Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP Supriya Sule said senior ministers propagating pseudoscience and issuing unscientific statements should be reprimanded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as these comments pull the country backwards.
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) MP and academician Thamizhachi Thangapandian, agreeing with Sule, pointed out that New Education Policy talks about gurukuls and Indian values instead of universal values and described it as “the Manusmriti in a new bottle”.
Sule and Thangapandian were discussing NEP-2020 with Prabhu Chawla, Editorial Director, The New Indian Express, and author and senior journalist Kaveree Bamzai in TNIE Expressions, a series of live webcasts with people who matter.
Talking about the NEP and the attitude around it, Sule said she would appreciate if the Prime Minister reprimands senior ministers when they pass comments implying that papad can cure corona. “When there in an HRD minister propagating something from the Stone Age, I want the PM to reprimand him and say this is not the thinking we should be propagating and that we should keep education away from this (politics),” she said.
Thangapandian said the NEP looks like a sugarcoated pill whose every component one needs to be wary of. “It is the basic right of every child to avail an education based on scientific temper, critical thinking and creativity. The NEP has the Sangh Parivar colour, more than anything. It has left out two important portions suggested by the Kothari Commission. The commission had insisted on universal values, but the NEP emphasises on Indian values.
Also, it has insisted on the common school system which provides equality of education to all the students irrespective of their strata. It is against the federalist system of India as it centralises everything,” she said.
Reply to a question why Indian values cannot be considered as universal even though it is a culmination of so many cultures, Sule said, “I have faith in Indian values but not blind faith. What concerns us is when we see senior ministers talking about concepts from the ancient times which have no scientific basis at all.” Thangapandian added that generalising Indian values will be a mistake.
“Indian value is a very broad term. India is proud of its diversity and multicultural regional components. How can you have a single syllabus for the entire country while they all have their individual identities?” she asked.
One of the most debated issues of the NEP has been the three-language policy which the southern states have been protesting for ages.
Coming from Tamil Nadu which has been at the forefront of that protest, Thangapandian pointed out that the state has internalised the two-language system and it does not want to shift to a three-language policy.
“The two-language formula that was promised to Tamil Nadu should be kept intact. English is the global communication language and that has been accepted. Why should a three-year-old have to undergo the burden of learning three languages?” said the writer and poet turned politician.
Sule, however, said she had grown up with the three language policy and had no problem with it being implemented.
“In a state like Maharashtra, the three language policy has worked and we have no problem with it, unlike other states where Hindi is not spoken.”
When asked if the NEP was uniting or dividing India, both MPs agreed that it was a failure of the government if a universal subject such as an education policy was being considered as having divided India.