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AISEC Wary That If NEP 2020 Promotes Curriculum and Textbooks Tending Towards Saffronisation, India’s Integrity Will Stand Compromised

Although the National Education Policy 2020 adopts to continue the three-language formula, the curriculum framework and textbook writing appear to stand the other way.

All India Save Education Committee (AISEC) alleges that there is an agenda of saffronisation under total centralized control in Curriculum Framework and Text Book Writing under NEP 2020.  This has been explained in a booklet entitled as What NEP-2020 Speaks Where Reality Stands published in February 2022 by the AISEC. AISEC is a national movement of education loving people to protect democratic, secular and scientific education in India.

Moreover, AISEC in a statement issued on April 10 condemns the Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s statement made in the 37th meeting of the Parliamentary Official Language Committee in New Delhi, in which he had pitched for Hindi to be accepted as the official language of the country, referring to this decision as having been arrived at by the Prime Minister to ‘increase the importance of Hindi’.

Shocking as it contravenes the Union government policy declared by different earlier Prime Ministers, the announcement exposes the skeleton that lay behind all tall talks, cunning twists and tricks of verbose expressions in both the Draft NEP 2019 and the NEP 2020, thrust upon the country and its people by the present Union government. There in those documents the policymakers talked of ‘Multilinguism is a necessity of India’(Section 4.5.4, DNEP 2019), assured ‘Continuation’ of the existing ‘three-language formula’ ( Section 4.13 NEP 2020) along with no language will be imposed on any State. (Section 4.13, NEP 2020) Even in his recent pronouncement, the Union Home Minister plays the trick by declaring that Hindi will be an alternative to English and not local languages, the statement said.

Beyond these words, past and present, one cannot miss the fact that the BJP rode to power to implement its agenda of Hindi Hindu Hindustan , while in power its loud claim for one nation or unity is bluntly aimed at fascistic centralization of power in all respects, counter-posing with simultaneous fomenting of all kinds of divisive measures like communalism, regional or others simply to make people disunited against the common terrible exploitation and oppression of the ruling capitalism being perpetrated successfully by the Union government.

AISEC had exposed the design of imposing Hindi in its earlier analyses of the DNEP 2019-NEP 2020 and now denounces the hypocritical arrogance of the Union government reflected in its Home Minister’s words and attitude and urges democratic-minded people to come out in full voice against this move of the Union Government, the statement urged.

Moreover, NEP-2020 Section 4.30 (Page 17) says, “The formulation of a new and comprehensive National Curricular Framework for School Education, NCFSE 2020-21, will be undertaken by the NCERT – based on the principles of this National Education Policy 2020, frontline curriculum needs, and after discussions with all stakeholders…”

Section 4.32. (Page 17) says, “This may be accomplished by using high-quality textbook materials developed by NCERT in conjunction with the SCERTs; …. States will prepare their own curricula ….as needed…. NCERT curriculum would be taken as the nationally acceptable criterion.”

Though the NEP 2020 has claimed to develop curricular framework “after discussions with all stakeholders”, the reality stands the other way, AISEC pointed out in the booklet.

Without entrusting experts who are accomplished academicians of very high standard in respective fields, the organizations like the NCERT and the UGC have taken up the job of unilaterally re-writing the curriculum framework and textbooks manifestly on communal and racial lines under the dictates of the ruling power. Recently, over 100 historians from India and abroad wrote a letter to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education expressing concern over proposed changes to NCERT history textbooks. They emphasized that revisions in textbooks must be in sync with the consensus of existing historical scholarship so as to produce books of scholarly merit. They also said that the exercise of textbook revision cannot be carried out with the intention of placating a particular ideology.

Of late, a lot of criticism is also being raised against the UGC’s new curriculum framework for history subject in B.A course. It contains not only many selective and subjective omissions and commissions on religious lines but also wilful distortions in Indian history. In fact, no person of repute took part in the preparation this new curriculum frame work. In fact, leading historians have tended to call it ‘No history, but bad mythology’. And also, in the states where BJP is/was in power, saffronisation, rather communalization of education is being carried out by prescribing books, sought to teach children ‘facts’ about history, science, geography, religion and other ‘basics’ written to propagate ideas-approaches outlook that are being termed as Indianisation. And this Indianisation is equated and intimately linked with religion, as the writers even express ‘It is better to die for one’s religion. An alien religion is a source of sorrow’. Obviously, it is the outcry of proponents of Hindutva. The NEP 2020 is suggesting “additional textbook materials” funded by “public-philanthropic partnerships”. What would be the core and content of these materials? Who could be those public-philanthropic partnerships? Answers to these questions are not difficult to guess, AISEC said in the booklet.

Although the NEP 2020 says: “This may be accomplished by using high-quality textbook materials developed by NCERT in conjunction with the SCERTs; … States will prepare their own curricula … as needed.” The rider at the end “NCERT curriculum would be taken as the nationally acceptable criterion.” clearly spells out the intent. Now a-days the role of SCERTs having been just reduced to bring out translated versions NCERT books in regional languages, a totally centralized system of producing textbooks is clearly in the offing. These days even the question papers of term examinations in schools are sent online from Delhi, the AISEC alleged in the booklet.

Notably, NEP-2020 Section 4.13 (Page 14) says “The three-language formula will continue to be implemented…. no language will be imposed on any State….. at least two of the three languages are native to India”.

Again, NEP-2020 Section 4.17.(Page 14) says, “The importance, relevance, and beauty of the classical languages and literature of India also cannot be overlooked. Sanskrit, while also an important modern language mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India, possesses a classical literature…. Sanskrit will thus be offered at all levels of school and higher education as an important, enriching option for students, including as an option in the three-language formula.”

AISEC in its booklet pointed out another reality, “If NEP 2020 promotes curriculum and textbooks tending towards saffronisation, it stands for a language formula which plays a complementary tune.”

Over the years, a debate revolves round the question: what should be the scientifically defined language policy in a multi-lingual country like India that would not give way to imposition of any language upon others? The answer is two-language formula, i.e mother tongue from among the list of languages in the 8th Schedule and English.

The AISEC booklet reminded that it must also be realized that constitutionally English is included in the list of Indian languages, insofar as it is spoken by a permanent community of people in this country. Mother tongue should be the medium of instruction at least in school education as well as a language study at least from Grade 5; and English should be efficiently taught as a language from Class I. All pedagogical studies assert that students acquire knowledge easily and express themselves with clarity and think with precision and vigour when education is imparted in mother tongue medium. Learning through any other medium compels the students to concentrate on cramming instead of mastering the subject-matter. Historically, English language, which has become an inseparable part of our education, is essential to us because it is a window to the world knowledge; and it acts as a link language for the people within and outside India. Any attempt at reducing the importance of English will only pave the way for pushing Hindi in; it will also hamper further growth of mother tongue. Of course, this two-language formula in no way denies the interested students to learn any other Indian or foreign languages of choice, as an optional subject, the AISEC stressed.

In regard to Sanskrit, the AISEC holds the following views. The criteria for learning any language are: (1) it has to be a living one and spoken, rather used a means of communication, by a large section of people of the society; (2) it should be lucid and help us to access the treasure of world knowledge; (3) it should help us in getting a gainful employment. By learning Sanskrit in the present-day world, we cannot access world knowledge nor can find any gainful employment, only wasting time and resources.

AISEC further stressed that Sanskrit though a classical language is no longer spoken by any section of common people. So the talk of ‘multilingualism’ is nothing but hollow words to confuse people to impose Hindi and Sanskrit in camouflaged manner, reducing the importance of English and even mother tongue.

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