Friday, August 27, 2010


An Analysis of the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) faced by the people of


Ramesh N. Desai & Bharat R. Dholakia

Bihar has been in the news for all the wrong reasons such as floods, droughts, Bhagalpur bljndings, caste clashes, Naxalite attacks, personal animosity- the list can be long.

India is a land of diversity in terms of language, culture, customs, religion, festivals and a host of others. Some people are with the times-progressive. Many others are unfortunately not so for a variety of reasons. For sociologists and psychologists, the study of these issues in respect of Bihar and Biharis in the form of a SWOT Analysis may be of interest. This study has been made by outsiders with some experience of working in Bihar.It has been done in as balanced a manner as possible.


1. They are extremely intelligent.
2. Have a logical and argumentative brain.
3. Proud to be Biharis.
4. Extremely competitive. There is a large no. of Biharis in civil services such as IAS, IPS etc.
5. Very perseverant.
6. Strong caste affinity.
7. Conscious of their rights.
8. Love values in OTHERS and respect outsiders with values.
9. Blessed with highly fertile land, huge water resources, abundant mineral wealth etc.
10 Ancient learning centres, universities, religious places that they have reason to be proud of.
11 Two religions viz. Buddhism and Jainism originated here.
12 Deeply attached to community festivals and celebrations.


1. Within the state, they avoid work.
2. Extreme caste system generating perpetual animosity among castes. Caste comes before state, nation or any common goals.
3. Human Development Index very low.
4. Though highly educated, people tend to be violent- this in a state where not one but two religions extolling Non-Violence originated.
5. Respect and worship only powerful people and tend to repress people less powerful than them. A hierarchy of power gets established.
6. Dowry system very strong. Boys can command any sum depending on education / job / wealth.
7. Can flout rules for personal gain.
8. Performance only under authoritative pressure- a slavish characteristic.
9. Strong belief in PAIRAVI (manipulation) and SIFARISH (Recommendation).
10. Strong feudal outlook Unduly submissive to strong boss / landlord.
11. Capable of manipulating documents for selfish ends.
12. Low standard of honesty in business deals.
13. Lack entrepreneurial spirit. Would rather seek positions of power.
14. Cleanliness at a total discount.
15. Family planning is more or less absent. Even educated people have many children. Lalu Prasad is more the norm in this matter rather than an exception.


1. Optimum use of natural resources such as land, water and minerals in a scientific and businesslike manner.
2. Use of intellectual capital for research, I.T., BPO, Advertising, Marketing, Financial services etc. Service industries in general can be started here.
3. Establishment of Entrepreneurship Development Institutes in every district for producing job givers rather than job seekers.
4. Community education (in the right sense of the word) for bridging gaps between communities.
5. Use of LPG i.e. Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization to overcome feudal system.
6. Vast pool of unskilled labour can be put to optimum use for construction and in industries on the lines of the early days of the Chinese revolution. They used human conveyor system in place of conveyor belts or other mechanical means for intra-plant transportation of raw materials, intermediate products and finished products. Unskilled labour can be used in greater quantities than at present in states short of unskilled labour. If the rest of the country benefits from the use of Bihar’s minerals like coal, iron, uranium etc., it stands to reason that they play host to Bihari unskilled labour as well.
7. Establishment of world class educational institutes like IITs, IIMs, Agricultural Universities.
8.Setting up ITIs in every Tehsil for training apprentices in various trades including construction and agriculture related trades.
9.Promote Dairies and other Agro-processing industries.
10. Invoke past glory to infuse sense of capabilities and potentialities.
11. Welcome people from other states to come, settle and contribute on a reciprocal basis.


1. General disinclination to discard social behaviour such as casteism, feudal living and past animosities.
2. Badly managed educational institutes where degrees are manufactured rather than preparing learned students. There is a possibility of a Bihar degree to be considered a disqualification rather than a qualification outside the state.
3. Migration of good, capable and honest people to areas outside the state in view of an unsuitable environment within the state. This aggravates further, the troubles of the state.
4. Literacy levels appear to be sinking lower and lower. Children to be found more on buffalo backs than in schools.
5. Industrialization may be reduced rather than enhanced if money/muscle/land power continues to prevail over better sense.
6. Threat of Maoists’ takeover akin to neighbouring Nepal.


A few years back, an old couple was murdered in Saket area of New Delhi. There was a furore and the Governor and the Police Commissioner visited the area. Police patrolling started. A few days and a couple of murders later, the police said that they did not have enough men for the job. The private security guards ( who would not have been employed by the citizens if they had faith in the police ) were to blame. The public is also perhaps to blame. What business do they have to get murdered? Do the police not have enough on their hands to protect the VVIPs and the lesser VIPs?

Who is more important? The public or the public servants? The Masters or the Servants? Of course the servants! We are Indians. We deify even our servants! We build palaces or swanky furnished apartments for them and they can decide to raise their own monetary and other compensation three to four times whenever they wish. The state has no money or men left after protecting such worthies for doing the primary job viz. that of protecting the society that created a structure called the state for the purpose. A naughty question sometimes arises in my mind. How many of these worthies would actually get killed if their security were withdrawn? Would the loss be irreparable except, of course to the sycophants and the beneficiaries of the slain VIP / VVIP? In any case, security itself was the cause of the assassination of one Prime Minister and lack of adequate security was the cause of a former Prime Minister’s murder. Security or no security, VIPs or VVIPs get killed if they are fated or targeted to be killed. Then, why oh! Why, are we made to shell out so much money? Money perhaps would not matter much but what hurts is that it is at the cost of the security of the very people who foot the bill.

The security chaps are helpless. Impotent is a strong word, but to a limited extent, it is not very wrong either. The Chief Minister of Delhi is helpless since like her two predecessors of a different party, she has no control over the police. Inwardly perhaps all the three are happy that they do not have to find a more difficult excuse. All of them are helpless, impotent, if you please.

The population of India has grown. So have the number and severity of the Railway accidents. Railway ministers, irrespective of party labels, are helpless. Either there is not enough money or the staff is careless or there is a systemic failure or if nothing else, there is of course the sabotage by the political opponents. Neither the political classes nor the bureaucratic classes are to blame. The blame always lies elsewhere. Those supposedly responsible are invariably helpless or impotent.

The local police in the states, when free of the onerous duty of collecting their earnings, both due and undue and harassing the by and large law abiding public, are helpless. How to cope with AK 47 wielding smugglers, extortionists or terrorists? How could they cope with militants of various hues? Central forces or the army are required. Each organization pleads its helplessness in tackling law and order problems. Somebody else is to blame. Everybody sagely nods to this, so long as they are themselves not held up for blame. The media make noise, taking care not to hurt anyone in a permanent sort of way. Law and order is the primary duty of any government – a structure created by the society for the very purpose. But the state is helpless, impotent. Even the judges are helpless in the face of mounting pending cases. When there is too much noise about something, authorities use an earplug in the form of a committee or a commission. This august body functions in a laid back manner and gives its report after a few extensions, usually when the noise has died out on its own.

The economy goes into a recession or there is a runaway inflation. The Finance minister is helpless. Scams after scams take place. CBI is helpless. Those who interfere are to blame. A department of a state government overdraws money year after year. Everybody, the department head, the auditors, the Public Accounts Committee, the vigilance people, the courts, the media et al make suitable noises but they are helpless. All actions are taken except to recover the money. The whole state is “like that only”. What to do?

The onion prices go up. Those in authority are helpless. A severe drought happens one year. Inflation goes into double digits. The sensible step of importing the shortfall, is not taken despite a more than comfortable foreign exchange position. Gods – Rain Gods are to blame. What can mere mortals do in the face of the mighty Almighty? In case there is a good monsoon and food prices come down despite the best efforts of the authorities, promptly people in power can claim having mastered the devil of inflation.

The people are helpless. They change their rulers, giving a chance to everyone but the situation does not change. What is the cause of this helplessness – this impotence? The answer is very simple. Responsibility. Make an Indian responsible for any task and he promptly becomes helpless, impotent for the task on hand, whether he is a Babu or a Neta, a judge or a journalist. In case, if anyone succeeds, there is a question mark. Is he not an Indian as in the case of Vishwanathan Anand? Or has he flouted the elaborate structure created to make him fail? Modi whether of the Narendra or Lalit variety have commited the ultimate sin. They seem to have not only succeeded but done so somewhat spectacularly. That is intolerable. They are not the norm. The ilk of Kalmadis are. If any task is to be accomplished, it must be done after raising blood pressure. We must procrastinate when there is ample time and when everybody is scared, then to rush things at breakneck speed and at a huge cost that helps line up the pockets of those who matter.

The West prides itself for having discovered Viagra as a cure for impotence. Our ancient civilization and Bharatiya culture laughs at it. We did that long back. We have now found a cure for potency. Make a man responsible for any task and he promptly becomes impotent. That is our Anti – Viagra. Akin to the Anti-Missile Missile. Aren’t we more advanced?

Whether it is a Police sub-inspector or a Health inspector whose job is to prevent epidemics, a Railway permanent way inspector in charge of maintaining Railway tracks or an opposition politician, the moment they get power, they become impotent in respect of their duties. They are however only selectively impotent. They are quite potent when it comes to harassing the public for wanting to do things legally or out of the way. The impotent Biradari or brotherhood has excuses ready for trotting out to the lay public in case, an outcry on any scale. takes place.

This phenomenon gives us a unique place in the world. Elsewhere power is an aphrodiasic. In India it is our own Swadeshi pill for impotence. We can be as proud of it as we are of our Mahatma Gandhis or Amartya Sens. While we can leave our rulers to gloat over this unique phenomenon, we, the ordinary people, the hoi pollois, need to think of a way to cope with this Anti-Viagra. There does not seem to be much use trying to change persons or parties. Whether it is the “Garibi Hatao”wallas or the “Ram Rath “ wallas, the situation worsens instead of improving with every change. Even bigger problem is the bureaucracy. To the ordinary man or “Aam Admi” as he is referred to, government is encountered in the shape of a Thanedar, or a revenue clerk or a railway booking clerk. They do not change. Running after a Neta is like running after a mirage. Very few realize that a Babu can make or mar a Neta in actual practice.

We have , therefore to think of an innovative solution. Our neighbours have tried to get the Army to rule. They were not successful. Don’t their Army brass belong to the same stock of people? Therein lies a clue Sonia Gandhi does not belong to the Indian stock genetically. We can try her. There is one snag though. She has been the Bahu of the Nehru-Gandhi household for around forty years. Has she not been Indianised enough?

We ought to try the genuine imported stuff. Old timers say that the British ruled rather well. Of course they were costly, but aren’t our present ones as costly after the recent hike of our parliamentarians? Perhaps at 68 times the per capita income of an Indian according to one estimate, they are not as yet, as costly but we can depend on the likes of Lalus and Mulayams to make up the difference. Under the British, law and order was very well maintained. They built the original infrastructure in the country, whatever their motivations. They were the people to introduce modern education, sanitation, scientific temperament and democratic spirit as against the authoritarian and perpetually outdated regimes that proliferated before them. Thuggy and suttee were abolished. Thuggy, however seems to have been reborn in the form of extortionists of Mumbai or the kidnappers of the cowbelt.

I am not suggesting that we bring the British back. Perish the thought! But we can, may be, ask that nation of shopkeepers to take a contract for managing a district or a metropolis. It can be on a 5 year contract with built in stiff penalties for every crime that takes place. An unsolved crime would attract the stiffest penalty. For example, the moment a theft takes place, the total value of the theft would be deducted straightaway from the contractor’s safety deposit. When the thief is caught, 10% of the deducted amount would be refunded, when he is convicted in a court of law, a further 20% would be refunded, when the stolen property is recovered and restored to the owner, a further 60% would be refunded. However the balance 10% would remain deducted as the theft took place under their management.

Democracy is supposed to mean accountability. In practice, in India, the remedy for public sector ills has been given to be freedom from this accountability. The parliamentarians are themselves a law unto themselves. How can anybody be accountable to those who are themselves accountable to none? This gives an idea of how effective this accountability is. But if we have this type of carrot and stick approach in terms of contracts, payments and penalties, we might get a better accountability.

In any case our government thrives on contractors and suppliers, dalals and chamchas. A departmental construction on the lines of various housing boards fails to deliver the goods. A contractor, even if pricey, delivers the goods. We can therefore, float global tenders for various districts and municipal bodies. Good management may earn an extension of the contract. Even more districts could be awarded to them. We may then have a British managed district, a German managed municipality, a French managed department and so on.

The moment, you have global MNCs, our Swadeshi brigade would complain of a non-level playing field. They may be placated by inviting them to bid for the districts on the condition that they form joint ventures with approved foreign partners for the purpose. Unlike other projects, here we may stipulate a minimum rather than a maximum foreign component. Good management can earn them a lesser foreign component.

Our leftist friends are now likely to rise in consternation. What about the unemployment caused by this mindless privatization? I have an answer for this. We can grant the existing bureaucrats as well as the political class, a compensatory pension for life, to be reduced to half for the next generation, to one fourth for the third generation and then abolished altogether for the succeeding generations. The pension amount would be fixed depending on their present earnings. We have figures for their legitimate ( if I may be allowed to say so) earnings. We have, however no figures for their undue earnings. To obviate any difficulties in this regard, we may ask them to file a declaration under a Voluntary Disclosure of Income Scheme ( VDIS ). Their declared undue earnings have to be added to their legitimate earnings to arrive at the basis for fixing their pension.

Once we pension off these people, our leftist friends would be satisfied, at least partially. They are never going to be satisfied fully. After all, they have not as yet, been given an unfettered, extra-constitutional opportunity to misrule all of us! They have, however themselves given us this idea. A fertilizer factory in an eastern state governed by them has been paying wages to its employees for a number of years without producing any fertilizer. They should therefore agree to this idea. The granting of pensions is based on a precedent. In the government, precedents are very important. We had granted privy purses to the erstwhile rulers of princely states at the time of transfer of power. We are therefore not departing from our tradition of effecting a harmonious and peaceful transition from one type of rule to another. The Babus and the Netas should also be happy as they would no longer have to invent excuses for non-performance. They would, no longer be required to stay for a major portion of their tenure in their headquarters. A couple of our cabinet ministers have, with foresight, been already exercising this right. Another advantage to our political class would be that they will be perpetually in opposition – that hallowed condition of power without any responsibility!

The public may groan. They are doing this now also. There is however one qualitative difference. In future, they would groan only for the excessive price for the services. They would however be assured of getting service. Accountability would return in practice. Some question may be raised about double expenditure. But aren’t we already bearing it in the form of employing private security, paying bribes, extortionists, kidnappers, thieves and dacoits in addition to paying taxes?

Any takers for this idea? I mean for Surajya rather than Swaraj of the present variety.

STOP PRESS: I received my passport from Ahmedabad Regional passport office, sitting at my home in Vadodara on the 17th day of my applying for the same. Pray to God that the RPO, Ahmedabad is not punished for this unseemly haste and betraying the age old norms set by his predecessors or hounded by the CBI on one or the other charge.

Friday, August 13, 2010


There was a time when India was considered to consist of India and Bharat. India was the prosperous urban segment and Bharat was the poor rural segment. It was fashionable for the coffee-guzzling or whisky-downing intellectuals to shed copious tears for Bharat.

However rural prosperity in some parts of India has changed the situation. The divide now is Performing India Versus Non-Performing India. Roughly speaking, Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka are the performers. Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, the North East and Tamilnadu are on way to becoming performers. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, Orissa and Jammu & Kashmir are the Non-performers.Opinions may vary on who are performers but this is my perception.

The Non-performing have a thousand reasons for not performing. Some others call them excuses. They are however very high on proclaiming the values that they hold very dear to to them such as Socialism, Secularism, Quotas and dependence on Sakar Mai-Baap and so on. Speech is more important to them than action except of course, for negative actions that bolster their non-performance. The Non-performers do not know how to prioritize their values. Performers, on the other hand have only one aim - to perform. They spend more time and effort on finding a way of coping with roadblocks in their path than on grumbling about them. They do not bother much about ideologies such as Capitalism, Communism, Socialism or any other or for that matter systems of governance such as democracy, monarchy or any other. They merely change their strategy to suit the prevailing circumstances. If the buzz word is socialism, they enthusiastically put up public sector factories, if it is free enterprise, then they make way for the private sector and if co-operatives are the fashionable flavour, they develop factories, housing, agro-industries and so on in the co-operative sector. They are not bothered with "isms"or "cracies". They take them as methods or systems or tools -not masters.

Performers are, increasingly dumping political parties wedded to dynastic, populist or agitational approach as witnessed in the last assembly elections in Gujarat and Karnataka. They believe more and more in self-reliance and less and less on a narcotic otherwise known as Subsidy. They realize that subsidies keep them chained to an inefficient and ineffective Government mechanism. It is as difficult to kick the subsidy habit as it is to kick the drug addiction. The experience with petrol and diesel prices in the face of spiralling crude oil prices is an example. Those who shed tears for the poor are the ones who keep them rooted in poverty by their actions. If the poor are not kept in poverty, what happens to the vote-bank of the populist and the agitational politicians? Our governments appear to have a vested interest in keeping the people poor. At least, their actions seem to suggest so.

The wiser people among the non-performing parts of India migrate to the performing parts of India. They brave the taunts of the locals,suffer (?)the lawfulness of the local populace, try their wayward ways back home in the new place. Some succeed in their waywardness only to find a general dislike for their entire creed on account of the actions of only a few of them.

In fact, this phenomenon is quite on par with the one on the global scene. People from under-developed and developing countries flock to the developing world to hunt for greener pastures. They live on the sufference of the locals.There are movements to control their inflow. Enoch Powels arise in England while Thakerays arise in Mumbai. Powels have a fleeting existence in history. Thakerays will have a comparatively more enduring existence due to the difference in the maturity levels of their peoples.

One interesting phenomenon is that there is a faster social transformation among the performing population even if it is not their stated aim than among the non-performing ones. The depressed classes are less depressed among the performers than among the non-performers. This explains perhaps the lesser success of parties like the Bahujan Samaj Party or Mulayam's Socialist Party or for that matter of the even the leftists in the performing parts of India. The performers instinctively realize that inclusive growth is essential for growth to be sustainable.

We can leave it to social researchers to go deeper into the differences between the performers and the non-performers. Let us instead turn to the subject of remedying the situation. Should the performers cease to perform till the non-performers catch up with them? Indira Gandhi, the self-professed daughter-in-law of Gujarat ( at election time ) or the earlier dispensation - call it by any name you like - did so in the name of a balanced growth of the country. What happened was only the "Hindu" rate of growth.

Should the performers be insulated from the non-performers? Is it wise, even if it were feasible?How much of our energy in prohibitory or reactive actions than in pro-active solutions that result in a win-win situation? That does not mean that the likes of Thakerays are totally useless. They can be used to weed out the unproductive or lawless elements among the migrants, without forgetting that the likes of Thakerays are only a fleeting phenomenon in the sands of time.

Once again let us look at the global scene. Migrants from undeveloped and developing countries made themselves rich while enriching their hosts. Migrants, by and large, have a greater motivation than the locals. They can view the situations more impartially and spot hitherto undetected opportunities. When the reverse brain drain takes place, the homing migrants bring with them much needed capital, even more needed ideas not to speak of the zeal to transform their native places. ( If Amitabh Bachchan tried to do it in Uttar Pradesh, so be it! ).

The developed world gave initially, grants-in-aid or loans to the undeveloped countries. Some countries, the wiser among them, made use of this aid judiciously while striving to become self-reliant so as to dispense with aid and along with it the bad taste that aid was leaving in the mouth. Certain other countries preferred to continue being client states while continuing to chafe under it and transforming the bad taste into terrorist activities. The same or similar thing can and is perhaps happening in India as well. Naxalism proliferates while their people continue to beg for the largesse of the Sarkar Mai-Baap. Naxalites would not allow any productive activities to proliferate, nor would they bring prosperity on their own except perhaps in a few pockets. Now there is one more reason for the non-performers to not perform. How can they perform when there is no law and order.

The biggest problem is one of "Group Think" as the behavioural scientists would say. We need to transform this unproductive group think of the non-performers. Rahul Gandhi appears to be doing a good job of it in his constituency. People have to realize that all factors of production viz. the capital, the capitalists, the financiers, the labour, the government, the supply chain, the service industry,the civl society around and most importantly, the customer (for whom all the economic activity is undertaken), gain equitably (not necessarily equally). It is only then that the non-performers can begin to perform. The malls are a beginning in serving the most depressed of Indians -the customer. It is noteworthy that the non-performers by and large reject the malls.

An important feature of the non-performers is their stout resistance to any change. While mouthing revolutionary slogans, they are ones who resist change. Be it Singur, be it Nandigram, be it SEZs, be it mining or be it any activity that threatens to better their lot. I am beginning to understand why the Orient was considered to be the white man's burden. We resisted abolition of the Sati, eradication of thuggy,modern education and the inculcation of the scientific temperament. We even eulogised the Tonga as compared to a bus as witnessed in the film "Naya Daur" starring Dilip Kumar. It is still fashionable to berate the West while harbouring jealousy towards it.

The fasterb we shed the ideologies and practices not relevant to our times and circumstances and adopt means that work, the faster shall we progress. It is in the self interest of the performing Indians to bring their non-performing brethren on par. Let us do it even if by fits and starts. Saam, Daam, Dand, or Bhed, every trick of the trade has to be tried.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Our entire educational system is based on teaching and examining. The paradigm is paternalistic. It is assumed that the teacher knows all. He has thought of everything. The student has only to imbibe. The whole approach is top-down. Outdatedness is written into it., by its very nature. In this rapidly accelerating, changing times, by the time one is an adult, one is already outdated in view of the knowlege explosion that has taken place in the meantime. On top of it, a person who is at least one generation more outdated than him, teaches him.

Rarely it is accepted ion practice that the whole purpose of education is for the student to learn rather than for the teacher to reach. The teacher teaches and forgets. The educational administrator sets up an elaborate structure to find out how much the student has really imbibed. Once he passes the judgement, he too forgets. No importance is attached to what the student has not learnt. It is nobody's responsibility. Out of the total syllabus, a total of twelve questions are framed and asked once a year. This may perhaps represent seventy percent of the syllabus. A student scoring seventy percent in the paper effectively knows forty nine percent of the total knowlege. We say that such a student has passed First class with distinction forgetting that he does not know 51%. Unfortunately, by the time, it is known as to how much the student has not learnt, it is too late to take any remedial steps.

Everything is taught to the student except how to learn by himself/herself. At different stages, different methods of self-learning are required but at no stage, is the student enabled to learn on his/her own. Nor is any use made of the fact that one can learn faster from the peer group. The student is not enabled to think on his/her own, to project, to extend further the knowlege gained at a particular stage, to discover on his own the areas where a particular knowlege is relevant and/or applicable. Curiosity is not encouraged. In my time, teachers were positively against my asking inconvenient questions or my projecting on or extending the knowlege any further than what was given in the text-book. The epithet used for me was that of an over-wise or a person living in the clouds.

Things are slightly better now. At least in the better schools in some of the urban areas. The need for self-learning has begun to be accepted. The teacher's role should be that of a facilitator in the learning process rather than that of one who forces knowlege down the throats of students who are expected to remember and reproduce. Curiosity should be encouraged. When a student is curious about something and his thirst for knowlege in that area is satisfied, the knowlege is quickly assimilated and retained for a longer period. A student comes across definitions of various things all his/her life. Has anyone ever tried to explain how definitions in general are evolved? What are the characteristics of a definition? How does a particular definition evolve itself? Why is each word in it significant? What repurcussion would take place in its absence or replacement by another word on the meaning of the definition? If this is explained, the student would not have to remember mechanically the definition. He would learn the need for brevity and precision of words. Our textbooks also need to be written the American way which is eminently suited for self-learning.

A very large number of students are rushing in for admission to the Universities. The politicians and administrators are only aiding this process and the universities, unable to cope with the rush have merely become federations of teaching shops. The fact that the university education is meant only for the few, for the serious student and not for every Tom Dick and Harry, has in today's times, become a heresy and a blasphemy.Anyone saying it might almost get lynched.

There ought to be a large number of polytechnics for the masses and universities for the scholar. At the age of 16, after finishing one's secondary education, one ought to be earning on one's own by working at something and simultaneously pursuing a professional course at a polytechnic. This is for the majority. A minority of students who are exceptionally good at thinking on their own and are able to prove their mastery of theory by its application in case study examples, should, after passing suitable competitive tests, be admitted to universities that would have limited seats.

Our present universities have gone too far to retract. Let us continue to call these teaching shops as universities.. Let us however, convert them into polytechnics. The commerce faculty can have, courses on shop assistantship, departmental stores running, stock broker's courses, estate agents' courses, salesmanship and so on. The same types of courses can be replicated in other faculties. Various professional entities in these areas, could be encouraged to take on young apprentices of age 16 onwards, who would work half the time and in the other half time, pursue a relevant course in a polytechnic. The work and study should reinforce each other. For this, syllabus has to be drawn up not by professors sitting in their ivory towers but by a collaborative effort by the professional entities who would employ the apprentices and the academics who would run the courses.

A student who has opted for a polytechnic should not be barred from the real universities which we may call Institutes of Higher Learning. He too, can, after completing the polytechnic course, take the test and enter an institute of higher learning. Both the polytechnics and the institutes of higher learning, should be financially self-supporting. The student at the polytechnic would pay the fee out of the stipend he would earn at work and the student at the institute of higher learning, would pay the fee out of the loan scholarship that would be sponsored by the corporates, businessmen and the government.. The principle is that everyone would pay what it costs to educate him/her. They can be enabled to do it in a variety of ways, but no freebies anymore.

At every stage, whether the pre-primary or the primary, secondary, polytechnic or the institute of higher learning, emphasis should be on self-learning with the teachers acting as facilitators, books and the professional and other environment being the tools for study.

If we are able to do this, we can solve a number of problems at one stroke. Student irresponsibility, unproductive wastage of young lives from age 16 to 21, the burgeoning burden of educational subsidy which in my opinion is a worst narcotic for a society discovered by our political class than any, ever discovered by scientists. If we have to develop as a society, as a nation, let us stop this idleness, let us close down these devil's workshops. Let us instead, create entrepreneurs.

Where do we start? First, we have to transform our teachers into facilitators. Our textbooks have to be suitably revised, our examinations to become more informal, more frequent with immediate remedial action for students who have not picked up the desired knowlege as revealed by the weekly quizzes. Emphasis on the remedy rather than on the symptom. Educational administrators should stop being mere judges of student learning; they have to also ensure that what was not learnt at one go is, at least learnt later on and in good time.

Having prescribed whole lot of things for a paradigm shift, let us examine what is learning/growth, what are the various aspects of learning and what are the assumptions underlying learning.

What is learning?

1 Learning is living.

2 It involves change ( Paradigm shift ).

3 It is concerned with acquisition of new skills,knowlege and attitudes.

4 It enables individuals to make both social and personal adjustments.

5 It is change in behaviour as a result of experiences.

What is learning /growth?

1 Growth is characterised by increasing appropriateness of response of the grower/learner to the stimulus.

2 Growth depends on internalising events.

3 Learning depends upon the systematic interaction between learner and the

4 Learning is marked by increased capacity to deal with multiple demands.

Some aspects of learning

1 It has quality of total involvement. Learner is involved in learning as a whole person, both his feelings and cognitive aspects.

2 It is self initiated. Even when the inspiration to learn is external, the sense of grasping, comprehending and discovery comes from within.

3 It is pervasive. It influences change in knowlege, skill, attitude and behaviour. Perhaps even the personality of the learner.

4 It is evaluated by the learner. Learner knows whether it is meeting his needs, whether it is leading towards achieving his ends.

5 Learning is easy when it is relevant. Learners grasp aspects much faster when they are relevant or backed by perceived needs.

6 Perceptions multiply learning. Perceptions help the learner to use the learnings from one situation in a different one.

Certain assumptions underlying learning

1 Learning must be a continuous process in a world of accelerating changes.

2 Learning is an active process of enquiry.

3 Learning facilitates development of competencies for performance in life situations.

4 Learners are diverse and this calls for individualised learning / training methods.

5 The primary task of the learning system is to identify the learning resources
and effectively link them with the learners.

6 Learning multiplies by interaction with others.

7 Learning is more effective when it is guided by the process structure than by
the content structure.