For more openness in teacher education

June 23, 2014

Rohit Dhankar

What are the necessary and sufficient capabilities for teacher educators? [PART 1]

June 22, 2014

Rohit Dhankar

[I started writing this article as a short piece on the qualifications for teacher educators, but then realised that the issue requires a more detailed discussion. As a result this article became rather long and complex, and I suspect very abstract. I am not even sure whether it is fit for a blog conversation, but since have embarked upon it so am posting. Remaining parts of it will come as and when I have time.]


My earlier posts on the issue of required qualifications for teacher educators have attracted some comments and rejoinders. I am glade to note that these comments refrain from angry outbursts and derogatory comments on opponents. And rely on relatively more reasoned arguments. The comments have raised some important issues that cannot be dealt with individual responses; therefore, this post, next in the series.

Some of the important concerns can be identified and listed as follows:

1. That M.Ed. is being devalues by allowing non-M.Ed. candidates to teach in TEIs, even if they have some exposure to education in their M.Phil. and P.Hd.
2. That education as a discipline is being diluted.
3. Why M.Ed. is thought to be not necessary when in other disciplines, say Mathematics, M.Sc./M.A. in mathematics is thought to be necessary to teach mathematics at undergraduate level?
4. One repeated equation seem to be ‘what is the harm if teacher educator do their M.Ed.?’

It seems to me that the arguments from both positions (one, that M.Ed. should be necessary, two that the necessity is not needed) is getting lost in snippets. So I am trying to present it here in a slightly more connected manner.

Right or wrong, it seems to me that all interlocutors are using a host of unstated assumptions and that the argument cannot be resolved rationally unless we bring those hidden assumptions to the light and examine them. [That is, if we want a rational resolution of the argument. However, if we believe that there cannot be any rational grounds for such decisions and answers to such questions are and should be DETERMNED PURELY by political and social forces; rest of this article will be considered useless. Those who believe in this later thesis, will find this post boring, and therefore, I recommend that they discontinue reading it right here.]

The hidden assumptions that I alluded to in the paragraph above fall under the following themes:

a) Nature of education studies; that is, is it a discipline like mathematics or a field of study similar, say, to Engineering?
b) What does it mean for teaching and teacher education to be a profession?
c) What are the implications of b) and c) above for teacher education curriculum?
d) Appropriate institutional imagination for TEIs

Unless we have at the least tentative answers to these questions we cannot resolve the issue of required qualifications for teacher educators on any rational grounds. Of course, we can have a political kusti and make our decision on the basis of its outcomes; but that would have zero academic worth to my mind.

In this article, first I will try to deal very briefly with these four questions; and then come to the necessary and sufficient qualifications for faculty teaching in TEIs. It is obvious that all of these four questions require a full length paper to do justice to them. But an article for a blog post cannot afford it, nor can I, because of lack of time. So will provide some brief hints only. Each of these questions is important and is influenced by assumed answers to all others. Therefore, what I write below will often look like unsupported assertions; but a patient reader is likely to find supporting argument somewhere down the line if shows some indulgence in continuing to read.


In this debate ‘education’ is being referred to as a ‘discipline’ as well as as a ‘field of enquiry or study or practice’. Mostly it is being referred to as a ‘discipline’. But a discipline requires: ONE, a very clearly defined domain of study/enquiry (in rest of this article I will use ‘study’ to include ‘enquiry’ and ‘practice’); TWO, a coherent theory or set of theories which closely align with each other in terms of their epistemology; THREE, independence of epistemic (concerning with knowledge) judgment in the light of their own theory or theories; and FOUR, a reasonably wide spread practice of teaching/learning and knowledge creation. Often a body of practitioners is mentioned separately; but that is included in the condition four; otherwise how one is to obtain practice. These, to my mind, are the most important conditions from academic point of view. There are also some institutional and social conditions; but they do not alone create a discipline. Therefore: FIVE, institutional structures to support the discipline’s study and practice.

These conditions collectively define a tradition of study as a discipline. Meeting one or two of them may not be enough. In this sense, then, education is not a discipline like mathematics, physics, sociology or history. It does not have a coherent set of theories unified by an epistemological perspective; in spite of having a more or less well-defined domain. It has to borrow from other disciplines for its epistemic judgments; examples: philosophy, psychology, sociology, history.

Therefore, perhaps it will be more profitable to consider ‘education’ as a ‘field of study’ unified by its domain and concerns and not by its epistemology and theories. We must note that even a field of study requires to be ‘intellectually coherent’, but the condition of ‘intellectual coherence’ can be met even without a stricter ‘epistemic coherence’. But it seems here I must explain what I mean by intellectual and epistemic coherence.

I define, (these are not standard definitions), intellectual coherence of a body of knowledge on the basis of; 1. Relevance to its domain and concerns; and 2. The knowledge claims made in it are all judged by general criteria of accepting a claim as knowledge. What I mean by general criteria for knowledge is seen with suspicion these days and is considered an old fashioned view that is, in the eyes of some, is already countered and disposed of. I think they arrive at this judgment rather in a hurry; and the good (or evil, depending on where you stand) old criteria might be far from dead. To state them, then: one, knowledge claims are expressions of beliefs; to qualify as knowledge they have to be ‘true’ in the sense of being coherent with already accepted knowledge and basic assumptions in the field of study (or discipline); and three, should be publicly justified or supported with evidence.

Criteria number 2 for intellectual coherence defined in this manner is applicable to all propositional knowledge, and therefore, all human knowledge is coherent in this week sense of coherence. Criteria number 1 (relevance) is specific to a field of study or a discipline, and is more important in defining intellectual coherence. That opens up the possibility of some knowledge being excluded simply because in spite of its veracity it may not be a concern of the field of study or discipline. For example ‘smoking is harmful’ is not a concern of physics, and therefore, in spite of its truth no undergraduate student of physics is taught this. Similarly; string theory may be accepted ‘truth’ in physics but no one teaches it to B.Ed. students who do not opt for science education as their specialisation; because it is not seen as relevant.

Epistemic coherence is a little stricter, as I understand it. But first let us note that even intellectual coherence has to be coherent epistemologically; and that is ensured through the criteria number 2 above. To understand epistemic coherence, then, let’s take mathematics as an example. In justification of mathematical knowledge one requires a deductive proof based on axioms, definitions and proven theorems. A weaker justification can be achieved through demonstration in specific cases; but that also has the character of deductive proof. And something supported by demonstration is not taken as true in the whole range of the domain; only in the range that is clearly indicated by cases of demonstration. Empirical evidence is considered good enough for a hypothesis to further investigate through deductive methods but not a justification. Now all modern mathematical knowledge accepts these epistemic strictures; and therefore, mathematics could be deemed as having a coherent epistemological perspective.

If one takes science, say physics, as an example; this kind of abstract deductive justification alone is not considered enough. Any scientific theory which might have the mathematical abstract justification can be accepted only as a hypothesis; till there is some empirical evidence that it explains or predicts behaviour of nature. This again produces epistemically coherent perspective in physics.

One might accuse me of taking very specific examples of disciplines and may argue that social science disciplines like, say, sociology and economic, do not follow such strict criteria for epistemic coherence. I do not have enough understanding of sociology and economics to forcefully argue the case here. But it seems to me that in spite of using a variety of justificatory criteria (ranging from mathematical to empirical and interpretative) they have spelled out theoretical positions that adjudicate specific importance to the repertoire of criteria they use. The real justification finally depends on the unifying character of social (and economic, as the case may be) theories which claim to study the whole range of social phenomena. And therefore, in spite of having a somewhat different kind of epistemic coherence; they do have one defined for themselves. (However, I would like opinion of some sociologist or philosopher of social on this issue. And meanwhile continue in building my argument on these lines.)

Education does not have a single approache to its epistemology, and may have to use all of them; without having a unifying theory. That however, does not mean that there is nothing unifying in education. Its domain and concern which emerge out of intentionally teaching people (children, adolescents and adults, all included) create reasonably robust unifying principles, and intellectual coherence, which must leave room open to draw from stricter disciplinary epistemological coherences. We must also note that if education deliberately tries to create its own strict epistemic coherence and shuns other contributing disciplines it will become too emaciated to deal with the wide range of issues necessary for its endeavours. Therefore, attempts to craft a narrow ‘discipline’ out of overall education studies will harm it, rather than help it grow; as some people claim.

In the light of the above discussion it is better and more profitable to see education as a ‘multidisciplinary field of study’ rather than as a ‘single discipline’.

Education is often compared with medicine and engineering as a multidisciplinary field of study. This parallel helps in making a point regarding contribution of different disciplines; but also has its limitations. I see three very significant and obvious differences between education and engineering in spite of both being rightly considered multidisciplinary fields of study. One, education has to take responsibility of teaching itself; which engineering need not to. Engineering can leave significant parts of this job to education, while education cannot. This makes it necessary for education to develop a perspective on all human knowledge. Two, nature of contribution of other core disciplines to education is very different from the nature of contribution to engineering from its own core disciplines. Let’s consider the case of ‘philosophy of education’, which is one of the core sub-disciplines of education and that of mathematics in engineering. The mathematics in engineering is basically “mathematics for engineering”, to be used as a tool. It may not define the central purpose and nature of engineering. While philosophy of education is not “for” but “of”. It contributes to defining central purposes and character of education. Philosophy of education and sociology of education, among others, are constitutive sub-disciplines of education while mathematics and physics are more of ‘tool’ disciplines of engineering. We should note that the core sub-disciplines of education have a character that allows them to become “of” disciplines; that is, history OF education, psychology OF education; etc. while mathematics and physics cannot become “mathematics OF engineering” or “physics OF engineering”. The third difference is that education cannot ignore the study of its own impact on the society; while engineering may afford to leave it to other disciplines. In the view of the first and third differences listed here education is a self-encompassing disciplines; while engineering is not necessarily so.

Now, if we take this view of education studies then it would have a very significant influence on the remaining four (including the issue of qualifications) questions and that influence needs to be worked out carefully.

[But my time is up today, so the rest of the questions have to wait.]
Continues …..

How important is M.Ed. degree to be a teacher educator?

June 10, 2014

Rohit Dhankar

The debate which started on Poonam Batra Committee recommendations regarding qualifications for teacher educators had developed into a full-fledged war. One can call it ‘teacher education war’ on the lines of ‘math wars’ and ‘science wars’ that raged in the western academia about 20-30 years back. I think academic wars are good signs for a society. What might have been decided earlier in some cases on the basis of patronage from establishment and academic alignments is being fought openly. That should help in sharper articulation of positions and more rigorous argumentation in public. Academic wars, of course, are fortunately bloodless and can also avoid creating bad-blood if fought with sensitivity and intelligence. I do hope that this war will be fought with such intentions. This article is certainly guided by this sentiment.

The latest move in this war is an internet petition put up by a group that calls itself “Save Teacher Education”, if the name reflects the motto of the group it certainly is loadable. The said petition has two parts in its title. One, “Reconstitute a more representative and non-partisan Committee on Regulations, Norms and Standards of the NCTE”, and two “Make Post Graduate Degree in Education an essential qualification for teaching”. In my usual selective manner, I will leave the first part alone; it seems to me that it does not matter as all committees are likely to have some or other bent of mind that can easily be called partisan. The second part, to my mind is more important; and therefore, I will spend my energies on it.

The question, then, for me is: should we make post-graduate degree in education essential for teaching in our Teacher Education Institutes (TEIs)? Before attempting an answer to this question, like a true Indian, I will review the poorva-paksha; and poorva-paksha in this case is the arguments put forward by the said petition, as this article is occasioned by it.

Actually both the pleas of the petition rest on the argument they build for making M.Ed./MA (Edu) essential for teaching in TEIs. Because the argument for reconstitution of the committee rests on the inadequacy or partisan nature of the committee in specifying the qualifications. And the acceptance or rejection of the qualifications depends on how good is the argument for making M.Ed./MA (Edu) essential.

The main argument the petition builds is as follows:

a. “Education has a small core of theory and a large periphery where one draws from the other disciplines in an eclectic manner.”
b. Masters stage “gives one the exposure to draw, connect and weave in from these inter related and inter dependent areas of knowledge and constitute an organic whole.”
c. Therefore, masters stage is necessary for being able to create an organic whole from the eclectically chosen knowledge from different disciplines.
d. And so, “Doing away with M.Ed./MA (Edu) degree as an essential requirement for TEIs is a dilution in the efforts towards teacher preparation and quality education …”. (Emphasis mine)

One understands that public petitions are not academic papers, and therefore, they state their arguments in a simple and summary manner rather than building them with all the detail and rigour. One of the principles of fairness in philosophical argumentation is that one should critique the strongest interpretation of the opponent’s position. This evening I want to follow this principle in letter and spirit.

The first premise of this argument, as it is stated, is seriously problematic. One, this makes education a collection of eclectically chosen knowledge from different disciplines around a small core of theory of its own. Eclectic means “selecting what seems best of various styles or ideas”, where the principle of selection is rather vaguely defined. If the principle is clearly and strictly defined then it becomes ‘derived’ on the basis of the principle rather than being ‘eclectic’. Two, the contributing disciplines are seen as periphery of education studies. They are not really the core of it, but rather somewhat intuitively selected collection, which may not be essential for education or may be selected differently without creating any serious incoherence. This makes education a very loosely defined field of study. Three, where that “small theory at the core” comes from is not clear; nor is its nature known. That makes the whole of education a very vague area of knowledge.

This characterisation of education studies is a popular one among people coming to education from other supposed to be well-defined disciplines like psychology and sociology. And this encourages them to push education on lines suggested by their own mother disciplines; a sure starting point for turf wars so common in education departments. As it is, it will not give the petitioners’ argument enough force to make M.Ed./MA (Edu) compulsory as that “small core of theory” can very well be acquired by anyone who has an academically disciplined mind capable of dealing with conceptual issues. Such a mind is supposed to be cultivated in master’s programmes in all disciplines; and definitely at the research level. So master’s degree in education may not be necessary. But I assume that the articulation here is simply a way of expressing something much stronger and more solid characterisation of education. Therefore, this is a minor point, and is made here only to replace this characterisation with a stronger one; and not as a critique of the whole argument.

One can easily replace this characterisation of education with, say, “education studies is a field of study unified by its central concerns immerging from intentional teaching and learning, with a well-defined domain that includes all issues arising out of this endeavour, from its impact on the individual and the society, and from its organisational arrangements”. At the heart of this endeavour is flourishing of the entire society and wellbeing of the individual learner. Education in this sense, when perused gives rise to a whole lot of fundamental questions about life, humans and society. These are its foundational questions. Insights gained from various disciplines become necessary conceptual apparatus to address those questions. The knowledge that is essential for addressing these questions becomes foundational; but the guiding principles emerge from the central concerns of education and not from the contributing disciplines. Also, no single contributing discipline is capable of shaping those principles as they necessarily admit different perspectives and are essentially contested. For example in deciding aims of education philosophical, sociological and historical perspectives necessarily interact; no single perspective is capable of providing sufficient grounds for decision. Therefore, education studies strives for an intellectually coherent and comprehensive understanding of education; and this understanding necessarily used insights from other disciples.

The main claim being made in the petition, then, is that such an intellectually coherent and comprehensive (organic whole, in the petition’s language) picture of education emerges only at the study of education at the master’s level. Therefore, a teacher without M.Ed./MA (Edu) is unlikely to have such an intellectually coherent and comprehensive picture of education. And a teacher who himself lacks such an understanding cannot give rise to that understanding in the student-teacher’s mind. Therefore, education will remain fragmented in the minds of the faculty and the student-teachers if the faculty has not studies education at MA/M.Ed. level. A teacher with fragmented understanding cannot provide good quality education to the children at school level.

Now, I accept that the following points could be successfully argued (though I am not working out the arguments here):

1. To be able to provide quality education a teacher requires intellectually coherent and comprehensive understanding of education. Otherwise, s/he is unlikely to be an efficient reflective practitioner.
2. Unless teacher educators themselves possess such intellectually coherent and comprehensive understanding most of the student-teachers will not develop such understanding.
3. One needs to study education for such an understanding; it does not emerge automatically and study of other disciplines to master’s level is not geared to develop such understanding of education.

But acceptance of the points 1 to 3 above does not necessarily lead to the requirement of MA (Edu)/M.Ed. for every faculty member of a TEI for a variety of reasons.

One, it is fairly possible to develop required understanding of education at the undergraduate level; that is, a good quality B.Ed. or B.El.Ed. should be able to develop such required understanding of education. I believe that even a good quality D.El.Ed. can succeed in forming an intellectually coherent and comprehensive framework of education in student-teachers’ mind. There is no reason to claim that it can happen only at the master’s level. But that simply shifts the focus from M.Ed./MA (Edu) to B.Ed./BA (Edu). The main argument remains the same.

The second reason for not accepting the necessity of M.Ed./MA (Edu) lies in the nature of education, teaching and institutionalised learning opportunities. The petition seem to see each teacher educator as a complete Guru in himself/herself. It seems to assume that each one will teach in isolation and completely oblivious of others. The nature of education is such that the overall capabilities of any student are a result of collective efforts of the faculty. However good or well (and appropriately) educated the individual faculty members might be, if the institutional collaboration, dialogue and awareness of what else (other than a single teacher’s subject) the students are learning are lacking, the institution will fail to develop adequate understanding of education in its students. Therefore, collaboration, dialogue, awareness of the total curricular learning is essential in any case; whether one makes M.Ed. and MA (Edu) essential or not. Without such an institutional ambiance teacher-education will necessarily fail even if each individual teacher educator is a great scholar of education.

Therefore, we should think of faculty qualification keeping the whole institution and its working culture in mind. Now suppose that there are 15 teacher in a TEI. Further suppose that each one has some experience of education either as B.Ed./B.El.Ed. or M.Ed./MA (Edu) or research/Ph.D. level. Further suppose that half of them actually have M.Ed./MA (Edu) and everyone has adequate knowledge of his/her own subject (for example MA in philosophy, etc.). If this institution has the work culture of collaboration, dialogue and each member has a fairly good idea of the whole curriculum, then the student-teacher should be able to develop the adequate and comprehensive understanding of education we have been describing above, even if some of his/her teachers are not M.Ed./MA (Edu) and even if some of them themselves do not have that comprehensive understanding. This will happen because of the atmosphere created by faculty’s awareness of other subjects and mutual dialogue and collaboration when needed. In addition, it seems to me that a faculty who teaches, say psychology, has an MA in psychology, knows about the whole curriculum and interacts and collaborates with his colleagues will develop an overall understanding of education within 2 to 3 years. (Sorry, I have no systematic empirical study to back this claim, but my experience in institutions has convinced me of this.)

If this understanding has some merit, then, though it is desirable that each faculty has an M.Ed./MA (Edu), still it is not necessary, and the institution can function well, and achieve its aims, even with some of the faculty without MA (Edu)/M.Ed. That is, if it is a properly functioning institution.

However, there may be certain courses like curriculum study which should be preferably taught by faculty who have MA (Edu)/M.Ed. of have adequate preparation, as such courses are integrative and can be better handled by someone who has studies education.

Another important issue that emerges here is the responsibility of institutions to prepare their own faculty to have a clear idea of its programmes and what is needed to achieve their goals. When we imagine institutions, we sadly leave out their responsibility to prepare their faculty and to provide opportunities of growth of faculty.

Now, if we look at Poonam Batra Committee recommendations in this light we can immediately see that most of the specified qualifications are fair enough. The curricular requirements are taken care at the institutional level and there is a strong possibility that about 50% faculty will have studied education at the master’s level. As a safeguard, may be the committee can recommend that a certain percentage, just for example say 50%, of faculty must have studied education either at the bachelor’s or at the master’s level.

Having said that, one must note that there are some lapses in the recommendations here and there, and they must be corrected. For example, a bias towards elementary education, and consequently for B.El.Ed. There is no reason to assume that this bias is a result of being partisan to B.El.Ed.; it seems it is a result of an academic stance where elementary education is seen as the most important. Another example is absence of history and philosophy faculty in B.Ed. No mention of MA in philosophy is made while other humanity and social science post-graduates are allowed to teach foundational courses. There are several such lapses and the tables need to be very carefully checked and revised if need be.

The petition also points out one problem in B.Ed. curriculum; that is of not having philosophy of education in the foundations. Actually, the report is the weakest where it suggests curriculum. The suggested curriculum is seriously flowed and can hardly be defended; but I will not go into details of it here as I have argued that elsewhere; and as actually it requires a separate complete paper.

If this analysis is acceptable then the petitioners’ claim of making M.Ed./MA (Edu) essential cannot be accepted. The concern of the petitioners may be genuine, but it is misguided and without proper analysis of overall institutional functioning and requirements.

The kind of overall qualifications that are recommended by the committee are likely to bring in some fresh thought and critique in teacher education; and that is very much needed at present. Therefore, if the petitioners are genuinely interested in betterment of teacher education they should not insist upon making MA (Edu)/M.Ed. necessary. They should rather be arguing for more openness in teacher education.


Open letter to self-assumed guardians of Teacher Education

June 8, 2014

Respected Legitimate Guardians of Teacher Education,

This letter comes to you in response to worries expressed by many of you in press and publicly circulated emails; and it is from an unqualified intruder in education and teacher education. Please be patient to read.

Respected Sirs and Ma’ams, I call myself an ‘unqualified intruder’ because I hold no degree in education or teacher education; more specifically, I am not a D.El.Ed. or a B.El.Ed. or a B.Ed. or a M.Ed., and not even a MA in education, in which I happen teach. This lack of degrees makes me totally unqualified for what I have been doing throughout my working life for last 36 years. During this time I have been teaching at elementary school level and at the post graduate level in two universities. Have been reading and debating education, helping other people develop understanding of educations as per my capabilities and ideas; and doing some minimal writing on issues in education. Now I realise I have been functioning in these roles quite illegitimately and I qualify for none of them.

On 5th May 14 The Pioneer published a news item titled “NCTE council members ineligible: IATE chief” claiming that respected Professors PK Sahoo and Anita Rastogi of IATE have made a complaint pointing out that some persons in the NCTE General Council do not qualify to be members as per NCTE act 1993. The names given in the news report are “Prof Krishna Kumar of NCERT, Prof Janaki Ranjan of Jamia Millia Islamia, Prof Padma Sarangapani of Institute of Social and Economic Changes, Bangalore, Prof Virginius Xaxa of TISS, Guwahati, Prof Poonam Batra of Delhi University, Prof Venetian Kaul, AUD and Alok Mathura of Rishikesh Valley School, Andhra Pradesh.”

Before I come to the required qualifications, I will draw your attention to the two simple factual mistakes in this list: as far as I know the person you refer to as “Prof Venetia Kaul” is well known scholar “Prof. Venita Kaul”; and the one you refer to as “Alok Mathura of Rishikesh Valley School” should be “Alok Mathur of Rishi Valley School”. That is just to make the identification unambiguous.

After reading this news item, Sirs and Ma’ams, I downloaded NCTE Act 1993, the amendments made in 2011 and The Gadget of India notification of 1st May 2013 which announces the constitution of the NCTE General Council.

With due respect, Respected Guardians, all the people you have mentioned, but one, clearly qualify. Let me explain, please.

Prof. Krishna Kumar, Prof. Janaki Rajan and Prof. Padma Sarangapani are nominated as per sub-clause (i) of clause (m) of sub-section (4) of section 3 of the NCTE Act 1993. Clause (m), Discerning Guardians, states “(m) thirteen persons possessing experience and knowledge in the field of education or teaching to be appointed by the Central Government as under, from amongst the (i) Deans of Faculties of Education and Professors of Education.” Now, Sirs and Ma’ams, all three I mentioned above possess experience and knowledge in the field of education and all are professors of education in universities at the least as reputed as your own, if not more.

Three other people you have raised objection to, Respected Guardians, are Prof. Poonam Batra, Prof. Venita Kaul and Mr. Alok Mathur. They are appointed under sub-clause (iii) of clause (m) of sub-section (4) of section 3 of the NCTE Act 1993. And this, Discerning Guardians, states “(m) thirteen persons possessing experience and knowledge in the field of education or teaching to be appointed by the Central Government as under, from amongst the (iii) experts in pre-primary and primary teacher education.”

For your information, Respected Sirs and Ma’ams, Prof. Kaul is well known expert in Pre-primary and Primary Education and teacher education, same goes for Prof. Batra. Mr. Mathur is a teacher and is involved in teacher preparation for a very well reputed school of India in which many of you would have willingly sent your children to be taught by teachers prepared by him.

It seems, Knowledgably Guardians, that you are totally wrong here in case of 6 out of the 7 people you have mentioned. And I am not sure about the seventh, one has to take advice from someone better than me at legalities of this nature. Usually knowledgeable people make false claims with some hidden purpose, Sirs and Ma’ams. But an humble unqualified intruder like me cannot think such thought about you, so I will leave the issue of The Pioneer news here.

Some of you, Sirs, have been circulating very enlightening emails publicly. Respected Prof. SK Yadav has asked several ethical questions of Prof. Batra. One of them happens to be “Is it ethical to become Members and Chairpersons of one or more Committees during last so many years and prepared norms and standards on Teacher Education without having the degree of B.Ed. and M.Ed. of Teacher Education programme?”

I would request Respected Professor Yadav, to elaborate upon the issue. Why is it unethical in his mind to be chair and member of above mentioned committees without B.Ed. and M.Ed.? How many bureaucrats and other people are members of such committees without these very reputed degrees in India Prof. Yadav? How come your critical insight never notices that? I will have something more to say of B.Ed. and M.Ed. in this letter, Sir. But for now move to another point.

Another respected member of the collective of guardians, Prof. Harish S Rathore of BHU, has written an open letter appealing to the collective to defend teacher education.

Rathore Sir is very legitimately angry that Delhi University has made some appointments “of certain Professors who did not have a legitimate right to be appointed as Professors of Education, as they were not having the essential qualifications to be appointed even as a Lecturer in Education. Nor these people were having the ideology and values deep rooted in our traditions of being a Guru.” There are two issues here (i) the issue of qualifications for professors and (ii) the issue of ideology and values.

Regarding qualifications, I wonder if the Learned Professor has ever come across the “UGC Regulations, 2000 regarding Minimum Qualifications for Appointment and Career Advancement of Teachers in Universities and Colleges”. By the way it states the following regarding the appointment of professors:


1.3.1 Professor

An eminent scholar with published work of high quality, actively engaged in research, with la years of experience in postgraduate teaching, and/or experience in research at the University/National Level institutions, including experience of guiding research at doctoral level.

An outstanding scholar with established reputation who has made significant contribution to knowledge.”

This, Respected Professor Rathore, goes to show that a scholar of repute can become a professor without having qualifications good enough to become a lecturer. This, of course, is of no use to you; as you have all your B.Eds. and M.Eds, I presume.

A hummable intruder in the august precincts of education and teacher education like me cannot imagine that you, Sir, are unaware of the work done by the professors you are so angry with. It seems, Sir, they have worked and contributed in the field as well as have published academic work of repute.

Professor Rathore, weighed down by the responsibility of his guardianship worries that these illegitimate professors do not have “the ideology and values deep rooted in our traditions of being a Guru”. My humble request as an outsider, Sir, is to please explain what that ideology and those values deep in the roots happen to be? I hope with perplexed heart, Sir, that these are not the ideology and values of Respected Guru Dronacharya. Drona Sir, as we all know, first refused to teach a deserving shishya and when the shishya learnt despite of the Guru, rendered his vidya useless by demanding undeserved Guru dakshina.

However, if they referred to values happen to be values of Buddha, Sir, who wanted everyone to think for themselves rather than being obedient, then these illegitimate professors will not be found wanting, I am sure.

Now a few words regarding teacher education, Respected Guardians. First, Sirs and Ma’ams, education is bigger than teacher education. And unless one first understands education as human endeavour as well as a field of study one is hardly in a position to be a good guardian of teacher education. That is because, as you know very well, Respected Guardians, understanding of TE is situated within the understanding of education. Second, this thing referred to as education cannot flourish without drawing upon a very wide range of human knowledge. And all that human knowledge, Sirs and Ma’ams, cannot be encapsulated within your cherished B.Ed. and M.Ed. These very B.Ed. and M.Ed. have ossified in last 50 years under the guardianship of people very much respected and very much like yourself, Sirs. Please have a look at the research done, academic writings produced, new and powerful ideas brought in theory and practice of education; and you will find that the contribution of B.Eds. and M.Eds. is negligible. The illegitimate have produced much more educational knowledge than the proud inward looking “fraternity of Teacher Educators” to whom Porf. Rathore so hopefully appeals. Would it not be useful, Respected Guardians, to reflect why it is so? Why we are in such a sorry pass today? What is your contribution to this state of affairs, Respected Sirs and Ma’ams?

My humble observation as an intruder, Respected Guardians, is that the air in side this cherished precinct of yours is stale, there is no ventilation and the atmosphere is numbing for the mind. The future of our children, Sirs, depends on teacher education and teacher education, Respected Guardians, depends on opening up the windows of this mansion of yours which are shut for over 100 years now.

The humble request of this intruder, Respected Guardians, is to let some fresh air come in. Please don’t feel threatened, we illegitimate intruders are powerless; all we can do is think and act humanly, Sirs. And such creatures have been losers throughout the history. We pose no threat to you Respected and Powerful Guardians.

With respect and hope

A humble intruder
Rohit Dhankar


Bhola meets Hindu god and Shivaji

June 8, 2014

Rohit Dhankar

Bhola read in newspapers that pictures of some Hindu gods, Shivaji and Bal Thakeray were morphed and uploaded on Facebook by a Hindu boy named Nihal Tikone. Media did not say what was there in the pictures that so enraged some Hindu mobs to attack public property and people. One Muslim youth who had nothing to do either with morphing and uploading was killed, according to media in connection with the rage produced in bhakta’s of gods, Shivaji and Thackeray. Bhola decide to go to swarga and meet gods, Shivaji and Thackeray to understand the issue.

At the huge gets of swarga Bhola was stopped by a Dawarapaal (DP): who are you?

Bhola: I am Bhola. And want to enter swaraga.

DP: Bhola who? And why do you want to enter?

Bhola: Bhola Bhola from the earth. I don’t understand many things going on these days in a country called India on earth, so came to talk to a few people who are supposed to be in swarga.

With a lot of reluctance and haggling the DP allowed Bhola to go in on a temporary pass for a few hours. But not without trying to extract some bribe. Fortunately Bhola had nothing wich could be of any use to the DP and his superiors so after a disdainful look, the DP let him go.

After a bit of searching Bhola encountered one of the gods whose picture was morphed. The god being antaryami already knew the purpose of Bhola’s visit.

Bhola: Prabhu, are you angry that some people morphed and uploaded on FB one of your pictures?

God: What picture? I have none, you cannot make a picture of me, and no technology can either morph or unload something that does not exist.

Bhola: But I have seen lots of pictures of you hanging on pan-ki-dukaans and people’s houses?

God: Not mine, may be some humans painted from their imagination, nothing to do with me.

Bhola: So you are not angry about this morphing and uploading.

God: No, why should I be? The people who are painting me from their imagination are already indulging in similar activity. And don’t you know I have no anger in me, only love for all.

Bhola: Then why are your bhaktas on earth are angry, burned property and killed one person?

God: Must be deluded and under the influence of agyan. Will pay for their karmas.

Bhola: You mean they will not earn entry to swarga by this hooliganism?

God: Certainly not. They may earn entry to some other place through.

Bhola: But they are sullying your name on earth, why don’t you stop them?

God: My name cannot be sullied by the acts of some agyanis. And I cannot interfere in their free choice. (Then the god suddenly went antardhaan.)

Bhola quite puzzled and dissatisfied with the god’s responses started looking for Shivaji. He found Shivaji sitting under a kalpa-vriksha watching some apsharas dancing. Bhola thought Shivaji looked like Indra; and was mesmerised by the combined effect of spectacles of Shivaji and apsharas.

Shivaji beckoned Bhola, and asked: What do you want?

Bhola: Maharaj, do you know some pictures of yours were distorted and uploaded on FB?

Shivaji: Yes, I heard it from some swarga-media persons, but it was not much of a news in here; we all keep morphing here. (As he said this Shivaji started looking like an ordinary Maharashrian farmer. And winked at Bhola.)

Bhola: Are you angry that your pictures were morphed on earth?

Shivaji: No, I am no more concerned with what happens on earth. I did my karmas when I was there, what the present baddha-atmas do is not my concern.

Bhola: But your bhaktas on earth, particularly in Maharasthra, indulge in violence quite often over some or other supposed slur on you?

Shivaji: They are agyanis, no mratya-lok prani can insult me or enhance my honour. I am beyond all that.

Bhola: But will thins bhakti for you earn any merit for them?

Shivaji: This is not my concern, there are other officials in swarga who decide that. But as far as I know violence on innocent people will only earn bad karmas for them.

Bhola was even more puzzled by this disconnect between the god and Shivaji on one hand and their so-called bhaktas on the other. He thought Bal Thackeray may help, as he may have a better connect with the bhaktas on earth. So started looking for him.

Bhola searched for hours but could not find Thackeray. Finally he went to the information office. After spending a considerable time in reaching in records the Information Officer said: There is no Bal Thackeray in the swarga. Never came here.

Bhola: Please look again. A gentle man from Mumbai, who liked to keep one rudraksha maala around his neck and sometimes another in his hand; looked like a Hindu vanaprasthi.

The IO obliged and again spent considerable time but the answer was the same: NO, no Bal Thackeray ever came here.

Bhola’s allotted time was over and he had to come to earth. Is still wondering where did Bal Thackeray go? What happened to him? May be his followers will find him wherever he might be, and finally join him. That might be the real connect and their hooliganism might be approved by Thackeray, as it is not approved either by the god or Shivaji.

False consensus festers ill will and weakens democracy

June 2, 2014

Rohit Dhankar

One of the most flamboyant politicians of our nation thinks that opening up issues like article 370 and uniform civil code for debate is a divisive act and it should not happen. That is, Indian public should not express their views on these, and other similar, issues openly. Whatever is decided at one time in our history is decided for ever.

The problem is that a large number of people do talk about these issues and express their dissatisfaction on them. They think that these decisions were made to appease a certain section of the population. Now, this impression of the people might be wrong and they may be squarely misguided by the propaganda of the Sangh Parivar. We must remember that there is a large number of young people who see such issues as unjustifiable in modern India. These people have had no chance to educate themselves about such issues, they have a very different and consumerist conception of democracy. I think by resisting debate on such issues, and even if one enters the debate then simply declaring these issues closed for all time to come leaves this section of population in the hands of the sangh parivar. The argument that sangh parivar builds is: “there are some people who thrive on a vote bank; they misguide the Indian Muslims and rather than working for their development give them emotional issues of no value. It is in the interest of such politicians and parties that these issues remain untouchable raw nerves and never thought through”.

How do people like Mr. Tharoor hope to counter such an argument, even if it is wrong, without debate? Leaving such issues out of debate will certainly make them fissures in the public thinking which will keep on festering unattended.

The only way in a democracy to resolve such problems is debate, an open and deep debate which takes the public to the very core of democratic principles and educates them on the legitimate basis of such decisions. Fighting shy of debates in a democracy is a losing option.

My personal view if that the 2014 election results is also a reflection of slowly emerging “Hindu Political Identity”. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) started work on building such a Hindu political identity in 1925. Its work is bearing fruit. RSS has been propounding theories of Muslims oppressing Hindus for last 1000 years, Muslim appeasement, and Muslim aggression towards Hinduism. The left leaning intellectuals and most of the political formations shied away from a threadbare discussion on such allegations. They propounded theories that look like attempts at ‘explaining away’ rather than explanation for understanding. The intellectuals considered engaging in such debates with low level understanding of RSS ideologues below their intellectual ken. Their short outbursts of anger and dismissals were not properly understood by the public and therefore remained ineffective. Thus leaving the public mind open for Sangh Parivar manipulation.

Yesterday I was talking politics in rural Rajasthan in 43 degree centigrade, sitting in a veranda facing merciless Rajasthani heat. The people involved in the conversation were the ones who could sway the village voters easily. They all were Modi supporters. I asked them: do you really think the Modi government will bring in economic development? Will it make the farmers lot better?

One of them said: I believe it will create more jobs, bachchon ko nokari milegi.

The other said: whatever happens it will show Muslims their place, they are becoming very arrogant and aggressive.

This village has no Muslims, but the nearby villages do; and these people have economic and cultural relations with Muslims. There are about 20 Muslim families in the nearby village who make bangles, and supply to all women folk. Have significant cultural space in marriages when a special set of bangles is supposed to be brought for the bride. Another village, now resembling a township, has more than 200 Muslim families and they are iron-smiths, rajai makers and have several other essential functions in rural economy.

I challenged them to site examples of the local Muslim population when they have behaved aggressively or with undue arrogance. They had none. One of them said: “our Muslims are good. They are like us. But Muslims in Kashmir and where they are in Majority behave differently.”

I asked them how do they know? A young boy, educated to postgraduate level, jumped in: “Look now, we cannot go to Kashmir and by land, but Muslims from Kashmir can buy land anywhere in India. They can marry four times. Their population is increasing. The Hindu population in Bangladesh and Pakistan is decreasing.” All the arguments given for Muslim aggression and appeasement by the Sangh Parivar.

My point is not that the arguments bear any scrutiny; it is rather, without an open debate unfettered by political correctness how do you dispel this mind-set? We should realise that declaring people who ask such questions communal is no more effective in countering such charges. The opinion makers have to take the responsibility more directly and counter such arguments in public; and if there has been any truth in them then have to admit and find alternatives.

Sweeping issues under carpet in a democracy increases fissures in public opinion and weakens the democracy itself. Rather than calling names the opponent has to be seen as an equal citizen and his/her views has to be given a hearing; and have to be proved wrong is they happen to be misguided. Therefore, in spite of anger of Abdullas and timidity of Tharoors these issues have to be dealt with by means of a fair debate; that is, in case we are concerned with the kind of Hindu political identity that is being formed by Sangh parivar and want to arrest its success. Ostriches don’t win, they can only die in denial.