Should India’s education and future be held hostage to dress?

The actions of the Hindutva brigade on Indian history suggest that there is no need to learn from history because it can be changed. Although it is an illusion, the effect is powerful enough to make people forget their real needs in the present. The right’s method of coming to terms with the past is not to bridge historical divides. The story is reframed to create false victimization that is used for revenge. They hope their actions in the present will undo what they believe to be historical damage to the pride of this land. Therefore, young people are told that pride and self-esteem are not related to one’s own contributions and abilities, but related to events from the distant past to which one had nothing to contribute.

This brings us to the subject of moral science and indeed to the concept of leadership. Modi and his government teach young people that leaders must be real liars, irresponsible, unrepentant and have the ability and the brazenness to blame their failures on the dead or those unable to defend themselves. The Prime Minister’s Leadership Tutorials for Young People defines leaders as those able to use subtle biases and whistles to inspire rabid bigotry in their followers. Mr. Modi’s leadership informs young people that a leader’s words and actions must be diametrically opposed. For example, Modi and the BJP promise sab ke saath, sab ka vikasand Beti Bachao, Beti Padao but their divisive ideology and politics are dividing the country and targeting young women.

Young people learn that Modi and his government’s aversion to data and facts serves them well. It is one thing for the future of India to learn to lie. It’s quite another to show them that lying isn’t the only way to escape responsibility. The claimed lack of statistics on migrant deaths caused by lockdown, or on deaths caused by lack of oxygen during the second wave of Covid or on unemployment is a way for the government to avoid responsibility constitutional without appearing to be so.

But then what can be expected from a government and its leaders who do not deal with reality and believe in drama. You could say that Mr. Modi with his various headwear and garments gives a modern take, with an Indian twist, to the youth of the classic tale of the Emperor’s New Clothes. Or it could be his way of educating young people on the Shakespearean adage of ‘clothing often proclaims the man‘. Ignoring the data and the reality it describes is an act of self-preservation for the PM. This vein of thought extends to its denial of science because that is the easiest way to pump up meaningless pride. Without proof, Modi claimed that cloning and plastic surgery were practiced in ancient India. Inspired by him, junior BJP members made similar statements. This has been credited to the Indian Congress of Science. Educational and research institutions now have study programs and research projects in this direction. This will undeniably have a deleterious impact on scientific research in the country which has important technical-socio-economic ramifications.

This type of education necessarily needs special institutions of higher education. BJP parent Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) already runs thousands of schools and holds weekly shakha meetings.

Modi’s team created the NaMo app so he could personally mentor youngsters. There is also Whatsapp University which provides fake news and sectarian drivel to reinforce what is being taught in real time.

Simultaneously, the government is lowering the standards of educational institutions by selecting apologists for their ideology who also possess similar traits to right-wing leaders. The most recent being the appointment of the new Vice-Chancellor of JNU, Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit. She claims the bigotry spewed out of the Twitter handle with her name is not hers, she says’someone inside JNU did it‘. She replaces Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar who has been appointed Chair of the University Grants Commission (UGC).

Helen D. Jessen