From worshippers of wisdom and knowledge to the villains of it — that is how former minister and senior politician Arif Mohammad Khan described Indian government and its failure to take education to the masses.
Khan, who was speaking about what role politics played in Indian education, chose to dwell first on the role that it has not played. “I think we are obsessed with higher education. But we have consistently failed in recognising the value of school education,” he lamented while speaking of the dismal state of schooling in most of India. According to Khan, the most glaring failure of the post-Independence years was how politics had failed to achieve what is now a fundamental right.
“Free and compulsory education was one of the directive principles in the Constitution before it became a fundamental right and it was supposed to be achieved within 10 years. Well, it’s been a lot longer and the states and the Centre have still not reached a consensus on how this should be funded,” he said.
The former minister also said education empowers the masses, and it is the duty of the ruler (and the government) to take education to them.
But Congress leader Salman Khurshid was more circumspect on the topic and said, “I would not call the state of Indian education dismal.”