68 Years Later
A Vision for India
Most educated Indians
have notions about their
country, even though they may not have seen, or known much about it; these are formed generally by the media, travels and hearsay. These are not 'visions', about the past and present, not future. T S Eliot wrote, apropos Dante's 'The Divine Comedy' in 1929, "visions are not dreams". India's great men and women had visions for their land, which they articulated and worked for. They were not idle dreamers but as they differed in views and beliefs, their visions too were different. Thus Mahatma Gandhi's vision differs from Jawaharlal Nehru's and Nehru's from Indira Gandhi's. Rabindranath Tagore's vision is different from his great literary predecessor Bankim Chandra Chatterjee's. The visions of M A Jinnah, Mohammad Iqbal, Veer Savarkar, Din Dayal Upadhyaya, Vinoba Bhave, Ram Manohar Lohia are dissimilar. Articulated in 20th century, their visions are rather outdated and cannot be realised in present-day India. The last articulated vision that inspired and appealed to many people was of Jai Prakash Narain whose call for 'Total Revolution' was muted by the proclamation of Internal Emergency on 26th June 1975 and disappeared after his death in a Mumbai hospital on 8th October 1979. India with its chequered past and troubled present is embedded in our collective conscious and unconscious. Over 1.27 crore people deem her as Bharat Mata ('Mother India') and gel in the event of an external aggression, sinking differences, e.g., during the Chinese assault on NEFA (now Arunachal Pradesh) in 1962 and two Pakistani attacks in 1965 and 1971.
For good or bad, in these 68 years after Independence, politics has affected every aspect of our lives and society. Governments have become the biggest doers of welfare. The Constitution that came into vogue on 26th January 1950 anointed India as a 'welfare state'. To stay in, and return to power every ruling party or coalition strains its nerves to develop through its numerous agencies. Power is like a two-edged knife; it can do both good and bad to people who endow it on politicians through election. The bureaucracy also wields certain inbuilt powers, as allotted to it. The so-called 'power politics' is so ubiquitous and firm that no wedge can separate one from the other, like Siamese twins, or the conjoined limbs of a deformed child. Every political party builds and acquires assets when in power but seldom with its own fund about which it is never candid. Why should party candidates for diverse polls walk through hell of opposition fire and brimstone unless they see the rose garden of power beyond it? There are, of course, exceptions in all parties, honest politicians and social leaders whom everybody respects and re-elects, because they did good to them and the community at large and would do more, if elected.
What do we want India to be like? What is the aam admi's vision of India? Are they satisfied with the country they have been living in? Have these 68 years after Independence truly ameliorated them? Does each of India's over 127 crore people get to eat two meals a day, have minimum clothes to wear and a roof over head? Does every child go to school and get a job after finishing studies? Does every household get ample and clean water to drink and use for other purposes? Do they get efficient and affordable health care? Answers are not 'yes' to each question; if each was asked, many will shout a resounding 'No'!
In government level, answers will vary from State to State, from region to region. Development is not uniform in 29 states and seven Union Territories, nor do they have the same party in power. States like Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Punjab are ahead of others in development; parts of Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Odisha, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Uttarakband, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and some of the eight north-eastern States, particularly the tribal regions are much behind them. Not only the successive governments and ruling parties during the seven decades after Independence are to blame but there are territorial reasons for their relative backwardness. Uniform development of all regions is never possible but wide disparities can be bridged. This requires dynamism, vision and administrative acumen of legislators, ministers and government employees and a respite from mind-boggling corruption in many politicians and senior officers.
Let us begin with India's Magna Carta, the Constitution that came into force on 26th January 1950. The amendments run to more pages than the original charter, signed by members of the august Constituent Assembly. It embodied goals, envisaged by them between 1947 and 1949; some have been reached and some are on the radar but no government dared enforce the Common Civil Code, i. e., the same laws for every community. Muslims demand to be tried by their own laws, enunciated in the Koran, the Sharia and the Hadith; Buddhists, Jains, Parsees, Christians and other minorities make no such demand, in campaigns for 2014 Lok Sabha Poll, the BJP's Prime Minister designate, Narendra Modi promised to enforce the Common Code but occupying the chair, he seems to have conveniently shelved it. The BJP in its manifestoes in 2004 and 2014—made this promise too but is now discretely silent about it. The Constitution with 100 amendments hitherto is bulky, because the country is federal with 29 States and seven Union Territories and it laid down articles for them too. It borrowed many provisions from the Government of India Act of 1935 as well as from the British and Swiss Constitutions. Equality before law is the hallmark of all jurisprudence and enshrined in every democratic Constitution but do the police and the courts always uphold it? Politically powerful and wealthy people often escape, or get sentence diluted, through loopholes in law by engaging clever lawyers. A recent survey, published by a national daily, shows that since 1947 more poor people have been hanged by the States in jails than the wealthy and powerful. How else a Mumbai cine actor gets bail within two minutes of a jail sentence and Jailalita, Tamilnadu Chief Minister, sentenced for amassing disproportionate assets by a court is freed by a higher court? A whopping three crore cases are said to be pending in courts, some for decades. On 1st December 2014, as many as 64919 cases were pending in the Supreme Court and on 1st January that year, cases pending in 24 High Courts and lower courts were 44.5 lakh and 2.6 crore, respectively. Is not Justice delayed justice denied? "Every Chief Justice of Supreme Court laments this but no special measure seems to have been taken to clear the backlog, if three-tier Panchayet and Sarpanch, could dispose of petty non-serious cases it could be cleared somewhat. The seventh left front government proposed it as in ancient India, but the opposition parties did not agree, fearing that panchayet judges would be biased in favour of CPI(M), or other left party offenders.
The Modi regime is claiming that the economy is out of the woods and looking up; even the World Bank is predicting above 6% GDP growth in the current FY. Relentless rise of prices of almost every commodity in the fag end of the Congress regime has been reined somewhat. Although the Consumer Price Index shows a downward trend, it is not reflected in retail prices. No new industry has come up in West Bengal, many other States are forging ahead. The main hurdle to industrial expansion is the antiquated land acquisition policy of 1885, amended last in 2013 but still not favourable to foreign or home investors and entrepreneurs. The Central government placed a new bill and got it passed in the Lok Sabha where the NDA has a majority but it has stuck in the Rajya Sabha where it does not have. It has been in force by three ordinances, criticised bitterly by the opposition and the media but as the Congress, the TMC and the CPI(M) remain adamant, the government appears to be retreating and leave the issue to the States. Ultimately, it appears, the States will have to have their own acquisition policies; the Centre will have none. West Bengal Chief Minister, who ousted the puissant Left regime in 2011, exploited the resentment of unwilling owners of fertile farm land in Slngur and Nandigram; her promises to undo forcible acquisition of farm land in Singur are scaring away potential investors in heavy industries which require large chunks of farm.or wasteland. The best employment is self-employment; people should be facilitated to create their own sources of income by taking easy bank and institutional loans and grants; the state should build suitable infrastructures and stand guarantees. From 2006, following recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission, there have been hefty rises in pay and allowances of Central employees; it was followed by certain States and UTs, (West Bengal has a huge backlog in payment of DA). The GST to be levied from the next FY may push up prices from 1st April 2016, unless the Centre compensates States. Fluctuations in prices of fossil fuel and nearly total dependence on import of crude hamper surface transport. The ONGC and GAIL should step up efforts for exploration and extraction of crude and CNG to reduce outgo of foreign exchange for huge imports. The rich-poor divide has been yawning since Independence; the 20O6 bonanza has further widened this gap, particularly with unorganised workers and labour class. Tax evasion is rampant; authorities should bring more payers in its ambit. Wages of some sections or people, e.g. domestic helps are very low and their working conditions severe. They should be ameliorated and brought under welfare associations.
India's politics is mired by a plethora of parties with little difference of ideologies or agenda with one another. On 16th September last year, the number of recognised national parties was six, that of recognised state parties was 49 and of unrecognised but registered state parties were 19; i.e., altogether 74. A party has to win in at least three per cent of this total number of seats, or at least three in the Assembly, or one in the Lok Sabha for every 25 or part thereof, of the total number of seats allotted to that State; alternatively, the party should poll at least six per cent of the total valid votes in a general election and in addition, win at least one Lok Sabha, and two Assembly seats in it. Even if a party does not win any a State, Lok Sabha or Assembly but polIs at least 8 percent of the total valid votes, it will still be recognised as a state party. These options for a party to be 'recognised' show the eagerness of the Constitution to permit and procreate multiple parties. Only six parties were launched and functioned before Independence—the Indian National Congress (1885), the Communist Party of India (1925), the All-India Forward Block (1939), Jammu & Kashmir National Conference (1932), Shiromani Akali Dal (1920) and All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (1927), active in Telengana region). The Indian Union Muslim League was the first to be launched after Independence and the Partition, in 1948. Politics embraces people's lives in every respect. It was not like this in pre-historic, Hindu, Sultanate and Mughal eras; toward the end of the British contact with India (1901-1947), particularly after Gandhi's return from South Africa on 9th January 1915, politics became everybody's obsession. When on 26th January 1950 the Constitution came into force, the contours of a democratic welfare state began to emerge. All democratic regimes are now welfare countries; even controlled democracies like Singapore and the few remaining communist countries constantly work to enhance the welfare of citizens. People are always sucking the udders of welfare States; India is no exception. India’s party politics has evolved since Independence; from less than a dozen parties/before 1947, the number has soared above 100 including the unregistered and unrecognised. Attaining freedom from two-century British rule on 15th August 1947, people aspired for better lives that only politicians in power could bring about.
India's foreign policy, based on non-aggression and the Buddhist tenet of Panchashil has remained practically the same as in 1950. A country has been added in the neighbourhood, Bangladesh, carved out of Pakistan in 1972. It emerged with India's liberal assistance to its freedom struggle and staunch support in the international forum. West Bengal gave temporary shelter to lakhs of its people who crossed border to flee from the oppression of Pak forces and the 14-day war fought in its territory in 1971. Some unsolved issues between the two countries persist, like sharing of waters of rivers that pass through both, mainly the Teesta and the Bhaqirathi. The enclave issue of a few hundred villages between it and West Bengal's Cooch Behar district, which Sir Radcliffe did not demarcate has just been solved and people residing in them opted for the citizenship of either country with effect from 1st August 2015. Border issues with China and Pakistan persist despite numerous bilateral meetings. China has accepted India's annexation of Sikkim and given up its claim on the Himalayan kingdom. As long as Kashmir issue remains unsolved, threat from Pakistan and cross-border terrorism will persist but with a little patience and in a spirit of 'give and take' border disputes with the PRC can be solved. A 'Look East' policy was adopted in the 1990's to increase trade and cooperation with the ASEAN countries and Japan but has not yet yielded any significant breakthrough. India has been given an 'Observer' status of the ASEAN, the association of six Southeast Asian countries and is regularly invited to its meetings. India's external debt stood at US$ 440.6 billion on 31st March 2014, increasing by US $ 31.2 billion (7.6 percent) over the previous year. The debt-GDP ratio was 23.3% on the date, as against 22% in the previous year, the long-term external debt was US $ 351.4 billion, an increase of 12.4% over the previous year.
In 1947 India was predominantly an agricultural country; nearly every rural family did some farming or the other. Beginning with Jawaharlal Nehru, successive Central and State governments emphasised industrialisation, when land acquisition posed no problem. In these seven decades, there has indeed been industrial expansion, though uneven in States and did ease somewhat the snowballing unemployment problem. Two generations have since grown older and millions more have been added to a mind-boggling number of people. Unless industries continually expand, unemployment will remain a burden on parents and governments. With this in view, agriculture cannot be marginalised; on the contrary, it has to be continually expanded and made to yield food for over 127 crore of people with 57 babies added every minute. A Green Revolution did occur in India in the 1970's under the leadership of Indira Gandhi, following cultivation of high-yielding varieties of rice, wheat and sundry vegetables but now a plateau has been reached, necessitating a second. The outgone Congress and the Modi governments have been harping on the need but not much emphasis is seen on the ground. Although self-sufficient in rice, wheat, vegetables, edible meat and fish, some varieties of pulses are imported; as a result, poor people cannot afford them. In India of vision, food imports have to be cut and emphasis should be laid on indigenisation of imported items. As more mouths demand food and drink more areas have to be brought under cultivation, the arid and waste lands, more hybridisation (but not 'genetically modified varieties). Mechanisation has begun; it has to be spread by increasing government subsidy. Agriculture should be able to attract educated people and made a viable means of employment. Some states consume a lot of fish and meat; Bengalis survive by imports of fish from Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. If the government distributes fish spawns, free or subsidised, in the rainy season, the daily imports can be reduced- Governments sincerely want to reduce consumption of tobacco in the form of cigarettes, bidis, khainies, gutka etc. on health grounds but no measure is succeeding. The cultivation area of tobacco has to be shrunk and availability of tobacco products made difficult. In the USA, cigarettes are not strictly sold to minors; one cannot buy them loose, i.e., less than a packet. Use of tobacco can never be wholly eradicated but with restraint, incidence of lung and oral cancer can be checked.
The heart of every modern civilisation is energy; if it fails, everything grinds to a halt. The per capita yearly consumption of power (kgoe/a) in India (565.6) is abysmally lower than in the USA (7164.5), UK (3254.1) and Japan (3898.4). In March this year, the country had an installed capacity of 271.722 GW. The renewable power plants generated 28% of total installed capacity and the non-renewable plants the remaining 72%. Gross electricity generated by plants was 1100 TWh, or 1106,000 GWh and 166 TWh was produced by captive power plants in last FY. In last FY, per capita consumption was 1010 kW hand total consumption was 938.823 billion kWh. For catering to the world's second largest population, per capita consumption has fallen below many countries despite cheaper tariff. Of the 1.4 billion people in the world who have no access to power, India accounts for over 300 million. Some 800 million burn fuel wood, farm wastes and cow dung cakes. The WHO says, three to four lakh people in India die of indoor air pollution and carbon monoxide poisoning for burning biomass in chullas, every year. Last year, 1,030.785 billion KWh of power was generated but still the shortfall was 38.138 billion KWh (–3.6%). Expanding access to energy means including 24 billion people (of them 87% villages) who have no access to power, or depend on uncertain power networks. Kitchen smoke kills some 1.5 million women every year. Because of the fast-breeding population, India can never catch up with the three countries cited above but presently it is above Pakistan and Bangladesh. In India of vision, India will have to harness solar and other sources of affordable power for which infrastructures have to be built right now. A Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Resources was set up in early 1980's and since then the cumulative grid- tied renewable energy capacity (excluding large hydro-electric plants) has reached 33.8 GW, of which 66% comes from wind and around 4.59% from solar, biomass and small hydro plants or installed capacity in December last year was 33,791.74 megawatt.
In India, formal education, i,e., education imparted by institutions, has to be of far higher standard. It has 46 Central, 332 State, 128 deemed, 216 private, altogether 722 universities. There are several universities, of some kind or other, in each of the 29 states and three union territories—Chandigarh, Delhi and Pondicherry. Rajasthan has the maximum number of universities, 70. Tamil Nadu has the largest number of deemed universities, 28. Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat have the maximum number of State universities, 25 and 24 respectively. Rajasthan has 40 private universities; while Delhi and Uttar Pradesh have five central universities each, the largest among all states and territories. These apart, some institutions autonomously award degrees. As in August 2015, India has a total of 18 Indian Institutes of Technology. In 1947, there were only 20 Universities and 500 Colleges with 2.1 lakh students enrolled in them. There are 1.3 million schools in India now. The literacy percentage has grown to 74.04 in 2011 from 12 in 1947, well below the global average of 84%. Of all nations, India currently has the largest illiterate population. There is a wide gender disparity in the literacy rate in India; effective literacy rates (age 7 and above) in 2011 were 82.14% for men and 65.46% for women. The low female literacy rate foils family planning and population stabilisation efforts. In a country of such low literacy, it's amazing that so many students go for higher education and yet, as the President often laments, not one figures among the 200 best in the world. The syllabi may not far behind those in advanced countries but the standards of pass-outs, even of those who get first class, are amazingly low. In West Bengal evaluation of answer scripts in secondary examination has been made extremely liberal to help pass-outs compete with students of other States for higher studies or jobs. This means, in these other States, standards of evaluation are very low, proving the economics adage "bad money drives out good money from circulation". Another hurdle for upgrading formal education is its unrelenting politicisation. In West Bengal particularly, the academic atmosphere from schools to universities is vitiated by students and teachers indulging in party politics. The trend began with the emergence of Left party student unions in the mid-1950's that gradually ousted the Congress outfit, Chhatra Parishad. Skirmishes became the order of the day during annual polls and admissions, each vying to get its ineligible supporters and workers forcibly in. Things have come to such a pass that students dictate terms and demand resignations and removals of Vice-Chancellors, as happened recently in Jadavpur, Kolkata and Viswa Bharati universities. During a month-long boycott on a flimsy demand of a probe into a girl's charge of molestation by a professor, boys and girls demanded right to kiss and hug in the campus. Even in a conservative Christian institution like the Scottish Church College, students demanded 'dress as you like', i.e., withdrawal of restrictions on wearing shorts by girls. In late-night jamborees on the occasion of annual days, girls do belly-dance to amuse and excite boys. Predictably, abortions of unwed school girls are on the rise. Teachers bypass textbooks, encourage mugging up of guides, 'made easies', or their own notes which students cram and repeat on answer scripts. The governments preen on the spread of education and high pass-outs but seldom on instilling depth and accuracy of knowledge. Being largely unemployable, students demand cushy jobs with fat pays, to which the States try to concede. To promote literacy among drop-out children and adults, the Central government is spending crores of rupees on Sarba Siksha Mission, although the grants are said to be swindled by administrators. Higher education should be restricted to the meritorious only and State-funded to keep off the riffraff. More subjects should be introduced in universities in line with the global explosion of knowledge. Sanskrit should be restored as a compulsory subject up to the secondary stage and made one in graduate and post-graduate levels and research. West Bengal has announced the setting up of a Sanskrit University; other States should follow. Teaching, research and publication jobs should be created so that pass-outs do not remain unemployed. The learned in Sanskrit could improve the Bengali language that is becoming hybrid following careless inclusion of English and American slangs. The defunct Sanskrit-learning centres, called tola could be revived with grants to elderly post-graduates and researchers in Sanskrit could go abroad and teach in over 200 universities where presently Sanskrit is taught.
Surface transport across the country will need to be improved with exponential increase of population and motor vehicles. The Golden Quadrangle, initiated by the first NDA regime, led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee has to be completed; some stretches of the national and State highways are badly in need of repairs and expansion. Rural roads should be rendered fit for all-weather use, particularly in rainy months. Inland waterway transport on rivers and wide canals can be revived for slow transportation of non-perishable goods to lower their prices. Air links can be expanded by setting up small airports and helipads for passenger and cargo airlines, as in the USA for use in emergency and on urgent business purposes. Remote regions in backward States should be accessible by surface or river transport. Newer forms of transport, affordable by poor people, should be encouraged for travelling short distances. Bicycle tracks should be marked in highways and bypasses and within cities to reduce air pollution and improvement of health and hygiene.
What should be healthcare like in our India of vision? At present, poor people in villages walk to the nearest government hospital and queue in outdoor section, crammed with sick people and waste hours to be examined by a doctor or in his absence, a pharmacist. Indoor beds are difficult to get except through political intervention. Nursing homes have come up in small non-municipal towns but few of the rural sick can afford their charges. Not all medicines are given free by PHCs and government hospitals. Charitable dispensaries, run by zoeminders have been closed. Extremely poor people and those fearing surgery consult quack homeopaths (Vaids in Kerala) or 'barefoot' doctors, registered by governments with elusive cures. Women in labour are taken to PHCs and if no bed is available, they deliver babies on unclean floors. Premature and under-weight babies die in hordes in backward villages because of malnutrition of mothers. Post-natal care is far from standard.
Nobody denies that India of 1947 has morphed in almost everything but everybody believes, the explosion of population in these 68 years has slowed the transformation. The death rate has slowed by invention and affordability of Western medicines and owing to social security measures in the public and private sectors. In 2013, the birth rate per thousand was 20.22 and the death rate 7.4; life expectancy in 2009 was nearly 69 years. Family planning measures of governments are half-hearted; no party dares to enforce limiting families for fear of losing votes. (Sanjay Gandhi's coercive measures cost the Congress dearly. Otherwise, measures like debarring couples from government bonanza for third child and above could rein a galloping population).Density of population is uneven; migration of rural people to towns in search of work and then settling is eroding civic amenities for the rest of people, if the rural-urban divide is gradually closed, migration of workers and labourers will be checked. Pregnant and lactating mothers in poor families should be provided with free nutritious food from PHCs to reduce infant mortality. Reclamation of waste land and river char (islets) could ease pressure on the land. Mr Modi's pre-election promise of stopping illegal migration from adjacent countries across porous borders and repatriation of illegal entrants seems to have been shelved. It is possible to check unlawful border-crossing but repatriation would be impossible, India's neighbours are apparently friendly but could queer the pitch if their interests were hurt.
Law & Order
Enforcing and maintaining 'law and order' is a good legacy of the British Raj. Before 1947, if a murder occurred in a village, the police swooped on it to nab culprits and even imposed a kind of punitive tax on local people so that they prevented it in future. For a variety of reasons, it has slackened in free India. Drawing salary from the government and trusting it for career benefits, the police could never be impartial to the ruling party. Crimes on political grounds and by cadres, comrades and party workers have been rising since Independence, because the police are either inactive, or lenient toward them, if security personnel draw wages from, and let their careers be controlled by, the President's, or the Governor's offices, they will function impartially and won't fear reprisal and inconvenient transfers by the government. Crimes can never be prevented in any society; even Ramrajya was not free from it. Crimes against women and girls for sex or property are particularly pathetic and should be curbed mercilessly.
Media & Culture
India publishes over 70 thousand newspapers with a total print order of some 100 million copies every day and more than 35 thousand periodicals. As per the data compiled by the Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI), on 31st March this year, 1,05,443 newspapers and periodicals were registered. It airs over 69O satellite TV channels in a number of scheduled languages and dialects. TV and radio reach illiterate people who can afford either, or both. Newspapers, still photography, cinema and radio began in British India but flourished after Independence. Some big English dailies figure among the best in the world in their content, display and editorial courage to criticise the Establishment. All India Radio (Akashvani in Indian languages) has the monopoly of medium and short wave broadcasts; only a few FM channels have been privatised. Over a thousand feature movies are certified and released every year, making India's film industry the biggest in the world viewers around in Asia, Africa and Indians in Europe and two Americas. At present, the mainstream movies in every language are mostly riffraff; they merely tickle the senses, make money and are forgotten next day. In India of vision, it is urgently needed to return to literature and stage for inspiration, themes and narratives.
Corruption is like canker in a rose, or as a Bengali saying goes, 'a drop of cow dung in a bucket of milk'. Things have come to such a pass that IAS and officers whom Sardar Patel called 'the steel frame of India' are found to have rusted; even judges are not above suspicion. Petty corruption, like receiving bribes or gifts is ineradicable, because low-paid officials cannot resist temptation for making money on the sly but massive swindling of public funds or demand for big money for a favour, or just a legitimate act from individuals and firms can certainly be eradicated by penal measures and threats. The CBI, Central and State Vigilance Commissions and the IB are over-active but have failed to instil fear in the corruption-prone bureaucracy and politicians of dire consequences. Greed for 'black money' is insatiable in Hindus, because amassing wealth is one of the four goals of life, according to Lord Krishna in the Bhagvad Geeta and they want to insulate their successors from the 'slings and arrows' of fortune. India's image abroad has suffered a great deal because of this virus of corruption, the extent of which is unknown in Western countries. To eradicate corruption, children should be taught to hate it through tales in books and by upright teachers and fear instilled by anti-corruption agencies about the consequences.
Development of the Mind
Governments in every country focus on material development, seldom on that of the mind and the spirit. Institutional education does nourish and condition the mind, generally for getting a job; often the minds of learners remain undeveloped. They beat up wives, mothers and servants, go for secret amours, take bribes on the sly and stray into crimes. In this claptrap, as T S Eliot asked in a poem, "what is the wisdom we lost in information?" In comparison by learning in home through books and mass media and through life's diverse experiences one can acquire wisdom; even illiterate and semi-literate persons can become and be revered as 'wise'. Thus, semi-literate Ashok and Akbar became great emperors and ninth-class fail, Rabindranath Tagore became the greatest writer and man of the 19th and 20th centuries, if the governments cannot create the ambience and conditions for letting wiser men and women to emerge, let them set up and boost libraries in every village, archives for special studies in block, subdivision and district levels and instituting awards for excellence in private research pursuits. Religions also claim to nourish the mind and make it yearn for God-realisation and spiritual uplift; they do the reverse too by breeding superstitions, fundamentalism that is in the core of terrorism and blocking a scientific temperament. Therefore, secular education is the best in the modern world- Primary schools to universities should impart secular knowledge, not merely to orient young people for employment but for building their character which Swami Vivekananda always harped on. Visions of other great men and women of India have become obsolete but Rabindranath Tagore's abides.
Vol. 48, No. 14 - 17, Oct 11 - Nov 7, 2015