Letter from the Editor: 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi

EducationWorld October 2019 | Letter from the Editor

It is appropriate that from October 2 — the sesquicentennial (150th) birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948) — onward, the nation will commence year-long celebrations to commemorate undoubtedly the greatest Indian of all time. Master political strategist, an individual who constantly sought self-purification in thought, word and deed, social reformer, lover of humanity and educationist, Gandhi was all of these and more. The elements were so mixed in him that in his time, he strode the world like a colossus and indeed — as historian Ramachandra Guha in his latest biography of Gandhi boldly posits — not only wrested political independence for India, but “changed the world”.

Great men with deep insights into the human condition eulogised him during his lifetime. Poet, writer and public intellectual Rabindranath Tagore — India’s first Nobel laureate for literature — bestowed the appellation of Mahatma (great soul) upon Gandhi. Renowned scientist Albert Einstein in a famous tribute said that succeeding generations would “scarcely believe that such a man in flesh and blood walked upon this earth”. Indeed all citizens of sovereign India should experience a swelling of legitimate pride that our patch of earth produced this great leader of men, creative thinker, dedicated social reformer and apostle of peace. But unfortunately, Einstein’s prophesy is coming true. By design, calculated neglect or accident, the memory of the Mahatma is fading in the public consciousness.

Although he is remembered on ceremonial occasions, his core message of eradicating caste consciousness, particularly the degrading practice of untouchability; ensuring Hindu-Muslim harmony; promoting economic self-reliance and moral regeneration of all Indians, has fallen by the wayside.

Not so well-known is the fact that Gandhi had a deep and abiding interest — and developed a robust prescription for — K-12 education. After he returned to India in 1914, he formulated his nai talim education philosophy which propounds that the heads, hearts and hands of children need to be educated simultaneously. To this end, he prescribed curriculums mixing academics, handicrafts and moral and ethical character building. In particular, Gandhi “attached highest importance” to universal primary education incorporating his heads, hearts and hands life-long learning education philosophy. Our Gandhi sesquicentennial celebration issue details the Mahatma’s nai talim education prescription whose essential features if officially adopted, could resuscitate India’s moribund education system.

And in our second lead feature, we present a pictorial essay of the EducationWorld India School Rankings 2019-20 Awards festival staged in Gurgaon, Delhi NCR on September 28-29. During this two-day event — the largest school rankings celebratory event worldwide — over 700 of the country’s Top 1,000 primary-secondary school leaders were felicitated and celebrated. Rare education excellence also warrants celebration.

Recommended: Mahatma Gandhi’s prescription can revive Indian education

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