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An extraordinary teacher remembered

By Our Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI, JAN. 12. It was an evening to remember Sarup Singh -- a man who introduced many to the joys of William Shakespeare in Delhi University. With his "real" family -- the academic community -- coming out on a cold winter day to keep alive his memory at the first Dr. Sarup Singh Memorial Lecture here on Tuesday, it was certainly a tribute to his teaching ability.

Remembering Dr. Sarup Singh, Union External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh said: "I got to know him through literature. His English was impeccable. I liked his simplicity and his benign cynicism for the political world around him. He was an authority on Shakespeare and his book on him is widely read in many universities.''

Delivering the lecture on "Four Pillars of Education'', the Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Karan Singh, said: "Inner awakening is required for real learning. The first pillar is learning to know. There has been a massive explosion of knowledge in the last 15 years. It is said that in the last five years information has doubled. This tsunami of information can knock people off their feet. It is important to sift out knowledge from the information and put it to creative use.''

It was also essential to upgrade knowledge, he stated. Adding that a lot of the physics and mathematics that studied in school was obsolete, he stated that teachers must also upgrade their skills.

"The question is have we learnt to know? Education is a life long exercise and the old belief that after school or college education ends is not true anymore. Scientists have shown that learning happens from the time the child is in the womb. It continues till death which is the greatest learning experience of life. But the first step to education is learning to know in which we discriminate between the essential and the unessential," he stated.

The second pillar of education was learning to do, asserted Dr. Singh. "I think India is the easiest country to get college education. We have thousands of young people who are educated, but don't have anything to do. The capacity to do is also an essential part of learning. There should be many more industrial training institutes so that children have something to do. Otherwise children drift mindlessly into college,'' he stated.

Stating that learning to live together is the third pillar of education, Dr. Singh said that this was important to work together in an increasingly globalised world.

"Scientists have made it possible for the world to be smaller, but we are still stuck with pre-gobalised mindsets, which has led to fundamentalism and terrorism. If we are going to survive we must stop this hatred in the name of religion and politics,'' he asserted.

Learning to live together would be possible only if the right values were taught by families, he added. "The family is the first school and consideration, courtesy and helpfulness are values that must be taught here,'' he said.

Claiming that inter-faith values were also important, Dr. Singh emphasised that India was a land of plurality and multiculturalism. "It is also essential that we impart environmental values to the children. Many species of animals have become extinct in this generation and children must be taught that nature is sacred,'' he added.

The last pillar was learning to be stated Dr. Singh adding: "Learning to be means to realise that the inner quest is as significant as the outer journey. People should realise that life is not a meaningless journey but a unique opportunity for spirituality."

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