The Sindhu (Indus) River — Remember Your Roots, and Heritage

 

Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A(Socio, Phil) B.Sc. M. Ed, Ph.D.

Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India

 

Many rivers and river valleys worldwide have played a significant role in the evolution, sustaining and development of civilizations. Notable amongst these are the Nile, Tigris-Euphrates, Sindhu (Indus) and Hwang Ho-Yang Tse Kyang. Mighty civilizations grew up on the banks of these great river systems.

The Indus River, locally refereed as the Tibetan, Sindhu, or Mehran, is the longest river in Asia. It is among the longest rivers in the world, with a total length of 2,000 miles from its source to drainage. Its estimated annual flow averages 58 cubic miles, making it the twenty-first largest liver in the world in terms of annual flow.

The river has total drainage area of about 4,50,000 square miles, of which 1,75,000 square miles, lie in the Himalayan mountains and foothills. A great Trans-Himalayan river, it is one of the longest rivers in the world with an astonishing length of 2900 km. Rising in south-western Tibet, at an altitude of 16,000 feet, Sindhu enters the Indian territory near Leh in Ladakh.

After flowing eleven miles beyond Leh, Sindhu is joined on the left by its first tributary, the Zanskar, which helps green the Zanskar Valley. Many interesting mountain trails beckon the mountaineering enthusiasts to the Zanskar Valley. The Sindhu then flows past Batalik.

The Indus River rises in the northern highlands of the Kailash Ranges in the Tibetan Autonomous Region. The river then flows northwest to cross India in the state of Jammu and Kashmir . In Kashmir, it is joined by its first tributary, the Zaskar River, . The mighty Indus when it enters the plains is joined by its famous five tributaries – the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej – giving Punjab — “Land of five rivers” — its name,  and then flows in a southerly direction along the entire length to Pakistan, as the longest river in the country, and then drains into the Arabian Sea near the port city of Karachi in the province of Sindh..

. The Indus Valley civilization is synonymous with Harappa and Mohenjodaro.

The mighty Sindhu (Indus) river symbolizes the power and permanence of the ancient Indian civilization which evolved over a period of thousands of years. The archaeological discovery of the Indus Valley civilization which flourished along its banks, has reinforced the antiquity of the Indian civilization.

The river’s name comes from Sanskrit word ‘Sindhu’. It is mentioned in the Rig Veda, the earliest (c. 1500 BC) chronicles and hymns of the Aryan people of ancient India, and is the source of the country’s name. words like Hindu, Hindustan and India have been derived from Sindhus and ‘Indus’, the name given to Sindhu by foreigners. The journey of Sindhu through India transports you to a civilization going back five thousand years

Sindhu is divine. In the beginning was the word. The first recorded word was the Veda. The earliest mention of this great river is in the Vedas. The Sindhu — the cradle of Indian civilization — finds its most dramatic description in the Rig Veda (c. 1500 BC).
“Sindhu in might surpasses all streams that flow. His roar is lifted up to heaven above the earth; he puts forth endless vigour with a flash of light ….Even as cows with milk rush to their calves, so other rivers roar into the Sindhu. As a warrior king leads other warriors, so does Sindhu leads other rivers… Rich in good steeds is Sindhu, rich in gold, nobly fashioned, rich in ample wealth”.

Sindhu is too alive and too divine to be “it”, and so Sindhu is “he”! When the Vedic seer invokes the Sindhu. The Veda refers to the Ganga only twice, but it makes as many as thirty references to the Sindhu! It is the oldest name in Indian history – and in Indian geography. This is the great Sindhu that gave Sindh and Hind — its name. The Rig Veda compares the sound of the flowing Sindhu to the roar of thunderstorm, indicating the sense of awe inspired by the river in the minds of Aryans. Later on, in the Vedic period, the word Sindhu came to denote the sea, from which the vastness of the river can be gauged. In the Ramayana, Sindhu is seen to be given the title “Mahanadi”, which means “the mighty river”.

Kalidasa says in the Raghuvansha that on the advice of his maternal uncle Yudhajat, Rama conferred Sindh on Bharata. Rama’s ancestor Raghu’s triumphant horses had relaxed on the bank of the Sindhu.

Sindh was part of Dasaratha’s empire. When Kekayi goes into a sulk, Dasaratha tells her, “The sun does not set on my empire. Sindh, Sauvira, Saurashtra, Anga, vanga, Magadha, Kashi, Koshal — they are all mine”. When Sita was kidnapped by Ravana, Rama sent the vanaras (monkeys) to look for her, among other places, in Sindh with its “remarkable swimming horses”.
In the Mahabharat, the Sindhu is reverentially mentioned along with other two holy rivers, the Ganga and Saraswati. References to the Sindhu are also seen in many ancient literary works like those of Kalidasa, Bana, Panini. The fame of the mighty Sindhu had spread even beyond the subcontinent and it found reflections in the literary works of the Greek and Roman empires. It finds mention in some of the earlier literature of India.

Another great Sanskrit poet, Bhasa, had done a whole play, “Avimark” on the romance of Prince Avimark with Princess Kurangadi of Sindhu-Sauvira. The Bhavishya Purana says that Shalivahana, the grandson of Maharaja Vikramaditya of Ujjain, established law and order in ‘Sindhusthan” and fixed his frontier on the Sindhu. Anshnath, the eleventh Jain Tirthankar, was a Sindhi. He died in Bengal. The Jaina Dakshinya Chihna (eight century) speaks of Sindhis as “elegant, with a lovely, soft and slow gait. They are fond of songs, music and dance and feel affection for their country”.

There is a legend that the great Buddha had graced Sindh with his visit. Finding the climate extreme, and the area dry and dusty, he had permitted the bhikshus to wear shoes here. He had also permitted the use of padded clothing, forbidden elsewhere. Here Sthavirtis, the Prince of Rorik or Roruka (Aror or Alor, near modern Rohri) became his disciple. When the Buddha went round his native Kapilavastu in a chariot, it was mentioned that the “four auspicious horses, of lotus colour, had come from Sindhudesh”.
To this day, historic Buddhist stupas are found in Sindh. The Divyavadana (Tibetan version) reports: “The Buddha is in Rajgriha. At this time, there were two great cities in Jampudvip (north India), Pataliputra and Roruka. When Roruka rises, Pataliputra declines; when Pataliputra rises, Roruka declines”.

Here was Roruka of Sindh competing with the capital of the Magadha empire. When Bimbisar was the king of the Magadha, he sent Rudrayan, king of Sindhu-Sauvita, a rare portrait of the Buddha. The two powerful ministers of Sindh at the time were Hiroo and Bheru, their names still common amongst the Sindhis!

Chandragupta Maurya first won Sindh and then Punjab. It was from this base that he displaced the Nandas, occupied Pataliputra and established the great Mauryan empire.
Kashmir’s ancient royal history Rajatirangini has many references to Sindh and the Sindhis. Kuya’s son Sindhu rose to lead the elephant brigade of Kashmir. He was advisor to Queen Dida. A top honour was “Sindhu Gaja”, Elephant of Sindh.

 

REFERANCES:

swlome2020@gmail.com | May 16, 2011

Remember Your Roots, Heritage and Culture

MINISTRY OF TOURISM Government of India

 

 

 

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Hindu reform movements

Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A(Socio, Phil) B.Sc. M. Ed, Ph.D.

Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India

Several  groups, collectively known as Hindu reform movements, strive to introduce regeneration and reform to Hinduism.   What has been termed “modern Hinduism” has grown largely out of a number of quite radical reform movements of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  Although these movements are very individual in their exact philosophies they generally stress the spiritual, secular and logical and scientific aspects of the Vedic traditions, creating a form that is egalitarian that does not discriminate based on Jāti (caste or subcaste), gender, or race. Thus, most modern Hindu reform movements advocate a return to supposed ancient, egalitarian forms of Hinduism, and view aspects of modern Hinduism, such as discrimination and the caste system, as being corrupt results from colonialism and foreign influence.

These movements had a relatively small number of followers and by no means replaced or superseded the major traditional forms of Hinduism.

The reform movements largely emerged from the growing contact that Hindu thinkers had with Western thought, culture and religion. Below are the four most important movements and the names associated with them.

Brahmo Samaj

The Brahmo Samaj is a Hindu unitarian society, which in outward forms of worship is modeled largely after Christian practices. They stand for the abolition of caste, idol worship, and child marriage, and advocate temperance and other social reforms.

The pioneer of reform was Ram Mohun Roy. His intense belief in strict monotheism and in the evils of image worship began early and probably was derived from  Christianity.  In 1814  he settled in Calcutta (Kolkata), where he was prominent in the movement for encouraging education of a Western type. His final achievement was the foundation of the Brahmo Samaj (“Society of God”) in 1828.

Roy remained a Hindu, wearing the sacred cord and keeping most of the customs of the orthodox Brahman, but his theology was drawn from several sources. He was chiefly inspired by 18th-century Deism(rational belief in a transcendent Creator God) and Unitarianism (belief in God’s essential oneness), but some of his writing suggests that he was also aware of the religious ideas of the Freemasons (a secret fraternity that espoused some Deistic concepts). Several of his friends were members of a Masonic lodge in Calcutta. His ideas of the afterlife are obscure, and it is possible that he did not believe in the doctrine of transmigration. Roy was one of the first higher-class Hindus to visit Europe, where he was much admired by the intelligentsia of Britain and France.

After Roy’s death, Debendranath Tagore (father of the greatest poet of modern India, Rabindranath Tagore [1861–1941]) became leader of the Brahmo Samaj, and under his guidance a more mystical note was sounded by the society; Tagore also promoted literacy and vigorously opposed idolatry and the practice of suttee. In 1863 he founded Shantiniketan (“Abode of Peace”), a retreat in rural Bengal.

The third great leader of the Brahmo Samaj, Keshab Chunder Sen, was a reformer who completely abolished caste in the society and admitted women as members. Keshab’s faction, the Brahmo Samaj of India, adopted as its scripture a selection of theistic texts gathered from all the main religions. At the same time, it became more Hindu in its worship, employing the sankirtana (devotional singing and dancing) and nagarakirtana(street procession) of the Chaitanya movement, an intensely devotional form of Hinduism established by the Bengali mystic and poet Chaitanya. In 1881 Keshab founded the Church of the New Dispensation (Naba Bidhan) for the purpose of establishing the truth of all the great religions in an institution that he believed would replace them all. When he died in 1884, the Brahmo Samaj began to decline.

Arya Samaj

The Arya Samaj was founded by Swami Dayananda Sarasvati (left) in 1875 as a radical reform movement. Dayananda wanted to halt the Christian missionary onslaught and to return to the ancient Vedic tradition. A reformer of different character was Dayanand Sarasvati, who was trained as a yogi but steadily lost faith in Yoga and in many other aspects of Hinduism. After traveling widely as an itinerant preacher, he founded the Arya Samaj in 1875, and it rapidly gained ground in western India  He therefore sought to purge Hinduism of what he considered later additions, such as image worship, pilgrimage and ritual bathing. Although emphasising the ancient Vedic tradition, Dayananda also sought to modernise Hinduism and to re-absorb Hindus who had converted to Islam or Christianity. His movement, with its concerns over the influence of other religions sowed the seeds for the many political parties that desired to re-establish Hindu rule in India. The Arya Samaj is still an active organisation, both world-wide and in the UK. Its members agree to follow its “Ten Principles” and worship largely through havan (the sacred fire ceremony) and recitation of the Gayatri-mantra.

. Dayanand rejected image worship, sacrifice, and polytheism and claimed to base his doctrines on the four Vedas as the eternal word of God. Later Hindu scriptures were judged critically, and many of them were believed to be completely evil. The Arya Samaj did much to encourage Hindu nationalism, but it did not disparage the knowledge of the West, and it established many schools and colleges. Among its members was the revolutionary Lala Lajpat Rai.

Ramakrishna Mission

Ramakrishna (right) was born Gadadhar Chatterji in a poor but orthodox Bengali brahmana family. As a young man he became the priest at the Kali temple near Calcutta. He was later initiated as a sannyasi and experienced mystical visions, especially of Devi. He was profoundly influenced by Christianity and Islam and emphasised the universality of religion. He preached that “Jiva is Shiva” (the soul is God). He met many contemporary reformers and it was Keshab Chandra Sen who made him first known to the world.

Among the followers of Ramakrishna was Narendranath Datta, who became an ascetic after his master’s death and assumed the religious name Vivekananda. In 1893 he attended the World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago, where his powerful personality and stirring oratory deeply impressed the gathering. After lecturing in the United States and England, he returned to India in 1897 with a small band of Western disciples and founded the Ramakrishna Mission, the most important modern organization of reformed Hinduism. Vivekananda, more than any earlier Hindu reformer, encouraged social service. Influenced by progressive Western political ideas, he set himself firmly against all forms of caste distinction and fostered a spirit of self-reliance in his followers. With branches in many parts of the world, the Ramakrishna Mission has done much to spread knowledge of its version of Hinduism outside India.

It was Vivekananda (1863–1902), however, who made Ramakrishna really famous. He joined the Brahmo Samaj but later became Ramakrishna’s favourite disciple. He was expert in presenting Advaita Vedanta and greatly impressed the Western world in his presentation to the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893. He travelled extensively, promoting wide reform, claiming that other reformers “played into the hands of Europeans.” He established the Ramakrishna Mission, today well known for its social and educational endeavors.

The most important developments in Hinduism did not arise primarily from the new samajs. Ramakrishna, a devotee at Daksineshvar, a temple of Kali north of Kolkota (Calcutta), attracted a band of educated lay followers who spread his doctrines. As a result of his studies and visions, he came to the conclusion that “all religions are true” but that the religion of a person’s own time and place was for that person the best expression of the truth. Ramakrishna thus gave educated Hindus a basis on which they could justify the less rational aspects of their religion to a consciousness increasingly influenced by Western values.

Theosophical Society

Another movement influenced in part by Hinduism is the Theosophical Society. Founded in New York City in 1875 by Helena Blavatsky of Russia, it was originally inspired by Kabbala (Jewish esoteric mysticism), gnosticism (esoteric salvatory knowledge), and forms of Western occultism. When Blavatsky went to India in 1879, her doctrines quickly took on an Indian character, and from her headquarters at Adyar she and her followers established branches in many cities of India.

After surviving serious accusations of charlatanry leveled against its founder and other leaders, the society prospered under the leadership of Annie Besant, a reform-minded Englishwoman. During her tenurethe many Theosophical lodges founded in Europe and the United States helped to acquaint the West with the principles of Hinduism, if in a rather idiosyncratic form.

The Theosophical Society also played a crucial role in moulding and shaping the socio-religious movement of the 19th century.

In her words, the mission of the Theosophical Society was the revival, strengthening and uplifting of ancient religions, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism and Buddhism. This brought with it a new sense of self-respect, a pride in the past, a belief in the future and as an inevitable result, a great wave of patriotic life, the beginning of the rebuilding of the nation.

No doubt, it stood for revivalism but it sought for the abolition of child marriage, illiteracy and alcoholism. The other association that worked for revival of age-old culture was Deva Samaj formed by Satyanand Agnihotri in 1887, which was limited to the Punjab Sanatana Dharma. Rakshini Sabha of Bengal which was set up in 1883, the Madhava Siddhanta Unnayini Sabha set up in south in 1887 and Bharat Dharma Maha Mandal of Benaras with their urge for socio-religious reform movements among the Muslims and Sikhs was reflected in their efforts during the 19th century. In the regeneration of the Muslim society, two intellectuals.

Aurobindo Ashram

Another modern teacher whose doctrines had some influence outside India was Sri Aurobindo. He began his career as a revolutionary but later withdrew from politics and settled in Pondicherry, then a French possession. There he established an ashram and achieved a high reputation as a sage. His followers saw him as the first incarnate manifestation of the superbeings whose evolution he prophesied. After his death, the leadership of the Aurobindo Ashram was assumed by Mira Richard, a Frenchwoman who had been one of his disciples.

Sri Aurobindo firmly believe that the question is not between modernism and antiquity, but between an imported civilisation and the greater possibilities of the Indian mind and nature, not between the present and the past, but between the present and the future. He pointed out that “the living spirit of the demand for national education no more requires a return to the astronomy and mathematics of Bhaskara or the forms of the system of Nalanda than the living spirit of Swadheshi, a return from railway and motor traction to the ancient chariot and the bullock-cart.” He, therefore, spoke not of a return to the 5th century but an initiation of the centuries to come, not a reversion but a break forward away from a present artificial falsity to India’s own greater innate potentialities, which are demanded by the soul of India.

Other reform movements

Numerous other teachers have affected the religious life of India. Among them was the great Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore, who was influenced by many currents of earlier religious thought, both Indian and non-Indian. Tagore was particularly popular in Europe and the United States about the time of World War I, and he did much to disseminate Hindu religious thought in the West.

Less important outside India but much respected in India itself, especially in the south, was Ramana Maharshi, a Tamil mystic who maintained almost complete silence. His powerful personality attracted a large band of devotees before his death in 1950.

In 1936 Swami Shivananda, who had been a physician, established an ashram and an organization called the Divine Life Society near the sacred site of Rishikesh in the Himalayas. This organization has numerous branches in India and some elsewhere. His movement teaches more or less orthodox Vedanta, one of the six schools of Indian philosophy, combined with both Yoga and bhakti but rejects caste and stresses social service.

 

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Indus River Valley Civilization – Two great cities of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.

 

Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A(Socio, Phil) B.Sc. M. Ed, Ph.D

Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India

In the days when historians supposed that history had begun with Greece, Europe gladly believed that India had been a hotbed of barbarism until the “Aryan” cousins of the European peoples had migrated from the shores of the Caspian to bring the arts and sciences to a savage and benighted peninsula. Recent researches have marred this comforting picture as future researches will change the perspective of these pages. In India, as elsewhere, the beginnings of civilization are buried in the earth, and not all the spades of archaeology will ever quite exhume them. Remains of an Old Stone Age fill many cases in the museums of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay; and Neolithic objects have been found in nearly every state. These, however, were cultures, not yet a civilization.

Harappa. The early Indus valley civilization–later called Harrapan–was first excavated in the 1850s, during the construction of railways under British supervision. Alexander Cunningham,a British general involved in the discoveries, later headed the Indian Archeological Survey. In 1856, British colonial officials in India were busy monitoring the construction of a railway connecting the cities of Lahore and Karachi in modern-day Pakistan along the Indus River valley.

As they continued to work, some of the laborers discovered many fire-baked bricks lodged in the dry terrain. There were hundreds of thousands of fairly uniform bricks, which seemed to be quite old. Nonetheless, the workers used some of them to construct the road bed, unaware that they were using ancient artifacts. They soon found among the bricks stone artifacts made of soapstone, featuring intricate artistic markings.

Though they did not know it then, and though the first major excavations did not take place until the 1920s, these railway workers had happened upon the remnants of the Indus Valley Civilization, also known as the Harappan Civilization, after Harappa, the first of its sites to be excavated, in what was then the Punjab province of British India and is now in Pakistan.

In 1924 the world of scholarship was again aroused by news from India: Sir John Marshall announced that his Indian aides, R. D. Banerji in particular, had discovered at Mohenjo-daro, on the western bank of the lower Indus, remains of what seemed to be an older civilization than any yet known to historians. There, and at Harappa, a few hundred miles to the north, four or five superimposed cities were excavated, with hundreds of solidly-built brick houses and shops, ranged along wide streets as well as narrow lanes, and rising in many cases to several stories. Anchored on the two great cities of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro., it had developed rapidly, and independently of Mesopotamian patterns, in the mid-3d millennium B.C.E. The total area of the civilization was much larger than Sumer or Old Kingdom Egypt. The Great Cities of the Indus Valley .

Scholars are still piecing together information about this mysterious civilization, but they have learned a great deal about it since its rediscovery. Its origins seem to lie in a settlement named Mehrgarh in the foothills of a mountain pass in modern-day Balochistan in western Pakistan. There is evidence of settlement in this area as early as 7000 BCE.

The Indus Valley Civilization is often separated into three phases: the Early Harappan Phase from 3300 to 2600 BCE, the Mature Harappan Phase from 2600 to 1900 BCE, and the Late Harappan Phase from 1900 to 1300 BCE.

Harappan civilization, a huge complex of cities and villages, developed rapidly during the 3rd millennium B.C.E. within the Indus river system. The two principal cities were Harappa, in the north, and Mohenjo-Daro, in the south. The rivers were fed by the melting snows of the Himalayas, and monsoon rains, depositing rich soil in the valley plains. Early settlers profited from the region’s rich environment. They domesticated animals, practiced sophisticated agricultural techniques; they made pottery, mirrors and bronze tools and weapons.

An advanced agricultural system supported Harappa’s peoples. The main food crops were wheat, rye, peas, and possibly rice, and  and cotton was also part of the system.They domesticated animals, practiced sophisticated agricultural techniques; they made pottery, mirrors and bronze tools and weapons. Irrigation systems controlled the rivers’ flow.

Harappa was a fortified city in modern-day Pakistan that is believed to have been home to as many as 23,500 residents living in sculpted houses with flat roofs made of red sand and clay. The city spread over 150 hectares—370 acres—and had fortified administrative and religious centers of the same type used in Mohenjo-daro.

The Indus valley had been home to a huge network of towns and villages, first arising in the mid-3rd millennium B.C.E. Two great cities, Harappa and Mohenjo Daro, were at the heart of the civilization. The ancestor to Indian civilizations, Harappa, flourished in the Indus River Valley. Nomadic Aryan invaders moved into the region of the latter between 1500 and 1000 B.C.E. and established the basis for a new pattern of civilization in South Asia.

Nomadic Aryan invaders moved into the region of the latter between 1500 and1000 B.C.E. and established the basis for a new pattern of civilization in South Asia. .The Indus River Valley and the Birth of South Asian Civilization. Harappan civilization, a huge complex of cities and villages, developed rapidly during the 3rd millennium B.C.E. within the Indus river system.

Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro were densely populated, walled cities similar in layout and construction. They were built on a square grid pattern divided by main streets into smaller, precise, grids. Buildings and walls were made of standardized kiln-dried bricks. The massive scale required an autocratic government able to manage large numbers of workers.

The remains of the Indus Valley Civilization cities indicate remarkable organization; there were well-ordered wastewater drainage and trash collection systems and possibly even public baths and granaries, which are storehouses for grain. Most city-dwellers were artisans and merchants grouped together in distinct neighborhoods. The quality of urban planning suggests efficient municipal governments that placed a high priority on hygiene or religious ritual.

Harappans demonstrated advanced architecture with dockyards, granaries, warehouses, brick platforms, and protective walls. These massive walls likely protected the Harappans from floods and may have deterred military conflicts. Unlike Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt, the inhabitants of the Indus Valley Civilization did not build large, monumental structures. There is no conclusive evidence of palaces or temples—or even of kings, armies, or priests—and the largest structures may be granaries.

These discoveries establish the existence in Sind (the northernmost province of the Bombay Presidency) and the Punjab, during the fourth and third millennium B.C., of a highly developed city life; and the presence, in many of the houses, of wells and bathrooms, as well as one of the first elaborate drainage-system, betoken a social condition of the citizens at least equal to that found in Sumer, and superior to that prevailing in contemporary Babylonia and Egypt. . . . Even at Ur the houses are by no means equal in point of construction to those of Mohenjo-Daro.

The city of Mohenjo-Daro contains the Great Bath, which may have been a large, public bathing and social area. Harappa, Mohenjo-daro, demonstrate the world’s first known urban sanitation systems. The ancient Indus systems of sewage and drainage developed and used in cities throughout the Indus region were far more advanced than any found in contemporary urban sites in the Middle East and even more efficient than those in many areas of Pakistan and India today. Individual homes drew water from wells, while wastewater was directed to covered drains on the main streets. Houses opened only to inner courtyards and smaller lanes, and even the smallest homes on the city outskirts were believed to have been connected to the system, further supporting the conclusion that cleanliness was a matter of great importance.

Each city possessed fortified citadels which served as defensive sanctuaries, community centers, assembly halls or places of worship, and public bathing tanks. Large granaries located nearby stored grain, whose sale and production may have been regulated by the state. Smaller uniformly constructed residences made of brick were arranged along twisted lanes. They lacked exterior decoration and ornamentation and contained a courtyard surrounded by rooms for sleeping, cooking, and receiving visitors. Bathing areas and drains emptied into a citywide sewage system, one of the best in the ancient world.

The cities were major trading centers; there is evidence for trade with Mesopotamia, China, and Burma. The Harappans remained conservative and resistant to external influences, including weapon development.

Little is known about Harappan religion and language. A collection of written texts on clay and stone tablets unearthed at Harappa—which have been carbon dated 3300-3200 BCE—contain trident-shaped, plant-like markings that appear to be written from right to left. There is considerable debate about whether it was an encoded language at all and whether it is related to Indo-European and South Indian language families. The Indus script remains indecipherable without any comparable symbols, and is thought to have evolved independently of the writing in Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt.

The Harappan religion also remains a topic of speculation. It has been widely suggested that the Harappans worshipped a mother goddess who symbolized fertility. In contrast to Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations, the Indus Valley Civilization seems to have lacked any temples or palaces that would give clear evidence of religious rites or specific deities.

A powerful class of priests, drawing authority from their role as intermediary between the populace and gods, dominated society. Promoting fertility was a paramount concern. The most prominent deity depicted was a fierce-faced naked male with a horned head. The concern with fertility was demonstrated by numerous naked female figures (devis, or mother-goddesses, and sacred animals—especially bulls), and phallic-shaped objects.

The figures, along with carvings depicting members of society, represent the pinnacle of Harappan artistic expression. The rigid order of the society required an extensive administrative class serving the priests. The latter, along with merchants, occupied the larger residences of the city.

Many Indus Valley seals include the forms of animals; some depict the animals being carried in processions, while others show mythological creations like unicorns, leading scholars to speculate about the role of animals in Indus Valley religions. Interpretations of these animal motifs include signification of membership in a clan, elite class, or kin structure. One seal from Mohenjo-daro shows a half-human, half-buffalo monster attacking a tiger. This may be a reference to the Sumerian myth of a monster created by Aruru—the Sumerian earth and fertility goddess—to fight Gilgamesh, the hero of an ancient Mesopotamian epic poem. This is a further suggestion of international trade in Harappan culture.

Indus Valley excavation sites have revealed a number of distinct examples of the culture’s art, including sculptures, seals, pottery, gold jewelry, and anatomically detailed figurines in terracotta, bronze, and steatite. However, Harrapan artifacts display an extraordinary uniformity. Pottery, seals, weights, and bricks with standardized sizes and weights, suggest some form of authority and governance

Among the various gold, terracotta, and stone figurines found was a figure of a priest-king displaying a beard and patterned robe. Another figurine in bronze, known as the Dancing Girl, is only 11 centimeters high and shows a female figure in a pose that suggests the presence of some choreographed dance form enjoyed by members of the civilization. Terracotta works also included cows, bears, monkeys, and dogs. In addition to figurines, the Indus River Valley people are believed to have created necklaces, bangles, and other ornaments.

It is widely believed that the Harappan civilization was a peaceful one that did not engage in any warfare, but there is not conclusive evidence to support this belief, and some archaeologists consider it a pervasive myth. Some scholars argue that Harappans were peaceful primarily because there were no natural enemies due to the geographic location of the major cities. Weapons have been found at sites, but there is debate as to whether they were used in conflict with other groups or as defense against wild animals.

Decline

The precise causes of Harappan decline during the mid-2nd millennium B.C.E. remain disputed. Many factors contributed to its demise. Mohenjo-Daro and other locations suffered from severe flooding. Shifts in climatic patterns eventually transformed the fertile region into an arid steppe. The priestly class lost power. Migrants, some of them Aryan pastoralists, destroyed the irrigation system over a long period of time.

The Indus Valley Civilization declined around 1800 BCE, and scholars debate which factors resulted in the civilization’s demise. One theory suggested that a nomadic, Indo-European tribe called the Aryans invaded and conquered the Indus Valley Civilization, though more recent evidence tends to contradict this claim. Many scholars believe that the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilization was caused by climate change. Some experts believe the drying of the Saraswati River, which began around 1900 BCE, was the main cause for climate change, while others conclude that a great flood struck the area.

Various elements of the Indus Civilization are found in later cultures, suggesting the civilization did not disappear suddenly due to an invasion. Many scholars argue that changes in river patterns caused the large civilization to break up into smaller communities called late Harappan cultures.

Another disastrous change in the Harappan climate might have been eastward-moving monsoons, or winds that bring heavy rains. Monsoons can be both helpful and detrimental to a climate, depending on whether they support or destroy vegetation and agriculture.

By 1800 BCE, the Indus Valley climate grew cooler and drier, and a tectonic event may have diverted or disrupted river systems, which were the lifelines of the Indus Valley Civilization. The Harappans may have migrated toward the Ganges basin in the east, where they could have established villages and isolated farms. These small communities would not have been able to produce the same agricultural surpluses to support large cities. With the reduced production of goods, there would have been a decline in trade with Egypt and Mesopotamia. By around 1700 BCE, most of the Indus Valley Civilization cities had been abandoned.

The huge city of Mohenjo-Daro

Mohenjo-daro is thought to have been built in the twenty-sixth century BCE; it became not only the largest city of the Indus Valley Civilization but one of the world’s earliest major urban centers. Located west of the Indus River in the Larkana District, Mohenjo-daro was one of the most sophisticated cities of the period, with advanced engineering and urban planning.

The ruins of the huge city of Mohenjo-Daro – built entirely of unbaked brick in the 3rd millennium B.C. – lie in the Indus valley. The acropolis, set on high embankments, the ramparts, and the lower town, which is laid out according to strict rules, provide evidence of an early system of town planning.

Mohenjo-Daro is the most ancient and best-preserved urban ruin on the Indian subcontinent, dating back to the beginning of the 3rd millennium BC, and exercised a considerable influence on the subsequent development of urbanization on the Indian peninsula.

The archaeological site is located on the right bank of the Indus River, 400 km from Karachi, in Pakistan’s Sind Province. It flourished for about 800 years during the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC. Centre of the Indus Civilization, one of the largest in the Old World, this 5,000-year-old city is the earliest manifestation of urbanization in South Asia. Its urban planning surpasses that of many other sites of the oriental civilizations that were to follow.

Of massive proportions, Mohenjo-Daro comprises two sectors: a stupa mound that rises in the western sector and, to the east, the lower city ruins spread out along the banks of the Indus. The acropolis, set on high embankments, the ramparts, and the lower town, which is laid out according to strict rules, provide evidence of an early system of town planning.

The stupa mound, built on a massive platform of mud brick, is composed of the ruins of several major structures – Great Bath, Great Granary, College Square and Pillared Hall – as well as a number of private homes. The extensive lower city is a complex of private and public houses, wells, shops and commercial buildings. These buildings are laid out along streets intersecting each other at right angles, in a highly orderly form of city planning that also incorporated important systems of sanitation and drainage.

Of this vast urban ruin of Mohenjo-Daro, only about one-third has been reveal by excavation since 1922. The foundations of the site are threatened by saline action due to a rise of the water table of the Indus River. This was the subject of a UNESCO international campaign in the 1970s, which partially mitigated the attack on the prehistoric mud-brick buildings.

Among the finds at these sites were household utensils and toilet out- fits; pottery painted and plain, hand-turned and turned on the wheel; terracotta’s, dice and chess-men; coins older than any previously known; over a thousand seals, most of them engraved, and inscribed in an un- known pictograph script; faience work of excellent quality; stone carving superior to that of the Sumerians;  copper weapons and implements, and a copper model of a two-wheeled cart (one of our oldest examples of a wheeled vehicle) ; gold and silver bangles, ear-ornaments, necklaces, and other jewelry “so well finished and so highly polished,” says Marshall, “that they might have come out of a Bond Street jeweler’s of today rather than from a prehistoric house of 5,000 years ago.”

Strange to say, the lowest strata of these remains showed a more developed art than the upper layers as if even the most ancient deposits were from a civilization already hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years old. Some of the implements were of stone, some of copper, some of bronze, suggesting that this Indus culture had arisen in a Chalcolithic Age i.e., in a transition from stone to bronze as the material of tools.” The indications are that Mohenjo-Daro was at its height when Cheops built the first great pyramid; that it had commercial, religious and artistic connections with Sumeria and Babylonia;  and that it survived over three thousand years, until the third century before Christ,  These connections are suggested by similar seals found at Mohenjo-Daro and in Sumeria (especially at Kish), and by the appearance of the Naga, or hooded serpent, among the early Mesopotamian seals. u In 1932 Dr. Henri Frankfort unearthed, in the ruins of a Babylonian-Elamite village at the modern Tell-Asmar (near Baghdad), pottery seals and beads which in his judgment (Sir John Marshall concurring) were imported from Mohenjo-Daro ca. 2000 B.C.”

Macdone.U believes that this amazing civilization was derived from Sumeria;” Hall believes that the Sumerians derived their culture from India;” Woolley derives both the Sumerians and the early Hindus from some common parent stock and culture in or near Baluchistan.  Investigators have been struck by the fact that similar seals found both in Babylonia and in India belong to the earliest (“pre-Sumerian”) phase of the Mesopotamian culture, but to the latest phase of the Indus civilization  which suggests the priority of India. Guide inclines to this conclusion: “By the end of the fourth millennium B.C. the material culture of Abydos, Ur, or Mohenjo-Daro would stand comparison with that of Periclean Athens or of any medieval town. . . . Judging by the domestic architecture, the seal-cutting, and the grace of the pottery, the Indus civilization was ahead of the Babylonian at the beginning of the third millennium (ca. 3000 B.C.). But that was a late phase of the Indian culture; it may have enjoyed no less lead in earlier times. Were then the innovations and discoveries that characterize proto-Sumcrian civilization not native developments on Babylonian soil, but the results of Indian inspiration? If so, had the Sumerians themselves come from the Indus, or at least from regions in its immediate sphere of influence?”  These fascinating questions cannot yet be answered; but they serve to remind us that a history of civilization, because of our human ignorance, begins at what was probably a late point in the actual development of culture.

We cannot tell yet whether, as Marshall believes, Mohenjo-Daro represents the oldest of all civilizations known. But the exhuming of prehistoric India has just begun; only in our time has archaeology turned from Egypt across Mesopotamia to India. When the soil of India has been turned up like that of Egypt we shall probably find there a civilization older than that which flowered out of the mud of the Nile.  Excavations near Chitaldrug, in Mysore, revealed six levels of buried cultures, rising from Stone Age implements and geometrically adorned pottery apparently as old as 4000 B.C., to remains as late as 1200 A.D.”

 

 

 

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KNOWLEDGE- The what aspect

 

Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A(Socio, Phil) B.Sc. M. Ed, Ph.D

Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India

Epistemology, from the Greek words episteme (knowledge) and logos (word/speech) is the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature, origin, and scope of knowledge. It deals withthe Theories of the nature of knowledge-like Agnosticism ( the doctrine that holds tha one can not know the existence of anything beyond the phenomenon of experience.) Skepticism (challenge to accepted views in science ,morals, and religion. A questioning attitude toward the possibility of having any knowledge.)

Epistemology is important because it is fundamental to how we think. Epistemology is based on:

Empiricism( knowledge is obtained through experience. The position, or sense-perceptual experience, is the medium through which knowledge is gained.)

Rationalism ( knowledge can be acquired through the use of reason.

Intuitionism-(A position that knowledge is gained through immediate insight and awareness  ).

Authoritarianism (The position that much important knowledge is certified to us by an indisputable authority.)

Reveleation –( The position that  God presently reveals himself in the holy books or holy places. A communication of God,s will to man from some external source.)

In medieval period the main formula for knowledge was   KNOWLEDGE= SCRIPTURES x LOGIC. If people wanted to know the answer of an important question, they would read scriptures and use their logic to understand the exact meaning of the text. For example, scholars who wished to determine the shape of the earth scanned the Bible looking for relevant referaences. One pointed out that in job 38:13, it says that God can take hold of the edges of the earth and wicked be shaken out of it. This implies- reasoned the pundit- that because the earth has ‘ edges’ the God can ‘take hold of’, it must be flat square. Another sage rejected this interpretation, calling attention to Isaiah 40:22, where it says that God  sits enthroned above the circle of the earth. Isn’t that proof that the earth is round? In practice, this meant that scholars sought knowledge by spending years in school and libraries, reading more and more texts, and sharpening their logic so they could understand the texts correctly.

The Scientific Revolution proposed a very different formula for knowledge: Knowledge = Empirical Data x Mathematics. If we want to know the answer to some question, we need to gather them. For example, in order to gauge the true shape of the earth, we can begin by observing the sun, moon and planets from various locations across the world. Once we have amassed enough observations, we can use trigonometry to deduce not only the shape of the earth, but also the structure of the entire solar system. In practice, this means that scientists seek knowledge by spending years in more and more empirical data, and sharpening their mathematical tools so they can interpret the data correctly.

Humanism offered an alternative. As humans gained confidence in themselves, a new formula for acquiring ethical knowledge appeared: Knowledge = Experiences x Sensitivity. If we wish to know the answer to any ethical question, we need to connect to our inner experiences, and observe them with the utmost sensitivity. In practice, this means that we seek knowledge by spending years collecting experiences, and sharpening our sensitivity so we can understand these experiences correctly.

Experiences and sensitivity build up one another in a never-ending cycle. I cannot develop sensitivity unless I undergo a variety of experiences. Sensitivity is not an abstract aptitude that can be developed by reading books or listening to lectures. It is a practical skill that can ripen and mature only by applying it in practice.

Human beings over time have evolved many bodies of knowledge, which include a repertoire of ways of thinking , of feeling and of doing things, and constructing more knowledge. All children have to re-create a significant part of this wealth for themselves, as this constitutes the basis for further thinking and for acting appropriately in this world. It is also important to learn to participate in the very process of knowledge creation, meaning making and human action, i.e. work.

“‘Knowledge’ is defined as what we know: knowledge involves the mental processes of comprehension, understanding and learning that go on in the mind and only in the mind, however much they involve interaction with the world outside the mind, and interaction with others.” Wilson

According to Wilson, knowledge can only be in the minds of people. Although not directly expressed, the definition includes the empiricist (“interaction with the world) and the rationalistic (“comprehension, understanding and learning”) viewpoint on the creation of knowledge. Adding to his knowledge definition, Wilson  says that knowledge is bound to the thinking structures of each individual and when these wish to share it, they compose messages which are then decoded by another individual. However, “the knowledge built from the messages can never be exactly the same as the knowledge base from which the messages were uttered”.

Allee (1997 ) has the viewpoint that “we literally cannot know anything without a word to describe it” and therefore binds knowledge exclusively to information. Her view on knowledge is very limited as language is only one out of many information channels such as visuals, sounds or practical demonstration. “Knowledge is experience or information that can be communicated or shared”.

Knowledge is human faculty resulting from interpreted information; understanding that germinates from combination of data, information, experience, and individual interpretation. Facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.

Knowledge is the acquaintance with or understanding of a science, art, or technique.  It is the sum of what is known :  the body of truth, information, and principles acquired by humankind. The sum or range of what has been perceived, discovered, or learned .

In medieval period the main formula for knowledge was   KNOWLEDGE= SCRIPTURES x LOGIC. If people wanted to know the answer of an important question, they would read scriptures and use their logic to understand the exact meaning of the text. For example, scholars who wished to determine the shape of the earth scanned the Bible looking for relevant referaences. One pointed out that in job 38:13, it says that God can take hold of the edges of the earth and wicked be shaken out of it. This implies- reasoned the pundit- that because the earth has ‘ edges’ the God can ‘take hold of’, it must be flat square. Another sage rejected this interpretation, calling attention to Isaiah 40:22, where it says that God  sits enthroned above the circle of the earth. Isn’t that proof that the earth is round? In practice, this meant that scholars sought knowledge by spending years in school and libraries, reading more and more texts, and sharpening their logic so they could understand the texts correctly.

The Scientific Revolution proposed a very different formula for knowledge: Knowledge = Empirical Data x Mathematics. If we want to know the answer to some question, we need to gather them. For example, in order to gauge the true shape of the earth, we can begin by observing the sun, moon and planets from various locations across the world. Once we have amassed enough observations, we can use trigonometry to deduce not only the shape of the earth, but also the structure of the entire solar system. In practice, this means that scientists seek knowledge by spending years in more and more empirical data, and sharpening their mathematical tools so they can interpret the data correctly.

Humanism offered an alternative. As humans gained confidence in themselves, a new formula for acquiring ethical knowledge appeared: Knowledge = Experiences x Sensitivity. If we wish to know the answer to any ethical question, we need to connect to our inner experiences, and observe them with the utmost sensitivity. In practice, this means that we seek knowledge by spending years collecting experiences, and sharpening our sensitivity so we can understand these experiences correctly.

Experiences and sensitivity build up one another in a never-ending cycle. I cannot develop sensitivity unless I undergo a variety of experiences. Sensitivity is not an abstract aptitude that can be developed by reading books or listening to lectures. It is a practical skill that can ripen and mature only by applying it in practice.

Human beings over time have evolved many bodies of knowledge, which include a repertoire of ways of thinking , of feeling and of doing things, and constructing more knowledge. All children have to re-create a significant part of this wealth for themselves, as this constitutes the basis for further thinking and for acting appropriately in this world. It is also important to learn to participate in the very process of knowledge creation, meaning making and human action, i.e. work.

  • Acquaintance or familiarity gained by sight, experience, or report:
  • Acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, as from study or investigation;
  • Awareness, as of a fact or circumstance:
  • General erudition familiarity or conversance, as with a particular subject or branch oflearning:
  • In an organizational context, knowledge  is ;
  • Something that is or may be known; information:
  • The body of truths or facts accumulated in the course of time.
  • The fact or state of knowing; the perception of fact or truth; clear andcertain mental apprehension.

Thus knowledge is the sum of what is known and resides in the intelligence and the competence of people.

Types of Knowledge

There is so much disagreement over what are, exactly, the different types of knowledge that an agreed upon “master list” simply does not exist.

Here is a master list of the different types of knowledge and theories of knowledge that are out there

1. A Priori

A priori literally means “from before” or “from earlier.” This is because a priori knowledge depends upon what a person can derive from the world without needing to experience it. This is better known as reasoning.

2. A Posteriori

A posteriori literally means “from what comes later” or “from what comes after.” This is a reference to experience and using a different kind of reasoning (inductive) to gain knowledge. This kind of knowledge is gained by first having an experience  and then using logic and reflection to derive understanding from it. In philosophy, this term is sometimes used interchangeably with empirical knowledge, which is knowledge based on observation.

3. Explicit Knowledge

Explicit knowledge is similar to a priori knowledge in that it is more formal or perhaps more reliable. Explicit knowledge is knowledge that is recorded and communicated through mediums. The defining feature of explicit knowledge is that it can be easily and quickly transmitted from one individual to another.

4. Tacit Knowledge

Whereas explicit knowledge is very easy to communicate and transfer from one individual to another, tacit knowledge is precisely the opposite. It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to communicate tacit knowledge through any medium.

The biggest difficult of tacit knowledge is knowing when it is useful and figuring out how to make it usable. Tacit knowledge can only be communicated through consistent and extensive relationships or contact.

5. Propositional Knowledge (also Descriptive or Declarative Knowledge)

Propositional and non-propositional knowledge,  share similarities with some of the other theories already discussed. Propositional knowledge has the oddest definition yet, as it is commonly held that it is knowledge that can literally be expressed in propositions; that is, in declarative sentences  or indicative propositions.The key attribute is knowing that something is true.

6. Non-Propositional Knowledge (also Procedural Knowledge)

Non-propositional knowledge (which is better known as procedural knowledge, is knowledge that can be used; it can be applied to something, such as a problem. Procedural knowledge differs from propositional knowledge in that it is acquired “by doing”; propositional knowledge is acquired by more conservative forms of learning.

 

Knowledge in Indian Context

In Indian context,the words knowledge, buddhi, and consciousness are used synonymously. Four means of valid knowledge are admitted: perception, inference, comparison, and verbal testimony. Perception is defined as the knowledge that arises from the contact of the senses with the object, which is nonjudgmental, or unerring or judgmental. Inference is defined as the knowledge that is preceded by perception (of the mark) and classified into three kinds: that from the perception of a cause to its effect; that from perception of the effect to its cause; and that in which knowledge of one thing is derived from the perception of another with which it is commonly seen together. Comparison is defined as the knowledge of a thing through its similarity to another thing previously well-known.

Areas of Knowledge in Indian Context

The term ‘Jnana’( gyaan ) mean the same as education in its wide sense in Indian philosophy. In Indian philosophies, the term ‘Jnana’ is not used for only information or facts, though in the west, this sense is quite prevalent. In the Amarkosha, the terms ‘Jnana’ and ‘Vijnana’ (Vigyaan) have been distinguished saying that is related with emancipation while ‘Vijnana’ is reated with crafts. In other words,Jjnana or knowledge is that which develops man and illuminates his path to emancipation, while whatever is leant and known in practical life is called Vijnana or science.

The Indian concept of education can be understood from the prescribed list of subject on the concept of reality.

Vidya and Avidya

The terms Vidya and Avidya represent opposites. Vidya refers to knowledge ,learning, and to the different sciences – ancient and modern. So Avidya would mean the opposite – ignorance, absence of learning, and illiteracy

The Mundakopanised says :

Tasmai sa uvacha ha –dve vidye veditavye eti hasma yad brahmavido vadanti, para chaivapara cha

“…..There are two kinds of knowledge worthy to be known, namely, the higher(para) and the lower (Apara).”

The Sanskrit words Vidya is a shortened of forms of Para Vidya. The root Vid means to know. Para Vidya is knowledge of the Absoute or spiritual knowledge.

Avidya

Apara Vidya or it shortened from Avidya is knowledge of any sector or worldly knowledge in the wider sense.

Etymologically avidya is the antithesis of knowledge, ie., the absence of knowledge. But the word is not used in the negative concept. All knowledge or Apara Vidya which envelopes the phenomenal world is turned Avidya.

Isa – Upanishad explains the idea in the following verse:

Vidyam Cha avidyam cha

Bah tad veda upayam saha

Avidyaya mrutyum tirtva

Vidyaya-amrutam-asnute

It is through Avidya that one crosses the great stream of death which through Vidya one attains immortality.

In the Mundaka Upanishad, a student reverentially questions a Rishi about Truth: ‘Revered Sir, what is that by knowing which everything (in this universe) becomes known?’  The Rishi begins his reply by classifying knowledge or Vidya into two categories: Para(higher) and Apara (lower). Apara Vidya refers to the four Vedas and the six accessories of Vedic knowledge (the vedaigas): phonetics, the ritual code, grammar, etymology, prosody, and astrology. in short, religious or scriptural knowledge and the ways of living prescribed by different religions are all subsumed under Apara Vidya. Para vidya, the Rishi informs his student, is that ‘by which the immutable Brahman (akshara) is attained’. This Brahman is imperceptible, eternal, omnipresent, imperishable, and the source of all beings. Scriptural study is Apara Vidya, secondary knowledge. To know Brahman (or God) directly and in a non-mediate fashion is the primary aim of life, and is therefore termed Para Vidya. The Apara Vidya that comprises scriptural knowledge helps us know that this world is not the only world, that there are other divine worlds accessible to human beings.

The Upanishads remind people with dogmatic and fanatic tendencies that scriptural injunctions also lie in the domain of ‘lower knowledge’. The Mundaka Upanishadsays that people devoted to mere scriptural ritualism are ‘deluded fools’: ‘dwelling in darkness, but wise in their own conceit and puffed up with vain scholarship, [they] wander about, being afflicted by many ills, like blind men led by the blind’. They think of their way as the best and delude themselves into believing that they have attained fulfilment, and so continue to suffer the ills of life .

Sri Ramakrishna  explicates the nature of Avidya: ‘Avidya consists of the five elements and the objects of the five senses – form, flavour, smell, touch, and sound. These make one forget God’ So Avidya is nothing but human ignorance about God’s nature, by which one is perpetually deluded into doing the rounds of Samsara, the cycle of transmigration. This Avidya again is nothing but misidentification of real knowledge, which is one’s real nature. Therefore, religious scriptures ask humans to purify their heart, mind, intellect, and ego. Real human nature is pure and divine; each soul is potentially divine. Maya personifies our illusory perception. This phenomenal world is the longest dream come out of cosmic mind, of which the individual is a part.

‘According to the Advaita philosophy,’ says Swami Vivekananda, ‘there is only one thing real in the universe, which it calls Brahman; everything else is unreal, manifested and manufactured out of Brahman by the power of Maya. To reach back to that Brahman is our goal. We are, each one of us, that Brahman, that Reality, plus this Maya. If we can get rid of this Maya or ignorance, then we become what we really are.’  While lecturing on ‘The Real Nature of Man’ Swamiji dwelt upon the nature of ignorance, Avidya.

 

 

 

 

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CONCEPT OF SECULARISM IN INDIA

Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A(Socio, Phil) B.Sc. M. Ed, Ph.D

Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India

“If I were a dictator, religion and state would be separate. I swear by my religion. I will die for it. But it is my personal affair. The state has nothing to do with it. The state would look after your secular welfare, health, communications, foreign relations, currency and so on, but not your or my religion. That is everybody’s personal concern!”

-Mahatma Gandhi

When different cultures and communities exist within the same country, how should a democratic state ensure equality for each of them? . In this assignment we will try and see how the concept of secularism may be applied to answer that concern. In India, the idea of secularism is ever present in public debates and discussions, yet there is something very perplexing about the state of secularism in India. On the one hand, almost every politician swears by it. Every political party professes to be secular. On the other hand, all kinds of anxieties and doubts beset secularism in India. Secularism is challenged not only by clerics and religious nationalists but by some politicians, social activists and even academics.

In politics today, both Indian and International, perhaps few other words of frequent use are as confusing, abused and misunderstood as Secularism. The West is believed to be the cradle of this concept. But, as we shall see soon, in the Western dictionaries secularism is described as something opposed to religion, as something which has nothing to do with God or with anything super-natural or transcendental.

Its origin can be traced to the western world view. It is, therefore, important to understand its philosophical base to fully appreciate its connotation, its importance and its limitations. The word secular is derived from the Latin word’ sacularis’ which meant, among other things, ‘that which belongs to this world, non-spiritual, temporal as opposed to spiritual or ecclesiastical thing’. It is a form applied in general to the separation of state politics or administration from religious matters, and ‘secular education.’ is a system of training from which religious teaching is definitely excluded.

Philosophically, the term reveals the influence of positivism and utilitarianism. ‘Positivism supplied a conception of knowledge affording a basis upon which it was held that religious considerations could be ruled out and utilitarianism lent itself to a non-religious explanation of the motives and ends of conduct’.

English dictionaries define “secularism” as the quality of “having no concern with religion or spiritual matters”. But they also describe it as “ a system which seeks to interpret and order life or principles taken solely from this world.” Therefore, secularism in the political sphere refers to the freedom of the state to deal with the affairs of the world without interference from any religious authorities. In other words, secularism is mainly interpreted in present day studies as “the neutrality of the state in regard to religion.”

The term secularism was coined in 1850 by G.J. Molyoake (an Owenite Socialist, an atheist and the last person to be imprisoned for blasphemy in Britain), who saw it a movement , which provided an alternative to theism

Secularism as followed in India:

India, the land of origin of four major religions – Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism has had a different case. While the West was in the process of conceiving the idea of Secularism as discussed above, India was ruled by a Muslim dynasty (Mughals). When India declared itself as a secular state through its constitution, the critics said that it a blatant copy of the west. But they failed to see that two of the great emperors – Ashoka The Great and Akbar The Great had established their empires on the very ideas which the states of modern era fail to emulate now.

The Indian idea of secularism is quite different from the West. While the West emphasizes on the separation of state and religion, the great empires of India were guided by religious doctrines.

Hinduism is based on religious tolerance – accommodating others’ ideas into its own. It preaches for benevolence, sympathy, compassion and non-violence. The rulers in ancient India tried to establish their kingdom based on these values. Their inscriptions can still be found scattered all over India and abroad.

The Indian idea of Secularism is based on these principles:

  • Separation of state and religion is not sufficient for the existence of a secular state.
  • State must not only be non-theocratic but also have no formal, legal alliance with any religion.
  • State should endeavor to establish peace, religious freedom,  and eradicate discrimination. Note that this concept is missing in western thought, because they never had the experience of multi-religious society, as in India.

Theoretical Rationale

By secularism, we generally mean the principle in which people belonging to one religion do not oppress people belonging to other religions. This concept has had different interpretations in the East and the West.

The well-known historian, Professor K. N. Panikkar points out two aspects of secularization: “First, a struggle to develop a system of belief and social practice regulated by reason through a rationalist critique of religion and social mores. Second, an attempt to de-emphasize otherworldliness and to focus attention on the reality of material existence”

Secularism in India

The situations and the circumstances from which ‘secularism’ took its origin in India are quite different from those of the West. Pluralism especially when there arose conflicts between religions. True, Religious Pluralism was a fact of life in India from time immemorial. In fact, some sort of minor religious conflicts arose in the context of Buddhism and Jainism. But emperors like Ashoka nipped it in the bud through various administrative measures. Even the Muslim rulers like Akbar and Hydar-ali saw to it that their rule would not lead to serious inter-religious conflicts.

If Rigveda teaches ekam sat viprah bahudha vadanti (Truth is one but scholars speaks of it diversely) it may not have originated in the context of religious pluralism as we understand today. Thechatushkoti of Vedant (fourfold opposing affirmation of a thing) and the Saptabhanginaya of Jainism (the sevenfold opposing affirmations of a thing) based onanekantvada (many-sidedness of reality) seem to depend more on peculiar mind-sets of the people rather than religious pluralism as we understand today. It is this mind-set, which produced the well-known parable of the four congenitally blind people describing the nature of an elephant by touching its different limbs.

After independence Indian democracy willy-nilly followed the Gandhian and the Nehruvian concepts of secularism.

“Nehruvian dharma-nirapeksata and Gandhian sarva-dharma-samabhavre present the two most significant models of secular ideologies that were subsumed into the national consensus, where ‘they are frequently mistaken for or conflated with each other’ . There were others too, like Tagore with his deep humanism and Lohia with his committed socialism that by and large supported rather than undermined this consensus. Eventually the various tensions and contradictions between these diverse ‘secularism’ were also fused or rather confused”.

“I do not expect India of my dreams to develop one religion, i.e., to be wholly Hindu or wholly Christian or wholly Mussalman, but I want it to be wholly tolerant, with its religions working side by side with one another.” So said Mahatma Gandhi.

During the freedom struggle, secularism was emerging as the most dominant principle. The leaders of the Indian National Congress; Gandhi, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Nehru and others were deeply committed to the ideal of secularism, though each expressed it in very different manners. Secularism became the mantra of the Indian nation, a nation exhausted by partition and sectarian riots and above all the assassination of Gandhiji, did not want any more divisive talk. The founding fathers represented the aspirations of the different sections of society and it is due to the struggles of these different people that secular principles got enshrined into the Indian constitution.

Under Jawaharlal Nehru, the concept of a secular nation-state was officially adopted as India’s path to political modernity and national integration. Unlike in the West, where secularism came mainly out of the conflict between the Church and the State, secularism in India was conceived as a system that sustained religious and cultural pluralism.

In the post Independent scenario the social dynamics was very complex. The process of secularisation/industrialisation was going on at a slow pace. Even at this stage, though constitution was secular, the state apparatus: the bureaucracy, the judiciary, the army and the police were infiltrated by communal elements. The Congress government, though predominantly secular, had many leaders in important positions who were influenced by a Hindu communal ideology. This resulted in a social development that was mixed; on the one hand secularism thrived and on the other though communalism remained dormant, was never dead. With the social changes of the late 70′s and the early 80′s, communalism got a strong boost and it started attacking secularism in a big way.

Secularism introduces science, technology and rationalism in the society and forms the basis of a modern secular state. In the process, it has to oppose and struggle against the clergy and vested forces in the society. And as such, the fundamentalist communal onslaughts are the ‘other’ of secularism and secularization. The oppressed sections join the secular movement to wrest the accompanying liberal space that can be the base for launching the struggles for their rights. Fundamentalism is the regressive reaction of feudal elements and sections of middle classes in league with the clergy, to crush the aspirations of oppressed class, whose movements for their rights is a big source of tension for them. The secularization process and the accompanying movements of the oppressed increase the insecurity of fundamentalist forces. They try to lure these classes into their fold through religion and liberal use of money and muscle power.

It is not so much a question of defending or preserving the existing secular character of the Indian polity, but rather a need to create and build a secular polity in the nation. Only the ideal of building a secular democratic nation can stem the tide of communal fascism in the country. Sarva Dharma Sambhav has to operate at the personal as well as the social level, while Dharma Nirpekshata or Secularism per se continues to be the state policy. Religious clergy, bigotry, dogmas and rituals cannot be allowed to guide the state.

Mahatma Gandhi has rightly said: “I swear by my religion, I will die for it. But it is my personal affair. The State has nothing to do with it. The State would look after your secular welfare, health, communications, foreign relations, currency and so on, but not your or my religion. That is everybody’s personal concern!”

This strength of the Hindu religion is now viewed as a weakness. The B.J.P. was quick to take up the mantle of ‘the’ communal party, riding on the wave of the post-mandal upper class/caste backlash. The BJP began attacking, what they called “pseudo-secularism”, which pampered the minorities at the expense of the majority and demanded that special rights for minorities be taken away.

Supporting the BJP was the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a relatively new outfit with branches all over the world and drawing on support, both moral and financial, from the Hindu diaspora in the West. This took an aggressive form when the Babri Masjid\Ramjanambhoomi controversy erupted. This period also saw the rise of other militant Hindu organizations such as the BajrangDal and the Shivsena. These groups quickly mushroomed and poisoned the social space with communal rhetoric and the agenda of Hindu Rashtra; and launched an ideological, social and political onslaught on secular ethos, syncretic culture and composite nationalism. They refused to recognize the contributions of Muslims and other minorities, to India’s history and culture. They selectively concentrated on intolerant Muslim rulers, extending their often-brutal conduct to the entire period of Muslim rule and, even to all Muslims. But such prejudices were not openly aired in public; but now they have not only gained legitimacy, but have also almost become the mainstream opinion.

The attack on the Mosque at Ayodhya led to a rash of violence across the country. The events leading to the demolition of Babri Masjid and their aftermath of communal carnage mark a watershed in the history of free India. The traumatic events clearly exposed the chasm that had been created between the two communities by communal forces.

The year 2002 witnessed one of the most devastating riots in Gujarat where mobs went on a rampage, destroying Muslim homes and businesses, killed Muslims, including men women and children and drove thousands of people away from their homes. The ostensible reason for this fury was the burning of a train coach that was carrying Hindu pilgrims returning from Ayodhya. Fifty-nine people including women and children died in the fire. This action, sparked off, as the state’s Chief Minister put it, in Newtonian terms, a reaction, except that it was grossly disproportionate to the original crime. A Human Right’s Watch report paints a chilling picture of state complicity in the religious violence in Gujarat. This marks the first time when the state has emerged as a major player and actor in violence by mobs, a qualitative change from previous such situations in India. It is in this backdrop that one has to understand, as to why it is only during the last decade and a half that secularism has come under a cloud and the concept of a Hindu Rashtra is being asserted aggressively.

Today, the biggest challenge to the Indian nation is coming from forces claiming to represent the mainstream majority. There is an emergence of extremist voices that claim to speak for Hindus and they are laying down demands that threaten the very idea of a secular India. The biggest area of concern is that the state has emerged to be complicit, as an actor and player in mounting this challenge to Indian pluralism, which goes under the name of Hindutva.

The communal forces are actively propagating the myth that Secularism is a new mask of fundamentalism. They denigrate the secular policies, which are a hindrance to Hindu Right’s unobstructed march to subjugate the oppressed in general and minorities in particular. They are equating fundamentalism with Islam; and the policies of Indian rulers with secularism, and the appeasement of mullahs as being synonymous with secular policies. Further, Hindutva forces accuse that secularism pampers the Muslims as a vote bank. The Muslims are accused of extra-territorial loyalty because they allegedly cheer for Pakistan whenever India and Pakistan play cricket. Since Muslims are being thought synonymous to fundamentalism; therefore the assertion that the Indian state is appeasing fundamentalists in the name of secularism. It is precisely on this charge that the Father of Indian Nationalism, Mahatma Gandhi, was assassinated by one of the votaries of Hindutva.

The Christians, who are much lesser in number, are accused of being more loyal to the Vatican, another outside force and of trying to convert poor Hindus with inducements of education and food. Who can forget the brutal burning of Graham Staines and his two minor sons by a member of the Bajrang Dal in the name of religion? Or even the rape of some sisters in Gujarat, their fault being the spreading of the word of their God.

The fact, however, is that the social and the economic conditions of the Muslim community is dismal. If at all the opportunist political policies of various governments have struck compromises, it has been with certain religious leaders of the minorities and the minorities have been kept in abysmal conditions. In that sense, the govt. policies have been anti-oppressed, rather than pro Muslim. Further, the fact that 130 million Muslims decided to stay back in India rather than joining Pakistan, should settle their status as true citizens.

Secularism introduces science, technology and rationalism in the society and forms the basis of a modern secular state. In the process, it has to oppose and struggle against the clergy and vested forces in the society. And as such, the fundamentalist communal onslaughts are the ‘other’ of secularism and secularization. The oppressed sections join the secular movement to wrest the accompanying liberal space that can be the base for launching the struggles for their rights. Fundamentalism is the regressive reaction of feudal elements and sections of middle classes in league with the clergy, to crush the aspirations of oppressed class, whose movements for their rights is a big source of tension for them. The secularization process and the accompanying movements of the oppressed increase the insecurity of fundamentalist forces. They try to lure these classes into their fold through religion and liberal use of money and muscle power.

Secularism in the Indian context should imply respect for pluralism and a non-coercive and a voluntary recourse to change. Respect for diversity not only embodies the democratic spirit, it is the real guarantee of unity. We should value democratic, not fascistic, unity. No democratic society can downgrade diversity and pluralism in the name of unity. Secular ethics can be strengthened only when the acts of vandalism are sternly dealt with and the guilty are made to pay for it. With secularism that insists on the inalienable rights of the citizens and a due process of law, it will be easier to mount public pressure against sectarian killers and those who promote hatred. The battle of secularism and democracy has also to be fought at the grass root levels where a set ideals generating strong idealism is required to mobilize and prepare the masses for struggle.

In the end, secularism begins in the heart of every individual. There should be no feeling of “otherness” as we all have is a shared history. India being a traditional society that contains, not one, but many traditions, owing their origin in part to the different religions that exist here, has so far managed to retain the secular character of its polity. Ours is a society where Sufis and Bhakti saints have brought in a cultural acceptance for each other. Are we going to let it all go to waste and listen to people who have concern for their careers as politicians or leaders rather than our welfare at heart? Let us instead concentrate our efforts at making India a powerful and progressive nation.

Constitutional position of Secularism in India

By opting for secularism, the framers of the Indian Constitution opted not only for democracy but also for a harmony among different faiths and for a dialogue among different cultural traditions. For them the scenario was clear: it takes several religious groups to come together and to decide to be secular. As such, it was enough to interpret Hinduism as inherently secular. So in the same manner, to press religion into the service of politics, Gandhi declared that his Hinduism was “all-inclusive” and it stood for tolerance. To be truly secular the Indian state had to promote all religions and cultural identities and to build them with the secular interests of the nation. In other words, religious pluralism and religious tolerance became the bedrock of the Indian concept of secularism.

The Indian model of secularism was presented as a “symmetry” model, where the acceptance of the legitimacy of pluralism and diversity became central. However, for this pluralism to function and to be successful in defining the Indian common good, all  religious communities had to on a minimal consensus regarding shared values and  shared rules for conflict management between different religious groups.  This minimal consensus on shared values acted as a unifying force amidst diversity. As such, mutual respect and tolerance became the most important values to keep religious pluralism in place in India.  As a result, Indian secularism became a bridge between religions in a multi-religious society. It became a way for extending the principle of pluralism to religiosity. As Lala Rajpat Rai wrote , “ The Indian notion, such as we intend to build, neither is, nor will be, exclusively Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Christian. It will be each and all.” In that sense, Indian secularism advocates a form of neutrality and non-preferentialism in regard to different religions. In this context, religious minorities can best be protected by a democratic state that ensures religious tolerance.

Nehru insisted that free India should be non communal, secular state. “The government of a country like India,” Nehru declared “with many religions that have secured great acceptance and deep followings for generations, can never function satisfactorily in the modern age accept on a secular basis.” He boasts of the fact that “our Constitution is based on secular conception and gives freedom to all religions.

India is a secular country as per the declaration in the Preamble to the Indian Constitution. It prohibits discrimination against members of a particular religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth .India, therefore does not have an official state religion. Every person has the right to preach, practice and propagate any religion they choose. The government must not favour or discriminate against any religion. It must treat all religions with equal respect. All citizens, irrespective of their religious beliefs are equal in front of law.

In the beginning of the Preamble of the Indian Constitution the word secular was inserted in the 42nd amendment: “We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign ‘Socialist’ Secular Democratic Re-public and to secure to all its citizens…”

The basic outlines of the Secularism are enshrined in the following Articles of the Constitution:

1. Preamble: It is true that the word ‘secular’ did not first occur either in Article 25 or 26 or in any other Article or Preamble of the Constitution.By the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976, the Preamble was amended and for the words ‘Sovereign Democratic Republic’ the words ‘Sovereign, socialist, secular, Democratic Republic’ were substituted.

2. No State Religion: There shall be no ‘state religion’ in India. The state will neither establish a religion of its own nor confer any special patronage upon any particular religion.

It follows from that:

1. The state will not compel any citizen to pay any tax for the promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or religious institution (Article 27).

2. No religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly run by state funds.

3. Even though religious instruction be imparted in educational institutions recognised by state or receiving aid from the state, no person at lending such institution shall be compelled to receive that religious instruction without the consent of himself or of his guardian. In short, while religious instruction is totally banned in state-owned educational institutions, in other denominational institutions it is not totally prohibited but it must not be imposed upon people of other religions without their consent (Article 28).

3. Freedom of Conscience: Avery person is guaranteed the freedom of conscience and the freedom to profess, practise and propagate his own religion, subject only:

1. to restrictions imposed by the state on the interest of public order, morality and health (so that the freedom of religion may not be abused to commit crimes or antisocial acts, e.g., to commit the practice of infanticide, and the like);

2. to regulations or restrictions made by state relating, to any economic, financial, political or outer secular activity which may be associated with religious practice, bill do not really related to the freedom of conscience;

3. to measures of social reform and for throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus. Subject to above limitations, a person in India shall have the right not only to entertain any religious belief but also to practise the obligations dictated by such belief, and to preach his see%., to ethers (Article 2Fi)

4. Freedom to Manage Religious Affairs: individual to pro fess, practise and propagate his religion, them is also the right guaranteed to every religious groups or denominations:

  • To establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes.
  • To manage its own affairs in matters of religion;
  • To own and acquire movable and immovable property; and
  • To administer such property in accordance with law

5. Cultural and Educational Rights: Under Article 29 and 30 certain cultural and educational rights are guaranteed. Article 29 guarantees the right cf any section of the citizens residing in any part of the country having a distinct language, script or culture of its own and to conserve the same Article 30 provides that all minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice”.

The sub-committee on the Minorities placed the recognised minority communities in three groups:

1. Communities with a population of less than 0.5% in the Indian Dominion omitting the princely states.

1. Anglo Indian

2. Parsecs

3. Plains Tribesmen in Assam 13. Population not exceeding 1.5% C. Indian Christians I). Population exceeding 1,54.6

4. Sikhs

5. Muslims

6. Scheduled Castes

Legal  position of Secularism in India

Although the term secularism was not in the original text of the Constitution, secularism was a subject of animated discussion when the Constituent Assembly look up for consideration the provisions dealing with the freedom of religion.

Explaining the secular character of the Indian Constitution the Supreme Court observed: “There is no mysticism in the secular character of the state. Secularism is neither anti-God nor pro-God, it treats alike the devout, the agnostic and the atheist. It eliminates God from the matter of the state and ensures no one shall be discriminated against on the ground of religion.

Theory and Practice of Secularism in India

When Jawaharlal Nehru framed the objective Resolution of the Constitutor secularism figured as an important aspect of C Known to be a secularist by ‘instinct’, Nehru associated secularism with modernity and considered sentiments based on caste and religion as backward and a belief from the past. He felt that religious tolerance, an essential aspect of secularism was a characteristic of Indian culture. But this was not all. According to Nehru, narrow religious groupings, binding or loyalties must exclude many sections of the population and only create Hindu nationalism, Muslim nationalism and Christian nationalism and not Indian nationalism. In a country with different religious groups, it is important to build real nationalism on the basis of the secularity. What is a secular state? Nehru was not happy with the word ‘secular’ but used it for want of a better word:

“It does not obviously mean a state where religion as such is discouraged. It means freedom of religion and conscience, including freedom for those who have no religion. It means free play for all religions, subject only to their not interfering with each other or with the basic concept of our state”.

A secular suite, therefore, is not an anti-religious state but a state without a religion. It involves the concept of religious freedom for all faiths living within the state. Secularism is not only a characteristic of the state but involves the concept of religious co-existence and the concept of equal citizenship rights It also characterizes an attitude of mind which must be shared by the minority and majority religious communities living within the state.

K.N. Panikkar argues that there are three characteristics of the kind of secular state that India claims to be:

Firstly, the secular slate postulates that political institutions must be based on the economic and social interests of the entire community, without reference to religion, race or seat; that all must enjoy equal rights and no privileges, prescriptive rights or special claims should be allowed for any group on the basis of religion.

Secondly, it eliminates from the body politic ideas of division between individuals and groups on the basis of their faith and racial origin.

Thirdly, it is obvious that a composite secular state must accept as the basis of its policy what Aristotle termed as ‘distributive justice’, the idea that all communities must have power, as they must share the duties and responsibilities of being citizens.

Secularism has to play a decisive role at present stage of Indian democracy. It is so because today when the Indian democracy seems to face the challenge of narrow divisive trends and tendencies. A rational and scientific approach which is the basis of secularism has become a matter of utmost importance. Communal disturbances which have distinguished the public life in the recent past, as well the birth and growth of narrow and divisive trends and obscurantist theories are mainly the result of ignorance can be fought not by legislation alone, nor by a negative fiat alone, but by education only.

The present Indian scenario-

Indian secularism has been subjected to fierce criticism. What are these criticisms?

Anti-religious

First, it is often argued that secularism is anti-religious. We hope to have shown that secularism is against institutionalised religious domination. This is not the same as being anti-religious.

Similarly, it has been argued by some that secularism threatens religious identity. However, as we noted earlier, secularism promotes religious freedom and equality. Hence, it clearly protects religious identity rather than threatens it. Of course, it does undermine

some forms of religious identity: those, which are dogmatic, violent, fanatical, exclusivist and those, which foster hatred of other religions. The real question is not whether something is undermined but whether what is undermined is intrinsically worthy or unworthy.

Western Import

Another criticism is that secularism is linked to Christianity, that it is western and, therefore, unsuited to Indian conditions. On the surface, this is a strange complaint. For there are millions of things in India today, from trousers to the internet and parliamentary democracy, that have their origins in the west. One response, therefore, could be: so what? Have you heard a European complain that because zero was invented in India, they will not work with it?

However, this is a somewhat shallow response. The more important and relevant point is that for a state to be truly secular, it must have ends of its own. Western states became secular when, at an important level, they challenged the control of established religious authority over social and political life.

A secular state may keep a principled distance from religion to promote peace between communities and it may also intervene to protect the rights of specific communities.

This exactly is what has happened in India. India evolved a variant of secularism that is not just an implant from the west on Indian soil. The fact is that the secularism has both western and nonwestern origins. In the west, it was the Church-state separation which was central and in countries such as India, the idea of peaceful coexistence of different religious communities has been important.

Minoritism

An accusation against secularism is the charge of minoritism. It is true that Indian secularism advocates minority rights so the question is: Is this justified? Consider four adults in a compartment

What holds true of individuals also holds for communities. The most fundamental interest of minorities must not be harmed and must be protected by constitutional law. This is exactly how it is in theIndian Constitution. Minority rights are justified as long as these rights protect their fundamental interests.

At this point someone might still say that minority rights are special privileges which come with some costs to others.

Interventionist

Another  criticism claims that secularism is coercive and that it interferes excessively with the religious freedom of communities. This misreads Indian secularism. It is true that by rejecting the idea of separation as mutual exclusion, Indian secularism rejects non-interference in religion. But it does not follow that it is excessively interventionist. Indian secularism follows the concept of principled distance which also allows for noninterference.

Besides, interference need not automatically mean coercive intervention.

It is of course true that Indian secularism permits state-supported religious reform. But this should not be equated with a change imposed from above, with coercive intervention. But it might be argued: does it do this consistently? Why have personal laws of all religious communities not been reformed? This is the big dilemma facing the Indian state. A secularist might see the personal laws (laws concerning marriage, inheritance and other family matters which are governed by different religions) as manifestations of community specific rights that are protected by the Constitution. Or he might see these laws as an affront to the basic principles of secularism on the ground that they treat women unequally and therefore unjustly. Personal laws can be seen as manifestations of freedom

Vote Bank Politics

There is the argument that secularism encourages the politics of vote banks. As an empirical claim, this is not entirely false. However, we need to put this issue in perspective. First, in a democracy politicians are bound to seek votes. That is part of their job and that is what democratic politics is largely about. To blame a politician for pursuing a group of people or promising to initiate a policy with the motivation to secure their votes is unfair. The real question is what precisely the vote is sought for. Is it to promote solely his self-interest or power or is it also for the welfare of the group in question? If the group which voted for the politician does not get any benefit from this act, then surely the politician must be blamed. If secular politicians who sought the votes of minorities also manage to give them what they want, then this is a success of the secular project which aims, after all, to also protect the interests of the minorities.

In India it’s  Lip service to the concept of secularism on top of the extremely malevolent practise of exhibiting undue, misplaced and meek deference to religious identities of people/voters. Here, we actually seek to strengthen the hold of Religion on matters of state, as opposed to bolstering the separation between religion and state.

Protecting Religious freedom is one thing, but discriminating between people based on their religious orientation is quite another. To deny this is a crime against the principles of Egalitarianism, foundation of our democracy.

Our Indian law discriminates among religions and panders to the vested interests of many religious subgroups. Eg -the absence of Uniform Civil Code in India? or What are the things in India that a Muslim can do legally while other Indians cannot? Our law can discriminate people based on caste and creed if it wants to.

Paying equal respect to every religion , is the very anti-thesis of the concept of secularism. It’s a wicked fallacy because some religions do make it their business to infringe on the rights of others (homosexuals, women, infidels, you name it), they try, with all their might and ignorance, to ensure that their adherents be more equal among equals. We could do without such nonsense.

Here in India, anything that promotes Hinduism is criticised, spurned, and not tolerated but any criticism or mockery of any other denomination is always blindly projected as an act of intolerance, or an abuse of freedom, if you will.

India has no clue as to what democracy really entails. Effectively, mostly anti-Hinduism coupled with excessive mollycoddling of other creeds defines ‘secularism’ for Indians. I think that’s what prompted Arun Shourie to remark that the word “Secularism” has been prostituted.

Sans secularism and unity among various people, pluralism can be hugely explosive! It’s a dangerous concept, pluralism, and mostly incompatible in the current socio-political concept.

We have merely adopted the appearance and failed to actually grasp the profound concept of democracy or secularism or egalitarianism. This is what happens when you only import the style and not the substance.

Secularism is very different from a pseudo-masochistic orgy of self-hatred or toleration of intolerance; it is rather a tactic for self-defense.

“Let’s not talk about religion at all. To hell with religion” – that is the central aspect of secularism which these phony-intellectuals have always failed to grasp.

Secularism is not about meekly tolerating meta-physical or supernatural balderdash, or glorifying cherry-picked tenets of one religion over the other; it is about consciously resisting the very concept of religion altogether.

While, in the west, these concepts are instilled naturally, in India, these are not learnt spontaneously; rather the horrific indigenous misinterpretations of secularism are haphazardly drummed into our heads.

“All these problems do occur because of different interpretations of the principles of secularism.” ~ Bulent Arinc

References:

 

  • . “A Secular Agenda – For Strengthening Our Country,For Welding It” by Arun Shourie, Publisher: Rupa & Co, Language : English
  • G.J. Larson, Religion and Personal Law in Secular India: A Call to Judgment, Indiana University Press, ISBN 978-0253214805
  • “Indian Controversies: Essays on Religion in Politics” by Arun Shourie, Publishers: Rupa & Co, South Asia Books, A S A Publications, Language: English
  • “India’s secularism: new name for national subversion”, original in Hindi by Sita Ram Goel, translated into English by Yashpal Sharma, Publisher: Voice of India
  • “Muslim politics in Secular India” by Hamid Umar Dalwai, Publisher: Hind Pocket Books, Language:English

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Observation of adolescent behavior

 

Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A(Socio, Phil) B.Sc. M. Ed, Ph.D

Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India

Adolescence Stage is the period of rapid and revolutionary changes in the individual’s physical, mental, moral, emotional, spiritual, sexual and social outlook. A.T. Jersield defines, “Adolescence is that span of years during which boys and girls move from childhood to adulthood, mentally, emotionally, socially and physically”. The period of adolescence is considered as crucial and significant period of an individual’s life. Psychologically, adolescence is the age when the individual becomes integrated into the society of the adults. It is the stage when the child no longer feels that he is below the level of his elders but rather an equal with them, at least in rights. It also includes profound intellectual changes. These intellectual transformations, typical of an adolescent’s thinking, enable him to achieve his integration into the social relationships of the adults.

Characteristics of Adolescence Stage

It is a significant period because it is a period of:

  • Fast physical development
  • Fast mental development  Fast social development
  • Fast emotional development
  • Fast sexual development

Adolescent Inpatient Behavioral Rating Scale of  David Colton,  can be used for the observation  of adolescent behavior in an objective and scientific manner.

The purpose of this instrument is to provide a consistent and stable approach for measuring

variation in observed behaviors. This behavioral rating scale can be used as a measure to identify changes including trends and patterns in specified behaviors.

The instrument consists of 64 defined behaviors. There is also space to add behaviors that might not be reflected in these scales. The items have been grouped thematically, however behaviors to be observed and rated should be selected from across the instrument; item selection should not be limited by how the items are categorized. For example, the item “Difficulty settling at night” has been placed with behaviors that are often associated with anxiety.

All of the items are rated using a scale of severity: 0 = not present, 1 = mild, 2 = moderate, and 3 = severe. In turn, severity may be said to be a measurement of three dimensions: intensity, frequency and duration. These attributes may be assessed individually or in combination. Each item includes specific descriptors to assist in determining how the behavior should be rated.

Instructions:

This instrument may be used as either a pretreatment/post-treatment measure or as the basis for repeated (weekly, daily, shift-to-shift, or hourly) observations.

The entire form (all items) should be completed. If the behaviors are not observed, use “Not Present” to rate the item.

 

Anxiety Not Present        Mild         Moderate        Severe

‰ 1. Hyper vigilant                                       0                            1               2                        3

‰ 2. Difficulty settling at night                   0                            1                2                        3

‰ 3. Repetitive behaviors                            0                           1                2                        3

‰ 4. Nightmares/flashbacks                        0                           1                 2                       3

‰ 5. Low startle threshold                           0                           1                 2                        3

‰ 6. Panic attacks                                          0                           1                  2                        3

‰ 7. Grandiose                                               0                           1                 2                        3

Depression

Not Present    Mild       Moderate           Severe

‰ 8. Withdrawn                                                    0                1               2                         3

‰ 9. Sad affect                                                       0                1                2                          3

‰ 10. Flat affect                                                     0                1                2                         3

‰ 11. Crying spells                                                 0                1                2                         3

‰ 12. Tired/loss of energy                                     0               1                2                          3

‰ 13. Negative self-statements                             0              1                2                          3

‰ 14. Physical complaints                                       0              1               2                            3

‰ 15. Irritable                                                             0              1              2                           3

‰ 16. Self-harmful statements                                0             1               2                            3

‰ 17. Self-injurious behavior                                   0              1             2                           3

Communication Problems Not Present      Mild       Moderate     Severe

‰ 18. Loud/shouting                                                    0                     1             2                        3

‰ 19. Under-productive speech                                  0                     1            2                        3

‰ 20. Incoherent speech                                               0                     1            2                       3

‰ 21. Pressured speech                                                 0                     1            2                        3

‰ 22. Disorganized speech                                            0                     1             2                       3

‰ 23. Echolalia                                                                 0                     1             2                       3

Psycho-Motor Activity Not Present    Mild            Moderate     Severe

‰ 24. Dizziness and/or difficulty standing                   0                1                    2                    3

‰ 25. Exaggerated mannerisms                                     0                1                     2                   3

‰ 26. Stereotypical movements                                    0                 1                     2                   3

‰ 27. Perseveration                                                          0                1                     2                   3

‰ 28. Tremors and tics                                                     0                1                     2                   3

‰ 29. Psychomotor retardation                                       0               1                     2                   3

‰ 30. Clumsiness                                                                0                1                     2                   3

Attention Problems/Hyperactive Not Present     Mild      Moderate       Severe

‰ 31. Difficulty staying on task                                    0                      1              2                      3

‰ 32. Difficulty following directions                            0                      1              2                     3

‰ 33. Distracted by external stimuli                            0                       1              2                     3

‰ 34. Distracted by internal stimuli                              0                      1              2                     3

‰ 35. Fidgets/Restless                                                     0                     1                2                    3

‰ 36. Hyper-kinetic                                                         0                       1               2                     3

Conduct Problems/Disruptive Behaviors Not Present   Mild     Moderate     Severe

‰ 37. Cursing                                                                        0                     1            2                      3

‰ 38. Argumentative                                                          0                     1            2                      3

‰ 39. Frustration/Tantrums 0 1 2 3

‰ 40. Disobedient 0 1 2 3

‰ 41. Does not accept responsibility                             0                     1              2                       3

‰ 42. Rude                                                                          0                     1             2                        3

‰ 43. Manipulates others                                                0                     1              2                        3

‰ 44. Lies                                                                            0                     1              2                        3

‰ 45. Verbally threatens                                                  0                     1               2                       3

‰ 46. Physically intimating                                               0                     1               2                       3

‰ 47. Aggressive toward objects                                     0                      1              2                       3

‰ 48. Aggressive toward people                                      0                     1              2                        3

‰ 49. Demands must be met immediately                     0                     1              2                        3

‰ 50. Passively defiant                                                        0                     1             2                        3

Social Skills Not Present     Mild     Moderate         Severe

‰ 51. Touches others when/where they don’t want           0                  1             2                       3

‰ 52. Teases others                                                                    0                  1             2                       3

‰ 53. Does not maintain appropriate social distance          0                   1             2                       3

‰ 54. Engages in attention seeking behaviors                       0                   1             2                       3

‰ 55. Interrupts or intrudes                                                       0                  1             2                        3

‰ 56. Difficulty waiting one’s turn                                            0                  1              2                       3

‰ 57. Difficulty picking up social cues                                       0                 1               2                       3

‰ 58. Sexually inappropriate – directed toward self               0                1               2                       3

‰ 59. Sexually inappropriate – directed toward others          0                 1              2                       3

‰ 60. Difficulty maintaining personal hygiene                          0                1               2                       3

‰ 61. Incontinence (including bedwetting)                               0                 1              2                        3

‰ 62. Bowel management problems 0 1 2 3

 

 

 

Eating Habits

‰ 63.                          Ate most          Skipped most      Picky about what    Overeats or

of this meal     of this meal             he/she ate             gorges

Breakfast                           1                      2                                3                           4

Lunch                                  1                      2                                3                           4

Dinner                                 1                     2                                 3                           4

Snack                                   1                     2                                 3                           4

Sleeping Habits

‰ 64

Sleeps thru the night               Difficulty falling        Awakens early          Restless sleep

1                                               2                                  3                                 4

Other Behaviors (specify)

Not Present        Mild           Moderate    Severe

‰ 65. ___________________________________ 0                         1                    2                       3

‰ 66. ___________________________________ 0                         1                     2                      3

Adolescent Inpatient Behavioral Rating Scale David Colton,

Anxiety

1. Hyper Vigilant

0 1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior was not observed. Mild: Has expressed distrust and need to watch others; tends to scan the environment. Moderate: Intermittent periods of watching others or the environment to the extent that the individual is not attending to immediate tasks. May express belief that others are plotting against him/her Severe: Watching is pervasive and becomes the primary task to the extent that attention to other tasks is compromised. May associate everyday activities with plots of harm. May not want to interact with others due to these fears.
ü  OBSERVED-PL TICK      

 

 

 

  1. Difficulty Settling at Night
0 1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior was not observed. Mild: Procrastinates in completing nighttime routines. Doesn’t look forward to going to bed Moderate: Resists completing nighttime routines. May request that bedroom or hallway lights be kept on. Still awake an hour or more after lights out. Severe: Power struggles over going to bed or being in bedroom. Frequent excuses for leaving bedroom at night. Still awake two or more hours after lights out.
OBSERVED-PL TICK      
  1. Repetitive Behaviors
0 1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior was not observed. Mild: May display some repetitive or ritualistic behaviors, such as hand washing or lining toiletries in a set pattern. Moderate: Repetitive/ ritualistic behaviors are noticeable and interfere with daily functioning. For example, may become upset if he/she is not allowed to complete the behavior. Severe: Has physical reaction to nightmares and/or flashbacks, which occur on a daily basis, such as crying, shaking, screaming, fast breathing, and/or increased heart rate.
OBSERVED-PL TICK      

 

 

  1. Low Startle Threshold 0

 

0 1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior was not observed. Mild: Individual appears “jumpy” and easily startled by others or events in the environment. Moderate: Individual is very “jumpy” in response to specific situations. Severe: “Jumpy” and “nervous” almost all the time. May isolate self from others and situations to reduce fears.
OBSERVED-PL TICK      

 

6. Panic Attacks

0 1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior was not observed. Mild: Appears to be in physical discomfort, such as sweating, shaking, feeling short of breath, which is not incapacitating. Moderate: Sudden periods of intense sweating, shaking, feeling short of breathe, or other physical discomfort. Needs reassurance to calm down. Severe: Sudden periods of intense sweating, shaking, or feeling short of breathe, which is physically incapacitating. Routines are restricted in response to potential panic attacks (for example, refuses to leave room or unit).
OBSERVED-PL TICK      

 

 

  1. Grandiose
0 1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior was not observed. Mild: Occasionally exaggerates selfimportance or exploits. Likes to brag about self to others. Moderate: Often exaggerates or concocts elaborate stories of selfimportance and denies grandiosity when confronted. Severe: Boastful on a daily basis, with elaborate stories of self-importance. Expresses little or no remorse when confronted with exaggeration and will defend in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
OBSERVED-PL TICK      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMUNICATION PROBLEMS

 

18. Loud/Shouting      
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

Mild: Occasionally raises

voice or becomes excited

when speaking.

Moderate: Often speaks

loudly or shouts when

communicating.

Severe: Primary method

of communicating is by

speaking loudly or

shouting. Voice may be

hoarse from shouting

 

19. Under-Productive

Speech

0

     
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

Mild: Often needs

coaxing to speak. This is

different than speaking

softly or in a monotone.)

Moderate: Constantly

needs coaxing to speak.

Rarely initiates verbal

interactions.

Severe: Virtually or

entirely mute. Will not

respond when spoken to.

 

 

20. Incoherent Speech      
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

 

 

Mild: Speech may be

slurred, mumbled, and at

times difficult to

understand.

 

Moderate: Mumbles and

mutters often. Speech

very difficult to

understand.

Severe: Speech does not

make sense or speech is

so garbled that it not

understandable

 

 

21. Pressured Speech      
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

.

Mild: Not applicable as

pressured speech is

typically a moderate to

severe condition.

 

Moderate: Speaks

rapidly and has difficulty

slowing down speech,

even when prompted.

 

Severe: Speaks so

rapidly may be difficult to understand; has extreme difficulty trying to stop is unable to stop talking

 

 

22. Disorganized Speech      
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

 

Mild: May mix words or

topics during verbal

interactions, so that

sentences don’t always

make sense.

 

Moderate: Content of

speech shifts from subject

to subject, in an apparent

random fashion. May

make up words as he/she

speaks.

 

Severe: Very difficult to

converse with the

individual as the content

of their speech is

constantly shifting.

Individual may respond in totally irrelevant ways or reach illogical

conclusions.

 

 

23. Echolalia      
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

 

Mild: Occasionally will

repeat a word or phrase

spoken by another.

Happens once or twice a

day.

 

Moderate: Frequently

(several times a shift)

repeats words or phrases.

Speaks in a mechanical,

robot like speech pattern.

 

Severe: Repeats words

or phrases of others

several times an hour.

Has difficulty being

redirected from this

behavior.

 

 

PSYCHO-MOTOR ACTIVITIES

24. Dizziness and/or

Difficulty Standing

     
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

 

Mild: Patient verbally

complains of dizziness or nausea, but able to

ambulate.

 

Moderate: Patient

verbally complains of

dizziness or nausea, needs assistance to stand.

 

Severe: Difficulty

getting out of bed or may need to remain in bed. Needs physical assistance to ambulate.

 

 

25. Exaggerated

Mannerisms

     
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

.

 

Mild: May display broad and embellished gestures,

.

 

Moderate: Often uses

overstated gestures and

facial expressions when

communicating

Severe: All body

movements, at virtually

all times appear

exaggerated.

 

 

26. Stereotypical

Movements

     
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

 

 

Mild: Occasional

repetitive motor activity,

 

Moderate: Persistent motor activity often

appears repetitive and nonproductive

 

Severe: Repetitive motor activity occurs throughout

the day and may interfere with social communication with others.

 

 

27. Perseveration      
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

.

 

Mild: May occasionally

appear to be stuck on a

thought or behavior

Moderate: Frequently

“is stuck” on the same

movement or thought,

 

Severe: Perseverative

behaviors interfere with

ability to engage in other

tasks, including activities

of daily living and social

interactions.

 

 

28. Tremors and Tics      
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

.

 

Mild: Sudden motor jerk

or spasm in face or hands noted once or twice in an

hour

 

Moderate: Sudden facial and hand muscle spasms, or uncontrolled

utterances noted more

than twice an hour.

 

Severe: Almost

continuous, multiple

facial and hand spasms

and/or uncontrolled

utterances observed.

Muscles or limbs may be

severely contorted.

 

 

29. Psychomotor

Retardation

 

     
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

,

Mild: Some

psychomotor stiffness or

jerkiness.

 

Moderate: Notable

psychomotor difficulties

including stiff or jerky

movements, pill-rolling,

grimacing,exaggerated

facial expression.

 

Severe: Most or all

physical movement is

exaggerated or difficult

30. Difficulty Staying

on Task

     
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

 

Mild: May need

prompting to stay on task

several times a day.

 

Moderate: Needs

frequently prompting and coaxing to attend to a task, but does not stay on task for more than 10 –15 minutes before needing

additional redirection.

 

Severe: Cannot stay

focused on tasks for more than 5 – 10 minutes or cannot engage in the task

when directed. When not

on task the behaviors are

disruptive to others.

Attention Problems/Hyperactive

 

31. Clumsiness

 

     
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

.

 

Mild: Somewhat more

clumsy for age, such as a

teenager who frequently

falls while running

Moderate: Frequently

clumsy, such as falling

over objects or knocking

over objects several times

a day/shift.

 

Severe: Extremely

awkward, frequently

bumping into things and

people throughout the

day/shift.

 

 

32. Difficulty Following

Directions

     
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

.

 

Mild: Difficulty

immediately focusing on

verbal prompts and

directions, but does return

to task or response within

a minute or two.

 

Moderate: Responds to

multiple prompts with

great difficulty and may

or may not respond to the

redirection. May require

physical touch to

establish contact

Severe: Is so

preoccupied and/or off

task that is unable to

respond to prompts and

redirection. Physical

touch used as primary

means of redirection.

May not be able to

complete a task.

 

33. Distracted by

external stimuli

     
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

 

Mild: Responds to minor

interruptions or external

activities.

 

 

Moderate: Responds to

objects and activities in

immediate surroundings

without thinking.

Severe: Response to

external stimuli is

persistent and prevents

individual from

completing immediate

tasks.

 

 

 

34. Distracted by

internal stimuli

     
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

 

 

Mild: Appears deep in

thought/self-absorbed,

with little awareness of

surroundings. May appear

surprised or startled when

addressed.

 

Moderate: Does not

appear aware of

surroundings or others in

the environment. May

engage in behaviors in

response to thoughts

without awareness of

others.

 

Severe: Individual is so

preoccupied by thoughts

that he/she has difficulty

responding to others or

his/her environment.

May not respond even

when prompted. May

converse with self (in

response to voices).

 

 

35. Fidgets/Restless      
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

.

 

Mild: Difficulty sitting

still for much more than

15 minutes. Body in

frequent motion

Moderate: Squirms and

has difficulty sitting still

for more than 5 minutes.

Body in frequent random

motion.

 

Severe: Squirms and

wriggles constantly.

Difficulty sitting still for

more than a few minutes. Body in constant, random

motion

 

 

36. Hyper-kinetic      
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

 

Mild: Has high levels of

energy, which interferes

with staying on task.

Needs verbal prompts to

reengage.

 

Moderate: Physical

motion greatly interferes

with staying on task.

Needs constant verbal

prompts to help focus.

May at times need

physical prompts to

redirect.

 

Severe: Cannot stay on

task due to high levels of

physical activity, such as

running, jumping, and

climbing. Ignores verbal

prompts and may need

physical touch such as

holding to help refocus

 

 

Conduct Problems/Disruptive Behaviors

37. Cursing      
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

 

.

Mild: Curses at both

appropriate and

inappropriate times, i.e.,

language is ‘peppered’

with sporadic cursing.

 

Moderate: Cursing is a

routine part of verbal

communication and may

interject curse words in

most statements.

Severe: Has difficulty

not using curse words,

even when prompted.

Defends use of curse

words even when told by

others that it is offensive

 

 

38. Argumentative      
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

 

Mild: Initiates arguments

over minor offenses or

when given simple

directions. Easily

becomes defensive.

 

Moderate: Frequently

contests directions and

feedback. May raise

voice, curse, or appear to

be excited.

 

Severe: Interactions are

frequently based on

conflict. Verbal

communication is

characterized by cursing,

shouting, “getting in your face,” and being highly defensive.

 

 

39. Frustration/

Tantrums

     
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

 

 

Mild: Gives up easily on

tasks when the task

appears to be demanding.

May express frustration

by cursing, stomping feet,

or leaving activity.

 

Moderate: May initially

refuse and therefore

require encouragement to engage in a demanding activity. May externalize frustration through attempts to escape the

situation or through

acting-out/aggression

toward objects.

Severe: Is very avoidant

of demanding activities.

May externalize

frustration through

attempts to escape the

situation or through

acting-out/aggression

toward objects and/or

others.

 

 

40. Disobedient      
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

.

 

 

Mild: Occasionally

refuses to do as asked,

which may be evidenced

by being argumentative,

cursing, and shouting

Moderate: Often refuses

to do as asked or as

suggested and may do

exactly the opposite of

what was requested.

Appears to be reinforced

by this behavior.

Severe: Often breaks

rules and does not follow through with

expectations. Interactions

over disobedient

behaviors typically result

in conflict and may lead

to aggressive behaviors

 

 

41. Does Not Accept

Responsibility

     
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

 

Mild: When making a

poor or inadequate

decision, tends to refuse

to accept responsibility

and the consequences that  result from those choices.

 

Moderate: Demonstrates

poor decision making

skills and then minimizes

impact on self and others.

 

Severe: In addition to

minimizing the effects of

poor choices, when

confronted about his/her

choices, is likely to blame

others for own behaviors

 

 

42. Rude      
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

 

 

Mild: Occasionally says

or does things to be

hurtful of others. For

example, may ridicule

another person.

Moderate: Often

engages others by saying

and doing things that are

hurtful. Demonstrates a

lack of sensitivity to the

feelings of others.

 

Severe: Persistently will

say or do things to illicit

negative behaviors from

others. Appears to be

reinforced when others

become irritated by these

behaviors.

 

 

43. Manipulates Others      
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

 

Mild: May occasionally

do or say things to

influence others to engage

in negative behaviors.

 

Moderate: Appears to

be reinforced by ability to

manipulate others. Often

uses manipulation to

obtain personal gain.

 

Severe: Manipulation

gets in the way of

developing healthy

relationships with others.

May take advantage of

‘weaker’ peers who are

easily victimized. Seems

to enjoy ability to get

others into trouble.

 

 

44. Lies      
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

 

Mild: May use a lie to

defend a poor decision or

exaggerate a situation.

 

Moderate: Feels

comfortable in telling

falsehoods and denies that

he/she is lying when

confronted.

 

Severe: Expresses little

or no remorse when

confronted with a

falsehood and will defend the lie in the face of overwhelming evidence

to the contrary.

 

 

45. Verbally Threatens      
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

.

 

Mild: In response to

frustration or anger, will

threaten aggression.

However, will usually

apologize later and can

acknowledge that the

threat was a response to

the situation

Moderate: Uses verbal

threats to intimate others.

Demonstrates little or no

contrition after the threat

is made. Threats are

often verbalized through

shouting and cursing

 

Severe: Significant level

of harm is implied or

evident in the threat,

Threat

may be verbalized in a

steady, “steely” tone of

voice

 

 

46. Physically

Intimidating

 

     
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

.

 

Mild: Has on occasion

used physical presence to

frighten or manipulate

another. May be used in

response to frustration or

anger.

 

Moderate: Seeks out

individuals and tends to

repeatedly physically

intimate another person;

i.e., behavior is clearly

volitional. Tends to use

intimation with

individuals who are easily

victimized

Severe: Uses physical

intimidation as the

primary means of

connecting with and/or

obtaining gain from

another. Uses intimation

with whoever he/she

wants to take advantage

of regardless of age, size,

etc

 

 

47. Aggressive toward

objects

     
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

.

Mild: May throw, punch,

or hit objects out of

frustration or anger.

 

Moderate: Sustained

and intense aggression

toward objects, usually

accompanied by other

behaviors, such as

shouting, cursing, or

crying.

 

Severe: Aggression

toward objects is

accompanied by loss of

self-control and may

result in self-injury, such

as from banging hands on the wall

 

 

48. Aggressive toward

people

     
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

 

Mild: When angered or

frustrated may lash out at others, such as pushing or shoving.

 

Moderate: Physical

aggression such as

punching, kicking, and

biting, which is often

targeted toward another.

 

Severe: Aggression does

bodily harm to another.

 

 

49. Demands must be

met immediately

     
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

 

 

Mild: May fidget, stomp

feet, shake, and/or pout

when he/she doesn’t get

demand met immediately.

 

Moderate: In additional

to physical expression,

repeats demands over and

over in a loud or shrill

tone of voice.

Severe: May become

verbally threatening,

physically aggressive, or

may lose self-control in

response to not getting

demands met

immediately

 

 

50. Passively Defiant      
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

.

 

Mild: Occasionally will

refuse to follow directions

by ignoring the person

providing the guidance

Moderate: Ignores

directions and continues

with alternative activities

even when asked to stop.

Appears to enjoy the

frustration this engenders.

 

Severe: Does not follow

directions, engage in

scheduled activities or

participate as requested.

Ignores attempts at

redirection. These

behaviors often escalate

into power struggles and

heated arguments

 

 

 

Social Skills

51. Touches others

when/ where they don’t

want

     
  1 2 2
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

 

Mild: May use physical

contact at inappropriate

times and does not appear

to recognize social cues

that the behavior is

unwanted. For example,

may use a hug as a

greeting.

 

Moderate: Touches

another’s body in socially

unacceptable ways, such

as rubbing against a

person or grabbing a

woman’s breasts. Needs

verbal redirection to stop

the behaviors.

 

Severe: Continues

inappropriate touching

even when reminded and

may require physical

interaction to stop the

behavior, such as

extending a hand to keep

the individual at arm’s

length

 

 

 

52. Teases others      
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

 

Mild: Occasionally

teases others in a manner

that is not always age

appropriate. Is fairly

redirectable.

 

Moderate: Often teases

others in ways that are

clearly not age

appropriate. Needs

frequent redirection.

Teasing is usually not

tolerated by peers.

 

Severe: Continues

inappropriate teasing

even with frequent

prompts. May require

physical interaction to

stop the behavior, such as

use of time out. Peers

may respond in an

aggressive manner if

teasing does not desist.

 

 

 

53. Does not maintain

social distance

     
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

 

Mild: Stands or sits very

close to another person

during interactions. The

other person may need to

step back or move from

the seat in response to the

close proximity.

 

Moderate: Requires

frequent prompts

regarding being to close.

Does not appear to be

aware of another’s

discomfort.

 

Severe: Continues to

intrude into another’s

personal space, even

when reminded and may

require physical

interaction to stop the

behavior, such as

extending a hand to keep

the individual at arm’s

length.

 

 

54. Engages in attention

seeking behaviors

     
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

.

.

Mild: Occasional

attention seeking requires

staff redirection, which

the individual accepts

without becoming

oppositional

 

Moderate: Attention

seeking behavior

continues after several

prompts and may require

physical redirection, such

as time out. Behaviors

may be tolerated by peers

Severe: Behaviors

interfere with staying on

task and require

assistance from staff to

manage. Peers have

difficulty tolerating the

behaviors

 

 

55. Interrupts or

intrudes

     
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

 

 

Mild: Interrupts without

using appropriate social

skills, e.g., without

saying, “excuse me.”

Behaviors are generally

tolerated by others.

Moderate: Requires

frequent verbal prompts

regarding interrupting or

intruding on others. Does  not appear to be aware of another’s discomfort.

 

Severe: Continues to

intrude or interrupt even

when reminded and may

require physical removal

from the area/situation to

stop the behavior, such as using time out. Peers

have difficulty tolerating

the behaviors.

 

 

56. Difficulty waiting

one’s turn

     
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

.

 

Mild: Occasionally

disrupts others when

speaking or breaks into an

activity. At times

requires redirection for

this behavior.

 

Moderate: Frequently

disrupts others when

speaking or breaks into an

activity. Requires

redirection for this

behavior

Severe: Constantly

initiates without regard

for the feelings or needs

of others. Appears to

lack self-control over this behavior, even when

prompted.

 

 

57. Difficulty picking

up social cues

     
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

 

Mild: Needs occasional

prompting regarding

social behaviors and

responding to social cues

from others.

 

Moderate: Often

misreads social cues,

resulting in need for

verbal and or physical

redirection, such as

separating from peers.

 

Severe: Maladroit social

behaviors and inability to

respond to social cues

results in negative social

consequences.

 

 

 

58. Sexually

Inappropriate: Directed

toward others

     
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

 

Mild: Occasionally

makes sexually

inappropriate comments

or initiates sexually

inappropriate touching of others, such as rubbing

against another person.

 

Moderate: Requires

verbal redirection for

using sexually

inappropriate comments

during social interactions.

May require verbal and/or

physical redirection due

to attempting to touch

another’s private parts.

 

Severe: Attempts to

grope another person

requiring physical

separation from others.

May be hypersexual, with

these behaviors occurring

frequently throughout the

day/shift

 

 

59. Difficulty with

personal hygiene

     
  1 2 3
Not Present: Behavior

was not observed.

.

 

Mild: Occasionally needs

prompting to complete

daily hygiene. For

example, may need to

send back to the

bathroom to take a

shower or brush teeth

Moderate: Needs

frequent prompting, on a

daily basis, to complete

personal hygiene, such as

bathing and brushing

teeth. Does not pick up

social cues that poor

hygiene is undesirable.

 

Severe: Requires

physical assistance and

direction in completing

personal hygiene. Cannot

complete daily hygiene

activities without this

assistance.

 

 

 

Eating and Sleeping Behaviors

60. Eating Habits      
1 2 3 4
Ate Most of Meal: Eats

all or most of the portions

served with the meal.

 

Skipped Most of Meal:

Ate only one or two items

and/or did not eat all of

each portion served, so

that most of the food was

left on the plate.

 

Picky About What

he/she Eats: Has very

limited range of foods

that he or she will eat.

May eat snacks in lieu of

meals served or request

extra portions of a

particular item.

 

Overeats or Gorges:

Eats quickly and often

asks for extra servings.

May ask for or take extra

portions from peers. May

ask for additional food

and snacks throughout the

day.

 

 

61.Sleeping Habits      
1 2 3 4
Sleeps thru the night

w/o incident: When 15

minute bed checks are

made, child usually

appears to be deeply

asleep. If awakens to use

the bathroom, typically

falls back to sleep

quickly.

 

Difficulty falling asleep:

Has difficulty falling

asleep. May be up an

hour or two after lights

out. May result in being

sleepy and/or irritable

later in the day.

 

Awakens early:

Awakens early and

cannot fall back to sleep.

May result in being

sleepy and/or irritable

later in the day.

 

Restless sleeper:

Difficulty falling and

staying asleep. Is often

up and out of room during

the night and is awake

when bed checks are

made. May result in being

sleepy and/or irritable

later in the day.

References

.Hawton K, Houston K, Shepperd R (1999) Suicide in young people. Study of 174 cases, aged under 25 years, based on coroners’ and medical records. Br J Psychiatry 175: 271–276.

.Hughes-Hassell S, Rodge P (2007) The Leisure Reading Habits of Urban Adolescents. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 51: 22–23.

.Livaudais JC, Napoles-Springer A, Stewart S, Kaplan CP (2007) Understanding Latino adolescent risk behaviors: parental and peer influences. Ethn Dis 17: 298–304.

.Rudatsikira E SS, Kazembe LN, Muula AS (2007) Prevalence and associated factors of physical fighting among school-going adolescents in Namibia. Ann Gen Psychiatry 6:

.The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health: study design. (Accessed 2009) http://www.cpc.unc.edu/projects/addhealth/design.

Caspersen CJ, Pereira MA, Curran KM (2000) Changes in physical activity patterns in the United States, by sex and cross-sectional age. Med Sci Sports Exerc 32: 1601–1609.

Eccles JS, Barber BL, Stone M, Hunt J (2003) Extracurricular activities and adolescent development. Journal of Social Issues 59: 865–889.

Hancox RJ, Milne BJ, Poulton R (2004) Association between child and adolescent television viewing and adult health: a longitudinal birth cohort study. Lancet 364: 257–262.

Khan A (2000) Adolescents and Reproductive Health In Pakistan: A Literature Review. The Population Council, Pakistan Office. (Accessed Achenbach TM (1983) Manual for the Child Behavior Checklist and Revised Child Behavior Profile. Burlington, VT. University of Vermont, Department of Psychiatry.

WH0-10 Facts on Adolescent Health. (Accessed 2009) http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/adolescent_health/facts/en/index4.html.

 

 

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Critical analysis of school situation in terms of its role in promoting learners cognitive and non-cognitive learning output

Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A(Socio, Phil) B.Sc. M. Ed, Ph.D

Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India

Academic performance is an outcome that is affected by a range of factors that are both intrinsic to the individual learner, and apparent within the context of their environment.

In drawing together the findings from the literature review, the various noncognitive

skills and attributes were categorized into five areas including:

Academic Behaviors

Academic behaviors are reflected through the visible and observable signs that a student is engaged and being effortful with their learning. Academic behaviors directly relate

to how well a student performs in class and have a significant influence on achievement.

Academic Perseverance

Academic perseverance is based on a range of psychological concepts that form the foundation for understanding a students ability to set goals, stay focused, and work towards educational attainment.

Academic Mindsets

Academic mindsets are the beliefs and attitudes that a young person holds in relation to their academic work. When a student has a positive academic mindset, they are more likely to be motivated to learn, persistent with their work, and demonstrate perseverance.

Learning Strategies

Learning strategies are the processes that a student can draw upon to engage with the cognitive tasks of thinking, remembering, and/or learning. This includes the domains of study skills, metacognition, self-regulation, and goal-setting.

Social Skills

Social skills focus on the interpersonal qualities of a student and the behaviors that facilitate social interactions with others. In addition to improving interactions with peers and teachers within the school context, social skills are also considered to be an important component of future work and life outcomes.

COGNITIVE ABILITIES ARE BRAINS FUNCTIONS

Cognitive abilities (and skills) are usually identified with intelligence and the ability to solve abstract problems. Measures of these skills include the IQ test and the standardized tests on reading, science and maths carried out almost routinely at the international level since the early 1990 or even before. Since the different aspects of cognition are highly correlated, a general intelligence factor labelled “g” can be extracted from correlated test scores.

Perception- Learning outcome  involved  are   Recognition and interpretation of sensory stimuli (smell, touch, hearing, etc.)

Attention-  Learning outcome involved  are  Ability to sustain concentration on a particular object, action, or thought, and ability to manage competing demands in our environment.

Memory- Learning outcome   involved  are Short-term/ working memory (limited storage), and Long-term memory (unlimited storage).

Motor skills- Learning outcome   involved  are Ability to mobilize our muscles and bodies, and ability to manipulate objects.

Language- Learning outcome   involved are  Skills allowing us to translate sounds into words and generate verbal output.

Visual and Spatial Processing- Learning outcome involved are  Ability to process incoming visual stimuli, to understand spatial relationship between objects, and to visualize images and scenarios.

Executive Functions- Learning outcome involved are  Abilities that enable goal-oriented behavior, such as the ability to plan, and execute a goal.

These include:
Flexibility: Learning outcome involved are  the capacity for quickly switching to the appropriate mental mode.
Theory of mind: Learning outcome involved are    insight into other people’s inner world, their plans, their likes and dislikes. include:
Anticipation: Learning outcome involved are   prediction based on pattern recognition.
Problem-solving: Learning outcome involved are    defining the problem in the right way to then generate solutions and pick the right one.
Decision making: Learning outcome involved are   the ability to make decisions based on problem-solving, on incomplete information and on emotions (ours and others’).
Working Memory: the capacity to hold and manipulate information “on-line” in real time.
Emotional self-regulation: Learning outcome involved are    the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions for good performance.
Sequencing: Learning outcome involved are    the ability to break down complex actions into manageable units and prioritize them in the right order.
Inhibition: Learning outcome involved are    the ability to withstand distraction, and internal urges.

Non cognitive learning outcome

Non cognitive learning outcome are personality traits that are weakly correlated with measures of intelligence, such as the IQ index. A broadly accepted taxonomy of personality traits in the  definition by Nyhus and Pons, 2005, model includes the following factors;

Agreeableness is the willingness to help other people, act in accordance with other people interests and the degree to which an individual is co-operative, warm and agreeable versus cold, disagreeable and antagonistic.

Conscientiousness is the preference for following rules and schedules, for keeping engagements and the attitude of being hardworking, organized and dependable, as opposed to lazy, disorganized and unreliable.

Emotional stability encompasses dimensions such as nervous versus relaxed and dependent versus independent, and addresses the degree to which the individual is insecure, anxious, depressed and emotional rather than calm, self-confident and cool.

Autonomy indicates the individual propensity to decide and the degree of initiative and control. Extraversion is the preference for human contacts, empathy, gregariousness, assertiveness and the wish to inspire people.

Non cognitive skills are a crucial ingredient in the concept of emotional intelligence

used by social psychologists and human resource management specialists.


The impact and acquisition of the above referred cognitive and non-cognitive skills depands on the learning resources available in schools. Hence it is necessary to evaluate the learning resources in schools.

The purpose of this document is to provide guidelines for the evaluation and selection of learning resources for the public schools in ———..

A. For the purposes of this document, we use the following terms:

(1) “Learning Resources” will refer to any person(s) or any material  with instructional content or function that is used for formal or informal teaching/learning purposes. Learning resources may include, but are not limited to, print and non-print materials; audio, visual, electronic, and digital hardware/software resources; and human resources.

(2) “Resource-Based Learning” will refer to the curriculum documents that actively involves students, teachers, in the effective use of a wide range of print, non-print and human resources.

(3) “Selection Tools/Aids” will refer to bibliographies that include an evaluative or critical annotation for each item, providing recommendations; bibliographic information for each item; purchasing information; access to entries by author, title, subject, format, and audience to aid in locating recommended materials; and analytical indices, appendices, or other special features useful in helping students and teachers locate portions of works that may be in the school’s collection.

Statement of Objectives of Selection

• To provide suggestions to select resources that will enrich and support the curriculum, taking into consideration the diversity of interests and perspectives, and the variety of abilities, learning styles and maturity levels of the learners served;

• To provide suggestions   to select resources that will stimulate growth in factual knowledge, literary appreciation, aesthetic values, and knowledge of societal standards;

• To provide suggestions to select resources representative of gender, appearance, sexual orientation, ability/disability, belief system, family structure, race and ethnicity, and socio-economic status;

Procedures for Selection of Learning Resources General Learning Resources: Considerations Content/Format/Design Methodology

  • be chosen to help students understand the many important contributions made to our civilization by minority groups and people/groups with a variety of ethnic backgrounds
  • be designed to motivate students and staff to examine their attitudes and behaviors, and to comprehend their duties, responsibilities, rights, and privileges as participating citizens in our society
  • be relevant to the needs of the student. Learning resources should
  • be supportive of continuous learning by the individual
  • portray positive role models
  • promote equality by enhancing students’ understanding of a multicultural and diverse society
  • provide for both formative and summative assessment/evaluation as appropriate
  • recognize the integration of students with special needs (as part of the class)
  • reflect good safety practices in texts and visuals (e.g., use of helmets, seatbelts)
  • reflect sensitivity to gender and sexual orientation, the perspective of aboriginal people, and cultural and ethnic heritage
  • support/promote students’ self-esteem and respect for the self-esteem of others
  • use language appropriate to the intended audience, and exclude slang, vernaculars, or expletives that detract from meaning.

Learning resources should

Assessment/ Evaluation Social Considerations

1. Gender Equity

  • Education that is accessible and appropriate is sensitive to how gender shapes and is shaped by experience and learning.
  • Female and male students may have different methods of learning and different educational needs. In a gender-equitable education system, all methods of learning are respected equally, and students with gender-specific needs or characteristics are supported and provided with resources appropriately and equally.
  • Language influences the way in which people understand and interpret the world around them; therefore, the language of recommended learning resources should be inclusive, but not necessarily neutral, and should promote equality for males and females.
  • Students are influenced by attitudes and values around them. It is important that recommended learning resources reflect balanced images and information about males and females and support broad choices and many roles for both sexes.
  • Some materials contain an inherent gender bias because of historical or cultural context. When such resources are used, students should be made aware of the context.

2. Multiculturalism

• Students should experience a sense of belonging coupled with pride in their heritage. Learning materials should raise levels of awareness about ethnocentrism, bias, stereotypes, discrimination, and racism, and teach or provide examples of inclusive, pro-social behaviours.

• Students from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds need to see themselves reflected in educational materials. The sharing of cultural heritages, languages, traditions, values, and lifestyles enriches the education of all students.

• To these ends, resource collections should include materials that

  • affirm and enhance self-esteem through pride in heritage
  • create sensitivity to and respect for differences and similarities within and among groups
  • increase awareness of ethnic and cultural diversity
  • promote cross-cultural understanding, citizenship, and racial harmony
  • reflect and validate students’ cultural experiences.

3.. Students with Special Needs

A. Students with Intellectual Disabilities

Students with intellectual disabilities have intellectual development functional behaviours that are significantly below the norm for students the same age.

Language and Text Organization

  • Avoid complex sentences.
  • Ensure that each sentence contains only one main concept.
  • Express concepts at a literal level.
  • Highlight important information for easy recognition.
  • Provide clear structure and appearance, focussing student attention to key ideas.
  • Provide clear, simple instructions that can be broken down into component steps.
  • Provide organizers, in advance, as well as definitions of key vocabulary, with illustrations.
  • Use simplified vocabulary, avoiding excessive dialect or idioms.

Visuals

• Include illustrative material (pictures, graphs, etc.) that supports text.

• Use real life pictures where possible.

General

  • Avoid unnecessary complexity in activities.
  • Be conscious of spacing of print (lots of white back ground, large margins) and font size.
  • Ensure age appropriateness, even if adapted in language, conceptual complexity, and structure to meet intellectual ability.
  • Illustrate concepts by real-life examples connected to students’
  • Include explicit aids for memorization and review, and “how-to” instructions.
  • Offer group work and paired peer activities.
  • Provide multi-sensory instruction.
  • Provide opportunities for approaching concepts at various levels of complexity.
  • Provide summaries of important information.
  • experiences.

B. Students with Learning Disabilities

Language and Text Organization

  • Avoid excessive dialect or idioms.
  • Define and bold new vocabulary in text.
  • Highlight key information.
  • Note use of subtitles in nonfiction materials.
  • Provide clear structure and appearance, focussing student attention to key ideas.
  • Provide simple, clear instructions that are broken down into component steps.
  • Vary font styles for concept purposes, not just for variety.

Visuals

  • Illustrate important concepts both visually, and through sound.
  • Illustrate main idea with action that is central and attention grabbing.
  • Show single actions that focus attention.
  • Use clear, uncluttered illustrative material (pictures, graphs, etc.).

General

• Allow for processing time, and time to use compensatory strategies.

• Express concepts, and provide opportunities for approaching them

• Illustrate concepts by real-life examples connected to students’ experiences.

• Provide explicit aids for memorization and review, and “how-to” instructions.

• Provide means other than print to access information (e.g., support

• Provide multi-sensory instruction.

• Provide opportunities for group work and paired peer activities.

• Provide organizers that structure the learning task for the student.

• Provide, in advance, organizers to support information on video.

• Review and summarize key concepts using tools such as graphic organizers.

• Suggest various means students may use to demonstrate understanding of concepts (e.g., oral or written material, including work done with a word processor; tapes, and video, demonstrations or performances, portfolios).

at various levels of complexity.

materials on tape or video).

C. Students with Visual Impairments

Language and Text Organization

• Avoid columnar presentation.

• Avoid hyphenated text.

• Avoid random shifting of print sizes.

• Consider clarity of print quality, as many materials will require enlargement by a factor of up to six.

• Have wide margins.

• Provide either tactual (braille, tactual drawings) or auditory (books on tape, e-text, sighted) materials for students who are totally blind

• Provide predictable, consistent placement of print on the page or screen.

• Provide strong contrast between print and background, use white or pastel backgrounds.

• Separate print from visuals.

• Use clear pronoun referents that do not require visual supports for clarity.

• Use large type.

• Use simple fonts with no overlap or running together of letters.

• Use well-spaced text.

Visuals

• Avoid clutter and glare on the page (glossy/laminated paper and charts).

• Do not rely on colour between letters, numbers, or objects to aid comprehension (colour differences may not be perceivable).

• Portray action centre/front with characters in foreground.

• Use clearly shaped illustrations, avoid shadows.

• Use illustrations that are directly relevant to text rather than peripheral.

• Use less, rather than more, image detail.

• Use photographs that show single-focus events.

General

• Avoid background sound that competes with significant aspects.

• Avoid distortion of sound, especially speech.

• Use distinctly different and contrasting voices to allow distinction of characters.

D. Students with Language Difficulties

Visuals

• Place illustrations as close as possible to relevant text.

General

• Ensure that context increases rather than decreases clarity.

• Caption all dialogue.

E. Students with Hearing Impairments

Language and Text Organization

• Avoid, or use minimally, passive voice verbs, expressions of negation, multiple modifying phrases in one sentence, colloquial or idiomatic expressions.

• Provide chapter titles that match main idea.

• Provide clear sentence structure.

• Provide contextual clues.

• Provide paragraph development.

• Use clear pronoun referents or antecedents.

• Use controlled vocabulary.

• Use identification of subtopics.

• Use logical and clear development of main ideas supported by relevant details.

• Use of signal words (ordinals) for sequence, emphasis, and comparison.

• Use overviews or advance organizers.

• Use tables of contents, indices, glossaries, summaries.

Visuals

• Provide clarity of video images such that room lighting will allow for sign language interpretation of dialogue.

• Provide useful graphics (not just pictures).

• Provide various graphics and illustrations to support concepts and thought processes.

• Use graphics located near relevant text.

• Use graphics that support, enhance, and re-explain main ideas.

General

• Use captioned dialogue.

• Provide context that increases rather than decreases clarity.

Students are considered gifted when they possess demonstrated or potential high capability with respect to intellect, or creativity, or have skills associated with specific disciplines (e.g., music). They may need instruction with approaches that allow for faster pace, greater scope and complexity, more variety, or opportunities for more independent learning. They can engage in analysis, synthesis, and evaluation at a greater depth than age peers.

F. Students with Special Gifts and Talents

When choosing resources for these students, consider the following approaches:

• Encourage flexibility and creative problem solving.

• Encourage higher-level thinking (analysis, synthesis, evaluation).

• Include jumping off points for independent study.

• Provide opportunities for open-ended and divergent thinking.

• Provide options for choice and decision making.

• Provide options for increased pace.

• Refer to other sources of information for extended learning.

• Use a discovery learning approach.

There are numerous matters for consideration that are unique to print resources,

most of which relate to readability.

Vocabulary

• Consider the amount of technical vocabulary used, and the devices used to interpret, explain, and define technical terms.

• Consider the general level of difficulty of non-technical words used (in terms of familiarity and abstractness).

• Realize that excessive use of idioms and dialect increase reading difficulty.

Sentence Structure

• Consider frequency of pronoun use, especially where referents are ambiguous.

• Consider the complexity of sentence patterns typically used (simple, compound, complex), but be alert to attempts to simplify by omitting needed connections between ideas.

• Note that unusual or unpredictable sentence patterns and use of long, involved sentences will increase the reading difficulty; signal words associated with contrast, negation, and time (e.g., but, although, since, except, nevertheless) are not well understood by many students in special audiences.

2. DVD/Video and Digital Resources

Does this resource have significant added value or capability over a non-digital resource? Does it include

  • Constructive engagement (e.g., will it engage students in a meaningful way over an extended period of time)
  • Interactive features
  • Is the resource designed for educational use, or is it more appropriate for home use?
  • Is there some assurance of ongoing availability?
  • Possibilities for customizing content, environment, and pathways according to user needs?
  • Possibilities for feedback for the student and for the teacher
  • Would this resource be usable for the majority of the target audience given considerations of support, training, and facilities available?

The Internet

For all its mystique, the Internet is just another medium to be understood. It does, however, require sharper critical thinking skills than other media, for the

following reasons:

• The Internet is interactive, absorbing users in two-way communication.

• It is full of commercial environments that blend entertainment and advertising in subtle ways.

• Because it often lacks traditional editors or gatekeepers, all viewpoints appear to have equal weight.

Since the explosion of the World Wide Web, (with easy-to-use HTML editors, access to “free” home page space for anyone who has an Internet account, and the influx of commercial sites and advertisements) evaluation of Web sites has become much more difficult. With the huge amount of information available, it is imperative that students and teachers learn how to critically evaluate a site.

Three basic aspects of a web site should be considered during any evaluation. These are navigation and usability, authorship, and validity of content.

4. Web Resources

A. Navigation and Usability

In order to use a site effectively, and in order to get to the important information, a student must find a site navigable and easy to use. A site should provide for all types of learners. This can be done by offering hypertext links, so users can jump around, and a site map for the left-brained or concrete-sequential user.

B. Authorship

Sites should enable users to easily find out about the authors (where they work, what credentials make it appropriate for them to write about the topic, and how to get in touch with them for further questions). Web page authors have to expect that they will get e-mail from interested students asking for further explanation of a topic covered.

C. Validity of Content

The most important factor to consider when evaluating a Web site is the content. Students need to be able to recognize when a Web page is a thinly disguised commercial or opinion page, or when it is strictly a source of information. More importantly, the student needs to realize when each type of page is appropriate for his/her purpose or task. If possible, all information should be verified in a traditional edited print/electronic resource.

The following specific criteria to evaluate learning resources have been grouped under four main headings:

1. Content is current.

2. Content is accurate.

3.  Scope (range) and depth of topics are appropriate to student needs.

4. The level of difficulty is appropriate for the intended audience.

5. Content integrates “real-world” experiences.

The instructional design

Evaluation of the instructional design of the resource involves an examination of its goals, objectives, teaching strategies, and assessment provisions.

2. The resource is suitable for a wide range of learning/teaching styles.

3. The resource promotes student engagement.

4. The methodology promotes active learning.

5. The methodology promotes development of communication skills.

6. The resource encourages group interaction.

7. The resource encourages student creativity.

8. The resource allows/encourages student to work independently.

9. The resource is suitable for its intended purpose.

10. Materials are well organized and structured.

11. Materials have unity/congruency.

The resource holds together as a self-contained unit. Content, methodology, and means of evaluation correspond to the overall purpose.

12. Concepts are clearly introduced.

The progression of the presentation is smooth and logical, with new concepts

identified in a clear and consistent manner.

13. Concepts are clearly developed.

14. Concepts are clearly summarized.

15. Integration across curriculum subjects is supported.

16. Non-technical vocabulary is appropriate.

17. Technical terms are consistently explained/introduced.

18. Pedagogy is innovative.

19. Adequate/appropriate pre-teaching and follow-up activities are

provided.

20. Adequate/appropriate assessment/evaluation tools are provided.

21. Text relates to visuals.

1. Appropriate support materials are provided.

2. Visual design is interesting/effective.

3. Illustrations/visuals are effective/appropriate.

4. Character size/typeface is appropriate.

5. Layout is logical and consistent.

6. Users can easily employ the resource.

7. Packaging/design is suitable for the classroom/library.

8. The resource makes effective use of various mediums.

Some media choices are inappropriate:

• a slide show on video

• “electronic page-turner” digital resource programs

• an overhead transparency of a large body of small print text

Some media choices are appropriate:

• video combining contemporary or historical footage with live drama

• digital resources that simulate activities too expensive or dangerous for the classroom Digital resources should also consider the following questions:

• whether it can store responses, and students’ marks, create reports,

provide analysis, etc.

• whether it can be customized by the student and/or teacher to better meet a student’s needs

• whether it can identify student weaknesses and strengths to assist teacher in assessment and planning for future work, etc.

Controversial or offensive elements that may exist in the content or presentation,

Examining a resource to see how it handles social issues helps to identify potentially controversial or offensive elements that may exist in the content or presentation, and highlights where resources might support pro-social attitudes and promote diversity and human rights.

Specifically, the way in which the resource treats/handles a number of social issues should be examined.

1. Gender/Sexual roles

Any portrayal of gender issues in approved resources should be relevant to the curriculum for which the resource is being considered, and appropriate for the age level of the intended audience.

Consider

• whether portrayal of the sexes is balanced

• whether diverse roles and relationships are portrayed

Social Considerations

• whether contributions, experiences, and perspectives of various individuals and groups are acknowledged

• whether tone and language are appropriate (and sexist, abusive, and/or derogatory reference to gender are avoided)

• whether gender stereotypes are avoided.

2. Sexual orientation

Resources should reflect positive awareness and sensitivity in the portrayal of diverse sexual orientations. Any reference to sexual orientation should be in the context of the curriculum for which the resource is being considered, and appropriate to the age level of the audience.

Consider

• whether tone and language are appropriate (e.g., stereotypes and derogatory language are avoided)

• whether diverse sexual orientations are portrayed

• whether transgendered individuals are recognized

• whether diverse relationships (e.g., couples, families) are portrayed

• whether references to sexual orientation or sexual identity are relevant in the context.

3. Belief systems

A belief system is an organized set of doctrines or ideas (philosophy, religion, political ideology). Approved resources should neither overstate nor denigrate any belief system.

Consider

• how individuals or groups are presented (e.g., appearance, attitudes, socio-economic status, activities)

• whether descriptive language is appropriate

• whether generalizations (e.g., all liberals; all politicians) are avoided

• whether clear distinction is made between fact and opinion

• whether “groups” or “classes” are stereotyped.

4. Age

Resources should portray different age groups, and reflect society’s treatment of them.

Consider

• whether different age groups are represented

• whether descriptive language avoids stereotypes

• whether views of and about older people are included

• whether relationships between different age groups (e.g., parent/child) are depicted, and age-integrated activities included

• whether the aged are positively portrayed (e.g., as valuable contributors to society).

 

5. Socio-economic status

Resources should address socio-economic issues, including biases, values, and perspectives related to income.

Consider

• whether stereotypes are perpetuated, or innappropriate assumptions are made .

6. Political bias

Resources should avoid political bias. Some topics may be particularly sensitive.

7.  Multiculturalism (and anti-racism)

The perspective from which information is presented in resources is important. It is not sufficient to merely include in texts or videos pictures of multicultural people. They must have valid roles and be seen to be participating in ways that recognize their value and meaning.

Consider

• that culture is about the way we live our lives.

• whether the culture is examined from within, rather than from the point of view of an observer

• whether visuals present a variety of cultures, ethnic backgrounds, and visible minorities

• whether stereotyping (e.g., socio-economic, personal, linguistic) is avoided, both negative and positive.

• whether the level of respect shown for the language and culture of all people is appropriate (e.g., dialects, dress, diets are seen as positive reflections of a diverse, pluralistic society—not as deficits to overcome)

• whether the customs, lifestyles, and traditions of all races, religions, and cultures are presented in a manner that articulates their role, value, and meaning

• whether people of all races, religions, and cultures are shown as capable of understanding and making decisions about their own development and the important issues that affect their lives.

• whether members of minority groups are portrayed as positive role models (e.g., holding a variety of positions at every level of society)

• whether similarities among cultures and differences within ethno-specific group are acknowledged.

9.  Special needs

The effective promotion of awareness of the capabilities and contributions of children and adults with special needs is important. Their integration into education as fullfledged, respected, participating members of society is desirable. It is also of note that students with special needs have diverse backgrounds. These additional diversities and challenges need to be acknowledged.

Consider

• the nature of the special need presented

• a representation of natural proportions found in the population

• the contexts in which people with special needs are presented.

11.  Language

The use of specialized language should be suited to the context, maturity, and intellectual level of the audience.

Consider

• gender-biased language (e.g., chairman, constant “male first” order— he/she, boys and girls, men and women)

• incorrect grammar

• profanity

• racist, sexist, homophobic, and other pejorative terms

• slang, jargon, or dialect

• trendy language that may date quickly

The frequency of use of some language (e.g., frequent, occasional, seldom) is a factor in judging its suitability, but even one occurrence may preclude use of the resource, depending on the nature of the language.

13. Violence

Incidences of violence, where present, should be suited to both the context and the maturity level of the audience.

Consider

• a continuum of violence and bullying from putdowns, pushes, exclusion, and ridicule, to harassment, intimidation, physical threats, and assault

• explicitness of violence (e.g., inferred, graphic)

• presentation (e.g., discrete, sensationalistic), and function of violence

• stereotyping of participants.

• type of violence (e.g., physical/emotional, shock or horror, verbal abuse, violence against animals)

• variety of participants

14. Safety standards compliance

Activities portrayed should comply with legal and community standards of safe practice and common sense.

Consider

• adequacy of directions/instructions for safe use of materials

• equipment use (e.g., in physical education class )

• ergonomics for computer use.

• lab procedures

• materials handling (e.g., chemicals, pottery, electronics)

• modelling of safe practices (e.g., wearing helmets, seatbelts)

Instructional Design

WEB-1 Reliability/Validity of the site is clearly stated.

The site should clearly indicate who is responsible for the contents of the page, author qualifications, contact information, latest revisions/updates, and copyright information.

WEB-2 Sources of information are clearly listed.

Sources of factual information should be clearly listed for verification purposes. Clear distinctions should be made between internal links to other parts of the resource and external links that access other resources.

WEB-3 Instructional prerequisites are clearly stated, or easily inferred.

The background required to use the site should come from common knowledge or previous instruction. The information should be consistent with what is already known or found in other sources. The title page should be indicative of the content, and the purpose of the page should be indicated on the home page.

WEB-4 Opportunities are provided for different levels of instruction and/or interactivity.

Students should be able to progress through the material at rates suitable to their physical and intellectual maturity, abilities, and styles. Links should be provided to other sites to support or enhance the information presented.

WEB-5 Interaction promotes meaningful learning.

The site should provide information that is useful to the student’s specific purpose and/or bring some added value to learning that is not present in other formats. The site should offer more than one point of view and/or include links to other or alternative viewpoints.

WEB-6 Content chunking and sequencing are appropriate.

The content and concepts of the site should be organized logically into segments appropriate to the student’s abilities.

WEB-7 The site promotes active learning and student engagement.

The site should incorporate a variety of focussing techniques and cueing devices, as well as accessibility to advanced organizers and/or summaries. Information should be presented in such a way that it stimulates imagination and curiosity as well as encouraging self expression and group interaction.

WEB-8 Non-technical vocabulary is appropriate.

The site should model correct use of grammar, spelling, and sentence structure, and the sophistication of the ideas presented should be appropriate for the intended audience.

WEB-9 Accessibility is timely.

The site/page should take a reasonable amount of time to load/download. Links should be readily accessible.

WEB-10 Navigation aids are in place.

Internal and external links should be clearly visible and annotated or explanatory. On supporting pages there should be a link back to the home page.

WEB-11 The site makes a balanced use of text, graphics, and images.

The site should incorporate a mixture of various visual presentations to supplement/enhance the content/information. The use should be balanced to enhance learning rather than overwhelm the presentation.

Guiding Principles

1. Any staff member, student, parent/legal guardian of a student or member of the community may question the appropriateness of learning resources used in a school’s educational program. Questions may arise despite the fact that the individuals selecting such resources were qualified to make the selection, followed the proper procedures, and observed the criteria for selecting learning resource.

2. The principal should review the Evaluation and Selection of Learning

Resources: A Guide document with the staff annually. The staff should be reminded that the right to challenge exists.

3. Parents/Guardians have the right to question reading, viewing, or listening resources for their own children, not for other students.

4. Although a learning resource is being questioned, the principles of the freedom to read/listen/view must be defended.

5. Access to challenged material shall not be restricted during the reconsideration process.

6. The major criterion for the final decision is the appropriateness of the material for its intended educational use.

7. A decision to sustain a challenge shall not be interpreted as a judgement of irresponsibility on the part of the professionals involved in the original selection and/or use of the material.

The school receiving a complaint regarding a learning resource should try to resolve the issue informally.

References

Boccanfuso, Christopher, and Megan Kuhfeld. 2011. Multiple Responses, Promising Results: Evidence-Based, Nonpunitive Alternatives to Zero Tolerance. Child Trends.

Castaneda, Carlos. 1968. The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Castrechini, Sebastian, and Rebecca A. London. 2012. Positive Student Outcomes in Community Schools. Center for American Progress.

Dee, T. S., and M. R. West. 2011. “The Non-Cognitive Returns to Class Size.” Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, vol. 33, no. 1, 23–46.

Gintis, Herbert. 1971. “Education, Technology, and the Characteristics of Worker Productivity.” The American Economic Review, vol. 61, no. 2, 266–279.

Goldberg, L. R. 1993. “The Structure of Phenotypic Personality Traits.” American Psychologist, vol. 48, no. 1, 26.

Hanushek, E. A. 1989. “The Impact of Differential Expenditures on School Performance.” Educational Researcher, vol. 18, no. 4, 45–62.

Heckman, James J. 2004. “Invest in the Very Young.” Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development.

Heckman, James J., and Tim Kautz. 2012. “Hard Evidence on Soft Skills.” Labour Economics, vol. 19, no. 4, 451–464.

Kyllonen, Patrick C. 2005. “The Case for Noncognitive Assessments.” R&D Connections, September.

La Paro, Karen M., and Robert C. Pianta. 2003. CLASS: Classroom Assessment Scoring System. Charlottesville: University of Virginia.

Lee, Valerie E., and David T. Burkam. 2002. Inequality at the Starting Gate. Washington, D.C.: Economic Policy Institute.

Levin, H. M. 1970. “A New Model of School Effectiveness.” In Do Teachers Make a Difference? U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Office of Education, 55–78.

 

 

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The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009. A Roadmap to Ensure Right to Education in India

 

Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A(Socio, Phil) B.Sc. M. Ed, Ph.D

Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India

It is generally acknowledged in contemporary discourse that access to good quality elementary education, at the minimum, must be treated as a fundamental right. The enactment of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (henceforth RTE) Act 2009 is a roadmap to ensure right to education

Historical Context

To quickly recap the recent steps in the journey of the RTE Act 2009: the 86th Amendment Act, 2002, made three specific provisions in the Constitution to facilitate the realisation of free and compulsory education to children between the age of six and 14 years as a fundamental right. These were

(i)                  Adding Article 21A in Part III (fundamental rights),

(ii)                 Modifying Article 45, and

(iii)               Adding a new clause (k) under Article 51A (fundamental duties), making the parent or guardian responsible for providing opportunities for education to their children between six and 14 years

Article 21A of the Constitution – Constitution (Eighty – Sixth Amendment) Act, 2002.

December 2002

86th Amendment Act (2002) via Article 21A (Part III) seeks to make free and compulsory education a Fundamental Right for all children in the age group 6-14 years.

October 2003

A first draft of the legislation envisaged in the above Article, viz., Free and Compulsory Education for Children Bill, 2003, was prepared and posted on this website in October, 2003, inviting comments and suggestions from the public at large.

2004

Subsequently, taking into account the suggestions received on this draft, a revised draft of the Bill entitled Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2004

June 2005

The CABE (Central Advisory Board of Education) committee drafted the ‘Right to Education’ Bill and submitted to the Ministry of HRD. MHRD sent it to NAC where Mrs. Sonia Gandhi is the Chairperson. NAC sent the Bill to PM for his observation.

14th July 2006

The finance committee and planning commission rejected the Bill citing the lack of funds and a Model bill was sent to states for making the necessary arrangements. (Post-86th amendment, States had already cited lack of funds at State level)

2009

Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2008, passed in both Houses of Parliament in 2009. The law received President’s assent in August 2009. . After much dithering for almost seven years subsequent to the 86th Amendment to the Constitution, the RTE Act 2009 received presidential assent on 26 August 2009, taking forward the agenda of free and universal elementary education, although the central government is yet to notify it.

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act or Right to Education Act (RTE), is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted on 4 August 2009, which describes the modalities of the

The Ministry of HRD set up a high-level, 14-member National Advisory Council (NAC) for implementation of the Act. The members included Kiran Karnik, former president of NASSCOM; Krishna Kumar, former director of the NCERT; Mrinal Miri, former vice-chancellor of North-East Hill University; Yogendra Yadav – social scientist. India

Sajit Krishnan Kutty, Secretary of The Educators Assisting Children’s Hopes (TEACH) India; Annie Namala, an activist and head of Centre for Social Equity and Inclusion; and Aboobacker Ahmad, vice-president of Muslim Education Society, Kerala.

1 April 2010

Article 21-A and the RTE Act come into effect.

The roadmap to implement the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act was discussed at a meeting of state Education Secretaries recently.

According to the minutes of the meeting:

  1. Nearly 7.8 lakh additional classrooms and seven lakh girls’ toilets will have to be created to implement the new law which has come into force from April 1. The government will spend Rs 1.71 lakh crore in the next five years for implementing the Act.
  2. Each child will be provided uniforms at Rs 400 per annum. Many states are already providing uniforms from their own budget. “But the uniforms will have to be provided by the state governments. They need to agree to this provision and incorporate it in their rules,” a HRD Ministry official said.
  3. Every child will be provided free textbooks while a child with the special need will get Rs 3,000 per annum for inclusive education. Similarly, Rs 10,000 will be given for home-based education for severely disabled children.
  4. There will be a requirement of additional 5.1 lakh teachers to meet the pupils-teacher ration of 30 for one as per the RTE Act. In UP, there is a requirement for 1.5 lakh teachers, followed by Bihar and Gujarat (0.5 to one lakh each), according to the minutes of the meeting.
  5. The Rs 1.71 lakh crore will be spent on the provision of access, infrastructure, training of untrained teachers and for intervention for out-of school children. The teachers’ salary and civil work will have maximum financial requirements of 28 per cent and 24 per cent respectively.
  6. Nearly 17 percent of the total estimate will be spent on child entitlement, while nine percent will go to special training for out-of-school children. School facilities will require eight percent of this money and inclusive education will need six per cent.
  7. The 7.6 lakh untrained teachers will be provided training in next five years. Maximum number of untrained teachers are in Bihar, Jharkhand and the northeastern states.
  8. The RTE stipulates barrier-free education for children with special needs and one classroom per teacher. About 7.8 lakh additional classrooms will be required. Majority of these classrooms will be Uttar Pradesh and Bihar (2.5 lakh each) followed by West Bengal (1.3 lakh) and Assam (30,000).
  9. There are nearly 27,000 ‘kuchcha’ school buildings which will have to be upgraded. Nearly seven lakh toilets for girls will be required, including 90,000 in Bihar, 63,000 in Madhya Pradesh and 54,000 in Orissa. About 3.4 lakh schools will require drinking water facility.

The RTE Act provides for the:

  • Clarifies that ‘compulsory education’ means an obligation of the appropriate government to provide free elementary education and ensure compulsory admission, attendance and completion of elementary education to every child in the six to fourteen age group. ‘Free’ means that no child shall be liable to pay any kind of fee or charges or expenses which may prevent him or her from pursuing and completing elementary education.
  • Lays down the norms and standards relating inter alia to Pupil Teacher Ratios (PTRs), buildings and infrastructure, school-working days, teacher-working hours.
  • Makes provisions for a non-admitted child to be admitted to an age appropriate class.
  • Prohibits (a) physical punishment and mental harassment; (b) screening procedures for admission of children; (c) capitation fee; (d) private tuition by teachers and (e) running of schools without recognition,
  • Provides for the appointment of appropriately trained teachers, i.e. teachers with the requisite entry and academic qualifications.
  • Provides for development of curriculum in consonance with the values enshrined in the Constitution, and which would ensure the all-round development of the child, building on the child’s knowledge, potentiality and talent and making the child free of fear, trauma and anxiety through a system of child-friendly and child centred learning
  • Provides for rational deployment of teachers by ensuring that the specified pupil teacher ratio is maintained for each school, rather than just as an average for the State or District or Block, thus ensuring that there is no urban-rural imbalance in teacher postings. It also provides for prohibition of deployment of teachers for non-educational work, other than decennial census, elections to local authority, state legislatures and parliament, and disaster relief.
  • Right of children to free and compulsory education till completion of elementary education in a neighborhood school.
  • Specifies the duties and responsibilities of appropriate Governments, local authority and parents in providing free and compulsory education, and sharing of financial and other responsibilities between the Central and State Governments.

Main Features of Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009

  • A child who completes elementary education shall be awarded a certificate.
  • Call needs to be taken for a fixed student-teacher ratio.
  • The financial burden will be shared between the state and the central government. FAQ
  • Free and compulsory education to all children of India in the 6 to 14 age group.
  • If a child above 6 years of age has not been admitted in any school or could not complete his or her elementary education, then he or she shall be admitted in a class appropriate to his or her age. However, if a case may be where a child is directly admitted in the class appropriate to his or her age, then, in order to be at par with others, he or she shall have a right to receive special training within such time limits as may be prescribed. Provided further that a child so admitted to elementary education shall be entitled to free education till the completion of elementary education even after 14 years.
  • Improvement in the quality of education is important.
  • No child shall be held back, expelled or required to pass a board examination until the completion of elementary education.
  • Proof of age for admission: For the purpose of admission to elementary education, the age of a child shall be determined on the basis of the birth certificate issued in accordance with the Provisions of Birth. Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1856, or on the basis of such other document as may be prescribed.No child shall be denied admission in a school for lack of age proof
  • School infrastructure (where there is a problem) need to be improved in every 3 years, else recognition will be canceled.
  • School teachers will need adequate professional degree within five years or else will lose job.
  • Twenty-five percent reservation for economically disadvantaged communities in admission to Class I in all private schools is to be done.

Provision of ‘Free and Compulsory Elementary Education

All children between the ages of 6 and 14 shall have the right to free and compulsory elementary education at a neighborhood school.

There is no direct (school fees) or indirect cost (uniforms, textbooks, mid-day meals, transportation) to be borne by the child or the parents to obtain the elementary education. The government will provide schooling free-of-cost until a child’s elementary education is completed.

The role of community and parents to ensure RTE

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act 2009 insists upon schools to constitute School Management Committees (SMCs) comprising local authority officials, parents, guardians and teachers. The SMCs shall form School Development Plans and monitor the utilization of government grants and the whole school environment.

RTE also mandates the inclusion of 50 percent women and parents of children from disadvantaged groups in SMCs. Such community participation will be crucial to ensuring a child-friendly “whole school” environment through separate toilet facilities for girls and boys and adequate attention to health, water, sanitation and hygiene issues.

Promote Child-Friendly Schools

All schools must comply with infrastructure and teacher norms for an effective learning environment. Two trained teachers will be provided for every sixty students at the primary level.

Teachers are required to attend school regularly and punctually, complete curriculum instruction, assess learning abilities and hold regular parent-teacher meetings. The number of teachers shall be based on the number of students rather than by grade.

The state shall ensure adequate support to teachers leading to improved learning outcomes of children. The community and civil society will have an important role to play in collaboration with the SMCs to ensure school quality with equity. The state will provide the policy framework and create an enabling environment to ensure RTE becomes a reality for every child.

The key issues for achieving RTE

RTE provides a ripe platform to reach the unreached, with specific provisions for disadvantaged groups, such as child laborers, migrant children, children with special needs, or those who have a “disadvantage owing to social, cultural economic, geographical, linguistic, gender or such other factor.” RTE focuses on the quality of teaching and learning, which requires accelerated efforts and substantial reforms:

  • Bringing eight million out-of-school children into classes at the age appropriate level with the support to stay in school and succeed poses a major challenge necessitating flexible, innovative approaches.
  • Creative and sustained initiatives are crucial to train more than one million new and untrained teachers within the next five years and to reinforce the skills of in-service teachers to ensure child-friendly education.
  • Disparities must be eliminated to assure quality with equity. Investing in preschool is a key strategy in meeting goals.
  • Families and communities also have a large role to play to ensure child-friendly education for each and every one of the estimated 190 million girls and boys in India who should be in elementary school today.

The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights shall review the safeguards for rights provided under this Act, investigate complaints and have the powers of a civil court in trying cases.

States should constitute a State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) or the Right to Education Protection Authority (REPA) within six months of 1 April 2010. Any person wishing to file a grievance must submit a written complaint to the local authority..

Appeals will be decided by the SCPCR/REPA. Prosecution of offenses requires the sanction of an officer authorized by the appropriate government.

25% quota for poor

The Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, on April 12, 2012 and directed every school, including privately-run ones, to give immediately free education to students from socially and economically backward classes from class-I till they reach the age of 14 years.

The court threw out the challenge by private unaided schools to Section 12(1)(c) of the Act that says every recognized school imparting elementary education, even if it is an unaided school not receiving any kind of aid or grant to meet its expenses, is obliged to admit disadvantaged boys and girls from their neighbourhood.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has been designated as the agency to monitor provisions of the Right to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act.

Admissions provisions

A series of measures have been taken by the NCPCR to ensure that school admission procedures all over the country are in accordance with the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009. This was necessitated by the fact that schools in some states were carrying out a screening procedure for admission of children in the elementary stage of education prohibited by the Act.In April, the NCPCR wrote to the chief secretaries of all the states asking them to issue Government Orders to ensure that school admission procedures were in accordance with the RTE Act. This was prompted by the Directorate of Education, Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD), issuing a notice in March inviting applications for admission to Class VI in the Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalayas run by the Directorate.

The NCPCR’s intervention in April came in response to an admission notice that had been issued by the GNCTD’s Directorate of Education in all leading newspapers as well as in the Directorate’s website, inviting students to purchase application forms costing Rs 25 each and thereafter sit for an entrance exam. Since the RTE Act prohibits any kind of screening procedure and permits admissions into any school through random selection only, the notice was clearly in contravention of the Act.

As the nodal body monitoring the implementation of the RTE Act, the Commission wrote to the Principal Secretary, Education, GNCTD, asking the admission notice be withdrawn and a notice in Conformity with the provisions of the RTE be issued instead. It also requested that Government Orders (GO) be issued to all schools in the GNCTD within a week regarding the provisions of the Act so that the schools made the required changes in their procedures and modes of functioning.

As the Directorate did not comply with this request, it was summoned by the Commission in June and given time till July to re-conduct the admission in accordance with RTE procedures. To ensure that the RTE Act was not similarly contravened in other states, the NCPCR has in its letter to the chief secretaries said that the GO they issue to schools on the matter must specify that:

  1. Admission procedures be made in accordance with the RTE Act
  2. 25 per cent reservation is ensured for weaker sections in all ‘specified category’ schools and private unaided schools, and reservation norms for government-aided schools are to be followed

Further, private schools recognized by the government must also be mapped out and issued a notice regarding provisions in the Act as well as the procedures by which children in the neighborhood could claim admission to the schools. Also, the task of finalizing State Rules on the RTE Act must be completed at the earliest.

In response to queries regarding Navodaya Schools which have been designated as ‘specified category’ schools in the RTE Act, the NCPCR clarified that the provisions of Section 13 of RTE Act applied to all schools without exception.

The relevant provision of Section 13 of the Act is:

No school or person shall, while admitting a child, collect any capitation fee and subject the child or his or her parents or guardians to any screening procedure. Any school or person, if in contravention of the provisions of sub-section (1):

  1. Receives capitation fee, shall be punishable with fine which may extend to ten times the capitation fee charged
  2. Subjects a child to screening procedure shall be punishable with fine which may extend to Rs 25,000 for the first contravention and Rs 50,000 for each subsequent contravention.

No Screening for Admission to Navodaya Schools

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has written to the commissioner, Navodaya Schools, as well as the state education secretaries against any kind of screening for admission of children to elementary education (Classes 1 to eight). The NCPCR intervened to check violation of RTE provisions after it got reports of Navodaya schools screening students in Delhi and other states.

Quoting Section 13 of the RTE Act 2009, the NCPCR has pointed out that while admitting a child to school, the Act prohibits schools or persons from collecting capitation fees or subjecting the child or the parents and guardians to any screening procedure. Any school or person receiving capitation fees, it has pointed out, could be punished with a fine which could be ten times the capitation fee charged.

Subjecting a child to screening could lead to a fine of Rs 25,000 for the first contravention and Rs 50,000 for each subsequent contravention. Section 13 applies to all schools even the Navodaya schools which have been designated special category schools in the RTE Act. Screening procedures being conducted by Navodaya Schools are a violation of the RTE Act, it clarified. NCPCR has also requested state governments to issue orders to all schools regarding the provisions of the Act so that the required changes in their procedures and modes of functioning are made within a week.

Each child to get a free uniform, books

Each child from class I to class VIII in the country will be provided free textbooks and uniforms if a roadmap prepared by the Centre to implement the Right To Education Act (RTE) is accepted by the states.

Eligibility for Teachers

The following persons shall be eligible for appearing in the TET:

  • A person who has acquired the academic and professional qualifications specified in the NCTE Notification dated 23rd August 2010.
  • A person who is pursuing any of the teacher education courses (recognized by the NCTE or the RCI, as the case may be) specified in the NCTE Notification dated 23rd August 2010.
  • The eligibility condition for appearing in TET may be relaxed in respect of a State/UT which has been granted relaxation under sub-section (2) of section 23 of the RTE Act. The relaxation will be specified in the Notification issued by the Central Government under that sub-section.

Critical Evaluation of RTI

One Step Forward

In September 2004, the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) Committee was constituted as a first step to drafting the RTE Bill. The bill was submitted to the government in June 2005, although without any consultations being held with the public. It was found wanting on several fronts, beginning with its definition of a “child” (not less than six years and not more than 14 years), to not owning up to the economic responsibility of the union government while fleshing out the provisions. Further, not only did the bill have none of the tenets of the Common School System (CSS) that would have allowed for compulsory and uniform quality education to all, but it was also unable to suggest specific amendments necessary in the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986.

Two Steps Backward

The government, however, dithered on moving ahead with the recommendations made in the draft RTE Bill, 2005, citing lack of funds, and drafted a Model Right to Education Bill, 2006, and proposed providing incentives to states for adopting the Model Bill. The draft Model Bill’s implementation was linked to the center funding states’ Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) costs to the tune of 75%. The financial responsibility of providing free and compulsory education was primarily on the states and Union Territories (UTs), making elementary education the first charge on the revenue of the state/UT governments. This was, clearly, a move to weaken whatever had been attained through enacting the 86th Amendment in 2002.

Due to a combination of factors, including public pressure, a decision was finally taken to introduce a central legislation in the budget session of Parliament in 2008. The CABE draft of August 2005 was resurrected.

RTE Act 2009

Every child of the age of six to 14 years shall have a right to free and compulsory education in a neighborhood school till completion of elementary education.

One would have expected that after so many rounds of drafting and redrafting the enactment, the final outcome would be an effective instrument for any child in this country to demand her basic entitlement.

The act further fortifies the multitiered and unequal education structure as opposed to a CSS. Of the various categories of schools, a clear distinction is made in how much of the burden of providing free and compulsory education would fall on each kind. While the government-run schools would cover costs associated with all its wards, the government aided schools would be accountable to admitting students proportionate to 25% of their annual grants.

Although the act requires that special category schools (i e, Kendriya Vidyalayas, Navodaya Vidyalayas and Sainik Schools) and unaided schools admit 25% children from the weaker sections and disadvantaged groups of the population, it ensures reimbursement by the government to these unaided schools, based on per child expenditure incurred towards admitting these students. One can understand if the government was keen to get the act operational at the earliest and was temporarily subsidizing the costs of private schools for providing education. However, this is certainly not the case, as the government does not specify any time frame up to when it would continue to reimburse the costs of education for private schools. Though the act expresses interest in taking necessary steps in providing free pre-school education for children above three years of age, leaving out this critical segment of the child population from the definition is worrisome. Not only does the act fail to cover all children, it does not provide definite timelines for many provisions.

Flexible or Ambiguous?

As already noted, the five-month-old enactment continues to be in a state of suspended animation with the government yet to set a date for the act to come into force as a legally binding obligation. This is not the only worrisome aspect about timelines with regard to the act. Several provisions leave scope for the government to delay effective implementation.

This uncertainty is also evident in determining the eligibility of a teacher. As a critical component affecting outcomes, eligibility of teachers would be based on minimum qualifications as laid down by an academic authority. However, the Act also allows for unqualified teachers to continue for five years after the Act comes into effect, on grounds of lack of availability of trained teachers. It also provides for relaxation of rules and appointment of unqualified teachers for five years till the Act is notified. This only reflects the government’s non-serious approach to implementing the Act and its disregard of quality of outcomes.

Quality: Real or Rhetorical?

The Act lists key norms and standards that would need to be adhered to by all schools, failing which no school may be established. This provision is contradicted when the government gives three more years after the Act takes effect to schools that do not comply with the norms as specified in the schedule. To add to this, the central government may rule to change the schedule by adding or even omitting norms and standards. It is acceptable if items or qualifications are added to the existing parameters; it is another matter that even now the government is unable to set the basic minimum requirements for a school. Another aspect relating to quality is the nature of job conditions for teachers. With a plethora of evidence pointing to the fact that differential remuneration to teachers affects their motivation, the absence of any indicative benchmarks for teachers’ salary is a significant oversight in the Act. Further, while the Act suggests that no teacher should be engaged in any noneducational tasks, it excludes their engagement in the population census, duties pertaining to disaster relief and elections at various levels. The act turn a blind eye to the workload and the absence of motivation among teachers, it forbids them from taking private tuitions. With more than 26% of children in classes IV to VIII attending private tuitions classes, this may be a case of misplaced activism. Setting uniform salary norms for teachers and withdrawing them from all non-educational purposes might have served the cause more effectively.

The Accountability

Quality monitoring is attainable only in a culture of accountability. To ensure this, the Act requires that all schools, except those that are unaided, constitute school management committees. Apart from complex questions relating to fixing of accountability at different levels, which remain unaddressed. it is not clear why unaided schools are left out of the purview of accountability with regard to the provisions contained in Section 21.1, when they admit 25% of the underprivileged students.

Further, the government seems to be in no hurry to adhere to the spirit of the right to education, going by the number of disclaimers that are provided. These allow for the prosecution to be instituted only with the previous sanction of an authorized government personnel in the event of a school charging any kind of fees. These also relate to the decision to scrap the recognition of any school and prosecution for running a school without any recognition. An intelligent guess is sufficient to peg the occurrence of such prosecution as unlikely.

The Act also maintains that legal proceedings against such actions of the government cannot be initiated in the event that these have been undertaken in good faith and best interests of the children. Rather than pursuing an objective vision, the Act is ridden with loopholes. There are many other issues that need to be examined closely (such as harmonization of rules and provisions in place in different states with the RTE Act 2009, among others).

Financial Responsibility

Central and state governments shall share financial responsibility for RTE. The central government shall prepare estimates of expenditures. State governments will be provided a percentage of these costs.

There is no clarity on who will take the lead in financing the Act. Ideally, the central government ought to be shouldering this duty in the light of the poor fiscal situation in most states. Acknowledging this reality, the Act notes that the states may seek a predetermined percentage of expenditure as grants-in-aid from the central government, based on the recommendations of the finance committee on assessment of additional resource requirements for any state. Be that as it may, the Act reveals an obvious contradiction when, on the one hand, it suggests that both the union and state governments have concurrent responsibility to finance the Act,22 with the centre preparing estimates of capital and recurring expenditure under the Act, while on the other, it unequivocally holds the state governments responsible for providing the funds for implementation of the Act.23

The union government’s attempt to shy away from taking primary financial responsibility of implementing the act is in keeping with its reluctance to allocate adequately for the social sector.

The Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) Committee had estimated that in the six-year period from 2006-07 to 2011-12,24 additional outlays of Rs 4.36 lakh crore (with teachers’ salaries at Kendriya Vidyalaya norms) and Rs 3.93 lakh crore (with teachers’ salaries at the prevalent scales) would have to be allocated to universalise elementary education. Sticking to the lower level of CABE projections, the additional required outlays are Rs 3.93 lakh crore for a five-year period. Reports in the media that the required additional outlays amount to Rs 1.78 lakh crore, spread over a period of five years, as estimated by the MHRD, for implementing the RTE Act 2009 seem extremely disturbing, if not mysterious.

In principle, the RTE Act 2009, with appropriate modifications and financial provisioning, offers a great opportunity to correct the anomaly of poor education outcomes, and can deliver on the long-standing commitment of providing basic and quality education to the so called “demographic dividend” of the country. Unfortunately, short-term political gains and poor judgment on the part of politicians and policymakers may continue to be major roadblocks in accomplishing this critical goal.

In short this act is intended to makes education a fundamental right of every child between the ages of 6 and 14 and specifies minimum norms in elementary schools. It requires all private schools to reserve 25% of seats to children (to be reimbursed by the state as part of the public-private partnership plan). Kids are admitted in to private schools based on economic status or caste based reservations. It also prohibits all unrecognised schools from practice, and makes provisions for no donation or capitation fees and no interview of the child or parent for admission. The Act also provides that no child shall be held back, expelled, or required to pass a board examination until the completion of elementary education. There is also a provision for special training of school drop-outs to bring them up to par with students of the same age.

The passing of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act 2009 marks a historic moment for the children of India.

This Act serves as a building block to ensure that every child has his or her right (as an entitlement) to get a quality elementary education, and that the State, with the help of families and communities, fulfils this obligation.

 

 

 

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RELIGION-“True wisdom that leads us to please God.”

Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A(Socio, Phil) B.Sc. M. Ed, Ph.D

Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India


When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator. Mahatma Gandhi

We need  to understand the correct definition of religion and the ultimate meaning of the word religion. The word religion comes from the Latin and while there are a few different translations, the most prevalent roots take you back to the Latin word “Re-Ligare”. “Ligare” means “to bind” or to “connect”.  Adding the “re” before “ligare” causes the word tomean “Re-Bind” or “Re-Connect.”

The English word “religion” is derived from the Middle English “religioun” which came from the Old French “religion.

There is massive controversy surrounding the word “religion” and the definition of religion. People define religion as a set of beliefs, and then atheists assume that because a set of beliefs has become corrupt, then all religion is corrupt.

Religion is not a bad word. Religion does not encourage people to “stop thinking”. In fact, religion encourages people to think about how they can re-bind themselves or re-connect with a God who is infinitely more intelligent and loving.

 

Nature of Religion

Religion is a pervasive and significant cultural phenomenon, so people who study culture and human nature have sought to explain the nature of religion, the nature of religious beliefs, and the reasons why religions exist in the first place.

There have been as many theories as theorists, it seems, and while none fully captures what religion is, all offer important insights on the nature of religion and possible reasons why religion has persisted through human history.

Religion is Systematized Animism & Magic: E.B. Tylor and James Frazer are two of the earliest researchers to develop theories of the nature of religion. They defined religion as essentially being the belief in spiritual beings, making it systematized animism. The reason religion exists is to help people make sense of events which would otherwise be incomprehensible by relying on unseen, hidden forces. This inadequately addresses the social aspect of religion, though, depicting religion and animism are purely intellectual moves.

Religion is Mass Neurosis: According to Sigmund Freud, religion is a mass neurosis and exists as a response to deep emotional conflicts and weaknesses. A by-product of psychological distress, Freud argued that it should be possible to eliminate the illusions of religion by alleviating that distress. This approach is laudable for getting us to recognize that there can be hidden psychological motives behind religion and religious beliefs, but his arguments from analogy are weak and too often his position is circular.

Religion is a Means of Social Organization: Emile Durkheim is responsible for the development of sociology and wrote that “…religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden.” His focus was the importance of the concept of the “sacred” and its relevance to the welfare of the community.

Religious beliefs are symbolic expressions of social realities without which religious beliefs have no meaning. Durkheim reveals how religion serves in social functions.

Religion is the Opium of the Masses: According to Karl Marx, religion is a social institutions which is dependent upon material and economic realities in a given society. With no independent history, it is a creature of productive forces. Marx wrote: “The religious world is but the reflex of the real world.” Marx argued that religion is an illusion whose chief purpose is to provide reasons and excuses to keep society functioning just as it is. Religion takes our highest ideals and aspirations and alienates us from them.

Religion is a Focus on the Sacred: Key to Mircea Eliade’s understanding of religion are two concepts: the sacred and the profane. Eliade says religion is primarily about belief in the supernatural, which for him lies at the heart of the sacred. He does not try to explain away religion and rejects all reductionist efforts. Eliade only focuses on “timeless forms” of ideas which he says keep recurring in religions all over the world, but in doing so he ignores their specific historical contexts or dismisses them as irrelevant.

Religion is Anthropomorphization: Stewart Guthrie argues that religion is “systematic anthropomorphism” — the attribution of human characteristics to nonhuman things or events. We interpret ambiguous information as whatever matters most to survival, which means seeing living beings. If we are in the woods and see a dark shape that might be a bear or a rock, it is smart to “see” a bear. If we are mistaken, we lose little; if we are right, we survive. This conceptual strategy leads to “seeing” spirits and gods at work around us.

Religion governs Emotions: Rejecting most anthropological, psychological, and sociological explanations of religion, E.E. Evans-Pritchard sought a comprehensive explanation of religion that took both its intellectual and social aspects into account.

He didn’t reach any final answers, but did argue that religion should be regarded as a vital aspect of society, as its “construct of the heart.” Beyond that, it may not be possible to explain religion in general, just to explain and understand particular religions.

Religion as Culture and Meaning: An anthropologist who describes culture as a system of symbols and actions which convey meaning, Clifford Geertz treats religion as a vital component of cultural meanings. He argues that religion carries symbols which establish especially powerful moods or feelings, help explain human existence by giving it an ultimate meaning, and purport to connect us to a reality that is “more real” than what we see every day. The religious sphere thus has a special status above and beyond regular life.

Means of Understanding Religion:

Here,  are some of the principle means of explaining why religion exists: as an explanation for what we don’t understand; as a psychological reaction to our lives and surroundings; as an expression of social needs; as a tool of the status quo to keep some people in power and others out; as a focus upon supernatural and “sacred” aspects of our lives; and as an evolutionary strategy for survival.

If we define religion as the worship of supernatural forces, we must observe at the onset that some peoples have apparently no religion at all. But such cases are exceptional, and the old belief that religion is universal is substantially correct. To the philosopher this is one of the outstanding facts of history and psychology; he is not content to know that all religions contain much nonsense, but rather he is fascinated by the problem of the antiquity and persistence of belief. What are the sources of the indestructible piety of mankind?

Fear was the first mother of gods. Fear, above all, of death. Primitive life was beset with a thousand dangers , and seldom ended with natural decay; long before old age could come, violence or some strange disease carried off the great majority of men. Hence early man did not believe that death was ever natural; he attributed it to the operation of supernatural agencies. As for example in the mythology of the natives of New Britain death came to men by an error of the gods. The good god Kambinana told his foolish brother  Korvouva, “Go down to men and tell them to cast their skins; so shall they avoid death. But tell the serpents that they henceforth die.” Korvouva mixed the messages ; he delivered the secret of immortality to the snakes, and the doom of death to men. Many tribes thought that death was due to the shrinkage of the skin, and that man would be immortal if only he could mould.

Fear of death, wonder at the causes of chance events or unintelligible happenings, hope for divine aid and gratitude for good fortune, cooperated to generate religious faith. Wonder and mystery adhered particularly to sex and dreams, and the mysterious influence of heavenly bodies upon the earth and man. Primitive man marvelled at the phantoms that he saw in sleep, and was struck with terror when he beheld, in his dreams, the figures of those whom he knew to be dead. He buried his dead in the earth to prevent their return; he buried victuals and goods with the corpse lest it should come back to curse him; sometimes he left to the dead the house in which death had come, while he himself moved on to another shelter; in some places he carried the body out of the house not through a door but through a hole in the wall, and bore it rapidly three times around the dwelling so that the spirit might forget the entrance and never haunt  the home (S&K,859;Lippert,115).

Such experiences convinced early man that every living thing had a soul, or secret life, within it , which could be separated from the body in illness, sleep or death. ‘Let no one wake a man brusquely, “said one of the Upanishads of ancient India ,” For it is a matter difficult of cure if the soul finds not its way back to him”(Brihadaranyaka Upanished,4.,3;.). Not man alone but all things had souls; the external world was not insensitive or dead, it was intensely alive; if this were not so, thought primitive philosophy, nature would be full of inexplicable occurrences, like the motion of the sun, or the death dealing lightening, or the whispering of the trees. The personal way of conceiving objects and events preceded the impersonal or abstract; religion preceded philosophy. Such animism is the poetry of religion, and the religion of poetry. We may see it at its lowest in the wonder- struck eyes of a dog that watches a paper blown before him by the wind, and perhaps believes that a spirit moves the paper from within; and we find the same feeling at the highest in the language of a poet. To the primitive mind-and the poet in all ages- mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, stars, sun, moon and sky are sacra mentally holy things, because they are the outward and visible signs of inward and invisible souls. There is wisdom as well as beauty in this animism; It is good and nourishing to treat all things as alive.,

Since all things have souls, or contain hidden gods, the objects of religious worship are numberless. They fall into six classes

1. Celestial

2. Terrestrial

3. Sexual

4. Animal

5. Human

6. Divine

Of course we shall never know which of our universe of objects was worshipped first.

Most human gods, however, seem to have been in the beginning merely idealized dead men. The appearance of the dead in dreams was enough to establish the worship of the dead, for worship, if not the child, is at least the brother, of fear. Men who had been powerful during life, and therefore had been feared, were especially likely to be worshiped after their death. Among several primitive peoples the word for god actually meant “ a dead man “; even today the English word SPIRIT and the German word GEIST mean both ghost and soul. The Greeks, the Hindus, invoked their dead precisely as the Christians were to invoke the saints. So strong was the belief-first generated in dreams- in the continued life of the dead, the primitive men sometimes sent message to them in the most literal way; in one tribe of the chief, to convey such a letter, recited it verbally to a slave, and then cut off his head for special delivery; if the chief forget something he sent another decapitated slave as a postscript.

Gradually the cult of the ghost became the worship of ancestors. All the dead were feared, and had to be propitiated, lest they should curse and blight the lives of the living. The ancestor worship was so well adapted to promote social authority and continuity, conservatism and order, that is soon spread to every region of the earth. The institution held the family powerfully together despite the hostility of successive generations, and provided an invisible structure for many early societies. And just as compulsion grew into conscience, so fear graduated into love; the ritual of ancestor-worship, probably generated by terror, later aroused the sentiment of awe, and finally developed piety and devotion It is the tendency of gods to begin as ogres and to end as loving fathers; the idol passes into an ideal as the growing security, peacefulness and moral sense of the worshipers pacify and transform the features of their once ferocious deities. The slow progress of civilization is reflected in the tardy amiability of the gods.

Such experiences convinced early man that every living thing had a soul, or secret life, within it , which could be separated from the body in illness, sleep or death. ‘Let no one wake a man brusquely, “said one of the Upanishads of ancient India ,” For it is a matter difficult of cure if the soul finds not its way back to him”(Brihadaranyaka Upanished,4.,3;.). Not human alone but all things had souls; the external world was not insensitive or dead, it was intensely alive; if this were not so, thought primitive philosophy, nature would be full of inexplicable occurrences, like the motion of the sun, or the death dealing lightening, or the whispering of the trees. The personal way of conceiving objects and events preceded the impersonal or abstract; religion preceded philosophy. Such animism is the poetry of religion, and the religion of poetry. We may see it at its lowest in the wonder- struck eyes of a dog that watches a paper blown before him by the wind, and perhaps believes that a spirit moves the paper from within; and we find the same feeling at the highest in the language of a poet. To the primitive mind-and the poet in all ages- mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, stars, sun, moon and sky are sacra mentally holy things, because they are the outward and visible signs of inward and invisible souls. There is wisdom as well as beauty in this animism; It is good and nourishing to treat all things as alive.,

The idea of human god was a late step in a long development; it was slowly differentiated through many stages, out of conception of an ocean or multitude of spirits and ghosts surrounding the inhabiting everything. From the fear and worship of vague and formless spirits men seem to have passed to adoration of celestial, vegetative and sexual powers, than to reverence for animals, and worship of ancestors. The notion of God as Father was probably derived from ancestor worship; it meant originally that men had been physically begotten by the gods. In primitive theology there is no sharp or generic distinction between gods and men; to the early Greeks and Hindus, for example their gods were ancestors, and their ancestors were gods. A further development came when, out of the medley of ancestors, certain men and women who had been especially distinguished were singled out for clearer deification; so the greater kings became gods, sometimes even before their death. But with this development we reach the historic civilizations.

To quote Powys,John Cowper,in his book ,” The meaning of culture. Nature begins to present herself as a vast congeries of separate living entities, some visible, some invisible, but all possessed of mind- stuff, all possessed of matter-stuff, and all blending mind and matter together in the basic mystery of being….The world is full of gods! From every planet and from every stone there emanates a presence that disturbs us with a sense of multitudinousness of god-like powers, strong and feeble, great and little, moving between heaven and earth upon their secret purposes”.

Common Elements of Religion

One of the hallmarks of religion is a belief in supernatural beings and forces.  They can take a variety forms, not all of which are found in every religion.  The beliefs usually fall into one of five categories: animatism , animism , ancestral spirits , gods or goddesses, and minor supernatural beings.

Animatism

A belief in a supernatural power not part of supernatural beings is referred to as animatism.  For those who hold this belief, the power is usually impersonal, unseen, and potentially everywhere.  It is neither good nor evil, but it is powerful and dangerous if misused.  It is something like electricity or “the force” in the Star Wars movies.

Animatism is a widespread belief, especially in small-scale societies.  Among the Polynesian  cultures of the South Pacific, this power is commonly known as “mana” .  For them it is a force that is inherent in all objects, plants, and animals (including people) to different degrees.  Some things or people have more of it than others and are, therefore, potentially dangerous.  For instance, a chief may have so much of it that he must be carried around all of the time.  If he were to walk on the ground, sufficient residual amounts of his mana might remain in his footprints to harm ordinary people if they later stepped on them.  Volcanoes and some other places were thought to have concentrated mana and were, therefore, very dangerous.

Animism

A belief that natural objects are animated by spirits is animism.  The term comes from the Latin word for soul (anima).  This belief can take diverse forms.  Things in nature may all have within them different spirits–each rock, tree, and cloud may have its own unique spirit.  Alternatively, all things in nature may be thought of as having the same spirit.  This latter version of animism was characteristic of many Native American cultures.  In both forms of animism, the spirits are thought of as having identifiable personalities and other characteristics such as gender.  A belief in a powerful, mature, protective “mother nature” is an example.  The spirits may be benevolent, malevolent, or neutral.  They can be lovable, terrifying, or even mischievous.  They can interact with humans and can be pleased or irritated by human actions.  Therefore, people must be concerned about them and will try to avoid displeasing them.

Initially, animatism and animism may seem to be the same thing.  In fact both beliefs are often found in the same culture.  The difference, however, is that the “power” of animatism does not have a personality–it is an impersonal “it” rather than a “he” or “she” with human-like characteristics.  Spirits are individual supernatural beings with their own recognizable traits.

Ancestral Spirits

One special category of spirit found in the belief system of most cultures consists of the souls or ghosts of ancestors.  A belief in ancestral spirits is consistent with the widespread conviction that humans have at least two parts–a physical body and some kind of non-physical spirit or soul.  The spirit portion is generally believed to be freed from the body by death and continues to exist in some form.  Ancestral spirits are often seen as retaining an active interest and even membership in their family and society.  Like living people, they can have emotions, feelings, and appetites.  They must be treated well to assure their continued good will and assistance to the living.

In China, ancestral spirits are often thought of as still being active family members.  They are treated warmly with respect and honor.  Traditional Chinese families in rural villages often set a place at feast tables for their ancestors as if they were still living.  If treated well, the ancestral spirits may help their living descendants have bigger crops, do better in business, or achieve other desirable goals because they are still interested in the well being of the family.

In European cultures, the spirits of dead ancestors are usually not thought of so kindly.  The dead and their spirits have been seen historically as dangerous.  They haunt the living and often do unpleasant, frightening, and unpredictable things.  Ghosts or spirits are feared and avoided because of the danger inherent in encounters with them.  This belief that the dead more likely than not will be malevolent is one of the reasons that Europeans have traditionally buried their relatives in cemeteries, which are essentially cities of the dead physically separated from the living.  It also accounts for the success of Hollywood’s many haunted house movies.  Ghosts are stereotypical villains for people in European derived cultures.  In contrast, those cultures that believe ancestral spirits are helpful usually bury or store the remains of dead family members in or around the home to keep them close.  In some cultures, people eat parts of the body of dead relatives or mix their cremated ashes in water and drink it.  This mortuary cannibalism is intended to allow the dead to remain part of their living family.  For the Yanomamö and some other lowland forest peoples of South America, not consuming the ashes of their relatives would be extremely unkind and insensitive.

Gods and Goddesses

Most religions maintain a belief in powerful supernatural beings with individual identities and recognizable attributes.  These beings are usually thought of as gods or goddesses.  Another term for them is deities.  Like spirits, they have individual identities and recognizable attributes.  However, gods and goddesses are more powerful than spirits and other lesser supernatural beings–they can effectively alter all of nature and human fortunes.  As a result, they are commonly worshipped and requests are made of them to help in times of need.

Religions differ in the number of gods that their followers believe exist.  A  belief that there is only one god is referred to as monotheism .  Judaism , Christianity , and Islam  are examples of monotheistic religions.  In contrast, a belief in more than one god is known as polytheism .  Hinduism  is a polytheistic religion.

When there are many gods in a religion, they are typically ranked relative to each other in terms of their powers and their interests.  The supreme god is often an otiose deity .  That is, he or she established the order of the universe at the beginning of time and is now remote from earthly concerns (“otiose” is Greek for “at rest).  As a result, otiose deities may be almost ignored in favor of lesser gods who take an interest in the everyday affairs of humans now.

The simple distinction between monotheism and polytheism may be deceptive.  The truth can be much more complex.  For instance, some scholars have argued that monotheisms, such as Catholicism , are actually de facto polytheisms for many of the faithful.  From this perspective, Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and the saints are prayed to for guidance and help as if they were minor gods themselves.  While the Christian God is considered all powerful, he is often not the one who is turned to by Catholics during life crises.  Perhaps, this is because he is essentially an otiose deity for them.

Hinduism is also more complex than it may seem initially.  In India and Bali, Hindus can be observed fervently worshipping hundreds of different gods.  This fits the classic description of a polytheistic religion.  However,  since the many gods are only different manifestations of the supreme being, or Bhagavan , Hinduism can also be interpreted as a monotheism.  It all depends on whether you are talking to a rural peasant farmer or an educated priest.

Minor Supernatural Beings

Minor supernatural beings are not spirits, gods, humans, or other natural beings.  People do not pray to them for help.  Yet these beings have some supernatural capabilities.  In Western European folk tradition, leprechauns , elves , and pixies  were minor supernatural beings.  They were human-like in appearance and personality but could do things that were beyond the abilities of humans.  Minor supernatural beings often have a “trickster” role.  That is to say, they fool people, do outlandish things, and disappear.  For instance, many rural people in Ireland in the past believed that elves steal boy children.  As a result, mothers clothed their young sons in dresses and let their hair grow long like girls to avoid their being taken.  Tricksters are frequently neither good nor bad.  They do what they want and are often trouble makers.  For the Indians of Western North America, coyote usually had such a trickster role in popular stories.  For instance, he would skillfully disarm powerful people with his words and then magically steal what they valued most when their guard was down.  In most cultures, tricksters are small, quick moving animals.  In India, the trickster is usually a mouse, and in Africa it is a spider.  Among the Native cultures of the Americas in which coyote did not fulfill the trickster role, it was usually a bird such as a raven.  Tricksters are still popular in the high tech, industrialized societies of the modern world.  However, we rarely make the connection with the tricksters of earlier traditions and other cultures.  For instance, the cartoon characters Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck are classic tricksters.  They are small animals that speak and act like humans and play unexpected, humorous tricks at the expense of others and usually avoid the consequences for themselves.

Religions in India

It is impossible to know India without understanding its religious beliefs and practices, which have a large impact on the personal lives of most Indians and influence public life on a daily basis. Indian religions have deep historical roots that are recollected by contemporary Indians. The ancient culture of South Asia, going back at least 4,500 years, has come down to India primarily in the form of religious texts. The artistic heritage, as well as intellectual and philosophical contributions, has always owed much to religious thought and symbolism.

Contacts between India and other cultures have led to the spread of Indian religions throughout the world, resulting in the extensive influence of Indian thought and practice on Southeast and East Asia in ancient times and, more recently, in the diffusion of Indian religions to Europe and North America. Within India, on a day-to-day basis, the vast majority of people engage in ritual actions that are motivated by religious systems that owe much to the past but are continuously evolving. Religion, then, is one of the most important facets of Indian history and contemporary life.

A number of world religions originated in India, and others that started elsewhere found fertile ground for growth there.

The listing of the major belief systems only scratches the surface of the remarkable diversity in Indian religious life. The complex doctrines and institutions of the great traditions, preserved through written documents, are divided into numerous schools of thought, sects, and paths of devotion. In many cases, these divisions stem from the teachings of great masters, who arise continually to lead bands of followers with a new revelation or path to salvation.

India is a land of different religions which are characterised by various religious practices and beliefs. The spiritual land of India has given birth to many religions such as Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism. These religions together form a subgroup and are known as Eastern religions. The people of India have a strong belief in religion as they believe that they add meaning and purpose to their lives. The religions here are not only confined to beliefs but also include ethics, rituals, ceremonies, life philosophies and many more. Today, a wide range of religions are practiced in India.

India is considered the birthplace of some of the world’s major religions. Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism originated in India, and the largest number of people that follow Zoroastrianism and Baha’i faith are found in India, although these religions do not have Indian roots. India has the third largest population of Muslims in the world. Hinduism is considered one of the oldest religions in the world, and there is evidence that it existed during prehistoric times. Islam came to India in the 7th century, but only after the Muslim conquest of the Indian subcontinent did it become a major religion. The exact origins of Christianity in India are unclear, but it was an established religion by the third century AD. The Christian population includes Catholics, Protestants and Oriental Orthodox Christians. Jews arrived in the city of Kochi in 562 BCE, and more followed in the year 70 CE as exiles from Israel. Guru Nanak was the founder of Sikhism, and he preached universal brotherhood irrespective of caste, color or religion.

References

“World Religions Religion Statistics Geography Church Statistics”. Retrieved 5 March 2015.

“Key Facts about Near-Death Experiences”. Retrieved 5 March 2015.

Harvey, Graham (2000). Indigenous Religions: A Companion. (Ed: Graham Harvey). London and New York: Cassell. Page 06.

Vergote, Antoine, Religion, belief and unbelief: a psychological study, Leuven University Press, 1997, p. 89

J. Gordon (2003). Encyclopedia of American Religions (Seventh edition). Farmington Hills, Michigan: The Gale Group, Inc., p. 1112. ISBN 0-7876-6384-0

Melton, J. Gordon (2003). Encyclopedia of American Religions (Seventh edition). Farmington Hills, Michigan: The Gale Group, Inc., p. 1001. ISBN 0-7876-6384-0

“Welcome to Jainworld – Jain Sects – tirthankaras, jina, sadhus, sadhvis, 24 tirthankaras, digambara sect, svetambar sect, Shraman Dharma, Nirgranth Dharma”. Jainworld.com. Retrieved 2012-04-24.

Smith, Christian; Joshua Prokopy (1999). Latin American Religion in Motion. New York: Routledge, pp. 279-280. ISBN 978-0-415-92106-0

 

 

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Endless diversity in India in customs and traditions.

 

Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A(Socio, Phil) B.Sc. M. Ed, Ph.D

Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India

There is an endless diversity in India  in customs and traditions. India has been variously described as “the Mini World”, the “epitome of the world” and an “ethnological museum”. The diversity in India is unique. Underneath this diversity lies the continuity of Indian civilization and social structure from the very earliest times until the present day.

India ’s culture has been enriched by successive waves of migration, which were absorbed into the Indian way of life.   The successive waves of migration into India started with the Indo-Greeks (2nd Century B.C.), followed by the Kushans (First century A.D.), the incursions from the northwest by Arab, Turkish, Persian and others beginning in the early 8th century A.D. and culminating with the establishment of the Muslim empire by the 13th century, and finally the advent of Europeans — the Portuguese, the Dutch, the English, the Danes and the French.  These interactions over the years led to introduction of newer elements in India ’s  customs and traditions, thus enriching our cultural heritage.

From the very ancient times India not only absorbed the foreign cultures into its composite fold, but it also managed to spread the rich elements of its own unique culture in different parts of the world.

Each state of India has its own customs and traditions.   There are some festivals, which are typical of particular states, cities or towns like the Bonnalu of Andhra Pradesh, Pushkar of Rajasthan, Rajrani of Orissa, Teej of Rajasthan and Bogali Bihu of Assam .  Each region is also identified with its typical folk and tribal dance forms.

ANDHRA PRADESH -

SOCIAL CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

Muggulu is one of the most common tradition followed by the Telugu people where a threshold design is done at the entrance of the house with white rice powder. But now rice powder is slowly getting replaced by lime stone powder and on special occasions coloured powder is added and then it is called as rangoli. There is a traditional belief of the Telugu people that the kolam keeps away evil from the house. Ugadi is the Telugu new year and on this day people mix cow dung with water and sprinkle it on the ground in front of their houses and many other customs and rituals are carried out on this day. Also many new ventures are started on this day.

ARUNACHAL PRADESH – CULTURE

CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

The traditions and the customs of the people of Arunachal Pradesh are much influenced by their tribal life for the major population of the state is tribes comprising of about 20 to 26 types. As a part of their tradition they mainly worship the nature deities and as their tribal custom they make animal sacrifices as offerings to their god. Jhumming or shifting cultivation is some of the traditional and primitive form of cultivation. Other traditional cultivation practiced by the Adis and Apatanis are wet rice cultivation and Apatanis are also famous for their paddy-cum-pisciculture.The people of this state are specialized over centuries in harvesting two crops of fish along with each crop of the paddy.

The Noctes tribes practice elementary form of Vaishnavism. Every event or occasions and feast like marriages and social gathering are not complete without the singing of the Ja-Jin-Ja special song. It is a must among the boys and girls of the Adi group of tribes to become the members of their respective institutions when they attain the age of ten. After which till the time of the boys’ or the girls’ wedding will have to remain in their respective dormitories. But however there is no restriction among the boys to visit the girls in their Rashbengs and during such visits if they start liking each other and with the parents’ approval marriage takes place following their tribal customs and rituals. Even after the wedding the girl lives with her parents till the birth of her first child, so that in the meanwhile the boy would be able to construct a house to live. In the Adi society descent is traced through the father and the property devolves on the male line and the children belong to the fathers clan.Kebang are those who make important decisions of political and social matters and also settles any disputes among the members of the community. The various kebangs are Bane Kebang, Bango Kebang, Bogum Bokang Kebang and Atek Kebang.

ASSAM -

SOCIAL CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

Traditions and customs play a significant role in all the societies of a particular group and they form the base for the same. The customs and traditions are more of beliefs which has been followed by earlier generations which are widely accepted and strictly followed. Thus the Assamese also strictly adhere to such customs and traditions generated by their forefathers pertaining to their community. The Assamese weddings, birth, festivals and even death include various customs and traditions which are supposed to be followed. The Assamese are very much attached to the bamboo culture, especially Jaapi which is more commonly known as the sunshade of Assam. This Jaapi or the bamboos are used by the Assamese to welcome special guests. The Jaapi is mainly made of bamboo strips and a kind of dried palm leaves which is locally known as “Tokow Pat”. Jaapi has a number of varities like Halua Jaapi, Pitha Jaapi, Sorudoiya Jaapi, Bordoiya Jaapi, Cap, etc.In olden days the Assamese used these Jaapi’s for the females of noble and rich families as their headwears.Sometims it is also used in the paddy fields by the peasants as umbrell

BIHAR -

CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

Biharis with a rich cultural heritage is blended with major epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana and the state is a land to major religions. The Biharis are noted for their traditional Madhubani paintings. The people are also very good at traditional arts and crafts like hand-painted wall hangings, wooden stools, miniatures in paper and leaves, stone pottery, bamboo, leather goods and applique work. The mud walls of some places like Saharsa, Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, Darbhanga, Samastipur, and Bhagalpur are also adorned with Madhubani paintings. The Biharis celebrates the festival of Chaath dedicated to Sun God with major pomp and it usually begins on the fourth day of the month of Kartik Shukhla Paksha which falls either in the month of October or November. The Chaath festival is considered to be very holy among the Biharis and is celebrated for at least four days. Other festivals celebrated by the Biharis are Deepawali, Shravani Mela, Teej, Chitragupta Puja, Makar Sankranti, Saraswati Puja, Holi, Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha, Muharram, Kali Puja, Ram Navami, Rakshabandhan, Maha Shivaratri, Durga Puja, Lakshmi Puja, Christmas, Mahavir Jayanti, Buddha Purnima, Guru Purab and Bhai Dooj.

CHHATTISGARH –

CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

Customs and traditions play a major role in the life of Chhattisgarhi people. The religion of the tribal people is more viewed in the anionic forms of folk-mythical gods and goddesses. The temples here do not have any major architecture but instead are very simple and unadorned where the gods and goddesses are represented by terracotta figurines. These shrines are called as gudi which is mostly built near a stream or in a cave. Danteshwari is one of the most revered goddess of this area, worshipped as the bestower of wishes and protector against evil. The Gonds tribal community of Chhattisgarh has a social institution, Ghotul where the boys and girls of the group are taken into this school to instill the spirit of independence and social responsibility in them. The people of the Gond community consider the Ghotul as their shrine and they believe it to be protected by Lingo Pen, a Gond cult hero. The boys and the girls of this community are called as cheliks and motiaries respectively are taken into a dormitory where they learn the tenets of social, religious and artistic life. The custom followed in a ghotul is co-habitation and marriage. According to this custom once the cheliks and motiaries attain puberty, they are initiated to sex by the older members of the ghotul. After living together and if the couple wish to further decide to get married, then they are required to get married according to their tradition and leave the Ghotul.The people of Chhattisgarh have a traditional custom of hanging strings of neem leaves on their doors to ward of various kinds of diseases during the festival of Hareli.The cultural mosaic of Chhattisgarh is also marked by tribal entertainment like cock fights, tribal dances like Salai, Suwa and Karma. Every occasion here is marked by singing of folk songs by elderly women of a particular tribe. GOA -

GOA

SOCIAL CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

The Goan customs and traditions are easily adaptable because of their lifestyle. The flexibility in their customs is mainly due to the fact that the place being reigned by different empires, the customs and traditions have also got a shape according to the beliefs pertaining to that period of time. Thus the people do not really consider the traditional practices too hard. But still there are certain customs and traditions which are very much adhered to like most of the houses built here follow the typical Portugal custom. Not only the old churches but also any new church constructed here follows the typical traditional Portugal style. There are no hard and fast rules to follow a particular religion for they can have the choice of their own but still respect the values of other religions too. This nature of the Goans makes them stand apart from the entire country and so their tradition and customs have truly given a unique identity to the state and made it a role model for others.

HARYANA-

CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

Most of the people of Haryana have more or less equal social status. The status factor comes up only with the age which is understood and respected. The elders no matter how poor or rich is given all the due respect in any place whereas the younger as a part of their social custom has to respect the older people even if the junior is very rich or socially placed in a high status. Thus the tradition of the state of Haryana is very socialistic in nature. When it comes to marriage, a boy and a girl of the same gotra are not allowed to marry and the marriage is a must within the same community. A boy and a girl of the same gothra are considered to be brother and sister. If marriages do not take place within the same Jat then it is considered as a great disgrace to the boy or the girl family and is never accepted. Marriage within the same village is also not permitted even if the boy and girl qualify for marriage according to gotra restriction. By following this custom the people are able to maintain racial purity and this factor of limiting within the community helps in promoting good health and prevention of physical degeneration. The people of Haryana do not promote karewa or widow marriage which is a very big obligation among the community

 

HIMACHAL PRADESH –

CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

The people of Himachal Pradesh have their customs and traditions pertaining to their communities. The whole village is considered as one single family and the elders of the family are referred by the name Chacha-Tau (uncle), Bhabhi (sister-in-law), Mausi (aunt) or Nani (grandmother) according to their ages. The people value their relationship a lot and treat them with great regards. The Brahmins and the Rajputs very much follow the traditional customs of race, caste, gotra and family and adhere to it. They follow the traditional practice of sending gifts like jewellery and clothes and various other things to the girls’ husband’s house. It is also taboo for the girl’s family members to eat or drink anything in her sasural. They must pay an equivalent sum of money as compensation. This is not practiced in lower caste. The custom of Purdah is strictly followed by the female folk of Himachal Pradesh where they will have to veil their faces in front of all elders. Also once a girl delivers a child she should follow the custom of Pair Bandai where she falls at the feet of elders in the family of her husband and also should place money at their feet. There is also a custom of matchmaking even before a child is born just based on a vague assumption. The polyandrous customs of Kinnaur region also points at the close bond between the brothers. The eldest brother of the family is considered equal to the father. The birth of a girl child is celebrated for they are considered to be as the devi or the goddess of the house and special pujas are offered to the young girls at the time of Navarathri.

JAMMU & KASHMIR –

SOCIAL CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

There is a special ritual dance named Kud which is performed by all age groups of people in praise of Lok Devatas and this folk dance is ususally performed only during the night times and goes on for the whole night. The background music for this dance uses instruments like Narshingha, chhaina, flute, drums, etc. The Kashmiris living in the area of the Jammu valley celebrate the Lohri festival by performing a traditional theatre form and is known as Heren. Most of the weddings of the Kashmiris are accompanied by a dance known as Fumenie and Jagarana which involves singing and dancing of the female folk depicting the feelings of the girl who is going to leave to her in-laws place. The people belonging to the Gujjar and Bakerwal tribal community perform a traditional singing of songs in chorous and is popularly known as Benthe.

 

JHARKHAND-

CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

According to the custom of the people of Jharkhand, the ancestors are worshipped asa guardian spirit to the whole community. They follow the practice of placing the bones of the deceased after cremation under the sasandiri which also houses the bones of the ancestors. They are usually put in an earthen pot and kept there from the time of the cremation or burial till the time of the jangtopa ceremony when the actual placing of bones in the sasandiri can take place. Thus once in a year the family members will have to pay a visit to these burial stones to pay homage to their forefathers and ancestors. In earlier days they also had the custom of people belonging to the same community should have the same surname and they all settle down in one common area. But however now this is not followed. Endogamous marriage is normal with the exception of marriage to members of the Santhal, Ho, Kharia and Oraon (Kurukh) communities. When this is not followed they were very badly punished by the community chieftains and also a wedding between a girl and a boy of the same gotra is considered as a crime. But marriage is common between a girl and a boy among the Santhal, Ho and Kharia communities.

 

KARANATAKA –

CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

The theatre culture is one of the most common traditions among the Kannadigas. The theatre culture is also referred by the name Rangabhoomi. Natakas is also a common tradition among the people of Karnataka where a number of literatures related to epics and puranas are also written in praise of the heroic characters. Another common tradition among the Kannadigas is that in the temples on special occasion or on auspicious days like Dasara and Maha Shivaratri battles, stories, devotions or vratha are sung or narrated by the experts to the public and the devotees. Harikathe also comes as a part of tradition where a person tells a story in an outstanding manner accompanied by music at background and this goes on for the whole night. The Kannadiga weddings are more like the traditional Hindu weddings. The kannadigas very much adhere to the traditions customs and rituals at the time of wedding. There is a traditional practice of worshipping the spirits (generally referred as the Bhootas) mainly by the people of North Karnataka.

MADHYA PRADESH – .

CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

The customs and traditions of the people of Madhya Pradesh vary to a great extent from the people of other states.Ghotul is a custom followed by the young boys and girls of the Muria tribe. This custom is mainly followed by the unmarried boys and girls where they all gather in a particular place after sunset. This place has a group of huts where various activities like teaching of moral values, good conduct and discipline takes place. Here education is taught in the form of fun and play way method. This custom of Ghotul has helped the people of Muria tribe to be shaped into a morally good personality. However most commonly the people of Madhya Pradesh follow the traditional customs similar to that of the Hindu rituals whether it matters for marriage, birth or death. Every year there is a fair cum festival known as Bhagoriya conducted, in which people are allowed to choose their spouse. After choosing their spouse and if both the boy and girl are willing to get married then they elope from the house and when they come back, they are accepted as husband and wife.

MAHARASHTRA –

 

CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

During Vinayaka Chaturthi the people of Maharashtra follow a number of traditional customs. On the mythical birth anniversary of Lord Ganesha the people create the idols of Ganesha, decorate it and place it on a raised platform. It is a traditional practice to have the idol worshipped for ten days and on the eleventh day the people end the festival by carrying the idol on the streets by singing and dancing and then immerse the statue in the water. The celebration of this festival is an indication of the euphoria of the Maharastrian people. The Mahrashtrians celebrate the festival of Light, Diwali for nearly four days. On these days as a traditional custom the people light lot of diyas with a belief to take away all evil factors from their life.

KERALA -

CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

Kerala fondly known as God’s own country has a wonderful tradition in the history of Malayalis with lot of ethnic values and cultures. Apart from Hinduism, Christianity and Muslims there are also Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and Judaism religions in a very very small proportion. There are some traditional festivals like Onam and Vishu which is followed with great pomp. Apart from these traditional festivals, other festivals like Diwali, Christmas, Milad-e-Sherif, Holi, Easter, Id-ul-Fitr are celebrated with equal enthusiasm. The theatrical shows of Mohiniattam, Kootiyattam and Kathakali reveal their traditional values and also show what great lovers the Malayalis are with art and literature. The people of Kerala very much adhere to their culture and traditional customs and might even go to a great extent to maintain it. They have lot of traditional medicines which is mainly based on herbs and is believed to work wonders. They mostly follow traditional method of homemade remedies in the form of oils, powders and soaps to take care of their bodies.

MANIPUR –

CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

The people of Manipur mostly live as joint family and they follow the patriarchal pattern of society. The right to inherit the property and the family name is taken by the direct blood relationship. In the patriarchal form of society the father is the head and the mother takes an honorable place. Once the father dies the entire responsibility of the family falls on the eldest son. When it comes to the partition of the property all the sons are entitled to an equal share. The women of the family or the mother sometimes though treated in par with the male cannot stake their claim for a share of paternal property whereas a women after the death of her husband can inherit the husband’s estate. The traditional house of the Bishnupriya Manipuris are called as the Inchau which are mainly constructed on plane lands. Wood and Khapak are mainly used in the construction of the house fenced by a kind of hemp plant. Though there are modern houses coming up but still people beonging to the orthodox Bishnupriyas follow to build their houses with the traditional pattern.

 

WEST BENGAL

 

CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

Apart from the religious rituals and ceremonials the people of Bengal or the Bengalis have their own rituals in ceremonies like birth, weddings and even death. The Gaye holud is a part of a custom of the Bengali wedding and it takes place one or two days prior to the occasion. The Gaye holud is also known as the turmeric function during which haldi is applied on the skin of the bride and the groom for it is believed that turmeric cleanses, soften and brighten the skin, giving the bride’s skin the distinctive yellow hue that gives its name to this ceremony. According to Bengalis, the weddings symbolizes purity, sanctity and other good aspects of life. During a wedding ceremony Bengalis do not opt for black colour for it is considered as the colour of evil whereas they prefer hues of red which signifies luck, emotion and fortune. Banana tree is used to decorate the wedding mandaps and the house for banana tree produces huge number of fruits at a time and so also the couple should be blessed with many children. A ritual known as Annaprashan is conducted for the babies when it is five to seven months old. This is just to welcome the baby to eat the normal home-made food after it crosses the stage of eating baby food pattern.

UTTARAKHAND -

CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

The people of Uttarakhand follow the ancestor spirit worship. They believe that by doing this kind of worship they wake up the Gods and the local deities from their inactive stage to solve their problems and shower their blessings. It is a traditional belief that that by doing this they get divine justice. On such occasions music plays a major role and act as a medium to invoke the Gods. The singer or Jagariya sings a ballad of the gods with allusions to the great epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana and which describes the adventures and exploits of the god being invoked. This is a very common custom prevalent among most of the Hindu people in Uttarakhand. The people are deep rooted in religious faiths and superstitions for any good thing they do, they depend on the astrological forecast of the Brahmins for its auspiciousness. They follow age old customs and traditions for all social functions like new birth, marriage, death, etc. Shiva and Durga are the most important Gods of the people of Uttarakhand and many fairs and festivals are held in regard with the above mentioned Gods. People believe in ghosts, witches, etc., and tantra-mantra are used to cure disease and prevent calamities. Tantra-Mantra plays an important role in some customs which are executed at the places called ‘Shiddhpith’ and on the confluence of two rivers. At such times they sacrifice buffalos, goats and sheep to please the God or Goddess.

UTTAR PRADESH -

CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

The people of Uttar Pradesh follow the ritual or more than that they make it compulsion in one’s life time of taking a dip in the holy water of river Ganga and Yamuna. They believe that by having a bath in this holy water they get purified from all the sins they have committed in their life time. Aarti is another important ritual which is followed in the Ganga ghats. The deities are offered with light from the wicks soaked in purified butter in a very grand manner. Havan is a ritual performed by the people of Hindu community. It involves lightning of holy fire or the Yagna and the belief is that by doing this all evils and ill -wills are thrown apart. It is considered very auspicious among the Hindus to perform a Havan for the prosperity and the good luck before starting of any new work. This puja is conducted by the chief priest and during which lots of mantras are recited. There is also a traditional belief of frog marriages to usher rains in case of delayed monsoons. According to Hindu rituals when the marriage is performed, the Gods are pleased and rainfall takes place within days. They also believe in rolling of children on the grounds so that Indran, God of Rains is pleased and blesses the people with a good shower. They follow the patriarchical system of society or social structure.

TRIPURA –

CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

Since the people of Tripura belong to a blend of various tribal communities, they follow different customs and traditions. According to the Reang community the marriages are fixed by a matchmaker who is widely known as Andra where he does the initial negotiations between the boy’s and the girl’s family. When the marriage is finalized the guests are served with pork, rice and rice beer. The wedding is performed by the Ochai. Child marriage is not encouraged in this community and also widow marriage can take place only after one year of the death of the husband. The widow and widower are not allowed to participate in any social or religious gathering one year after the death of their spouses. A widow is not allowed to wear any ornaments after the death of her husband. They do not have any dowry system but however the groom has to spend for two years to the father- in -laws’ house before the wedding. At the birth of a child as a matter of thanking the god several pujas are performed for the safe growth of the child and sacrifices are also done to please the god. When a person dies his or her body is first washed with soap and water and then with the water which is got from the cleaning of the raw rice. After which they are dressed up neatly with their traditional attires and in case of a female, a fowl is sacrificed near the feet of the deceased. The body is left the whole night during which the ritual of dance is performed and the mourners are given rice beer to drink. After this the next day morning the body is cremated near a stream. Some of the tribes still cling on to quaint customs like floating colorful parasols in ponds to honour the dead.

TAMILNADU –

CUSTUM AND TRADITIONS

Tamilnadu attribute of being a cosmopolitan city, Chennai mirrors confluence of all the diverse cultures nourishing within its boundaries. The residents of the city living in sheer harmony with each other confirm that the varied culture exists, but not at the cost of peace and tranquillity . A number of monuments silently express the glorious history of the city they witnessed, the traditional art forms they preserved and continued to keep it alive. The spirit of  vibrant culture and reminiscent traditions all make the city wonderful and tremendously important as a part of Indian heritage.

 

People, the power of a nation, come to from all directions making it a major cosmopolitan city in the southern region of India. Having core value system and orthodox beliefs, the residents  are famous for their hospitality and warmth. Their deep rooted beliefs and customs upholding brotherhood, tranquillity and mutual respect drive their daily chores from celebrations to mournful times.

Tamil nadu is home to various religions, each enjoying respect and faith from even the non-followers. From Hindu, Muslims, Christians to Janise, the state has warmly welcomed them all. These people living in harmony increase the magnificence of Chennai manifold. At the end of it, the metropolitan city, Chennai, is a breathing example of perfect confluence of traditional beliefs and modernity in one’s life.

Multiple people, hailing from diverse backgrounds lead to the flow of many languages within the territory of state. Though Tamil enjoys the status of being the prime language iand the mother tongue, popularly articulated by the citizens , however, people belonging to different regions have brought their native languages with them. Other spoken languages here are English, French, Portuguese, Dutch, Telugu, Urdu, Kannada, Bengali, Punjabi and Malayalam

SIKKIM –

CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

On any religious festival and occasions the monks of the temple cover themselves with masks, ceremonial swords and sparkling jewels dance according to the rhythm of resounding drum and trumpeting of horns. The people of Sikkim who follow the Mahayana form of Buddhism celebrate the festival of Saga Dawa which is supposed to very auspicious. On this particular day the people go the monasteries and worship offering butter lamps. There are also processions arranged by the monks and they go around the town of Gangtok reading and singing the Holy Scriptures. As a matter of offering thanks to Mount Kanchendzonga which is considered to guard the state of Sikkim, the festival of Phang Lhabsol is celebrated with great pomp. Kagyat dance is performed every 28th and 29th day of the Tibetan calendar. The solemn nature of the dances is interspersed with comic relief provided by the jesters. The people of Sikkim especially the Hindu-Nepali celebrate the Dasian festival in the months of September – October which mainly symbolizes the victory of good over evil. Some of the common festivals celebrated by the people living here are Saga Dawa, Losoong, Namsoong, Labab Duchen, Kagyat dance, Yuma- Sam-Manghim, Tendong-lho-Rum- Fat, etc. According to their tradition the festival of lights, Diwali is celebrated on the 10th day after Dasain. The married females of the Bhutia community tie a piece of stripped cloth around their waist called Pangden signifying their marital status.

RAJASTHAN –

CUSTUMS AND TRADITIONS

The customs and traditions followed by the people of Rajasthan are those that pertain to that of the Vedic rites and rituals. The people of Rajasthan very strictly adhere to these traditional customs which is very essential according to every man and woman of Rajasthan. Each and every custom and rituals from birth to death according to the Vedas is followed by the people with just slight variations based on their region and the numerous sub castes. These ceremonies which have to be done as a part of their customs are known as Samskaras which depict the three stages of life namely birth, marriage and death. There are nearly sixteen Samskaras. At the time of a girl’s pregnancy charms are tied around the neck and waist and also to prevent the evil eye falling on her, a knife is put under her pillow every night and is not allowed to go under certain specific tree where the Rajasthani’s believe that spirits reside on those trees. The girl who is pregnant for the first time has to come to her parents well in advance. Festivities start and women assemble to sing songs specially meant for such an occasion, some describing the changing behavior and liking of a pregnant woman.

 

PUNJAB –

 

CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

Blood relationships or the family plays a major role in the customs and traditions of the people of Punjab. Each member of the family has got certain duties or responsibility assigned to them which includes day-to-day life, birth and marriage ceremonies, funerals and other social occasions and they will have to follow it strictly. They mostly live in joint family system. Very rarely a member of the family may live in an adjoining village. But still when it comes to any social or festive occasions, like the initiation and marriage ceremonies or funerals, etc in which they will not miss out their participation. At the time of girls’ wedding a traditional red ivory bangle commonly known as choora is supposed to come as a gift from the maternal uncle and as a custom he has to put the bangles on her forearm. Similarly the maternal grandparents also have to send some gifts to the bride which includes a set of clothes, some jewellery and other household objects. The custom of exchange of gifts is a very traditional practice among the Punjabi’s for they believe this helps to maintain a well knit relationship among friends and family members in the society. This is also a means of patching up with that relationship which has been broken for some reasons. Any social function like the first haircutting, or an initiation ceremony or birth or wedding, it is a more common custom among the relatives to give something in cash or in kind according to his social standing or nearness of relation.

ODISHA-

CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

Mostly the people of Odisha including the tribal population follow the traditions pertaining to the Hindus with a small variation depending on the various racial groups they originate from and finally it is displayed as a blend. Mostly all the religious and social ceremonies like wedding, birth and death include singing songs, rural dances along with feasts. The people believe in supernatural beings and they don’t have one standard god or spirit for their belief changes as new ones come their way. These supernatural beings vary from each other by composition, function, character and nature. Some are charitable; some are impartial and some are ill-disposed, to which more importance was given by the people. The main outlook of the tribal people was that of the prediction of the environment for all the ritual activities are based on these natural powers. Any disaster or calamity caused to the people is believed to be due to the curse or malicious act of the Gods or ancestors. At times of religious festivals and fairs, sacrifices of different kinds of livestocks along with rituals are quite common among the people. They believe it is a way to appease the god and spirits. Any decision making is confirmed only after the appeasement of Gods and good omens for the people are extremely superstitious in nature. All their spiritual needs is catered by the functional heads of various communities like in the Saoras community- the priests are divided into three categories namely the Buyya are those who preside over agricultural festivals, offers and sacrifices. The functions of priest, prophet and medicine-man put together are taken care by the Kudan. The sacerdotal head among the Juang is called Nagam or Buita, Pujari or Sisa among the Bondos and Jani among the Kondhs.

NAGALAND –

CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

The people of Nagaland encourage marriage only outside of a social group. Thus people from the same community do not marry and also in case of any relationship between them then it considered as a social evil. In the Angamis community if a young boy shows a liking towards a girl then he conveys it to his father after which a friend is send to confirm the wishes of the elders. It the parents on the other side also agree then the bridegroom’s father puts the matter further to the test by strangling a fowl and watching the way in which it crosses its legs when dying. If the legs are placed in an inauspicious attitude, the match is immediately broken off. If things go well the marriage is fixed but the girl also has the right to break the marriage even if she has some inauspicious dream.

The people of the Mongsen tribal community follow a strange custom wherein once a boy and girl are engaged they are allowed to go on a trading expedition for twenty days and if it turns out to be profitable then the marriage is fixed whereas if it is a loss then the marriage is broken. Most of the tribal community follow the custom of shaving the girls head until she reaches the marriageable age. The custom to be followed by a boy and a girl before their wedding vary from different communities like in the Angamis community a girl can have a lover before the wedding but they cannot exceed their limit. The people of the Sema community give lot of regard and care for the girls for the only reason that a girl fetches a handsome price at marriage and this price would be substantially reduced if she got involved in a scandal otherwise they end up paying fine.

French scholar Romain Rolland said, “If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India

 

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