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II.5. Multinational Corporations and Global Education

 

Part II.5

Multinational Corporations and Global Education

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The Multinational Control of Education and the Media Worldwide

 

Schools in America are more and more coming under the funding of multinational corporations. This is true not only of universities, where corporate influence is long standing, but even the case with public schools. Children not only grow up but also receive their education under the gaze of corporate America. For example, companies like Coca Cola sponsor computers for public schools in exchange for advertising, coke machines in the halls and other favors. Young children come under the influence of corporate America when they start school, which is supposed to be free of commercial influences and propaganda. Naturally, this gets them into the commercial model of living before they are able to exercise any discrimination about it. It insures that they will be compliant consumers for the rest of their lives, programmed by corporate America to do its bidding and fit into its system.

 

Of course, universities have long been funded by big business, particularly by the weapons industry and the pharmaceutical drug companies, which are among the largest and most profitable businesses in the world. This is because universities require endowments and departments need outside funding which is not easily available elsewhere, particularly in the era of university downsizing in which public funding for schools is getting progressively reduced. Multinational corporations are increasingly setting the agenda for education in the West, which is losing any appearance of objectivity and increasing promoting commercial interests and values.

 

The same patronage has always extended to the global media, which is commercially sponsored by multinational corporations and naturally upholds their interests. Even public television programs in America like the MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour rely on funding by multinational corporations like Exxon Oil who air short mini-commercials before the programs begin. One wonders how objective and unbiased the reporting in such programs can be.

 

This corporate influence on education is not limited to the western world. The western model of education has been adopted throughout the world, including most of Asia, Africa and South America. Educational institutions worldwide generally follow the western model and often uncritically fall into a multinational agenda, following programs, ideas and teachers who are proponents of the multinational consumerist approach. Not surprisingly, local, traditional and native cultures throughout the world are being eliminated in favor of the global consumer culture of the West, which, not surprisingly, is deemed progressive in the schools.

 

Just as colonial interests suppressed traditional and native systems of education during the colonial era, western influenced academia and its multinational support groups continue to do so today. Traditional cultures are viewed as politically incorrect, economically backward, and having an inaccurate sense of their own history. The multinationals are simply the old colonial interests in a new form, reducing culture to a consumerist model that can be easily manipulated at a global level and which destroys or subordinates any local culture.

 

During their colonial rule the British banned Ayurveda in India, closed down Sanskrit schools and denigrated the Hindu religion and Indian culture in the programs that they set up in the country. Independent India continued uncritically the British model of education and has made few changes in the textbooks since the end of colonial rule. The result is that westernized schools and teachers in India today continue to attack their own cultural traditions just as the British did, quoting western educational authorities, which they see as universal, rational, scientific or objective, calling their own culture, which they seldom bother to study, communal, irrational or superstitious. This westernized education in India has been against the traditional educational models of the country and does not want such subjects as Ayurveda, astrology, Yoga or Vedanta taught in the schools. Any effort to reintroduce such local cultural traditions is deemed regressive, biased and dangerous.

 

Indology and Multinationalism

 

Indological studies is another field of western academia continuing the old colonial model under the guise of globalism or science. It also has changed little since the end of the colonial era, still promoting the Aryan Invasion theory and the idea that Indian civilization is mainly a borrowing from the West. Western Indologists follow a western cultural agenda and interpret India and its history according to the values of western civilization, global capitalism or, alternatively, global socialism. Like many western scholars, they focus on western ideals of free trade, democracy and religious conversion as the solution to India�s problems. They denigrate Asian traditions of as inhumane, ignoring the ethical and dharmic foundation of these cultures that is much more spiritual than what the West is promoting instead.

 

Western Indologists control the discourse on the Vedas, writing the textbooks and pronouncing certain speculations as facts, though they may consist of no hard data at all, but only speculations agreeable to the western mind. They reject any traditional scholarship as fantasy, error or fraud. They would interpret the history of India as if no traditional Indian ever knew anything about it, and as if Indians before the European era had no real knowledge of their own culture or its origins.

 

Any practicing Hindu or anyone honoring Hindu spiritual teachings is almost automatically disbarred from Indology in the West and academic institutions based upon the western model. That is why one finds so few Indians in these fields, unless they are leftists who have proved their worth to western academia by fervently denouncing their own culture. Western Indology is often borderline racist, taking in only Uncle Toms who kowtow to its models of thought. Even in Hindu religious studies in the West few if any of the texts used will be written by practicing Hindus or reflecting the views of any contemporary Hindu teachers. The textbooks and translations on Hinduism will come from Marxists, Christians or anyone who is not a Hindu.

 

Not surprisingly, in Western Indology, the Vedas, which are essentially spiritual documents, are not looked upon in any spiritual light but dissected according to outer views only. Indologists think that that materialistic-intellectual-political angle of western ideas can unravel the secrets of the ancient mantras that traditionally required initiation and asceticism in order to penetrate. Such an Indology is generally anti-India and cannot be looked at as representing of Indic civilization or any Indic school of thought. Such scholars are not working to understand Hinduism in a sympathetic way in the modern world; they are working to suppress it.

 

������ Today in India, like in many countries in the world, there is the arising of a post-independence nationalism. In some countries, this occurred shortly after independence. In India it was delayed by fifty years, largely because the country was ruled by an intellectual elite educated in England whose cultural sympathies resided overseas. This is also resulting in more independent thinkers arising, who are questioning, though belatedly, the western model. The result is the revival of a Vedic and Hindu school of thought. One can see this in the many new books on ancient India, generally by non-academics, which have been recently printed and are widely read in India today. A new focus on the secrets of the ancient world is becoming popular in India as it remains in the West (witness the many television and movie programs on such topics both documentary and fictional).

 

Naturally, western academia, its colonial legacy and its new corporate sponsorship will try to resist the Hindu movement, not out of any necessary spite but simply to preserve their position of power. Western Indologists will want to keep the arguments within the western school of thought because they control the rules of the game. They will see their control of Indology not as a colonial legacy but as a means of protecting the field of study from Hindu distortions. Not surprisingly, we already find Western Indology and its Indian proponents condemning the new Indic scholarship on principle and even having courses on it as a form of communalism or religious fundamentalism. What they are really afraid of is that Indians will reclaim Indology and then reclaim their own culture. This will cause them to lose control over the institutions and the debate about India, losing their niche in the academic world.

 

A New Hindu Vaishya Dharma

Hindus should be aware of the multinational influence on education, and not be na�ve about western corporate, political and religious agendas. Anyone who controls the financial purse strings of education will naturally want education to represent views that they follow or at least respect. It is only to be expected. Those who control the money in education unfortunately usually control what is being taught, whether directly or indirectly.

 

Wealthy Hindus should seek to fund proper education, not only in scientific fields but also about India and its civilization. This requires not merely funding Indological departments in the West�where their money has little accountability�but also their own institutions outside of western culture. They must take financial responsibility for their own tradition if they expect it to endure and not expect western institutions to create a view of India, particularly of ancient India and its spiritual traditions, that will be favorable and will sustain it in the modern world.

 

������ Wealthy Hindus or those in the corporate world should also seek to bring a greater dharmic perspective into business activities. They should promote a new globally sensitive and ecologically aware Vaishya Dharma, following Vedic and yogic values of unity, interdependence and a recognition of the sacred nature of all life. India�s own Vaishya Dharma or dharmic values for business include respect for nature, human diversity and cultural and religious pluralism that the West is also looking toward for the future. Certainly, a new spiritually aware business class and global business consciousness is required to get us out of the current crisis and to build an educational system that goes beyond corporate greed or the seeking of cultural hegemony. For this, such a resurgent Vaishya Dharma is the key.

 

Yoga, Ayurveda and Hindu principles of management can help transform the current destructive multinational scene into something more enlightened, showing how spiritual principles can make for a better management of our human and natural resources, putting material development in the context of the evolution of consciousness. We must move from multinational capitalism to a global culture of Dharma, not only in spirituality but also in the economic sphere, which is where our cultural spirituality is really put into practice or simply remains a mere slogan.

 

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