Smriti Irani speaking on Education

Unveiling A Major Flaw In Indian Education, Smriti Irani’s Speech Is An Eye-Opener

“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”, says Nelson Mandela

As the reverend iconic leader would have said it, people of the society must have taken it in good spirits. What many would not have realised is that this change can be both, for better and for worse. The colonial education system evinces how employing education as a tool, the thought process of students was sabotaged and their delicate minds were molded to believe in India’s incapability in developing on its own. It was precisely this education that prevented Indians to fight for ages, 100 years to be precise.

Fast forward to 2016: Post 66 years of Indian Republic and 48 years since first education policy (1968), The HRD Minister of India, Mrs. Smriti Irani sighs and unveils that this contagious system is still in practice and is hollowing the nation! In wake of the recent Rohit Vermula and JNU student’s anti-national activities; Mrs. Irani launched a scathing attack on ”those who are politicising education”, in the ongoing budget session of the parliament. Her speech backed with firm evidence gave India a reason to both weep and smile. Weep; because the facts she presented speak of the grave intensity our education system has been paralysed with and Smile; for people of India now have entrenched their faith in her capabilities to ameliorate the situation.

Flaws In Education System As In Her Speech:

(Move the slider to 35:00, in case you are ready to miss this amazing speech)

Bewildered and greatly upset by the anti-national slogans raised by the JNU students; the minister tried to search what brings an Indian student to do so. In her hunt for the answers, what she came across left her conscious devastated and the emotional outburst following it was much evident in her speech. Citing Class IV and Class VI NCERT books, she clarified how the fundamental limbs of secularism, solidarity, justice and equality have been maligned and are furnished under a misleading light. Following are some of the quotes she took:

Quoting Teacher’s Reader, Class IV:

“In our text and syllabus, we continue to perpetuate the colonial legacy of portraying ancient India, as synonymous with Hindu and Medieval India past with the Muslim.”

Comprehending: The division of Indian History into the Hindu, Muslim and British phases has been criticised by many historians and scholars, including the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in his book – The Discovery Of India. Decision of the UPA government(s) to perpetuate the colonial legacy even after two education policies (1968 and 1986) and one revision (1992) puts a sign of interrogation on their wisdom and sensibility. Prominent historians have claimed that such a division not only dilutes History but also hampers the ability of students to realise communal harmony.

Continuing…:  

  • “When we teach Shivaji, Akbar, Aurangzeb as responsible educators and animators, we need to ask which Shivaji do we need to take into the classroom”.
  • “Hindu-Christian riots in Kanya Kumari. How the propaganda of Hindu organisations target Christian minorities.”
  • “Kashmir is a much demonised land today…{pause} that the State militates against the atrocities of the Indian State.”

Comprehending: Teaching a Class IV student that there are riots in parts of nation can be understood. But, justifying a section of society and stating that some organisation is targeting a minority, is that okay as well? “Education is the process of teaching children how to think”. Since when did education become a what-to-think principle? Sabotaging our thought-process just like the British, justified? A statement saying, “Kashmir is fighting against the atrocities of Indian state” is issued to the impressionable minds. “Are we shocked that our students go to universities and say “Kashmir ki azadi tak jung ladenge..”?”, she pierces everyone apart.

And the consequences were much visible:

 An order issued to Delhi schools after the death of Indira Gandhi.  “Check what an English teacher is teaching.” One of the words given to the children to draft a sentence was the word arrive. Of the several children who raised their hands, the one that the teacher chose to read out is – When a Sikh arrived in Delhi, he was killed by a Hindu.”

Did No One Notice Before?: 

They did. Such a folly could not have been overlooked by everyone. Not everyone is blinded with the sheen of power.Quoting a history teacher of Maharashtra on a section of fight between Afzal Khan and Shivaji,

“It is a politically and socially loaded connotation. I can’t meet eye to eye with Muslim students, so I start my chapter with an apology. There are many Afzals in my class. I begged and I pleaded, don’t make it about us and them. Our children are not vote banks. But nobody heard me.”, said a Class VI teacher.

The NCERT had also warned against issuance of these books. The committee who reviewed these books had this to say:

“This committee fails to understand that to what and whose purpose is this trust serving?” The committee was enraged  when the name suggested intention and action – Allah zarmeen Pakistan, Hindutva hell in Hindustan.

Why Were These Books Issued Then?:

 Now, this is what the nation wants to know. To all the Prime Ministers and HRD Ministers of Indian National Congress (it was your government when the education policies were framed, the books were commissioned by Mr. Kapil Sibbal); step out and justify your actions.

“Shiksha ko Ranbhoomi mat banao. (Do not make Education a battle ground)”, requested Smriti Irani

But, the phase is long past. It has been politicised since Independence. Innocent students and Unions have been used to grind major political axes. With tears in eyes and hope in heart, the nation now looks upon the minister who so bravely unsurfaced these loopholes. Your speech has set new expectations from you, ma’am. #Respect

Access the full text of her speech here.

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