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Eastern Panorama met with Shri Atul Kothari, General Secretary of Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas (Trust for the Uplift of Education and Culture) and also former General Secretary of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and co-convenor of Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti The Nyas, founded on 18 May 2007, works in collaboration with a sister organisation Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti (Campaign Committee for Saving Education), which was also founded byDinanath Batra, a Pracharak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the former Director of its Education wing Vidya Bharati. The mission of the Nyas is to find and establish alternatives to the present education system in India by changing its “syllabus, system, methods and policy” .

On the sidelines of National Conference on Revisiting Indology and Sanskrit in India held at NEHU (North Eastern Hill University) by the Department of Linguistics under the able Cordination of the Chairperson Prof Sailendra Kumar Singh , Editor Harsh Jhunjhunwala met Mr. Atul Kothari. The excerpts of the interview are reproduced for the readers. 

Please explain you mission and what changes and why changes?

To change the country we have to change our education. The kind of country and society we want will come form the education we impart. So basic change in education is our first prerogative.

Secondly, Instead of problem we need to discuss the solution. Everybody knows the problem, some may be little more. But I have been seeing since last 40 yrs that all seminars discussions that take place discuss only problems and not the solution.

Thirdly, Mother, Motherland and Mother tounge there is no alternative.

Fourthly, In a country with democracy, if the people are totally dependent on government then that country cannot be successful and education is a field in which the involvement of people from the society, people concerned with education has to be more than that of the government.

In a democratic country, the role of government and that of the society is equal for creating a positive change, so both have to work collectively.

The change in education is that since last 70yrs we have not been able to decide what is the aim of our education? What is the crux of education that we are imparting?

Swami Vivekananada said, “Man making and character building is the primary purpose of education.” The personality and psychological development of a child should be as such that they can decide by themselves whether they want to be a doctor, engineer, industrialist, professor, etc. The proper development is what education should do. So this primary concept should come into our education system. In education our Indian knowledge system is no where to be found. Before five years not only India but the whole world was celebrating Srinivasa Ramanujan’s 25yrs of birth anniversary. During that time there was international conference in Delhi. Though I was not able to go, my friend from mathematics field had visited. He was telling me that mathematicians had come from all over the world including America, Europe, Australia and enquired from him has to why the Indians were not working on Ramanujan when the whole world was? Ramanujan was such a great mathematician. In 2011, when we were celebrating his life, people in our country did not know that Ramanujan belong to the field of mathematics. It is not their fault but the fault of the system. Ramanujan does not exists in our system. There are three hand-written diaries of this great mathematician whose solution no mathematician in the whole world is able to find. Such a great mathematician of our country but not in our system!! So this Indian knowledge, sciences of our own is missing in our education. Today, the world is moving with such great pace and great scientific research is taking place but our syllabus since decades is the same. Then how our children will be able to compete in the world. There should be communication of both. Similarly,the education system that we have has nothing to do with the society. People have done B.A.,M.A.,B.COM., but have u asked people if there is any help in your job? Nothing. Very less useful things in our present education system that will help in a person’s personal life or social life or nation building.


You said that there is no alternative to mother tongue but sadly today, people are ashamed of talking in their own mother tounge, Why is it so?

Yes, this is a problem. See in independent India we have accepted a foreign language which had actually enslaved us. See, we kept our mother tongue at our school level but if we want to go for higher education, technical education, IIT,IIM then you can do it only in English. In the judiciary only in few states in local judiciary at district level, tehsildar level in 17 courts you can talk in your own language. But in High Court, Supreme Court you cannot do that.

What about IAS examinations? Many really meticulous students who would have qualified if the exams were conducted in the local languages. Your thoughts?

Does even the examination for state public administrative services allowed exams take place in the local language? First we have to start and then can only we tell the UPS. If we donot take our local language forward then who will do it? IAS exams are conducted in 22 schedule languages you can use. Even then the paper of English is compulsory. So basically in all competitive exams atleast a paper in English is compulsory. So without the knowledge of English you cannot go ahead. See there are three levels. Firstly higher education, Secondly competitive exam and thirdly from judiciary to all the government works are being conducted in English language. Until and unless we establish our language in these levels no language of India can flourish. Every parent thinks that after going to college the kid needs to go and study in English then why not make them study in English from the start. At higher level it is English and at lower level there is local language than which person will want to go at a lower level? Everyone would want to go at a higher level . This is the reason.

Why do you think kids these days lack goals ?

Total change is required. The kid must be connected to the society. For this our former President Shri Pranab Mukherjee had said in the meeting of all Vice Chancellors of Central Universities that every university should adopt 10 villages. This be done at all levels of education including school level. See kids are not at fault anywhere. The fault lies in the system. Kids are very sensitive. Example. One place we started our work of social connect. There was a teacher who had taken her child along to this village where we were working. After one month that child’s birthday was there. When the teacher who asked the child what she wanted to do for her birthday? Her reply would astonish you. She wanted to celebrate her birthday in that village. Finally the entire family took lots of food, sweets and went to that village and celebrated her birthday there. So the end point is that we need to guide our children towards the right direction. Then they will definitely connect with the society. 


Harsh Jhunjhunwala


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