At the city finals of the Outlook National Debate, I…er…happened to finish among the top 14 among the 80 odd speakers who’d qualified for the city finals. Would’ve been jolly glad to have finished in the top 3 and gone on to the national finals. Nevertheless, it was probably the competition I enjoyed the most. The topic was ‘Do You Think Indian Education Is Better Than Foreign Education?’ and I spoke FOR the given topic. Here’s the transcript of my speech:-
Renowned Greek philosopher Aristotle once famously remarked, “Education is the index of one’s wisdom and should ideally be the accentuator of one’s intellectual ability.”
Revered members of the jury, ladies and gentlemen, my greetings to you.
I’ve often wondered how best to define education. I’d like to define education as the procurement of those preternatural skills which would enable a person to choose between what is right and what is not. Our Indian system of education since time immemorial has been sailing magnificently on the winds of hope, moral coherence and ethical values with the principal objective of making all of us good human beings as opposed to mere knowledge banks. As of today, ‘Indian Education’ is an immaculate mélange of our conventional ideals of education, blended with infrastructural and technological boom, catering to the demands of modernization. Over the decades, we’ve produced some very fine men and women. From Swami Vivekananda to Sir C V Raman, from Amartya Sen to Rajendra Pachauri, they’ve all been fine lodestars of our educational system.
I’ve never really been a fan of the Western Educational systems. Students there are bestowed with way too much unconditional liberty. They’re treated like empyreal emperors at a time when they should be ordered to shut their PlayStations and take a good look at their school books. There’s too much rationalism in there and very little humanism, which in a sense explains the reason for the rapid moral degradation among a significant number of students in the West. Look at the list of school related criminal attacks worldwide and you’d observe the US perched handsomely at the top. We read almost every week about teen shootouts, teen pregnancies and yet do not wish to speak about them in the open. ‘It’s taboo’. We, Indian students here, atleast under the fear of failure, the fear of humiliation, the fear of corporal punishment are compelled on to the right track as far as our pursuit of educational excellence is concerned. But the very fact that there exists no substantial force which can have similar influences on the students of the West is indeed quite a concern. Another factor working significantly against Western education is its exorbitant cost of education which almost puts it virtually out of reach for many middle class students world over.
I know there’s been criticism of our Indian Educational system too. I know there’ve been people cynical of our ‘harsh’ and ‘stern’ methodology of education. But if the drilling exercise is a necessity for intellectual growth, a boon for the nation’s ambitions of having an educated electoral roll, the antidote for illiteracy and ignorance, the quintessential need for individual prosperity, then why not tread that path fearlessly? After all, it is only under pressure that coal turns to diamond.
The dominant role of Indian Americans in the US economy is pretty noticeable as well. As of 2008, 4000 PIO professors and 84000 students made their way into US universities and Indian Silicon Valley entrepreneurs generate whopping revenue of $250 billion every year. Is it not ironical then that the well oiled products of our educational system are largely responsible for the economic boom of a ‘global superpower’? Who’s the Big Daddy now? Is this not tangible testimony of our profound educational prowess?
Above all the number crunching and intricate statistics, above all the heated cacophony of debates and discussions, just one phrase rings euphoria and triumph in my mind.
Vande Mataram. Nothing else.