Published: 03rd September 2020
'PM Modi needs to reprimand ministers spreading pseudoscience to give NEP scientific credibility'
Talking about the NEP and the attitude around it, Sule said that she would appreciate if the Prime Minister scolds ministers if they pass comments like papad can cure Corona
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP Supriya Sule said that senior ministers propagating pseudoscience and issuing unscientific statements should be reprimanded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as these comments pull the country backwards. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) MP and academician Thamizhachi Thangapandian, agreeing with Sule, pointed out that NEP talks about gurukuls and Indian values instead of universal values and described it as "the Manusmriti in a new bottle". Sule and Thangapandian were discussing the newly released NEP 2020 on e-Expressions with TNIE Editorial Director Prabhu Chawla and Kaveri Bamzai.
Talking about the NEP and the attitude around it, Sule said that she would appreciate if the Prime Minister reprimands senior ministers when they pass comments implying that a pappad can cure Corona and so on. "I am sure he meant it as a joke but this is not the time to joke about a medical pandemic. I would like to see the Prime Minister take action against someone saying these things. When there in an HRD minister propagating something from the Stone Age I want the Prime Minister to reprimand him and say that this is not the thinking we should be propagating and also add that we should keep education away from this (politics)," she added.
The NEP, said Thangapandian, looks like a sugarcoated pill whose every component one needs to be wary of. "It's the Manusmriti in a new bottle. Education is a universal term. It is the proudest badge you have. It is the basic right of every child to avail an education based on scientific temper, critical thinking and creativity. The NEP has the Sangh Parivar colour more than anything. It has left out two important portions that had been suggested by the Kothari Commission. The commission had insisted on universal values, but the NEP emphasises on Indian values. Also, it has insisted on the common school system which provides equality of education to all the students irrespective of their strata. It is against the federalist system of India as it centralises everything," she said.
Reply to a question from Chawla about why Indian values cannot be considered as universal even though it is a culmination of so many cultures, Sule reiterated that her concern is with the pseudoscience and unscientific facts being propagated, "I have faith in Indian values but not blind faith. What concerns us is when we see senior ministers talking about concepts from the ancient times which have no scientific basis at all." Thangapandian added that that generalising Indian values will be a mistake. "Indian values is a very broad term. India is proud of its diversity and multicultural regional components. How can you have a single syllabus for the entire country while they all have their individual identities?" she asked.
The two-language formula that was promised to Tamil Nadu should be kept intact. English is the global communication language and that has been accepted. Why should a three-year-old have to undergo the burden of learning three languages?
Thamizhachi Thangapandian, DMK MP
One of the most debated issues of the NEP has been the three-language policy which the southern states have been protesting for ages. Coming from Tamil Nadu which has been at the forefront of that protest, Thangapandian pointed out that the state has internalised the two-language system and it does not want to shift to a three-language policy. "The two-language formula that was promised to Tamil Nadu should be kept intact. English is the global communication language and that has been accepted. Why should a three-year-old have to undergo the burden of learning three languages?" said the writer and poet turned politician. "The two-language policy in the Samacheer Kalvi (Uniform System of School Education) and we are quite comfortable with it. The NEP talks about how the tribal areas will have ashrama shalas. What does it mean to the tribals? There is Sanskritisation of every aspect in the NEP," said Thangapandian. Sule, however, said that she had grown up with the three language policy and had no problem with it being implemented. "In a state like Maharashtra, the three language policy has worked and we have no problem with it, unlike other states where Hindi is not spoken."
In a state like Maharashtra, the three language policy has worked and we have no problem with it, unlike other states where Hindi is not spoken
Supriya Sule, NCP MP
Calling education the biggest equaliser in the world, Sule said that it even goes beyond one's name. "What you do gives you your identity. I welcome the NEP as any policy needs updation every five years. While every policy cannot address every problem, there are a few shortcomings in this policy too. We talk about the persons with special needs but the NEP does not mention something as basic as budget allocation for this. Neither is there much for the teachers in the policy. We must have more clarity on these," she said.
When the question arose about whether the NEP was uniting or dividing India, both MPs agreed that it was a "failure of the government" if a universal subject such as an education policy was being considered as having divided India.