The seemingly placid implementation pace of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, which has provoked EW’s July cover story, is deceptive, according to a deep-dive investigation conducted by the Delhi-based daily Indian Express (June 21).
Twenty-four obscure academics with strong links with the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), the ideological mentor organisation of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruling at the Centre and in several states, are members of 17 of 25 focus groups currently finalising content for inclusion in school textbooks published by the National Council for Educational Research & Training (NCERT), a subsidiary of the Union education ministry. NCERT textbooks are prescribed for 26,284 primary-secondary schools affiliated with the Delhi-based Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and serve as models for school texts published and prescribed by SCERTs (State Councils for Educational Research & Training) in the country’s 29 states.
The focus group members include Dr. Bhagwati Prakash Sharma, national convenor of RSS think tank Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM); JNU’s Prof. Vandana Mishra, former national secretary of ABVP (RSS-affiliated students union); Dr. Ramakrishna Rao, former national president of Vidya Bharati, the education wing of RSS, plus RSS acolytes in other focus groups — all appointed last December by Union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan, a former RSS karyakarta.
The revision recommendations of the 25 focus groups packed with RSS academics will be forwarded to a 12-member steering committee chaired by Dr. K. Kasturirangan — a former space scientist and chairman of the Kasturirangan Committee whose 484-page policy draft shaped NEP 2020 — for approval. A stickler for old-fashioned propriety, Kasturirangan declined to comment on the Express investigation, and on the progress of NEP 2020 implementation in EW’s cover feature of this issue.
Sir, given that a massive RSS-BJP conspiracy to rewrite Indian history and hijack Indian education by twisting your report is underway, this is hardly the time for political correctness and propriety.