is education that teaches us how to be proud citizens of both our country and of the world.
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