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Anglophonic education: De-linking students from their roots

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By Dr Kallol Guha

Infosys chief Narayana Murthy, at the convocation speech of Indian Institute of Science on July 15th 2015 stated,

No big invention, earth-shaking idea from India in 60 years”. “Is there one invention from India that has become a household name in the globe? Is there one idea that has led to an earth shaking invention to delight global citizens? Folks, the reality is there is no such contribution from India in the last 60 years.”

In reference to the statement of Narayana Murthy; we must recall what the towering figures of India who at the peak of their fame advised fellow countrymen – that a young mind can understand and absorb concepts and acquires a much better ability to think originally in his/her indigenous language. It was their words of wisdom out of life experience.

Let there be no miscalculation. Higher education in mother tongue is the main catalyst for generating new and original ideas. That is precisely the reason why all great personalities advocated for higher education in vernacular language.  Deprivation of education in indigenous language prevents original thinking.

Personalities like CV Raman who won a Nobel Prize in 1930 and the only Indian Nobel Laureate in Physics, discovered that though incident light was monochromatic, the scattered light due to it, was not monochromatic. This observation is known as the “Raman Effect”. Being confined to colonial India, his interest was in Sanskrit and vibration of strings in Mridanga and Veena. These are the kind of personalities who, thoroughly conditioned by their own culture and heritage, also mastered skills in outlandish language.

Jagadish Chandra Bose in 1895 used an electric wave generator to fire a gun 75 feet away even though the two were not connected by wire. That was the prelude to days of remote control. His essays on scientific theories written in Bangla are proof of his literary talent in his own mother tongue.

Satyendra Nath Bose’s work laid the foundation of quantum statistics and gave rise to Bose-Einstein condensate – a dense collection of particles with a number of angular momentum called BOSON.  Bose’s life dream was to introduce higher technical education in mother tongue. Just recently one of the mainstream media houses wrote an article on “Who was Satyendra Nath Bose”?  Needless to say “Good Schools” of India do not bother to teach Indian children what they are and who they are.

Colonial officials boasted of the ‘civilizing’ effect of American education. Here American flags decorate the classroom of a colonial classroom.

Native Indians of USA often talk about the policy of “Take the Indians from the Indians”. The implication is that the design of American education is to de-link American Indians from their heritage and identity. It is tempting to ask WHY DELINK? The answer is simple–brand of education that de-links its students from their roots also blunts their intellectual capability and creativity.

Students conditioned through thoroughly Indianized education system have much better chance to make new intellectual contribution to various fields. A student well schooled in his/her language, literature, culture, tradition, history, religion among other factors, when exposed to technological subjects in outlandish language has a much better aptitude for innovative and original thinking.

On the other hand, students who are culturally conditioned through foreign language and are dissociated from their indigenous culture and language, as the situation in India today, may become “Your most obedient servant” -(an expression that was – in colonial legacy – commonly used in official correspondence in India until late sixties) but effectively stripped of the capacity of any original thinking.

Medium of current education in all former colonial countries like East and West Africa, Caribbean, South Asia is a language which is not indigenous. Hence, there is no chance that such an education will generate any original thinking, at least it has not done so in India since 1947.

The 10 percent Anglophonic Indians are able to imitate but not express their thoughts in either indigenous or in adopted language. Not only that, these pathetic elements are ignorant about their indigenous culture, heritage, literature, history, tradition and are comparable to the disposition of an illiterate who can barely read and write. They are proud of their pathetic imitation but ignorant of how they are treated as an object of pity by those whom they imitate.

This Anglophonic species is a miserable hybrid who can be branded as uncultured upstarts who are not conscious that they are suffering from identity crisis. These are the kind of products present day education is breeding. Nothing could be more stupid than to expect original contribution from products of such education which is designed to de-link Indians from India.

I wonder if Narayana Murthy would accept this as an explanation to his comment.

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All You Need to Know About Jagadish Chandra Bose

Polymath, physicist, biologist, biophysicist, botanist, archaeologist and one of the most early writers of science fiction- yes, this is one man

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Bose is considered the father of Bengali science fiction. Wikimedia commons
Bose is considered the father of Bengali science fiction. Wikimedia Commons
  • Jagadish Chandra Bose developed instruments like Coherer and Crescograph.
  • He is the father of Bengali Science Fiction.
  • A crater on the moon has been named in his honour.

Polymath, physicist, biologist, biophysicist, botanist, archaeologist and one of the earliest writers of science fiction- yes, this is one man. A man, who, according to Sir Nevill Mott, was 60 years ahead of his time. He did not believe in commercializing his work, he used to make it public. When he could have earned lifetimes for his generations, Jagadish Chandra Bose chose a way which led to further research.

He is the man who pioneered radio research and also, made some of the most significant contributions to the field of plant science. Bose is credited for laying down the foundation of experimental science in India.

You may also like: Mangalyaan Mission: A huge leap into space

Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose lived in British India’s Bengal Presidency. His father was Deputy Magistrate in Faridpur. Even though from a rich family, he attended vernacular schooling because his father believed that children should know their mother-tongue before any other language.

The father of Bengali science fiction. Wikimedia commons
The father of Bengali science fiction. Wikimedia Commons

Background

It was a time when sending children to English schools was an aristocratic status symbol, that Bose studied in a vernacular school. He used to sit with the Muslim son of his father’s attendant and the son of a fisherman. Even though his mother was an orthodox lady, she never practised discrimination. Bose never knew there existed a ‘problem’ (at that time) between Hindu and Muslim communities.

While speaking at the Bikrampur Conference in 1915, Bose said:

“They were my playmates. I listened spellbound to their stories of birds, animals and aquatic creatures. Perhaps these stories created in my mind a keen interest in investigating the workings of Nature.” 

He wanted to compete for the Indian Civil Services but his father told him “My son would rule nobody but himself.” Bose also attended the University of London where he studied medicine, though he had to come back due to illness.

Later, he graduated with a BA from Kolkata University. While he taught physics at Presidency College, he was simultaneously pursuing his own research in electricity and electromagnetic waves.

Work and research

Bose gave a demonstration of microwaves at Kolkata Town Hall, for the first time, in November 1984. He ignited gunpowder and rang a bell at a distance using microwaves.

Also read: How wheat production could increase three-fold

His instruments are still on display. Wikimedia commons
His instruments are still on display. Wikimedia Commons

‘Coherer’

He developed a device which could detect radio waves, it was called a ‘coherer’. The Englishman (18 January 1896) quoted from the Electrician and commented as follows:

“Should Professor Bose succeed in perfecting and patenting his ‘Coherer’, we may in time see the whole system of coast lighting throughout the navigable world revolutionised by a Bengali scientist working single handed in our Presidency College Laboratory.”

Bose was unwilling to patent the device as he believed that science should be for the benefits of all, and should not be used for money-making. Later he did submit a patent application, under pressure from his friends, to the US patent office. He became the first Indian to get a patent.

Radio waves made him believe that physics is far beyond what the naked eye can see. Bose was curious about the world of plants. Hence, he switched to investigating how plants respond to stimuli.

Crescograph

A crescograph is an oscillating recorder using clockwork gears and a smoked glass plate to measure the growth and movements of plants in increments as small as 1/100,000 of an inch. The plate caught the reflection of the plant and it was marked according to the movement of the plant. 

An image of a crescograph. Wikimedia commons
An image of a crescograph. Wikimedia Commons

Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose had a strong belief that plants have a sensitive nervous system. This belief was strengthened by his experiments. He was also astounded when he discovered that an electric death spasm occurs in plants when they die, this could be resourceful in accurately calculating the time the time of their death.

He revealed the wonders of the world of plants when he described his experiments and their results in his paper “Responses in Living and Non-Living”.

The paper revealed that plants could feel pleasure and even pain.

Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose’s place in history is prominent as ever. His work on microwaves has a major contribution to the development of radio communication. Instruments developed by him are on display and still can be used, after a century. A crater on the moon has been named after him.