Tag Archives: Indian Society

India and Knowledge Society

Let knowledge come from all sides. (RIG VEDA):

Knowledge has always been an essential and distinguishing characteristic of human society, for human beings are unique among all species in their extended capacity to formulate, systematize, preserve and consciously transmit organized bodies of knowledge from one individual, community, generation and location to another. That is the essence of all that is known as education.

There is almost universal recognition that knowledge as a product and as an instrument will be the basic foundation for competitiveness of individual business and of nations in the 21st century. Robust research findings suggest that knowledge as a factor of production explains a substantial proportion of economic growth internationally.

 Historically, Indian society is a hierarchical society and its knowledge base has always been elitist. Whether it is the caste based system or the colonial education system, access to knowledge has primarily been the privilege of the few. But such a system can never lay the foundation for a holistic development strategy. Therefore, all socio-economic and political
ideas have to be focused on inclusive growth and socio-economic equality in the real sense

The recent focus of good governance is to enable inclusive growth and development. India has come a long way from the hierarchical society and its exclusive educational system which we imbibed from our cultural and social heritage, as well as our colonial past. The thrust of the envisaged changes in the society calls for knowledge for all and a shift towards an inclusive
knowledge based society.

“If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us” said Adlai E. Stevenson. This is the idea behind the concept of an inclusive society based on free and easy access to knowledge for all.

Knowledge Society consists of practices and policies for using intellectual assets to support key economic objectives and to reduce vulnerability gaps, and in the process of social transformation strengthening national security .Knowledge management deals with the knowledge as a corporate resource. Knowledge culture is necessary for survival and success in the modern world of business.

Knowledge is only one input to the development process, but it is an absolutely essential one. Without adequate knowledge all the other essential inputs-land, infrastructure, factories, capital, technology, administrative and social organization-cannot yield full results. Enhancing knowledge generation, dissemination and application is the fastest, most cost-effective means of increasing the productivity of all these other resources and accelerating national development.
Development depends on four knowledge processes:

  • Knowledge generation and acquisition through scientific discovery, R&D and transfer of technology.
  • Knowledge adaptation through innovation to particular fields, needs and operating environments.
  • Knowledge dissemination through formal and informal channels from knowledge developers and adapters to those responsible for applying the knowledge in society.
  • Knowledge application through skilled action in fields, factories, classrooms, hospitals and every other field of activity to achieve practical results.

The competencies that would count in the emerging Knowledge Age are intelligence, knowledge, good formal educational qualifications and skills in communicative English-we are abundant in it.

Knowledge is important not only for the rich but also for the poor. This is all the more relevant in a country such as India where the gap between the rich and the poor is enormous. Thus India has to closely link economic development with social development .Technology can assist in the development of the social sector. The anytime-anywhere and death-of-distance paradigms of technology enable better leveraging of scarce resources. Computerized learning aids, cyber classes and e-education are instances of use of technology in education. Knowledge is the key driver in the race for economic leadership. A key imperative today is for the government to collaborate with the private sector and industry in building knowledge infrastructure. This includes partnership for developing talent, formulating conducive regulatory framework, creating bandwidth and providing affordable computing power.

It is suggested that Indian policy makers and organisations consider focusing on the following areas to prepare for a knowledge-based economy and society.

First, good quality institutions, a reasonable degree of contestability in the economy and in polity, and an outward-orientation are essential for creating, diffusing and adapting knowledge in India; efforts should be made to deepen and institutionalise economic and governance reforms.

Second, strong education and training in technology and science are essential as knowledge cannot be absorbed unless some basic knowledge is already possessed. Reforming education policies and regulations, particularly those designed to increase supply and quality, should be an urgent priority. India must preserve traditional knowledge and subject it to scientific enquiry and application.

Third, capabilities to take advantage of international conventions such as converting product and process knowledge into patents and intellectual property rights must be developed. Commoditisation of traditional knowledge by more resourceful countries needs to be addressed through cooperation among developing countries, which have similar interests.

Fourth, private and public sector firms and organisations of developing countries must be open to new ideas. There is no more insidious colonisation than colonisation of the mind. In most Indian organisations, the desire to reform traditional methods of administration and delivery of government services is essential if the efficiencies arising from the knowledge-economy are to be realised.

Fifth, multiple sources of new ideas and experiments, including rural technology innovations, need to be cultivated. If such sources of ideas are combined with encouraging social entrepreneurship, i.e. meeting social needs with capitalist means, and with effective public private partnerships, application of knowledge-economy to diverse areas can be facilitated.

Sixth, a great deal of knowledge is organisation, context or location-specific. The challenge is to use it to address specific economic and social needs. India’s heterogeneity can be used to great advantage in discovering and diffusing location specific knowledge to develop more sustainable, relatively less elaborate, production and supply chains.

These, in turn, may help increase resilience of local economies to external shocks.

The National Knowledge Commission (NKC), an advisory body set up in 2005, has five focus areas, namely easy access to knowledge, emphasis on education at all levels, creation of knowledge, application of knowledge to all sectors, and better delivery of services in all sectors. The NKC however has not received strong political support. Its recommendations have been blocked by petty political and bureaucratic rivalries. Unwillingness or inability to assert strong political leadership by the Prime Minister in this area has contributed to the erosion of his authority, while constraining India’s future options and prospects.

Many believe that those representing Indian institutions will have the capacity to push for a level playing field on the world scene as far as access to technology and the relevant knowledge bases are concerned at the same time as they foster the development of local knowledge and ICT applications. However, this will depend on other factors such as international trade relations and whether the government and other stakeholders can avoid becoming victims of the ICT fetish. India’s resilient features and strengths in terms of its social organisation, its cultural resources and its vast reservoir of knowledge workers should not be frittered away as a result of greater than necessary participation in the global knowledge society.

India was a knowledge force in the ancient days. Let us again restore this status to Bharat again. Let us draw inspiration from our great wise men of the past and the intellectual leadership of the present and make the world exclaim, “The Wonder That Is India.”

India of the ages is not dead nor has she spoken her last word, she lives and has still something to do for herself and the humankind. (AURBINDO GHOSH)

Caste System: The sociology of Indian Society

by: Kashish Bohra

Indian society is divided into various sects and classes. This is because of the caste system which is prevalent in the country. The roots of the caste system go back to the ancient Vedas dividing people on the basis of occupation. It has brought many evils in society. The Government is constantly striving to overcome the harms of the system and bring about true equality among the people.

Caste System in India

Caste System in India
Caste System in India

The caste system is the bane for Indian society. It divides the Indian society into sectarian groups and classes. Even today, it plays a predominant role in our society despite the growth of culture and civilization.

  • The terms ‘Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes’ (SC/ST) are the official terms used in government documents to identify former untouchables and tribes. However, in 2008 the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, noticing that the word ‘Dalit’ was used interchangeably with the official term ‘Scheduled Castes’, asked the State Governments to end the use of the word ‘Dalit’ in official documents by calling the term ‘unconstitutional’ and to replace it with the term ‘Scheduled Caste’ instead.
  • The roots of the caste system are traced back to the ancient ages. While one view discriminates between the castes as upper and lower castes on the basis of their origin, another view traces the origin of the castes to which classifies the caste system on the basis of their functions. Since then, it was found that undue advantage was taken by the section of people having an upper hand and a say in the community, leading to discrimination and exploitation of the weaker sections of the community.
  • The people from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, referred to as ‘untouchables’ form one-sixth of India’s population or 160 million; they endure discrimination and segregation.

 

Evil faces of this system

Untouchability

Many villages are separated by caste and they may not cross the line dividing them from the higher castes. They also may not use the same wells or drink in the same tea stalls as higher castes.

Discrimination

They often do not have the facility to electricity, sanitation facilities, or water pumps in lower caste neighborhoods. Access to better education, housing and medical facilities than that of the higher castes is denied.

Division of labour

They are restricted to certain occupations like sanitation work, plantation work, leather works, cleaning streets, etc.

Slavery

They are subjected to exploitation in the name of debt, tradition, etc., to work as labourers or perform menial tasks for generations together.

Government Initiatives

The Indian Government has enacted laws to remove untouchability and has also brought in many reforms to improve the quality of life for the weaker sections of society. Few among them are:

  • Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human rights
  • Abolition of ‘ untouchability’ in 1950
  • Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
  • Provision of reservation in places like educational institutions, employment opportunities, etc.
  • Establishing social welfare departments and national commissions for the welfare of scheduled castes and tribes

These measures adopted by the government have brought some relief to the weaker sections of society. The urban areas have shown a good amount of impact and some improvement. However, people in rural areas and villages still face extreme discrimination. We indeed have a long way to go in achieving the objectives set to eradicate and abolish discrimination, on the basis of caste and creed. It now depends on our efforts and a change in our mindset is sure to see a perpetual change, bringing about equality for all.

Right to Equality

The fundamental fights are guaranteed to protect the basic human rights of all citizens of India and are put into effect by the courts, subject to some limitations. One of such fundamental rights is the Right to Equality. Right to Equality refers to equality in the eyes of law, discarding any unfairness on grounds of caste, race, religion, place of birth sex. It also includes equality of prospects in matters of employment, the abolition of untouchability, and abolition of titles. Articles 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 of the Constitution of India highlight the Right to Equality in detail. This fundamental right is the major foundation of all other rights and privileges granted to Indian citizens. It is one of the chief guarantees of the Constitution of India. Thus, it is imperative that every citizen of India has easy access to the courts to exercise his/her Right to Equality.

 

Various articles under the Right to Equality are explained as follows:

Equality Before Law

Equality before the law is well defined under Article 14 of the Constitution which ensures that every citizen shall be likewise protected by the laws of the country. It means that the State will not distinguish any of the Indian citizens on the basis of their gender, caste, creed, religion or even the place of birth. The state cannot refuse equality before the law and equal defense of the law to any person within the territory of India. In other words, this means that no person or group of people can demand any special privileges. This right not only applies to the citizens of India but also to all the people within the territory of India.

Social Equality and Equal Access to Public Areas

The right of Social Equality and Equal Access to Public Areas is clearly mentioned under Article 15 of the Constitution of India stating that no person shall be shown favoritism on the basis of color, caste, creed language, etc. Every person shall have equal admittance to public places like public wells, bathing Ghats, museums, temples etc. However, the State has the right to make any special arrangement for women and children or for the development of any socially or educationally backward class or scheduled castes or scheduled tribes. This article applies only to citizens of India.

Equality in Matters of Public Employment

Article 16 of the Constitution of India clearly mentions that the State shall treat everyone equally in matters of employment. No citizen shall be discriminated on the basis of race, caste, religion, creed, descent or place of birth in respect of any employment or office under the State. Every citizen of India can apply for government jobs. However, there are some exceptions to this right. The Parliament may pass a law mentioning that specific jobs can only be filled by candidates who are residing in a particular area. This requirement is mainly for those posts that necessitate the knowledge of the locality and language of the area.

Apart from this, the State may also set aside some posts for members of backward classes, scheduled castes or scheduled tribes which are not properly represented in the services under the State to uplift the weaker sections of the society. Also, a law may be passed which may entail that the holder of an office of any religious institution shall also be a person professing that specific religion. Though, this right shall not be granted to the overseas citizens of India as directed by the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2003.

Abolition of Untouchability

Article 17 of the Constitution of India abolishes the practice of untouchability in India. The practice of untouchability is declared as a crime and anyone doing so is punishable by law. The Untouchability Offences Act of 1955 (and now Protection of Civil Rights Act in 1976) states punishments for not allowing a person to enter a place of worship or from taking water from a well or tank.

Abolition of Titles

Article 18 of the Constitution of India prohibits the State from granting any titles. Citizens of India are not allowed to accept titles from a foreign State. Titles like Rai Bahadurs and Khan Bahadurs are given by the British government have also been abolished. Nevertheless, academic and military distinctions can be conferred upon the citizens of India. The awards of ‘Bharat Ratna’ and ‘Padma Vibhushan’ cannot be used by the beneficiary as a title and is not prohibited by the Constitution of India. From 15 December 1995, the Supreme Court has sustained the validity of such awards.

To conclude, the ‘Right to Equality’ should not only remain on papers. This right should be properly exercised; otherwise, it will lose its essence if all the citizens of India, especially the weaker and backward classes do not have equal rights and equality before the law.