After 34 years of interval, India is all set to implement the National Education Policy (NEP), 2020 to bring in a see-saw transformation in the nation’s learning methodology.
NEP 2020 is an India-centric policy embded with indigenous wisdom and roots. It is more integrated and holistic and having the capacity to completely revamp the education system of our country.
Ever since the policy was announced, it has got copious acclamations by eminent educationists, lawmakers, activists, and even international organisations. The recommendations for higher education have the damn potentiality to make India a global hub for inclusive learning.
But in India, critics don’t need any competency database to censure any activity. Why not? Article 19 (1) (a) of the Indian Constitution has enshrined freedom of speech and expression, and therefore post-truth ilk are free to do their needful.
On August 7, Swarajya has published an article by Arihant Pawariya headlined ‘Say Goodbye to IITs, IIMs Et Al? NEP 2020 Will Convert India’s Top Institutions Into JNU Copies’. The article said, “Humanities and arts will be introduced in institutes like IITs, IIMs, etc. This is a recipe for disaster.”
Look, how misleading the article is. It seems the writer has nil knowledge about the premier national institutions and their courses or curriculum. Having said that I am NOT using these words lightly, but with full responsibility.
The Swarajya writer doesn’t even know humanities and social sciences had been introduced during the fifties in some national institutions.
In IIT Kharagpur, the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences came into existence with the very inception of the institute in 1951. In IIT, Madras, the Humanities and Social Sciences Department – which was founded in the year 1959 – is considered to be one of the oldest departments of the institute. Further, IIT Bombay had started a language department in 1959, which was renamed as Humanities and Social Sciences Department in 1965. At that time, it used to offer two languages (English and Russian), Economics, Costing, Philosophy (Logic and Ethics), Sociology, Industrial/ Organisational Psychology, and Management.
IIT Delhi has mentioned in its website, “We regard knowledge of Humanities and Social Sciences as a core value.” Currently, the institution has as many as 32 faculty members for seven subjects, including Policy Studies and Sociology.
Top IIMs such as IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Banglore, and IIM Calcutta also have Humanities and Social Sciences courses. In addition they provide Faculty Development Programs (FDP) in relevant subjects of that stream.
Apart from all 23 IITs and 20 IIMs, Humanities and Social Sciences Department do exist in all 31 National Institutes of Technology (NITs) and in some Indian Institutes of Information Techlogy (IIITs). These technical national institutions are not only limited to traditional arts subjects at graduation level and PhDs, but also they provide various interdisciplinary and multi-dimensional courses. IIT Madras, IIT Mandi, IIT Hyderabad, NIT Rourkela, and IIT Guwahati offer Masters in Development Studies. IIT Bombay offers an MA in Public Policy and MPhil in Urban Planning. Similarly IIT Gandhinagar offers MA in Society & Culture, IIT Jodhpur offers Masters in Digital Humanities, IIT Delhi provides Masters in Economics and Cognitive Science. In addition, every IIM offers FDP programs in typical Social Science subjects. Many NITs also have several Masters programs, including Social work, Rural Development, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Tribal studies. So Humanities very much existed in the course coricum of these national technical institutes of prominence much before NEP 2020 comes into effect.
Now, come back to the Swarajya article. The writer said, “Humanities and Social Sciencies in IITs and IIMs is the most dangerous idea.” But how? Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard University, Oxford University, or Berlin University, these all are the example of inter-disciplinary, multi-disciplinary, and cross-disciplinary learning system. In fact, there is not a single global educational institution having an intra-disciplinary curriculum.
Further, the article stated, “Touting liberal arts part education as something that is required in the 21st century is a ‘liberal’ opinion, not a fact. It is bizarre to think that learning (say) sociology along with (say) coding will improve learning outcomes.” Then why learning of coding and for whom? For aliens!
According to Swarajya, the teaching of arts subjects in IITs, NITs, IIMs, IIITs since the last six decades 60 years is a simply a waste and Liberal arts offered by Harvard, MIT, etc have zero outcomes. Then why didn’t Swarajya and its ilk oppose it before? Why after NEP? Is it just an anti-Modi propaganda? Even as I have no intention to go political, the Swarajay article, calls NEP as “Modi’s worst legacy”.
The Swarajya article further stated, “Nalanda and Takshashila were not successful because they were multi-disciplinary in nature.” So according to Swarajya, these ancient Indian educational institutions had fallen, thanks to their “wrong learning policy” and therefore no credits should go to Islamic invaders which it has stop short of mentioning.
The Swarajya writer has further claimed with full responsibility that “NEP 2020 will convert India’s top institutions into JNU copies”. Look what a cover fire the Swarajya is giving to the Lefists in a covert way. Further, the image encompassed in the article shows Kanhiya Kumar, a known anti-India element, along with the likes of Shehla Rashid – another frontline member of the Tukde-Tukde gang – uttering Azadi slogan) also points to this.
But a question which looms large here: Is Kanhiya Kumar the sole face of JNU, or it is an endeavor to make him a poster boy of the anti-Modi gang?
Do you really think the JNU type of hooliganism and non-cooperation will happen inside the technical national institutions? No way. Here, the issue is not social science subjects. It has to do with the content, and the distorted ideologies taught inside JNU and Jamia by the Leftists acdemics.
But it is recally unfair to censure the entire JNU community – in the Swarajya way – for the misdeeds of the members of the Tukde-Tukde gang? I must mention here that thousands of JNU students and alumni have made a notable contribution to the nation.
On the importance of Humanities and Social Sciences in national technical institutes, I would like to quote the IIM Kozhikode website. “We believe that, in addition to typical issues of management education, lessons from Humanities & Liberal Arts would foster the imagination of our students further. Unlike empirical approaches of the Natural Sciences, Humanities & Liberal arts primarily use methods to address the issues of human behavior and condition that are primarily analytical, critical, and speculative in nature. Our primary objective is to inform our students about the impact of humanities & liberal arts in society; so that when they turn manager and face the corporate world, they place humanity above anything else.”
In a nurthshell, the Swarajya article is nothing but a prototype of yellow journalism. It was written with an agenda to criticise the first People’s Education Policy introduced by the Modi government.
About the Author: Omm Priyadarshi is a Development Studies Scholar from NIT Rourkela. He typically writes on Socio-cultural, Environment & Gender-related issues. He tweets @iommpriyadarshi