Sunday, February 25, 2024

BJP govt’s new education policy targets OBC communities: Thol. Thirumavalavan MP

Thol. Thirumavalavan MP

Here is the full text of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) chief and parliamentarian Thol. Thirumavalavan MP’s speech about the recent National Education Policy on 31 July 2020.

Comrades, today there is a nationwide debate around the National Education Policy.

Only in Tamil Nadu there is a war-cry against this new educational policy, which makes people ask, “There’s no such outrage in any other state in India, why does Tamil Nadu alone react in this manner?” This is an illogical question. No other state opposed Hindi imposition, only we opposed it. No other state talked about state autonomy, only Tamil Nadu demanded it. Even among the South Indian states, no other state is asking tough questions on the rights of states within federal structures. This is an endless list.

The first amendment to the Indian Constitution was in relation to social justice, and was a consequence of the struggle undertaken by Periyar in Tamil Nadu. No other state in India had a similar level of awareness about social justice, and even if they did, they were not in a situation where they could raise their voices against the Central Government. The clarion call for social justice first rose here, a powerful struggle erupted which led to the Constitution itself being amended. So, in many ways, Tamil Nadu is a pioneer.

Historical backdrop of BJP

Firstly, who has framed this NEP?

What are their political leanings? What is their dream-plan for the future?

We need to take all these questions into account and then approach the NEP. The Sangh Parivar is now in power. Even though they may call it the Bharatiya Janata Party, we need to reiterate that it is the political wing of the RSS, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Only if we understand the RSS, their political program, and their ideology, we can understand the BJP.

One should never look at the BJP as just another political party, or as a political party similar to other existing electoral political parties. The Congress Party is an electoral political party, they contest elections. There are several such political parties throughout India that have been started with the intention of contesting and winning elections. The BJP is not one of them. It is merely the political wing of the RSS. It is the RSS which decides who is the leader of the BJP, it is the RSS which decides who is the candidate for Prime Minister. All the organisations which work across various fields, having based themselves on the ideology and program of the RSS are collectively called the Sangh Parivar. On Tamil social media, they are just called Sanghis.

The fundamental, the basis, the origin for all these organisations is the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Its political wing, the BJP was initially called the Jan Sangh. It was dissolved, and later, the BJP was registered as a political party. In the year 1984, they only had won only two seats in the Parliament. Afterwards, they spread the politics of religious hatred, sowed the seeds of hatred against minorities, divided people along religious lines, and harvested political gains.

The most important political turns followed the recommendations of the Mandal Commission, which put forth the suggestion that on the basis of social justice, OBCs (Other Backward Classes) must be given reservations. They are the largest majority in this country—the non-Brahmin, non-Dalit, non-Adivasi, non-minority (non-Muslim, non-Christian, non-Jain, non-Parsi) society. Sikhs and Buddhists are considered as part of the Hindu fold, so this definition applies to all minorities who are not Christian or Muslim. Not only are they economically backward, but they are lagging behind even in employment and education. They are not sufficiently educated, they are not represented in employments, they are not able to get government jobs—therefore, the Mandal Commission recommended that providing reservation for these people was an unavoidable necessity. In his term as the Prime Minister of India, VP Singh implemented this recommendation. But the Sanghis could not tolerate it—how can we give reservations to OBCs?

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Pay attention to these comrades: Their protests were not against reservations for Scheduled Castes (SCs) or reservations for Scheduled Tribes (STs). The BJP, then under Advani, tipped the entire nation to a boiling point. Extreme violence and rioting were unleashed. Today’s leaders who call themselves the guardians and protectors of the OBC community but are actually joining hands with the BJP are betraying their own people. They are joining hands with the same people who carried out a rattha yaathirai (a bloody journey) under the name of a rath yathra (a chariot journey). They are joining hands with those who demolished the Babri Masjid, with those who rallied people under a religious identity and then swept to power. I narrate this background so that you are aware and able to understand the historical backdrop of the BJP.

What is the program of the ruling BJP? Their program is the same program of the RSS.

Why do the RSS-BJP oppose social justice?

Aren’t they the party for Hindu people? Aren’t OBCs Hindus? The categories which we call BC and MBC in Tamil Nadu are together known as the OBC (Other Backward Classes) elsewhere in India.

One has to understand a further truth: what does the nomenclature Other Backward Classes reveal? It reveals that there are not only other backward classes but there is some original Backward Classes. Those original Backward Classes are those who have been tabulated, scheduled. They are the Scheduled Backward Class and the Tribal Backward Class. That is how we must refer to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST). That is how the Constitution looks at them, that is how this terminology of OBC, Other Backward Classes, originated.

In the Constitution, reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has been guaranteed on a national level based on the historical understanding that they were denied education and employment for centuries and were socially oppressed,. There was a widespread demand, including in the Parliament, that other non-Brahmins must also be considered Backward Classes. On the basis of such a demand a Commission headed by Justice Mandal was appointed. The Commission spent a long time researching the condition of these people, subsequently submitted its findings and recommendations. This Mandal Commission paved the way for the implementation of 27% reservation for OBCs.

VP Singh declared boldly,”“I’ll be happy if I implement OBC reservations before my death”—he was ready to lose his position as the Prime Minister, a post which he was occupying with the support of the BJP. He was perfectly aware that implementing reservation for OBCs would be opposed by the BJP, they would withdraw support, and this would lead to the fall of his Government. He was more interested in protecting social justice than in protecting his position. No one can also deny the historical role played by Ram Vilas Paswan in this regard, although we have a difference of opinion on his present alliance with the BJP.

When OBCs were given reservation, Dalit people or Adivasi people did not even raise the smallest murmur against it. They welcomed it, supported it, recognised it—and were solidly involved in making it a reality. Who opposed it? BJP, RSS and Sangh Parivar organisations. For the first time in Indian politics, Brahmin students took to the streets, rampaging, vandalising public property, indulging in arson and violent rioting. Remember this history, comrades.

Varnashrama: RSS Agenda of the NEP

Today’s National Education Policy is also grounded on the same agenda: RSS, the Sangh Parivar, and their political wing BJP are all united in their objective that OBC and socially backward classes should not get education, they should not aspire for power. If they get educated, get degrees and occupy government jobs who will sweep the streets?, who will wash the toilets?, who will do the agricultural work?, who will weave clothes?, who will do carpentry?, who will make the pots?, who will make the jewellery? Who can do all this work in their place?

RSS and Sangh Parivar believe that as far as possible these people should not get educated so that they can continue doing such jobs, and that this is beneficial to the country. In any corner of India, do we see people of the forward communities involved in these jobs? Have they any history of doing it? Have they any practice, any knowledge, or any technical know-how about these jobs? Think about it. We keep repeating, only if one works, one can feed themselves. But there are sections of society which have ruled India and which continue to hold power without having done any labour at all. They do not want to lose this social structure where they can flourish without toil. The Sangh Parivar wants to protect this social structure, that’s their dream plan.

What is their objective? What is their line of thinking? Is it just the hatred of Muslims and Christians—no comrades, that is not their real identity, their real objective. The hatred of Muslims and Christians is a tool for them to mobilise people under the Hindu identity and to reap the political benefits by securing a vote bank and capturing power. This hatred of Muslims and Christians is just a political ploy.

Their objective, their aim is to once again establish a society based on varnashrama, the same society that existed 1000, 2000 years ago. Such a society already exists but it is under attack. Sankaracharya is often attributed with a quote that the British rule in India was a good thing because it is the British who came up with the construct of the word Hindu, which in turn, turned out to be a protective fortress. When the British codified the lives of the people, they named it the Hindu Law. This word Hindu is not a word with a long history. It did not exist in Adi Sankara’s time. Can anyone prove otherwise?

This word ‘Hindu,’ has become a fortress for the Sangh Parivar and is now being utilised to capture power.

Their intention is not the welfare of Hindus. Their intention is to retain the majority of Hindus as slaves. Whether they are labelled Dalit, Adivasi or OBC—if those people who are involved in physical labour are 100% converted into educated people—the social order that has been maintained for ages will be disrupted and destroyed. If you look at villages today, you can observe this phenomenon. Those who get educated do not go back to their villages and do agricultural work. No engineer, doctor, MA, MPhil, BA, PhD, etc goes back and wields the rake or the plough, no one is taking care of the cattle or harvesting, etc.

They are not doing any of these jobs because they are now educated. They are also refusing to do any of the so-called dirty, menial tasks they were expected to do—how will they do it? All educated people want to go to the cities, to Mumbai and Delhi, they want to find good jobs with the government or the private sector, and they want to earn a lot of money. Agriculture gets affected, artisanal produce gets affected. No child of a carpenter wants to be a carpenter. The children of weavers take up government jobs; they become teachers, IAS, IPS officers. The children of fisher people are no longer fishing. The children of goldsmiths don’t make jewellery. The children of shoemakers don’t make shoes. Barbers are no longer doing their hereditary jobs. This is a list that I can keep on expanding. This is the underlying fear for the Sangh Parivar—who will do these jobs which have been done hereditarily for ages and ages? What will happen if all of these do not continue?

OBCs: Sangh Parivar’s next target

At the heart of the RSS ideology is the principle that India should not be a 100% literate, educated nation. This is not a mere surmise my comrades, this is the most important part of their dream plan. Their target is the OBC people. All of the tasks that I mentioned and enumerated in my speech until this point are being done by OBC’s. Everything cannot be mechanised, they know that. Even if a situation comes into place where multinational corporations are going to be in charge of all of production, they still need people to sweep the streets, clean the toilets and run errands—they need people who are not fully educated. To prevent universal education, the Sangh Parivar needs to filter out people. That is why they want public exams for third standard, public exams for eighth standard—you can imagine what a horrid cruelty this is? 

This Government has a long-term conspiracy plan in mind and they have drawn up the NEP on that basis. Why do we need a public exam at Class 3, 5 and 8? We already have public exams for Class 10 and Class 12, and now they have introduced it for Class 11 also. What is a public exam? It is a filtration process. Comrades, these are not intended to improve the quality of students. When lakhs and lakhs of students are taking an exam, they do not want to promote all of them and send them to colleges—there are not enough seats, there do not want to allocate the necessary amount in the budget, and most of all the fear and worry that if all the children get educated, there would be no one to do the traditional, hereditary occupations.

Their intention through the NEP is to create the maximum number of dropouts.  A Class 3 student is 7, 8 years old, a Class 5 student is 10 years old, a Class 8 student is 13 years old. Imagine the state of mind of an eight-year-old when they are told that they have failed in an exam? Earlier, there was a policy that students should not be made to fail until Class 8—now the NEP lets them fail students at 8 years old, 10 years old, and 13 years old. A majority of children do not think that they can give it another shot, retake the exams and then proceed with their education. When the word “fail” is said to a student, they are mentally affected, they internalise an idea that they cannot learn, and they quit their studies. They refuse to go to school. And parents also follow the same formula: they will argue that this child has failed, why should we insist that he must go to school, let him be? If I did not clear my Standard XI exams, I too would have been made to stay at home. I was an average student, I scored 60%—and many people said, he has got good marks, why don’t you make him study further. Even in dire poverty, my father wanted me to study and I could go from school to college. If I had failed in the SSLC (Std XI) in Mathematics or English, that would have been the end of my studies. When I was in Class VI, there were 25 students in my class. When I was in Class VII, it was already halved, there were only 10, 12 students. When I was in Class VIII, we were only 3 students in my class—me and two girls. By the time of the half-yearly examinations, the number reduced to two. One of the girl students attained puberty, and they stopped her from school. Only two of us took the Class VIII exams, and I was the only one who went and joined High School for Class IX. From Class VI to Class IX, only 1 student in 25 could stay within the schooling system, the others could not even continue their school education. Family difficulties are already a cause for drop-outs. Add public exams to this situation, and imagine the disastrous consequences. Should we not oppose this? Can we maintain a silence merely because other states are not opposing it?

All of this is part of the Sangh Parivar conspiracy. They have no intention of the betterment of students. Even after these students cross all the hurdles of public exams and finish school, they have to clear a common national-level entrance test to get into any college for any degree. Just as NEET exists today for the medical college admissions, the NEP says that nationwide common entrance tests must be conducted for students to even study BA or BSc. If that is the case, what is the use of the Class XII public exam marks? What was the point of that public exam then?

Moreover, instead of openly declaring a kulakalvi thittam (hereditary-occupational education policy) this NEP talks about mandatory vocational courses from Class VIII. Even when we were in school, there were classes on how to weave, classes on agriculture. But these were not mandatory—but this NEP is making it compulsory. What is the intention behind teaching students how to weave, how to work with wood, how to farm? They are secretly imposing the kulakalvi thittam (hereditary education policy). They do not want these hereditary occupations to disappear, to stop perpetuating themselves through the family. If they think that only the child of a carpenter can do carpentry, only he has the talent to do it well, and that it is important for the nation that he learns how to do carpentry——what does all this actually mean? They are trying to modify this land once again according to the Manu dharma. They are trying to make this land into a land that adheres by Varnashrama Dharma. There is absolutely no difference between the kulakalvi thittam which was put forth by Rajaji, I think in the year 1952, and this policy of the NEP. This emphasis on vocational courses is not coming from any place of goodwill; it is not coming from any long-term vision. This is only a well-planned conspiracy. That is why we need to oppose the NEP.

One Language, One Culture: Sangh Parivar’s dream

Next, the three-language formula enshrined in the NEP. What is their intention? Their reasoning is that the British ruled for 300 years and have gone away, so why should anyone learn English? Isn’t the language of the majority of people in this country Hindi? So, let us make Hindi the official language, the language of communication, the language of the judiciary—let there be Hindi everywhere and in everything.  Even if people cannot read and write Hindi they must at least be able to speak the language, and understand the language when it is spoken. They want to create such an India, this is their dream design. India is a multilingual nation composed of several nationalities who speak multiple languages. It’s a nation that contains many cultures, many religions. But what do they want? One Nation. One Culture. One Culture means nothing more than One Language, One Religion. They want to destroy the multiculturalism of our society. They cannot tolerate many religions, many languages, many nationalities, and many cultures. After 50, 100 years they want only people who speak the same language, follow the same religion, and practice the same culture to live here. This is their aim, and they want to achieve it, to make this dream into a reality. These words One Nation, One Culture is not something innocent, comrades. It is very dangerous. It is against diversity, it is against democracy, it is against the Indian Constitution, it is against national unity, it is against national integration. But they are courageously bandying it about because they are in power.

 Protesters defaced Hindi letters on railway signboards in Tamil Nadu.

The NEP seems to suggest that education in the mother tongue can also take place—this is merely for the optics of flexibility. Their insistence under the three language formula that in addition to the mother-tongue and foreign language (English), an Indian language has to be learnt—they mean Sanskrit. Even Hindi is not so important to them; after all, they know that it can be made to reach the people very easily. Linguists say that it is a dead language, a language that exists only in old writings, which people never spoke or speak. Even on a national level the number of people who know how to speak that language is only in the few low thousands. They are trying to breathe fresh life into a language that has been destroyed and forgotten through the passage of time. Today power is in the hands of people who want to impose Sanskrit all over India. A friend of mine said that his son is in Class II, and he has six Sanskrit words in his textbook and he’s been asked to learn them. See where the poison is being sowed. We are not against people learning many languages; any one is free to learn as many languages as they want. But, when the state attempts to make it a part of the National Education Policy, it suggests an ulterior motive. Wherever we turn there is Hindi Prachar Sabha, there are English learning centres, and they are places that teach foreign languages. What people do out of choice and need is different from the mandatory nature, the imposition of a state policy.

Coming to the two-language policy, it is not only Tamil but every Indian citizen should be able to do schooling in their own mother tongue. All over the world everyone gets educated only in their mother-tongue. There are several European countries where people don’t teach English, and education happens in the mother-tongue. They learn science, mathematics, history and philosophy in their mother-tongue itself—that is how advanced they are. They respect the feelings of nationalities; they recognise the right of nationalities. This is their political stand. But the Indian Government, the Sanatana forces, those who occupy power and are affiliated to the Sangh Parivar want to have a future with only One Language, One Culture. They are trying to make it real though the National Education Policy. Under the garb, and the mirage of flexibility of allowing people to undertake mother-tongue medium education—they present themselves as willing to make allowances and give freedoms to the people. We also allow you to learn another language, a foreign language. And riding on this wave, they continue their propaganda: Sanskrit is the language of scientific invention, it is the language which our ancestors spoke, and it is our nation’s language. They gloat with pride that Sanskrit language is full of knowledge [Quote NEP]. Already, as a result of invasions, and as a result of the compromises by the kings who captured power—Tamil words which once existed within the sanctum sanctorum of the temple, these words are now on the street. Sanskrit alone exists within temples—this happened because of the rulers. We talk about our kings with a lot of pride, but these kings were responsible for Tamil language to die, for Tamil identity to be destroyed by joining hands with the forces who wanted to impose the supremacy of northern Indian languages. Tamil Nadu is the only state in India which has consistently and loudly affirmed its position and its adherence to the two-language formula alone. Let an individual learn as many languages as they want but state policy must be a two-language policy. The effort to impose a third language is a gradual effort to convert and subsume Tamil people under the broader project of Hindi-speakers, Sanskrit-speakers. This is the plan of the Sangh Parivar.

This National Education Policy imposes the three-language formula, it imposes hereditary education, they are introducing public exams at so many levels so that students drop out of education and go back to their hereditary occupations, they are creating a compulsory nationwide entrance exam for students to enter colleges. By imposing regulations that teachers must have the minimum qualification of a B.Ed, by derecognising the M.Phil, they are making it extremely difficult for teachers to emerge from poor, marginalised communities. At present, a diploma is enough to become a school teacher—they are destroying all these to impose new rules. One nation One Education is their aim. Isn’t that very dangerous? Isn’t there are massive cultural difference between Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu? How can they have the same educational policy for someone studying in Uttar Pradesh and someone studying in Tamil Nadu? Just because we have accepted that this is one nation, can we allow those who want to exert their supremacy to impose their views upon us? Is that democracy? How will it be democratic when they insist that we must speak in their mother tongue? Tamil is one of the oldest, ancient languages in the world, it has a great history and tradition, it has a grammatical and literary tradition that dates back to several thousand years, it is a language that has withstood several invasions and the test of time, it is a language that rich with intellectual wealth—so, why should Modi not learn Tamil? Why can’t the north-Indian ministers learn Tamil? After BJP came to power, all government files were only provided to us in Hindi. There’s a statistic that 60-70% information and file transactions are taking place only in Hindi.  Everything that existed in English has now been converted to Hindi. Names of ministries, departments, programmes have all been converted to Hindi. In the beginning all the announcements even to the Parliamentarians only came in Hindi. Only when we opposed it, they provided us English versions also. Their intention: One Language, One Culture, One Nation, One Education. They have drawn up this NEP only to make it possible to implement their vision of a Sanatana society in India.

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NEP: Anti-democratic and unconstitutional

I do not know the qualifications of Kasturirangan apart from the fact that he was ISRO Chairman—and don’t know on what basis he was asked to draft the National Education Policy. Kasthurirangan Commission submitted its report in May. Public opinion must have been taken—we hear that 2, 50,000 people submitted their feedback—but we have not been told what they said; this has not been shared with the people or available on any public domain. Neither have they said which opinions of the people have been taken on board. People were only given two months to give their opinion. Debates must have taken place in both houses of the Parliament. If it does not pass there, it must be sent to the Standing Committee. Only then, a decision can be taken and it can go to the President for his final approval. But they’ve used the coronavirus contained lockdown to hurriedly bypass all this procedure, which itself is anti-democratic and unconstitutional. They appear to have been in extreme haste to make this NEP into law.

Many who are allied with the BJP, including in Tamil Nadu, are going into raptures that the NEP suggests that six percent of the GDP has been allocated for education.  This is nothing new—the Kothari Commission for education, which dates back to the 1960s, made a similar demand. Why are we so proud about a six percent allocation? For the nation to really develop, at least a fourth, or a fifth of the budget must be allocated to education. Majority of the budget is only allocated for defence—they have made enemies out of all the neighbouring countries and therefore splurge the maximum amount possible on the military. Even this six percent, what do we know of how it will be spent? It will be spent on the Sangh Parivar agenda: to spread Sanskrit, to bring back hereditary occupational learning, to conduct public exams at Class III, V and VIII to filter-out as many students including OBC students, as possible and to create drop outs. This is their expenditure plan. They want to make all of India into an Hindi-speaking nation. This NEP is a plan to implement the RSS-Sangh Parivar’s long-term dreams. This NEP has been formulated as an attempt to re-establish the Laws of Manu in our country.  I am not making this criticism out of political hatred, but taking into account the welfare of the people, particularly the working class people, including the OBC people.

There should be no three language formula.

There should be kulakalvi thittam under the garb of vocational courses.

There should be no public exams for Class III, Class V and Class VIII students.

There must be no nationwide common entrance exam for students who want to go to college and earn a degree.

There must be a greater allocation from the GDP for education and states must be allowed to exercise their rights in this area.

Education is only on the Concurrent List, it is not on the Central List. Before the time of Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) in the 1970s, education was only on the State List. It was during this time of Emergency that it was moved to the Concurrent List.  At the end of Emergency, it should have been moved back on to the State List. No other state except Tamil Nadu fought for the right to retrieve this back. State Government opinions must be taken into account by the Centre. I make a demand to the Government of Tamil Nadu to publicly announce its stand in relation to the language policy: do they want a two-language formula or a three-language formula?

 I conclude by reiterating that the National Education Policy is a dream plan of the RSS-Sanatana-Sangh Parivar forces. The Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchifeels that the NEP is anti-national, anti-people, anti-constitutional and anti-democratic.

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