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Events

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Events
#75
<span style='color:red'>Fourth Annual Human Empowerment Conference 2006</span>

Call for Papers And Participation in a Seminar and a Workshop On "Restoration of Traditional Hindu Knowledge Systems And Reforming the Educational System"

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->This is a Call for Papers and Participation in a Seminar titled
"Restoration of Traditional Hindu Knowledge Systems and Reforming the
Educational System." A seminar and a workshop on this subject will be held
as part of the Fourth Annual Human Empowerment Conference (HEC2006) to be
held in Los Angeles, from November 17th until 19th, 2006. The submissions
and the exchange of ideas during the conference are expected to culminate
into a position paper, and a statement of direction on this topic. The
seminar will be followed by a workshop where the position paper and the
statement of direction will be explored, and follow-up action planned for
the operational year 2006-07.

<span style='color:red'>Background
Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay introduced sweeping educational "reforms"
in India in 1836 that were viewed to "modernize" the Indian sub-continent
during colonial rule. This led to the closure of several educational
institutions ranging from primary education to higher learning centers
across the Indian sub- continent. This also brought about a systematic
loss of the traditional educational system which was substituted by a
British / European style of education. The reforms led to an increase in
illiteracy as the natives were not able to grasp the alien system that was
not beneficial.

Even during the contemporary times, the knowledge and educational
systems have been largely designed along the lines of the colonial system.
As a result the traditional knowledge and educational system (via the
"Gurukula") has almost been completely ignored. The last standing
"Gurukula" schools are but restricted to only a few areas of learning such
as music education.

In the subsequent time period following the reforms, the
traditional knowledge systems of India and the Hindus were vividly
researched by the West to reap the benefits of the system while the
country was left to grapple with a non-native and immature system. Ancient
philosophers and scientists of India are but left in a neglected book of
history with an impression in today's minds that they are part of mere
mythology.

With the gradual dismantling of India's socialistic economic
system and the consequent rapid economic growth, case for education reform
has taken a back seat, attributing the current economic growth to the
"English" education. This is a dangerous misconception that needs to be
removed from the minds of policy makers. Commentators and observers have
forgotten that there is nothing native about India's recent economic
growth. Its famed IT sector is nothing more than a "computer coolie"
service to the IT needs of the West. The so-called IT giants of India have
not, till date, produced single software or a hardware product of their
own. The case is not different in other sectors.

Rationale

It is imperative for India and Hindus in general, to build up a social and
economic system that is not dependent on powers that are hostile to its
existence. The former colonialists turned "friends" can "pull the plug"
anytime if and when their own geo-strategic and economic interests are not
served.

If Hindus in general and India in particular have to play a
meaningful role in the World, they can and will do so upon their own
genius. Hindus should re-learn to discover and invent, and then pass it on
to the world. Most importantly in the temporal affairs of humanity -
science and technology, literature and arts, business and commerce,
engineering and architecture, culture and sports - Hindus must innovate.
In order to reach the requisite state of innovation, education sector
needs to be reformed, and traditional knowledge systems must be
re-instituted.

Issues
The education and knowledge sector as it exists today is full of
misconceptions and infirmities. These include, but not limited to:

a. The belief that the indigenous educational system is incompetent and
impractical in the modern world.

b. The ideology that education should be a pathway to find a job and be a
mere laborer with the government or the industry as it has traditionally
been in India over the past century. Self employment and innovation has
taken a back seat.

c. The belief that innovation originates from the west - "Eurocentric" or
"America centered" and that Indians should merely be users of the products
from the "western innovation".

d. The loss of motivation to innovate and be industrious. The educational
system doesn't teach one to explore the infinite possibilities but rather
lays stress on bookish knowledge.

Examples of continuing loss of traditional knowledge systems
include:

a. The negligence of ancient medical practice such as "Ayurveda" by the
modern medical systems.

b. Laying belief and authority on a modern system to evaluate traditional
knowledge systems such as a recent proposal by the government of India to
create a national standard for Ayurvedic medicine based on reports from
outside India.

c. The conferral of patent on turmeric and "neem" by USA

d. The acceptance of non-indic tradition practitioners as subject matter
experts on Indic traditions by the academia (such as the recent happenings
at the California Board of Education regarding depiction of Indian
philosophy, religion and society by non Indians).

There are several issues at the public policy and administration
level. In India with 82% Hindu population, the Hindus cannot practically
start, own and operate their own educational institutions. Most Hindu
educational organizations hide behind the word "Indian" or "National" or
"Dharma," while the minority institutions cannot even be regulated by
professional or government agencies for mundane policy administration.
Worse is the case of a secular government using the public funds to
support minority institutions, and there have been cases where funds from
Hindu Temples have been diverted to fund Muslim and Christian schools.
Further, the Christian schools, funded and supported by the secular
Government in India, who have built up their capacity, attract brightest
of the bright Hindu students, who study and grow up in a anti-Hindu
environment, to eventually become rabid Hindu-haters in their professional
careers.

The Hindu society, as it exists today, does not have a very strong
desire for starting and maintaining a community owned educational system.
Compare to Christians who invest heavily in education, and often have a
strong tradition of giving away their property and assets to their
educational institutions. Hindus might fund sectarian or worse, even
caste-based educational institutions, but these cannot be a substitute for
a Hindu institution. India's only "Hindu" University, viz. Banaras Hindu
University, is owned and operated by the secular Government of India.

There is also an issue with basic Hindu attitude towards
traditional knowledge systems and Hindu education. Most Hindu upper and
middle classes desire to send their children to get a "convent" education.
The lower and lower middle classes imitate their richer counterparts and
dream of the same. Such apathy towards something that is their own, limits
the potential and acceptability of traditional knowledge systems. However,
whenever the "white man" adopts the same traditional knowledge system and
makes his own, only then the Hindu wakes up to the usefulness of his own
genius.

Goal
Hindu ingenuity must be restored as it existed in the hoary days of
Takshashila and Nalanda. Past Hindu record of inventing zero, solving
quadratic equation, discovering atoms and planets must be revived. The
inhibiting factors must be analyzed; appropriate strategies formulated,
necessary awareness generated and commensurate action must be taken to
restore the innovative spirit and the creativity of the Hindu mind.

Objectives
The aim of this initiative is to:

1. Research about the pre Macaulay knowledge systems and educational
methodologies that existed across the Indian subcontinent.

2. Qualify and quantify social and economic impact of the traditional
knowledge systems prior to the colonial era.

3. The socio-economic effect of the continuing practice of Macaulay's and
non-traditional systems in India (Use parallels from other societies,
countries).

4. Steps to identify and stem the deleterious effects of the Macaulayite
reforms and its continuing practices while accepting the positive (if any)
contributions (we are open minded and take ideas from everywhere).

5. Steps to re-introduce, maintain and preserve the traditional knowledge
system for the benefit of all posterity ("paropahaaram hitam shareeram" -
we believe in helping and doing good to others and not be an obstacle to
one's progress).

6. Steps to learn, popularize and spread the traditional knowledge system.

7. Make a system that helps promote individuals to innovate, be
industrious and instill a sense of pride than to be a slavish worker.

8. An assessment of various factors, individuals and entities involved in
upholding the Macaulayite system of education, and the reasons why they do
so.

9. Practical plans to reform public education and establishment of
traditional knowledge systems in public education

Scope
The range of topics can include (but not limited to):

Education, agricultural practice, business ethics, commerce,
science, technology, engineering, architecture, sports, literature,
culture, arts, music, politics, construction practice, town planning (the
"vaastu shastra" is receiving a lot of importance these days),
transportation, environmental protection and conservation, food, medicine
and medical practices, philosophy and religion.

Traditional knowledge systems of other ancient
cultures/civilizations can also be used for comparative evaluations.

It must be noted that this initiative is not about the subject
matter, it is about the knowledge generation and educational delivery
systems. For example, how to do yoga is outside the scope, however,
teaching of yoga, public policy, and society's attitude towards Yoga can
be a topic of study under this initiative.

Methodology
The methodology presented and adopted at the first HEC (Chicago,
2003) will be used, that envisions three successive levels of induction to
arrive at an effective solution. The three levels are: (i) ideological,
(ii) awareness, and (iii) action. Papers will be presented during the
Seminar followed by an exchange of ideas leading to a position paper. The
Seminar will be followed by a Workshop where strategies will be
formulated, and an action plan for the operational year 2006-07 will be
drafted. The participants should expect to pledge their time and resources
to this project on a continuing basis. Participants can also be asked to
prepare an abridged version of their papers and presentations that will be
submitted to the media and journals for publication.

How to participate

Abstracts and papers can be sent to:

Prabhu Bharathan
Session Coordinator
Tel.: 469-546-8058
E-mail: education-seminar@vhs-net.com

Deadline for submission of abstracts: Third week of September 2006
Deadline for submission of completed paper: Third week of October 2006

Prospective participants are cordially invited to be present at the
conference during Nov. 17th-19th, 2006, in Los Angeles, California, USA.
Details of the Fourth Annual Human Empowerment Conference can be obtained
from the Session Coordinator.

Further information about the conference is available from:

Fourth Annual Human Empowerment Conference 2006
E-Mail: hec2006@vhs-net.com

Shri Satinder Trehan (Conference Chair)
Los Angeles, CA
Tel. 714-225-3318</span>
<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
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