The Samajwadi Party (SP) manifesto certainly did create a lot of noise. But are there any takers for “no-English, no-computers” vision in the 21st century Uttar Pradesh? Clearly very few.
SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has championed the cause of rural India since he was 15. And it has paid him rich dividends too. But he seems to have failed to grasp the changes in the recent times while drafting the party’s latest manifesto.
All the four architects of the manifesto are 60-plus: former minister Janeshwar Mishra (75), Rajya Sabha member Prof. Ram Gopal Yadav (60), Mohan Singh (62) and Brij Bhushan Tiwari.(65). Not even Yadav’s highly educated son Akhilesh was part of the manifesto committee. This could explain the party’s failure to read the pulse of young India, including the “poor, the unemployed and farmers in the rural areas of the Hindi heartland, whose voice they had wanted to raise.”
The first dissenting voice comes from Mulayam’s Lok Sabha constituency Etawah. Maheshwari Devi, gram pradhan of Dharau village, said, “In today’s competitive world, we have to equip our children with necessary skills and that includes English. That’s why despite constraints, people send their children to English medium schools. It is expensive, but the villagers have no choice.” On the technology front she said, “Machinery was a boon to the farmer. It increased output. How could Mulayam Singh Yadav not have thought of this?”
Girish Mishra, 29, a resident of a backward Sonebhadra district said, “If Mulayam Singh Yadav is talking about banning English and computers in schools and colleges, then he is thinking of taking the country backwards instead of forward.”
The mood is no different in Allahabad. Mau Aima in trans Ganga belt of the district is rich in agriculture. Atibal Singh, its gram pradhan feels that children should be taught English, as without it progress would be hampered.”
However, some, like Rinku Mishra (31), do feel that Yadav may be right to some extent. “Look at the condition of the tribals. English and computers are a part of the modern world and culture. How would they gain from English and computers?”
Also, Yadav’s son Akhilesh defends his father. “My father has never been against learning the English language. He is against use of English as a medium for official work as half the country’s population cannot understand the it.”
Meanwhile, the SP chief also called a press conference on Monday to clarify: “I am not against English but its use should not be a compulsion.”