Friday, December 18, 2015

Gujarat PUCL's "secular" chief approvingly quotes RSS boss Mohan Bhagwat on new education policy

Bhagwat
By Our Representative
In a surprise move, a senior official of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has quoted RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat to justify his arguments in on working out a new education policy, for which Union human resources minister Smriti Irani had sought comments by December 15.
In his letter to Irani, dated December 15, Gautam Thaker, general secretary PUCL, Gujarat, singles out Bhagwat to justify why commercialization of education should be discouraged. Reference to Bhagwat, rather than any other prominent educationist, to prove his point is intriguing, as it comes amidst human rights organizations, including PUCL, increasingly criticizing the Narendra Modi government for “following” RSS’ Hindutva diktat.
Recently, Kavita Shrivastava, all-India PUCL vice-president, for instance, believes, "The RSS mindset has been working fast after Modi came to power.”
“The RSS policy is that if you insist on a different point of view or disagree with the RSS, they will eliminate you.” Calling it “the legacy of Nathuram Godse”, who killed Gandhiji, she added, it is being resurrected to “silence” rationalists likes of Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi, whose murders have provoked widescale protest against the Modi government.
Thaker quotes Bhagwat as saying that in recent years there has been “incessant commercialization of education”, as a result of which education has become “out of reach of the common man.” Bhagwat adds, “As a result of this, the aims of education are not being fulfilled.”
Bhagwat has been further quoted as saying that “the government should work for promoting quality educational in such a way that such commercialize does not take place”, adding, “The process must begin by fixing criteria for the selection of teachers who are able to provide quality education.”
Interestingly, in his letter to Irani, Thaker, while providing his views on new education policy, does not even once recall the controversial books by veteran RSS "educationist" Dinanath Batra, which are now part of the state’s educational curriculum in Gujarat, with Haryana now all set to follow suit.
Batra’s books propose to ban the teaching of foreign languages in schools, “redraw” the map of India to include neighboring countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, etc., advises young minds not to celebrate birthdays with cake and candles, and, even as derogatorily identifying blacks as “Negroes”, seeking to suggest that they are criminals needed to be dumped.
Writing as general secretary, Citizen for Democracy (Gujarat), Thaker, curiously, despite quoting Bhagwat, talks of the need for “secularization” of education, which seeks to scientific temper, on one hand, and value-based education on the lines of those suggested by Mahatma Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave.
Seeking the implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act in its letter and spirit to promote universalization of education, Thaker insists that all children up to the age of 18 should be provided with free and compulsory education.
Thaker’s letter to Irani – written in Gujarati, and sent on December 15, the deadline by which the ministry had sought suggestions from public on working out a new education policy – said that private investment in higher education, which was to the tune of 62.32 billion dollars in 2013-14, would double by 2018.
“Already, 60 per cent of students study in private institutes”, Thaker said, pointing out that their main is not to promote education per se but to “profiteer” at the expense of the general public, which is “not proper.”

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