POLITICS OF EDUCATION IN INDIA: need for a national
“The country (India) continues to produce people, who are in
the rat race for white collar jobs in the old tradition of British Raj.
In short, India’s education system is still mentally enslaved to
the old pre-Independence pattern and to the imported values of the
West”( Agrawal O.P. quoted in the book Critical Perspective on Indian
Education by an American Educationist Joseph Di Bona, page 21)
Sar Karyavah( Joint Secretary) while addressing a recently held concluding
ceremony of Sangh Shiksha Varg in Delhi ( June 2001 ) said: “the
country though, has achieved political independence, is yet to attain
national and cultural independence.”( Organiser dated July 1, 2001 )
mindset as reflected in the above quotes, the ultra nationalist forces
have been fighting against the 'proxy colonialism' both politically and
intellectually ever since India attained independence. The recent uproar
in parliament on August 16 over the alleged saffronisation of education is
therefore, a reflection of this never ending conflict between the
supporters of Macaulay’ perspective and those, who supported the Hindu
dimension of orientalism.
With a view to
destroy the educational heritage of India, the British colonial power
started Indian universities in 1858 as institutional plants imported from
Great Britain. The main objective behind the move was to connect Indian
education to European knowledge.
Lord Macaulay was of the view that "A single shelf of
a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and
Arabia." ( Page 3-
Education and Politics in India by Rudolph and Rudolph).
The move was
contrary to the Indian ethos of education. Acquisition of knowledge, inculcation of social duties and
religious rites and above all character building were the main three-fold
objective behind the ancient Indian education system. The Indian political
thinkers of colonial India were against westernisation of Indian education
system since it taught materialistic prosperity as the only means for
social advancement, in which there is no scope for cultural heritage
linked with spiritualism. During
the first two decades of twentieth century our national leaders like
Aurbindo, Dayanand Saraswati, Bal Gangadhr Tilak, Gopal Krishna Gokhale,
Madan Mohan Malviya, Mahatma Gandhi, Sampurnanand and others established
nationalist educational institutions in different parts of the country to
revive the educational heritage. Tilak, while delivering speeches on
national education in 1908 maintained:
"We are not given
such education as may inspire patriotic sentiments. Secular
education only is not enough to build up a character.
Religious education is also necessary because the study of high
principles keep us away from evil pursuits."
philosophers of our freedom movement had their vision of education system
to be linked with the cultural heritage of the country.
Vivekananda believed that for a “qualitatively higher
stage of society” ideal of Indian social endeavour was
necessary. While Tilak
aspired for Dharmrajya,
Gandhiji believed in Ramrajya. The BJS ideologue Deendayal Upadhyay in post-independent
India believed in integral humanism. If
the vision of our national thinkers, who fought for freedom of the
country, is taken into consideration, our educational system must have a
spiritual dimension to materialistic pursuit.
The pursuit of Dharm, Arth, Kama and Moksha in a balanced manner is
possible only if the age-old education system in India is linked with
modern and scientific education.
vision of our national thinkers, the rulers of post-colonial India
accepted the ‘Cultural Ludditism’ of Macaulay. They abused their
political power for distortion of the nationalist version of Indian
history and made it a political issue.
With leftists and Nehruvian Congress combine on one side and the
Hindu nationalists on the other, their political confrontation adversely
affected the educational heritage of India.
Against the Macaulay’s perspective and European version of Indian
history supported by the ruling party with the cooperation of leftists,
their opponents favouring orientalism failed to put an effective
resistance because of their marginal strength in parliament. With the
support of Nehruvian Congress Government, the leftists gradually
established their hegemony over the academic institutions like ICHR, ICSSR,
and NCERT and reigned over their opponents for over half a century.
history is more or less the interpretation of the available evidence,
which also includes oral narration of the past. A majority of Hindus are
quite sensitive towards their past and have faithfully accepted it as a
part of their history, which according to Euro interpretation is a myth.
Distortion of Indian history, particularly the Aryan invasion
theory has all along been an issue of debate between the intellectuals
supporting the cultural supremacy of ancient India and supporters of its
Euro version. Historians like Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, Panikkar and
others supporting the Euro version of Aryan invasion theory have been
countered logically by renowned indologists like Dr. Waradpande of Nagpur,
Dr. N.S.Rajaram of Bangalore, Dr. David Frawley of USA and Dr. P.V.Pathak
debate on the issue, the Nehruvian Congress Government at the instance of
the leftists became proactive and imposed Euro version of Indian history
on the students of schools and colleges. This was contrary to the general
impression of Indian people, who believed in the cultural supremacy of
India over the West. The
leftist and Congress combine however, ignored the sentiments of Indian
people projected by Hindu nationalists and called them communal and
reactionary. They did not pay
attention for inclusion of the educational heritage of the country in the
curriculum of schools and colleges. This
was a subtle attempt to move the people away from their cultural
of Indian education system with nationalist curriculum in schools and
universities has all along been the part of the agenda of Hindu
nationalist forces. Their
main objective was focussed against the European version of Indian history
being taught in school and colleges. The BJP led coalition Government
after coming to power at centre in the closing years of twentieth century
therefore, initiated a move to cleanse the management of academic
institutions and free them from the bondage of the leftists by
constitutional and democratic means. The intention of the Government was to rationalise the
teaching of the debatable version of Indian history being taught in
schools and colleges. They also initiated a move to make some changes in
the Euro version of Indian history with a nationalist version in some of
the history books published by NCERT. But these attempts to promote the
cultural heritage infuriated the supporters of Macaulay legacy and their
The move of
Union Minister M.M.Joshi to introduce Astrology and Indian Paurohitya (Karmkand) system
in university curriculum and to promote education of Sanskrit language was
part of the nationalist programme of the BJP. This is the first time
during the post-colonial history of India, when initiative to introduce
some of the subjects linked with the educational heritage of the country
in university curriculum was taken. The
move may not apparently have any political dimension but the issue took a
political turn since it was against the embedded mindset of the leftists
and ‘secular academics'.
move as political abuse of history the opposition under the leadership of
CPI(M) joined together in parliament against the BJP for their
self-seeking political interest and expectedly, the leftists became
reactionaries against the proactive policy of the BJP Government.
They, in alliance with anti-BJP forces raised a war-cry against
alleged ‘saffronisation’ of education by the BJP. But the upsurge
against the move shows that intellectual honesty does not have any place
in politics. The sole
objective behind this move of the Communists is to unite the opposition on
this issue to embarrass the BJP and create rift within the NDA as
otherwise no one is able to understand as to how the move of Dr. Joshi has
saffronised the education.
perhaps the only country in the world, where a section of educated
population considers any talk on the positive side of the cultural
heritage of the country as anti-modernity and unscientific. Contrary to
the general impression of Hindus that India had made large contribution to
world culture, the leftists and their fellow travelers criticise it as
language, Prof. Max Muller of world fame said, , “Sanskrit
is the greatest language in the world, the most powerful and the most
perfect” Similarly, Sir W. Hunter was of the view that Grammar (Sanskrit) of Panini stands supreme among the grammars of the
It stands forth as one of the most splendid achievements of human
invention and industry. The
Hindus have made a language and a literature and a religion of rare
stateliness.” ( Quotes from Gaurav Ghosh in its issue of
knowledge of Sanskrit language it is difficult to understand the history
of the cultural and educational heritage of India like the knowledge of
modern science and technology without the knowledge of English language.
Therefore, any attempt to popularise the learning of Sanskrit
should be above politics. The
ancient Sanskrit literature is the treasure house of cultural history of
India. But the scholars of
Euro mindset studied such history through its translated version, which
was often misinterpreted by European scholars due to lack of their
cultural insight about this region.
If the age old values of
cultural heritage and tradition linked with spiritualism are included in
school and university curriculum, it may extend a lending hand in the
overall development in the personality of our future generation.
Value based education can only generate value based politics, which
is the need of the hour. Our ancient scriptures in Sanskrit and Dravidian language are
the treasures of our cultural heritage and their effective preservation is
the pious duty of the Government. A
nation, which is not sensitive to such duty, will remain susceptible to
Modern ideas like secularism, communism, liberalism, equality and
fraternity were the outcome of the intellectual turbulence in the west,
which developed after French Revolution.
But in absence of any spiritual vision these activities became
irrelevant to Indian situation, as they negated the educational
philosophy of the age-old Indian tradition.
Contrary to the western system of education, which is linked with
individual centric capitalism and society centric communism, the Indian
education system provided an integral vision with a view to harmonize the
material and spiritual interest of the individual to that of the society.
But those intellectuals, who took over the governance of the country from
the Britishers failed to free themselves from this chain of intellectual
slavery and therefore, worked as agents of their masters to promote the
same system of education even during post-colonial Indian polity. With
intellectual corruption and support to the west-prompted materialistic
dimension of individual centric philosophy they were only helping the
forces of proxy colonialism.
unfortunately, even after pursuing Macaulay, legacy for over half a
century after political independence, India has not yet overcome the
social, economic, political and environmental crisis prevailing in the
country. All the political
parties talk on value based politics, but they hardly talk how to achieve
it. It is possible only if
the direction of education is focused towards building a social order
inspired through scientific and spiritual vision. In
stead of preserving our ancient scriptures, which are the treasure house
of spiritual wisdom the move to negate the introduction of time-tested
cultural heritage in school and university curriculum is seemingly an
intriguing reflection of the colonial mindset of self-seeking politicians.
Since the majority of the educated Indian elite was made to think
and behave like their colonial masters, it has now become their habit to
oppose any attempt to Indianise the country’s educational curriculum.
present rise of spiritual movement all over the world, people by and large
are gradually becoming conscious towards their cultural heritage.
In the background of its proved leadership through cultural
conquest to Asia and other parts of the world, and major contribution like
digit zero to the material world India has got a God sent opportunity to
take a lead for transforming the chaotic humanity into a just social
order. It is possible if the value-based vision stored in our traditional
scriptures also forms a part of curriculum in school and university.
Since, it will enhance the national glory, our political intellectuals
irrespective of their ideology should join the movement and cooperate with
the forces in their march to this direction. Any attempt to obstruct the
indigenous flow of the main stream may be construed as violation of the
fundamental right of the people.
opposed to the introduction of cultural heritage in school and university
curriculum as well as the reported change in the Euro version of Indian
history may like to have a national debate on this issue. At the same time
there is no harm if they seek referendum whether people want continuance
of Macaulay legacy, which is against the traditional environment of
spiritually visioned Indian polity or negate it.
If the people favour value based education discussed above, it
could be supported by the basic ethical tenets of all religions of India.
Commissions and Committees starting from Radhakrishnan Commission in 1948
to the Committee on value based education headed by S.B.Chavan in in 1999
have duly emphasised on the need for value based education.
But no Government made any sincere effort in this direction.
It is time to have a national debate on the issue.
Our Vedic philosopher Maharshi Gautam had rightly pointed out in
his 'Nyay Sutras' that
knowledge derived from observation, inference, comparison and testimony
should objectively be verified by discussion, which usually leads to the
enquiry of truth (Education
in India by Mohanty - page 12).
The analysis is the personal perception of the writer based on the books
written by various indologists. E-mail ramashray60@