Gandhigram Experiments with Villages

The genesis of the Gandhigram Rural Institute is linked to Mahatma Gandhi. The quest for a model of education suitable for the development of the newly liberated countries like India led to the establishment of the New Education Commission (1949), headed by Dr. S. Radhakrishnan with other world level experts: A.L. Mudaliar, Arthur E. Morgan, J.F. Duff, J.J. Tigert, K.N. Bahi. M.N. Saha, Tara Chand, Zakir Hussain, and N.K. Sidhanta. The resulting " Rural University Model" was a' higher-education-version' of Gandhiji's Nai Talim(1973), that is 'new system' incorporating the experience of three other proven world models: Folke Hoschkole system of Denmark by D.F.S. Grundtvig (1844), Landgrant University system of USA (1862), Shriniketan experiment in Shantiniketan by Tagore (1922). Gandhigram Rural Institute (GRI) was one of the 14 campuses established across the country as models and is the only one today with the status of an autonomous institute dedicated to rural development. The National Policy on Education (NPE) 1986 and programme of Action of NPE (1922) concurred with the policy of the Institute in all aspects and reiterated that the new pattern of rural university will be consolidated and developed on the lines of Mahatma Gandhi's revolutionary ideas on education.' It also envisaged the correlation between socially useful productive work and academic study. Gandhigram Rural Institute concentrated on the creation of a new cadre of rural professionals, action leaders capable of handling the modern day intricacies of socio¬technical and administrative aspects of the rural sector

The institute was conferred the status of a Deemed University3 on 3rd August 1976 and has grown in stature and extent to be honoured with a FIVE STAR status by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) in January 2002 for its excellence in 'education through extension'

According to the founder Vice-Chancellor Dr. G. Ramachandran, "Gandhigram is the child of Gandhian revolution. The Rural University in particular will have to attack ignorance and unemployment through every programme of study and extension" 5. Further, Gandhigram is a small University but a significant University, and it is a temple of constructive work6 as Dr. Aram, former Vice-Chancellor said. According to Prof. Devendra Kumar, University is like a universe and it should spread knowledge in the village community through students7. Shri D. K. Oza emphasized for better. administration in the University as well as extension work in villages8. In the modern world, Dr. T.R. Natesan wanted to take Computer to villages during his tenure9. Besides, University should be mobile in nature by undertaking extension work in villages and activating Panchayati Raj system in Indial°, as opined by Dr. N. Markandan. Above all, Gandhigram is like a Guru to the villagers according to Dr. G. Pankajam, who was the first lady Vice-Chancellor of the University Campus". Moreover, University is a Friend, Philosopher and Guide to a Government12 as Dr. T. Karunakaran said. It may be noted that all the ideas of the former Vice-Chancellors were materialized to some extent. According to the former President of India Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Gandhigram Rural University should lead efforts at spreading value—based economic prosperity Gandhigram Rural University is experimenting with various rural development programmes in villages. It strongly believes that development and peace are the two sides of the same coin. Every department is involved in the extension and development activities as part of its academic programmes. For example, department of Gandhian Thought and Peace Science promotes both development activities and peace programmes by way of organizing village camps, youth clubs activities, women self help groups, youth peace brigade units, training for transport crew, mobile school for peace, taking Gandhi to Saloons, campaign against noise pollution and alcohol, and other need-based activities for the benefit of villagers

Gandhism is a body of ideas that describes the inspiration, vision and the life work of Mohandas Gandhi. It is particularly associated with his contributions to the idea of nonviolent resistance, sometimes also called civil resistance. The two pillars of Gandhism are truth and non-violence.