Emphasis on Indian culture reflects RSS sway on New Education Policy
The RSS, which is the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s ideological fount, has been pushing for a review of the education policy to Indianize it further . It has also sought rewriting of History textbooks from what it calls an Indian perspective.Updated: Jul 30, 2020 19:37 IST
The renaming of human resource development (HRD) ministry as education ministry, and the emphasis on Indian arts, languages, and culture reflect the Rashtriya Syawamsevak Sangh (RSS)’s influence on the New Education Policy (NEP).
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved NEP, which also seeks to increase public spending on education to nearly 6% of GDP from around 4%, cap fees, expand access to higher education and achieve universal adult literacy before 2035.
An RSS functionary said the Sangh approves of the language NEP uses to describe its vision. It speaks of curriculum and pedagogy developing a “deep sense of respect towards the fundamental duties and Constitutional values, bonding with one’s country, and conscious awareness of one’s roles and responsibilities in a changing world”, the functionary added. “The policy refers to the need to instil a deep-rooted pride in being Indian, not only in thought, but also in spirit, intellect, and deeds, which is what we have been stressing on.”
The RSS, which is the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s ideological fount, has been pushing for a review of the education policy to Indianize it further . It has also sought rewriting of History textbooks from what it calls an Indian perspective.
RSS affiliates such as the Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal (BSM) and the Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas (SSUN) that are involved in areas such as education and culture submitted a slew of recommendations to the Narendra Modi government months soon it was voted to power at the Centre in 2014. RSS offshoots have long sought the renaming of the HRD ministry. The issue resurfaced at a BSM conference in 2018, where Modi and then HRD minister Prakash Javadekar were among those in attendance.
SSUN secretary Atul Kothari said NEP fits well with the recommendations made by his organisation . “Within days of the coronavirus pandemic, we wrote to the PM [Modi] and the HRD minister to ensure the new policy should also give attention to online methods of teaching. We are happy that it has been included in NEP.”
Another BSM functionary said the HRD ministry was known as the education ministry till 1985. “World over too education ministries are not known as resource development ministries.”
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat in August last year hoped NEP would make individuals self-respecting, self-sufficient and independent, and rooted in the country’s ethos and culture. He lamented the delay in finalising NEP in 2018 during a three-day lecture series in New Delhi. Bhagwat stressed the need for value-based education and expressed concern over the falling standards of pedagogy and research.
NEP’s vision for an education system “rooted in Indian ethos” dovetails with RSS’s demand for an India-centric policy. RSS has sought education to be imparted in the mother tongue and based on a system that borrows from the ancient texts and cultural practices.
RSS has long advocated teaching in the mother tongue, and implementation of the three-language formula to promote multilingualism. NEP addresses this too.
NEP has emphasised the popularisation of Indian languages. “Sanskrit will be mainstreamed with strong offerings in school -- including as one of the language options in the three-language formula -- as well as in higher education. Sanskrit Universities too will move towards becoming large multidisciplinary institutions of higher learning.”
BSM has also welcomed the move to establish a National Research Foundation as part of NEP.The creation of Prime-Minister-led Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog has also been on BSM’s wish list. BSM has urged the government to ensure academics and not bureaucrats are in charge of key positions in the education sector. It has called for encouraging teachers to become administrators and vice-chancellors.