18 April, 2021

OPINION | Our Society Loves Kota's 'Education Shops', Not Tagore's Shantiniketan

Professor Avijit Pathak sees an organised attack on Jawaharlal Nehru University. He wonders why there is a mood of skepticism towards humanities

OPINION | Our Society Loves Kota's 'Education Shops', Not Tagore's Shantiniketan

When instrumental interests invade the lifeworld and the meaning of ­education is reduced to mere consumption of market-friendly techno-managerial skills, we begin to experience a threat to the core principles of democracy: a spirit of dialogue, a critical pedagogy capable of deconstucting the ‘official truth’, and a mode of living enlightened by heightened sensitivity and the interpretative art of understanding the psychic, cultural and spiritual domain of existence. The one-dimensional thought that emanates from a mix of scientism, technocracy and consumerism, to use Herbert Marcuse’s prophetic words, breeds the ground for a ‘new form of social control’.

It is in this context that I see the implications of an organised attack on JNU—an institution known for its critically nuanced social sciences and philosophically enriched humanities. Destroying JNU is like annihilating the possibility of the cultivation of a mind that can engage with, say, George Orwell and Michel Foucault, and evolve a sharp critique of the normalisation of...

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