Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The development of multi-dimensional intelligence

By Dr Subramanian Swamy

The world view of economic development has now completely changed with the shift in focus in the theory. Development is no more thought of as capital-driven, but as knowledge-driven. For application of knowledge, we need innovations, which means more original research, and hence we need more fresh young minds out—the cream of the youth—to be imbibed with learning and at the frontier of research.

This requires adequate empowerment of mental faculty endowed with multi-dimensional intelligence. It is no more adequate to foster cognitive intelligence only. There are other dimensions of intelligences recognised now viz., emotional, social, moral and spiritual. Since India has a huge population of youth, close to 600 million, our national agenda must include providing quality education to all to fully reap the demographic dividend that youth represent.

For decades since Independence in 1947, we had been instead told that India’s demography was her main liability, that India’s population was growing too fast, and what India needed most was to control its population, even if by coercive methods.

But in fact, the economic disasters that we had, such as food shortage [1965-67], foreign exchange crisis [1957-58, 1990-91] and the low growth rate in GDP [1952-90], were all because we had adopted the Soviet model of development which was unsuited for our economy, and not because of our population growth rate.

I had challenged this view that population growth was India’s problem, argued then that modern science, and through the scientific innovations, these youngsters can overcome the limitations of land, natural resources and production. I had then also called coercive family planning as “an obsession of developed nations”. But the negative view of population prevailed till the ‘nasbandi’ [vasectomy] fiasco of the Emergency in 1975-77 forced Indian politicians to become less vocal about the need for coercive family planning. But the prejudice about population growth in India continued into the beginning of the 21st century.

Noted demographer, Dr.Ashish Bose of the University of Delhi had published in 1972, my research as a chapter in his book titled: India’s Population, in which I had argued that the youth of India would be an asset to the country’s development and not a liability. But for decades this view was rejected by Leftist Indian scholars and scholars in the West as “dangerous and chauvinist”.

During this same period, China had earned international praise for coercively controlling population by its short-sighted one child per family scheme. Left academics of India however kept exhorting us to follow the China example. Thank our good fortune, that our democracy protected us from the China disaster. Even China accepts today that their one-child programme was wrong and is now hurting their development.

Globally, India today leads in the supply of youth, i.e., persons in the age group of 15 to 35 years, and this lead will last for another forty years. We should not therefore squander this “natural resource”. We must, by proper policy for the young, realise and harvest this demographic potential. China is the second largest world leader in young population today. But the youth population in that country will start shrinking from 2015, i.e., less than a decade from now because of lagged effect of the one-child policy. Japanese and European total populations are already fast aging, and will start declining in absolute numbers from this year (2009). The US will however hold a steady trend thanks to a liberal policy of immigration, especially from Mexico and Phillipines. But even then the US will have a demographic shortage in skilled personnel. All developed countries will experience a demographic deficit. India will not if we empower our youth with multiple intelligences. Our past liability, by a fortuitous turn of fate, has now become our potential asset for the future.

Thus, India has now become, by unintended consequences, gifted with a young population. If we educate this youth to develop cognitive intelligence to become original thinkers, imbibe emotional intelligence to have team spirit and rational risk—taking attitude, inculcate moral intelligence to blend personal ambition with national goals, and cultivate social intelligence to defend civic rights of the weak, gender equality, the courage to fight injustice, and the spiritual intelligence to tap into the cosmic energy that surrounds the earth then we can develop a superior species of human being, an Indian youth who can be relied on to contribute to make India a global power within two decades.

The nation must therefore structure a national education policy for the youth of India so that in every young Indian, the five dimensional concept of intelligence, viz., cognitive, emotional, moral, social and spiritual, manifests in his or her character. Only then, our demographic dividend will not be wasted. These five dimensions of intelligence constitute the ability of a person to live a productive life and for national good. Hence, a policy for India’s youth has to be structured within the implied parameters of these five dimensions.

What are the parameters of such a national policy? These are [1] ability empowerment—that is the development of the five types of intelligence stated above; [2] a collective mindset about the legacy and future of the nation which means knowing the correct de-falsified history of India [3] commitment to a social contract of rights and obligations such as a fundamental right to quality primary and secondary education, right to work, an obligation to compete for posititons on merit, practice gender equality and placing national interest above selfish interests.

A National Education Policy is therefore a framework for the comprehensive growth of the nation’s young population between 15 and 35 years of age, and for enabling this youth to be positioned in life for personal advancement as well as for contributing to national greatness.

Thus, we lack today a properly structured policy for development India’s youth. Hence many are going astray to drugs, promiscuity, and crime. Others are going away abroad. There is thus an urgent need for designing such a policy because of the potential that we have to reap the demographic dividend from our large national pool of youth.

I would define an appropriate National Policy as “an architecture” that enables the youth to bloom to the maximum feasible human capacity by the time of attaining full adult maturity. In other words, the architecture consists of objectives of youth development, priorities in the attainment of the objectives, a strategy based on a coherent agenda to achieve those objectives in the order of priority determined, and mobilisation of financial and other resources to implement that strategy. The overall goal of a National Youth Policy has to be to make the nation a secure civilization. All dimensions of development have therefore to be synergized to that goal.

What are the objectives then that the youth should work toward? These objectives cannot be purely materialistic because we know from our past history that though India was the world’s most economically developed country, our nation was subject to brutal assault and loot by a handful of foreigners, and for a 1000 years we could not rule from Delhi. Materialistic progress alone does not guarantee national security of a nation. What is essential is the character and integrity of its citizens. Hence, besides the objective of acquiring knowledge and getting employment that require cognitive intelligence, the youth must be motivated in other dimensions of intelligence that of emotional, moral and social. These concepts have been developed in the eighteen chapters of Bhagavat Gita that has been interpreted in modern context by Sri Chandrashekharendra Saraswati of Kanchi Mutt, Swami Chinmayananda, and Swami Dayananda Saraswati of Arsha Vidyalaya. In the United States, as the Business Week magazine has recently reported, these concepts have become highly popular in the corporate world, and have been incorporated in the best-selling books written by Daniel Goleman, Deepak Chopra, and Anthony Robbins among others.

Thus, cognitive intelligence is necessary for technical competence and intellectual articulation; emotional intelligence for the ability to perceive, apprise, and express emotion adaptively to create empathy in others, and to regulate emotions in ways that assist thought; moral intelligence is the mental capacity to determine how universal human principles should be applied to our personal values, goals and actions; and social intelligence is knowing how to use our neurological Wi-Fi to motivate others since our thoughts, emotions and body language impact on the responses of others who interact with us, just as laughter, anger, rebuke, praise, optimism, pessimism, honesty, crookedness, etc., each affects the behaviour of others bilaterally and multilaterally.

In brief, the National Policy is nothing but measures by which we can create a modern mindset in the youth of India, not only to motivate the youth to acquire technical competence, but to develop emotional, moral and social values that will make that person a self-reliant individual of high character, patriotic, and possessing a social conscience. Such an army of evolved youth will be the asset of the nation, and then collectively the demographic dividend can be reaped by us for the glory of Bharat Mata. Hence, a well structured national policy for development of multiple intelligence is vital for making India global power two decades. This then would be a basis for our national renewal and renaissance.

(The writer is a former Union Minister for Law, Government of India and a visiting Professor Harward University.)

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