Higher Education innovative approaches in India ;Nalanda and Ashoka Universities

Opini Diary – Shashank Shekhar Pandey

Be it technology or business or any other fields of action, innovation is the buzzword nowadays. Indian education system, especially higher education is deliberately nurtured by colonial masters; despite gaining political independence, not much beyond colonial imaginations about Indian education is visible among universities and their curriculum. It was higher education that was focused for training suitable workforce for colonial perpetuation; with not much immediate gain, primary education to be invested was not a lucrative option for the interest of imperial administration.

The discussion on education as a prime tool to reflect upon civilization is never to rest. But, where Indian civilization is heading is an obscure concept. What Indian civilization means is also neither a well-settled debate nor having  coherent envision. Does it consist of people and shaped by? Or civilization is imposed on them? With the concept of civilization, the idea, methodology, and content of education vary. Definition and propagation of civilization as concept and tool of identity are not alienated from the dominant stream of intra and inter-generational medium of communication i.e. education.

Communication, its modes, governing values and principles are now more examined in the dynamic  Socio-cultural  context. The way caste excluded various social strata from this equitable mode of communication and transfer of education were put on the anvil when humanist principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity disseminated through the imperial connection; it could be formally shunned at least in principles after broad constitutional adoption. In Indian education system, more than 80% population thrive on government sponsored schools and universities; positive discrimination is the center of debate and discussion. With changing the Socio-economic structure, many officially privileged castes and classes are leading movements for being counted to gain benefits of positive discrimination.

ashoka-university

Taking care of global debates, historical and contemporary, innovations in education in India are quite rich to reflect upon. Nalanda and Ashoka Universities  are the new leaders in the field, especially in Humanities and thought leaders. International resources of all kinds, faculties, students, languages, and diverse values in them are the seedbed for creation, dissemination, and interaction of and on knowledge. What India lacks is not the technology education as much, it lags fundamentally in thought leading and research-based science education along with its dilapidated primary education. Nalanda is the place to resuscitate the leader in thought, philosophy, and global outlook. Through centuries, it did not only lure students globally, it had elements of universal integration with accommodating diversity.

Diversity is the most important resource and medium of knowledge creation and dissemination in Nalanda University. Here, just in the third year of commencing admission, students and faculties from almost 25 countries are present. Their diverse linguistic cultural and educational background function as different eyes and lenses to look at a same discussion and point. The aim of scholarly works coincides with this natural phenomenon pervading in the University. Another dimension to learning more for Indians is to respect, accommodate and support linguistic diversity. Colonial hangover yet puts an imprint on common Indian mind attaching scholarship and education with English proficiency. This attitude not only ignores indigenous linguistic diversity but hamper the growth with the vernacular medium of scholarly expression. When people see many international students struggling with new languages, despite having outstanding performance in their own terms, there can be the natural sense of adjustment, accommodation, and adaptation. Deviating from the one-sided transfer of knowledge, here discussion and debates make students participant in not just gaining the existing knowledge but being part of a creation of new knowledge. In the knowledge economy, those who don’t excel and lead in knowledge, those who know govern those who don’t know.

Shashank Shekhar Pandey – Masters student , School of Historical Studies, Nalanda University

Photo – Saket Agasti

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