COVER STORY : Call for Consonance
Cherishing the buoyant culture of erstwhile Marwar and evoking heroic memories of its eventful past where sky-scraping forts shielded several foreign invasions, this year’s Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS) was held at Nagaur in Rajasthan. A rightly chosen venue in the present day ambience of national life. The ABPS, the apex policy making body of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), was inaugurated by RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat on March 11. Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat and Sarkaryavah Shri Bhaiyaji Joshi chaired the 3-day proceedings which continued till March 13, where 1,058 representatives including State level office bearers of RSS, national office bearers of RSS inspired organisations, elected representatives of Shakhas from all over the country and a few special invitees were present.
Upholding the sanctity of the rich heritage in look, words and deeds, the campus of Sharada Bal Niketan in Saradapura, a picturesque village of Nagaur, was indeed a microcosm of rich and vibrant state of Rajasthan. It could also apparently be experienced from the warm welcome and gracious hospitality which the natives extended to all the delegates. Being home to many towering personalities of the cultural, religious and political history of Bharat, the campus was beautifully adorned with portraits of the land’s great children from various facets, ranging from Mira Bai to Maharana Pratap. A photo exhibition on the late Shri Balasaheb Deoras was also arranged in connection with the celebrations of his birth centenary which has already begun. The organisers were successful in keeping the whole campus plastic-free even without issuing any dictats in this direction, bearing a testimony to the unique organisational skill and innate discipline of every Swayamsevak present there. Be it on Sanghasthan or in dining hall or in meeting hall, this unequaled style of observing decorum without any external compulsion was evident everywhere inside the campus.
Unlike the news floated around in the media which ascribed political overtones to the ABPS, it is general body meeting of the RSS which is summoned every year to review the previous year’s work and plan the programmes for the next year. Shri Bhaiyaji Joshi presented the annual report in which various matters including the present status of the Sangh work and national scenario came under analysis.
On first day of the conclave while interacting with the media, Sahsarkaryavah Dr Krishna Gopal briefed about the steady growth of RSS. Backed by the report, he said, number of Shakhas and Sthans have increased by 10,413 and 5,181 respectively from 2012 to 2015. In a phenomenal growth in 2016, an increase of 5,524 in the number of Shakhas has been registered in a single year. The growth of Milans (weekly gathering) showed an increase of 937 numbers. 65.6 per cent of the total Shakhas are having students as swayamsevaks. While the young people including students, employees and businessmen of below 40 years constitute 91 per cent of total number of swayamsevaks who regularly attend shakhas, the grown ups aged above 40 years contribute only 9 per cent. He said out of 840 districts (in Sangh parlance) in Bharat RSS has reached 820 districts which cover 95 per cent. He also said that ABPS would discuss the plan for celebrating the birth centenaries of Balasaheb Deoras, Deendayal Upadhyaya, and 125th jayanti celebrations of Dr BR Ambedkar, across the country by spreading the message of equality, Deendayalji’s Vision of Antyodaya (Prosperity of the last man standing), work to eliminate caste based discrimination for the upliftment of the poor and downtrodden, etc.
Remembering the great souls who departed last year the ABPS paid rich tribute to the distinguished persons ranging from VHP leader Ashok Singhal to labour leader AB Bardhan, etc. The Pratinidhi Sabha also paid homage to those who lost their lives in Chennai floods, other natural calamities and terrorist attacks, and the jawans, who were killed in the Siachen avalanche.
The performance-wise analysis of Bouddhik Vibhag, Prachar Vibhag, Sampark Vibhag and Sewa Vibhag found distinctive place in the Report. Sarsanghachalak’s meetings with dignitaries of various walks of life and special programmes like Akhil Bharatiya Shrung Ghosh Shibir Swaranjali (Brass Band Route March in the presence of Sarsanghachalak at Bengaluru), Akhil Bharatiya Khel workshop (Discussion on new games held at Mumbai), Tarunodaya, 2015 (organised in Haryana to boost the Mahavidyalayin Vibhag), Gram Sangam (discussions on 18 subjects related to rural development held at Bengaluru), Shivshakti Sangam (a mammoth gathering of swayamsevaks of Paschim Maharashtra Prant held at Pune), etc.
The Report took a serious note of the prevailing national issues pertaining to women’s temple entry, menace of terror, growing communal frenzy in the country and anti-national activities in the University campuses. These issues were subjected to serious analysis. It observed that some vested interests have raised an unsavoury controversy over women’s entry to temples through agitations. As per our tradition, both men and women are considered to be equal partners so that men and women are naturally permitted entry into the temples without any discrimination. “However, because of some unfair traditions, at certain places there has been a lack of consensus on the question of temple entry. Wherever such problems exist, attempts should be made to bring about a change of mind through proper discussions, the report unambiguously stated.
The Report expressed grave concerns over repeated attacks on the Security Agencies. The Report commended the security forces for successfully saving the country from the enemy through their valiant fight. Citing Pathankot Air Force Base attack as a recent example, the Report suggested to further tighten the security arrangements and make them foolproof so as to ensure that such incidents are not repeated anymore. It also suggested to take stringent action to curb activities such as illegal migration, smuggling, Pak-sponsored terrorism. It also called for a review of the infrastructural facilities in border areas and border security from time to time.
The Report also seriously looked into the recent incidents of violence at different places like Malda, which raised grave concern for the patriotic and peace-loving people, and the law and order machinery. The report observed that some universities have become hotbed of anti-national activities. The universities are expected to groom patriotic citizens by imparting them the lessons of unity and integrity. “In the name of freedom of expression, how the slogans calling for the breaking up of and destruction of the nation, can be tolerated, and how the guilty, who had hatched the conspiracy to blow up the national Parliament, can be honoured as martyrs?” it asks. Doing so, itself will be treated as an anti-national act, says the report.
Followed by Sarkaryavah Report, the proceedings of the last year’s ABPS held in Nagpur, were presented by Shri Vikas Telang, RSS Pradhan Karyalay Sachiv, Nagpur. Taking cognizance of the increasing public participation in programmes and steady increase in the number of Sakhas, the report evaluated it as a satisfactory achievement. The report envisages that through well-planned efforts and hard work the Sangh will be able to transform the prevalent favourable atmosphere into concrete results.
Since 1950, the Sangh has passed many resolutions on relevant issues which affect national life. The resolutions are passed either by Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha or by Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal. A resolution drafting committee is set up every year to formulate resolutions over various burning national issues. The draft is to be submitted before the Pratinidhi Sabha for further debate. Each resolution is passed after discussions, deliberations and debates. After incorporating the amendments suggested by the representatives, the resolution is again mooted for consideration. This year, the ABPS has passed three important resolutions pertaining to Health, Education and Social Harmony. It has called for providing affordable, accessible and quality education with respect to the reforms in education sector and effective, affordable and easily accessible health care and medical services to the common public and practising Samarasata in day to day life.
On second day RSS Akhil Bharatiya Sampark Pramukh Dr Aniruddh Deshpande briefed the Press on the resolutions pertaining to Health and Education. The resolutions called for providing affordable, accessible and quality education with respect to the reforms in education sector and effective, affordable and easily accessible health care services to the public. Dr Deshpande said for affordable and quality education the common man and both Government and society should come forward.
On final day of the ABPS, Sarkaryavah Shri Bhaiyaji Joshi said the Pratinidhi Sabha has taken decisions on the programmes and plans for the coming year. In a landmark sartorial shift, he officially announced that the Pratinidhi Sabha has decided to change Ganavesh by replacing the existing Khaki shorts with wood brown pants. Speaking on the resolutions, he evaluated that the three resolutions are deeply rooted in the social life. The myriad issues in the field of healthcare should be resolved. Inspite of better infrastructure, the quality of education should be ensured to all the children at primary level and character building should begin from childhood. Hindu society is very much concerned about the social discrimination, which is still prevalent in the society and it hampers the social harmony. The ABPS called for eradication of caste-based discrimination which disrupts social harmony. About the organisation, he said in the long history of 90 years the RSS, by marking its presence in around 58000 villages, today has reached new heights of organisational strength.
He said the RSS is not a rigid organisation which turns its blind eye to the social change. Being an organisation which has no hesitation to change according to time, RSS has decided to adopt the new dress code (pants). There is no specific reason behind the choice of brown colour, he explained. The design and the style of the uniform do not pose any serious concerns. He hoped that the new dress code can be implemented within 4-6 months. As far as the temple entry of women is concerned, the Sangh has maintained its position that a consensus should be built up in favour of women through dialogues and debate and not by agitation. Almost all the temples in the country, except three or four, do not impose any sort of restrictions on the entry of women. We need to correct them through discussions. Agitations and demonstrations would not solve the actual problem. Politicising the issue is not a solution, he opined.
Shri Joshi reiterated the Sangh’s declared stand on reservation that it should continue taking the spirit of Dr BR Ambedkar’s vision enshrined in the Constitution into account. Some rich people are enjoying the benefits of the reservation which needs to be reviewed by the government as it is the responsibility of the rich to look after the backward section of society. Economic backwardness should not distance children from getting education, he added.
A special Bouddhik by Sarsanghachalak Shri Bhagwat on Balasaheb Deoras was delivered on second day of the conclave. The Bouddhik focused on the theme of exemplary leadership. In his enlightening speech, the Sarsanghachalak elaborated leadership qualities which are essential in guiding the society towards the right direction. A leader should be humble and compassionate. He should be connected with the people of all walks of life and capable to take brave decisions on right time. Right judgement of people is one of the fundamental qualities which a good leader should possess, he said. The representatives of each orgasnisation presented annual report before the Pratinidhi Sabha.
Taking new energy from the Pratinidhi Sabha, everyone should dedicate themselves for the transformative cause with a strong resolve, Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat urged all the Pratinidhis in his final speech. Along with serious discussions and debates, the three-day Pratinidhi Sabha also happened to be the venue of many other eye catching events including a photo exhibition featuring the life and times of Balasaheb Deoras.
In three days, the representatives were getting a rare opportunity to experience signature culinary of Rajasthan. The natives in the role of host, in traditional colourful Rajasthani attire, served launch to the guests. As a pleasant thanksgiving, when their turn came, the swayamsevaks fondly served them with lunch.
Ganesh Krishnan R from Nagaur
(With inputs from Organiser Bureau)
The Pratinidhi Sabha stressed that each individual should conduct oneself with samarasata in day to day personal, family and societal life on the basis of our eternal and timeless life ideals.
As Vivekananda said, “The caste system is opposed to the religion of the Vedanta. Caste is a social custom, and all our great preachers have tried to break it down. From Buddhism downwards, every sect has preached against caste, and every time it has only riveted the chains.” Taking Swamiji’s this thinking forward and continuing its stated position of denouncing discriminations of all kinds in social life, RSS passed a resolution on Practicing Samarasata in day to day life. It was in continuation with the resolution passed in the Udupi convention of Vishwa Hindu Parishad where all prominent Hindu Saints declared that “Na Hindu Patito Bhavet” (No Hindu is downtrodden). It was also operationlising the views expressed by the third RSS Sarsanghachalak Balasaheb Deoras at the celebrated Vasant-Vyakhyanmala at Pune, where he unequivocally declared that “if untouchability is not a sin,
nothing else is. It must go lock stock
All of us know the philosophical foundation of Bharatiya culture is based on eternal unity of basic elements in all innate and inanimate things. We have expressed that as ‘Atmavat Sarvabhooteshu’ (all other beings treated as oneself), ‘Adweshta Sarva Bhootanam’ (malice towards none) and ‘Ek Noor te sab jag upja, Kaun bhaley, kau mandey’ (From that one light the whole world was born, so how one is superior and other inferior). Whenever this spirit of oneness eroded, social evils like caste-based discrimination and untouchability intruded in our life. The obvious result was weakening of the national life and foreign rule. Despite the knowledge of this fact, we experience various social discrimination and strife in day to day life.
We have also come up with various Constitutional provisions and institutional mechanisms to end such inequities and exploitations. Unfortunately, the caste ridden mindset continues to exist in our routine life. Sometimes, it also takes heinous turn to disturb the social fabric. Most importantly, some people find identity politics as convenient tool of mobilisation. Ultimately, it leads to furthering justification of inhuman and exploitative practices by certain groups. The atmosphere of mistrust and distrust persists. The chain of action and reaction continues to strengthen the discriminatory social institutions against our cultural ethos.
The issue of inequality and discrimination cannot be addressed through mere legal mechanisms or academic principles. As the identities are entrenched in our individual and social psychology, it has to be cured at that level.
Therefore, the Pratinidhi Sabha, in its third and most important resolution, opined that each individual should conduct oneself with samarasata (social harmony) in day to day personal, family and societal life on the basis of our eternal and timeless life ideals. It is this conduct that will eradicate caste discrimination, untouchability and mutual distrust from the society and all of us will experience an integral and ‘samaras’ life free from exploitation. The Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha urged all the citizens along with swayamsevaks to maintain a conduct with samarasata and appeald to all the social and religious organisations to make every possible effort to strengthen this feeling of samarasata.
Again, in tune with the preaching of Swami Vivekananda where he said, “We have to tell everyone that you are men like us, and you have all the rights that we have”, the resolution expects resolve from each individual to be agent of change.
Casting out the Casteism
The ABPS appeals to all the social and religious organisations to make every possible effort to strengthen the feeling of samarasata
I heartily welcome the resolution on samarasta, adopted by the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha of RSS at Nagaur in Rajsatahan. As a social worker it is a matter of great satisfaction that RSS has resolved to adopt, preach and practise samarasata in day to day life for all. Despite being in Dalit family, I have been recognised by the society as educationist, scholar and recently conferred with Padma Shri by the Government of Bharat. But everybody is not fortunate enough and many still face discrimination on caste basis.
There is a need to eliminate casteism but it is indeed a herculean task. Social reformers in the past like Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa and Jyoti Rao Phule tried their best to eradicate the menace and succeeded in bringing the issue to the forefront. Many political revolutions were preceded by the religious and social reforms. Regrettably in the present times, the caste based agitations and reservations are politically motivated. We need to recognise those hurdles created by the caste system which prevent us from collective activity. By preventing such activities, it has prevented the Hindus from becoming a society with a unified life and a consciousness of its own being. The fact is that colonial British marvelled in driving a wedge between Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Ambedkar by adopting the divide and rule policy. I have been associated with Arya Samaj since childhood. “The Jat-Pat-Todak Mandal” was founded in Lahore in 1922, as an offshoot of the more militantly anti-caste wing of the Arya Samaj. We, as members of the organisation, pledged to a programme of anti-caste propaganda, coupled with convening inter-dining and inter-marriage and also encouraging other sections of society to do so. Babasaheb Ambedkar in his Annihilation of Caste also referred to such methods.
My father was a cobbler in a rural village. I became a teacher only because of my venture in higher education. In the course of time, I read Upanishads and Vedas which gave me a rare insight. I can assure you that “there are no Bhedas in the Vedas”. (Vedas do not propound caste based discrimination). The emancipation of the mind and the soul is a necessary preliminary for political expansion of the people.
I regret that in the present time there is neither a pan-Bharat Dalit movement nor a credible leader like Dr Ambedkar. The most unfortunate part is that the so-called followers of Ambedkar or Ambedkerites are also politcally motivated to keep the pot boiling and want the casteism to prolong for selfish ends. Caste does not contribute to the growth of the country. On the contrary it has completely disorganised and demoralised the Hindu society.
I am an eternal optimist. We must accept that, comparing to the past, now we feel a huge positive difference. And major socio-economic changes have been happening in this direction. At least in urban Bharat, untouchability does not exist in the rampant form as earlier, but it is still prevalent in rural Bharat.
On this menace Jagjivan Ram had proposed the idea of integrated colonies. On the issue of reservations I feel, quotas should continue as long as the social discrimination is prevalent, till the oppressed declare themselves as socially secure to make it on their own. Dr Ambedkar’s main aim was to achieve the active participation of the “socially excluded” humanity in all walks of social life. At the same time, it is to be remembered that reservation system is not panacea for all ills.
Pseudo-Dalit intellectuals are banking on Dalit
sentiments to divide the society. It is true that intellect
by itself has no virtue. It is only a means. The real
intellectuals think of the larger
interests. An intellectual class should be a band of high-soul persons, ready to help, ready to emancipate the humanity.
I still cherish the pleasant moments when I was invited by RSS on Vijayadashami Day in Nagpur. In Ekatmata Stotra RSS has also included the names of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar and Jyoti Rao Phule in the list of Rishis that itself is heartening. Hindu society is in the need of moral regeneration. I sincerely hope that RSS and like minded organisations like Arya Samaj, Ramakrishna Mission and Gayatri Parivar succeed in their mission!
As told to Nagaraja Rao
TV Narayana (The writer is a Dalit Scholar)
As told to Nagaraja Rao
Prescription for Healthy Bharat
The call to all citizens to endeavour to arouse wider public awareness on significance of healthy diet and healthy way of living is a welcome step
Healthcare is considered as one of the booming sectors in Bharat. This is in terms of revenue and employment. Healthcare comprises hospitals, medical devices, clinical trials, outsourcing, telemedicine, medical tourism, health insurance and medical equipment. Bharat ranks among the top 20 of the world’s countries in its private spending, at 4.2% of GDP. As per the World Bank estimates, Healthcare sector will grow to $158.2 billion in 2017. The moment we shift our focus from economic parametres to social indicators, the situation is really grim. If we add the quality indicators to the same then disparities are grave.
As on March 31, 2015, there were 15, 3655 Sub Centres, 25,308 Primary Health Centres (PHCs) and 5,396 Community Health Centres (CHCs) functioning in the country, while hospitals are more than 35,500. These numbers may look huge but there is a hidden rural-urban disparity in these numbers. Out of total private hospitals, 33 per cent are concentrated in metropolitan cities.
As explained by Dr BT Rudresh who is President of Karnataka Homoeopathy Board on account of concentration of medical facilities in the large towns, there is shortage of medical facilities in the remote and rural areas. Large number of people are deprived of medical facilities due to inadequate medical facilities and shortage of medical personnel, and the long queues for admission, diagnosis and treatment. The Government had earlier proclaimed health for all by 2000, however, it has now been deferred to 2020. If you look at today's health care, hospital is no where a service minded industry but turning out to be a profit oriented industry. Today, there is a concentration towards technological set up. But, if you look at the actual figures, the huge investment is catering only to 15 per cent of the patients. So, what is actually required for the 85 per cent of the population is affordable health care.
The mushrooming of private hospitals and increasing commercialisation of health sector is another cumbersome area. In 1947 the private health sector provided only 5-10% of total patient care. Today it accounts for 82% of outpatient visits, 58% of inpatient expenditure, and 40% of births in institutions. The roots of this lies in the costly medical education and ineffective regulatory mechanisms
On this backdrop, RSS Pratinidhi Sabha came up with a resolution on ‘Need for effective health care and easy access to affordable medical services’. The ABPS welcomed the schemes of free distribution of medicines started in some states and the proposal made for 3,000 generic medicine centres by the central government in the recent budget. The resolution called for standardisation and development of methods of testing of medicines of Ayurvedic, Unani and other systems. It urged all the citizens, including Swayamsevaks, to endeavour to arouse wider public awareness on the significance of healthy diet and healthy way of living and lifestyle with virtuousness, spirituality, yog, daily exercise and cleanliness.
The resolution rightly identifies the debt trap created because of paucity of affordable healthcare. Dr. K. Bhujang Shetty, a noted ophthalmologist stresses on making health insurance more popular and government should push for it. Endorsing the policy imperatives suggested in the RSS resolution, noted bariatric surgeon Dr Ramesh Makam of Vasavi Hospital says philanthropic needs should be incorporated into health care. He also emphasised the need to increase the number of super specialty medical seats.
Being Reasonably Healthy
The resolution passed by the ABPS on need for effective health care and easy access to affordable medical services can be materialised by addressing the shortage of medical specialists
Bharat has one of the highest maternal mortality and infant mortality rates in the world compare to Sub-Saharan African countries. Even countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have better results than Bharat. We can never be a super power unless we take care of the health of 60 per cent of the population living in rural Bharat. Inspite of massive investment through National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and government’s major effort to reduce the maternal mortality and infant mortality, every 10 minutes a pregnant lady dies in India during child birth, 3 lakh children die the day they are born, 1.2 million children die before celebrating their first birthday.
What is the reason behind this tragedy?
Shortage of medical specialists in rural Bharat is the main reason for pathetic healthcare for 60 per cent of the country’s population. Let’s look at just maternal mortality in India. Twenty six million babies are born in our country every year. A conservative estimate is that 20 per cent of the pregnant ladies will require caesarean section. That means we need to do 5.2 million caesarean sections per year. To perform 5.6 million caesarean sections per year we need atleast 2 lakh gynecologists and we only have about 40,000 gynecologists. A good number of them do not practice obstetrics and most of them live in big cities. To perform 5.2 million caesarean sections, we need at least 2 lakh anesthetists and we only have about 40,000 anesthetists; we need at least 2 Lakh Pediatricians to takecare of the 26 million babies who are added to the existing children's population and unfortunately we only have about 23,000 pediatricians; we need at least 1.5 lakh radiologists to do the ultrasound on these pregnant ladies and we only have about 10,000 active radiologists in the whole country. In good old days an MBBS doctor could anesthetise a patient and perform a caesarean section and even do an ultrasound without a postgraduation degree. Today MBBS doctors are legally not allowed to perform any of those procedures without a postgraduate degree. If he does any of those tasks, such doctor is likely to lose his medical license.
Why do we have such a shortage of medical specialists?
It is mainly because in countries like USA, they have about 21,000 under graduate seats in medical colleges and close to 39,000 post-graduate seats to train medical specialists. In India we have 52,715 under-graduate seats in various medical colleges and only 14,500 post-graduate seats in clinically relevant subjects like gynecology, anesthesia, radiology and pediatrics. Because of the huge disparity in the ratio of under graduation and postgraduation seats at any given time there are over 2 lakh young doctors spending 2-5 years in attending post-graduate entrance coaching classes in Kerala or Kota and not treating patients. Unless we equalise under graduation and postgraduation seats across the country without any delay, there is no hope for reducing the maternal mortality and infant mortality. Until such time there is not going to be affordable healthcare for 80% of the country’s population.
India can become the first country in the world to dissociate healthcare from affluence and we can prove to the world that the wealth of the nation has nothing to do with the quality of healthcare it’s citizen can enjoy. This can only happen if we address the shortage of medical specialists. Indian economy dramatically got transformed because of the software professionals who are trained in thousands of engineering colleges across the country. Today we have an opportunity to become the healthcare provider for the whole world just by liberating medical education.
Global healthcare and wellness industry is a 7.2 trillion dollar industry which is four times bigger than software industry. In this industry we can be the dominant player and dramatically change the economy of our country by creating millions and millions of jobs for doctors, nurses and medical technicians. Today we have a great opportunity to be the global leader in providing healthcare to the planet.
Dr Devi Shetty
Transformation through Education
For tackling the menace of privatisation and commercialisation of education in present scenario, RSS Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha has resolved that quality, accessible and affordable education should be provided to the common man
We often talk of demographic dividend. Qualitative aspect of our youth power is critical in realising that potential. Education and skills is an obvious instrument in channelising human resource for national rejuvenation. All of us know this
ground realities are far away from
In the primary and secondary education there is a growing trend of privatisation. The District Information System of Education statistics for 2012 have revealed that 29.8 per cent Bharatiya children in standard
I-V, both urban and rural, attended private schools in 2010-11. Pointing to this growing trend of taking recourse to private education the ASER 2012 reports revealed that the proportion has risen to 28.39 per cent over two years, an increase of 5.8 per cent. Making a projection, the report notes that in this manner by 2014, 41 per cent of all Bharat’s primary age children will be attending private schools and that by 2019 the private sector will emerge as the ‘clear major formal education provider in Bharat’.
Higher Education sector has witnessed a tremendous increase in the number of Universities/University level Institutions & Colleges since Independence. As per the government reports, the number of Universities has increased 34 times from 20 in 1950 to 677 in 2014. The number of colleges has also registered manifold increase of 74 times with just 500 in 1950 growing to 37,204, as on March 31, 2013. At the same time, the sector which is recently opened to the private players, has seen emergence of 232 private universities. There are many other autonomous and unrecognised private institutions.
This trend has converted education into another business sector with huge turnover. Though government has tried to curb the financial appropriation of educational institutions through regulatory mechanisms, capitation and donation in various forms is a well known fact. The gap between rural-urban and public-private education is uneven on quality parameters. The result is in the United Nations Human Development Report 2015 in which access to education is an important parameter, Bharat ranks on 130th position among 188 nations listed in the UNHD Index. Among BRICS countries, Bharat is left behind by Russia, Brazil, China and South Africa.
The present government has increased the budget for education for last consecutive years. The budget also proposed to set up 1,500 Multi Skill Training Institutes across the country and focused on digital literacy for rural households. Another initiative of a Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA) with a fund of Rs 1,000 crore fund is a welcome step.
On this background, the RSS Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS) has resolved that accessible, affordable and quality education should be provided to the common man and both government and society should come forward to own the responsibility of imparting education to all class. Tackling the menace of privatisation and commercialisation of education sector in today’s scenario, it suggested that the government should come forward towards its responsibility of allocating adequate resources and formulating appropriate policies. The ABPS also resolved that it is of the opinion that every child should get value based, nationalistic, employment oriented skill based education in an atmosphere of equal opportunity. If all the stakeholders come forward to operationalise this resolution, education sector can accelerate the process of transforming Bharat with larger participation.
Prescription for Prominence
The RSS call for a nationalist orientation in education may be anathema for many intellectuals, but it is necessary to save education from being prisoner of past choices
The recent RSS resolution on education can only be faulted for not being announced much earlier. It is the innocuous minimum in education one would seek to ensure in a country not held hostage by the corrupt and internationally-funded subversion. The RSS proposal to deal firmly with treasonous criminality in higher education needs to be initiated urgently. Some of Bharat’s prominent academic institutions and many of their staff and students have become dangerous proxies of its foreign adversaries.
On the RSS reiteration of the need for quality and affordable education for all there can be no dispute. This aspiration can only be fulfilled by creating detailed and thoughtful policy proposals. Unfortunately, Bharatiya education at every level is a prisoner of past choices though the seriousness of the problems faced varies from region to region. A culture of callous indifference has emerged that has turned education into an opportunity for theft by those entrusted to deliver it. Addressing this state of affairs will not be easy, but a start must surely be made by empowering stakeholders with the most to gain from success. Yet, progress in school education requires the cooperation of States governments and without electoral support the stringent monitoring necessary and real authority for parents to have a say in their running will be difficult to achieve.
When Prime Ministerial candidate Shri Narendra Modi spoke at Pune on higher education in Bharat, before the general elections in 2014, he excoriated the corrupt private provision that had come to dominate it and the modest percentage of GDP spent in Bharat. The RSS is correct in identifying the need for greater public participation and spending on education that cannot be left to private endeavours alone. But how public higher education institutions and their private counterparts conjoin together is the critical question. Much greater operational freedom to both may be a solution because state guidance is by now demonstrated to lack the capacity to supervise education effectively.
Such radical reform should mean allowing course content, salaries and admissions to be determined without political interference. However, the state should subsidise disadvantaged communities. At the same time, significant expansion of higher education should allow all those who are suitably qualified to gain admission. This will reduce the waste of vast resources by the desperate, mostly the best and brightest, fleeing permanently abroad in search of education. The estimated cost of forcing 6.8 lakh students abroad each year reached 50,000 Crore rupees, UD$ 6-7 billion in 2015. Inviting several hundred academics from abroad to Bharatiya institutions is barely a solution to its vast and complex higher education network.
One critical area of skill enhancement is vocational training that the government has now begun to address earnestly. Models existing abroad can be adapted to Bharatiya conditions though the most successful may only offer broad guidelines. A combination of institutional support, with allocated time spent on carefully constructed training courses and direct hands-on experience in the workplace seem appropriate. The tendency to blindly join underpriced degree courses because they are highly subsidised is neither appropriate for the economy nor does it help those who undertake them.
The RSS call for a nationalist orientation in education in Bharat may be anathema for many prominent in academia, the media and politics, whose default setting is attempts to derail Bharat’s progress in the name of freedom. Well, there is no freedom when disorder prevails and the Hobbesian war of all against all now on brutal display in much of the Islamic world is hardly an example for emulation. Disciplined purpose and abjuring of whatever takes ones passing fancy are essential for any society trying to overcome deep rooted problems of poverty and ignorance. The government must have the self confidence to ignore the people who argue for the luxury of anarchist freedom and press on with the imperative task of raising Bharat’s countless millions from the destitution that has been their lot of centuries.
Dr Gautam Sen
(The writer is Co-director, Dharmic Ideas and Policy Foundation (Formerly of the London School of Economics and Political Science)