Waiting for Independence

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

For me and my likes, independence is yet to come. It had not come even to Mahatma Gandhi on August 15,1947. Gandhiji had not participated in the celebrations of independence. Instead of ‘Independence Day’, he had observed ‘Mahadev Desai Day’ that day. He had refused even to give a message on achievement of independence. He had “run dry”, he had told an official of Information and Broadcasying Department of Government of India, who had come for his message.

Jatiya Kabi Birakishore Das had serious questions.

He had written:
Jatiya Kabinka Prashna -1Dhani, Mahajana, Raja, Jamidara
Tyaga Mali Dhari Hoibe Bahara,
Gerua Basana Madhura Bachana
Shuni nija niti Bhuliba Ki?
The rich, the moneylenders, the Kings, the landlords would pose wreathed with tags of sacrifice. Should we forget our principles by hearing the sugar-quoted words of fellows wearing saffron colored cloths?
Jatiya Kabinka Prashna - 2Dhala Badalare Kala Hele Joka
Mentiba ki Koti Garibanks Duhkha
Chasi Mulianka Khapuriki Churi
Delhi Darabara Toliba Ki?
If the white leech goes away and black leech takes over, will bloodsucking stop and sorrows of the crores of poor be over? Should we strengthen the seat of power at Delhi by smashing the skull of farmers and workers?
These questions are yet relevant and unanswered.
I am waiting to celebrate independence when the leeches – white or black – would be no more to suck our blood.

Advertisements

Madhu babu, in whom Gandhiji had his friend, philosopher and guide

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Export of raw materials would help profiteers to exploit the country; but industrial use of the country’s working hands would make the motherland prosperous. So, instead of exporting raw materials, attempts should be made for their industrial utilization inside the country.

This was the essence of politico-economic realization of Madhu babu, the most revered Madhusudan Das of Orissa, whom Gandhiji was looking at as his source of inspiration in formulating his practical economic programs for the masses.

“Over 98 per cent of the population works on land. Land does not grow in area. Hands grow in number with the growth of population”. So, extra-agricultural engagement was needed for people to earn their livelihood and proceed to prosperity, Madhu babu had observed in a speech to Bihar Young Men’s Institute in 1924.

Gandhiji was deeply influenced by this speech. Two years later, on 9-9-1926, he wrote in Young India, “I have kept that speech by me so as to be able to deal with the essential part of it on a suitable occasion”.

In total agreement with Madhu babu’s remarks Gandhiji noted, “the value of his remarks is derived from the fact that, though a lawyer of distinction, he has not only not despised labor with the hands, but actually learned handicrafts at a late period in life, not merely as a hobby, but for the sake of teaching young men dignity of labor and showing that without their turning their attention to the industries of the country the outlook of India is poor. Sjt Das has himself been instrumental in establishing a tannery in Cuttack which has been a centre of training for many a young man who was before a mere unskilled laborer”.

Gandhiji was so much influenced by Madhu babu’s emphasis on utilization of the raw materials in engaging indigenous industries that on 19-6-1927, he wrote in Navajivan that, “raw materials worth crores of rupees are produced in this country and, thanks to our ignorance, lethargy and lack of invention, exported to foreign countries; as Sri Madhusudan Das has pointed out, that we remain ignorant like animals, our hands do not get the training which they ought to and our intellects do not develop as they should. As a consequence, living art has disappeared from our land and we are content to imitate the west”.

India being a land of the farmers and the farming community being cattle dependent, there was enough availability of cattle hides which were being exported to foreign countries, when by industrial use thereof toiling masses were to fetch handsome earning. This is why, Madhu babu, as a demonstrative venture, had established the tannery at Cuttack.

Inspired by him, Gandhiji had established a tannery at Sabarmati Ashram.

I am going to give the copy of Gandhiji’s letter to Madhu babu in this matter, which would show to what extraordinary extent, Gandhiji was influenced by Madhu babu in formulating his practical political economy meant for the masses.

Sent from Sabarmati Ashram to Sjt. Madhusudan Das, Mission Road, Cuttack on March 16, 1928, the letter was thus:

Dear Friend,
After a great deal of thought and bother I have established at the Ashram a little bit of tannery without any power-driven machinery and without skilled assistance saved that of a man who has received a rough-and tumble experience of tanning in America and who is a crank like myself. Though I did not succeed in sharing your troubles and taking the load off your shoulders in connection with your own great national enterprise, your inspiration is partly responsible for the establishment of this little tannery at the Ashram. Can you please help me with a list of literature on the subject, a handbook on tanning and the like? If you think that there is nothing like this in English, will you out of your own wide and varied experience write out something that may be of use for propaganda, just a few hints? What is happening at the tannery? Who is in charge? I may add that my idea is to make the Ashram tannery a model for villages so that the villagers may be able to treat their own dead cattle and make use of the hide themselves. I have asked many people without success as to how I can skin dead cattle. Everybody knowing anything of tanning has something to say about hides after they are received from the village tanner; but nobody has yet told me if I take charge of a dead animal I can skin the carcass economically and hygienically and make use of other contents such as bones, intestine, etc., for purpose of manure.
Yours sincerely,
(M.K.Gandhi)
March 16, 1928

GANDHIJI KILLED AGAIN ON AUCTIONEER’S TABLE

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Memorabilia of the world’s unique icon of teetotalism now belong to a vintner of India, who, not for devotion to Gandhism but perhaps for projection of opulence achieved on basis of business in disregard to tenets of Gandhism, has purchased them.

If the items are real claimants to be called memorabilia of Mahatma Gandhi, there should be no doubt that Gandhiji is killed again on the auctioneer’s table.

When Gandhiji was physically killed in 1948, India was under a Congress government with Jawaharlal Nehru at the top. When Gandhiji is posthumously killed in 2009, India is also under a Congress government with the daughter-in-law of Jawaharlal Nehru at the helm of affairs. How coincidental and how sad!

There would never have been any Mahatma Gandhi had Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi not promised to his mother to remain away from wine and not have kept the promise till extinguished by bullets from the pistol of a fanatic of right reactionary political activism.

Before leaving for London in 1888 to study law, Gandhi had pledged to his mother that he would never touch wine. In the environment of UK, he fought against all odds to stick to this pledge. This pledge was in fact the anvil on which his real self was in the making. Though South Africa gave him the boost that eventually made Albert Einstein say, “Generations to come, it may be, will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth”, Gandhiji has confessed that for the activism he could adopt there, “the seed however was sown in England”.

So, it is clear that behind emergence of Gandiji as Mahatma, teetotalism was the main factor. In other words, teetotalism stands for Gandhism. Had Gandhism not been violated in India, wine merchants would never have emerged as power centers in the country and Gandhi’s memorabilia, if at all the articles auctioned at the East 57th Street headquarters of Antiquorum Auctioneers at New York are really so, could not have gone to a vintner.

More offending than auctioning of articles that have acquired an aura in Gandhiji’s name are the shenanigans involved.

If Government of India could have acted diligently and with devotion to Gandhiji, India should not have been subjected so helplessly to suffer the ignominy of watching personal belongings of the Father of the Nation, if at all they are that, bearing hammer hits on the auctioneer’s table.

Lest the peoples compel Manmohan Singh government, run by Sonia Gandhi, to get back Bapuji’s belongings, attempts were made to mislead the people through Tourism Minister Ambika Soni, who made a statement that the government has “been able to procure them through the services of Vijay Mallya, who was in touch with us (the government)”.

But the foul play of the Government stands fully exposed when Mallya is reported to have said that even as he was not aware of what Ambika Soni has said, “neither before nor after the auction, anybody in the government was in touch with” him.

So, obviously, either Ambika Soni or Vijay Mallya is telling a lie.

The Congress Government run by Sonia Gandhi through Manmohan Singh has embarrassed India by forcing her to silently watch articles, projected as Gandhiji’s, being subjected to hammer-hits on an auctioneer’s table. Let it not add further injury to this insult. So, let it clarify as to who of these two has told the lie and why.

How many times the peoples shall have to tolerate killing of the Father of the Nation?

SHAME; KILLERS OF GANDHI PHILOSOPHY LEAD INDIA ON HIS BIRTHDAY

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

It is a shame that killers of Gandhi philosophy are leading India on his birthday.

Mahatma Gandhi had freed us from foreigners; we have now a Prime Minister in Manmohan Singh, who has pushed us into foreigners’ hegemony by using his coterie to corrupt the parliament in instances like nuke deal with USA.

Ganghiji had put his entire emphasis on management of administration for elimination of poverty; Manmohan Singh has ushered in the era of enrichment of the rich that expands on exploitation of the poor and their displacement even from their marginal homestead lands so that industries can grow unhindered.

Gandiji had underlined that planning of the country should be so formulated that the poor will no more degrade financially; but Man Mohan Singh has ushered in a planning that makes the poor perish in slow starvation. Free market economy has increased price of every essential commodity so much that many fold rise in dearness allowance of government servants is too inadequate to meet the cost of living as a result of which new high scale of pay is offered by the sixth pay commission. The poor sans regular source of income and denied in almost all employments the minimum wages are unable to meet the price rise and perish.

Gandhi’s philosophy in India is in peril and the perpetrators of this imperilment are ruling over India. To see Gandhi’s birthday celebrated in the country under their leadership is seeing hypocrisy in shameless display.

It is a shame that we are unable to oppose this shamelessness in India.

QUALITY EDUCATION: A BIRD’S EYE VIEW

By Dr. Amiya Kumar Mohanty

The quality of education is of supreme importance to any civilization, which wishes to survive through passage of time. The history of education from time immemorial reflects a continuous conflict between those who want to make education the privilege of the few and those who endeavor to relieve it from the prison of caste, community, religion and economy. The ‘quality education for all’ has always remained an ideal and a dream and has always been the victim of historical conflict between mass and class education.

Historical development-a continuity

There is a general observation that the development of education in society runs parallel to the socio-economic structure and evolution of that society. The educational development is ultimately determined by the economic and political needs of society and, in a class divided society, by the needs of dominant classes in society.

(a)Pre-British era:

There has been nothing like an educational evolution in India known to have taken place during the historic period excepting the addition of a few new subjects to the curriculum as a result of foreign contacts in later periods. The structure of education of any epoch reflects the social, political, economic and religious ideas current in that period. Early India knew no strict class organization, but the chains of caste were gradually forged and came to have nearly universal validity. As a result of which education in ancient India was caste and community oriented and so mostly vocational. This functional stratification of society was an important phase of growing civilization and with it came differentiation of education. The shudras continued their life through service to other castes and for them education had no meaning. The objective of majority of people was not to have the liberal education comprising of the study of arts and sciences, but to learn certain occupational skill, on the basis of caste and community to which he was born. The priestly caste busy with scriptural invention was intent upon reading the past and professing the future, supported by the labor of one class and protected by the arms of another, it had no obvious and immediate need for physical exertion and training save as some dance and other exercises of past ages might continue to be credited with religious significance.

Naturally such an elite came to think of education as preeminently mental and moral and frequently exhibited an ascetic unconcern for physical wellbeing and excellence. In a society resting on varnashramadharma each family became a school of its own and the idea of public instruction had never attracted the attention of the rulers. Education became the concern of the community and the state only played the role of an aiding agency through grants of lands and villages, and by way of momentary concession, such as remission of taxes etc to teachers and scholars who through their personal efforts tried their best to spread education. The class basis of education is seen clearly in the story of Ekalavya, student from the menial class, who had to pay with his thumb for having learnt the art of archery. The prescription of Manu that molten lead should be poured into the ears of the shudras who happens to hear recitation of the holy scripture is another example to show that our ancestors were aware of the fact that education could outback on the stability of the social system. Only such type of education was to be encouraged by the dominant classes as could enhance the stability of the system and the system envisaged was an inevitable one.

(b)British era

The British also formulated education policy as found in Maculay’s system and other commissions’ report to cater to the needs of colonialism. They did not look into the broadening of base of education and no attempt was made for mass education. State did not own up the responsibility of education and as in the past remained satisfied only with the role of an aiding agency. Democratic values have been tempered to suit the needs of the ruling class. As a result the ruling elite succeeded in creating a conducive infrastructure for commercialization and communalization of education. In the past, there has been many attempts to free education from the clutches of caste, community and religion, but unfortunately these movements for democratization of education did not have powerful momentum to counter the forces of feudalism and capitalism. Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar, Jotiba Phule, Sabitribai Phule, Sayed Ahmed Khan, Gopalkrishna Gokhle, B.R.Ambedkar and above all, Mahatma Gandhi tried their best to expand base of education and to make it available to the poorest of the poor. However, they had a transitory impact to reverse the general trend of history.

(c)Post-British era: short-lived optimism

The history of educational development in India in the 1st phase (1947-86) can best be described as an era of short-lived optimism. It was through more than a century of movement that we came to accept the idea of a secular, scientific and democratic system for our people. Thus, it was he reflection of this long struggle when in the Constituent Assembly in 1950, article 45 was incorporated in our Constitution where the State took the solemn oath to endeavor to provide within a period of 10 years from the commencement of the Constitution for a free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of 14 years. Similarly Article 39 of the Constitution stated: “The health and strength of workers, men and women and the tender aged children are not abused” and that “Citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or their strength”. The educational commissions formed during this period also recommended many positive measures keeping in tune with the spirit of time. The post-independence honeymoon to reverse the general trend of history became short-lived. The capitalist forces saw great danger to their interest and the new education policy of 1886 formally marked the end of democratization of educational system and extensions of quality education for all. The impact of new economic policy of liberalization, globalization and privatization made education once again the privilege of the few. A new elitist pattern under the impact of market force immerged which provided shattering blow to the objective of quality education for all. With the economy being geared more and more, under pressure of multinationals, to the slogan of producing for export, the rulers saw the need of high level sophisticated technology in all spheres of production. Impact of high level computer and other kinds of automation implied the production of a skilled manpower to operate these. Just as Macaulay visualized producing baboos, the authors of present education policy saw the need for limited quality of computer boys. The constitutional obligation for providing free and compulsory education up to the age of 14 to all by 1960 under Art.45 was not fulfilled. It led to the stagnation f growth and inequalities of great magnitude.

Another facet of present educational system which defies the spirit of equality enshrined in the Indian Constitution is the dual system of schooling: government and government-aided schools on the one side and the convent/ public/ model/ navodaya / adarsha schools on the other. The concept of autonomous colleges is also in the direction of an elitist pattern of education. Dualism in structure has crated dualism in value system. It not only leads to urban-rural, rich-poor divide but also curriculum of some of these institutions foster communalism. Further education has today become highly commercialized. The private educational institutions in the country are mostly commercial centers financed by the government run for the private gain of the few, who own them very often arbitrarily and without accountability either to the government which pays, or to the society on whose munificent donations they were started in the first place. The agenda note published in the conference of education ministers by the present NDA government and the educational and cultural policy pursued by the present government of the center has provided new dimensions to the already plagued education system.

Role of Teachers’ organization

Educational system today is in deep crisis. It is contaminated by the germs of globalization, privatization, commercialization and communalisation of the system. The present educational policy has not enabled women, the village folks, the backward classes and the minorities to acquire equality in the society, nor has it enabled people t secure employment. This present policy has reinforced disparities in society and led to the growing gap between the rich and the poor, the urban and the rural populace and privately run public schools and government schools. Moreover, the privatization of education would promote unrest amongst students in particular and academic community in general. As in the case of Egypt and Algeria, the ills of privatization led to socio-economic, religious problems that have deepened and become more complex. Besides privatization of education would distort planned strategy of development, and tend to push the system of education towards a state of chaos. The countrywide policy of liberalization followed by growing communal distortion, fee hike, capitation fees and donations had deprived the poorer section of the society at large of a proper and quality education. Education has become domain of the rich, for the rich and by the rich.

The focus on the role of teachers’ organizations in national development is significant. The teachers and teachers’ organizations should try their best to reverse the trends of history and to lead the progressive forces to make education the rights of all rather than the privilege of the few. They should devote all their energy to relieve education from the clutches of casteist and fundamentalist forces. The teachers’ organization should rise above economism and play a pivotal role to unite all those forces, which are committed to national development.

( The author is presently senior faculty in the department of History at S.B.Women’s College Cuttack and National Vice-President of All India Federation of University and College Teachers Organisation)