This is a bad time for globalism. The recession has renewed the fear of the others, and various politicians, from Japan to Italy to United States, are inventing foreign bogeymen to obscure their own failures. Companies, while desperate for ideas and for growth, are receding to respective homelands for safety: The only international bit they would still like to do is to keep their cashes stashed in tax havens. In fact, by doing so, they have given global business more bad press - Starbucks dodging taxes, Wal-Mart paying bribes and various banks, almost all of them, defrauding customers and governments alike.
Critics can say that this was bound to happen and globalisation is a sham: But when it comes to climate change, nuclear disarmament, human rights, the issues that the same critics love, they concede that there is no alternative to concerted global action. I shall contend that global connections (or disconnections) are a function of technology and due to progress in transportation and communication, distance has irretrievably died. The fear of the other that keeps globalisation at bay is a tool for inefficient, self-serving political machine, a system fit for another era, a set of people with dated values who seemed to have sleepwalked into our time. Globalism isn't rhetorical, it's real: Its our back-from-dead nationalist politicians who are really the voodoo dolls.
Indeed, differences are alive and well, and they ought to be, as human diversity works for us and allows us to do complex things. But being different does not have to make us fearful, because such fears have always caused trouble, whereas great prosperity was created when we overcame those fears. Our society works on adjustment, and we must now expand our field of vision to include those who are different from us.
As with other things, my take is that this has to start with education. The education as it is now comes in two varieties: A nationally grounded variety, which displays the politicians' handiwork at its worst, where purse strings are pulled and various national stereotypes are embedded in the students' minds; and the other, at a more advanced level, where a neo-liberal special species doctrine is preached from the business school pulpit, where a special band of marauders are prepared to live a life steamrolling differences and undermining societies, creating the demonic globalisation that the Muppet-politicians then use to whip up the fears.
However, global education isn't a new idea. In fact, educators around the world have been trying this for at least a century. They were in the fringe, as their models did not suit the government-funded version of the system, and they were labelled sages and visionaries (in effect, impractical men and women): One such example was Viswa-bharati (the world school) in Bolpur in West Bengal, which was formally started in 1923 (the school was operational since at least 1905) with the Nobel prize money of its founder, Rabindranath Tagore. The founding idea of the school was to step outside the British colonial education, which was designed to produce pen-pushers and bureaucrats in the service of the Raj, and to imbibe creativity, love of nature and globalism in its pupils. It is a tragedy that the ideals of Viswa-bharati was forgotten soon after Tagore's death, when his successors, Mahatma Gandhi and eventually Jawaharlal Nehru, integrated the project into India's national building, turning this into just another university, if slightly exotic, tasked to produce bureaucrats in the service of the new Indian state. However brilliant, Viswa-bharati's globalism was dead and buried alongside its founder.
Tagore saw the horrors of nationalism well ahead of his contemporaries, and spoke about its perverse nature as early as in 1905. He persisted even in the face of hostile public reception, particularly in China and Japan, where nationalism and national pride were seen, in 1920s, the great force of freedom and progress (just as in India today), and his lectures proved so unpopular that some of them had to be cancelled. Tagore remained a marginal figure in India's independence movement because of his nuanced views of nationalism, he and his education project reviled by his compatriots as 'empty internationalism' and shunned (his chosen successor, the great Bengali nationalist leader, Subhas Chandra Bose, refusing to take on the responsibility); indeed, his globalism was never fashionable, not even in his dying days when the world was plunged into the horrors of nationalist slaughter of the Second World War. Tagore's efforts were modest, but heroic for a single man; and certainly, he was not alone in envisioning and creating a globalist education. Thus, the founding ideals of Viswabharati now needs revisiting, and dare I say resurrecting, as we face another long global recession, like that of the 1930s, which is inexorably sucking us into abyss, putting tinpot dictators in place and reviving the nationalist rhetoric across the globe. A global education, aimed at the creation of global students, leaders, managers, is more in need than ever before.
Indeed, one has to be mindful of the neo-liberal variety of global education, that which steamrolls differences and imposes a near-imperial view on the world, and which is precisely the reason why global education gets equated with an arrogant, disconnected mindset: We need global education, but in a reinvented form, which respects differences and celebrates, rather than attempts to reduce, human complexities and variations. Global education isn't, and shouldn't be, fitting economies into standardised models and having a touristy view of national idiosyncrasies; It is rather about knowing that a range of mental models exist in the world, and each has its own sphere of validity and legitimacy. It is about humility rather than arrogance, about discovery rather than evangelism, and, if this is forgotten, about learning rather than collecting fridge magnets.
If someone is wondering whether I am in a time-wrap and whether talking about globalising education now, just when localism is on the rise, is a good idea, we must remember that the global recession, for which globalization is blamed, is actually a product of lack of global integration, or shall we say, lopsided global integration; and, indeed, the greatest danger that comes with this recession is to get back to our murderous nationalist habits. In summary, there was never a time when creating global education, that based on understanding and tolerance, was more important.
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
Buzzwords have disadvantages. Right now, experiential learning is one, and that means we put the label on everything and it stops to mean anything. Also, this means reasonable conversation about experiential learning becomes difficult - at times such as this, either you preach experiential learning or you are traditional, antiquarian and hopelessly out of touch. But, overlooking the limitations of experiential learning can cause big problems. Experiential Learning does many things - putting practice at the heart of learning is an important paradigm shift - but not everything, and it is important to be aware what it does not do. Usually, we equate the terms Project-based Learning (the method) with Experiential Learning (the idea) and Learning from Experience (the ideal), treating them as one and the same and using the terms interchangeably. Any talk about distinctive meaning of these terms is usually seen as pedantic, but really represent very different ideas about education.
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was,
Introduction Erna Petri née Kürbs, a farmer’s daughter from Herressen in Thuringia, arrived in Ukraine with her three year old son to join her husband Horst in June 1942. Horst, an SS leader inspired by Nazi ideologue Dr Richard Walter Darré, settled in the plantation of Grzenda, just outside today’s Lviv, to become a German Gentleman-Farmer. Erna saw Horst beating and abusing the workers in the plantation within two days of arriving there, which was, as Horst explained, necessary for establishing authority. Erna joined in enthusiastically, settling into a combination of roles of ‘plantation mistress, prairie Madonna in apron-covered dress lording over slave labourers, infant-carrying, gun-wielding Hausfrau.’  However, there were clear rules in the plantation, and Erna was very much expected to play the woman’s role of being a Cake-and-Coffee hostess. When four Jews were caught in the estate while trying to escape from a transport to a death camp, Horst told Erna and her female
I wrote a note on Kolkata, the city I come from and would always belong to, in July 2010. Since then, the post attracted many visitors and comments, mostly critical, as most people, including those from Kolkata, couldn't see any future for the city. My current effort, some 18 months down the line, is also prompted by a recent article in The Economist, The City That Got Left Behind , which echo the pessimism somewhat. I, at least emotionally, disagree to all the pessimism: After all Kolkata is home and I live in the hope of an eventual return. Indeed, some change has happened since I wrote my earlier post: The geriatric Leftist government that ruled the state for more than 30 years was summarily dispatched, and was replaced by a lumpen-capitalist populist government. Kolkata looked without a future with the clueless leftists at the helm; it now looks without hope. However, apart from bad governance, there is no reason why Kolkata had to be poor and hopeless. It sits right
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
The ‘Why’ Question? Adolf Hitler was appointed the German Chancellor by President Von Hindenburg on 30th January 1933. This was an extraordinary turn of events. Previously, President Von Hindenburg consistently refused to appoint Hitler the Chancellor, despite the impressive electoral performance of NSDAP in July 1932, Hitler’s uncompromising demand of the Chancellor’s post and a repeat election in November 1932 which failed to break the deadlock. Explaining his refusal, Hindenburg wrote in a letter on 24th November, “a presidential cabinet led by you would develop necessarily into a party dictatorship with all its consequences for an extraordinary accentuation of the conflicts in the German people.” The question ‘why’ Hitler was appointed Chancellor, despite the President being acutely aware of what might follow, is therefore a significant one. The NSDAP had election successes throughout 1932, and was already the biggest single party in the Reichstag and various Landtags acros
There is no other city like Kolkata for me: It is Home. The only city where I don't have to find a reason to go to, or to love. It is one city hardwired into my identity, and despite being away for a decade, that refuses to go away. People stay away from their homeland for a variety of reasons. But, as I have come to feel, no one can be completely happy to be away. One may find fame or fortune, love and learning, in another land, but they always live an incomplete life. They bring home broken bits of their homeland into their awkward daily existence, a cushion somewhere, a broken conversation in mother tongue some other time, always rediscovering the land they left behind for that brief moment of wanting to be themselves. The cruelest punishment, therefore, for a man who lives abroad is when his love for his land is denied. It is indeed often denied, because the pursuit of work, knowledge or love seemed to have gotten priority over the attraction of the land. This is particularly
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.