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Education of the hand, Politics of the head!

Gandhiji [,] in an article titled 'National Education' in 'Young India' in 1929 wrote 'the existing system of education confines itself to the head and ignores the culture of heart and hand ...'. Some of our demagogues would interpret the above as advocacy of introduction of hand-weaving as a subject in school syllabi - but Gandhiji's message is very relevant today when even foreigners are pointing out shortcomings in our educational system.

What 'Education of the head' means in today's context? Some symptoms:
- High emphasis of exams - less emphasis on study/ activity during the term
- High emphasis on theory - and practicals being considered of little value
- Resulting high emphasis on plain mugging; less emphasis on understanding

What Gandhi means by education of the hand? Some pointers:
- Results being more dependent on term-long activities and practical assignments
- Industry participation in education
- Research being emphasized in universities

According to Gandhi - 'Educational philosophy should be based on learning and not on teaching.'

Politics of the Head
While education should essentially be of the hand, politics should be of the head. Again, 'head' here is indicative of visionary, thoughtful and futuristic outlook and not 'stiff-upper-lip'. Wearing Khadi topi while sitting in an air-conditioned car is not politics of the head. Politics of the head involves understanding people's problems, intuitively analyzing them and finally presenting solutions.
One would argue that politics needs to be of the hand as well; who will implement the policies on ground? Who will 'work for the poor' ? I feel otherwise; a visionary Atal Bihari Vajpayee sitting at the top could usher in a road development revolution across the nation without ever needing to 'implement' the project on ground while several 'implementing' politicians were busy erecting statues and fountains in their localities. Execution is the function of Administration - the beaureacracy and other agencies - not politicians. Politicians are leaders who need to think and provide the much needed direction to all works.
Again, indulging in discussions on religion is not politics of the head. Religion is a strictly personal issue - it cannot and will not need any 'vision' or 'direction'. Rather it is more a matter of 'practice' - each individual practices what he/she deems fit. Thus essentially religion is a matter of the hand and not the head as far as politics is concerned. Hooliganism and corruption similarly make politics essentially a faculty of the hand - where ideology takes a backseat and muscle takes over.

When it comes to politics (unlike what some of our demagogues would agree), personal matters, individual comforts should take a backseat - they are essentially matters of the hand - and larger issues should get the priority. Education on the other hand needs the exact opposite treatment - it is more important to learn the hands-on work because the higher thought processes the visions will automatically develop as one starts working.

Unfortunately in present day India we have the exact opposite going on - education of the head and politics of the hand. :(


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