The role of ‘Indian Trio- Women, Culture and Education’ in Nation Building

The culture of any nation is essential to its identity and if India is to uphold its values for the years to come, culture should be made an intrinsic part of the educational system.
Women, Culture, Nation, Gurukul, Knowledge, Education, Festivals, Identity, Values, Diaspora, Cultural education, Modernisation, Society, Development
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Introduction

This article highlights three important aspects which are intrinsic to India as a nation of diversity and these are Women, Culture and Education. This article explores multiple ways in which these three factors are closely knitted to each other and contribute in nation building. It also highlights the crucial role of  Indian women in maintaining the richness and cultural diversity of the nation and how they tend to implant them in their children and families through the Indian education system.

This article addresses the concerned issue from four perspectives. First it highlights the importance of Indian culture in Education, second it talks about the role of Indian women in highlighting that importance, third, it discusses the need of why the roles of these women need to be recognized and lastly, it summarizes key findings and apt conclusions.

Importance of Indian Culture in Education

Indian education system always had uniqueness attached to it and which makes it distinct across the world. The importance and respect for ‘Gurus’ have been enshrined within it. These Gurus had a major responsibility of preaching values, morality, ethics etc. to the society. These ‘Gurus’ guided or taught the students in special schools, which were then called as “Gurukuls”. Drawing from this framework, the next question that arises is: how intrinsic is culture within the education system in India? The answer is, extremely significant and these two factors are interdependent. If education of a country is responsible for teaching social and cultural values, so is “the importance” of culture within the education system because without it, knowledge is partial and incomplete.

The next question that confronts us about Indian culture is: What is it all about? What is the importance of Indian culture? And how relevant it is within our education system? Indian culture is known for its diversity; it is rich and extremely varied in terms of languages, culture, food, festivals, music, society, geographical and climatic conditions etc. And this Indian culture can be traced back for thousands of years and it is exactly why it is so important to us.

With western notions and concepts about modernity, it’s important to not diminish the values and principles that this culture teaches us. Its importance lies in its uniqueness and in the capacity to stand out in the world owing to the values and norms that this culture teaches us. To preserve the glory of this culture is our responsibility and there can be no better ways of doing it than imbibing it within our education system so that it continues to inspire the generations to come. This form of education is called  “Cultural Education” and there is a dire need for it to be the part of the curriculum in schools for the younger generation to know more about their culture and their roots. This is also important because, with every passing year, modernity as a concept is taking different forms and shapes and in order for our generations to be aware about what India as a nation stands for, it’s important that ‘Cultural education’ be made a mandatory part of the school syllabus. The culture of any nation is essential to its identity and if India is to uphold its values for the years to come, culture should be made an intrinsic part of the educational system, not just in schools but also in colleges and at higher education levels.

With cultural education being the need of the hour, the next section highlights how we as part of the present generations, have inherited such a rich cultural legacy and glory and to what extent we owe this to our Indian women.

Role of Indian Women in imparting Cultural Education

There are many synonyms used for describing Indian women  with regard to their selfless love, emotions, caring nature, strength, power, strength, fearlessness and many more attributes. They are symbolised by Goddess Durga and Goddess Kali who are worshiped with dedication and love. These women in their different roles as mother, sister, wife and a friend have played a crucial role in every human’s life.

This article particularly highlights one significant aspect of their role as “Carriers of culture and Preservers of Identity” which has a uniqueness attached to it. Today, Indian women can be seen performing exceptionally well across the world and in different sectors. They make their contributions in the field of economics, businesses, politics, entertainment, socio-cultural fields, science and technology and as protectors of Indian territorial sovereignty in Indian Army, Navy and Air Force etc. Even within the diaspora, it is the women within these communities who have successfully preserved Indian culture on foreign lands. Given these facts, the next question is: “How do they do so?”

To answer the above question, we should see they do so or they have been doing so throughout their lives in different ways and forms. When a child is born, it is believed that the home happens to be his or her first place of learning (his first school). And within the house, it is the women who in their role as mothers imbibe the first cultural lessons (education) within her child. Introducing their child to different relations within the family and imbibing him/her with respect towards each family member is perhaps the very first lesson that a child learns from the mother. It is in our culture to love and respect our elders and care for our young ones and it is something that our mothers have taught us in most cases.

The importance and significance of the festivals we celebrate and study in schools has been best practically explained by the women in our families either in their roles as mothers or wives. In any Indian festival, it is mostly them who ensure that customs and rituals are celebrated in the right way. It is the women who successfully pass the knowledge of these rituals onto their kids so that wherever they are in the world, they celebrate it. Since I have studied Indian diaspora and have been a part of it in the United Kingdom, I have closely observed the significant roles that women play in ensuring that their children do not forget their Indian values and culture. Within the diaspora, there are many cultural events in the form of dance, music, poetry to which children and elders participate and it reflects efforts by our Indian diasporas to maintain their cultural identity across time and spaces. The  education system may teach us what our festivals and culture are about but it is the women within the families that provide real meaning to them and ensure that the legacy is carried forward in the upcoming generations. This is the real cultural education.

Need for recognizing the role of Indian Women in imparting Cultural Education

This section highlights the need to recognize these contributions of Indian women within the existing literature and importantly within the education system.

There is a famous saying: “Behind every successful man, there is a woman” and these women can be mother, friend, sister, wife, daughter etc. Our women are a true reflection of what Indian culture stands for. In order for this culture to be made a significant part of the curriculum, students should also read about how the women  are playing a crucial role in  it.

In India, we have various eminent women personalities that are looked upon as role models for other girls and women. Some of these examples would include, from a historical perspective, Rani Lakshmi Bai, an epitome of strength, beauty and courage who bravely fought and defended her motherland. We had Mother India herself who sacrificed her life imparting lessons of peace, love and harmony for which India stands in the world. We had politicians like Late Smt Sushma Swaraj ji who in her capacity as an External Affairs Minister helped anyone in  need irrespective of their religion, caste, color and creed, showcasing non-discriminatory values  enshrined in our Indian constitution. We have women like Saina Nehwal, Sania Mirza, who are highly ranked as sportswomen.

These examples should be as part of school teachings so that young children learn from these role models how to keep the Indian flag flying higher and higher.

Why I say so because India is a land of Goddess Durga and Kali, it is known as ‘Mother India’, it is a land where female figures are not just worshipped but given respect, love and affection. In this land of diversity, it becomes significant that the school system should include within its ambit both  “cultural education” and  the campaigners for these cultural values of Indian women.

Conclusion

In this age of modernization, society is changing at a rapid pace and there is a compelling need to preserve our value system and inculcate them within the generations to come.

This article is an attempt to draw the attention of the readers to the fact that “education” is the only medium that has potential to do wonders. An educated society is a developed society. If we wish India to be a developed nation in the years to come, it is very important that these cultural values be inculcated so that the feeling of “Indian-ness” may not fade out and at the same time, the new generations should learn how our mothers and women have made it possible over the years. “Indian culture” should be a matter of pride for every Indian anywhere in the world and to keep that light shining, these values have to be preserved.

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Monika Gupta

Monika Gupta

Monika Gupta is a PhD Research Scholar at the Centre for European Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

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