August 17, 2010
Why Odisha needs Vedanta University
(something I said more than a year ago)
9th January 2009
This article is present with recourse to no hitherto used arguments, in previous discussions, like statistics and comparison to world standards, I am casually aware of them though, the arguments in this article are purposed to be more personal.
This article is aimed at a very small group of enthusiasts, who are culturally aware about the state of Odisha, a beautiful scenic state in the eastern bounds of India. This also aims to draw attention of the small group of world citizen that cares to know whats happening around other parts of the globe.
Odisha in the eyes of its inhabitants, intellectual citizen and visitors is a great old civilization with myriad forms of culture and dance, mainly temple oriented architecture, ”mysterious” forms of religion and rites and visually friendly populace.
As much as India can be described as a village of the world, Odisha can be described as the village of the country. This is true but not strictly so. The village nature of India is generously found in other states of the country and poverty doesn’t spare almost any state in the country.
The city culture and amenities are on a development curve but more so as a matter of financial accumulation.
It is in this backdrop of current times that Odisha has seen an enviable flow of business ventures, in some way the largest in the country in modern times. This is because of the huge mineral resources, concurrent financial growth of the country and large sea coasts and virgin lands.
As an immigrant out of Odisha, the author himself, in the last 7-8 years, has personally experienced the ”on the rise” development quotients of the state. There has been a betterment in the lifestyle of the general populace, better roads, better equipped hospitals, plenty of jobs, private educational institutions with better facilities, a little more transparent and accountable system of governance, last but not the least the citizen is willing to travel a little wider and far for education, employment and sight seeing.
On the other hand, the author who never had a long vacation in the home country for more than 7-8 years lived on for a few months. Shockingly enough there has been a lot of reality change at the ground level.
One prime factor of such a state of affairs is the so called problem of Naxalism. It was not much heard of in the youth of the author. It had come up like the terrorism problems of the country and the world, in a natural way. But the the shear sensitivity with which Naxals strike their ”opponents” now is more a matter of technology, strategy, crime and fear.
Their opponents is none other than the system of Governance itself. In the last few months of the author’s stay, he saw two deadly massacre of military magnitudes against the police force. In each of these incidents that happened in row in a matter of weeks more than thirty police personnel were killed each time.
In another incident, not clear how much related, a renowned sear was killed with vengeance, for religious ideologies and responsive attacks were mounted on religious alternatives in the form of social riots.
This ensued for months and particular ideologues were victimized. This made national and international news. In political compulsion the plea of particular groups were heard and of others disregarded.
Another shocking but unrelated ground truth the author realized is the conditions of the infrastructure that has deteriorated in just a few years. The highways are extremely unsafe and actually taken because of lack of choice and every now and then there is a ”killing”, this time the killer being the situation on the highways.
With so much told about the ground truths and with a title heading, why this state needs an University, could be misleading to a normal audience. The purpose was to give a truthful account rather than a social activist’s account or an over-zelous account of a random war-lord.
Coming to the intended discussion thus, its worthwhile to give a background of the proposed Vedanta University. This University is purported to be one of the best universities in the world although this time in unsuspected, India and in one of its most unsuspected states, Odisha.
This is claimed to be developed into the ranks of Stanford and Harvard with an equally astounding sum of fund declared. In-fact this is one of the highest philanthropic donations from personal fortune anyone has ever made.
The man of such respectable generosity is the business tycoon Anil Agrawal, the owner of Vedanta Resources, which has set up large scale industries in the state of Odisha it self. This has not been only an welcoming phenomena,the efforts of building the university are already in place with world renowned architects designing and building the university.
The matter of contention however is consistent opposition from a few quarters of intellectual citizens. Although such oppositions have often sounded traditional for a innovative venture like VU, it has ranged from populist vibes to legal obstructions.
Some of the oppositions have withered with Government action and much of the opposition is actually selfish in nature. Many discussions have rounded the web and a few links are maintened on the web that can be browsed with simple searchs.
Why anyone would want such a University or academic establishment in a community. The reasons are very clear. We want to extend our educational systems to the best in the world. This is a prime goal of any civilized modern society. To have the best of the education, research and scientific body of knowledge.
To that end we not only need primary education and a few set of technical education so that we can get ”jobs” but also we need to prepare a community of learning and sharing that will usher us into a confident social stature in the world community.
It will bring with it a viable but robust economic system. Generate unprecedented pools of jobs. Take care of the research and development needs of a so called ”third world” economy. Open up the path to prosperity and show us in true color how much the world wants us to benefit from what we have invested for hundred years to keep this impoverished nation from faltering! Education.
Education is what we had invested in, the fruits of which we are harvesting. Education is what we’ll invest in, the fruit of which will be enjoyed by our children. Smart forms of social maneuvering and populist vibes are like an unhealthy epidemic. This must not only be rejected but their root causes must be known.
Why someone would spend his personal fortune for such a noble cause? Well, there have been many successful acts of generosity and the gentle-man definitely belong to their categories. Generosity is an act of people who have, not an act of people who question.
How many failed donations of such nature there really have been? Cite a few. None to the authors knowledge. Another question, why United States of America, Japan and other developed nations allow, actually promote huge chunks of population from other countries.
While this has financial significance, these are purely generous acts. Millions of Indians are today spread around the globe and are employed in a system of education, research and academic activities which do not belong to us Indians.We wouldn’t allow so many foreigners in our own country, we just do not have such resources. In other words we are not capable of such generosity.
These learned, alternatively cultured and experienced professionals of Indian origin will enrich the academic environment of Odissa, not indulge in deteriorating their own social base. The outcry of brain drain will cry out.”What went forth has come back” and for the good.
International researchers and experts who spend their energy and expertise in Japan/Korea and Europe will be happily available for an Orissan academic enterprise. This will enrich, strengthen and modernize Odissa and its inhabitants.
There are many talents who can not go abroad for a quality education. This will be produced at home in an international environment. Similar ideas may be present on VU web-site but what is presented here are the authors personal ideas, thought out long before VU was envisioned.
In-fact the VU dream was a shock to author. When the author saw VU proposal on the web it was like a dream come true. This time the dream came from someone who can give out his personal fortune for such a noble cause. This is a once in life-time opportunity and must not be missed.