Is it parochial to talk in terms of a ‘national’ or ‘regional’ or ‘local’ education? Or is it patriotic? I am inclined to believe that the two terms are, in fact, on the opposite ends of a continuum. Whereas one may be considered desirable, the other is regarded with disfavour. A value such as ‘patriotism’ dwindles to impoverished ‘parochialism’ when a-jnana [or ignorance] is sought to be removed, not with jnana [knowledge] but, rather, with viparita-jnana [perverse knowledge].
From Kashmir’s Kshemendra to Karnataka’s Rev. Kittel, from the ecosystem of Kavaratti in Lakshwadeep to the freedom fighters of Khonoma in Nagaland – our country has a treasure trove of knowledge waiting to be discovered. Let us ‘Indianise’ our textbooks – it is time we did – but infusing textbooks with untested claims and over-enthusiastic assertions of greatness are as much perversions of knowledge as attempts at subversion, dilution or evasion.
Let us, for a start, enjoy listening to, reading, translating and dramatising songs and stories that have come to us since times immemorial in our nation’s many mother tongues [The recently published People’s Linguistic Survey of India put the number of spoken languages in India at 780]. When any one language dies, it is death for a slice of knowledge – of recipes, festivities, Gods, myths and medicines. With every language preserved, on the other hand, the cultural wealth of our country grows.