‘India’s diverse and pluralistic society is a great strength and must be preserved’

“Striking a balance between the pursuit of quality and excellence, and the imperative need to make education accessible at all levels in a progressive, modern sense is the biggest challenge Indian education is facing today,” said N. Ram, former Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu and Director of Kasturi and Sons Ltd.

Quality and accessibility, excellence and affordability, aiming high and throwing the doors wide open should not be seen as contradictory and conflicting even if it is easier to reconcile these goals in principle than in practice, he said, participating in the 10 anniversary celebrations of Sreenidhi International School here, on Sunday.

Recalling Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen’s attention to the gaps, inequalities and imbalances in Indian education and the huge social, economic and moral costs involved over the last three decades, Mr. Ram said that the great economist had indicted educational progress for being ‘incredibly slow and unbelievably unequal’. This was despite dazzling success in software development and developing excellent capabilities in frontier fields like biotechnology.

Drawing attention to value-based education, Mr. Ram said that India’s diverse and pluralistic society was a great strength and must be preserved. “Diversity and plurality are derived from our history as a wonderful, ancient civilisation. Any attempt to ride roughshod over these works against the fabric of nationhood and national integration should be prevented.”

Mr. Ram termed ‘secularism’ as a value in itself as well as an instrumentality for holding India together, uniting its people and concentrating on developmental challenges. Arguing in favour of practising secularism, he said it was deeply rooted in the ethos of the Indian freedom struggle and in the Constitution. So practising the idea of ‘majoritarianism’ was totally unacceptable, he said, and asked youngsters to be wary of exploitation of religion for political benefits.

Mr. Ram also appreciated the scientific and social values being inculcated among the Sreenidhi students and referred to the donation of solar panels to a government school by students. Pleased with the presentation of a dance ballet by the students, based on Rabindranath Tagore’s writings, Mr. Ram also recalled Tagore’s ideas of science and technology in relation to humanity.

Sreenidhi Principal, V. Srinivasan, explained that the school emphasised on producing ‘rounded individuals’. The academic atmosphere is such that there is no fear of education among children.

Sreenidhi chairman K.T. Mahi said the school believed in the fact that holistic education doesn’t exist only in books but in the overall development of the child. Ssarithha Katikaneni, Executive Director also spoke on the occasion. Earlier, Mr. Ram released a poster of the school’s upcoming festival. Later, students presented cultural programmes based on Rabindranath Tagore’s works.

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