Tuesday, Jan 07, 2003
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By Mahesh Vijapurkar
Whenever "we attempt to go in the right direction, we face difficulties". When some changes were made in the history textbooks to convey the right picture about our past to the students, "we have been accused of distorting it. You distorted it for years".
Mr. Vajpayee was speaking after laying the foundation for a memorial complex for the late Hashu Advani, a former State Minister and one of the oldest BJP workers who helped set up a massive educational complex on the basis of voluntary effort. It has 24 institutions now from crèche to post-graduate colleges. Mr. Vajpayee conceded that though the Government was involved in furthering education and literacy, a lot more remained to be done by the voluntary sector. The Government could take pride in bringing down the illiteracy levels, but "each one, teach one'' would bring remarkable results for the country.
He said that while the Government continued to do its bit, it was time the citizens themselves responded and worked with commitment and a sense of purpose, because the administration alone cannot be expected to do everything with its meagre resources. Education was one such area where despite the Government's active participation, people needed to get involved.
There were a whole lot of youngsters who wanted to benefit from the developments in science and technology but often lacked the means or the access. "Even if some children voluntarily opt to work, the employer should pay attention to educate them enough at least to read and write one's own name," he said and hoped that the practice of affixing one's thumb impression would come to an end.
In the years since Independence, India should have been free of the scourge of illiteracy but it did not happen. In educational institutions, the focus should not be on admissions, degrees and certificates alone but on developing the person's personality to enable him or her to do some positive things, Mr. Vajpayee said.
He applauded the Vivekanand Education Society for its commitment to carry on its work without the Government's help and dwelt at length on education and the constructive role such organisations can play. Why was it that Indians living overseas did better than Indians here, he asked. "Perhaps, there is something wrong with the air and the water.''
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