National Education Policy 2022: Assault on the Constitutional vision of education and Existing Level-Playing Field with Agenda of Exclusion, Corporatisation & Enslavement
National Education Policy 2022: Introduction
“ . . . certain educationists in India who believe that the raising of the standard of examination is equivalent to the raising of the standard of education . . . Examination is something quite different from education, but in the name of raising the standard of education, they are making the examinations so impossible and so severe that the backward communities which have hitherto not had the chance of entering the portals of the University are absolutely kept out.”
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings & Speeches, Vol. 20, p. 50; Bombay Legislature Council Debates, 27th July 1927
Any policy in India, whether passed by the Centre or the States/UTs, is expected to be in accordance with the basic framework of the Constitution. A policy that violates any aspect of the Constitution, particularly India’s federal structure and also the Fundamental Rights (Part III) read in ‘harmonious construction’ with the Directive Principles of State Policy (Part IV), must be rejected forthwith or, at least, the relevant part thereof. Yet, it is rarely that this criterion is applied as an acid test of the validity of the policies. In this National Convention today, as far as the policy-related analytical framework is concerned, let us set precedence for all present and future policies.
To begin with, we will evaluate the relevance, validity and implications of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (UG) and the Central University Entrance Test (UG) i.e. The NEET-CUET Phenomenon in the framework of the Constitution. In the process, we shall also unfold the Constitutional vision of Education.
National Education Policy 2022: The NEET-CUET Phenomenon
Why do we perceive NEET-CUET policy provision as a phenomenon and not as an isolated freak policy provision? In Tamil Nadu, NEET, as an anti-federal provision and also on the grounds of skewing equality and diluting Social Justice, has been resisted at a popular level since 2016. However, NEET is just the tip of the iceberg. Under National Education Policy 2022 (originally NEP-2020), the National Testing Agency (NTA) has been constituted which would conduct not only NEET but is designed to take over a whole spectrum of prevailing state/UT-level entrance tests. The other anti-federal provisions of NEP-2020 impact upon all stages of education from ECCE (Early Childhood Care and Education: anganwadi, nursery & KG) to Higher Education, including Professional and Technical Education. These include National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for ECCE (NCPFECCE); National Achievement Survey (NAS) linked with PARAKH1 for all schools (Class I to XII); National Educational Technology Forum (NETF); National Higher Education Qualifications Framework (NHEQF); National Research Foundation (NRF); along with the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) and its four verticals viz., National Higher Education Regulatory Council (NHERC), National Accreditation Council (NAC); Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC); and the General Education Council (GEC). GEC is possibly the most hegemonic vertical (NHEQF in sync with NSQF is one of the ‘weapons’ of GEC to control learning outcomes, curriculum, pedagogy and even the mindset). GEC, along with the professional councils like ICAR, VCI, NCTE, CoA, NCVET etc. acting as Professional Standard Setting Bodies (PSSBs), leaves nothing under the sun to the imagination, initiative or intuition of the faculty of the universities, institutes and colleges or the school teachers as well – reminiscent of Orwellian manipulation of thought as a phenomenon that characterizes NEP-2020. The latest addition in this anti-federal category is CUET being conducted by NTA!
1Performance Assessment, Review and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development.
Criteria from the Preamble
“We, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVERIEGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation;
IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.”
Indeed, the aforesaid Preamble defines the core spirit of the Constitution. It constitutes the basic framework that guided the Constituent Assembly.
The Constitutional vision of education is defined by the aforesaid four criteria in the Preamble viz., Equality, Justice, Liberty and Fraternity. The inherent relationship among these four concepts and the inalienable TRINITY of Equality, Justice and Liberty in relation with Fraternity was elaborated by Babasaheb Dr. Ambedkar in his historic speech on 25th November 1949 while presenting the Constitution to the Constituent Assembly:
“. . . We must make our political democracy a social democracy as well. Political democracy cannot last unless there lies at the base of it social democracy. What does social democracy mean? It means a way of life which recognises liberty, equality and fraternity as the principles of life. These principles of liberty, equality and fraternity are not to be treated as separate items in a trinity. They form a union of trinity in the sense that to divorce one from the other is to defeat the very purpose of democracy. . . . Liberty cannot be divorced from equality, equality cannot be divorced from liberty. Nor can liberty and equality be divorced from fraternity. Without equality, liberty would produce the supremacy of the few over the many. Equality without liberty would kill individual initiative. Without fraternity, liberty would produce the supremacy of the few over the many. Without fraternity, liberty and equality could not become a natural course of things. It would require a constable to enforce them.” “ . . . We must begin by acknowledging the fact that there is complete absence of two things in Indian Society. One of these is equality. On the social plane, we have in India a society based on the principle of graded inequality . . . On the 26th of January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality. In politics we will be recognising the principle of one man one vote and one vote one value. In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value. How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life? If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy which is Assembly has to laboriously built up.”
“The second thing we are wanting in is recognition of the principle of fraternity. What does fraternity mean? Fraternity means a sense of common brotherhood of all Indians – of Indians being one people. It is the principle which gives unity and solidarity to social life . . . I am of opinion that in believing that we are a nation, we are cherishing a great delusion. How can people divided into several thousands of castes be a nation? The sooner we realise that we are not as yet a nation in the social and psychological sense of the world, the better for us. For then only we shall realise the necessity of becoming a nation and seriously think of ways and means of realising the goal. . . . The castes are anti-national. In the first place because they bring about separation in social life. They are anti-national also because they generate jealousy and antipathy between caste and caste. But we must overcome all these difficulties if we wish to become a nation in reality. For fraternity can be a fact only when there is a nation. Without fraternity, equality and liberty will be no deeper than coats of paint. [Emphasis by the author]”
[to be continued in Part 2]