Skip to main content

Quantum leap towards corporatisation? New policy to 'destroy' public education system

By Dr Prem Singh* 
In the new National Education Policy 2020 (NEP), there has been a quantum leap towards neo-colonization of Indian education via privatization to further corporatization of education. There is a crucial need to understand this new dimension of the NEP. Significantly, under the NEP, foreign universities and foreign direct investment (FDI) have been allowed entry in the realm of higher education.
The country is already full of private schools, colleges, institutes and universities. Alongside consumer goods, electronic and print media is replete with advertisements of private universities. Even the Presidents and the vice-president of the country participate in the programmes of these private elite universities.
Owners of private universities want land in cities or around cities to establish their ventures. Governments provide the land of farmers to them at cheap prices in so-called 'public interest'. In some places, this facility is provided to private players of education by creating complexes/clusters.
For example, the Government of Haryana acquired the 2,006 acres of fertile land in nine villages of Sonepat and laid the foundation of the Rajiv Gandhi Education City (RGEC) for private educational institutions in 2012.
At that time the market price of the land was above one crore rupees per acre, the government had decided to give compensation of just Rs 12.60 lakh per acre to the farmers. From the scheme to the construction of RGEC, all the work was done by foreign institutions/companies. The land now is home to many elite universities like Jindal, Ashoka and SRM.
Hereafter, the governments will do all this work for foreign universities. There is no dearth of leaders and intellectuals who consider private education system and foreign universities as panacea for 'world-class standards' of India's education system. So, in the coming years, the campuses of foreign universities can be spread like private universities.
This is happening even though a joint document of the World Bank and UNESCO (The Task Force 2000) states that "there are prestigious universities from developed nations offering shabby courses in poor and developing countries using their renowned names, without assuring equivalent quality."
Foreign universities in India are mostly from North America and Europe. One forgets that many "prestigious" universities have acquired their reputation because of colonial plunder, and, of course, consistent intellectual engagement of 150-200 years.
Just as the laws of of social justice or reservation in the admissions/scholarships of learners and appointments of teachers are not applicable in private universities, the same will not happen in foreign universities. This desire has been expressed in NEP -- that private colleges, institutes, universities should be kept free from strict regulation.
It seems that the government, which favours light regulations for private players of the country, will abstain from strict regulation for the foreign players as well. The term constitutional reservation is not mentioned even once in the entire NEP document.
It has been rightly said in opposition to NEP that this is a document to destroy the public education system. Now foreign universities will also come here. There will be no constitutional principle of social justice in this big market of education.
But this is not the only case. All this was already present in the situation of privatization of education. NEP includes education curriculum (literacy/skill-centric), class-stepping (5+3+3+4 -- students with rich backgrounds ahead, from disadvantaged backgrounds backward, with most of them out of the race for higher education). And the method of teaching (online-digital-e-learning) has been decisively made keeping in mind the needs and profits of corporate capitalism.
Due to deep-rooted socio-economic disparities in Indian society, which has deepened in the last decades of neo-liberalism, as stated by Anil Sadagopal, this education-policy will create a 10 percent costlier global workforce for the corporate sector. The remaining pushed-off students will work as technicians and laborers in a globalized economy. With this, a vast army of unemployed will remain as it is now.
The nature of knowledge/epistemology has also been changed along with the way of imparting knowledge in NEP. Knowledge is not predetermined in the context of the individual and society or the world, it is a predetermined text designed to serve the existing corporate-capitalism This lesson is best taught by private schools/universities and foreign universities; government schools/universities should either teach that lesson, otherwise be prepared to be abandoned.
NEP is a complete project to enslave the minds of the learners to the corporate capitalist system. Terms such as scientific approach, critical thinking, creativity, cognitive power, sensitivity, diversity, plurality etc. have no meaning for an enslaved mind. An enslaved mind would not recognise the socio-economic inertia and inequality prevailing in the society. Such words written under 'Introduction' in the NEP seem hollow.
The phrases such as 'super-power of global knowledge', 'global standards of education', 'rich heritage of ancient and eternal Indian knowledge and thought', etc. have been written or spoken to pat the back of policy-makers and the 10% global laborers so that realization of slavery should not hurt the latter.
Empty talks of the Prime Minister and his ministers regarding NEP can be understood. The organization to which they belong is fundamentally incompetent for the cultivation of spirit of freedom -- whether it is the spirit of national freedom or the basic spirit of freedom associated with mankind.
But, as socialist leader Kishan Patnaik said, slavery has pierced the minds of most big intellectuals in India. Many of them have criticized NEP for not completely removing governmental regulations over private educational institutions; they do not like the 'light but tight' method proposed in the NEP.
Anil Sadgopal
Some say that such good things in NEP can become fruitless due to the narrow and communal attitude of the current government; some say that everything is fine except for the imposition of Hindi and Sanskrit; and that foreign universities and foreign direct investment are a major achievement of NEP, and so on and so forth.
According to Anil Sadgopal, the language and presentation of NEP is most misleading and contradictory of all education policies ever made
In fact, as Sadgopal has said, “The language and presentation of NEP is most misleading and contradictory of all education policies ever made.” But this 'trick' of those who drafted the NEP can be effective only for the general public; not for intellectuals. Actually, the NEP of corporate-India thrives by incorporating the intellectuals and their children living in it.
Therefore, this cannot be done simply by saying that NEP has been made by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to create its 'Hindu-Rashtra'. The Hindu-Rashtra of RSS has no problem in being subordinate to the newly colonized corporate-India in the same way as it was not bothered about slavery under a colonial power.
The real question would be: What do the advocates of the constitutional Indian-nation (Bharatiya Rashtra) really believe/want? Do they want the Indian-nation to be subordinated to corporate-India? Under NEP, the political-intellectual leadership, which had approved the neo-colonialist clutches on the country, wants to make the present and future generations natural slaves of neo-colonial designs. That is why NEP can be called a long and unending leap into neo-colonization.
Adivasis, Dalits, backward, minority communities already pushed to the margins in the matters of education will be further marginalized by the NEP. The 'digital obsession' of the government and the NEP will not allow them to reach higher education. There should have been a natural and fierce opposition from their side.
But their organizations/individuals have not yet raised their voice of protest. It has been clear since long that the private sector is being promoted from school education to higher education at the cost of the public education. In the absence of public education, the provisions of social justice will be compromised.
Dr Rammanohar Lohia gave the formula to bring forward five groups of Indian population -- tribals, dalits, women, backward, poor Muslims -- for the creation of modern India. The leaders of these groups used that formula only to score electoral victories.
Lohia's belief behind the formula was that the 'Bahujan Samaj' of India has simultaneously remained independent from the rest of society by archaic Brahminical and new colonial orders i.e. values and beliefs. If this mind will play a leading role in the creation of modern India, it will get rid of the mixture of Brahminical and colonial orders.
But the presiding intellectuals left no stone unturned in defying and condemning Lohia during the reign of Nehru and Indira. Lohia was excluded from courses ranging from school to higher education. Because those very intellectuals had their ready-made formulas for modern India.
Looking at the situation, the fact is we have squandered away the opportunity to build a modern Indian state. The main basis of the struggle to maintain some scope for constitutional rights in corporate-India could be found in the realm of the hard working 'Bahujan' population. This calls for political consciousness; opposition to NEP can be the basis for building this much needed political consciousness.
---
*Teaches Hindi at Delhi University; former fellow, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla

Comments

TRENDING

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Tax buoyancy claims when less than 4% Indian dollar millionaires pay income tax

By Prasanna Mohanty  In FY18, the last year for which disaggregated income tax data is available, only 29,002 ITRs declared income above Rs 5 crore, while Credit Suisse said India had 7.25 lakh dollar millionaires (the wealth equivalent of Rs 8 crore and above) that year. Often enough, the Centre claims that demonetization in 2016 raised tax collections, improved tax efficiency, and expanded the tax base. Now RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Ashima Goyal has also joined their ranks, attributing the “claims” of rising tax collections in the current fiscal year to “tax buoyancy” brought by the demonetisation . Do such claims have any basis in official records? The answer is unequivocal. The budget documents show the tax-to-GDP ratio (direct plus indirect tax) increased from 10.6% in FY16 (pre-demonetization) to 11.2% in FY17, remained there in FY18 (demonetization and GST fiscals), and then fell to 9.9% in FY20. In FY22, it improved to 10.8% and is estimated to drop to 10.7% in

Gandhian unease at Mahadev Desai book launch: Sabarmati Ashram may lose free space

By Rajiv Shah  A simmering apprehension has gripped the Gandhians who continue to be trustees of the Sabarmati Ashram: the “limited freedom” to express one’s views under the Modi dispensation still available at the place which Mahatma Gandhi made his home from 1917 to 1930 may soon be taken away. Also known as Harijan Ashram, a meeting held for introducing yet-to-be-released book, “Mahadev Desai: Mahatma Gandhi's Frontline Reporter”, saw speaker and after speaker point towards “narrowing space” in Gujarat for Gandhians (as also others) to express themselves. Penned by veteran journalist Nachiketa Desai, grandson of Mahadev Desai, while the book was planned to be released on January 1 and the meeting saw several prominent personalities, including actor-director Nandita Das, her scholar-mother Varsha Das, British House of Lords member Bhikhu Parekh, among others, speak glowingly about the effort put in for bringing out the book, exchanges between speakers suggested it should be rele

Why no information with Assam state agency about female rhino poaching for a year?

By Nava Thakuria   According to official claims, incidents of poaching related to rhinoceros in various forest reserves of Assam in northeast India have decreased drastically. Brutal laws against the poachers, strengthening of ground staff inside the protected forest areas and increasing public awareness in the fringe localities of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the State are the reasons cited for positively impacting the mission to save the one-horned rhinos. Officials records suggest, only two rhinos were poached in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve since 1 January 2021 till date. The last incident took place probably in the last week of December 2021, as a decomposed carcass of a fully-grown (around 30 years old) female rhino was recovered inside the world-famous forest reserve next month. As the precious horn was missing, for which the gigantic animal was apparently hunted down, it could not be a natural death. Ironically, however, it was not confirmed when

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Bangladesh 'rights violations': US softens stance, fears increased clout of China, India

By Tilottama Rani Charulata*  In December 2021, in addition to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the United States imposed sanctions on seven former and current officers of the force, alleging serious human rights violations. Benazir Ahmed and former RAB-7 commander Miftah Uddin Ahmed were banned from entering the US. RAB as an institution was also canceled the support it was getting from the US and its allies. At the same time, those under the ban have been notified of confiscation of assets held abroad. The anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police, RAB is the elite force consisting of members of the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Civil Service and Bangladesh Ansar, and has been criticized by rights groups for its use of extrajudicial killings and is accused of forced disappearances. The government of Bangladesh has been insisting about lifting the ban on RAB, but the US had till recen