Multiversity: a real alternative university in India

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ex-l

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Multiversity: a real alternative university in India

Post16 Jan 2013

In their usual self-aggrandising and exaggerating manner, the Brahma Kumaris translate "Vishwa-Vidyalaya" as World University. Actually, this appears wrong. Vishwa is world, vidyalaya is a school; usually "Vishwa-Vidyalaya" is the term for a university, therefore "Prajapita Brahmakumaris Ishwariya Vishwa Vidhyalaya" equals the 'Prajapita Brahmakumaris Godly University' which is what it used to be and said in the Murlis. I wonder how long their PR spin doctors thought about that one to make it sound better and to bend it around the legal rules about the naming of Universities?

"We're not a university ...", they babble defensively. "We're a 'Spiritual University'!", claiming the the rules don't apply to them (except in the USA where they became an Organization to avoid the wrath of the state).

Here's an interesting video record of a conference on truly alternative, alternative universities in India which I found interesting ... or rather a Multiversity.

This is from the Fourth Multiversity Conference on "Decolonising Our Universities" in July, 2011.

I particularly like the presentation on 'Academic Imperialism' by Claude Alvares, a coordinator of the Multiversity Project, director of the Goa Foundation and a member of the watchdog 'Supreme Court Monitoring Committee' ... rather than the 'Brahma Kumaris Supreme Court Sucking Up Committee' ... and the paper on Swaraj in Thought, Decolonising our universities for a just world order by C. K. Raju. There are individual speakers clips, here. Did you know, for example, that the university system has it roots in Islam?
Over the past 200 years -- in Asia, Africa and South America -– the natural capacity to learn has been suppressed and substituted by a compulsory, imported, education system that has consistently failed to respect environment (nature), culture or indigenous knowledge. Neither does it encourage or endorse the values of natural and innate creativity or personal courage and freedom. Not unnaturally: it was once installed by colonial rulers. Though they have long since departed, the system continues to rule.


In it, someone mentioned that it is illegal to use the term 'university' or 'vishva-vidyalaya' in India of you are not official recognised to do so, and someone else mentioned the Visva-Bharati University, originally a very inspiring model of university founded by Rabindranath Tagore.

Another goodwill references goes out to the Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation, a non-profit organisation involved in education and village development in rural areas and tribal villages of India with presence in over 37,000 villages and providing free education to more than one million children despite only being started in 1986 ... and by a couple of modest wealth who did not claim to be the 'God of all Creatures' (Prajapati). To some degree it challenging the might of US financed Christian missionaries, whose sole aim is to convert innocent adivasis (tribal people).
Another World is Desirable

We – people from diverse countries in four continents met to discuss the future of our universities and how we could decolonise them. Too many of them have become pale imitations of Western universities, with marginal creative contributions of their own and with little or no organic relation with their local communities and environments. The learning environments have become hostile, meaningless and irrelevant to our lives and concerns.

We agreed that for far too long have we lived under the Eurocentric assumption – drilled into our heads by educational systems inherited from colonial regimes – that our local knowledges, our ancient and contemporary scholars, our cultural practices, our indigenous intellectual traditions, our stories, our histories and our languages portray hopeless, defeated visions no longer fit to guide our universities – therefore, better given up entirely.

We are firmly convinced that every trace of Eurocentrism in our universities – reflected in various insidious forms of Western controls over publications, theories and models of research must be subordinated to our own scintillating cultural and intellectual traditions. We express our disdain at the way ‘university ranking exercises’ evaluate our citadels of learning on the framework assumptions of Western societies. The conference articulated different versions of intellectual and emotional resistance to the idea of continuing to submit our institutions of the mind and our learning to the tutelage and tyranny of Western institutions.

We have a firm resolve to work hard to restore the organic connection between our universities, our communities and our cultures. Service to the community and not just to the professions must be our primary concern. The recovery of indigenous intellectual traditions and resources is a priority task. Course structures, syllabi, books, reading materials, research models and research areas must reflect the treasury of our thoughts, the riches of our indigenous traditions and the felt necessities of our societies. This must be matched with learning environments in which students do not experience learning as a burden, but as a force that liberates the soul and leads to the upliftment of society. Above all, universities must retrieve their original task of creating good citizens instead of only good workers.

For this, we seek the support of all intellectuals and other like-minded individuals and organisations that are willing to assist us in taking this initiative further.

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