Former Cabinet Secretary and head of the committee on the new education policy, T.S.R. Subramanian tells The Hindu that the government published only extracts of the report submitted by the committee , as the report was critical of India’s journey in education.
The title of your committee on the new education policy was changed from ‘drafting committee’ to ‘evolution committee’. Now your report is being called ‘inputs’. Has its importance been watered down?
I don’t know if the expectation was that we would praise the system. We have done wholesale criticism… The main reason why the report was not published and extracts were given was that this criticism should not come to the public. Unfortunately, there is nothing to praise. We showed the reality. It has nothing to do with A or B but shows 70 years of misgovernance.
What is your opinion about the name being changed?
If a good policy comes, I don’t think credit needs to be given to anybody in particular. As a country we can’t wait now. See where Korea is. See what China has done. When will we change things?
There were wide-ranging consultations last year and they are going on even now. Does it make sense?
Hopefully, the system is poised to announce the decisions. I do not see this as a reopening of issues. I see it as consolidation of reactions. Inputs won’t come from Mars; so another three years’ examination won’t help. But I think the Minister is keen — he is correctly not looking at one person, source or report. Education policy is too important a thing to be attributed to one person, party or idea. It will affect the entire country. What matters is what solutions come. Cosmetic changes will be disastrous.
What is the way forward on the policy?
Each of these 95 recommendations can be converted into policy, modified or rejected. It has details on how things are to be done. In 1986, they did not have a framework committee to convert policy into action points. There was no time-frame. It is for the Ministry to decide. But that, in my opinion, is absolutely essential. There should also be monitoring. Otherwise, any new policy will be in the air.
Former HRD minister and Congress leader Kapil Sibal said there was nothing in your report to ensure access, quality and equity. Any comments?
My most charitable comment would be he is a very busy man probably defending Rahul (Gandhi). Maybe he did not get time (to read it). From the first to the last page, the report is about the need to reduce inequality and improve quality. We have also said that, thanks to Sibal, the problem of availability of education was solved to some extent.
There has been criticism that your committee lacked real educationists.
I have been chancellor of a university for three years. I have an educational programme for poor children. As chief secretary, I went to Washington for the first World Bank programme on education for all. I have been to Imperial College and Harvard. The others in the committee had educational experience. Educational field has many kinds of expertise — pedagogy, school, infrastructure, training, management, financing, etc. If anyone says he knows all about it, he is a fraud.