What are the progresses and achievements?
The years 2014 to 2019 have been a radical time when the BJP party swept through the Indian political landscape as a tsunami and changed everything in the sense that for the first time since Independence an entirely new political party other than the Congress won elections and got an absolute majority.
The new government came with an entirely new set of promises. In education it tried to change for a new ideology. The Hindutva ideology wanted a new vision of India. Fair enough. But it was not in tune with the modern times. It called for rewriting of Indian history. What came out of its grand promise? Yes, after all it was a grand promise indeed. Even under the Congress regime, under the leadership of K.M.Munshi, under the Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan auspices, a similar project was launched and we got a series of volumes that are rated even now, in my opinion, high in the scholarly circles.
Rewriting history is not a new thing or a negative thing either. Many countries have done that sort of job. We, the founders of this journal also tried to obtain some such books in the early 1960s, in the school founded with a novel name at that time (when the new-fangled International schools were unheard of) we at our own International School in a remote village in South India, obtained school text books published by the then UNESCO organisation that was faced with such problems in some of the new countries in the Middle East, having new borders and new ethnic people, borders and even in languages and geographies and more so in the then Palestinian-Israel disputes and (incidentally, when India was very much active in its Non-Aligned Movement under Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and V.K.Krishna Menon period) and we were even then excited by such revolutionary new approaches in using text books).
Today, the very societies are changed and so too the very pursuit of education. So much better for such positive and radical changes and the aspirational generation too is looking for a different education pursuits and also the aspirations for a highly mobile society, when the new generation youngsters too see a bright future when they migrate or so they think and imagine a new globalisation world.
Anyway, now with the BJP is well positioned, this we write just as the election results are coming in and even otherwise, when we can sit back and take stock of the new changes in our education ideas and policies, what comes to our minds? As for the rewriting of history is concerned, nothing concrete has come to our attention so far. The challenge of rewriting history is one thing. The other thing is what really happened under the previous education ministers? We all know what was the sort of controversies were under the minister Smriti Irani. The less said the better, right?
Under her successor too, it is our view that nothing much had happened to take note of any major policy changes. The MoS Satyapal Singh made some hilarious observations about the Darwin theory of evolution! Also, another controversial move was to accord status of eminent institute for the Reliance Group sponsored Jio University! This too, may be along with other institutes didn’t take? Or, did these institutes take off ? We are not sure. Much more disgusting is the fact that the Reliance offer came with some eminent retired bureaucrats coming together to plead for the particular company. Of course, there is no point in taking a negative view of the other many initiatives like the framing of Education Policies.
You see any Tom, Dick and Harry can’t draw up such highly important and why even sensitive issues like drawing up educational and cultural policies. These jobs are the domain of the experts. We should at least know that when we realise our limitations only we might desist from such foolish steps. So, there has not yet been any fully comprehensive new education policy with the BJP government.
Let us hope the new government might take a very serious view of where we really failed. It is better to realise where we slipped and then only we can learn. Of course there have been some other good moves on the part of the HRD ministry. What stands out is the great quantitative expansion of the school numbers, the students population, the number of schools and also the new number of universities, Central Universities in particular.
Universities have suffered gravely. In place have come some of the most suspect replacements, the self-financing universities. This development, we are duty-bound to warn the new government would only drag the Indian university education to a further new low! Please, we plead, invite the best brains, from within the country or
from abroad to come and advise Indian higher education. There are such people.
We ourselves could suggest names to the government. What we need is really selfless goodness of the Indian people. Let us serve the opportunity without further loss of time. Promise of raising the budget allocation for education have not
succeeded. The reasons are complex. But we must attend to the aspiring generation urgently. Sincerely, with an open mind. Amen!