The new National Education Policy (NEP) is nothing but a khichdi, said veteran BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy. He added that the Indian education system has not changed much since Thomas Babington Macaulay devised the Minute on Education in 1835. Swamy was discussing the Indian education system and what changes it needs to be more ‘Indian’ with Senior Journalist Kaveree Bamzai at The New Indian Express’ ThinkEdu Conclave 2021.
When asked whether the NEP incites hope for a viable change in the Indian education system, Swamy said, “These are all like khichdi — a little bit of this and a little bit of that. The question is: when you go to a class, does your teacher make you think? Here, whatever the teacher says, you memorise and reproduce in the exam and you will get the marks. The room for original thinking and research is not there,” said Swamy.
But this begs the question, what needs to change? There are two things, said Swamy.
“It should not be necessary to get a bachelor’s or master’s degree to get a job which is reasonably decent. I think 75 per cent of our people go to college to get a bachelor’s degree while in the United States, it is 35 per cent, in China, it is 45 per cent. That does not mean China is less literate. They train people for technical things so they get a job. Here the minimum qualification for mechanics is BA. Those who go to higher education must be committed to research,” he said.
“The second thing is that you need to give a very decent salary to teachers. Maybe in Delhi University you get a decent salary or in JNU you get an even decent salary. But in the primary schools, if you compare with US and China, you’d see the difference. Much of the thinking process is developed in schools and if they go to college, they go straight into writing papers,” he said.
“This system has not changed much since Macaulay’s time. And had stated his objective quite clearly he said I want to create people who are Indian in blood and colour and they should dress in British attire, should speak English and not Sanskrit and they should adopt British morals,” he said.
“Mughals had burned down our libraries but the British were a little smarter about it. They wrote an alternate history while the Mughals just burned down things. The alternative history is that we are not one country or one people. The north is Aryan and the south is Dravidian. These are the words they had taken from us. Dravidian is a word that Adi Shankara introduced. It means a place where the three oceans meet. There is no word called Aryan. There is only the word Arya which means anybody who is a cultured person,” Swamy added.
“You become an obscurantist if you talk about the past and this is the format in which we have been functioning. We are still struggling, the education system has the same books with the same untruth and nonsense in it. The English language which we are using out of compulsion makes it easier. We could have given a rebirth to Sanskrit as the Jews did with Hebrew,” said Swamy.
The Chinese have innovated furiously in the past few years while India has been lagging behind as Indians don’t push themselves enough towards innovation, said Swamy.
“The Chinese have also adopted some of the Sanskritic principles. They gave autonomy for basic research in Physical Sciences. And the Chinese have gone very far ahead. We were ahead of them till 2005. After that, the decline started and during Narendra Modi’s period, the gap has widened,” added Swamy.