CCV’s Isaac Gomes demystifies Archbishop Antony Pappusamy’s seeing Hindu nationalism in education policy draft

Archbishop Anthony Pappusamy


Archbishop sees Hindu nationalism

in National Education Policy 2016 Draft 

Published on: 6:11 pm, August 1, 2016

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Madurai: The head of the Catholic Church in Tamil Nadu has urged the federal government to scrap the new draft national education policy as it is an effort to introduce Hindu nationalism.

Archbishop Antony Pappusamy of Madurai, president of the Tamil Nadu Bishops Council, says the draft policy aims to impose one language, one religion and one race in India against the country’s secular and diverse nature.

The council that met on July 30 rejected the draft policy, The Times of India reported.

Addressing the media, the archbishop demanded that the government reconstitute the panel, including representatives from tribals, scheduled caste, backward class, minorities and women, to draft a new policy.

The prelate alleged that the panel, which drafted the policy, had strong RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) background.

The new draft strongly propagates Vedic education with elements of gurukul system of teaching and caste-based occupation, bringing deep divide among students and teachers based on their performance. The draft stresses on introduction of Sanskrit as a third language in schools and yoga as a condition for recognition,” he added.

Meanwhile, members of minority educational institutions organized a mass protest at Palayamkottai in Tirunelveli raising the same demands. Addressing the event, DMK Rajya Sabha MP, MK Kanimozhi said that the new draft is against minorities and oppressed people.

“There is no second opinion that we should have an education system of world-class standard. However, education should be available at local languages,” she said.

Raising doubts about how Sanskrit could provide world-class education, Kanimozhi criticized the federal government for intervening in the state government’s right in education. “Having staged a long protest for social justice, there will be no compromise to sacrifice it,” she said.

The DMK leader also demanded scrapping of the new education policy and reconstitution of the education panel. She also offered DMK’s support in the struggle against the new draft.

IGCCV's Isaac Gomes feels the Archbishop is making mountain of a molehill and dymystifies his fears as follows:

The apprehension of Archbishop Antony Pappusamy of Madurai, president of the Tamil Nadu Bishops Council is quite unfortunate as it is grossly unfounded and borders on sensationalism.

What made the Archbishop say that the new Draft National Education Policy 2016 is an effort to introduce Hindu nationalism? After all it is a DRAFT Policy and subject to modification based on inputs from various quarters.  In fact the Ministry of Human Resources solicited opinion from the public to be submitted within 31st July 2016 at and email id – So the Archbishop had the option to register his points without creating public uproar.  Modiji's government has sought participatory approach instead of seeking the exclusive opinion of the Archbishop who might be construed as trying to scuttle a national exercise in the name of preserving "country’s secular and diverse nature".

The Archbishop's contention that the draft policy aims to impose one language, one religion and one race in India against the country’s secular and diverse nature is full of gaping holes.  Nowhere in the 43 page Draft Proposal (which has been circulated by Mr A.C. Michael, Former Member of Minority Commission and Mr Derek O'Brien, Trinamool MP at Rajya Sabha) these fears are evident.  Some points in the DRAFT National Education Policy, reproduced below, negate this phobia of the Archbishop who is propped up by DMK Rajya Sabha MP, Mrs MK Kanimozhi:

1. The National Education Policy, 2016 envisions a credible education system capable of ensuring inclusive quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all and producing students/graduates equipped with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that are required to lead a productive life, participate in the country’s development process, respond to the requirements of the fast‐changing, ever‐globalising, knowledge‐based societies, and developing responsible citizens who respect the Indian tradition of acceptance of diversity of India’s heritage, culture and history and promote social cohesion and religious amity Isaac's view: This dispels the Archbishop’s contention that the Government is trying to enforce ONE RELIGION, ONE LANGUAGE. 

2.   Recognising the importance of quality education in national development, the NEP 2016 places an unprecedented focus on significantly improving the quality of education at all levels and on ensuring that educational opportunities are available to all segments of the society. 

3. The findings of the National Learning Achievement Surveys reveal significant differences in the average achievement levels of students between States/UTs. They also indicate that urban students are performing significantly better than rural students; students in private unaided schools performed marginally better than government schools; students from the general category and OBC category performed better than the SC and ST students. These findings suggest a serious challenge to the goal of ‘equity in learning’. Children from historically disadvantaged and economically weaker sections of society and first generation learners exhibit significantly lower learning outcomes. 

4.  Commercialisation is rampant both in school and higher education sub-sectors as reflected in the charges levied for admissions in private educational institutions. 

5.  The global Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) within the Agenda 2030 seeks to ‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’. The EFA agenda initiated in 2000 remains unfinished, particularly those relating to youth and adult illiterates, out-of-school children, low access to Early Childhood Care and Education, inadequate opportunities for skill development and unsatisfactory quality of education and student learning levels. The NEP will, therefore, pursue both the unfinished EFA agenda and the targets associated with SDG4.  Isaac's view: Does the point anyway suggest   PURSUING ONE LANGUAGE, ONE RELIGION as projected by the Archbishop? 

6.  Ensure that young people (15-24 years) and adults (15 years and above) who are outside the formal education system, including those working in the informal sector of the economy, are provided with opportunities to attain skills for employability. 

7.  Institutionalising a responsive, participatory and accountable systems (IS THE ARCHBISHOP WARY OF ACCOUNTABILITY?) of educational planning, governance and management and ensuring that the educational planning and management practices structures for the planning and management of the education sector at the national, sub-national and local levels are improved and made more responsive to the emerging educational priorities and demands of the expanding education sector.

8.  The thrust of this policy is on quality of education, as the country has already been witnessing the benefits of on-going efforts for expanding access and increasing inclusion Isaac's view: Are expanding access and increasing inclusion "ENFORCING ONE LANGUAGE AND ONE RELIGION AND AGAINST THE COUNTRY'S SECULAR AND DIVERSE NATURE" as drummed up by the Archbishop? 

9.  Every Principal and teacher will be made aware of the provisions of the relevant Acts, Rules, Regulations, etc. relating to child rights and what constitutes their violation of by including a module in the teachers education/ training programmes and refresher courses. Schools will engage trained counsellors to confidentially advise parents and teachers on adolescence problems faced by growing boys and girls.  

10.  The present provisions of no-detention policy will be amended, as it has seriously affected the academic performance of students. The no detention policy will be limited up to class V and the system of detention will be restored at the upper primary stage. Academically weak students will be identified, based on CCE conducted by schools, for providing remedial instructions.

11. In most cases the learning assessment is limited to testing the students’ ability to reproduce content knowledge. The whole assessment system needs to be revamped to ensure comprehensive assessment of the students, including learning outcomes relating to both scholastic and co-scholastic domains. There is also a need to institutionalize a system which tracks student progress in both the scholastic and co-scholastic domains across years.  

12. National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) will undergo a re-orientation to address issues of deteriorating quality of school education and periodic renewal of curricula and pedagogy to move from rote learning to facilitate understanding and encourage a spirit of enquiry. Isaac's view: IS IT PURSUING ONE LANGUAGE, ONE RELIGION as projected by the Archbishop? Is this creation of division among students on Caste lines as alleged by the Archbishop? 

13.  For science, mathematics and english subjects, a common national curriculum will be designed. For other subjects, such as social sciences, a part of the curricula will be common across the country and the rest will be at the discretion of the states.  Isaac's view: With states having been given discretionary (which means non-compulsory) powers  where does the Archbishop see imposition of one religion and one language?  Is he not playing with fire?

14.  Education level of tribal children is a matter of grave concern. Serious issues, such as, low literacy rates, poor enrolment rates, high dropouts, high infant mortality of tribal children have to be addressed. In spite of all the efforts made by Central and State Governments, including provision of scholarships etc., the state of tribal education is far from satisfactory. Non-availability of teachers to work in tribal areas has been mainly responsible for low educational development of the tribal children. Language and communication is also a problem for non-tribal teachers working in tribal areas. Experience has shown that tribal children have difficulty in understanding and learning in the regional language which is usually the medium of instruction. To overcome this impediment, steps will be taken to ensure that, wherever required, multi-lingual education will be introduced.
Isaac's view: IS THIS PROPAGATION OF VEDIC EDUCATION WITH GURUKUL SYSTEM OF TEACHING AND CASTE-BASED OCCUPATION? The Archbishop does not say what is wrong with Gurukul System of teaching.

15.  At the local level, a part-time sub-committee of experts comprising child and clinical psychologists will be constituted so that any school or District Education Officer could refer cases where a third-party assessment or advice is needed. This sub-committee can also advise on special training/orientation of teachers for sensitive and appropriate handling of children with special needs.  

16.  To address regional imbalances, differentiated policies for different terrains, such as, hill areas, tribal areas, desert areas, coastal areas, is possible. The criteria for determining educational backwardness at block and district levels will be revisited and new norms will be evolved. To identify educational and skill gaps and to facilitate special interventions for educationally backward regions as also for socially, economically and educationally backward sections, district-wise mapping will be undertaken.  Isaac's view:  Where does the Archbishop smell strong RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) background in this point – Is it the proposal to undertake district-wise mapping?

17.  A transparent and merit based norms and guidelines for recruitment of teachers will be formulated in consultation with the state governments. Independent Teacher Recruitment Commissions will be set up by the state governments to facilitate transparent, merit based selection and recruitment of teachers, principals and other academic cadres.  Isaac's view: Where does the Archbishop see strong RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) background in this point?

18. Transparent norms will be developed for fair and equitable deployment of teachers, for public display of their vacancies and transfers. For remote and difficult areas, efforts will be made to recruit the teachers locally.  Manpower planning will be done by the state governments to assess subject-wise and state-wise requirement of teachers and also to cover training of untrained teachers within a specified time frame. Contractual teachers will be phased out gradually by absorbing the eligible teachers against sanctioned positions.
Isaac's view: Keeping Contractual teachers is a bane of Church-run missionary schools. May be the Archbishop wants to continue with this malpractice in the name of autonomy of minitority institutes!

19.  It will be made mandatory for all in-service teachers to participate in training/ professional development programmes once in every three years. Central and state governments will make adequate arrangements to train all in-service teachers within a period of three years by leveraging technology. – Are these against the secular features of our country?  Isaac's view: The Archbishop's understanding of forcible One Language and One Religion is the government's attempt to bring in uniformity of recruitment of teachers and principals, mandatory training and professional development of teachers! 

20.  All states and UTs, if they so desire, may provide education in schools, up to Class V, in mother tongue, local or regional language as the medium of instruction. Knowledge of english plays an important role in the national and international mobility of students and provides an access to global knowledge. Hence, it is important to make children proficient in reading and writing English. Therefore, if the medium of instruction upto primary level is the mother tongue or local or regional language, the second language will be English and the choice of the third language (at the upper primary and secondary levels) will be with the individual states and local authorities, in keeping with the Constitutional provisions. Isaac's view: SO WHERE DOES THE QUESTION OF ONE LANGUAGE AND COMPULSORY TEACHING OF SANSKRIT COME?

21.  Keeping in view special importance of Sanskrit to the growth and development of Indian languages and its unique contribution to the cultural unity of the country, facilities for teaching Sanskrit at the school and university stages will be offered on a more liberal scale. Isaac's view: Liberal Scale does not mean SANSKRIT WOULD BE COMPULSORY.  What's the harm in learning Sanskrit which is the mother / root of most Indian languages? EVEN THE GERMANS HAVE GIVEN IT THE PRIDE OF PLACE IN THEIR LANGUAGE COURSES. 

22.  Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) provide free access to cutting edge courses at relatively much lower cost. Various higher education institutes/universities are putting their courses online by setting up open learning platforms. The demand for MOOCs is likely to rise in future with growing aspirations and need for continuous upgrading of knowledge. MHRD has planned to launch Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM), a web portal where Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on various subjects will be available. There is a felt need to create a body to promote, coordinate, regulate and maintain standards of MOOCs and to develop a mechanism for recognition, transfer and accumulation of credits. – Isaac's view: IS THIS TRYING TO ENFORCE ONE LANGUAGE ONE RELIGION OR TO DIVIDE THE NATION? IS THIS BRINGING DEEP DIVIDE AMONG STUDENTS AND TEACHERS" AS ALLEGED BY THE ARCHBISHOP?   

23.  Over the next decade, at least 100 new centres/ departments of excellence, in the field of higher education, both in the public and the private sector, will be established to promote excellence in research and encourage innovations. Private trusts, philanthropists and foundations will be given freedom to establish such Centres of Excellence. In order to promote innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship, 100 more incubation centres will be established in HEIs over a period of next 5 years.

24.  To make the present scheme of education loans to the economically disadvantaged sections more effective, the scheme will be modified to facilitate relaxations for collateral, lower interest rates and higher moratorium period from the present one year to two years/rolling moratorium.  

25.  The issue of extension of Clause 12 (1) (c) of RTE Act to government-aided minority institutions (religious and linguistic) will be examined in view of larger national commitments towards the economically weaker sections. Isaac's view: What is the harm if RTE is extended to minority institutions whether aided or non-aided. The clause imposes a legal obligation upon private unaided schools to reserve 25 percent of the seats in the entry-level class for children from Economically Weaker Section and disadvantaged categories. The intention behind  this provision is to ensure that the states as well as other stakeholders in society share the obligation of realizing the right to free and compulsory elementary education. The increased prevalence of unaided private schools makes them a natural stakeholder to the fulfilment of this obligation. Non-aided schools can claim the permissible reimbursement per free child from the Government.

26.  It is imperative to note that the Centre and the States have to work together in a spirit of cooperative federalism to translate the intended goals and actionable strategies into realities that can result in the transformation of the education landscape. Isaac's view: WHERE DOES THE ARCHBISHOP SEE THE CENTRE CLAMPING DOWN ON STATES "to impose one language, one religion and one race in India against the country’s secular and diverse nature"? 

The biggest joke is the rejection on 30th July 2016 of the Draft National Education Policy by Tamil Nadu Bishops Council headed by the Archbishop! Will his outbursts tilt the scales in favour of the Catholic Church or actually show it in very poor light?


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1 Response

  1. almayasabdam says:
    From: Joseph Uday Rodrick <>
    Sent: Wednesday, August 10, 2016 10:19 PM
    To: isaac gomes
    Subject: Re: Archbishop sees Hindu nationalism in education policy draft – My dissection of the Archbishop's views

    Dear Isaac,
    Your rebuttal is well written. I fail to understand how the Archbishop came to the conclusions he made. Our church is in bad hands and they do not think of the image we will get from people at large and more specifically the government in power. God help our church and its leaders. Just keep doing what you are doing. 

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