PM Modi says the NEP hasn’t raised concerns of any bias

He added that “national interest” was a key factor as "Every country equates education to its national interest and moves forward”


Speaking for the first time on the issue after the Union Cabinet approved the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 on July 29, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has praised it as a system that will generate “future-ready” citizens. In his video address at a conclave on Transformational Reforms in Higher Education under National Education Policy, the PM asserted that, “No section of the country said that the policy has any bias. It is a matter of happiness” 

The PM added that “national interest” was a key factor of the NEP as “Every country equates education to its national interest and moves forward.” He said it was a timely replacement long due. The NEP 2020, has replaced the 34-year old National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986. In attendance at the conference was HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriya Nishank.

The PM, while applauding the entire policy, and Dr Kasturirangan, the man in charge of creating it, made special mention of the multiple ‘entry’ exit’ points and using ‘mother’ tongue as a medium of instruction. The government hopes now to increase Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education to 50% by 2035 and add 3.5 crore seats.

The PM also made special mention of using a child’s ‘mother tongue’ as a medium of instruction “wherever possible’ for upto class five. However the Centre’s plan had already been called “painful and saddening”, by Tamil Nadu chief minister, Edappadi K Palaniswami. An ally of the BJP, CM Palaniswami (AIDMK), had demanded a ‘reconsideration’ of the three-language policy, with states being allowed the constitutional independence to implement their own. The opposition DMK had opposed the elite bias in the proposed policy changes. 

Palaniswamy clearly said there will not be any deviation from the two-language policy in Tamil Nadu, which has been followed for several decades. “Tamil Nadu will never allow the Centre’s three-language policy. The state will continue with its dual language policy (of Tamil and English),” he said.

While Prime Minister Modi, on Friday,  said that the “NEP was approved after extensive discussions over 3-4 years and deliberation over lakhs of suggestions,” there have been voices saying they were not even consulted. Education is a subject on the Concurrent List of the Indian Constitution, that allows for instance of regional variations and emphasis respecting the cultural and linguistic diversity of the country. Earlier central education policies were also not necessarily adopted by various states of the Indian union.

The West Bengal Government has already formed a six-member committee to study the New Education Policy according to news reports. Vice-Chancellor of Jadavpur University Suranjan Das, retired professor and TMC MP Sougata Roy and educationist Pabitra Sarkar will also be a part of this review committee. The state education Minister Partha Chatterjee slammed it as a “copy of the system prevalent in western countries”. Chatterjee told the media that the committee will scrutinise the NEP, seeking views of school teachers and varsity professors on the matter, and submit a report to the state by August 15. The WB govt will then convey their “ opinion on the new policy to the Centre,” said Chatterjee. He had earlier said that the Union government had formulated the NEP without taking the states into confidence, and without placing the matter for discussion in Parliament. “I wonder how they (Centre) can think of enforcing it without any discussion in the Parliament or with the states. This is unilateral,” he had been quoted in the news report.

Recently the teachers organisations such as the Federation of Central Universities (FEDCUTA)  had stated that  these “reforms” and restructuring pushed by the Government aimed at selling education as a commodity. Instead of strengthening and repairing the public-funded higher education system, the Government has been pushing privatisation and commercialisation of education at a frightening pace through a slew of regulations such as Graded Autonomy, Autonomous Colleges, HEFA for loans instead of grants, Tripartite MOU, Institutions of Excellence, HECI Bill etc, all of which aim to push Higher Education Institutions into a self-financing model increasingly at the mercy of market forces.

And long before this, Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury had written on the issue to Minister for Human Resource Development Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank in July 2019. Commenting on the draft NEP that was available then, Yechury had noted that certain aspects were potentially problematic.  The CPI(M)  had stated that the DNEP “completely contravenes with the powers of the state governments and therefore, the constitutional scheme of Federalism and should be withdrawn forthwith.”

The party had also said that the DNEP seemed to be ensuring the “centralization, commercialization and communalization of the Indian education system and structures. Instead of arriving at a balance between Quantity, Quality and Equity in the education system, this DNEP is promoting a more elitist and pro-corporate thrust.”

It had added that “scientific temper is on a decline and civic values are facing vicious attacks from an environment that is actively promoting obscurantism, deepening social divisions and encouraging backlash against the already-marginalised sections. Educational institutions are unable to retain academic talent and secure a just and equitable environment for students, teachers and researchers. Student-suicides are on the rise. Religious education in the garb of Shishu Mandirs, Ekalavya Vidyalayas and Madrassas are proliferating even as the Union Government orders the closure or merger of public-funded primary and pre-primary schools.”

The Congress has said that the “National Education Policy (NEP) has been formed without any consultation with stakeholders or parliamentary discussion.”



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