The long-awaited Draft National Education Policy is finally in the public domain. While several people have hailed this draft as a step forward in restoring civilizational ethos, there are several problems with the Draft NEP that need to be pointed out.
A detailed read proves that Draft NEP is seriously flawed and downright dangerous for six principal reasons.
Fanatical thrust on liberal education in all spheres of knowledge: This is a sugar-coated poison pill.
The NEP devotes a total of 135 pages to higher education. Of these, the section on liberal education contains 32 pages, i.e. 25% of the total content. The NEP strongly argues that liberal education (and associated methodologies) must permeate in every sphere of knowledge. It defines liberal arts as “16 Kalas”. However, that would be mere verbiage as much of its specific prescriptions are anchored in Western notions of liberal arts. For instance, it talks about developing “broad dispositions on … social realities (read minority lynching, caste discrimination and ‘Brahminical’ patriarchy, growing Hindu ‘intolerance’) of contemporary India”. It argues for creating “mechanisms for social engagement of students at UG level (on) …. justice, equity, and development”.
This should be music to Bharat’s liberal Left. The NEP envisages that “values that will be developed (thru liberal education) are a commitment to liberty and freedom, … equality, justice, fairness; embracing diversity, plurality, and inclusion; humanness, … rootedness in India”. The last one (rootedness in India) is clearly an afterthought. Towards this, students will be engaged in “issues of justice, equity, and development”, and will be provided “exposure … (on) pressing issues of local community, state, and country. … through … social welfare programs, … civil society institutions, … tutoring, … or other social engagement activities”. Now how is this different than what happens in our current liberal colleges? And if this were not enough, the NEP wants to raise at least five “world-class” liberal arts universities modelled after “some of the best in the West”, and “Ivy League schools in the US”, and Nalanda (but no one knows about the Nalanda’s operating model). Each of these universities would have about “2000 acres” of land, and “30,000” students. As if one JNU was not enough! Further, while recruiting faculty, “diversity” and “social perspective” considerations should also be accounted for in the NEP’s scheme of thing.
The end goal is to not only deepen the influence of modern liberal perspectives (since NEP argues for using Western models) but also ensuring that “professional education (including technical) … should morph into full-fledged liberal education programs”.
Clearly, this will require a lot of funds. And thus, the NEP is being conceived as the funding agency. The NRF will not only fund research in liberal education but will also offer prestigious fellowships to PDFs in very large numbers. The dangers of such a thrust become even more acute because most of the current scholarship and textual material has been generated by the Left which is inherently anti-Bharat. It is this group which will undoubtedly navigate the ship of “liberal education” in Bharat. No wonder Ramchandra Guhas will chair ISRO, IISc and Shehla Rashids will pen papers on “Genetic proof in AIT” in AIIMS.
It is the “Science” students and professionals, who have challenged the communist narrative of “Liberal Artists” in history, politics, sociology, literature and environment. The NEP provides a way for Leftists to get back at the Hindus by controlling and changing the nurseries of nationalists.
Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog (RSA)
The idea of such a Commission as the final arbiter and policy apparatus for education in Bharat runs counter to traditional Bharatiya model of education Bharat. Education in Bharat was always highly decentralized, and autonomous. This is consistent with the nature of Bharat, and that of reality as well. And because education was highly decentralized, our civilization survived 1000+ years of foreign rule. The emergence of RSA will spell a death knell to all that has survived till so far.
Further, policies should be crafted in ways that they work even in the most adverse circumstances. There is no reason to think that there shall be Modi raj forever. What will be the composition of RSA in the event NDA is out of power. The Left is far more aggressive in promoting its ideas and ideologies. Access to RSA will enable them to drive changes in our society to levels which they have not achieved till so far. If we really want to ‘Hinduise’ our education system, provisions must be made to slowly devolve powers of decision making to spiritual/social organizations which also run educational institutions. That would be consistent with our civilizational ethos.
Right to Education
The RTE Act requires private schools to allocate at least 25% of its seats to SCs, STs, and weak segments of the society. However, minority institutions are exempt from such a requirement. This makes schools run by Hindus financially weak. For the period 2010-2015, these provisions of the RTE Act have led to the shutdown of about 79,000 schools, thereby impacting the lives of 1.58 crore students. The NEP fails to address this problem. Instead, it wants to expand the scope of RTE to pre-primary levels, as well as high school. This will certainly lead to the re-emergence of minority institutions as the leading providers of education in Bharat. It should be remembered that the demand of a section of Lingayats to be classified as “non-Hindu” is because they want their educational institutions to break free of the shackles of RTE.
To make matters worse, the NEP also very strongly argues that privately-held higher educational institutions should be required to make 50% of their seats freely available to weaker sections of the society. This will be the death knell of Bharat’s private higher education sector, and open up lucrative avenues for minority-run institutions.
Religion Based Policies Focusing on Muslims
The NEP uses a euphemism (Under-Represented Groups, i.e. URGs which includes SCs, STs, OBCs, and Minorities) to make a case for special provisions for Muslims (not even minorities). The Constitution has already made provisions for SC, STs, and OBC. So, the NEP does nothing new when it argues for helping these three groups as URGs. What is indeed new is its advocacy for religion-based provisions for helping Muslims (not other minorities). For this, it calls for setting up SEZs, hiring Muslim teachers, special provisions for Urdu education, extra scholarships for Muslims … The NEP even asks for permitting madrasa and maktab students in Board exams.
Undermining of traditional learning methods
Several Hindu scriptures have survived despite destruction of countless schools, universities, libraries because we had memorized our texts. It is not by accident that many of our adhyatmik texts are termed as “smritis”. Further, memory and learning are intrinsically coupled. Modern research, such as the one published in Scientific American shows that “memorizing ancient mantras increases the size of brain regions associated with cognitive function”. All this is derided as “rote learning”. Our best students outshine some of the very best from the West, because despite all the flaws of our education system, our culture places a very strong value on rigor, extreme hard work, and memory. It is dangerous to deride these elements. Remember, our traditional Gurukul System did not ignore such learning methods.
No focus on quality
Poor quality of education is one of the biggest challenges in the current setup. There is no clear roadmap in the NEP as to how we can make our teachers better, more sincere, hard-working, and innovative. Neither does the NEP focus on ensuring how our institutions will become more responsive, and student-centric. To achieve this, NEP relies on new structure assuming that its new creations will work as intended. However, the NEP provides no mechanism, which will by its very nature, ensure superior performance of institutions and individuals. Even to a blind eye, NEP is a copy of Clinton-Obama kind of Left-Liberal Muslim centric policy – of reward n freebie for the undeserving freeloaders. It also has a declared aim of bringing in lakhs of foreign students, in the name of Nalanda, (read NAM peoples of 3rd World- Palestinians, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Afghans, Arabs, Turks, Indonesians, Malay, African Christians etc.) and mainstream them in Bharat with employment and familial relationships with Indians. Obviously, Hindus will be subjected to increased targeted crimes, conversions and demographic changes, as have happened in Western Europe, Canada and USA.
Finally, it must be stated that the NEP is not devoid of positives. There are several brave and valuable recommendations which will help Bharat’s education system. These include the breaking up of UGC along functional lines, parity between public and private institutions, heightened autonomy to all educational institutions… However, the negatives I mentioned far outweigh the positives to the extent that they may cause total destruction of Bharat’s ethos, culture, and values in a very short time.”
Dr Shilpi Tiwari is an Indraprasth based senior Urologist with subspecialization in UroOncology. He has been active on various humanitarian causes such as Ezidis, Pakistani Hindu Refugees and Hindu victims of Rohingya terrorists.
He is also associated with HEART (Hindu Emergency Aid and Relief Team), which was active in providing relief to Leh cloud burst victims in Choglamsar and Nepal Earthquake.