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The first scholar, the first advice

Change Indian education system from primary and secondary level for a better India: take this and more from Professor Devendra Kaushik, winner of `Order of Friendship': highest Russian Government award for a foreigner. SANJEEV CHAUDHARY < /I>speaks to the scholar... .

Professor Devendra Kaushik.

FROM RUSSIA with love, don't get confused, it has nothing to do with James Bond movie but it is about Professor Devendra Kaushik, a well-known Indian scholar and a widely acclaimed doyen of Central Asian and Russian studies in India. He has been awarded with the "Order of Friendship", highest Russian Government award for a foreigner, for his contribution to the development of friendship and cultural cooperation between the people of Russia and India. His name now joins the list of people like I. K. Gujral, Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer, Mrinal Sen, Mahathir who received this prestigious award earlier.

This recipient of Soviet Land Nehru Award has authored more than 15 books about developments in Russia and Central Asia besides over a hundred research articles and papers, which have been acclaimed nationally and internationally. He enjoys travelling, classical, folk music and meeting ordinary people. He is also considered an unofficial ambassador of developing friendship and cultural cooperation between India, Central Asia and Russia.

"Eurasian Vision", edited by Prof. Mahavir Singh and Victor Krassilchtchikov was launched recently to felicitate the 70th birthday of this eminent orientalist and connoisseur of Central India. The book sheds interesting light on the ongoing process of reforms and changes in Russia and Central Asia, the problems and prospects of relations between India and Russia, India and China and India and Central Asia. The book also deals with the perils and pitfalls of the present day unipolar world and discusses the imperative need for cooperation between India, Russia and China to create a new multipolar world order.

It was an attraction to historical and cultural ties of erstwhile Soviet Union and Central Asia, developed during his visits in the mid-`50s, that inspired him to do the Ph.D. on Central Asia. He is credited as the first Indian- Government sponsored scholar for research in social sciences on a subject related to Soviet history. Ask him about Indian education system, he sounds dissatisfied. "Education system inherited from the British Raj has undergone only cosmetic changes in the name of education reforms. It has failed to meet the challenges of development in India, of character building, training for good citizenship of a vibrant democracy and has failed to provide a vocational base," says, this UGC Emeritus Fellow at the Jawaharlal Nehru University. He offers a way out, "The need of the time is to call for a serious attention for an excellent universal national primary and secondary education, which is the reservoir for higher education."

This former chairman of the Executive Council of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies, Kolkata and Editor-in-chief of a research journal, "Contemporary Central Asia" is busy working on his next book, "The Russian Labyrinth: From Perestroika to Putin", which will cover developments in the erstwhile USSR and its successor state Russia since Gorbachev launched his reforms. It also critically examines the real motive behind the reforms and analyses the causes and consequences of the disintegration of the Soviet Union. "The disintegration of the Soviet Union was a result of combination of both subjective and objective factors. The collapse was not inevitable and could have been averted through timely correctives. And now it is a question of academic interest and hope to set the record straight on the basis of well-documented evidence," he declares.

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