INTERPERSONAL SKILLS INCLUDING COMMUNICATION SKILLS

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INTERPERSONAL SKILLS INCLUDING COMMUNICATION SKILLS

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Directions : Each passage in this section is followed by questions. Read the passage and choose the best answer.

PASSAGE I

The distribution of cultures in the world reflects the distribution of power. Trade may or may not follow the flag, but culture almost always follows power. Throughout history the expansion of the power of a civilisation has occurred simultaneously with the flowering of its culture and has almost always involved it using that power to extend its values, practices and institutions to other societies. A universal civilisation requires universal power. Roman power created a near-universal civilisation within the limited confines of the Classical World. Western power in the form of European colonialism in die nineteenth century and American hegemony in the twentieth century extended Western culture throughout much of the contemporary world. European colonialism is over; American hegemony is receding. And the erosion of Western culture follows, as indigenous, historically-rooted moores, languages, beliefs and institutions reassert themselves. The growing power of non-western societies produced by modernisation is generating the revival of non-western cultures throughout the world.

A distinction exists, Joseph Nye has argued, between “hard power,” which is the power to command resting on economic and military strength, and “soft power,” which is the ability of a state to get “other countries to want what it wants” through the appeal of its culture and ideology. As Nye recognises, a broad diffusion of hard power is occurring in the world and major nations “are less able to use their traditional power resources to achieve their purposes than in the past”. Nye goes on to say that if a state’s “culture and ideology are attractive, others will be more willing to follow” its leadership, and hence soft power is “just as important as hard command power”. What, however, makes culture and ideology attractive ? They become attractive when they are seen as rooted in material success and influence. Soft power is power only when it rests on a foundation of hard power. Increases in hard economic and military power produce enhanced self-confidence, arrogance and belief in the superiority of one’-s own culture or soft power compared to those of other peoples and greatly increases its attractiveness to other peoples. Decreases in economic and military power lead to self-doubt, crises of identity and efforts to find in other cultures the keys to economic, military and political success. As non­western societies enhance their economic, military, and political capacity, they increasingly trumpet the virtues of their own values, institutions and culture.

Communist ideology appealed to people throughout the world in the 1950s and 1960s when it was associated with the economic success and military force of the Soviet military strength. Western values and institutions have appealed to people from other cultures because they were seen as the source of Western power and wealth. This process has been going on for centuries. Between 1000 and 1300, as William McNeill points out, Christianity, Roman law and other elements of Western culture were adopted by Hungarians, Poles and Lithuanians, and this “acceptance of Western civilisation was stimulated by mingled fear and admiration of the military prowess of Western princes”. As Western power declines, die ability of the West to impose Western concepts of human rights, liberalism and democracy on other civilisations also declines, and so does the attractiveness of those values to other civilisations.

It already has. For several centuries non-western peoples envied the economic prospects, technological sophistication, military power, and political cohesion of Western societies. They sought the secret of this success in Western values and institutions, and when they identified what they thought might be the key they attempted to apply it in their own societies. To become rich and powerful, they would have to become like the West. Now, however, these Kemalist attitudes have disappeared in East Asia. East Asians attribute their dramatic economic development not to their import of Western culture but rather to their adherence to their own culture. They are succeeding, they argue, because they are different from the West. Similarly, when non-western societies felt weak in relation to the West, they invoked Western values of self-determination, liberalism, democracy and independence to justify their opposition to Western domination. Now that they are no longer weak but increasingly powerful, they do not hesitate to attack those same values which they previously used to promote their interests. The revolt against the West was originally legitimated by asserting the universality of Western values; it is now legitimated by asserting the superiority of non­western values.

The rise of these attitudes is a manifestation of what Ronald Dore has termed the “second-generation indigenisation phenomenon”. In both former Western colonies and independent countries like China and Japan, “the first ‘moderniser’ or ‘post­independence’ generation has often received its training in foreign (Western) universities in a Western cosmopolitan language. Partly because they first go abroad as impressionable teenagers, their absorption of Western values and life-styles may well be profound”. Most of the much larger second generation, in contrast, gets its education at home in universities created by the first generation, and the local rather than the colonial language is increasingly used for instruction. These universities “provide a much more diluted contact with metropolitan world culture” and “knowledge is indigenised by means of translations—usually of limited range and of poor quality”. The graduates of these universities resent the dominance of the earlier Western-trained generation and hence often “succumb to the appeals of nativist opposition movements.” As Western influence receds, young aspiring leaders cannot look to the West to provide them with power and wealth. They have to find the means of success within their own society, and hence they have to accommodate the values and culture of that society.

The process of indigenisation need not wait for the second generation. Able, perceptive and adaptive first-generation leaders indigenise themselves. Three notable cases are Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Harry Lee and Solomon Bandaranaike. They were brilliant graduates of Oxford, Cambridge and Lincoln’s Inn, respectively, superb lawyers, and thoroughly Westernised members of the elites of their societies. Jinnah was a committed secularist. Lee was, in the words of one British cabinet minister, “the best bloody Englishman east of

 

Suez”. Bandaranaike was raised a Christian. Yet to lead their nations to, and after independence, they had to indigenise. They reverted to their ancestral cultures, and in the process, at times changed identities, names, dress and beliefs. The English lawyer M.A. Jinnah became Pakistan’s Quaid-i-Azam, Harry Lee became Lee Kuan Yew. The secularist Jinnah became the fervent aposde of Islam as the basis for the Pakistani State. The Anglofied Lee learned Mandarin and became an articulate promoter of Confucianism. The Christian Bandaranaike converted to Buddhism and appealed to Sinhalese nationalism.

Indigenisation has been the order of the day throughout the non-western world in the 1980s and 1990s. The resurgence of Islam and “re- Islamisation” are the central themes in Muslim societies. In India the prevailing trend is the rejection of Western forms and values and the “Hinduisation” of politics and society. In East Asia, governments are promoting Confucianism, and political intellectual leaders speak of the “Asianisation” of their countries. In the mid-1980s Japan became obsessed with “Nihonjinron or the theory of Japan and the Japanese”. Subsequently, a leading Japanese intellectual argued that historically Japan has gone through “cycles of importation of external cultures” and “indigenisation of those cultures through replication and refinement, inevitable turmoil resulting from exhausting the imported and creative impulse, and eventual reopening to the outside world”. At present, Japan is “embarking on the second phase of this cycle”. With the end of the Cold War, Russia again became a “tom” country with the re- emergence of the classic struggle between Westernisers and Slavophiles. For a decade, however, the trend was from the former to the latter, as the Westernised Gorbachev gave away to Yeltsin, Russian in style, Western in articulated beliefs, who, in turn, was threatened by nationalists epitomising Russian orthodox indigenisation.

Indigenisation is furthered by the democracy paradox; adoption by non­western societies of Western democratic institutions encourages and gives access to power to nativist and anti-Western political movements. In the 1960s and 1970s Westernised and pro-Western governments in developing countries were threatened by coups and revolutions; in the 1980s and 1990s they are increasingly being ousted by elections. Democratisation conflicts with Westernisation, and democracy is
inherently a parochialising not a cosmopolitanising process. Politicians in non-western societies do not win elections by demonstrating how Eastern they are. Electoral competition instead stimulated them to fashion what they believe will be the most popular appeals, and those are usually ethnic, nationalist and religious in character.

The result is .popular mobilisation against Western-educated and Western- oriented elites. Islamic fundamentalist groups have done well in the few elections that have occurred in Muslim countries and would have come to national power in Algeria if the military had not cancelled the 1992 election. In India, competition for electoral support has arguably encouraged communal appeals and communal violence. Democracy in Sri Lanka enabled the Sri Lanka Freedom Party7 to throw out the Western-oriented, elitist United National Party7 in 1956 and provided opportunity for the rise of the Pathika Chintanaya Sinhalese Nationalist Movement in the 1980s. Prior to 1949, both South African and Western elites viewed South Africa as a Western State. After the apartheid regime took shape, Western elites gradually read South Africa out of the Western camp, while white South Africans continued to think of themselves as Westerners. In order to resume their place in the Western international order, however, they had to introduce Western democratic institutions, which resulted in the coming to power of a highly Westernised black elite. If the second-generation indigenisation factor operates, however, their successors will be much more Xhosa, Zulu and African in oudook and South Africa will increasingly define itself as an African State.

At various times before the nineteenth century, Byzantines, Arabs, Chinese, Ottomans, Moguls and Russians were highly confident of their strength and achievements compared to those of the West. At these times they also were contemptuous of the culture, inferiority, institutional backwardness, corruption and decadence of the West. As the success of the West fades relatively, such attitudes reappear. People feel, “We don’t have to take it any more.” Iran is an extreme case, but, as one observer noted, “Western values are rejected in different ways, but no less firmly, in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, China, and Japan.” We are witnessing “the end of the progressive era” dominated by Western ideologies and are moving into an era in which multiple and diverse civilisations will interact, compete, coexist and accommodate each other.

This global process of indigenisation is manifest broadly in the revivals of religion occurring in so many parts of the world and most notably in the cultural resurgence in Asian and Islamic countries generated in large part by their economic and demographic dynamism.

  1. The author predicts that in the future
  • Countries like India and China will dominate the world economy.
  • Diverse civilisations will coexist.
  • The Western civilisation will dominate.
  • Communism will return as a strong force.
  1. The author attributes the economic success of the East Asian countries to
  • Their “soft power”.

. (B) The democracy paradox.

  • The second-generation indi­genisation phenomenon.
  • None of the above.
  1. According to the author,
  • The distribution of culture follows the distribution of power.
  • Expansion of power and spread of a culture go together.
  • The attractiveness of an ideology leads to a universal civilisation.
  • Trade always follows the flag.
  1. The “second generation” in the developing world tends to be less enamoured of the West because
  • They resent the dominance of the earlier western-trained generation.
  • They are less idealistic.
  • They cannot rely on the West for material benefits.
  • They are impressed by the Communist ideology.
  1. Which of the following represents what the author calls the conflict between democratisation and Westernisation ?
  • West-oriented leaders tend to be more despotic.
  • Elections are contrary to local beliefs and customs, which support consensual decision­making.
  • Western countries are losing interest in democracy because of all-round well-being and sustained economic growth.
  • Taking a pro-West stance does not help electoral performance.
  1. Which of the following ideas cannot be attributed to Joseph Nye ?
  • Soft power is important to complement hard power.
  • All countries want to use their hard power to dominate others.
  • The number of countries having hard power is increasing.
  • Countries need to have an attra­ctive culture and ideology to get other countries to follow their lead.

 

  1. Which of the following would weaken the author’s central argument the most ?
  • A developing country in which economic success is followed by greater admiration for Western values and civilisation.
  • The re-emergence of Communism.
  • A coup in the United States.
  • The spread of any one religion as a global religion.
  1. When the author describes democracy as a parochialising process, he means that
  • The democratic process ensures popular representation.
  • Reservation for minorities helps disadvantaged groups.
  • To win elections, politicians have to appeal to populist concerns.
  • Elections are won by money power.
  1. Which of the following is an instance of what the author describes as the democracy paradox ?
  • A democratically elected leader assuming absolute power
  • An authoritarian government achieving better economic performance than a democratically elected one
  • The existence of poverty in a democracy
  • The emergence of an anti-West leader through a democratic process
  1. The author attributes the success of leaders like Lee Kuan Yew and Solomon Bandaranaike to
  • Their original religious beliefs.
  • Their understanding of the relationship between hard power and soft power.
  • Their ability to indegenise their identities and beliefs.
  • Their brilliant minds, and their skill as lawyers.
  1. The author, discussing the cultural scenario in South Africa, suggests that
  • There would emerge a highly westernised black elite
  • Western elites would gradually write-off South Africa from the Western camp
  • South Africa will increasingly define itself as an African state
  • White South Africans would continue to think of themselves as westerners
  1. “Cycles of importation of external cultures” and “indigenisation” of these cultures in Japan were observed to have resulted in
  • Turmoil arising from exhaustion of the imported and creative impulse. ^
  • Reopening of Japan to the outside world.
  • Emergence of the “theory of Japan and the Japanese”.
  • Japan embarking on the second phase of this cycle.

PASSAGE II

In the context of economic liberalisation and globalisation, calls have been made for augmenting public investment in the basic education sector on the grounds that social returns on such investment are high and that a certain mass threshold of basic education (human capital) is a prerequisite for sustaining economic development. That is, even the non­socialist perspectives underlying these calls seem to support the strengthening of the State’s mass basic schooling system. There has been a lot of debate and discussion among various stakeholders (administrators, academics, donor institutions, independent citizens) on how this needs to be done and what form it should take. The debate has touched not just on educational performance, but on broader issues like community control over basic education, child labour and the rights of disabled children. One stakeholder group which, however, seems to be muted in these academic discussions is the organised voice of teachers. One, of course, witnesses sporadic expression of teacher strength, for instance, during the opposition to panchayat control over basic education. But the contribution of a collective expression of teachers to academic debate has been negligible.

The inability of teachers to engage constructively in the ongoing policy and academic debate is surprising, considering that teachers constitute the most important input into the educational system—we have a huge teaching force of about 30 lakh elementary school teachers in the country, whose salaries account for a substantial part (about 95 per cent) of the recurring budgets. Two broad explanations are possible. Other stakeholders do not have confidence in the collective ability or capacity of teachers to contribute meaningfully to the debate; teachers themselves do not have the confidence to visualise or to organise themselves as a significant partner in the debate. Both explanations are valid.

Teachers are often held responsible for our poor performance on the basic education front. For instance, a recent report identifies poor subject mastery
(lack of knowledge), poor teaching skills, poor motivation (reflected, for instance, in high absenteeism), poor working conditions and limited career opportunities, and very importantly, low perceived status, as the principal weaknesses of the teaching force. Observations similar to those made in the report are often heard during discussions with educational administrators, who on the basis of their “experience” can cite many examples of teachers, being unable to add up fractions or being confused about the decimal system. There is no doubt that these observations hold true for a sizeable number of teachers. The problem arises when these perceptions are extended to the entire teacher population. The possibility that just as with any other population, teachers could also include some positive ‘outliers’ on the margins, tends to be played down; also, the entire teacher population is conceptualised as a class with certain deficiencies (deficiencies which are no doubt valid for the majority) and thus in need of external training inputs. The consequence of such a characterisation is our inability to build on those experiences in the margins which can serve as examples of what is possible for a process of reform.

We now turn to the question of whether or not teachers visualise themselves as a significant stakeholder group, competent enough as a collective, to contribute to the discussion on academic and policy debate. Historically, the state has been responsible for public basic education, and teachers have been considered employees of the state. Even in states with local ^lf-government, the state finances teacher salaries, either fully or almost fully. In effect, de facto, most teachers would consider themselves state employees, or in more general terms, ‘workers’, working at the bottom rung of the educational bureaucracy. The low status of the primary teacher in this hierarchy—which as a result of the large numbers of teachers has a broad base and a very narrow ‘management’ at the top—is best illustrated by the conceptualisation of the teacher as all- powerful within the classroom among his students, but powerless outside it. This, however, does not prevent the ‘workers’ from having to accept almost all the blame for overall poor educational performance. As some teachers point out, “Unlike the case of companies, it is almost impossible to hear about the top management like the

 

Directors of Education taking the blame for poor educational performance.” As workers, teachers may thus be expected to organise themselves into associations, for purposes of protecting their rights and benefits. At the same time, the nature of the work performed, education, is still seen as a moral activity; this is best illustrated by the descriptions of the profession as a ‘noble’ one, or of teaching as a ‘sacred’ activity aimed at character and nation building. This aspect of teachers’ work, related primarily to professional development, is what ultimately contributes to a self­perception as a stakeholder group. Teachers’ associations have been trying to address both aspects of teachers’ work, teaching as labour and teaching as mission but have not had much success in the latter aspect.

Our focus for the moment is on the missionary or professional aspects of teaching. These imply that teachers’ associations have to expand their research and academic capabilities and capacities. Becoming stronger academically is easier said than done. Most associations in the country depend on meagre financial contributions from their members and are in no position to chart out programmes which would require heavy financial commitments. But it is not that our associations have not attempted to increase their professional competence. Ironically, however, it is the international associations of teachers who have attempted to help. Similar partnerships have not been evolved with local institutions. If our various educational institutions were to treat the activity of enabling teachers’ organisations build up their capabilities as an important intervention, the effectiveness of the community-state- teacher triangle can be ensured.

So teachers’ associations need to reform themselves. But where do they begin ? From the strengths that exist within—by enabling leadership that is based on proven competence, to guide the process of teacher development. The argument for a greater role for the outstanding teachers in building up the capabilities of the wider teaching community rests on two assumptions : they have, on their own, evolved answers to problems posed by their specific socio-economic and classroom situations; secondly, these answers are relevant to other teachers, since they take into account ,the actual contextual constraints most teachers face. Many of their experiments and answers may appear unsophisticated, but they have combined within themselves, different roles, such as social worker, entrepreneur, classroom researcher, parent. Such teachers can provide the ability-based leadership that peer-driven approaches to development need.

The involvement of outstanding teachers in teacher-driven networks of development is by itself not sufficient. Teachers’ associations have to take a hard and professional look at the issue of standards that would apply to their own members. Most states have moved towards the central guidelines of 12 years of schooling prior to a two-year teacher pre-service training programme. This by itself will improve academic standards of the teaching community to some extent. But associations can be more proactive by first accepting that the standard of the majority leaves much to be desired and then instituting creative mechanisms that would give teachers the opportunity to test themselves every four or five years. This can then be linked to remedial action for those who need it. This kind of voluntary self-imposition of certain minimum standards would convey far more effectively, and in a manner acceptable to teachers, the intention of the associations to abide by certain professional and academic standards.

The third major area of strategic importance is developing positions on crucial educational issues—academic, professional or managerial—through empirical research. Developing research capabilities for this purpose should be an important and urgent task for teachers’ associations. The issues of community control and teacher accountability were mentioned earlier. Other issues that are becoming important include reform of schools performing poorly, policies on private management of schools, the language policy and the recruitment of “barefoot” teachers. Another set of issues has to do with boundary maintenance, like the role of teachers’ associations vis-a-vis political organisations.

  1. Teachers have not been able to engage constructively in academic debate because
  • The size of the teaching force is unmanageably large.
  • Teachers have not visualised themselves as a significant group and others do not have confidence in them.
  • The expression of teachers’ strength has only been sporadic and not sustained.
  • None of the above.
  1. When the author refers to positive ‘outliers’, the implication of the argument is
  • Every population, including the teaching community, has oudiers.
  • Such outliers can serve as exemplars for a process of reform.
  • Perceptions should not be extended to the entire population of teachers.
  • Outliers in a population tend to get sidelined.
  1. Arguments for increasing public investments in basic education have been made because
  • The state’s mass schooling system needs strengthening.
  • Various stakeholders are concerned about education.
  • Educational and community development issues need to be tackled.
  • Social returns are higher and a human capital base can be developed.
  1. The growth of research and teaching capabilities in teachers’ associations has suffered due to
  • Their inability to attract support from educational institutions within the country.
  • The compulsion that to become stronger, teachers’ associations have to depend on their international counterparts.
  • Their weakness leading to inadequate efforts to improve their professional capabilities.
  • Their inability to reconcile their role in protecting rights and benefits with developing professional capability.
  1. Teachers’ associations can become more proactive in matters of standards by first
  • Instituting programmes for remedial action.
  • Recognising that the standards of the majority are poor.
  • Voluntarily imposing standards on all teachers.
  • Abiding by certain professional standards.
  1. The self-perception of teachers as a stakeholder group has suffered because
  • Teachers’ work has both ‘labour’ and ‘moral’ aspects.
  • Teachers’ associations have had success in organising for protecting rights and benefits.
  • Teachers accept all the blame for poor performance.
  • Teachers’ associations have not had much success in addressing the professional development aspects of teachers’ work.

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April 2017
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