Though it is now that the part played by knowledge in human society’s progress is emphasized loudly, it has always been this promethean spark, mythically understood at one time, that forged the structure of human society and through the ages continued to strengthen this structure. Forces of production might have determined economic life but without knowledge in some form or other even the forces of production would not have been organized the way they were done through the historical time. Somewhere at the time of renaissance, the rational mind of the western thinkers centered their gaze on the human and his environment but as Science made rapid strides the human’s insatiate eyes looked up from the earth to the space beyond to seek a meaningful role for mankind in the universe. In India, however, the ancient sages of Bedanta made searching enquiries philosophically about   the status of mankind in the universe but during the time of Purana, Indian knowledge got entangled in hazy mythology that hindered scientific enquiry into fundamental truths searched by philosophy.   Even in the West, where scientific enquiry became the norm from the time of renaissance, science and humanities followed different routes from the time of Enlightenment to seek knowledge and their pursuit remained disengaged for long. A German philosopher, Jurgen Habermas, once pointed out in a different context that as man entered the phase of modernity, his discourse of knowledge got channelled into different domains and our intellectual quests moved into different categories in service of empirical-theoretical discourse, moral discourse and aesthetics. But he argued that the human’s reasoned quest has to seek out the connecting link separating these domains to unify all knowledge for the completion of the Modernity’s project. He felt that this convergence can happen through a consensus. He made a strong point there. I think this can happen only when we can realize that all forms of knowledge play a functionally useful role in mankind’s progress with the teleological goal of peace and happiness for every human being. In this quest, Justice has to be a core parameter.  But unfortunately, the mismatch between actions for human development and indifference to environmental compulsions has reached a dangerous level threatening even human existence. Developmental goals have become blind to the norms of justice too. Urbanization, industrialization, road buildings are supposed to benefit people but it is happening at the enormous cost of human justice, because such actions are often increasing rich-poor gap and have often uprooted people from their familiar environment. Industrialization with the reckless use of toxic chemicals has been causing climate changes disturbing the earth’s environmental balance. The use of our knowledge has become inhuman.

The role of education, particularly in higher academic institutions, is of utmost importance in holistic attainment of practical knowledge. All branches of knowledge ultimately contribute to the enrichment of wisdom, the common intellectual treasure of the mankind, and if one area gets special focus at the cost of the other areas, wisdom’s container becomes unbalanced. Perhaps this philosophical reasoning needs to remain in the fore part of our consciousness, particularly in a University, which plays its role in the society by producing and disseminating knowledge. While science engages theoretically in unraveling nature, it still plays a practical role in the society through technology. Human Science’s theoretical quest may be to understand and interpret the nature of morality, justice, beauty, political and economic structure etc., but all these at the end of the day come in service of the social order and human happiness. This functional purposefulness needs to be a guiding principle for all knowledge-seeking institutions. If we pursue knowledge in these terms, inter-disciplinary understanding will follow and from an initial compartmentalization of branches, we will move towards building a consensus regarding the sum-total of the community’s wisdom. Again, every community is embedded in a larger structure called society and the society itself becomes a larger community if differences get obliterated as a result of consensual and purposeful communicative discourses.

Dr Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan in his Convocation address to Gauhati University in 1951 made some significant remarks, which are relevant even today. He said, “University can help us to create new man for the world. Extreme specialization is a grave danger. We must train not only specialists in different fields but men with a human outlook, a social sense.”

He further said, “If our people are to fill positions of responsibility, they must be trained in literature, philosophy and history.

The university should be the inspiring home of all the science as well as preparation ground for civic life. Its departments should be not only co-existent but co-operative.

If a university is to flourish and thrive, it is only by the force of living example which must fire the students with the noble ambition of exulting the learning of the learned and following the footsteps of the explorers of new fields of research. The greatest educative force is the force of personality, the power of sympathy, the sway of the living world, the contagion of living example.”

The word ‘excellent’ is often heard in the context of academic learning today. But what is the benchmark for excellence and who sets the standard for making a comparison between excellence and mediocrity? For want of these, the word excellence has only rhetorical value. What Dr Radhakrishnan said way back in 1951 may be a testing parameter for excellence. Against this parameter, the standard has to be set in a manner that the totality of knowledge produced is qualitatively useful for the new-age society. This will manifest in the scholar-product of the university and through their significant contributions to the life-world in their different fields of activity including academics. Today there is a great emphasis on attainment of competence in vocational learning and career-
oriented courses. There is no harm in it as long as it does not dip the scale to a lower standard in the totality of knowledge-production. Research has a special role in this. But one question comes to mind. Research is hinged today to academic career-planning rather than aiming at knowledge-production. We must guard against over-production of cheap knowledge and bring the research mode back to a wisdom-enriching criterion.

Editorial note prepared by:Harekrishna Deka 
Author, former member of Indian Police Service


We express our thankfulness to all contributors in this issue for their unconditional support and cooperation in making our effort successful this time also.

We acknowledge with thanks to the honorary advisory board, honorary technical review board and all members of editorial team for their guidance, support and cooperation.

We sincerely acknowledge and express gratitude to respected Shri Harekrishna Deka sir for sharing his thought from Editors’ Desk in this issue. He is the most prominent poet-critics of his generation. He was awarded the Sahitya Academy Award for his poetic contribution in ‘Ann Ejan’ in 1987 and the ‘Katha Award’ for his short story, Bandiyar (Prisoner) in 1995. After retirement as the Director General of Police, Assam, Shri Deka sir was associated as Editor of the English daily, The Sentinel for a brief period before serving as Editor of the Assamese literary monthly, Gariyasi. He won the Assam Valley Literary Award in 2010 which was instituted by the Williamson Magor Trust to honour the writers of Assam once a year. His translated Assamese poetry is being taught in English Major Courses in Bangalore University, India. We are fortunate that Shri Deka sir has spared valuable time for us and so, thankful to him for enlightening us with his thought. We wish him good things and good health in life.

Vol-5, Issue-3; May-June 2018

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