Sat, 06 Jun, 2020

In the name of Indic School at Goa Varsity

The dockets of Indic edu packages that the Varsity is hastily bent upon manufacturing are succumbing to regressive and fictional public sentiment and fake knowledge

Story: PRABHAKAR | TIMBLE | 09th November 2019, 02:25 Hrs


Mattur, near Shivamogga in Karnataka is a rare Indian village where Sanskrit, the language revered as the Devavani (Language of the Gods) is the vernacular of around 5000 residents. 

Around 1000 residents of Jihri, a remote settlement north of Indore in Madhya Pradesh speak  Sanskrit. Close to 300 dwellers comprising around 50 Sanskrit speaking households in Sasana, a remote coastal hamlet in Orissa sings self-praise of having a pundit in every family. Sanskrit is also the prime language spoken in the gram panchayat areas of Bhaguwar, Mohad (MP), Ganoda (Rajasthan) and Hosahalli (Karnataka). 

The census data (2011) reveals that around 24,821 people registered Sanskrit as their mother-tongue. This least-spoken language among the 1650 languages spoken in India finds a place among the 22 languages in the Eighth Schedule. Tribal languages with millions of speakers have not found such a constitutionally recognized seat. Sanskrit is rendered lifeless in terms of its value-in-use and value-in-exchange. Its entry in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution happened without struggle and negotiation.

The ancient glory of the lingua franca of ancient India and being the language of most works of Hindu philosophy, religious texts, music and drama enabled this wild card entry. The percentage of native speakers to total population in India with Sanskrit as first language is 0.002 and 0.19 as third language. All other languages had to clear the triple test for recognition and inclusion -- the test of

sizeable population, the check of official state language status and the proof of literary tradition. For Sanskrit, it was automatic promotion despite dismal failure to clear a single test. The language is nailed to such an exalted status that raising even a pinch of rational dissent would be blasphemy.

Presently, we have 15 exclusive Sanskrit universities in the country. Around, 120 other universities offer Sanskrit as a language subject. The actual utilization of the installed capacity for learning of the language is in the range of 40% as seats remain vacant. The Goa University desires to step into Indic knowledge systems and is gearing up to offer Masters Program in Sanskrit and extend the campus for MPhil and doctoral degrees. Indians get comfort when Sanskrit is described as a

knowledge system and not just a language. People take offense if the current status of Sanskrit is taken up under a microscope for a critical cost-benefit and utility analysis. Even a whisper would be viewed as an act of sin to be reciprocated with contempt. Hence, it is better not to question or challenge the wisdom of the top notch academic community of the State which is assumed to reside in universities and institutions of higher learning. It is a different matter that the recent times make the famine of wisdom more visible in these temples of learning.

Entry into Indic territory is not the ideal alternative for the Goa University in the context of the best use of scarce public funds. Such courses could hardly fall in the category of demand-based or  demand-pulled knowing the command area of the university. Such tracks of diversification get chosen when the cream of the academic community takes pride and pleasure in appeasing the political masters of the day by taking forward their dark agenda and parade the weed courses as

rich academic sprouts and seeds.

It is a sorry state of affairs that the Goa University proposes to introduce courses in vaastu shastra, jyotish shastra and other unverified puranic knowledge. The tranquil silence of the professors and researchers is a testimony of either complete indifference or absolute surrender. Universities are regarded as repositories of scholars, men of science and torch bearers of light. Of late, Indian

judges find cancer remedy in cow urine and believe that 33 crore gods and goddesses reside inside cow. Men in robes opine that peacock is a lifelong celibate. Now, public funded universities find reason and knowledge in vaastu, palmistry, astrology and unscientific healing therapies. University should be nothing less than a scientific institution and the academic community nothing less than a crusader in the cause of scientific and rational approach towards the challenges before the nation whether economic, social or political. This romance of the university with unscientific knowledge and ‘shastras’ needs to be strongly condemned.

A quote of Jawaharlal Nehru adorns the Conference Hall of the Goa University proclaiming that “A University stands for humanism, for tolerance, for reason, for the adventure of ideas and for the search of truth. It stands for the onward march of the human race towards ever-higher objectives. If the Universities discharge their duties adequately, then it is well with the Nation and the People”. It is distressing to note that the university is forgetting its agenda.

University should speak one language. And that is of science and reason. The end objective of the university is to influence and navigate public opinion and community to a bright and scientific future. The dockets of Indic educational packages that the university is hastily bent upon  manufacturing are succumbing to regressive and fictional public sentiment and fake knowledge. The university is embracing what it should unequivocally reject. To cap it all, there is no murmur of dissent in academic circles. Teaching is regarded as a noble profession because teachers are “agents of the future”. They cannot afford to be encumbered with the dead wood of the past and turn champions of the same. This would make academics rancid.

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