There is probably no disagreement about the fact that education shapes minds and ideologies. But with all the recent demands for the ‘Indianisation’ of education, the question really is what ‘Indianisation’ means. Should students be ripped of the chance to understand their history, conflicts that arose and foundations of modern India?
These were some of the questions debated at the ThinkEdu Conclave by a panel of erudite and well-read speakers who quoted from a variety of literature and delved deep into history to make the points that they were pushing for. “There are issues about the foundations on which you build the future, what are those foundations, how did we get there, was there exploitation, injustice and violence in the past, how was it perpetrated and how was it justified. All those questions need to be answered before we can go forward. At the same time, we should also make sure that we don’t get caught up in some divisive story about something that happened thousands of years ago. We have to focus on what do we do to make India a better place, how do we make education come alive in such a manner that people can relate to the world in which we live,” said Rajeev Gowda, MP.
He added, “Too often, because our higher education has not been Indianised enough, we haven’t got enough of an understanding of our context, and conflicts. If we talk about urban planning today and don’t understand that villages were built in segregated ways, that some communities had issues about not getting enough access to facilities, all that is necessary to build newer cities. So there is a need for some amount of historical knowledge, but we don’t want to talk in glib ways.” He reasoned that it made sense to take a good, hard , long look back at the history that our country has amassed over the years, but without understanding the context in which that history was set, not too much could be made of the whole thing.
Anirban Ganguly, Director, Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, on the other hand says the problem is not when there are too many different ideas, but when one idea continues to dominate and leaves no room for other ideas to develop. He says, “The problem is when one idea of India dominates and practises academic apartheid. And when that idea is no longer dominant, it accuses others of being intolerant. There has to be a certain amount of balance. You cannot practice academic apartheid for decades and not allow a certain conception of India to come out,” Academic apartheid has made a very selective reading of thinkers. There should be centres where we study the history of the communist party in India, where you study Dr Syama Prasad.” The lack of this whole support structure to best understand which ideas were most prevalent at a certain point in time is what is leading to a lot of confusion, and frequent imbalance.
Ritabrata Banerjee, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha says, “In the name of Indianisation, a lot of unfortunate things are going on.” He went on to detail how these were the reasons why a lot of instances of intolerance were being shown up all across the country.
Whose India is it anyway? Rather, whose idea of India is it anyway? That was a contentious issue that got this as an answer from Anirban Ganguly, “There has to be a certain amount of balance. You cannot practice academic apartheid for decades and not allow a certain conception of India to come out.”