I remember in mid-80’s we used to book a trunk call to talk to a relative staying in a different city which was replaced by a direct call on the large telephone set installed in our house. In early 2000, we moved to mobile phones on which having an integrated radio/FM was a feature worth tens of thousands of rupees; but today’s smartphones practically have all the gadgets like camera, GPS, library, music, movies, recorder, news etc integrated in the phone itself which we would carry separately just a few years ago. What took 30 years to change in the 80’s is not even taking 30 months today. It’s a rapidly changing world around us.
Today the largest investments are going on in automation, artificial intelligence and connected devices. The objective of all these technologies is to increasingly use machines to replace humans. As a result of this, unemployment is increasing in all the developed nations and other developing countries like India are not spared either, as we are blindly aping the west. I once visited a large furnishing house of a global company in Germany in 2007. At the billing counter, its employees were training their customers how to purchase by paying through automated payment machines. I spoke to one of the employees and he told me that in a few months they will lose their jobs to the new automated payment machines. To me it was a dehumanizing experience! These trends raise an obvious question in our mind. How shall we go about preparing our children for the future? A future that is changing so rapidly, a future that is so unpredictable.
With the onset of industrial revolution in the 18th century, large factories sprang up. As a result, there was a surge in the demand for large numbers of employees. Also during colonial rule in 18th and 19th century, British empire wanted to maintain a large army against kings not heeding to their dictats. They also wanted workers in their mines, forests, factories etc. Over the last 3 centuries, all these reasons have propelled India’s core from being a decentralized interdependent rural-centric social system to a more centralized, consumeristic, jobs driven, urban-centric social system. Which inturn has led us in the direction of becoming economically, socially, environmentally and healthwise unsustainable. Shri Ravindra Sharmaji used to say, “when factories are small man runs it, when the factories become big, they run the man”.
Our country needs youth to serve in defense, space, health care,
administrative services, security and research organizations in order to
protect itself both from within and without. Jobs in these sectors are a
necessity, but do we stop and question jobs in other sectors, whether are
they founded on need or greed? Are we taking enough time and analyzing
the impact these jobs are having on our society, environment and people?
Our country needs youth to serve in defense, space, health care, administrative services, security and research organizations in order to protect itself both from within and without. Jobs in these sectors are a necessity, but do we stop and question jobs in other sectors, whether are they founded on need or greed? Are we taking enough time and analyzing the impact these jobs are having on our society, environment and people?
In Ramayana, when Bharata along with his army leaves for Ayodhya after meeting with Lord Rama, Lord Rama tells Lakshmana and Sita that the residents of Ayodhya now know their whereabouts. They will soon start frequenting the place and will destroy the rivers and forests of Chitrakoot. They will also disturb the rishis meditating here in the forest. Thus saying, he decides to leave Chitrakoot. With rapid urbanisation, we have cut our forests rampantly, destroyed our mountains and hills for more and more residential & industrial spaces and greedily extracted precious minerals and metals out of mother earth and are fast depleting most natural resources without a check, thereby fanning the monsters of materialism and greed. Most of the industrial waste and sewage is dumped in our rivers, river beds are fast diminishing due to sand mining, which has resulted in the majority of rivers of our country getting destroyed beyond repair. A living example which all of us have closely seen is Vrishbhavati. What was a river in Bangalore 30 years ago, is today the largest sewer in Bangalore. Just 50 years ago we had more than 350 lakes in Bangalore, today the number of lakes in Bangalore have reduced to around 35. Destroying all our natural resources is akin to cutting the same branch on which we are sitting! We are borrowing from our children’s future too without consideration!
Even if we evaluate today’s job culture at its own merit, we see that with worldwide focus shifting towards automation and artificial intelligence and also given the current situation due to Corona-virus, the unemployment rate is surely headed northwards. One of the biggest fears today’s urban breadwinners (20yrs – 50yrs) carry is that of losing their job and maintaining an expensive, credit and loan based unsustainable lifestyle. Many companies have already announced salary and job cuts. Fear of losing one’s job looms large. This fear and their unhealthy lifestyle is leading to many diseases like depression, hypertension, diabetes, mental stress and relationship issues.
Most of our daily necessities like food, raw material for clothes etc are grown in farms. Today, due to unnatural farming practices of using genetically modified seeds, chemical fertilizers, pesticides along with exploitative market practice we have reached a point where farming practices too have become unsustainable. As a result of which it is tough to find young people in villages who will take their family professions like farming, carpentry, pottery etc forward. This is forcing farmers to quit farming and with time our artisans have lost to machines and factories. The excessive dependence on technology driven production and agriculture, urbanization and job driven society, is a serious issue which will come to haunt us in the coming years.
Where does the answer lie? It lies in educating our children and helping them build four key abilities so that they can face any situation in future. These abilities are “adaptability”, “creativity”, “strong will” and “simple and truthful culture”. If they have “learnt to learn” and are confident to adapt to any situation, they will not get flustered if they face any difficult situation. Creativity means they will be solution focused. It’s creativity that helps carve new paths, find different solutions and guides us to do things with beauty (soundarya drishti). What helps us sustain and continue in face of adversity is our strong will, a never say die attitude. Last but not the least, we need to grow in an environment which helps us build deep cultural roots, which is only possible if we live and learn with such adults at home and in Vidyalaya.
The objective of any education system is not just to prepare children for livelihood. The core objective needs to be to prepare children for life. These virtues like adaptability, creativity, will and cultural grounding are built over years, brick by brick. In today’s day and age, it’s tedious work of parents and teachers together to build these qualities in our children, carefully guarding our children against powerful materialistic and modern influences. This needs to be done till our children are grown to an age where they are equipped with viveka to face these challenges.
It is to this effect, one of the fundamental education principles at Vidyakshetra is to focus on developing gyan, bhavana and kriya shakti in our children. Also at Vidyakshetra we do not want to have result/job centered learning. On the contrary, our desire is that children are able to identify their vritti by the age of 16 and pursue it further. Only a child strong in their feeling realm, thoughtful in intellect and one who can put into action his/her thoughts will be able to respond to the needs of the future.
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