RSS and its affiliates should not influence the education policy
Getting the education system to conform to its ideology has been a goal of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for much of its existence. So it comes as no surprise that with the ministry of human resource development all set to formulate the new education policy, the RSS-affiliated Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas is trying to influence its content. It wants the medium of instruction from elementary to higher levels in schools to be in the mother tongue and not English, in fact it says English should not be mandatory at any level. All research work, according to it, should be linked to national requirements and those which are not should not get UGC scholarships. And of course, there is the usual demand that references that insult Indian culture, traditions, sects, thoughts, eminent persons and offer wrong explanations should be removed from textbooks. The ministry should firmly resist this.
Knowledge of English is India’s strength especially vis-à-vis countries like China. Indian students and workers across the world have benefited from their ability to speak, read and write English. The mother tongue should be taught in schools but this does not have to be at the cost of English. The demand for English in schools can be seen from the number of English-medium schools that has been set up. But not just the RSS, even successive governments have not been responsive enough to the people’s aspirations when it comes to English education. India’s outsourcing business, its thriving IT sector have all been made possible because of the English advantage. This should not be frittered away because an RSS affiliate feels differently. The call to link research to national requirements is another ill-thought-out demand. Research if anything should be linked to industry. The definition of national requirement is vague and any proposal to withhold scholarships unless this criterion is met would be counterproductive. As for removing insults to culture and tradition from textbooks, the RSS has no business dictating what this constitutes. The reference to “wrong” explanations again suggests that the RSS yardstick is the one which the ministry should follow. The only parameter a textbook should follow should be to stick to the facts and not try and promote some misplaced nationalism. If research was aimed only at national requirements, we would not have had the sort of cutting edge discoveries which have benefited all of mankind.
The education policy must be aimed at getting children the best education that can enable them to compete in a globalising world. Our netas certainly understand the benefits of English, their children study in English medium schools and invariably attend college abroad. The education policy is too important for it to be tinkered with by those with little knowledge of the subject. The RSS should leave well alone.