One of the greatest mistakes which the new Government formed after independence committed was that it retained the British educational system which had been introduced in India not to help her people but producing clerks and officials to run the alien governmental machinery. It is evident, inter alia, from the speeches of Thomas Babbit Macaulay who as a representative of the British Government had designed this system. He has often been quoted as having said; “We must at present do our best to form a class, who may be interpreters between us and the millions we govern, a class of persons, Indians in blood and colour but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.”
Everything Macaulay did in the name of education was just the opposite of our own educational ideals. It was the same Macaulay who had framed the flawed Penal Code of India and laid down the foundation of an alien legal system in our sacred soil which continues to plague us today even after the lapse of more than hundred and fifty years.
The first requisite of any educational system worth its name is that it must be national. Since the Hindus constitute the overwhelming majority in this nation the word “national” must and ought to be construed with a frame of reference to them. This has not been done so far. Take a look at the NCERT textbooks. We do not find a single quotable word in these textbooks either from the holy Vedas or the Ramayana or the Mahabharata or any other Hindu scripture.
Our scriptures tell us that the sole object of education is the building of character. Hankering after jobs had never been the goal of education in India. The Mahabharata says that those who make education a means of livelihood are sinners and enemies of dharma (Shanti Parva 142:12). Precepts such “as speak the truth”, “respect your mother and father and guest”, “act according to dharma” and such other lofty ideals should be taught to children at the earliest stage of education. Instead of drilling these noble ideas in their mind at the primary stage of education itself, the NCERT textbooks tell them to respect the so-called ideals of the Indian Constitution.
In a Hindi textbook Bal Ramkatha for class-VI the first lesson begins not with the life of Sri Ram, but with Article 51-A of the Constitution related to Fundamental Duties! Clause(a) of the said Article lays down; “It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem.”
Firstly, it should be made clear that the so-called ideals of the Constitution have their root in the western culture. Should our children be compelled to respect them? Take, for example, production, manufacture, possession, sale and purchase of intoxicating liquors. According to our dharma not only consumption of intoxicating drinks, but also their production, possession, sale and purchase is a deadly sin. The Manusmriti, a universally acknowledged scripture and foundation of Hindu law, commands the king to imprint the mark of the cup of wine with hot iron on the forehead of the drinker (ix:237). According to verse 235 of the same chapter a drinker of wine is a mortal sinner.
According to the Mahabharata, Ugrasena, the King of Mathura had proclaimed an edict putting a ban on the production and manufacture of wine at Dwarka. He had further ordered that if anyone was found guilty of manufacturing an intoxicant he must be placed on a sharp-pointed piercing rod. (Mausal Parva 01:28-31).
What is the scenario in India today? An unprecedented change has taken place here after the enactment of a new Constitution which is based on alien concepts and ideals. Now wine is not only sold openly in markets but even young female employees of hotels have been permitted to serve it to customers. There are countless shops where liquor is sold under the direct patronage of the Government because the Constitution, instead of declaring their production, sale and purchase as a penal offence has set the seal of its approval on them which is evident from the words “alcoholic liquors for human consumption” contained in Entry 51(a) of the State List in the Seventh Schedule under Article 246.
Drinking of wine not only disturbs domestic peace, turning a happy home into a hell, but also causes danger to human safety in general. Take, for example, the rising road accidents in Delhi, the capital of India. Only this year, till November 30, 10,542 cases of drunken driving which caused road accidents leading to death were filed before the Delhi Police and 1,902 persons died due to road mishap in the city. Delhi Police has made express admission by saying that “Drunken driving is a cause for many road accidents.”
Making a mockery of our great scripture the Manusmriti which provides severe punishment for sale, purchase and consumption of wine and betting and gambling, the framers of the Constitution placed these evils honourably in its Seventh Schedule. If immature school-going children are taught by the NCERT textbooks to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals through Article 51-A, how can they be expected to close their eyes to such undesirable and highly objectionable entries made in it?
By making education a State subject the Constitution has opened a floodgate for all kinds of experiments made in the name of learning. The teaching of sex in schools is a burning example. It was reportedly started on the suggestion of UNESCO. Only eleven states have been reported to register their protest against it. If it is extremely harmful for both students and teachers why have other states not been restrained from it? Since education is a State subject provincial governments feel free to do whatever they want to do with it.
Pursuing its anti-national educational policy brazenly the NCERT is now laying emphasis on multilingualism which leads to emotional disintegration among students belonging to different ethnic denominations.
Instead of popularising Hindi as the national language of India the NCERT text-books lay emphasis on multilingualism which is obviously wrong because it creates fissiparous tendencies among young learners. In a Hindi textbook Rimjhim for class-V, strange and unfamiliar words have been used taking them from different languages. Emphasis is laid on the supposed fact that linguistic diversity is our strength. It is not so. Strength lies not in diversity but in unity. India has been in desperate need of a national language which should be taught to each and every student in primary and secondary schools compulsorily for emotional integration.
There is no doubt that Hindi alone can play the great and laudable role in India as its national language. Taking different words from different languages and mixing them with Hindi arbitrarily will not serve any meaningful purpose. Nationality which includes the making of Hindi the national language of India, uniformity and free and compulsory education for all children till they are found fit for higher learning are requirements which ought to be fulfilled at the earliest.
(The writer is an advocate in the Supreme Court of India and can be contacted at 207, Kalyani Apartments, Sector-06, Vasundhara, Ghaziabad.)