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February 27, 2013 / Vandita

The Bleak Indian Academia

Language is a carnival of thoughts threaded through and across the threshold of life where polite is synonymous with power and rudeness a tag to atrophy the ordinary. You are allowed to step into the world of elite only and if you qualify their coda. Surprisingly, only certain stylized – even stymied – approaches to interpretative studies are accredited worthy of the academic brand. This is the only reason why the street and the hovel are reduced to curios, and the academia sneers at the mundane and everyday lingo. Across universities in India, correctness in language usage is anathematic towards the spontaneous outbursts of people who are not formally educated. It is an extremely sad state of affairs. It seriously needs to be examined why we do not let people who cannot read or write but are perfectly wholesome thinkers in a spoken/ oral culture into the hallowed precincts of the university.

Universities are a shrinking space where qualifications have become far more pertinent than the ability to think, examine and analyze. Around me on the roads and streets of Indian cities I come across extremely brilliant thinkers with zero formal education who nevertheless ply rickshaws or work as unskilled labour. It is hardly out of the ordinary to find children who zing through complex puzzles and have natty imagination which does not let them into the portals of either the university or the jobs accessible to those who excel academically. Academics is not and ought not to be the sole criterion to an individual’s acumen. Surprisingly, educationists in India have refused to look into the matter where literacy has become an exercise to further repetitive and rote learning and to add to the archetonics of what ‘is’. Where is our sense of orality and the need to include the peripheral in the mainstream? Why is it that those who cannot read or write are not allowed the privilege to speak and engage the world of thought at large? Is it that as nation with a spiritual backyard we cannot take cognisance of the formally illiterate till they are marginalized or cornered into being a special case/ category that we can be savant saviours to?



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