As I contemplate on present day issues, and the general confusion in opinions and arguments, and as many feel debate and discussions falling to lowest levels ever, I realise that it is actually flowing from a lack of a framework, for want of a better term.
The difficulty is that we have no ‘idea’ of what we are talking about. Whether it is ‘good governance’,’ probity in public life’, ‘ fair allocation of public resources’, ‘ justice’, ‘ equity’, ‘ education’, ‘ economic development’ , ‘ free and fair elections’ or whatever complex idea you choose, the fact is we rush to express our action plan without serious thought.
Just as modern science and technology has brought into our hands, homes and lives, technologies that till about 50 years were only the concerns of Scientists and Researchers, so also the challenges to the modern world in terms of terrorism, global warming, environmental pollution, unethical or even criminal behaviour among he highly educated is forcing us to ask the big philosophical questions and see that the insights of these great schools of thought are applied to daily life: of nations, of governments, of businesses and of course of individuals, both adults and children.
Medical graduates in their foundation stage have to first study Anatomy and Physiology before they progress to what may be called really ‘ medical specialisation’. Similarly for a good preparation for the ‘ School of life’ a sound appreciation of Philosophy and a deep understanding ( not mere calculating ability, as in its current teaching) of Mathematics is essential.
And this brings me back to the importance of the idea of an idea. How can you ever deal with something of which you have no idea.
So what we need to explore is how do you describe an idea: with a simile, a metaphor, a diagram like a mind-map or a Greek symbol like theta, psi or phi ?
And the next step is combining ideas; like a mixture where they retain their features or like a chemical compound resulting in completely new properties. A classic example is water. Hydrogen is combustible, Oxygen is a supporter of combustion, but their chemical compound water puts out fire. So we need a Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry of ideas for solving problems of today and tomorrow.
Matt Ridley in a recent book ” The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity evolves” has given to his prologue the title ” when ides have sex” and has a sub-heading in it ‘ mating minds’. We do say that intellectual progress happens through cross-pollination of ideas. And we have an expression ‘ Manas putra’ to describe that.
In a future issue I will draw attention to the significance and importance of Mathematics that goes beyond the computing that may have traumatised you in your School.
Let us work towards developing these as a community.
Prof. M.M.Pant has a Ph.D in Computational Physics, along with a Professional Law Degree, and has been a practitioner in the fields of Law, IT enabled education and IT implementation.
Drawing upon his experience in world class international institutions and having taught in various modes of Face-to-Face, Distance Learning and Technology Enhanced Training, Prof. Pant is now exploring the nature of institutions which will be successors to the IITs, which represented the 1960s, IIMs, which represented the 1970 and Open Universities which were the rage of 1980s & 90s.
He believes that the convergence between various media and technologies would fundamentally alter the way learning would be created, packaged, and delivered to learners. His current activities are all directed toward actual implementation of these new age educational initiatives that transform education in the post Internet post WTO era..
Prof. Pant, has been a Former Pro-Vice Chancellor, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and has been on the faculty of IIT – Kanpur (the premier Engineering institution in India), MLNR Engineering College and Faculty & Visiting Professor - University of Western Ontario-Canada.
He has been visiting scientist to research centers in Italy, England, Germany & Sweden and has delivered international lectures with about 80 papers published.
During his association of almost 15 years with the IGNOU, Prof. Pant has served as the Director Computing and has been the Member of All Bodies (i.e. School boards, Academic council, Planning board, Finance committee and the Board of management).
With his interest in Law, backed with practice of Law in a High Court, and his basic training in Science and IT, Prof. Pant has been particularly interested in the Cyber Law, Patent & trade mark issues, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issues etc. and has been involved with many activities, conferences on “Law & IT”
Prof. Pant is presently;
• Advisor to Media Lab Asia - Chairman of working group on ICT for Education, chairman of PRSG handling projects on ICT for education.
• Lead Consultant for an ADB funded project for ICT in Basic Education in Uzbekistan
• Member of the drafting Group for India’s National Policy on ICT in education
• Chairman of the group creating books for class 11 and 12 students on ‘Computers and Communication Technology’ appointed by the NCERT
• Preparing a ‘Theme Paper” for the NCTE in the area of ICT and Teacher Training
• Advisor and mentor to several leading Indian and Multi-national Companies in the area of education.
Prof. Pant has in the recent past been ;
• Member – Board of Management – I I T, Delhi for 6 years (two consecutive terms)
• One-man committee to create the Project Report & Legislation for Delhi IT-enabled Open University
• Advisor to the Delhi Government on Asian Network of Major Cities Project (ANMC-21) distance learning project in association with Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
• Chairman Board of Studies, All India Management Association
With his mission to create and implement new business opportunities in the area of e-learning & learning facilitation, Prof. Pant has promoted Planet EDU Pvt. Ltd., as its Founder & Chairman, along with a team of highly experienced and skilled professionals from Education & Training, Operations, IT and Finance.