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Acharya Narendra Dev was one if the pioneers of modern education in India. He emphasized that education without values was meaningless. Below we reproduce the English translation of the presidential speech of Acharya Narendra Dev (then Vice-Chancellor, Lucknow University) at the Annual Function of Vidya Bhawan, Udaipur, Rajasthan on 6th May 1950.
Students are a nation's treasure. If the country has to produce well educated citizens, then the education system needs to be established on entirely new foundation. The country will have to bear this expenditure on education. The education provided till now in this country is divorced from the Indian society. Now it is the nation's duty to establish educational institutions anew and incorporate high social and spiritual values in them. If education is unable to meet the expectations of the society, then such education is polluted.
We are not delighted with the achievement of freedom from colonial rule. We are ambivalent to the social and political questions/problems. A time comes in the life-time of a society when it starts decaying after being beset with old thoughts and paradigms. The progress of such society is arrested. At these junctures new and novel thoughts are required. Educational institutions are the appropriate places where such thoughts germinate and take shape. The government too is reforming the educational system, but there is always a scope for independent experimentations and thoughts. New thoughts are required when old thoughts become useless. We forget that there is one life and education is the basis of the progress in life. We complain about lack of discipline in the students, but indiscipline is prevalent in our society itself. If teachers' have rich character then only we can build character and incorporate discipline among students.
In this world social consciousness is a force or energy which caries a person in tandem with the society. We should act with intellect. A person without intelligence cannot achieve success. If there is an aim in life, then I will think what qualities or skills I should imbibe in myself to achieve my aim. This social consciousness is leading to prosperity in other Asian countries.
We, in India are embroiled in issues of religion, caste and other conflicts. This means we have not adopted nationalism. All kind of people were involved in our struggle for freedom. The people in the lower strata of the society had expected prosperity after independence, but we have slept over the independence; we have achieved the attitude of sitting over our laurels which impedes forward movement. The meanings of freedom are either reform or deform the nation.
Educational institutions should have independent views. The teacher-student relationship should be beautiful and cordial and independent experimentations should receive the support of donors. The nations in the west are moving ahead by their novel experiments in education. The progress of mankind lies in his restlessness. There is nothing better than humans, but only if humans possess humanity. Our narrow interests drive us, but till we are able to wipe out differences among humans we cannot progress.
We are not used to democracy, therefore there is a need to inculcate democratic values in our society which believes in caste, creed etc. Values like development, right to social justice etc. needs to be nurtured.
Human values are nurtured in a society, therefore, serving humankind leads to progress of humans. Selfless service and constructivism provides happiness to man. If we do not understand the necessity of our time and do not work to bring unity in our social life, then struggle among caste and creed will become the order of the day.
After the Mughals, the question of Sikhs, Hindus, Brahmins, Non-Brahmins arise. Communalism is the path to death and not a path to life. At present we have pettiness. We have not yet adopted the Grand India.
We should also have knowledge about other civilizations of the world. A false sense of pride in our own culture is harmful. We do not understand our ancient civilization - whose soul lives in the Upanisads and in the saying of saints, who preached liberal religion and paved the path of salvation of the down-trodden. We do not recognize this liberal religion today. We should articulate on this and move ahead. We should also view our culture in the light of western civilization and create new history.
If education occupies a prominent position in our times only then will agriculture and other vocations will prosper. The world is facing a crisis. There are sharp disagreements in the basic principles of society. We are in a search of a new understanding. If an educational institution cannot do this, who can?