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Cong attacks Modi govt on education, says it has made it 'fascist'

Catch Team | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:48 IST

The Congress launched a frontal attack on the Narendra Modi government for introducing 'fascism' in India's public education system, and "corporatising" it.

This, the party said, could lead to dire consequences.

The principal Opposition party alleged that beyond the ministerial musical chairs, there are far serious issues that "bedevil" the public education system in the country, including the drastic cuts in the budgetary allocation for education.

Referring to the recent incident in Chhattisgarh, wherein RSS functionaries summoned six vice-chancellors and 30 professors from various government universities to a Sangh-run school in Raipur, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said it was a "blatant interference" by the RSS in the education system of the country.

"Now what locus standi do the RSS functionaries have to call vice-chancellors of public universities and review the functioning of the education system in Chhattisgarh? This is not just saffronisation of education, this is far more sinister; it is the fascicisation (sic) of education," Tewari said.

He blamed Smriti Irani's removal from the Human Resource Development ministry, on the slow pace of saffronisation, which he said was not to the "satisfaction of the Prime Minister".

Also read-#ByeByeSmriti: Twitter loves Smriti Irani. Her exit, more so

Attacks on Irani and Javadekar

Training his guns at Irani, Tewari "feared" for the fate of the Textile ministry, considering how the former HRD minister took away the autonomy of educational institutions and remained insensitive to incidents in the Hyderabad Central University and Jawaharlal Nehru University.

"It is not the HRD Ministry's responsibility to declare Jawaharlal Nehru University as a den of anti-nationals. I am worried - if she did this to HRD, what will she do to the Textile ministry?" he wondered.

Severely criticising the decision to elevate Prakash Javadekar to the full Cabinet rank and give him the HRD ministry, Tewari called it a clear attempt by the government to commercialise the education system by handing it over to private interests.

He said: "Given the fact that the manner in which some decisions were taken in the Environment ministry, especially the withdrawal of the Rs 200 crore fine imposed on a particular corporate house, the appointment becomes all the more ominous and sinister."

Also read- Canceling Adani fine exposes govt's double standards on environment

Subversion of public education

Requesting all "progressive and nationalist forces" to get together to protect the public character of India's education system, Tewari said: "What we are accusing this government of is a deliberate, systematic subversion of the public education system."

He added that from funding to assaulting the autonomy of public universities, the government is trying to create a situation whereby private interests benefit at the cost of public interests. "Therefore, this is a very serious issue," he added.

Tewari also highlighted how budgetary allocations on education had been witnessing a downward curve ever since Modi took over as PM. He said that the budgetary allocation for the public education system had gone down by Rs 10,000 crore since 2014, when the UPA demitted office.

He even called the cut in budgetary allocation of the University Grants Commission as "absolutely unprecedented", and claimed that in the last fiscal, the UGC budget was slashed by 55% from Rs 9,315.45 crore in 2015-16 to Rs 4,286.94 crore in the current fiscal.

Labelling the frontal attack by the government on the autonomy of the public universities as "scary", Tewari said: "The Third Amendment in UGC's regulations, which came out in May 2016, has actually taken away from the public universities the right to even decide their own syllabi. For the last two months, teachers across the country have been protesting on the streets, but it has had no impact on this government."

Edited by Shreyas Sharma

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First published: 7 July 2016, 3:14 IST