Chairman emeritus of the Tata Group, Ratan Tata, Sunday said education and job satisfaction were key to eliminating growing instances of intolerance in the country. “Education, job satisfaction are issues that will help reduce or eliminate intolerance because it will be replaced by knowledge,” Tata said here after announcing a tie-up with US-based online education firm Khan Academy.
“Our country has lived in harmony… we’ve to work together, we’ve to live together and continue do so, and not contribute to the intolerance that is growing in the world around us,” said Tata, who is now chairman of the Tata Trusts, the principal partner of the $109 billion Tata Group.
Tata, however, refused to formally join the intolerance debate unlike other leading figures, including President Pranab Mukherjee, Reserve Bank Governor Raghuram Rajan and Infosys founder N Narayana Murthy. “I don’t want to get into the issue of intolerance as being voiced on TV in India at the present moment,” Tata said.
Khan Academy’s chief executive Salman Khan, who has his roots in the country, also spoke in sync with Tata. “Education will be a source of tolerance; the more students get educated, the more students have access to tap into their potential…I think a lot of intolerance comes out of economic frustration,” he said.
Khan said that India had always shown itself to be a “deeply tolerant place”, but acknowledged that all countries do have their “rough spots”.
At the event, Tata Trusts announced its plan to support US-based non-profit Khan Academy, which already reaches out to 2.6 crore students worldwide, to provide free online education to Indians through one of the biggest open-access online platforms. Tata, however, did not specify the aggregate value of resources that will be granted to the Khan Academy during the five year partnership.
Tata said that the promise of free access to quality education was a “new era” and a “compelling opportunity” with a potential to multiply literacy rates, which attracted the trust towards making the commitment.
“What the Khan Academy has created is a concept which provides free education and knowledge to anybody, anywhere. Therefore, for me, as an Indian and as a citizen on this planet, it’s a great privilege. I look at this as a great opportunity where we will do something to create a difference for generations,” Tata said.
Khan said the academy was now in the process of creating specialised content in English and Hindi for the benefit of Indian students. The Indian content, he said, would be mapped to the standards set by the National Council of Education Research and Training, and work around subtitling and translation of video tutorials had already started.
Tata said the two were introduced to each other by a Italy-based friend, while Khan said once the talks started it was very easy connecting up with the Tatas. The tie-up with Tata Trusts comes days after the Khan Academy announced an entry into India and a partnership with the Central Square Foundation.
With PTI inputs