‘Morals, Life Skills And Manners – All Put Together Becomes Moral Science’
non-inclusion of moral science as compulsory subject
While non-inclusion of moral science as compulsory subject in the school curriculum violates the spirit of Article 25 of the Constitution, the widespread concern for the erosion of morality and increasing cynicism of the modern society is no more alien to us. 

Shaheryar Hossain spoke to educationist Virender Kapoor to find out why value education classes are important and useful for students. 

Excerpts from the interview: 

What is the importance of Moral Science in a student’s life?  
Success and value education classes are directly proportional to each other. To achieve success, an individual should have a value system on which he must base his decisions, opinions, and actions. The society where we live defines some framework of rules and regulations. We need to live and abide by them.
For example, if you live in India you have to drive on the left side of the road and if you are in America you drive on the right side of the road. You can’t say that it is my wish and I pay road tax for the road and I can drive the way I want. These rules are for our own safety. Similarly, wearing a helmet while driving a two-wheeler or a seat belt while driving a car is a rule and we are bound to abide.

Morals, values life skills and manners – all put together becomes moral science or now called value education.These have to be gradually inculcated and practiced over a period of time so that they become a habit.
Another example, saying thank you signifies gratitude. 
Integrity, a more serious issue becomes a habit too. ‘Once you have integrity nothing else matters and if you don’t have integrity, everything else matters.’ Living with integrity and making it a habit can only become possible when you are very young and when your mind is impressionable. You can’t teach honesty, punctuality, and integrity or basic manners to a person who is forty years old. It’s too late. And that is precisely the problem of our country. 
Before Independence, we did have moral science as a subject taken by the schools as an extra initiative. But that time also it was not taken seriously. Gradually, we lost it and never paid much attention to it in recent times.
Therefore, these good living values are the foundation stone for a robust character and a personality that will last. These can be inculcated in schools and all students must be made to abide by these so that they grow up with these values to become better citizens and can do better than others in life.

Is there any need for a new education system in India?
Today, a majority of scientists and engineers working in NASA or Silicon Valley are from India.  This apart, most of the doctors and professors in the West are from our country.  They did their schooling and graduation from India. If they are successful in the world then we need to respect and value our own existing system.
Unfortunately, whenever we look at changing anything in academics we look at western countries and their models. We are unable to take the entire system because we may not have that capacity; therefore we pick up a few things from different systems from abroad and try and patch them up on our existing system. In the process, we make a hash of it. We need to update our curriculum but we should not go overboard and make the system so complicated that it can’t be implemented. That is what is happening today. Our academic bags are becoming heavier and heavier and we refuse to discard the old as we pump in something new.

We have a basic problem of execution in academics. For example, a computer cannot function without software and hardware. Likewise, school building can be compared with hardware and the teachers can be compared to software. The government has created school buildings but failed to recruit the right teachers. That is the catch. 

What steps should parents take for the moral growth of their children?
Parents are the prime entity responsible for the value system of their children.  Unfortunately, today with stretched working hours and both husband and wife working in many cases, this is being left to the schools. You cannot outsource your prime responsibility cultivating morals in your children to schools.The worst is that instead of supporting the schools to instill discipline and values, parents should interfere school teachers and principals. Teachers, whatever they do, is for the betterment of the child. If can’t do it yourself as parents let the teachers do. Support them and respect them, they are teaching your children. Remember if your children don’t learn these things now then it is you who will have problems in the long run.

Basic things like disciple, empathy, punctuality, honesty and hard work as well responsible behavior has to be demonstrated at home by parents so that children can emulate them. In my books on value education from class 1 to 8 ‘life with values, I have at the end of every chapter given a paragraph for the parents to read and implement. Whatever has been taught at school must be reinforced at home.

What is your message to the students?
Great and successful people live by a value system. Look at Ratan Tata, Narayan Murthy, Azim Premji or Kiran Mazumdar Shaw; they have always had a value system at the centre of their working ethos. These are not difficult to practice- it is a call that you have to take for living by values and then it is simple. Many people feel that by cheating, taking shortcuts and being undisciplined doesn’t matter. This is a wrong thinking because you can fool people once but not all the time.
Take pride in doing right than doing wrong. Nothing great in dodging the rules or law of the land, but it is great and it earns you respect if you follow the rules and a value system. 
Work hard, play hard and have a burning passion for success and what you love to do. You have the best time as you have so many options to choose. Don’t waste your time. Make the best of it.
Best of luck and my best wishes to all the students, whether in schools or in colleges.

(Virender Kapoor is the former director of a management institute under the Symbiosis umbrella and the founder of Management Institute for Leadership and Excellence.)