It is believed that humans are the noblest creation of God. It is obvious that when the infants see the first sunlight on our planet, they come with an empty brain. Slowly, they gain knowledge from the society, and the knowledge ladder starts from parents, then relatives, schools, friends,and it continues as they climb the educational steps one after another. I preferred to write about this important area, because most of the Indian talents are either lost or their brain go idle after some formal education as we do not allow blooming and grooming of these young brains. I will just cite an example of high school board examination toppers in India.
India is a large country of 28 states. In each state, three boards mainly regulate the high school examination: State board, Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE). Roughly, if we will consider the top ten students from each board examination as bright students (actually the numbers are more), then India produces 840 bright students per year. These students can do miracle towards the progress and transformation of our country through innovation and development. But in reality,this is not happening. During a media interview, they share about their dream career and interests with great enthusiasm. But unfortunately after a few years, we do not hear their names at all. This is a sad part on our end that requires a thorough analysis. So several questions come to our mind for the extinction of these talents: where these brains are actually gone? Are their interests self-propelled? Are their parents misguiding them in career selection? Have they settled abroad after a formal education in India? Eventually, the career of these talents gets stuck in a wrong destination that creates a deep depression in their life and interrupts mental peace. This not only destroys the scientific enthusiasm but also suppresses their germinating interests. The enthusiasm/curiosity-driven interests actually can ignite young minds to take up science as a way to discover or invent and makes them tougher against the challenging situations in life. Rather, the young students stumble at every step of their educational career and eventually spoil the budding scientific ideas hidden within their minds due to several reasons that are listed below.
(1)We never encourage the students to explore the beauty of science available around us
Remember, science exists everywhere starting from your kitchen to laboratories. But we never encourage our children/students to explore the environment available around us. For example, stainless steel utensils available in your kitchen are marvellous scientific inventions as they are rust-free; but a student is never encouraged to think why it is rust-free or how to build rust-free materials. Lack of encouragement to think practically paralyzes the scientific temperament of the student. Scientific ideas not necessarily need to take birth from a laboratory building; rather, it can strike the young minds even while roaming in the moonlight. The famous evolution theory that revolutionized the biological science struck Darwin’s mind when he visited different parts of the world in scientific voyages and observed the biological beauty of organisms.
(2) We do not look at the personal interests of students and persuade them to follow the profession of others
Personal interests of students, if guided properly by the parents/teachers, reach at a destination aspired. We never look at their interests but persuade them to imitate the profession of others without understanding the basic anatomy of each profession. If we enter into any profession without interest, then every profession would appear like a spider web. This compromise, which is certainly against our natural propensity, brings devastating consequences in our professional and personal life. For example, this would make us mediocre professionals, creates job dissatisfaction, causes low self-esteem, and disturbs our mental peace ultimately leading to firing by the job authorities. If we see a successful wildlife photographer in society, it is because of his/her love towards wildlife. Remember, simply by holding a camera and clicking a few snapshots, noone can reach the top of wild life profession. I have interacted with many Indian students who are actually scared of blood but unfortunately have entered into the medical profession. This point is very worthy of mentioning here that the medical sector is highly incompatible for them, but their guardians have acted as decision makers for them by following other students who choose to become doctors. Hence, it will be much better if the students are allowed to choose their own career. Of course, suggestions/inputs are necessary from the parents to enhance the far-sightedness of the children about a future career; but these should not be made mandatory. Remember, a doctor and a wildlife photographer may be professionally different, but both the professions are equally important to run the society. All the students can be neither doctors nor all can be photographers. So let us encourage our children to follow their interests, no matter how difficult it may appear.
(3) We select careers for money-making
In our country, most of the students usually face financial problems while climbing their educational career. It is true that everyone needs money for survival; but this should not happen at the cost of personal interests. We never encourage our children to excel; rather brainwash them how to earn money. Remember that education means not only getting a job and earning a handsome salary but to get success by pursuing personal interests. Several great scientists have overcome poverty due to their dedicated attitude towards science. For example, the famous scientist Michael Faraday was very poor during his childhood and even worked in a shop as a book binder. But his love for science turned his fate from a book binder to a famous discoverer. He once came across a book on electricity that he received for binding. Soon, he started reading the book and got inspired by electricity and magnetism. Later on, he discovered electromagnetism based on which the induction cooker in our home works. Another example in the supremacy of technology using low budget (~â‚¹400 crores) is our Mangalyaan (Mars Orbiter Mission) success in 2014. This space mission was the cheapest inter-planetary mission in the world and even was cheaper than Hollywood movie ‘Gravity’(budget of~â‚¹600 crores). Hence, poverty is not an excuse to consider money-making professions; rather a golden gift for us to be innovative, spend wisely, and excel in our chosen profession.
(4) We blame our medium of instruction for poor performance in the scientific sector
We know that our country is a land of diverse languages, and the language varies from state to state. Almost all the school boards in each state have their medium of instruction in their regional languages. The students passed out from these boards face a huge problem in understanding the same scientific concepts/phenomena in higher education wherein English is the medium of instruction. I strongly believe that such problems can be largely eradicated if students will be taught English terminology of the main concepts/phenomena written in regional language simultaneously. This method helps the students to grasp the subjects very well. For example, the concept of X-ray is not different in English, Hindi or in any other regional language. It is the terminology that differs in different languages. Many Italian, French, Chinese, and Japanese scientists are very poor in English, but not in science. This is because of the excellence in their level of understanding of scientific principles/concepts.
(5)We follow a marks-oriented education system
The marks-oriented education system does not allow the students to think the scientific problems critically. Hence, encouraging the students to learn the mechanism/concepts of every scientific concepts or phenomenon will enable them to do a thorough analysis and gain skills. The students should be encouraged to understand the meaning of the concept rather than only memorising by heart and imitating in examination to score good marks. This concept-learning will be friendlier if the classrooms will be digitized. For example, if the students will be allowed to watch scientific documentaries or movies or even any video clips relevant to their curriculum, it will be easier to understand the concept. Hence, the transformation of educational sectors is of an urgent need to develop skilled manpower such as doctors, engineers, scientists who are the backbone of any country including India.
(6) We teach the students only theory, but less/no practical
It is good for the students to learn theories, but it becomes much more interesting if the students are demonstrated about the practical aspects of scientific concepts side by side. The practical knowledge generates curiosity in the young minds, and this curiosity is actually a viable seed from which scientific discoveries and inventions bloom. For example, we celebrate Diwali every year with dazzling fireworks. But we never encourage our students to learn about the mechanism of how chemical salts emit a variety of vibrant colours on burning and the beauty of chemistry hidden behind this.
Even, the practical knowledge conferred to students in the higher education system is of substandard quality which does not improve technical, cognitive, and linguistic skills. As per one recent report, it was found that more than 90% of engineering graduates in India lack sufficient skills required for the employment. This gloomy picture exists in other sectors too that needs to be addressed in various levels such as university, regulatory authority, and government. Currently, as per the rule in some states, medical students in government colleges after their degree have to spend few years in rural areas to gain experience and to make our health system better. This scheme should be implemented in other professions like agriculture too. For example, when China Agricultural University at Beijing implemented a Science and Technology Backyard (STB) project in 2009 all over the country, allowing the trained graduates to apply their academic knowledge directly in the field, the results have been astounding and witnessed an increase in around 20% crop yield.
(7) We encourage plagiarism (copy and paste)
Plagiarism nowadays is standing like a demon in front of us, particularly in the research atmosphere. Everyone involved in research is aware of this. Even the media personnel make a hue and cry when a person from a higher position is caught in plagiarism. But have we ever thought the origin of plagiarism? If we look back at the bottom of our education system, we will find its origin in our education system itself. If a school student imitates book definition and concept, he/she gets full marks. But if the students attempt to answer in their own words, they get less marks. This practice compels the students to copy and paste the book definition rather than utilizing their intellectual ability to write in their own words. Even the teachers are not trained enough to encourage the students for writing the answers in their own words. This type of education not only generates poor manpower but also hampers the intellectual/writing ability of students from the very beginning. I believe that our educationists should give a second thought to eradicate this plagiarism demon from our education system.
(8) We create a gap between higher and lower profession
Underestimating the profession of others in a society creates a gap between a higher and lower profession and becomes the main hurdle in the progress of science. Unless this gap is sealed in Indian scenario, the scientific knowledge cannot be transferred into action for the betterment of the lifestyle of common man.To achieve this goal, the interaction between higher and lower professions is highly necessary. Consider the farming sector as an example in which the farmers and agriculturists should form a bridge to understand the practical problems of agriculture, on which 130 crores of Indian people are dependent. The gap between these two important professions gets intensified when we scare our children that their life will land in the farming sector if they do not study well. Instead, we should teach our children to interact with the farmers (or common man in general) and perceive the problems by heart and encourage them to think radically to find out solutions. This interaction may not have any positive impact immediately but will definitely energize the scientific brains and make them appreciate other professions too.
(9) We inject sit-and-eat attitude in the child’s brain
The sit-and-eat attitude of the employees does not lead to innovative solutions to the problems faced by any sector. Hence, moral education from parents is an urgent need and will definitely boost the morale of the employees and take our country forward. Parents should play a critical role in transforming the minds of their children into super brains in a similar way how potters mould clay into useful products.
(10) We have to fund more in science and technology
Most of the Indian universities are very poor in infrastructure and lack basic facilities necessary to train young minds due to low budget. This scenario has also been highlighted by Nobel laureate Bernard Feringa, a Dutch synthetic organic chemist. He, in a question and answer session, told media that India does not lack talents; but definitely lacks opportunities because of poor funding. Hence, it is necessary to create opportunities for these vibrant brains in order to transform their ideas into societal benefits.
In last few years although India has increased the budget in science and technology, the amount is still around 0.8% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and not sufficient enough compared to other countries like China. The scenario is such that in the top 20 countries of the world (USA and China on the top of list), India is the only country that spends <1% of the GDP. To encourage the students to take up scientific research as a career and avoid brain drain, funding needs to be increased to transform India into a giant economy and a global leader in science and technology in 21st century.
Ultimately,“India is a reservoir of talents.” This can be better realized by heart if we will take the example of International Olympiad competitions where thousands of students participate every year from around 80 countries to showcase their talents. It is to be kept in mind that around 98% (477 medals out of 487 students participated) of Indian students have bagged medals (including 178 gold medals) at this international platform in the last two decades (1998-2018). This proves that our Olympiads can be compared to the best brains in the world. As innovative minds can catapult India into a great height, let us not spoil our scientific talents; but create a conducive ambience to nurture and encourage them to adopt science as a challenging career. Lastly, I would like to say that we may fail in the Olympics (in sports); but will never fail in the Olympics of knowledge (Olympiads).