Elitisation and Saffronisation
The two-pronged onslaught on education
Recommendations of Ambani Birla Committee
- Smart schools equipped with information
technology and computer network should be established.
- Arrangements should
be made to impart necessary vocational training at secondary level and above.
As an alternative to formal education, remote education should be promoted.
Moral education should be emphasised at pre-secondary level and it should also
be strongly implemented at primary, secondary and higher education.@q Uniform
education system should be adopted at school level but scope for particularly
language, history and cultural diversity must be there at regional and local
- Management of education should be decentralised. Financial and managerial
responsibilities of literacy programmes at primary and secondary levels should
lie at panchayat level.
- Syllabus and facilities of educational institutions
should be made market-oriented. Funds should be provided to government schools
for building, telephone and computer on priority basis. With this, the financial
assistance provided to universities should be cut and they should be taken to
self-dependence. The syllabi of these institutions should be made up-to-date.
The role of government should be limited to fund primary education and make
it compulsory and free, fund secondary education to make it compulsory, ensure
cent-percent literacy, assist market-oriented education, assist and fund selected
higher educational institutions, providing financial guarantee to students to
get loan, bring uniformity in syllabus and its quality and plan for educational
- Institutions getting less governmental assistance or no assistance
should be given freedom of imagination in management and in choosing the
Private University Act should be enacted to open up new universities for imparting
education in science, technology, management and finance.
- Standard of schools,
colleges and universities should be assessed from time to time by independent
agencies in order to assess their rating and fix their grade like gradation
of financial enterprises by Standard and Poors and Crysil.
- Direct foreign
investment should be permitted in education. In the beginning, this should be
limited to science and technological education.
- Indian universities and institutions
should be encouraged to attract foreign students. In the beginning, international
universities should be set up in our institutions of international fame.
should be an agreement among all political parties to keep themselves away from
universities and educational institutions. Political activities in universities
and other educational institutions should be banned.
- The economy should be
freed from control, so that a market for education may be developed.
- At graduate
and above levels, research should be encouraged in all spheres.
- There should
be a provision that all trained teachers shall work within rural areas for a
specified time. This should be taken as part of teachers’ development.
programmes should be undertaken to provide alternative education for working
and destitute classes.
KEEP wondering what this astrology business is all about. On the face of it,
this is unbelievably silly. Is it a passing phenomenon, the outcome of a few
saffron zealots, pitch-forked into positions of policy-making, getting carried
away with their newly found powers? Just one more misguided step by the upstarts,
in line with rewriting history and communalizing the curriculum, that will be
rolled back in due course? Perhaps not. Saffronisation is the sordid other side
of elitisation – five-star B-schools, state-of-the-art smart schools in IT,
million-rupee-a-seat courses in medicine and engineering, in short, a sprawling
educational supermarket that is the exclusive preserve of the rich and famous.
It is the same saffron regime that champions this elitisation as well. For the
middle class, not to speak of the toiling sections, quality education is beyond
reach. From nursery schools to institutions of higher learning, both private
and government-run, unaffordable fee hikes are a general phenomenon. It is in
this backdrop that the saffron hordes have seized control of educational policy-making
and administration, from NCERT to UGC, to revise textbooks and curricula to
suit the saffron agenda. Superior education for the “best and beautiful” and
saffron trash for the rest.
Rajiv Gandhi called the country’s youth “unemployed
and unemployable” and set out to restructure the education system to suit liberalizing
capitalism, in the name of taking it into the 21st century. His New Education
Policy of 1986 has arrived in the 21st century and found its logical culmination
in astrology. There is a continuum. Saffronisation is the Siamese twin of elitisation
and commercialization. An inbuilt red herring to make it politically sustainable.
The innovative strategists of the Sangh Parivar have found a political use for
the sprawling state sector infrastructure which they cannot dismantle at one
go. It can be used to convert and cultivate minds in a communal way. To make
storm troopers out of the “unemployed and unemployable”. The core of Rajiv Gandhi’s
strategy has been retained. Going a step ahead, they have undertaken saffron
restructuring, following a fascist takeover of massive state resources. The
secularists and liberals have been reduced to the sad state of debating whether
astrology is a science or not.
To give a picture of totality, we reproduce
here the recommendations of the Birla-Ambani Committee, the Prime Minister’s
Task Force on education, and also, brief excerpts from a somewhat dated but
excellent documentation of the saffronisation of education by Nalini Taneja.
Today the battle is not just to preserve the secular content of education and
its accessibility. It is not enough to resist the communal rewriting of history.
What is being challenged is science and rationalism. One confident prediction
is that the saffron ideologues will bite dust. For they are ranged against,
not only history, but also all human progress in the realm of knowledge. One
doesn’t need astrology to foretell this.