Sunday, November 25, 2007

Weekend musings: what Chanakya knew

A recent McKinsey report, based upon a study of schools all over the world made a very insightful finding:
The quality of an Educational System cannot exceed the quality of its Teachers
The report notes how students with similar intrinsics follow dramatically different life trajectories based upon the quality of teaching afforded.

Acharya Chanakya knew this over 3000 years ago. He noted the importance of teachers in individual development and, by direct translation, Nation building.
His beliefs were excellently paraphrased in the excellent TV serial from ~1990, which i only remember vaguely:
Shikshak koi saadharan vyakti nahi ho sakta, Dhana Nanda.
Prakruti uski god me khelti hai... main tumhaare raashtra ka pyaasa nahin.
Chaahe to main apna samraat swayam nirmaan karoonga.
Contextualised translation: A teacher is no ordinary man, Dhana nanda; he nurtures nature in his lap. I do not come to you with aspirations for personal power [but for the task of securing Bharat's borders]. If i choose, I can create my own Emperor [who can do the task of defending Bharat].
And he did.

But education in India today lies in ruins, its Chanakyas ideologically cleansed.
As a result, India's education system cannot create the next Chandragupta -- the Emperor who reunited a fragmenting Bharat.
Perhaps that is why we have to outsource the running of the nation to Italian waitresses.

Postscript: Visit YouTube for some truly evocative and inspiring clips from the same TV serial. Replace Magadha, Takshashila with modern names: Arunachal, Sikkim, Kashmir and the message is totally consistent.
We have forgotten our own history, and we're putting ourselves at significant risk of it repeating itself.
Post-Postscript: If any reader has the link to that sequence on YouTube or elsewhere, can you please let me know?