Why do you ‘instigate’ students against India? Why don’t you people think a student with laptop and books in hand is better than those who throw stones on the military forces? These are the questions I was asked by military men while travelling towards Srinagar. One could sense the palpable exasperation behind these questions. But before I could answer these questions, all of a sudden I had the reminisces of ‘book versus stone’ rhetorical speech of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he had delivered in Srinagar some two years ago. To all these questions I replied in a less assertive but in a philosophical manner. Listen, I feel a well read person especially having learnt the long laundry list of misdeeds is more dangerous than one who has stones in hands. While I returned home, I met my fellow colleague who recounted his tale how military men treated him on the highway. But at the end of our conversation, he asked me a serious question: Why do ‘they’ treat teachers like this, after all we are on the side of government as we work for the state?
It set my mind into thinking that, according to the regimented thoughts that state has and society has fed in to our minds, it is not the student but a teacher who is responsible for the behavior of his pupil. This thought has permeated in the psyche of all and sundry. Very often we hear teachers are builders of nation; they are role models in a society.
A teacher works within a framework of curriculum which is guided by the interests of state. The basic aim of education is not to develop creativity but to develop conformity with the established values and norms. Any system of education designed will not secure its objective of conformity for two reasons. First, creating creativity and developing conformity is an oxymoron. Second, is the fact that there is a great degree of formalism in the education when teaching under regime which can be called the ‘state of exception’?
The modern forms of governance and social discipline have been sought to be realized through education. It has been rendered as a form of governmentality. Greater the degree of enforced social discipline, lesser is the need to deploy the coercive apparatus of the state thereby producing the patina of having legitimacy. The basic objective of the education system under the given framework is to produce a ‘docile bodies and obedient souls’. Once a docile body is developed, it becomes easy to govern the subject, when discipline becomes operative, power flows through them rather than over them. It is beyond any shade of doubt the contradictions within the educational systems which engenders rage.
—The author, an independent researcher based in Srinagar, can be reached at:firstname.lastname@example.org