Concerted bid to create unrest over National Education Policy

There is a concerted effort to create unrest by misleading people, especially minorities and marginalised sections, over the provisions of the draft New Education Policy (NEP) 2019 by some vested interests who want to create a narrative that the policy is against Dalits, minorities and women.

National Commission for Minorities Vice-Chairman George Kurian tried to dispel the fears on NEP among the Christian community. Refuting the criticism against the draft policy, he drove home the message that the policy, if implemented in its entirety, would strengthen communal amity and foster pluralism.

Recently addressing a meeting of academics, journalists and educationists in Kerala, National Commission for Minorities Vice-Chairman George Kurian tried to dispel the fears on NEP among the Christian community. Reading out relevant portions from the policy document, he drove home the message that the policy, if implemented in its entirety, would strengthen communal amity and foster pluralism. To his dismay, few co-panelists and experts who addressed the gathering cared to go through the voluminous document before giving their expert opinions.

Unfounded and baseless allegations are being raised against the government and NEP by people who haven’t had even seen the policy document, said a social activist. “One can discern a pattern in the protests and demonstrations happening in various states,” he added.

Though they might look unconnected, a series of campaigns are being organised across the country with the sole purpose of creating disaffection towards the government and fuel fears. They give shape to region- and religion-specific slogans and issues so that the impact is maximum.

While in North East it is religion which is the most emotive issue, in Tamil Nadu it is language. in some places, it is found that Dalit activists are encouraged to fuel unrest.

A section of the Church leaders alleged that the Centre has failed to highlight the role of Christian missionaries in spreading quality education in the country. According to them, the Centre is trying to “undermine the role of missionaries” in education. While there is no dispute that Christian missionaries did play a role in spreading modern education, it is a fact that their intentions were not all that altruistic.

Allen Brooks, Spokesperson of Assam Christian Forum told a media outlet that not a single word about the significant contributions of Christian missionaries in providing and making quality education accessible to maximum number of people has been mentioned. “The development has shocked the entire Christian community. We, in the Northeast, have reasons enough to suspect that there is an inherent design in the NEP to spell doom the contributions of missionaries towards education.”

The Church leaders are fanning fears that after its implementation “the autonomy of individual States and to their concern for preserving their identity and cultural heritage” will be at risk. “They felt that there is a planned strategy to homogenise the Indian society, ignoring regional diversity and inherited ways of passing on the heirloom of centuries to the next generation,” Brooks said.

“If implemented, the NEP-2019 will ensure that no one from the lower ranks will ever be able to go beyond their assigned level,” he said.

Representatives of various churches including Catholic Church, Church of North India, Council of Baptist Churches of North East India, Presbyterian Church of India, Lutheran Church will be part of the campaign against NEP.

In Tamil Nadu, the Left parties, church bodies and Dravidian parties have come together to launch an anti-NEP campaign aimed at widening faultlines that already exist in the society. They sought to revive the anti-Hindi agitation alleging that “the union government is also trying to impose Hindi on the non-Hindi speaking states”.

An anti-North India feeling is being built up on campuses. Aadhavan Dheetchanya, the general secretary of Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers and Artists Association (TNPWAA), recently told The Hindu: “The proposed policy is against the people of the oppressed communities, minorities and women. The ulterior motive behind the policy is to cripple the social mobility of the oppressed classes by denying them access to education”.

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