Education Policy and distorted history

Shiban Khaibri
An intrinsic promise of the New National Education Policy is a transformational shift from a sort of ‘fear’ and suspense to an element of what purpose one had in learning and that also, laced with joy and enthusiasm. Since a culture of ad-hocism and ‘touch not’ approach to an outdated and stereo type education policy all these 35 years had made things impregnable but fast changing world especially in education and related areas globally was clamouring for a change and an overhaul . Verily , it was all overdue calling for breaking the vicious circle advocating of stereo type, perpetual, unaltered and unmoved position aiming at rolling out scholars with degrees not knowing what to do with them to eke out a living. Basically, swotting, learning , studying, erudition and the like should be done only with an aim to get a job or eke out a living, goes contrary to the tenets of true education. Using the modifier “only” is to convey the general aim and the goal, one generally has even before one enters an educational institution. The system prevalent hitherto might have been fulfilling that ambition to some extent but saturation having set in over years in a row , resulted in total chaos and confusion to ”accommodate” , not to use in the productive sense, millions coming out of Colleges and Universities. The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 promises resolutions, solutions and offering alternatives to the associated issues of education.
We see in the Draft Policy, an elastic and flexible academic journey where independent of set patterns and programmes, students can pick and choose . Replacement of 10+2 structure is with an aim to include the hitherto uncovered age-group of three to six years children under the school curriculum. Since most of the innovative and historic by itself reforms, have been made in the NEP, it is loaded with the aim of a significant overhaul of the entire education system where focus is on functionality and not on cobweb of institutional framework and abstract terminologies. Modi government deserves appreciation for mustering the courage to put hands in hitherto considered a hornets’ nest which it proved not to be, by bringing in such an education policy which was not only long overdue but responding to the country’s and global changing needs . The last one was framed in 1986 followed by some cosmetic touches given in 1992 when seen in contrast with the new policy , one could find it fully “democratic” coming from the person heading the government who, day in and day out, is maligned as an undemocratic person. Just imagine the goals set to bring two crore out of school children into the mainstream and integration of vocational education with internships from class 8 and onwards and other advantages.
This writer, often laments for the ill treatment given to Hindi which has remained virtually in an inertial mode and no headway , not even any preliminaries, are in sight from any corner towards making it the national language . We amended the constitution as per national needs many a time , but Hindi could not move from the rigid constitutional position of ”official” language to national language all these 72 years. Even our belligerent neighbour Pakistan is better placed than us where Urdu is both official as well as national language even though lot many languages are spoken there also . Slight talk about Hindi in this country, at once evokes clumsy and ridiculous reactions of “imposition” , “thrust”, ”force”, ”push” and what not. Look at the policy of most of the Bollywood Directors where Hindi language is ridiculed, Hindi teacher projected as a clown and in court scenes , ”Jaye-e- vardaat” is preferred to ”Ghatna Sathal” and ”Gunnah” is preferred to ”Apradh” and ”Khatth” is preferred to ”patra”. That is under a design to belittle such a complete, flawless, rich in literature and profound in its journey – Hindi language. Why should attempts to make Hindi mandatory in schools always be met with strong opposition particularly in South India and how long petty politics will be played about it ? Prime Minister Narendra Modi took wind out of the sails of Hindi baiters by proposing in the NEP, medium of instruction till class 5 to be the mother tongue by virtue of which, anti Hindi elements saw their pent up political reactions as not only fizzled out but deflated as there is nothing of the sort of “imposition of Hindi” in the policy. Preferring by Hindi baiters the English medium, was going to create the divide in a varied way in the country . Rote learning has now less chances under the revised policy since core concepts and application of knowledge were going to hold the sway and not how much one knew about English language only.
“Make for India” and ”Make in India” to be seen in each and every project alone could make this country march ahead to achieve niches in quality education, innovative methodologies and time tested models which would be least possible unless fresh ideas and new experiments worked in tandem. We are going to have campuses of top 100 foreign universities in the country about which at least during the 10 years of the UPA , no one even thought about. Look at our higher education system , hardly has it undergone any change since 1857. The days of liberating it from worn out, redundant and outdated ideas and policies which would make the dream of ”Stay in India and study in India” come true have dawned but enough needs to be done to make our higher education carry values of international reckoning . Changes , reviews , modifications, new ideas and experiments were concomitant of making the higher education system meaningful in real terms and for that matter, any area that interests and concerns us. Demonetisation and single tax regime like changes are still being opposed by avowed ”antagonists” not to speak about social and political reforms. Even NEP has not been spared by them.
The kernel of NEP lay in policy, direction and base to be Bhartiya but its standard and status must be that of international standing. At the same time, unfortunately the education policy planners chose to teach the students history either in distorted form, or in created and built form, referring to a particular period and that too in twisted, distorted and manufactured form which kept the students all these seven decades bereft of knowing about earlier than the period of invader Mughals and that precisely correctly. Invaders have been glorified. We do not find any mention in detailed form eulogising our own legacy and heritage by omitting completely mention about Murya Empire that ruled India for 5 centuries, the mighty Chalukyas who ruled for 6 centuries, Chola , Pandya , Gupta , Pallava empires that rules for centuries, who not only were warriors, builders and just rulers but lovers of art and literature . Samadra Gupta , the epitome of an ideal king of the “Golden Age of Hindu History”, a warrior who displayed marks of hundreds of wounds received in battle, is nowhere in India History text books. Invader Babur, instead is described as a warrior in text books but how he persecuted Hindus and demolished their religious shrines is not taught . Akbar , is projected “The Great” but Alexander of India, Lalitadatiya Muktapida , the most powerful Kashmiri Hindu King is neither taught nor projected as a great warrior who subjugated not only most of the then rulers of India but had his empire extended to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
Nothing is told or taught about the architectural marvel and engineering feat the Martand Sun Temple in Kashmir which many Western architects described as a unique piece of workmanship before which even much hyped Taj Mahal looked a dwarf . How and who and why that finest piece of art was demolished by setting it on fire for six months, is not taught. How much bigot , tyrant and fanatic Aurangzeb was is not taught to Indian students. The true and naked characteristics of invaders right from Mohd. Bin Qasim to Mughals and other ruthless invaders is not taught to Indian students . How was the world famous pilgrimage of learning, adoring more than 9 million manuscripts , books and papers – Nalanda University destroyed in 1202 AD and how after its destroyer Bakhtiyar Khilji of Mamluk dynasty, a Railway station is named as Bhaktiarpur Junction and not as Nalanda Railway Station. The list is endless . At least, true picture of why partition of the country took place , why majority of those who overwhelmingly voted for Pakistan did not ”cross over” is not taught ? The reasons, history, the background, the slogan of a “Divided India or Destroyed India” , role of Muslim League etc is not mentioned and taught in history books at all. Today’s student in India knows nothing or very less about the real , factual and stark realities behind the partition and why despite that , problems which partition should have resolved, continue to be unsolved. Prescribing and teaching distorted , fractured, half true and cosmetically ‘repaired’ history should at least be stopped or else that is tantamount to cheating gullible innocent students.
Since those whose DNA is to level parroted , repetitive and boring charges of imposing ”Hindutva” whenever changes are brought out, must remember, even the rulings of the Hon’ble Supreme Court on the subject . Writing the judgment for the Constitution Bench of five judges on the issue , the then Chief Justice Gajendragadkar had said, “…Hindu religion does not appear to satisfy the narrow traditional features of any religion or creed , it may broadly be described as a way of life and nothing more.” In 1996 again, the SC ruled that ” Considering the terms Hinduism and Hindutva , per se as depicting hostility , enmity, or intolerance towards other religious faiths or professing communalism, proceeds from an improper appreciation and perception of the true meaning of these expressions .” Knowing Hindutva is nothing but a traditional Indian way of life , assimilating in itself high human values of tolerance, co-existence and respect for others.