Rage against draft education policy 2019: A game plan
by B S Harishankar on 10 Aug 2019 40 Comments

In the early 1980s, the leftists organized protests, waving red flags outside central government offices in West Bengal and Kerala, against the introduction of computers in banks and institutions, which they designated as a capitalist evil and a bourgeois conspiracy to rob the proletariat. Three decades later, in 2004, the then Marxist chief minister of West Bengal, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, admitted the protests were foolish (Bengal CM calls anti-computer protest “foolish”, The Times of India, April 26, 2004).


This is the insight, attitude and comprehension of leftists regarding any new innovative policy or technology in India. Still, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s daughter Veena Vijayan, a computer engineer, worked with Oracle in Bengaluru (Black Marx, Outlook, June 22, 2009). In 2015, she started her own IT company there. The Marxist chief minister’s son, Vivek, graduated from Birmingham University, UK, when the party organized protests against foreign investments and globalization of education. Today, when leftists organise protests against the Modi government’s draft education policy, these past protests are relevant.


The Committee for Draft National Education Policy, constituted in June 2017 by the HRD Ministry and chaired by Dr. K. Kasturirangan, submitted its report on May 31, 2019. The report proposes an education policy which seeks to redress problems of access, equity, quality, affordability, and accountability faced by the current system. It also proposes a National Education Commission, increase in public investment in education, strengthening use of technology and increase in vocational and adult education.


The government is planning to follow a liberal approach, consanguineous to that of ancient Indian universities such as Nalanda and Takshashila, with an aim to integrate the rich Indian culture, tradition and knowledge into modern learning, and re-ignite traditional Indian values such as ahimsa, seva, satya, and swacchata. The promotion of Indian and classical languages and setting up three new National Institutes for Pali, Persian and Prakrit have been proposed.


The left-liberal lobby reacted sharply against the draft policy, saying the term ‘Indian’ is used by the government to describe culture, civilization, educational institutions and principles, and the draft’s India-centered vision makes it difficult to escape the conclusion that Hindutva / Manuvadi identification is fundamental to Indian identity and nationhood. The left-liberals allege that the importance given to Sanskrit is nothing less than Brahmin dominance.


Highlighting the death of Rohit Vemula, they charge that scheduled castes are neglected and there are no provisions for countering caste-based discrimination in the new education policy. The leftists allege that the draft education policy solution is to substitute the earlier public-private partnership in education with public philanthropic partnership which shall result in commercialization of education. They charge that multiple agencies can run seamlessly with total autonomy within the structure and parallel to the new public-funded system. They say Vidya Bharati schools, gurukulas and Bharatheeya Shiksha Board under the RSS, Arya Samaj and Patanjali Yogpeeth shall enormously benefit from the new policy (Hijacking education, Frontline, July 19, 2019).


Much before the draft was submitted, in a people’s tribunal held at New Delhi in May 2018, the leftists charged that under Modi’s dispensation, education in India has come under the threat of saffronisation, privatisation and homogenisation. The jury was led by Prof. Romila Thapar, Justice A.P. Shah, and others. Later in May 2019, before the general elections, the JNU students and teachers’ associations and left sympathizers declared to save education and universities from being destroyed and actively campaign to vote out the Narendra Modi- government.


When the committee was constituted in 2017, then President Pranab Mukherjee said at Nalanda that in the past, learning centres in Taxila, Nalanda and Vikramshila attracted great minds as teachers and students from across the world and formed a confluence of Indian, Persian, Greek and Chinese civilizations. The acharyas and upadhyayas here encouraged development of mind through constant interaction and free discussions (President invokes Nalanda, Taxila to bat for free atmosphere on campuses, The Times of India, March 19, 2017).


It was in March 2006 that then President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam first mooted the idea of restoring the glory of Nalanda, an ancient centre of learning. Under Kalam’s guidance, the Bihar government under chief minister Nitish Kumar acquired 446 acres of land in Nalanda for the university. Dr Y.S. Rajan, former advisor to President Kalam, helped prepare the draft of the University of Nalanda Bill, which Parliament passed in August 2010 (India Today, Sep., 20, 2014). Kalam’s dream is now being realised by the Modi government.


The draft education policy suggests non-Hindi speaking states would include the regional language, English and Hindi, while states where Hindi is spoken would have English and another modern Indian language in addition to Hindi. The Dravidian parties fuelled protests in Tamil Nadu. However, R. Subramanyan, HRD secretary, clarified on June 1, 2019 that there will be no imposition of any language in educational institutions nor discrimination against any language.


When left lobbies allege that the importance given to Sanskrit in the draft policy amounts to Brahmin dominance, they suppress facts on distinguished non-Hindu scholars of Sanskrit. Naheed Abidi, a brilliant Sanskrit scholar from Mirzapur, was honoured with Padma Shri in 2014. The Communists disregard Pandit Gulam Dastagir from Solapur, Maharashtra, who created awareness about Sanskrit all over India among different castes and religions and impressed even Shankaracharyas. His elder daughter, Gyasunissa Shaikh, runs a Sanskrit research centre in Solapur. They ignore Pandit Syed Hussain Shastri from Mirzaganj, near Lucknow; Hayatullah Chaturvedi from Chhita Harraipur village, Kaushambhi district, and Mohammed Hanif Khan Shastri from Varanasi, who was awarded Padma Shri in 2019. The left liberal lobby fails to understand that scholarship and language has no barriers of religion and ideology.


Centres of research and higher education in India have always been controlled by leftists as patrimony. The Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) was not formed on the basis of a consensus among historians. Ramachandra Guha states that in 1972, the Congress Government established the ICHR and those who promoted and ran it were, in ideological terms, Marxists or fellow-travellers who supported the Congress party. Guha states that the ICHR was from the beginning dominated by left-wing historians who favored themselves and their friends in the distribution of funds for research, travel, and translation (History Beyond Marxism and Hindutva, The Telegraph, July 26, 2014).


Former ICHR Chairman, MGS Narayanan, also alleges that 80 per cent of research funding in ICHR has been cornered by three left-controlled universities, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Calcutta University, and Aligarh Muslim University. Only those in the good books of the left had a place in ICHR. The rules were not transparent and his direct experience as the then member secretary found the Marxists manipulating information. Narayanan highlighted that for the communists, whatever is non-Hindu is secular (On the wrong side of Left?, The Hindu, June 16, 2003).


Veteran archaeologist Prof. Dilip Chakrabarti in, The Battle for Ancient India (2008), came down heavily on the control of ICHR, accusing that criminalization of the History sector of Indian higher education has been a constant feature since the 1970s.


Even regional centres of higher learning were controlled by communists, where they were in power. When Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR) was formed by left historians in 2001, Prof. MGS Narayanan was invited to join the council. However, Narayanan’s letter asking for clarifications and information about its rules and regulations was ignored. When he contacted the heads of department of History in the Kerala and Kozhikode Universities, they denied any knowledge of the scheme. He charged that there seemed to be a conspiracy to appropriate history by means of such hidden agendas and secret manoeuvres (A shade of saffron, Frontline, Oct. 13-26, 2001).


What has currently bewildered the left and their evangelical allies is the presence of nationalist organizations in primary education. By raising the issue of Rohit Vemula, the left bodies are trying to deflect attention from the serious caste discrimination in churches against Scheduled Castes in schools managed by them and instead blame the Modi government.


Catholic institutions in Tamil Nadu such as Loyola College in Chennai and St Joseph College, Trichy, are being accused of deliberately denying scheduled castes positions on the faculty and violating UGC norms in recruitment. Every college is simmering with discontent over the dominant Udayar community cornering a lion’s share of seats (Caste fire in Tamil Nadu’s Catholic Church, India Today, June 11, 2012). Scheduled Castes in the church allege that minority rights never helped them enjoy equity, equality, social justice and fraternity, because of the caste affinity displayed by the Church (Dalit Christians neglected, The Hindu, May 30, 2013).


In Tamil Nadu, representatives of various Dalit Christian organisations met the State Minorities Commission Chairman and levelled serious charges against church authorities. They complained that schools run by Christian Missions did not admit Scheduled Caste students and refused to follow the 17 per cent reservation prescribed by the government in minority schools. They demand that recognition of such schools be cancelled and funds from government stopped  (Dalit Christians allege neglect, demand equal rights in churches, The Hindu, June 24, 2015).


The Dalit Christian People Federation (DCPF) in Tamil Nadu prepared a report which was released by retired Madras High Court judge, Justice D. Hariparanthaman, and former Vice Chancellor of Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, V. Vasanthi Devi. The report is based on a public hearing by an eight-member committee on alleged atrocities, including untouchability, committed against Dalit Christians in theological seminary examinations of   Sivaganga diocese, including denial of employment opportunities (Dalit Christians still trapped in caste, The Hindu, April 10, 2018).


Supreme Court Judge, late Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, expressed concern that Kerala is guilty of withdrawing gradually from its constitutional obligation to offer egalitarian education facilities to the have-not sector, leaving the gates open to non-official agencies, especially the Church, with evangelist motivation (Selling Out, Frontline, Sep 26-Oct 6, 2006). But the left is not anguished at the role of evangelical groups controlling Kerala’s education sector.


Suppressing all these facts, the left battle against Saraswati Shishu Mandirs started two decades ago. They claimed that, “the effort to spread education by Sangh Parivar began in 1956 with the establishment of a Shishu Mandir at Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. Ever since, the Vidya Bharati has expanded fairly rapidly. Over the years, it has given particular attention to extending its reach to underdeveloped regions and regions inhabited by tribal communities”. (A spreading network, Frontline, Nov 7-20 1998)


Another grievance of the left and allied forces is that education is used by the Sangh Parivar to spread itself in southern India: “education is another area in which Hindutva forces have made substantial headway in recent years in south. In Tamil Nadu about 150 schools are functioning under the guidance of the Vidya Bharati, evolving “an integrated system of education in conformity with the aims of Indian culture and its ideals of life. There has been a substantial increase in the number of schools run by these institutions during the past five years and also on the gurukula model” (The spread in the South, Frontline, March 13-26, 2004).


The left lobbies are exasperated over “the spread of the organisation and the commitment it commands in the tribal heartland which is formidable as in the case of schools and medical centers”. It adds, “the stunning success of the RSS points to the failure of the dominant ‘development’ discourse and the more progressive political fronts to establish a meaningful bond with Adivasis” (Saffronising the tribal heartland, Frontline, March 13-26, 2004).


The proposal to have an off-centre campus of Aligarh Muslim University in Kerala’s Muslim-dominated Malappuram district was clearly a political move by the Left government to appease the 80 lakh Muslims who form 24.7 per cent of the population. This has added fuel to the growth of Wahhabism in Kerala region, funded from the Arab world. A recent India Today investigation found several madrasas in Malappuram and northern Kerala teaching Wahhabism. The investigation found that such madrasas were mostly funded by unknown donors in Gulf states, through underground channels (Exposed: Kerala madrasas teaching Wahhabism, Saudi-sponsored creed linked to terror, India Today, Jan 10, 2018). There are constant reports that foreign funds are pumped into Indian states, especially left dominated Kerala and West Bengal, to promote Wahhabism (Saudi cash floods India to promote Wahhabism, The Sunday Guardian, June 27, 2015).


The Ministry of Minority Affairs, in collaboration with Jamia Millia Islamia University, has started a nine-month “bridge course” to bring madrasa students and school dropouts into mainstream education system. Muslim clerics thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and hailed the Centre’s decision to link madrasas across India with mainstream education for the betterment of children studying in Islamic seminaries (Muslim clerics hail Centre’s decision to connect Madrasas to mainstream education, Business Standard, June, 12, 2019).


Hatred towards Indian culture is embedded in left propaganda. A bitter row erupted in Sri Sankaracharya Sanskrit University, Kalady, Ernakulam district, Kerala, after leftist teachers and students unions opposed the installation of a statue of Sree Sankaracharya at its entrance (Will allow none to exploit row: Sankara vice-chancellor Dr M.C. Dileep Kumar, Deccan Chronicle, Aug. 17, 2016). The left called the plan regressive and communally-motivated. However, in the same district, left historians of the KCHR, under the supervision of Profs Romila Thapar and K.N. Panikkar, excavated Pattanam site to establish the historicity of Apostle Thomas as a philosopher-saint of India.


Higher education is deteriorating in Kerala, the only Marxist-ruled state in India. There are no institutions from the state in the top ten slots in the National Institutional Ranking Framework introduced by the HRD Ministry (Kerala University ranks a poor 47th, Deccan Chronicle, April 4, 2017).


Exposing the recidivist perception of the left in higher education, the recent seizure of several bundles of answer sheets and fake University seals from the house of a Students Federation of India leader, Siva Ranjith, the main accused in stabbing a student in Thiruvananthapuram’s University College, Kerala, has opened a can of worms, with Governor P Sathasivam seeking a report from the University Vice-Chancellor. Siva Ranjith was a first rank holder in the Kerala Public Service Commission examination rank list for civil police officers last year. The required University certificates are thus issued from SFI offices as and when necessary (CPM red-faced after cops seize blank answer sheets, fake seals from SFI leader, The Hindustan Times, July 16, 2019).

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