We are living in an increasingly globalising environment. We are told that Asia will be the focus of development in the new millennium and India will be one of the lead players in this process. From all accounts it appears to be the truth. India is not a poor country but a rich country with lots of poor people. India has the potential to become a land of splendid opportunities if only the human resources are properly developed and a disciplined work culture is cultivated. Our problems are corruption, reluctance to work hard and lack of scientific temper. If education can help overcome these handicaps, we can eradicate poverty from this land and provide opportunities for every citizen to develop to his or her full potential. This is where values become important in education and personality development.
Today the society in general and the youth in particular are passing through a state, which portends danger for the future. Education should condition the mind to enable individuals to function effectively and to have a fulfilling life. In a situation in which children spend less and less time with parents and are bombarded with quick fix solutions for every problem through an aggressive media culture, it is important that centres of higher learning devise ways to promote ethical choices to the educated persons who are expected to be thinking individuals .
Values become important for an educated person in the context of the emerging forces of globalisation converting everything to the naked fury of the market forces. Knowledge bereft of values can be dangerous. Look at the way organized crime, financial frauds and terrorist violence are being perpetrated by some of the best minds endowed with the best of educational and technical attainments. Look at the way even the members of the learned professions indulge in scandalous unethical conduct to make money in total disregard of their professional obligations and social responsibilities.
The need for value based education is central to all forms of education; but there are differences of opinion among teachers and educational administrators on how to organise it in the curriculum. The result is that it is not attempted at all and is left to individual judgment based on one’s own perception and experience. This is not a happy situation especially in a multicultural, multireligious and multi-ethnic society like ours. One can interpret secularism differently to suit one’s point of view; but there is no alternative to multiculturalism if India is to survive as one nation. This would mean that tolerance as a value must be imbibed in the personality of every individual whether he or she belongs to a majority or minority group. Fundamentalism is inimical to scholarship and progress. Education must enable individuals to be tolerant of differences and lead people to renounce violence and resolve disputes through socially acceptable ways. This is what India of the olden days did but we seem to have gone astray now. It is time that we rethink on this issue and set an example for the rest of the world.