I had the honour of being an invitee to the International Conclave on Lifelong Learning - Seeking: Meaning, Relevance & Self Renewal at India International Centre on 21st April 2018 at which several countries were represented and people from various walks of life: public executives; corporates; auditors; academics; IT specialists and some others came. I recall His Excellency Shri. N.N. Vohra inaugurating the Conclave.
When the Chairman of the conclave Dr. Vinayshil Gautam announced that an anthology-cum- proceedings based on the day’s efforts will be released in a book form on 7th July, 2018 in the same venue, I was sceptical. By definition the task seemed huge.
In the write-up about the Editor in the book, there is a sentence about Dr. Vinayshil Gautam ‘he enjoys pushing the boundary, facing a probing exploration of his thinking process and redeeming his word’. In this case, he did what he is known for - he redeemed his word.
The book contains 10 essays authored by Vinayshil Gautam, Rita Goh, SK Bose, S Narayan, Shailesh Haribhakthi, Mahendra Swaroop, DV Shastry, SC Sharma, Raghav Chandra, Abdul Hamied Al-Romaithy, Ajit Prasad and Kiran Karnik. It carries the proceedings of the International Conclave and a report on the events held as a part of Acharya Devendranath Sharma’s Birth Centenary Celebrations.
The focus is inspired by the exemplary life of one of the outstanding litterateurs’ of the 20th century : Acharya Devendranath Sharma. A living legend, believer in India, always attempting to nurture the positive in the environment he believed that principles were more important than the person. You may find, as the blurb claims, many echoes of some answers of several questions which may be bothering you, in this book.
I love to read what Dr. Gautam writes. In the last 5 years or so, whereas he has written in various columns, this is the first time he has lent his name to a book. His last book was “Managing Development - a way forward”. Writing the foreword of this book Professor Linda Argote of Carnegie Melon University, USA had said, “This book will shape debates about development in India and throughout the word for years to come.”
I would like to say the same thing about Dr. Gautam’s title on Lifelong Learning. He has not only edited the book with great skill but has made a definite contribution to the limited literature of Indian origin in the area of training, learning and self-renewal.
In the mid-80’s, he has led a Convention on learning strategies at Vigyan Bhawan. He was upstaged by Peter Senge’s ‘Learning Organisations’ which came out about the same time. The platform of a thought and the location, at times makes all the difference.
There will be many like me who will welcome Dr. Gautam’s return to one of the domains which has drawn a lot of strength from his researches and practices: the area is of learning, training and self-growth. Obviously, institutions and societies gain.
I recommend this book warmly to the lay reader and specialists alike. In the era of digitization, 10 essays on lifelong learning cover the spectrum from Sanskrit roots to Artificial Intelligence. We await Dr. Gautam’s next contribution in this area.
Reviewed by Dr. Jayashree Fadnavis