Essay on the contribution of universities to national life

Universities in all countries supply the best brains to the nation. The brilliant graduates and post-graduates which every good university is turning out every year are filling in which credit most of the responsible posts in the public services and professions and even in trades and industries. Of course, we would never say that there are no exceptions. There may be several persons who have had no university education in their life and yet who have turned our to be some of the best businessmen. We have got the living examples in our own country of Dalmia, Birla, Singhania, Thaper, Sri Ram, Chetia, Tata, Mukherjee, Sarkar and many others who have made a mark in various trades and industries but who had very little university education. Universities prepare teachers, engineers, administrators, lawyers, physicians and also politicians and diplo­mats. Now-a-days, commercial and industrial universities are preparing also many shrewd and successful businessmen who help the development of trades and industries, commercial and other enterprises that strengthen the finances of the nation, and enhance its international position.

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So far our country is concerned, our universities have been producing mostly teachers and clerks or at most some third rate administrators, lawyers, physicians, engineers and politicians but no businessmen worth the name. The chief reason is that during the British Rule the policy of the government was not to give real education but to turn out mere clerks for doing only routine work for purposes of trade and administration. The English people came to our country as traders although they ultimately settled down as administrators; and naturally, their real motive of educating us was nothing but to help the office work always in a subordinate position and not to hold the reins of administra­tion or to compete with our masters in trade or industries.

During the British Rule, most of the universities in India used to impart knowledge only of Arts and not of the sciences, and there was no encourage­ment of any kind of technical or vocational education. Consequently, all the best or worst brains of our country were wasted on the pursuit of merely general education, which was practically of no use to life and which made the people hunters and court unemployment and despair. If sciences were taught in the universities these were only in theory without any application to trade or industries, and, therefore, scientific study or research of any kind during the British Rule was nothing but a mockery. Even the science graduates and post-graduates had no other job to do than that of a clerk or a teacher, or at most a physician or an engineer in government or private service.


But with the advent of our political independence, our outlook on education and learning has totally changed and we are trying to make our university education thoroughly practical and useful for our struggle for existence. During the last fifty years we have opened several scientific laboratories for research work, many polytechnic institutions, a few work­shops, mills and factories for industrial and commercial developments. The courses of study are being revised and adapted to our new objectives by most of the universities which were formerly following stereotyped and completely useless syllabi. These changes are being constantly reviewed and improved by our Education Commissions and other competent bodies from time to time.

Of course, much has yet to be done in the direction of university education. For all these years, our country has been frightfully busy solving many knotty problems of the native states, of the Zamindaries and the Taluqdaries, and chiefly, of the food grains and the clothing material in which our country was abnormally lacking immediately after the partition. Our government is busy at present more with the industrial programmes than with the problem of education, although in our opinion, education should have the priority over every other problem. But unfortunately, education has so far received only a step-motherly attention from the Union and the State Governments, probably because we Indians have not yet been able to realize that education is the real backbone of national life.

The standard of education in our universities is comparatively much lower than that of the foreign universities. Unless we raise the standard, our universities will fail to contribute any good brains or skill to our nation. The most potent cause of the falling standard is our national language as the medium of instruction and examination in all our universities. Unfortunately, during the whole of the British Rule in India we were taught very little although we could learn many more things through the medium of the English language, but now, even that medium which is the most important source of knowledge of both Science and Arts is now being denied to us on national or patriotic grounds.

Then again, our national language has not as yet developed any standard literature or produced any standard book of any of the useful sciences which would be able to replace or compensate the absence of the English books on various subjects. Nobody can tell how many years our national language will take to be sufficiently useful for our advanced studies in every branch of human knowledge and particularly for scientific and industrial development. Unless our national language grows rich enough like the English language, we are afraid that our universities will not be able to contribute much to our national life, because the graduates and post-graduates that we shall be turning out every year are very likely to grow weaker and poorer day-by-day. For at least a quarter of a century, our university education will fall much behind and our younger generation will considerably deteriorated in intellectual energy and material progress.

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