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Made in India: Editorial on National Education Policy in Karnataka schools

In the BJP’s dictionary, ‘forward-looking’ has a unique meaning: the party will look — and move — forward, not the students being taught its preferred curriculum

The Editorial Board Published 13.07.22, 03:25 AM
Representational image

Representational image Library

Questions forge the way to knowledge. The tendency to stifle questions and destroy the scope of critical thinking is seen as characteristic of the Bharatiya Janata Party and its saffron brethren. But Karnataka’s position paper on inputs to the curriculum to be formulated under the National Education Policy has encouraged specific questions. It has stated that nothing in textbooks need be taken for granted: students should find out how fake news such as Pythagoras’theorem and the apple falling on Newton’s head is created and propagated. Questioning is permissible, only if the BJP and its siblings decide which questions are asked. The news is fake because, as the chairperson of the task force to implement the NEP in Karnataka explained, gravity and Pythagoras have their roots in Vedic mathematics. Apparently, many Western theories do, or so this ‘Indic-centred’ approach claims. This could be the ‘transformative’ education rooted in Indian values that the Union education minister recently talked about. Karnataka seems to have had a head start in that. Sanskrit is proposed as the third language, because it is the medium of the ‘overwhelming majority’ of ‘Indian’ knowledge. That, of course, identifies ‘India’ with one kind of culture among the many that exist in the country, which is the saffron brotherhood’s single-minded goal. This is not surprising from a state that has replaced lessons from Jawaharlal Nehru and B.R.Ambedkar in textbooks with essays on ideologues of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, K.B.Hedgewar and V.D. Savarkar.

Education is proposed to be transformed by the introduction of Manusmriti; its patriarchal, discriminatory values perhaps make it a BJP favourite. Ancient numeral systems and Vedic mathematics, medieval Indian contributions to science— the section on Greek mathematics will be reduced— ancient theories in geography and other sciences should be taught too. The proposals offer a glimpse into a saffronised curriculum, calculated to produce ignorance and an unscientific cast of mind. Creating a darkness of mind in the name of ‘decolonising’ education is not nationalism, it is the opposite. The education minister’s certainty that the NEP shows the way to forward-looking educational institutions is not meant to be funny. In the BJP’s dictionary, ‘forward-looking’ has a unique meaning: the party will look — and move— forward, not the students being taught its preferred curriculum.

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