Author: bsvptest

NEP 2019 : Response to the National Education Policy 2019

NEP 2019 : Response to the National Education Policy 2019

By bsvptest in News on November 27, 2019

The National Education Policy 2019 has finally been presented to the public for feedback. To begin with, let us express our strong apprehension about the fact that the draft has been written without consultation with a larger student-teacher and academic community. As mentioned in the draft itself, the only student organization that has been consulted in the writing of the draft is the ABVP, the student outfit of the ruling party BJP.  No other student organization, elected student union, elected teachers’ association has been consulted in the process of writing the draft. This clearly shows that the draft has been written with an intention to implement the political wish of the present ruling party instead of addressing the pressing need of the Indian education system today. The policy perspective of the ruling party to facilitate the interest of private capital and global education mafia in the Indian education system is thus very clear in the draft. We demand that the feed-back given by the larger student-teacher-academic community, elected student unions, and teacher associations must be taken with the seriousness that it demands. Because all students and teachers are stakeholders in the education system of India, not merely student organization of the ruling party.

 

Here is our response to the Draft NEP 2019-

  1. Roll Back the Design to Shut Down Government Funded Schools: In a country where equity and access to quality school education must be the primary concern of any Education Policy, the NEP 2019 proposes to continue the design of school closure followed by the ruling party in the last five years. Thousands of schools have been closed all over the country in the name of the merger in the last five years, and the NEP 2019 now renames school closures as ‘Organization of School into School Complexes’. The draft repeats the justification given by the government and NITI Ayog that schools with less enrolment should be closed. It is outrageous to see that rather than holding the Government accountable for systematically robbing Government schools of the needed quality infrastructure and pushing students forcibly to private schools, now the NEP proposes to shut down Government schools altogether. This will only help the private enterprises to thrive in their business through the profit from school education. We strongly demand that NOT A SINGLE Government School must be closed. Why should building up school complexes be conditional upon closing down government schools? We demand that the required faculty and infrastructure must be immediately provided to Government schools instead of giving the excuse for low infrastructure and low enrolment.
  2. Ensure Neighborhood Common Schools Funded by Government; Control Mushrooming of High-fee fetching Private Schools: Fundamental right of education can only be guaranteed through neighborhood common schools in every area, not by closing them down. The spirit of the need to build up common neighborhood schools to guarantee the fundamental right to education was also upheld by the Allahabad High Court in 2018 when it asked public functionaries of UP to send their children in Government schools. Unfortunately, the NEP 2019 gives no commitment to build up common neighborhood schools. On the other hand, it refers to the ‘contribution’ of the private school’s time and again. The draft also gives a free hand to the private schools to charge whatever fee they want. We demand that the NEP 2019 must guarantee control over the mushrooming of high fee-fetching private schools.
  3. No Dilution of Right to Education Act 2019: The draft NEP 2019, time and again mentions the dilution of RTE Act 2019. If at one place it says, the input based approach should be changed to an output-based approach, in other places it mentions that the needed pupil-teacher ratio may not be maintained because school complexes will take care of the exchange of teachers. Shockingly, the draft also prescribes to review the provision of a 25% quota for the Economically Weaker Section in private schools. We believe the proposal of dilution of the RTE Act is only meant for further benefitting the private schools at the cost of deterioration of the accessible government schools. We demand the proposal to dilute the provisions of the RTE Act must be rolled back. Until and unless the fundamental right to education is guaranteed through neighborhood common schools and the business of private schools is stopped entirely, the proposal to review the 121(1)(C) must not be rolled back. Rather there must be a mechanism to guarantee that the private schools do not indulge in corruption to violate the provision.
  4. Guarantee Comprehensive Right to education for children from 3 to 18 Years of Age: It has been a long-standing demand of the movement for equitable education that the coverage of RTE Act must be extended from pre-school to the till the end of schooling. Although the NEP 2019 proposes an extension of the RTE Act from 3 to 18 years, the mechanism it prescribes to guarantee the rights proves that the real intention of the proposal is only to provide lip service. Firstly, the NEP 2019 proposes that the Anganwadis will have a major responsibility in ensuring the rights. But NOWHERE it mentions the need to recognize the rights of Anganwadi workers. The Anganwadi workers are not even paid legal minimum wages, they are not considered as government employees at all. Without paying them proper wages and giving them worker’s rights, the fundamental right of children can’t be guaranteed. The NEP 2019 proposes semesterisation of the course from class 9 to 12. Students will be required to take 5 to 6 courses each semester. This will unnecessarily increase a load of courses on students. Given the present lack of faculty and infrastructure, the students in Government schools are going to suffer the most. Along with it, the NEP 2019 says that multiple exit points will be offered from class 9 to 12. This approach can only guarantee more dropouts after class 8, not right to education. We demand that the proposal for semesterisation must be rolled back and there should be policy to retain students in schools, not to show them the exit way.
  5. Guarantee provision of regular schools with the proper hostel and academic infrastructure for students of migrant workers instead of open and distance learning for them.
  6. No Government College or University Must Be Closed: If the NEP 2019 proposes to close down Government schools in the name of building school complexes, it also is a design to shut down public-funded colleges and universities in the name of building ‘large, multidisciplinary’ universities. In Indian higher education access to nearby high-quality college or university remains the greatest problem for students to continue higher education. We demand the NEP must categorically mention that no Government-funded colleges or universities will be closed down.
  7. Revoke the Proposal to Invite Foreign Universities at the Cost of Indian Government Funded HEIs: The real intention of the proposal to close down government colleges becomes subsequently clear when the draft proposes inviting foreign universities and making legislative arrangements for the same. The NEP also proposes a redesign of India’s higher education to suit the interest of the foreign universities. We demand to roll back the proposal of making legislation for inviting foreign universities.
  8. Stop Imposing ‘Self-Financing’ Model of Graded Autonomy for HEIs in the Name of Mission Nalanada: In 2018, the students and teachers in the entire country came down to the streets against the proposal by the then MHRD to impose self-financing and fee-hike in the name of graded autonomy being granted to higher educational institutions. Unfortunately, the NEP 2019 proposes that the graded autonomy formula should continue as proposed. It tries to hide the design of self-financing and fee-hike by changing the terminologies of graded autonomy from category I, II, III universities to Type I, II, III universities. The NEP 2019 also tries to convince us in the formula by introducing names such as Mission Nalanda. But in all these, the NEP proposes a design of implementing ‘financial autonomy’ or self-financing and fee-hike. We demand the must categorically withdraw the UGC 12th February 2018 notification proposing the self-financing of courses. We also demand that the NEP must commit that all new courses in Government universities will be fully funded by the Government and there will be no discrimination in the funding of Government universities by dividing them into categories. It is the task of the Government to fund universities, not to create a hierarchy within them.
  9. Stop diverting public funds to private HEIs in the name of treating them on par. Rollback the proposal to provide private universities with the funds the proposed National Research Foundation. The proposal to dilute regulatory provisions for building new HEIs is only meant to facilitate mushrooming of private universities, while the NEP provides a design to close down Government universities. We demand that dilution of the provision of regulatory mechanisms for building new universities must be rolled back.
  10. Implement Reservation in Private HEIs: The NEP 2019 time and again justifies the presence of high fee-fetching private universities. As mentioned earlier it also prepares a road map to facilitate at the cost of public-funded universities. But NOWHERE does the NEP 2019 mentions the need to implement reservation for SC/ST/OBCs in private universities. We demand there must be the provision of 50% reservation for SC/ST/OBCs in private universities as well.
  11. No to Centralised Political Control through Rashtriya Siksha Ayog under the Prime Minister: The proposal of dismantling UGC and forming several bodies to separate the regulatory, grant-giving and standard-setting functions is only a pretention of decentralization as the NEP 2019 proposes that the Indian education will be under the apex body Rashtriya Siksha Ayog that will be chaired by the PM himself. This proposal not only violates the constitutional provision of federalism and functioning through cabinet structure, but it also is a design of centralized political control of the education system. We demand that the proposal of the Rashtriya Siksha Ayog to be chaired by the PM must be revoked.
  12. No Ifs and Buts, Commit 10% of GDP to be Spent for Education: The Kothari commission in 1964 had proposed 6% of GDP to be spent on education for an egalitarian education and a self-reliant India. Till now, we have never reached the 6% GDP expenditure mark. On the other hand, the Central Government’s spending on education has reached an all-time low in Independent India. To ensure what the Kothari Commission prescribed for India, the present need is to spend 10% of GDP on education to cover for the accumulated disparity of not spending enough till now. This has been a demand for several educationists and the student-youth of the country. The NEP 2019 instead of committing on fully-funded Government education, makes funding by the Government conditional upon increased GDP, increased tax-GDP ratio and a 10 trillion dollar economy. All these claims of an increase in GDP, tax-GDP ratio and 10 trillion dollar economy are points of political propaganda by the BJP based on fraudulent data. We demand without any conditionality the NEP must commit 10% of GDP to be spent on education.
  13. The National Education Policy 2019 has finally been presented to the public for feedback. To begin with, let us express our strong apprehension about the fact that the draft has been written without consultation with a larger student-teacher and academic community. As mentioned in the draft itself, the only student organization that has been consulted in the writing of the draft is the ABVP, the student outfit of the ruling party BJP.  No other student organization, elected student union, elected teachers’ association has been consulted in the process of writing the draft. This clearly shows that the draft has been written with an intention to implement the political wish of the present ruling party instead of addressing the pressing need of the Indian education system today. The policy perspective of the ruling party to facilitate the interest of private capital and global education mafia in the Indian education system is thus very clear in the draft. We demand that the feed-back given by the larger student-teacher-academic community, elected student unions, and teacher associations must be taken with the seriousness that it demands. Because all students and teachers are stakeholders in the education system of India, not merely student organization of the ruling party.
Government’s Structural Hits to Indian Economy

Government’s Structural Hits to Indian Economy

By bsvptest in News on November 27, 2019

We know that the Indian economy is in the doldrums. But what we should also know is that the Modi government is handling this crisis by doing what it does best: destroying every single safeguard, every single institution. Let us have a look at the consequences of one of the government’s recent moves.

In the early years after independence, the government of India promoted several Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) to ensure that India achieves industrial self-reliance. The government invested in practically every single sector: railways, steel, thermal power, oil and aeronautics and set up PSUs whose names are now part of everyday vocabularies in Indian homes. These PSUs have been the backbone of India’s economy, and have traditionally supported millions of livelihoods. What is the government now doing? It is in the process of dismantling several prized PSUs, including the IOC, ONGC and Ordnance Factories. In other words, the disinvestment of PSUs is now fast becoming the NORM, rather than the exception in times of a crisis.

A Group of Ministers (GoM) has been formed, which along with the Niti Ayog, is recommending large scale disinvestment. These proposals are in the process of getting passed without ANY discussions in the Cabinet or the Parliament. What is the history of disinvestment? The process started with Narasimha Rao’s government. But what was a trickle, is now going to be a virtual waterfall! Let us get some sense of perspective. During 2009-2014, the Manmohan Singh government disinvested 1 lakh crores worth of public investments in PSUs. In Modi’s first term, this expanded THREE times, to 2.82 lakh crores. And now, Modi 2.0 plans to speeden this disaster by disinvesting a whopping 3.25 lakh crores in the next five years!

In fact, the government is planning to modify the very definition of PSUs. Till now, if the government retained a share of 51% or more (meaning controlling, maximum share) in any company, that was considered a PSU. Now, Finance Minister says that the government will reduce its holdings to 40% in PSUs! This figure of government share in PSUs could go down to as low as 26%. This is classic Modinomics! The government claims, spuriously, that the companies will still be notionally referred to as ‘PSUs’. It is making these absurd claims because changing the status of a company and removing the PSU status is politically dangerous. BUT the government WILL NOT have a majority, controlling share. This move holds all the elements of the BJP’s economic strategy: selling public interests to corporates, lies, manipulation, and betrayal of millions of Indians including workers.

PSUs to Adani/Ambani: Modi Government’s Crony Capitalism!

Oil: Take the case of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC). The government is planning to reduce its holdings to 52.18%, which will be a historic low in this important sector. The government is planning to sell its interests solely to the Adani Gas company, or to a joint venture which IOC controls along with the Adani Gas company. The public money of ONGC was used to buy out a Rs 20,000 crore scam ridden GSPC for Rs 7,700 crore and hard-earned savings of 38 crore LIC policyholders worth Rs 9,000 crore was used to save faltering IDBI Bank!
Defense: Going against the parliament’s Standing Committee’s recommendations, and acting instead on the Niti Ayog’s recommendations, the Defense Secretary has been told to corporatize all Ordinance factories by 15 October 2019. What are the implications? As long as the Ordinance factories are under the government, they will follow the government’s defense requirements. For instance, during the Kargil war, the government asked Ordinance factories to double their production, which they did. On the other hand, the government handed over some large defense contracts to 127 private companies, out of which 81% of them handed over their deliverables 6 months late! Clearly, the government, for all its nationalist chest-thumping, has no problems whatsoever jeopardizing national security interests (if this helps its corporate friends!)
Railways: The Indian Railways is moving fast towards total privatization as the Centre decides to auction 23 railway stations across the country as a part of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects. The private players would be granted 45 years’ leasing rights for the commercial properties developed at these stations. It gives them the right to commercially exploit railways’ land. The firms will also be allowed to maintain all the station facilities like power, platform maintenance, parking, food stalls, retiring rooms, etc.
Aviation: The Adani group has been receiving several plum contracts from the governments across multiple sectors – whether in aviation, power generation and distribution, oil etc. Even though the Niti Ayog has itself recommended that not more than two airports be handed over to a single company, the Modi government has given the Adani group control of 6 profit-making airports under the Airports Authority of India (including Trivandrum, Jaipur and Guwahati) for 49 years!
Telecom: As the Indian telecom industry stepped into the 4G spectrum era, all the private services providers, most prominent being including Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio, were allocated spectrum; but curiously the public sector BSNL and MTNL were not allocated 4G spectrum!!! When the Indian telecom industry is all set to provide 5G services, BSNL is still waiting for 4G spectrum allocation! Can anything be a clearer instance of perverse and discriminatory policies, where public sector units with full infrastructural capabilities are restricted from entering the business so that govt’s crony corporates can enjoy virtual monopoly!
A clear pattern is visible here. The Modi dispensation is hell-bent on selling out public sector undertakings. It is carefully selling public resources to private interests, in the name of addressing the country’s ‘fiscal deficit’. This is a clear betrayal of Indians – consumers, workers, and ordinary people whose tax money is going to be squandered in this blatant manner.

The economy is crumbling and the govt is pushing hard its elaborate gameplan to drain, disintegrate and dismantle our hard built public sector to favor its crony corporates. In order to divert attention from this unfolding disaster, the govt is trying every trick in the book. Frenzy and divisiveness packaged as ‘nationalism’ are being drummed up so as to hide their destructive agenda to ruin the economic foundations, sovereignty and institutions of our nation! We Will NOT Be Diverted!

Support JNU Movement! Keep Doors of Universities Open For Everyone!

Support JNU Movement! Keep Doors of Universities Open For Everyone!

By bsvptest in News on November 27, 2019

The spirited struggle of JNU students has brought the issue of the right to education to the political center-stage.

Jawaharlal Nehru University, in Delhi, is one of the handfuls of institutions in India where the offspring of the poor can afford to achieve an excellent University education. Now, the JNU Vice-Chancellor appointed by the Modi Government has sought to close the doors of the University to the poor, by steeply hiking hostel room rents, and commercializing hostel facilities by demanding that students pay steep service charges, and water and electricity bills.

Thanks to Jawaharlal Nehru University’s long-standing admission policies that welcome the poor and marginalized, 40% of students are from households whose family income is under Rs 12000 a month. The fee hikes and service charges would require such households to spend more than their entire monthly income on hostel fees to keep their son or daughter in University! Also thanks to JNU admission policies, more than half of JNU students are women: the fee hikes and commercialization of hostels would evict them also from the University.

JNU students are not struggling for themselves alone. If hostels were successfully commercialized in JNU, where the student movement is so powerful, other colleges and Universities with low fees (including BHU, AMU, HCU) would soon face the same fate. The students are fighting to make sure college and University education is the right of every Indian, not a privilege reserved for the rich.

The Modi Government has declared war on the JNU students – allowing paramilitary CRPF troops into the campus and unleashing vicious police lathicharge onto the students every time they make their voice heard on Delhi streets. Delhi Police, which is controlled by the Home Minister Amit Shah, illegally shut off street lights and brutally beat up students under cover of darkness. A visually challenged student was thrown on the ground and kicked with boots by the police. Women students were subjected to sexual violence.

The JNU students, however, are continuing their movement undeterred by the violence. And they are winning the war of ideas as well. The Sangh propaganda machinery, including prominent TV channels, is trying desperately to project JNU as a waste of taxpayers’ money and JNU students as a bunch of freeloaders. Their propaganda is at its ugliest when it is targeting JNU’s women students in the most misogynist terms. But in fact, JNU students and teachers have made the truth heard above the clamor of lies. It is widely recognized now that the fight is for the poor to be able to send their children to University. Taxpaying citizens are demanding why the Government which claims it lacks funds for higher education, has left nearly Rs 100,000 crore collected as Education Cess unspent. They are also asking why lakhs of crores of corporate taxes are waived every year, which if collected could fund hundreds of new Universities.

JNU students have also busted the eyewash of “rollback” of fees and “concessions for BPL students.” In fact, the supposed roll-back and concessions cannot benefit any actual students in JNU.

AISA poster on debt trap

Rattled by the fact that the JNU students’ unity is forcing even the Sangh’s own student wing ABVP in JNU to claim it supports the movement, the MHRD has set up a committee, ostensibly to resolve the issues raised by students. The JNU VC, however, has reportedly avoided attending a meeting even of this Committee. JNU students are clear on their demands that the fee hike and hostel commercialization proposal must be withdrawn with immediate effect, and any Committee discussing the issues must have JNUSU representation.

JNU ’s movement is spreading fast – to campuses and students all over the country. The Sangh and BJP hate Universities because their questions, unlike that of India’s main Opposition parties, cannot be tamed by threats of CBI and ED raids! They are exposing the anti-poor, anti-education face of the Modi Government. People of India must extend solidarity to the student movement which is fighting for the future of India’s youth.