Indian Education system is going through a difficult time under the BJP rule, where history lessons are being revised to suit the jingoistic agenda and young minds are filled with distorted version of history. Truth and academic freedom are considered secondary to agenda and this is having a devastating impact on the education system.
In the field of Mathematics, it is being propagated that all ancient Greek and European philosophers and mathematicians plagiarized their works from Sulba Sutras and Vedic Maths. And other subjects are also seeing Hindu mythology creeping in like a well-planned directive.
In a new low in the same direction, HRD passed an order to ask PhD students to focus on topics of national interest and prioritize such topics. A Kerala academic Meena T Pillai has stepped down from the position in protest as she thinks that such orders are suicidal and feudal.
Pillai said history was being erased. She cited the instance where NCERT has done away with a chapter on breast cloth revolt. “… A certain kind of history is being erased because it is not considered as a national priority,” she said while adding that “You are saying the next generation research student, who is normally 24 years old by the time he/she reaches the PhD is not imaginative enough to choose his/her area of research, and we will decide what to research on. This is suicidal for higher education of the country”.
At a time when the Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has called upon all educational institutions to work towards becoming centers of excellence providing quality, affordable, meaningful education to students, this HRD order will only prove to be counterproductive for the Indian education system in the long run.
Shri Naidu asked educational institutions and their management to consider the fact that most of the students might not have enough resources to fund their education in costly professional institutions and might have taken loans. He also said that rankings must help students and their parents understand the complete detail about the institute, infrastructure and its academic and research potential.
A petition was started on change.org challenging the order where academic Sukanta Chaudhuri rightly stated that the decision of educational authorities to confine postgraduate research to matters of national interest and relevance “will terminally impair the pursuit of knowledge in this country” and be “grossly detrimental” to the national interest.
In an effort to instill the feeling of hypernationalism among the young minds, government is only making them repulsive towards the idea of nationalism itself. Patriotism is something that comes naturally and spontaneously from within a person out of respect for a country instead of forcing it down the throats of academics by curbing their academic freedom.
In the words of Sukanta Chaudhuri, who is Professor Emeritus at Jadavpur University in Kolkata: “Freedom of operation is the mother element of academic inquiry. It is in the nation’s interest to protect it.”