“Education, especially higher education, is to be the fountainhead of a developed, prosperous and enlightened human society that shall contribute to peace, prosperity, harmony and happiness all around. This is, of course, a tall order, but then who other than the Indian universities, the torchbearers of the faith of people, repositories of tremendous wisdom of the Orient, blessed with enlightened and inspired minds of faculty and students and the could deliver this promise. This calls for a sustained focus on Quality, Relevance and Human Excellence, nurtured in an environment of Integration of Education with Human Values so that the universities in India could become, in true sense, partners in progress of nation’s development and meet the global aspirations of human excellence”.

This calls for creating a cadre of Teachers of conscience and character, akin to the clarion calls of Truthfulness, Purity of Mind, Personal Integrity, Professional Ethics and above all Peace, Harmony and Compassion at heart, who shall have the capabilities and courage to transform the new generation of learners into self- disciplined,responsible global citizens, creating and sustaining a new world of divine bliss for the humanity at large. They shall create the learning environment for effective integration of education with human values, shall be the ambassadors of a compassionate humanity, shall promote and practice the human face of technology and nurture the spiritual strength of science so vital to wipe out misery, hunger, disease, and hatred from the face of planet Mother earth, said Vice Chancellor Prof. Pritam B Sharma while delivering the Keynote Address at the Teachers Day celebrations at Mahamana Pt Madan Mohan Malaviya Mission New Delhi. The function was attended by large number pf Alumni of BHU, Shri Hari Shankar Singh Secretary General and the members of the mission. Rajkumari Ratna Singh was the Chief Guest and Prof Bharat Bhushan Dhar, President of the Delhi and NCR unit of the mission presided.

Prof PB Sharma addressing the gathering (Photo: Amity Univ)

I feel it a matter of great privilege to belong to the profession of teachers who in India, from the time immemorial have kept the nobility of the teaching profession alive and inspired the vast humanity to rise to the noble objectives of human life and attain the highest alters of human excellence, while leading a righteous life of simplicity, humility and a heart full of compassion and engaging in the pursuit of knowledge with an intense urge to give their very best in service of humanity and Mother Nature. It is this nobility of the teaching profession that made India the Viswa Guru of the Orient and made it to spread the magnificence and splendor of the Vedic Sanatan Spiritual Civilization that enabled the humankind to proclaim, VasudhaivKutumbakam, the world is one family.They also echoed the Vedic conviction that Satyamev Jayate Naanratam, that is the Truth alone Triumphs, not the Untruth. They maintained the purity of mind, practiced yoga and meditation, and lived a saintly life of a Mahatma that touched the heart and soul of millions.

The Knowledge, the Jnana descended upon them, as the purity of mind enabled them to receive the purest of pure knowledge. They heard the sounds of divinity, filtered them through the sounds of Nature and composed the Alphabets of the Mother of the world languages, starting from A to Jna. These natural phonetics formed the basis of formulation of the Mother Language, Sanskrit, the language of the divine in which the nectar of knowledge of the Vedas and Upanishads was later composed by the Vedic Seers and Sages as the purest of pure knowledge was revealed by them in their intense meditation. They passed on this knowledge to their disciples in the Gurukuls of the Orient and disseminated the nectar of this divine knowledge for the wellbeing and welfare of the humanity at large. For them the pure knowledge was neutral to time and space, not bound by the geographical boundaries nor was the monopoly of race or religion or a nation. The pure knowledge was universal in its character and in its appeal to the human mind to rise above the selfish motives of the worldly charms, yet attain name fame and glory but not stop till the summit of life with divine is attained in one’s lifetime, opined eminent educationist Prof Pritam B Sharma who has been the founder Vice Chancellor of DTU and RGTU and also the past President of AIU.

Make no mistake, that the Guru Parampara of the ancient demanded highest levels of personal sacrifice, purity of mind and a righteous conduct from the Gurus of the ancient India that made them to rise to the highest alters of human reverence to place them even at a higher pedestal of respect than even the God Almighy as proclaimed in: “Gurur Brahma Gurur VishnuGurur Devo Maheswara, GururSakshat Par Brahma, Tasmaiye Sri GurubhyaNamaha”. Merely joining teaching profession for career pursuits dies not qualify an individual to become a Guru, said Prof Sharma.

Citing several examples of advanced Science and Technology of ancient India Prof Sharma reminded the audience of the highest levels of Nanoscience and technology that was reflected in the anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-dust and self-cleaning properties of the dress presented to Goddess Sita Ji at Chitrakut by sage Anusuiya during the Ramayana times, Likewise the invisible Sudarshan Chakra of the Lord Krishna that cut laser sharp the head of Shishupal who was planted as a human bomb in the Mahabharata War with RDx like explosive all around his body except at his neck. The Bluetoothtransfer of the cyber codes of Brahma Astra and Agni Astras by Brahmrishi Vishwamitra to Lord Rama is no less than the most advanced communication technology like mind-to-mind connectivity. Our Scientists at Amity University Gurugram led by Dr Arvind Chhabra, Dr Monica Vats, Dr Jyotsna Sharmain association with Dr SK Sharma of JNU have recently developed the textile clothing like the anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-dust and self-cleaning properties dress material as was presented to Goddess Sita Ji and have filed a patent on the same. Likewise, initial work on mind-to-mind connectivity research is also underway at Amity University Gurugram, informed Prof Sharma.

The nations around the world are beaming their spotlight on India today for search of the everlasting solutions for peace and harmony of the global community and are anxious to imbibe the age-old Vedic wisdom of Satyamev Jayate, Truthfulness and Integrity to establish peace and harmony and attain prosperity together with happiness all around. The Sustainable Development Goals set up as the attainable targets for all nations of the world have aimed to create a world in which “no one is left behind”. Does it not sound like the Vedic prayer of “Sarve Bhavantu Sukhina, Sarve Santu Niramaya, Sarve Bhadrani Pashyanti, Maa Kaschit Dukh BhaBhavet”?, asked Prof Sharma

However, to meet these global aspirations we need to radically reform Higher Education in India to make it a vehicle of transformation of our great republic into a vibrant, developed and prosperous country, inhibited by responsible citizens, exhibiting highest respect for human values, personal integrity and professional ethics akin to the modern digital age, and make Mother India proud of its higher education and research. Mere emphasis on growth of GDP will not make India rise to the global aspirations nor would it achieve the goal of leading the world in the era of knowledge and innovations unless the growth of the impressive growth of GDP is associated with the creation of responsible citizenship that care for the interest of man and Mother Nature together. This would necessitate sustained thrust on the spiritual strength of science and human face of technology, said Prof Sharma who is a former professor IIT Delhi.

This historic celebration is coinciding with the Amrit Mahotsav of India’s Independence andthus holds an important promise for creating a cadre of teachers of conscience and character for our universities in India to reinstate the meaning and purpose of education and make the world proud of India in the new age of knowledge and innovation in which the global knowledge society the world over hasentered into. Thanks to Covid-19 for accelerated advancement of digital transformation in all sectors of human endeavors, including education. We are already in a new normal in our universities in India for redefining the pathways for education and research for the new India.

The new world that we wish to create should not be the same as the one we have left behind before Covid-19 pandemic hit the nations of the world in March 2019. We also do not want the developmental policies and program that cause a major penalty on environmental health, we would not wish to be part of the development that creates a strong economic divide, nor we wish to see a world that exploits the natural resources in the name of development and cause miseries of global warming, and adds to enormous load of air and water pollution, cause diseases and misery unbearable.

We all should have learnt by now that our quality of life and the wellbeing of our people can not assured on the models of growth that promote accelerated consumption and exploitation of consumers through a market driven philosophy of trade and business.“The time has gone when the prosperity of a nation was judged by the quantum of its GDP alone. Today it would be judged by its policies and the impact they create on responsible citizenship and the governance that assures sustainability, minimizes waste and the pollution load and assures the health of its environment”.

In my opinion, we need to seriously question today whether we need a lifestyle that heavily leans towards possessing more and worry not about the vast humanity. Or should care for the vast humanity that looks towards people of knowledge and wisdom to care for one and all with compassion and Aatmiyata. Should we not imbibe the age-old Vedic human values of Aparigriha, that is possessing just as may be necessary and consume only as much as may be needed. These and many more such questions should compel us to redesign our education and developmental goals. The teachers of conscience and character have a major role to play in causing such a major shift in our developmental policies and goals through education that we impart for the new India, the new World of our dream.

It is our responsibility, in the universities in India to make our universities a major partner in progressfor the making of a New India, a developed and prosperous India where prosperity and happiness are assured. To do this, we need to create the enterprising and creative minds in our universities who would be aligned to mindset tuned to sustainability, green sciences and green technology, going green everywhere. For this we have totransform our universities as the“Factories of Innovation, Technology Incubation andfostering Green Enterprise development” alongside with producing future-ready-professionals for the new knowledge age who would be professionals of conscience and possess character skills that shall promote the spiritual strength of science and human face of technologies to create businesses with Aatmiyata and governance with accountability. They shall be the Ambassadors of the new world of bliss and human excellence all around, said Prof Sharma.

The end-product of education should be a free creative man, who can battle against historical circumstances and adversities of nature. For this the universities should attract the best minds for its teaching faculty” said Dr. S Radhakrishnan who was the Vice Chancellor of BHU and also has been the President of AIU and whose birthday is celebrated each year as the Teachers Day in India,

The above words of wisdom of one of the most illustrious sons of Mother India, Bharat Ratna Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan are more relevant today than ever before as the 21st Century bestows upon the universities in India a great responsibility to provide to the nation the inspired and ignited minds of graduates and post graduates and scholars of eminence to fuel unprecedented growth and development to wipe out poverty, hunger, disease, unemployment, enormous pollution(air, water and soil) and advance the frontiers of knowledge, shrink the boundaries of ignorance and create the bliss and happiness all around. And that too, by nurturing creativity and innovativeness in abundance to manifest the fullest of human potentialyet protecting the interest of man and Mother Nature together, said Prof Sharma

Our Glorious Past is an inspiration to Integrate Education with Values and thus we need also to create in us and our university community a sense of pride in our ancient wisdom that once made India a cradle of globally acclaimed high-quality education and human development par excellence. At the same time,we must commit ourselves to reviving the ancient wisdom of practicing a righteous way of life basedon strict compliance to truth, maintaining  purity of thoughts and actions, conforming to self- discipline, engaging in an unending quest for research and new knowledge creation, but on top of that a caring concern for the wellbeing of mankind and Mother Nature. We need also to attain perfection in our work activity and conformance to work ethics and professional morality, discovering the meaning and purpose of life, and living a live full of divine bliss and happiness in plenty.

The Indian Universities of Nalanda at Rajgir in Bihar, Takshashila in North West of India, close to Gandhar at that time and Viramshila at Ujjain in Central India and later in Bhagalpur in Bihar and the Gurukuls of Sandeepni Ashram at Ujjain, Dronacharya Ashram at Gurugram, Viswamitra and Bhardwaj Ashrams at Chittrakut during Mahabharata and Ramayana times were the centers of higher education and research for cultivation of  most advanced science and technology that created the wonder that was India and brought the much acclaimed  global eminence for its scholastic and scientific advancements. Scholars from around the world and seekers of knowledge congregated to these “centers of global excellence” in India for attaining enlightenment and cultivation of peace and harmony.These and many more residential Gurukuls, universities of ancient India provided education in harmony with nature and inspired the seekers of knowledge to adhere to the principles of peace, purity and righteousness as the cardinal principles for leading a dignified human life. The focus here was on integration of education with values, capabilities with virtues of humility and simplicity to serve the society and Mother Nature with utmost devotion and unconditional commitment.

What is more important to realize that the quest to attain the highest altars of prosperity was invariably associated with the unclenching commitment to Parhit ie to ensure the wellbeing of the society at large that enabled the Indian mind to proclaim Sah No YashaSahno Brahma Barchasam, as in Tatriya Upnishad, ie together attain name, fame and glory and reach to the highest alters of spiritual enlightenment and material prosperity together.  It is this essence of the ancient wisdom that we need to assimilate and integrate in our modern university education so as to succeed in re-establishing ancient India’s glory and global eminence in higher education.

“The idea of a university todayshould revolve around providing a learning environment that promotes the spirit of enquiry, a sense of commitment to find solutions to the pressing problems of the society, an unending quest to discover the truth of being and to unveil the secret of creation and at the same time engage with conviction in pursuits of translating acquired knowledge and capabilities to create a better tomorrow”. It is this idea of a university; we need to seriously ponder today when education is being seen as a powerful vehicle of transformation of nation’s economies and wellbeing of the vast humanity, said Prof Sharma exhilarating the teaching community of universities in India.

The New policy, NEP 2020 should be targeted to boost employability but also the character skills of the graduates on one hand and ensuring relevance of research and innovations to the needs of the society and industry at home on the other. It should also meet the regional and global aspirations. We need to align India’s Education Policy to National Development to pay attention to creating “Advantage India” from the efforts we invest in education and research and make education a powerful vehicle of societal transformation,

Unfortunately, the goal of successive education policies in the past revolved around increasing access in the name of increased Gross Enrolment Ratio, GER, in higher education and inclusive education being grossly misunderstood as driving everyone towards university education while focus on quality and relevance took a back seat. The net result being that we have achieved significant increase in GER, currently just over 26.4% but with utterly low quality of out-turn and alsovery low employability. After all, you get what you plan!So the prime question is whether the NEP 2020 this time which propose GER to grow to 50 by 2030 shall have a radical departure from the approach to policy thrust in the past?

Let the teachers of conscience and character and all those who are engaged in the noble profession of education and research keep the noble objective of JanniJamabhumascheswargadapigariyasi, that is, to transform our own Motherland as a haven on earth while at the same time  serving the divine cause of Vasudhev Kutumbakam. I also invitethe education fraternity to create the Panchamirit of Academia, Industry, R&D organizations, Society and the Government so that we succeed in making our universities, in true sense, partners in progress for the success of our National missions of Make in India, Skill India, Innovation and Startups India and also meet the Sustainable Millennium Goals for which the nations of the world including India are firmly committed.

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