Pranab da on “Nation, Nationalism, Patriotism” : ‘Let’s work for Peace, Harmony and Happiness’ ! Jai Hind!


Nation, Nationalism and Patriotism


Sarsanghchalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat Ji, Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen
1. Today, I’m here to share with you my understanding of the concepts of Nation, Nationalism and Patriotism in the context of India, that is Bharat. These three concepts are so closely intertwined that it is difficult to discuss any one of them in isolation.

2. Let us make a beginning by understanding the dictionary meaning of these three words. Nation is defined as ‘a large group of people sharing the same culture, language or history and inhabiting a particular state or area’. Nationalism is defined as ‘identification with one’s own nation and support for its interests especially to the exclusion of interests of other nations’. Patriotism is defined as ‘devotion to and vigorous support for one’s country’.

3. Let us look at our roots,
India was an open society, globally connected along the Silk and Spice Routes. These busy highways of commerce and conquest witnessed a free exchange of culture, faith and invention as merchants, scholars and sages traversed mountain and desert and sailed the oceans. Buddhism reached Central Asia, China and Southeast Asia together with Hindu influences . Ancient travelers like Megasthenes in the 4th century B.C., Fa Hien in the 5th century A.D. and Hiuen Tsang in the 7th century AD; when they came to India, wrote about the efficient administrative systems with planned settlements and good infrastructure. Takshashila, Nalanda, Vikramashila, Valabhi, Somapura and Odantapuri comprised the ancient university system that dominated the world for 1,800 years beginning the sixth century BCE. They were magnets for the finest minds and scholars in the world. In the liberal environment of these institutions creativity found full form and art, literature, and scholarship flourished. Chanakya’s Arthashastra, an authoritative text on state-craft was also written during this period.

4. India was a state long before the concept of the European Nation State gained ground after the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. This model- of a defined territory, a single language, shared religion and a common enemy- is the model which led to the formation of various nation states in Europe. On the other hand Indian Nationalism emanated from “Universalism” the philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम) and Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah, Sarve Santu Niramayah. We see the whole world as one family and pray for the happiness and good health of all. Our national identity has emerged through a long drawn process of confluence, assimilation, and co-existence. The multiplicity in culture, faith and language is what makes India special. We derive our strength from tolerance. We accept and respect our pluralism. We celebrate our diversity. These have been a part of our collective consciousness for centuries. Any attempt at defining our nationhood in terms of dogmas and identities of religion, region, hatred and intolerance will only lead to dilution of our national identity. Any differences that may appear are only on the surface but we remain a distinct cultural unit with a common history, a common literature and a common civilization . In the words of the eminent historian Vincent Smith, “India beyond all doubt possesses a deep underlying fundamental unity, far more profound than that produced either by geographical isolation or by political superiority. That unity transcends the innumerable diversities of blood, colour, language, dress, manners, and sect” .

5. If we take a quick look at history the emergence of the Indian State can be traced back to the sixteen Mahajanapadas mostly spread across Northern India in the 6th century BC. In the 4th century BC, Chandragupta Maurya defeated the Greeks to build a powerful empire comprising of North-Western and Northern India. Emperor Ashoka was the most illustrious ruler of this dynasty. After the collapse of the Mauryan Dynasty, the empire broke into small kingdoms around 185 BC. Gupta Dynasty again created a vast empire which collapsed around 550 AD. Many dynasties ruled till 12th century, when Muslim invaders captured Delhi and successive dynasties ruled for the next 300 years. Babur defeated the last Lodhi King in 1526 at the First Battle of Panipat and firmly established Mughal rule which continued for 300 years. The East India Company after winning the Battle of Plassey in 1757, and the Three Battles of Arcot (1746-63) brought a vast territory in East and South of India under its control. A large part of western region was also annexed to the company’s territory and to administer these territories, a modern form of government was established in 1774. To administer these territories, the office of Governor General at fort William, Calcutta and two sub-ordinate governors at Madras and Bombay were created. For nearly 140 years, Calcutta was the centre of British Authority in India. However, the responsibility of administration was taken away from the East India Company in 1858 and the Secretary of State for India was appointed in the British Cabinet to super intend the Indian Administration.

6. Throughout this period of 2500 years of changing political fortunes and conquests, the 5000 year old civilizational continuity remained unbroken. In fact, each conqueror and each foreign element had been absorbed to form a new synthesis and unity . Tagore in his poem ‘Bharat Teertha’ says and I quote “……No one knows at whose beckoning call how many streams, of humanity came in indomitable waves from all over the world, over the millennia and mingled like rivers, into this vast ocean and created an individual soul, that is called Bharat”.

7. The concept of Modern Indian State found frequent articulation by various Indian organizations including the Indian National Congress towards the end of nineteenth century. Starting with Shri Surendranath Banerjee in 1895 at Pune, all Congress Presidents gave a call for an Indian Nation comprising the territorial areas of British India and the territories of 565 princely states. When Bal Gangadhar Tilak gave voice to the phrase coined by Barrister Joseph Baptista “Swaraj is my Birthright and I shall have it”, he referred to Swaraj for the Indian People – encompassing various castes, creeds, and religions, spread across British India, and Princely States. This Nation and Nationalism was not bound by geography, language, religion, or race. As Gandhiji explained Indian nationalism was not exclusive, nor aggressive, nor destructive. It was this Nationalism that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru so vividly expressed in the ‘Discovery of India’, and I quote, “I am convinced that Nationalism can only come out of the ideological fusion of Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and other groups in India. That does not mean that extinction of any real culture of any group, but it does mean a common national outlook, to which other matters are subordinated”. In the process of our movement against British Rule, the various anti-colonial, anti-British and mostly progressive movements across the length and breadth of the country were unified into a cohesive national struggle for freedom, keeping the feeling of patriotism above their individual, ideological and political leanings.

8. We won independence in 1947. Thanks to the efforts of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the Princely States merged leading to the consolidation of India. The complete integration of Provincial and Princely States took place after the formation of states on the recommendation of States Re-organisation Commission.

9. On 26 January 1950, the Constitution of India came into effect. In a remarkable display of idealism and courage, we the people of India gave to ourselves a sovereign democratic republic to secure for all its citizens justice, liberty, and equality. We undertook to promote among all citizens fraternity, the dignity of the individual and the unity of the nation. These ideals became the lodestar of the modern Indian State. Democracy became our most precious guide towards peace and regeneration from the swamp of poverty created by centuries of colonial rule. For us, Democracy is not a gift, but a sacred trust. The Indian Constitution, consisting of 395 articles and 12 schedules, is not merely a legal document but a Magna Carta of socio-economic transformation of the country. It represents the hopes and aspirations of the billion plus Indians. From our constitution flows our nationalism. The construct of Indian nationalism is ‘Constitutional Patriotism’, which consists of an appreciation of our inherited and shared diversity; a readiness to enact one’s citizenship at different levels; the ability to self correct and learn from others .

Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I want to share with you some truths that I have internalized during my fifty year long public life, as a Parliamentarian and Administrator.
10. The soul of India resides in pluralism and tolerance. This plurality of our society has come through assimilation of ideas over centuries. Secularism and inclusion are a matter of faith for us. It is our composite culture which makes us into one nation. India’s Nationhood is not one language, one religion, one enemy. It is the ‘Perennial Universalism’ of 1.3 billion people who use more than 122 languages and 1600 dialects in their everyday lives, practice 7 major religions, belong to 3 major ethnic groups- Aryans, Mongoloids, and Dravidians live under one system, one flag and one identity of being ‘Bhartiya’ and have ‘No Enemies’. That is what makes Bharat a diverse and united nation.

11. In a democracy, informed and reasoned public engagement on all issues of national importance is essential. A dialogue is necessary not only to balance the competing interests but also to reconcile them. Divergent strands in public discourse have to be recognized. We may argue, we may agree, or we may not agree. But we cannot deny the essential prevalence of multiplicity of opinion. Only through a dialogue can we develop the understanding to solve complex problems without an unhealthy strife within our polity.

12. Peaceful co-existence, compassion, respect for life, and harmony with nature form the foundation of our civilization. Every time a child or woman is brutalized, the soul of India is wounded. Manifestations of rage are tearing our social fabric. Every day, we see increased violence around us. At the heart of this violence is darkness, fear, and mistrust. We must free our public discourse from all forms of violence, physical as well as verbal. Only a non-violent society can ensure the participation of all sections of people in the democratic process, especially the marginalized and the dispossessed. We must move from anger, violence, and conflict to peace, harmony, and happiness.

12 A. We have lived with pain and strife for long enough. You are young, disciplined, well trained and highly educated. Please wish for peace, harmony and happiness. Our Motherland is asking for that. Our Motherland deserves that.

13. Happiness is fundamental to the human experience of life. To lead healthy, happy, and productive lives is the basic right of our citizens. While we have done well on our economic growth indicators, we have fared poorly on the World Happiness Index. We rank 133 out of the 156 countries mapped in the World Happiness Report 2018. Kautilya’s Shloka from Arthashastra, inscribed near lift No. 6 in the Parliament House says:
प्रजासुखे सुखं राज्ञः प्रजानां च हिते हितम् ।
नात्मप्रियं हितं राज्ञः प्रजानां तु प्रियं हितम् ।।
In the happiness of the people lies the happiness of the king, their welfare is his welfare. He shall not consider as good only that which pleases him but treat as beneficial to him whatever causes happiness to all people. Kautilya points out in this shloka very succinctly that the State is for the people. People are at the centre of all activities of the state and nothing should be done to divide the people and create animosity amongst them. The aim of the state should be to galvanise them to fight a concerted war against poverty, disease and deprivation and to convert economic growth into real development. Let the objective of spreading Peace, Harmony and Happiness inform the formulation of our public policy and guide all the actions of our state and citizens in their everyday life. This and only this will be able to create a happy nation, where Nationalism flows automatically.
Thank You
*Jai Hind*


“Empowering to Excel,” Season 2, creates more magic at Dibrugrah University, Sept 17

Endeavaours at the Dibrugarh university are adding more magic to the students and the university, empowering them to excel in life. Post my last visit in August, I had shared a short write up, here is the next post. The Videos here share what a human being can gain, how one can transform in life, in just a matter of four days. It is all about the awakening that one goes through, discovering the purposefulness in life and with determination moves in the direction that he or she ought to move.

Enjoy listening to their reflections and sharing of their delightful transformations…

Here is a video that strings together short captures of many participants making their presentations, and engaging in public speaking, for the very first time in life. Look at their confidence.

Every presenter has worked in a group of complete strangers, from other departments of the university, to study an alien topic (the topics they never ever read or studied about – due to poor reading habits), discuss, engage, share and then create a presentation to engage larger public of aliens (other groups).

I gain a lot more inspiration from the whole exercise, as it reinforces my belief that it is possible to bring the transformation in a very short span of time. I believe, I can.

Modi, the GIR Lion’s attempt to breed in other states is now failing spectacularly; Bihar the latest!

As the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi did not want to part with the pride of Gujarat, GIR LION, with any other state. He opposed tooth and nail the efforts by environmentalists to conserve the fast disappearing species by breeding them in other naturally conducive habitats across the country. Modi wanted exclusivity of the species, and succeeded thus far.

Ironically, when it came to himself, post victory in Gujarat in 2012, the three-time crowned GIR LIONish CM, Narendra Modi laid his grand plans to breed everywhere and to conquer the Prime-Ministerial seat in Delhi. In no time, the RSS which always wanted to project itself as the savior of Mother India and Hinduism, sensing the week opposition and a strong candidate in Modi, threw its entire weight behind Modi with a scheme of conquering every state too. The RSS and BJP started flexing muscles. As part of that scheme, in JUNE 2013, BJP quits the Nitish Government in Bihar to make Nitish vulnerable.

Shrugging the discussions of other possible contenders within BJP, Modi bulldozed everyone in the party to head in the direction of Delhi. With all the corruption tags hanging around him, the credibility-lost and power-bereft then PM, Manmohan Singh, became easy bait for the hungry GIR lion! And to his credit, Modi managed to pick issues of development and elimination of corruption that resonated with vast majority, harped endlessly, to sweep the election and realize his dream of occupying the PMs Chair.

Let us realize our potential and help others to realize!

Believe in your own brand; do not vacillate…

The grand scheme of conquering every state election since then has been successful to a considerable extent, albeit not as spectacular as RSS and BJP thought they would. The BJP realized it was not without the ills that affect any other political party, as they attempted to ‘install’ the CMs even in the safe states of Maharashtra and Haryana!

In, May 2014, Nitish quits as CM of Bihar owning up the responsibility of the debacle in Bihar in the general elections. It was a clever ploy to bounce back, later, with elections round the corner. In Jitan Ram Manjhi, a fellow minister in his ministry (a prominent leader of economically backward class), Nitish thought he found a milder candidate and was instituted as the CM. In all probability, Nitish saw him as his ‘yes man’ and thought he would give the CM’s post back to him at an appropriate time before the general elections in Bihar. Unfortunately it was not to be…

Since the national elections of May 2014, the chest thumping Gir Lion found its match in Delhi. Modi made re-election in Delhi after the Feb 2014 mixed verdict, a very prestigious issue for himself. Every decision – the timing of elections, projection of candidates, and the possible CM candidate – was his. He could not fathom the Feb 2014 debacle. He wanted to leave his stamp. It was Modi-Modi everywhere. Unfortunately, it was a rout for him – the decimation coming within less than a year of the grand- national victory. Modi has not digested that loss still. It is obvious from the way his government has been reacting with the legitimately elected government of AAP in Delhi. That is another story to dwell upon separately.

So the Bihar elections became more or less, an election of prestige for Modi. He wanted to reassert his status. Modi personally prepared the schema to conquer Bihar with his commander-in-chief, Amit Shah.

The power-tasted, Jitan Ram Manjhi, who did not want to let the ‘hard-earned’ and elusive CM seat go, fell into the Amit Shah’s well laid out BJP trap. Manjhi was inveigled, coaxed, manipulated to take on Nitish, to create a scenario to show that EBCs are looked down upon by the dominant political forces of Bihar, especially Nitish, seen as messiah by Bihar population for his development work. This scenario had to be created, as BJP, which is identified as a ‘Brahmin and upper-caste party’, had to be made an ‘inclusive one’ – the Shah’s version of ‘social-re-engineering’. Finally, JAM party of Majhi, always opportunistic Paswan, and the fourth dimension of Khuswah became the torch bearers of the ‘marginalized’ in the caste bouquet that Shah put together for the Bihar elections.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi went all out in the Bihar elections. All publicity and hoardings that sprang up everywhere in the first couple of phases in Bihar had only Modi and Shah gracing. Sushil Modi, the face of BJP in the last 10 years was not to be seen anywhere. It was war, to be won.

The honoroble Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi addressed 31 rallies, unprecedented, in the course of the Bihar Assembly elections beginning July 25. His commander-in-chief, Amit Shah, lived in Patna for almost 45 days, accounted for significant numbers. The propound-er of grand slogans of “Development”, “Make in India”, “Digital India” started with focus on development, even announced the long pending special package at the opening ‘Bhashan’. But in no time, the underlying schema came to the fore. His speeches moved to caste-centricity and then took rabid religious overtones. Around end-October, in a reference to his backward origins, Modi referred to his “ati-pichhda (extremely backward) mother’s womb”, moving from OBC card he had played in all elections till then.

Let us track the fall of BRAND GIR LION in Bihar…

  • Between July 25 and mid-October, Modi held 12 rallies across Bihar spoke more about development and not have Jungle Raj again. But soon realized that the people of Bihar have certainly seen development under Nitish in the last 10 years. My visits to Patna and hinterland in the last five years more or less told me that people are happy the way things have moved under Nitish, though they wish to have more. The state was far away from Lallu’s so-called ‘jungle raj’ that Modi tried to portray.
  • Modi speeches became acerbic and personal, unbecoming of the PM. Modi said, “There is no yardstick where Bihar can stand tall before India. If it is, it is in crime, kidnapping and guntrotting.” Having earlier referred to the “Bihari DNA”, he kept criticizing the state on various indices, saying it had the worst poverty in India and its 60 years of government had done nothing. . At times the voters even felt that he is abusing the “Bihari pride.” I wonder how Modi did not realize the presence of Bihari babus in the vast CIVIL SERVICES that his government is chugging on!
  • On September 21, Bhagwat’s remark on having relook at the caste quota criteria. All hell broke loose in the Lion’s Den. Traditionally, Bihar perceived as caste-sensitive state, and the LIONs from Gujarat thought that the Bhagwat’s remark may back-fire, and their narration changed completely. In the subsequent 19 rallies, messiah of development, MODI ditched his pet theme and his caste and personal poverty became a dominant theme.
  • October 25, Patna: “I often think that if Babasaheb Ambedkar had not been there, what would have happened to me? Ek ati-pichhdi maa ki kokh se paida hua, chai bechkar bada hua, ladka aaj yahan kaise pauncha (Born of the womb of an extremely backward mother, grown up selling tea, how did this boy reach so far)?” Modi said. [The PR story of a tea-seller got further stretched ;)]
    • Later that day in Nalanda, he again invoked his “ati-pichhda” origin, adding, “The son of a chaiwallah became the Prime Minister.”
    • At Marhaura (Chhapra) hours later, Modi talked about his childhood experience of “selling tea on trains”. “When I sold tea in my childhood, sometimes such a babu would come… he would thrash us, throw us out of the train. I remember (it).”
  • October 26, Buxar: Now it became a game of polarization of the highest kind. Modi, the Prime-Minister who did not denounce the ‘beef’ killings even once in the two weeks of national outrage, suddenly brings religion into his speeches. He said Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad had earlier demanded religion-based reservation. “A ghost of reservation is being erected,” he said, accusing Nitish, Lalu and Sonia Gandhi of “framing a sinister plan”, “conspiring to snatch 5 per cent reservation each from Dalits, Mahadalits, pichhdon and ati-pichhdon and give it to (members of) other religion”. Astounding to see the guardian of the nation falling to the depths, all for the votes!
  • October 30, Gopalganj: Referring to the Congress and Nitish, Lalu rules in Bihar for 60 years, Modi said, “I recently visited a labour colony in Dubai. Of all the labourers I met there, the maximum were from Bihar.” Modi needs to get the stats right !!
  • On November 1, Madhubani, he said, “Look at the condition of Bihar today. On per capita income, education and per capita power consumption, Bihar is at 29th rank in India… What all should I count? Jharkhand was a part of yours, but after separation it has moved ahead.”
  • November 2, Forbesganj: The PM reiterated that Lalu and Nitish wanted reservation on religious grounds. “Take it from Dalits, Adivasis. Pichhdon se le lo, ati-pichhdon se le lo, aur unko de do. Are you fooling backwards? Are you fooling Dalits?”
  • November 2, Darbhanga: Modi talked about the “Darbhanga module” and accused the Nitish government of sheltering terrorists. “Some people were running the module here,” he said, adding that when a “brave Dalit police officer tried to investigate, they forced the Dalit kanya to leave”.

This constant targeting of Bihar continued even after Nitish turned the contest into a “Bahari vs Bihari” fight. The Bihar pride was too much to take all this, I suppose..

Modi and Shah made the same mistakes that they made in Delhi. Nothing learnt from that disaster, while Nitish deployed all the techniques of warfare, aka AAP – localizing the war with sort of Mohalla-sabhas apart from over 450 rallies that Lallu and Nitish addressed.

I wonder how midway through the elections Kejriwal shared that the BJP will be losing badly? I too was skeptical. It seemed to be a lot closer…..… His prophecy came true…. All those who trolled were shocked for sure!

The real reason of this disastrous performance lies in the “lack of self-belief” of Brand Modi, that brought “inconsistency” in message narration (slide from development…caste…religion..terror). A totally confused brand. How can Modi restore his brand appeal to everyone? Only way is to stick and deliver on DEVELOPMENT… nothing else. It is going to get tougher going ahead as the LION has been caged twice!

(Data from various newspaper articles, including IE’s article on what Modi said during various phases of Bihar elections)

Re-igniting the youth – LAMP Fellowships – gain insights into Indian Policy Making and Parliamentary System

A couple of things that really struck me during the Aam Aadmi Party’s ascendancy in the political space recently are –
A. Politics is getting to be more democratized, in the sense, youth, in general, is considering politics as a very challenging and potential career; They are looking at it as a means to bring about the change that they wish to see in the policies that can impact the society and the life of larger public;
B. Youth is keen to make the difference; They are not bystanders and they want to contribute and not lament. From that sense, volunteerism has again come to the fore in the last 4-5 years – India’s Action against Corruption (IAC) and the AAP movement that emerged from there, in the wake of political parties challenging the IAC to bring the change by joining politics.
This significant outlook has emerged once again after almost half a century of indifference, especially among the Indian youth. When I was thinking about it, I felt perhaps the 1960s -70s -80s, laid emphasis on being self-reliant and the Indian youth chased careers, and most of the developments happened because of this shift the Indian youth made then, and they went on to make telling contributions in both national and international scenarios.
With liberalization of 1991, the global outlook that the last generation gained over that last 2-3 decades, has enabled them to pass on to the subsequent generation, a spirit of exploration – within and without – to really know what this generation wants to do in life. So, I see, a great deal of opportunities open for the youth. One of the exciting possibilities that help youth to explore the nation, is through the eyes of the Indian Parliamentarians via PRS’ LAMP Fellowships. Take a look here.

About the LAMP Fellowship (from the site)

The Legislative Assistants to Members of Parliament (LAMP) Fellowship was conceptualized by PRS to create a platform for young Indians to engage with policy making at the national level. The LAMP Fellowship started on a pilot basis in 2010 in collaboration with the Constitution Club of India.
The LAMP Fellowship provides an opportunity for young Indians to be mentored by a Member of Parliament. The LAMP Fellows work full time with the assigned MP for a period of eleven months, from the beginning of the Monsoon session to the end of the Budget session of Parliament. Throughout the eleven months, the LAMP Fellow works closely with the MP, providing extensive research support for his/her parliamentary work.
Typically, LAMP Fellows could find themselves researching topics as diverse as defence, food security, environment, economics and foreign affairs. Though the primary role of a LAMP Fellow is to support an MP’s Parliamentary work, Fellows also have an opportunity to get exposed to constituency related matters. Forty fellows are selected every year in the last two years, from the earlier 12. Under the Fellowship, Fellows will also engage with policy makers and experts from diverse sectors through participation in workshops on important policy and development issue that the country faces today.
This program has opened immense career opportunities for each of the fellows. Several LAMP Fellows have pursued advanced degrees in political science, public policy, and media/communications. Others have chosen to work in areas such as political consulting, public relations, and the development sector. Some Fellows have continued to support the work of other MPs. Many of these fellows have their eyes set on taking their leap into active politics, which certainly bodes well for a young nation like India.

Visit LAMP Fellowships on PRS Website
Just believe in yourself, the world will be at your feet – Swami Vivekananda.

Cocktail of Money, Politics and Media – How it is affecting the real INDIA : P. Sainath, eminent journalist

I have always been enlightened by reading P.Sainath’s articles, including his celebrated book, “Everybody loves a good drought”. I came across one video interview of his and it led to quite few. I felt like sharing here…

Kindly check out this initiative of P.Sainath, Rural India Online, that brings in reports from hundreds of journalists whose articles are not entertained by main stream newspapers. It is a treasure trove. Kindly go through for awakening the self.

Connected Bharat, Enabled Bharat, Empowered Bharat – An article for digitalEARNING Magazine!

Here was the request that came from the magazine, “After years of discussion and deliberations the ambitious ‘Digital India’ programme has been announced. What is the first step/initiative/challenges that you will address or take towards realising this goal, specifically in the field of EDUCATION?
I would request you to provide me a quote of around 100/words, along with the details mentioned below and a high resolution photograph.

Name: R. Sreenivasan;    Designation: Chief Innovation Officer; Co-Founder

Organisation: CL Educate”

————– My article to the request…..

I would want to call it, ‘Connected Bharat, Enabled Bharat, Empowered Bharat’ rather than DIGITAL INDIA. India has been in the digital era for the last three decades with only the URBAN INDIA making something out of it, and to some extent impacting larger masses too. We have had significant success in rail reservation, telephony etc, but mostly the service providers made use of it to deliver reasonably better services.

Now, the mobile revolution, especially the smart phone capability, in the hands of the ‘AAM ADMI’ is making the big difference now. I can see the impact happening in Education, Health and Sanitation, transportation while being connected with families live 24X7 from anywhere.

Having been at the forefront of web and related technology in the education space since 2000, I see now, the light at the end of the tunnel that we have been passing through over the last decade, to reach out to the real masses. The last mile connectivity is getting cleared now with Mobile technologies empowering their finger tips and their endeavours.

CL Educate started delivering live, interactive courses empowering Indian Children who used to log in from their homes in the middle-east (Indian expatriate population) in 2001 and have been doing so with fair amount of success since then. I can vividly recall one of the faculty, Mr. Pankaj Kumar, taking a session over the web,  on botany with a lot of animation built in, from his home in Patna, and students in Dubai, Manama and Kuwait city were enchanted and enthralled! Since then we have facilitated hundreds of children from the Middle-east to reach the sought after portals of IITs and IIMs and also the best of the universities abroad. Pankaj Kumar and his colleague, VM Sharma are reaching out to children in the remotest schools of Andamans, now!

Only in the last 4-5 years we have been able to generate the same momentum in India through better last-mile web connectivity, with about 3000-4000 students regularly logging in from homes across the country to attend one single session from the best of the masters in the test-prep space. But what is really transforming today, is the mobility – any time, any where – possibility. This year we have been able to reach tens of thousands with mobile apps within twenty four hours of launch of the courses on the apps – Truly enabling every Indian.

This morning when, I wrote this article, and was to upload on my website, I noticed a huge spurt, that happened yesterday, in the visitors on my site ! and I amended this article!!

Webgraph sreeni-vert


Over 900 visitors hitting the site in one single hour, to read an article on Piyush Tiwari and his endeavour, SAVE LIFE FOUNDATION –”. Most of these hits have been from mobile, immediately after watching a reference to Piyush on television in the programme, “SATYAMEVA JAYATE”, powered by Amir Khan. So television and mobile together created this tsunami on

Similarly, classes on the web and mobiles in hand to attend them and respond, creates quite a few tsunamis, every now and then!!

These tsunamis are bound to grow in magnitude pretty soon. I see the mobility dimension impacting the real masses with every human being in the remotest part of the country enabled. If we are able to ‘power’ the country with alternate sources of energy – solar charging panels, solar powered lights etc, then the boundaries will vanish sooner. There are endeavours in that direction by brilliant set of ‘energy’ enablers.

If world class education facilitation reaches every family, the nation will be enabled and empowered. We are heading in the right direction. We will see the impact in the next three to four years; 2020 will see a different dawn!

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looking forward to your feedback. Humble thanks.

DU first cut-off list…… Was on DD News Night : What should be the way ahead for INDIA?

Sreeni was in the panel discussion on Delhi University cut-offs of 2014 and way ahead …

Once again it was that time of year when the Delhi University announced the first cut-offs for various colleges under it, late last night and was made public this morning by the newspapers.

This year was more special because the date for announcing was deferred following the chaos created by the UGC vs DU wrangle on scrapping Four YEAR undergrad prog! UGC under the very same Chairperson who was praising the FYUP last year, did a volte-face on FYUP this year. The govt changed and so did the sing-song! When will our ‘EDUCATION LEADERS’ and ‘POLITICAL LEADERS’ see education as key to eradication of all ills? As long as education system is a tool in their hands for personal fights and glory, nothing can improve.

Anyways, after the roll back of FYUP, the cut-offs were announced and lo behold, again 100% was the cut-off for a few courses in a couple of not so sought-after colleges! How? Why?

Doordarshan had called me to be on the panel to discuss the issue of DU cut-off list this year. In the DD studios I was with Dr. Pradhyuman Sharma, Principal, The Hindu college in the Hindi news bulletin, while I was with Dr. Varshney, Dean, Student affairs, South Campus of Delhi University in the English bulletin; while Mr. Ashok Ganguli, ex-chairperson, CBSE linked from Lucknow; We also had a student, who have had tough times in the DU admission process, in each of the bulletin, in the studios.

Issues discussed –

High cut-offs? When students get 100% in Psychology and English, obviously the colleges have to keep the cut-offs at the maximum. Otherwise they may be inundated with so many forms and if they have to accept all of those who apply, then they had it. I got to know during the interactions, that a couple colleges were at the receiving end last year – over 1200 had to be admitted, when they thought an in-take of 180 for a particular course, as the college’s cutoff was low! So colleges are playing safe this year.

Mr Ashok Ganguli spoke – in the CBSE results, over 60000 student scored more than 92% in Maths; many got 100% in English! He was talking about the grace marks being given, liberal corrections etc that has made it worse..

Education and Curriculum! Should our school education not orient towards skills and problem solving than rote learning and re-production. That is the only way to get out of this madness of 100% scores and Merit lists!! And get students with capabilities into higher education..

Applications : Every student hedges. Most students do not really know what they want to do in life. Hence they apply to inexplicable number of courses in as many colleges..This year there were 2,75,000+ applications for mere 54000 seats…. In all possibility the number of applicants may be 1.5 lakh, if we consider each one applying for multiple courses / colleges!

Elimination vs Selection Why should the DU admissions be an elimination process? why cannot it be a selection process? why should it not have entrance exams for every course? In fact, the existing entrance exams for courses in English, Journalism too got abolished!! The entrance exams may get even not so high-scorers in board, but better off for the course!

Why only Delhi? Why should DU get applicants from Dibrugarh, Ladakh, Pondicherry, chennai, Bangalore……. Is Delhi University, only centre for excellence? Do we as a nation lack any other centre of excellence?

  • In the nation rankings of colleges, about only 20% of the colleges from DU come in the list, eighty percent are from other centres of excellence. Then why such a rush to Delhi? Should we convert a few of those outstanding colleges across the country to convert into universities with a few more colleges under their wings to mentor to increase their quality and standings.
  • Is it the eco-system around the Delhi University that is most attractive and productive? or Is it a life-style choice? Is it the centre-of-power of the nation….Is there more opportunities here for student?

More colleges? Is having more colleges in Delhi university the solution? How many more colleges will we have? Should you convert top colleges into universities with multiple campuses across the country?

Why only a few courses?  Do only these courses offer potential employment? Is it a flock mindset? How do we counsel and mentor students, their parents and families to opt for those courses and subjects that the students have natural flair for? Can the universities / colleges work with schools to help them facilitate this process? Should it not be the role of every faculty / professor to mentor students in the class?

Entry of TOP foreign universities a solution? This has been lying in the cold storage for a long time. With middle-class families having more and more disposal income in their hand, with crunch of quality colleges, are looking at top universities of the world. Indians spend about $20 billion annually to get their education abroad! The universities abroad are eyeing Indians along with Chinese to fill their coffers! Will these families look at the best of the colleges setting up campuses in India? Of course, there are issues of – which universities will come to India? What is the pricing point at which families lap it up? How will we ensure quality of world standard? How will we attract the FACULTY of that caliber?

Is TECHNOLOGY the way ahead? The numbers in the future are going to increase for sure, with 75% of the population expected to be under the age of 24 by 2020! The problem is going to get compounded as we go along. Should as a nation we not look for solutions that will address this issue. This can be addressed with a two pronged approach –

Can we not lay emphasis on exit exams than the entrance gates?

  • Can we not allow students to apply for any course of his or her choice irrespective of what scores they get?
  • Can we not create Exit examination tough enough to award only those who are really good.
  • Let the duration of the program be decided by the quality of the student… one may finish the program in two years, while a few may take even 7-10 years

Can we have an outstanding HYBRID model (BEAM-CLICK-Brick & Mortar) with a huge emphasis in virtual facilitation

  • Pool the outstanding faculty talent from across the country to create / can video sessions on every subject and upload on the web to access
  • Have all the contents / notes online for students to peruse and study
  • Have doubt clearing sessions live with faculty to interact ; thousands can attend these sessions at one go, with a good mechanism
  • Have surprise tests, short and long tests, and track performances
  • Unsatisfactory performances should compel the student to repeat that segment/course of the programme
  • There can be a few contact sessions with eminent faculty…

For me it will not be a wonder if quite a few who undergo the technology-facilitated programme out-perform those who are admitted to campus-based  programmes. I have had an exposure of over 14 years in this space of tech-facilitated learning and I can vouch for this way! Indeed there will be a great opposition for this model – one of the co-panelist was very vehement! But that is the way… Best of the world universities (MIT, Stanford, Harvard…) are going on to this platform, launching their MOOCs – ….. Phoenix set the tone!

Our own IITs and IISc came together to initiate NPTEL ( to provide learning resources to Engineering students from those engineering colleges across the country that lack quality faculty and learning resources. This can be made more interesting and compelling…… by integrating with compulsory hands-on-learning with SMEs in such a way that the students get practical exposure while the SMEs get keen manpower….

We certainly need someone at the HRD ministry with a grand vision for our nation! Else we will be doing the delta changes and will go back and forth with protestations coming from all directions. This government has a mandate, it needs to take those bold steps to make a bit difference to the real driver – EDUCATION – for the nation’s excellence in every space.

I rest my thoughts here…..kindly share your thoughts here …

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