Friends, let me tell you one thing at the outset. This nation is not America, it’s India — united in diversity. I am from Kashmir, I can only speak one word of Tamil. But still, we all belong to this nation. If Indianisation of education means saffronisation of education, that will not work!
Let me be very clear. We want education, yes. But education starts at home, first. Today our parents have given that job to the teachers. No longer do they care about teaching them the basic things. I was taught religion at home. Not in the school. It was my parents whose duty was to tell me what was right and what was wrong. Today, parents don’t have the time. Today, those who are affluent, have a person at home and they take care of the children. So what do they think they will transfer to their kids?
Teachers had the highest respect in the India of the past. After freedom? We said, ‘Didn’t you even get a teacher’s post’? As if the teacher was the lowest of the low. Who made this? The politicians who ruled made that — because they selected teachers who were either their relations or friends or somebody who knew nothing about education! And that is where our education system started failing.
Every language of this country is important. Let us not think that those who are Tamils, or Kashmiris or from any other part of india are not Indians. They are Indians, but they love their language and their way of life, we cannot change it. So why not nurture this? But the sad thing is that those who govern in Delhi think they know us. They do not even know their own state, let alone India.
Up to the tenth class, let them study everything. Then, let them decide whether they want to continue or whether they want to be good carpenters or technicians, good in everything. Today, we have modern things, but we don’t have technicians who can install them at home or repair them.
And I will tell you, to all you young people, that it is your responsibility to teach people religion. Because I don’t believe any religion teaches bad. If they say Ram is ‘Vishwa ka Ram’, then he is my Ram too. We Muslims say, Allah is god of all the universe. He is god of everything. If he is my god, he is your god too. Where is the difference? But we have divided that god into smaller cubby holes and say he is only my god, don’t touch him. Let us change that in our education system.
Politicians must change that line of thinking if you want to give good governance and good education. You have to take into consideration what different people need — what Biharis, Punjabis, and Bengalis need. Because that is the way we can move forward. Otherwise there is no hope for our future. Our future lies in unity in diversity. So long as you respect this diversity and you form an education system that takes into consideration this diversity, we will become the greatest nation on this earth. Not their rulers, but their friends. That is what we must achieve, friendship for all.
And next, we must remember that we do not live in India alone. We live in the whole world, the universe. You must start thinking in the context of the whole world if you want to become that great a country as you want to become. And if you want to do that, you have to start learning the education we are going to teach our children. Every election, instead of uniting us, divides us. Because we use one god or other god for votes. I remember in ‘87 in my own state, for the first time a party asking for votes in the name of god. I came back home and cried and asked my mother ‘when does a man want to vote for god?’ That is what india has become.
If we respect teachers and elders, nothing can stop us from becoming great.