National Values.

Trojan-Horse rep

This article in the Guardian talks about getting schools funded by the state to follow British values.  This initiative follows what in Britain is now called Operation Trojan Horse where Islamists tried to hijack school managements to bring about their own values as opposed to the so called British values.

In India too for too long, we have had various types of Trojan horses invading our schools through changing our history books in a ding dong battle between the so called Hindu politicians and the so called secular politicians.  Going as far back as 2004 this battle started and each state too has been subject to various changes depending on which political party came to power.

The battle is about to begin again!

I am however zapped when I speak to young people about simple things and find that they do not have the slightest clue about many things that we were taught in our history classes.  For many youngsters, Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, etc are all esoteric and vague figures and the struggle for independence is something that is very vague.  The whole history of our nation seems to start from the time that Jeans replaced dhotis/pajamas and saris/salwars.

And I am not talking about youngsters below the age of twenty, but even closer to forty!

When questioned in depth, it becomes obvious that the subject of history itself is considered to be one where one can score high marks to improve averages and so one mugs up likely questions/answers and one does not really study and appreciate history.

Under these circumstances, how can we expect our children to have any national values if there are any such values recognised as such?

How sad!

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13 Responses to National Values.

  1. Your frustrations are not any different than those many from here feel. Here we have spent all these years setting ourselves up as and believing we are the moral center of the universe. We are God’s chosen shining light for all to see. We are the free society wherein all are – in theory – created with equal rights. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” So says the poem attached to the Statue of Liberty. And we are now unable to control the stampede across our southern border.
    Culture is a living, breathing thing subject to change. Cultural change is the type pf changed those entrenched in power fear the most as it’s like a magnitude 8 earthquake. It shakes the hell out of things. And change is good. Remember that history is written by the winners. And I suspect a similar percentage of American students know as little about John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and the rest. Heck – Jefferson even put together his own version of the bible – clearly an evil humanist. Now that’s fascinating and worthy of study but it is not likely to be covered in any detail in public education. But creationism sure is.
    It’s really a simple question – when does power speak to truth? Only when it has to.

    The cultural heritage you embrace will persist as long as folks like you allow it to. Teach it to those who will listen and count on them to do the same.

    • Clapping and bowing Chuck. That is a grand response and I can feel the angst coming through. Coming to the last paragraph, I try. That is all that I can do. There are young people who are fascinated with things that they did not learn and know about who find me interesting enough to probe to get answers to many questions that trouble them which their teachers are unable to answer with any authority.

  2. Ursula says:

    If you want to get my goad, evoke my wrath and generally get me excited please do bring up the subject of history, and how it’s being taught. Be still my beating heart. Not too still – just enough to keep beating.

    First things first: Not for nothing is history being “rewritten”. Constantly. Overwritten, and then some more. Because it’s people who write history and there is more to HISTORY than dates. History is about interpretation. And therein lies the Trojan Horse.

    Unlike you, Ramana, I do give youngsters credit and the benefit of the doubt that they have an insight from an angle even I sometimes fail to see. If there is one lesson I have learnt that history is an inexact science. In fact, one might say it’s not a science at all. It’s fairy land. Tailored to the measure of powers that are (in office) and to suit their purposes.

    As to “national values”: Why not just employ HUMAN values? Those all of us, right round the globe, share by virtue of morals, ethics – leaving allegiances (whether to politics or religion) where they belong: The dung heap.

    U
    Ursula recently posted..Disclosure

    • Ursula, I am sorry if I sounded as though I write off all youngsters. No, there are some who slip through the crack and approach people like me for answers to questions that their teachers are unable to provide with authority. It is also a measure of the quality of our teachers I suspect.

      And I am very happy to be with human values but I find that increasingly the world is getting to be paranoid about national interests and xenophobia. Europe and the UK are classic examples of this phenomenon.

  3. nick says:

    Ursula, I don’t think Ramana was commenting on different interpretations of history so much as complete ignorance of it. And I don’t think history is fairyland, but certainly different historians can put a different slant on the same series of events so it’s wise to read several accounts of the same thing.

    As for national values, I just wrote about British values myself and concluded it was a pretty meaningless phrase – subject to as many interpretations as history in fact. As you say, Ursula, human values are what are needed and not nationalistic, flag-waving ones.
    nick recently posted..British values

  4. Mike Goad says:

    History education suffers here in the USA, too. Too many times, I have seen people being asked basic US history knowledge questions on camera and the answers are embarrassingly hilarious… and sad.
    Mike Goad recently posted..Vintage Humor.

  5. Alan G says:

    I recall you and I discussing almost this exact subject in an email exchange and I was actually shocked when you informed me of how much of Indian history seems to have passed by the later generations as water passing under a bridge. For me as an American, Mahatma Gandhi is almost bigger than life and I just can’t imagine the younger generation not being intimately familiar with this man and his love for India. 😕
    Alan G recently posted..Introducing my friend – Little Eddie….

    • Yes, this subject is at the top of my mind because there are a few young people in my life just now who look to me for answers because their teachers do not come up to their expectations. India has just gone through a major shift in its politics and the young people are unable to understand some of the nuances.

  6. Maxi says:

    Your words ring as though you speak about America, Rummy. It is the same here in my country.

    It began with the permissiveness of society in the early 60s. Less standards, more “I’m free to be me.” Then down the slippery slope we rolled.

    Here we are still slippin’ n slidin’ … not one set of values for all.

    Beyond sad.

    blessings ~ maxi
    Maxi recently posted..You May Be Guilty Of These Ten Bothersome Habits

  7. Big John says:

    “How sad!” .. Indeed Ramana.
    Winston Churchill (not one of my favourite people) said that .. “History is written by the victors”. Hence your “India’s First War of Independence” is my “Indian Mutiny”. .. 😉
    Big John recently posted..Some Sacred Sunrise !

    • John, I have had to answer that particular question to some young people recently as well as questions arising out of a new book written by Pankaj Mishra which in turn has led them to study Edward Said’s Orientalism. They discuss these matters with me because their school/college curriculum or their teachers are unable to answser their questions about the techtonic shift that has taken place in Indian politics in the recent past.

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