By: Fr Paul Lelen Haokip
Northeast India boasts of rich biodiversity, but peace is still a longing. Insurgency, inter-tribal hostilities, boundary disputes, and trust deficits abound galore. Inhabitants of these eight states of India are vulnerable to media influence, political propaganda, and incited violence due to a lack of holistic education. Private enterprises are taking up education at various levels. Thanks to the growing educational competitiveness, even without manystate-sponsored motivations.
Education is a means to learn about others, a tool to bind people and nourish multiculturalism. Education is not a method to separate, segregate or create hostility between communities. Holistic education helps us to know ourselves and also accommodate others with their uniqueness. Education makes us see thingsfrom the proper perspective. For example, with our normal naked eye, we don’t see anything spectacular while observing tree leaves. But with proper education and in-depth knowledge, we realise that the trees’ leaves are breathing. This awareness could change our perspective about trees.
Hate speeches and sectarian ideas creep into a person or community due to shallow education and a lack of universal perspectives. Hate speeches showa myopic vision of life and a ‘frog in a well’ philosophy. Hate speechesare popular today in various degrees, thereby causing further ‘trust deficit’ between communities. The hatred between communities is a dormant monster that will erupt as ethnic conflict or war. People who propagate and close their eyes to hate speeches are far from peace. Hate speeches and hate mongers should be snubbed at its bud else negatively will thrive and spoil the social fabric of peace.
Root cause treatment:
All the educational syllabi include various subjects to train a person for a holistic view of life. Engagement with various subjects is to broaden one’s mind and attain holistic education. Once a society has holistic education, it will look at problems as occasions for solutions. An educated society will not indulge in the symptomatic treatment of problems butconducta proper diagnosis and treat problems at theirroots. This exercise can be handled by subject-trained persons and not any Dick and Harry. Root cause treatment will contribute to long-term redressal and save money.
Consumption of truth:
Once a society attains holistic education, its members will not believe dramatised TV debates, films, shows, social media war,and divisive propaganda. They can read between the lines and extract the truth from the apparent. While the truth is hard to spell and even harder to digest, it is still true whether it is told or hidden. Truth makes us free. Lies can be told for a few years (1,3,5,10), but they cannot go on. Education opens the minds of people to know what is true and false. The truth is that the Constitution of India is oriented towards peaceful living and coexistence with accommodating people from multicultural backgrounds. Diversity is the truth of India, while propaganda for homogeneity is a direct blow to peaceful coexistence. If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything, but if you tell lies, you will have to remember the sequences of your lies to make them look like the truth.
Enemies of holistic education:
Some real enemies hold back holistic education: absentees of Government appointed teachers in their place of appointment, substitute teachers, non-existence of conducive infrastructure for the education of children, corruption in the appointment of unfit teachers, mere lip service propaganda and less holistic education ground zero realities, commercialisation of educational institutions. Aping some education models that are not quite relevant to a particular society, numerous external interferences on the administration of educational institutions, lack of focus on skill development, the mere insistence on rote memory, etc., are some areas for proper subject expert investigation redressal.
When educated people lead society, it will progress. It is bound to deteriorate if a society is led by force and half-educated people. Holistic education will bring about environmental care consciousness, a coexistence mindset and, above all, peace, the need of the hour. Holistic education will lead to tolerance, appreciation of diversity and peaceful coexistence. When there is peace, progress and social cohesion are its cousins.
(The author is a PhD research scholar, Department of Sociology and Social Work, Christ University, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India. Email: [email protected])
Holistic Education for Peace in Northeast India
By: Fr Paul Lelen Haokip