Prof. C.B. Sharma, Mr. Vidhur Kaushik distinguished friends a very good evening to all of you. I first of all thank to Prof. Sharma for having invited me to this function. I would like to pay my homage and respect to late Shanti Sharma, mother of Prof. Sharma. From what I have heard a little bit about her and her life reminds me of a book that I have read quite a long time back. The name of the book is “The Wisdom of the Natives Amaricans by Kent Nerburn”. It speaks about the indigenous knowledge without any degree or education. The traditional knowledge and belief of the indigenous people of the United States we know them as Red Indians. In their thought, they say that if you think the God has created this world for me, if you think that whatever is here in this world in terms of everything wealth, minerals, country, nations. If you think the God has created this world for me and you then you are certainly mistaken. God has not created this world for you, God has not given you anything that he has created for you, it has been created for your children and grand children you have been made by God a mere chowkidar to preserve them, to protect them for the benefit of the coming generations. I think that was spirit of the thought of late Shanti Sharma. The way I have heard little bit of her.
Today’s subject for discussion is ”Is Indian education inclusive?” I don’t have much to say on this because all of you are so knowledgeable, so well informed so well read on this I don’t dare to speak much on this subject. But my simple answer to this question of whether the Indian education is inclusive is clearly NO. It is not. It has many short comings.
If you look at the kind of mediums of instructions in our education system, you find that those who are reading in English medium schools excel and those who read in Hindi medium try to catch up but what about those people whose language we have never heard of. I personally don’t know how many languages India has got. But clearly the tribals in India the ST, SC or to some extend minorities, OBCs their languages is nowhere in the medium of instruction so we are denying them of learning and getting them education in their own mother tongue. They have to study in some other people’s language. It is certainly not inclusive. We have 8th Schedule in the Constitution of India where 22 languages have been listed as national languages. In a population of 1.2 billion people, we have only 22 languages; which the Constitution of India recognizes! How ridiculous is it? Only two languages of the STs in this country are included in the 8th Schedule. Last 15 days I was touring in Madhya Pradesh and touring in tribal areas. I was with Gondwanas. I asked “Do you have a Gondwana language?”, yes we have. “do you have script?”, No, therefore it is not the medium of instruction in primary stage. Bheel even Meenas, Kaul, Urao, Shantals, none of these languages. None of these people have got the privilege of getting education in their own language. Naturally, they are far behind. They are excluded. How can we say our education is inclusive? Let me tell you one small thing we are talking about what is needed to be is not only to preserve but to promote different languages in the country. I was reading a magazine called National Geography. In the July edition of 2012, a gentleman Roose Rimer, a linguist, says one language dies every 14th day in this world. One language gets extinct every 14th day and he says out of 7000 spoken languages today by the middle of next century as many as half will vanish. Half will vanish. I come from a tribe called Garo and in our tribe we also have 12 languages. One of the languages which has been lost belongs to my tribe. So we need to promote, we need to preserve different languages in the country. Recognizing only 22 languages in the 8th Schedule is not enough. Now, look at this access to education, you know, you have the figures how many people have got access to education. We don’t want to go into that. We have two systems of education. One for rural poor, one for the urban rich. Two systems of education. How many rural people are able to get access to good education? I come from a village and when I became Member of Parliament in 1977, and whenever I used to tour in my constituency, I used to ask “Do you have primary school?”, yes, sir, “do you have a building?”, no sir, “do you have a teacher?”, yes sir, but he is not available here, he has gone home and he has not come in the last six months. I would ask them to give me an application and in their memorandum they would say we need benches, we need map of India, that is not a demand, it is a memorandum. Can you imagine, we want black board, these are the kinds of education we are imparting in our rural areas. It is clearly an exclusion.
Prime Minister has to be from the Lok Sabha – Sri P.A. Sangma
The public lecture was organized by the Shanti Upendra Foundation for Development Initiatives (SUFDI) on the topic 'How Inclusive is Indian Education?' The lecture was delivered by Sri P.A. Sangma, former Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
At the outset Mr. Sangma said that Indian education is not inclusive as it does not give equal opportunity to the members of all communities and groups. Delivering the lecture Sri Sangma said that without commitment and encouragement of mother tongue as medium of instruction, true inclusion will never come. India has large number of mother tongues but unfortunately only 22 languages have been recognized as national languages. Only a couple of tribal languages have been included in the list. If we are not able to serve and protect out tribal languages, what kind of inclusive we are visualizing.
Mr. Sangma further said, India has two kinds of education, one for urban rich and other for rural poor, which is a great hurdle in the way of inclusive. He further added that ensuring education facilities in rural India should be a way forward towards inclusion. Unemployment is also an area of great concern. Our universities should focus on employability and skill development of youth, only then we can convert over 60 million children into asset.
In response to a question “Why has Parliament failed to conduct itself in recent past?” Mr. sangma lamented on the poor performance of Democracy in India. He said perhaps India is the only country where for eighteen long years we have not been able to identify a person who is directly elected by the people of the country. In the UK, the Prime Minister has to be from the House of Commons and cannot be from the House of Lords but in India it has almost become a practice to have someone who is not from the Lok Sabha. Sri Sangma said that the Prime Minister of India should be a person elected by Indians as Member of Lok Sabha and should be elected in Parliament by Members, not be nominated from some external pressure groups or persons. He recalled how he conducted the Parliament sessions and there was very little loss of time. He handled the habit of going into the Well of House with an iron hand. The will is not visible to discipline the House.
On this occasion a book written by a young IITian and a former student of Mother’s International School Partha Sarthi Sharma 'Wishes are Horses and You Can Ride Them', a narration of his strategies and planning leading to his success in the JEE of IIT was released by Sri P.A. Sangma. Principal of Mother’s International School, Mrs. Sanghamitra Ghosh was also present in the occasion received the first copy of the book. While proposing a vote of thinks Prof. C.B. Sharma, the Chief Trustee of SUFDI mentioned how important it was to have good schools for all and also take care of the health of all children as a large number of children in our country are not able to perform well because of poor health.