Skip to main content

New Govt of India policy seeks to 'centralise, commercialise, communalise' education

Counterview Desk

The civil rights network, All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE), which is to observe Constitution Day on November 26 as Reclaiming Social Justice Day, has decided to hold a large number of programmes to oppose the “dilution of Constitutional framework of social justice and equality" by the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020, accusing the “right-wing Brahmanical/ Hindutva and patriarchal forces” of seeking to “destroy the Constitutional guarantees of equality, social justice and measures for affirmative action like reservations and other welfare measures.”
Issuing a concept note on the Constitution Day, AIFRTE said, on November 26 it proposes to hold not just rallies/press conferences/ seminars/ public meetings on NEP 2020 and social justice issues at the local/ institutional/ district/ state levels, but also social media campaign on Facebook, Youtube and virtual meetings via Zoom under campaign hashtags #RejectNEP2020ReclaimSocialJustice and #RejectNEP2020SaveFuture.
Offering common posters for the campaign, AIFRTE has asked supporters to record short statements, even as “adopt creative means like cartoons, poetry or paintings etc. and share their digital versions in the social media tagging them with MPs, MLAs, CMOs, PMO, President”. 
The concept note insists, NEP2020 as a policy “demands to be rejected” because it sees education only as a means of indoctrinating children and youth. It adds, NEP2020 wants education fall in line with “the Government's agenda” to “centralise, commercialise and communalise” learning so that “critical thinking, scientific approach and the desire for social transformation are discouraged." 

Text:

1. Concept of Social Justice must be seen as the basis, or ground, in society for the legal provision for social justice. The concept cannot be exhausted by the legal provisions as these will invariably leave room for struggles for further enhancement of the social concept.
2. This means that the focus must remain on systemic inequality and discrimination. It cannot be reduced to mere individual discriminations which should be routinely handled by the law/administration. When the unjust treatment of persons, either as individuals or in groups, is the result of centuries of socio-historical oppression and carries the weight of the social structure of discrimination, then the solution too has to be found through social intervention. It is not adequate to merely devise technical `efficiency' mechanisms and schemes for increasing competition to advance `merit' etc.
3. The concept of social justice is the very opposite of pre-feudal and feudal forms of hierarchy of status and oppression. India is a diverse country with many historical and cultural differences. Although caste divisions underlie the dominant forms of oppression in many parts of the country, its historical diversity also provides examples of types of egalitarianism and more subtle forms of inequality especially among the different tribal and adivasi communities.
The right-wing Brahmanical/ Hindutva and patriarchal forces in India are determined to destroy the Constitutional guarantees of equality, social justice, and measures for affirmative action like reservations and other welfare measures. The Hindutva ideology is blatantly being promoted by the present regime to privilege one religion above others, upper castes against `lowered' castes and patriarchy over gender equality. There is an urgent need to build peoples' movements to resist these regressive policies.
Social justice is also rejected by contemporary neoliberal theory and practice which only looks at the exchange value of persons, services and products in the market-place. Whereas after World War II, with its devastating effects on humanity, the Universal Charter of Human Rights was adopted so that equality of rights should be recognised for all members of the human race, the ideas of human rights and of justice for all are not respected by neoliberal policies. Our struggle against neoliberalism is therefore an important part of the contemporary struggle for social justice.
4. The Indian Constitution, under the able leadership of Dr Ambedkar as Chairperson of the Drafting Committee, reflects this understanding as it specifically refers to all forms of systemic discrimination based on caste, class, gender, religion, language, tribal/adivasi affiliation, and disability. It seeks to remove these forms of discrimination through the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity which are given primacy in the Preamble itself. Fraternity is particularly important as it provides for justice in our social relationships amongst each other. Social justice is an end in itself, a value that strengthens social interaction. 
5. Principles of social justice are not aimed at merely providing `equality' for those who are deprived and denied. These principles are concerned with discriminating in favour of those who have and are being denied their rightful status and dignity in society, as well as in their individual lives. This is important because absence of social justice leads to severe economic discrimination and disempowerment of more than 85% of our population. Dalits, Adivasis, the most backward OBCs, religious and linguistic minorities, women, transgenders and the disabled suffer not only from social & educational backwardness and cultural oppression, but also from economic deprivation, poverty and hunger. They remain grossly under-represented in all aspects of social, economic and political life. 
6. The principle of Reservation in ensuring access to education, to employment and to career advancement is therefore a crucial element (though not the only one) in undermining and removing social injustices. Ideological or policy steps or decisions which aim to discredit and withdraw, instead of extending steps for positive discrimination, must be recognised as an assault on the Constitutional values and principles. They represent serious attempts to push back the struggle for social justice.
7. The other very important issue if we are to move to a society based on social justice from the present highly discriminatory social order, is the establishment of a state-funded, well-equipped and compulsory Common Neighbourhood School System (CSS) for all children upto Class XII. It must provide education of comparable quality for all.  
Common meals strike at the very root of socially discriminatory practices associated with caste, class, gender and disability
8. To be truly effective, the CSS needs a comprehensive and creative overhaul of the entire curriculum and syllabi so that the contribution of productive classes/castes and of children raised in such environments is fully recognised, appreciated and integrated in the education system. 
9. Education in the mother tongue is also a necessary guarantee of social justice. It does not resort to `elite' languages for instruction (which is a first choice for market-oriented private, commercialised schooling). It respects the children's own knowledge systems and community life. It draws mother tongue language teachers, who have a close link with the community, into the system -- improving their employment opportunities and setting up possibilities of a good system of engagement with parents etc.
10. Finally, provision of the entire nutritional requirements of children must be provided in school with breakfast, lunch and afternoon tiffin. This state-funded nutritional programme should be well-staffed and equipped with its own cadre of trained personnel. This is also necessary to further the achievement of social justice in our society as common meals strike at the very root of socially discriminatory practices associated with caste, class, gender and disability. 
11. NEP2020 is a policy which demands to be rejected because it sees education only as a means of indoctrinating the mass of children and youth to fall in line with the Government's agenda of preparing a work-force that will labour in the low-paid jobs market and satisfy corporate requirements. NEP2020 recommends, and in fact has already started implementing, changes that aim to centralise, commercialise and communalise education so that critical thinking, scientific approach and the desire for social transformation are discouraged. Dissent and democratic functioning which are so important for a dynamic education system find no place in this policy.
12. Social Justice is a direct casualty of NEP2020's agenda. Reservation and positive discrimination are ignored or discredited. "Merit" is used to provide an excuse for not planning for removing injustice. Systematic forms of social exclusion (caste, class, gender, religion, disability and regional inaccessibility) are not even mentioned as the reason for `underrepresentation' of large categories of persons. 
Social and political commitment and increased state funding for extending a quality education for all is actually given up as privatisation and commercialisation of education on the one hand, and vocationalisation which will only consolidate caste-based occupations on the other, are systematically promoted.

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.

Union budget 'mum' on relief to marginalised communities facing climate change impact

Counterview Desk  ActionAid, an international advocacy group which claims to work for a world without poverty, patriarchy and injustice, has wondered if the Union budget 2023-24, which is being acclaimed for providing succour to the middle classes, has anything to offer to the India's poor. In a statement, it said, while the budget may have "prioritised inclusive development", the financial outlay for ensuring it "does not show the zeal as hoped." Stating that the Finance Minister said Rs 35,000 crore revenue would have to be "forgone" due to a reduction in personal income taxes, "fiscal prudence is not enough to expand public employment, social security, welfare, education and health expenditures considerably." "The need of the hour is to raise revenues through the reduction of revenues forgone and innovative mechanisms such as wealth tax on super accumulation of wealth", it added. Text: The Union Budget 2023 has given significant

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.

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".

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

New rules to make lakhs of tribals vulnerable to summary eviction: NAPM tells MPs

Counterview Desk  The top civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), has said that the new Forest (Conservation) Rules 2022, pending in Parliament and may be passed any day in the current Budget session, needs to be “strongly opposed” in Parliament. These Rules will allow easy diversion of forest land for projects and companies without the consent of gram sabhas and will allow the eviction of forest communities without the recognition of forest rights”, it alleged.

Lack of welfare schemes, BSF curbs force West Bengal farmers to migrate far away

Counteview Desk  In a representation to the National Human Rights Commission chairperson, a senior West Bengal based activist has complained that villagers living near the border with Bangladesh are forced to migrate to as far away as Mumbai and Kerala because of lack of government sensitivity towards their welfare in original villages. Giving specific instances, Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), said, if the Border Security Force (BSF) had not put any restriction on agricultural activities, and if villages had properly implemented welfare schemes, these people would never migrate to other States. Text: I want to attract your immediate attention to the inhumane condition of the migrated workers of Gobra village, Swarupnagar Block in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal to seek your urgent intervention to protect the rights of these people. Gobra is a village situated near the Indo-Bangladesh Border where the border fencing is about 500 meters i

FSSAI 'refusing to empower' citizens to have their right to informed choice on GMO

Counterview Desk  The advocacy group Coalition for a GM-Free India in response to Food Safety and Standards Authority of India's FSSAI’s) “weak forms” for licensing of GM foods, has insisted on the need to have “strong regulations to ensure safe food for citizens”. Stating that this form is different from the FSSAI GM draft regulation which had come out recently for which it had shared its response, the NGO network said in letter to Pushp Vanam, joint director, Science and Standards, FSSAI, it is problematic that these forms were not shared at the same time as the GM regulation draft as it would have enabled more people who read and respond to it. Text: This is in regards to the notification from FSSAI asking for inputs on the forms. We find it problematic that these forms were not shared at the same time as the GM Regulation draft as it would have enabled more people who read and responded on the regulation draft to have been able to comment on the forms too. Our response to the