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Tolerant India goes after Aamir

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In the wake of his remarks on ‘growing intolerance’ in the country, Aamir Khan trended on the social media the whole day. He was supported by some, ridiculed by more. Jokes, sarcastic posts were hurled at the actor for merely exercising his right to free speech.

Particularly, Snapdeal endorsed by Aamir faced people’s wrath. The mobile application was deleted or given low ranking by many of its users so as to lodge their protest of the former’s ‘unwarranted’ remarks.

Social network has changed the dynamism of everything from politics to social issues. Its grip over the youth of the country is remarkable to say the least.

The point Aamir made was that there seems to be a climate of growing intolerance in India. We can debate whether he was right or wrong but the way people reacted to his comments, unfortunately, proved his remarks right.

Facebook saw a series of campaigns where people put Aamir and recently martyred Colonel Mahadik’s pictures side by side, asking a rhetorical question as to who was the “real hero” among them.

Colonel Mahadik deserves utmost respect considering his ultimate sacrifice for the country but comparing him and Aamir is like comparing apple and oranges. Aamir has never claimed to be a real life hero. While Col Mahadik’s and many of such army personnel’s sacrifice can’t be thanked enough ever but that does not mean anyone who doesn’t serve in the Army does nothing for the country.

This habit of playing on the guilty conscience of the people on social media has become a little too commonplace. There is a theory called ‘Spiral of Silence’ in Mass Communication which says while being in a group some people will just go with the majority so that they do not end up alone.

It applies in this case. There are posts where people show their support just to be with the majority e.g. How many likes for this brave soldier or cute God. Sad.

BJP termed Aamir’s comments as a part of a conspiracy. However, in my view, comparing Aamir with a person who just sacrificed his life for the nation is the much bigger conspiracy. They know that people will support the colonel and, as a result, more hate against Aamir. Simply involving a man, whose family is mourning his death, is shameful.

This is intolerance when somebody speaks his mind and you just label that person and blindly follow all who agree with you. 

The extreme reaction to Aamir’s remarks has only proved him right.

It would have much better if everyone would have been more sensitive. Aamir, in using the country’s name but more importantly, thousands of those who targetted him, they should have tried to understand his point of view. If asked, many would answer the same thing that intolerance is growing, however, ”leaving the country” remark could have been avoided simply because running away is not the option.

All the talks of India being intolerant are not right. India was tolerant and will always be tolerant. There is only one specific section of the country which is becoming intolerant or maybe it always was.

(Image credit-digitalspy.com)

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India Needs to Improve its Educational Outcomes to Catch up with China

To catch up with China, India needs to lay emphasis on improving its educational outcomes

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The Article 30 of the Constitution gives religious and linguistic minorities “the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.”
India needs to improve its educational outcomes to catch up with China. Pixabay

By Amit Kapoor

Both China and India started building their national education systems under comparable conditions in the late 1940s. Different policies and historical circumstances have, however, led them to different educational outcomes, with China outperforming India not just in terms of its percentage of literate population and enrollment rates at all levels of education, but also in terms of number of world-class institutions in higher education, and greater research output.

The roots of China’s successful education system date back to the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), which unintentionally expanded access to the primary education through democratising the schooling system, which was previously elitist in character, thus addressing the problem of mass illiteracy.

In contrast, India continued to focus on its higher education system since independence and only realised the importance of basic education in 1986, keeping it behind China and many other countries in Asia in educational development. In terms of enrollment, China reached a 100 percent gross enrollment rate (GER) in its primary education in 1985, whereas, India attained that level only in 2000.

In terms of secondary school enrollment, India and China both started at the similar rates in 1985, with about 40 percent of their population enrolled in secondary schools. However, due to a wider base of primary school students, the rate of increase in China has been much faster than in India, with 99 percent secondary enrollment rate in China and 79 percent in India in 2017.

India is closing in on the Chinese rate in terms of access to education, but on the literacy level front, there is a huge gap in the percentage of literate populations in the two countries. In the age group of 15-24 years, India scores 104th rank on literacy and numeracy indicator, compared to China’s 40th rank.

The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which assesses after every three years the domain knowledge of 15-year-old students in reading, mathematics, science and finance, revealed that students in China performed above the OECD average in 2015. Moreover, one in four students in China are top performers in mathematics, having an ability to formulate complex situations mathematically. Further, China outperforms all the other participating countries in financial literacy, by having a high ability to analyse complex finance products. For India, the comparable data is not available as it was not a participating country in PISA 2015.

abroad, study
Representational image.

However, in India, the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2017 provides data for rural youth, aged 14-18, with respect to their abilities to lead productive lives as adults. According to this survey, only about half of the 14-year-old children in the sample could read English sentences, and more than half of the students surveyed could not do basic arithmetic operations, like division. For basic financial calculations, such as managing a budget or making a purchase decision, less than two-thirds could do the correct calculations.

With regard to the higher education system, both India and China dominate the number of tertiary degree holders because of their large population size, but when it comes to the percentage of the population holding tertiary degrees, only about 10 per cent and 8 per cent of the population possess university degrees in China and India, respectively. By contrast, in Japan, almost 50 per cent of the population holds a tertiary degree, and in the United States, 31 per cent of the population hold a tertiary degree.

In terms of the international recognition of universities, the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Ranking for 2019 places seven of the China’s universities in the top 200, compared to none for India. The global university rankings, which are based on various performance metrices, pertaining to teaching, research, citations, international outlook and industrial income, shows progress for several of China’s low-ranked universities, largely driven by improvements in its citations.

In fact, the Tsinghua University has overtaken the National University of Singapore (NUS) to become the best university in Asia due to improvements in its citations, institutional income and increased share of international staff, students and co-authored publications.

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While India has progressed in terms of massification of education, there is still a lot which needs to be done when it comes to catching up with the China’s educational outcomes. China’s early start in strengthening its primary and secondary education systems has given it an edge over India in terms of higher education. Moreover, Chinese government strategies are designed in line with the criterion used in major world university rankings, especially emphasis is on the two factors which weigh heavily in the rankings — publications and international students.

The relentless publications drive, which is very evident in China, is weak in India and has led to a growing gap in the number of publications contributed by the two countries. Further, China enrolled about 292,611 foreign students in 2011 from 194 countries, while India currently only has 46,144 foreign students enrolled in its higher education institutions, coming from 166 countries. The large number of international enrollments in China is a reflection of its state policies granting high scholarships to foreign students.

To catch up with China, India needs to lay emphasis on improving its educational outcomes. Massification drive for education has helped India raise its student enrollments, but a lot needs to be done when it comes to global recognition for its universities. Further, it needs to focus on building the foundation skills which are acquired by students at the school age, poor fundamental skills flow through the student life, affecting adversely the quality of education system. (IANS)