Mahatma Gandhi’s Tryst with Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar at Wardha in 1934

Date of Publishing: October 2, 2021

Source: https://www.organiser.org/india-news/mahatma-gandhi-s-tryst-with-dr-keshav-baliram-hedgewar-at-wardha-in-1934-5993.html

The discussion between the two stalwarts was evident of the rich Bharatiya culture of acceptance and co-existence of diverse ideas, viewpoints, and practices.

As India commemorates the 152nd birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on October 2, 2021, global nations are simultaneously set to observe the day as the ‘International Day of Non-Violence’.

Notably, October 2 is also the birth anniversary of another freedom fighter and India’s second Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri.

The Indian freedom struggle was a tremendous opportunity to assimilate diverse socio-cultural, political, intellectual, philosophical and economic identities across the Indian sub-continent for the noble national cause. The freedom struggle was a platform for several freedom fighters and organisations to share their ideas and envision independence and post-independent India. Non-violence, armed struggle, cultural awakening, social upliftment, etc., were some methods used by great personalities for achieving Indian independence. A multilingual and multicultural nation that India is, a wide variety of literary writings in regional languages bearing nationalistic spirit and fervour had echoed, united and brought millions of Indians on the street. There have been historical interactions between great personalities who led the freedom movement in one or another way, enabling them to enrich their understanding of Bharat as a living socio-cultural entity. One such interaction was in the year 1934 between Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, the founder and the first Sarsangachalak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or the RSS was founded on the Vijaya Dashami day in 1925 by Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar or ‘Doctorji’ (1889–1940), as he is respectfully addressed by millions of swayamsevaks across the world. Dr Hedgewar had laid greater emphasis on the physical and intellectual training of the RSS to create a disciplined volunteer group that shall be ever prepared to serve the society and nation, enabling Bharat to achieve its destiny as Vishwaguru.

On December 25, 1934, after over nine years of founding the Sangh, the visit of Mahatma Gandhi to the Wardha district camp of RSS and his interaction after that with Doctorji was probably a rare, distinguished and constructive interaction between the two nationalistic stalwarts who had envisioned a mammoth socio-political mission for the nation. While Mahatma Gandhi chose truth and non-violence as a medium for achieving India’s political independence from the British, Dr Hedgewar realised the necessity for national reconstruction and transformation at the socio-cultural level by imparting Hindu-cultural identity among the masses.

Gandhi visits Wardha RSS Camp

After observing the preparations and commencement of the Wardha RSS camp, Gandhiji had curiously set his footsteps into the Wardha camp from the nearby Sevagram Ashram, where he had stayed. Guiding Gandhiji at the Wardha camp was Appaji Joshi. Gandhiji was delighted to witness the minuscule planning and efforts taken by the Wardha camp organisers and swayamsevaks in commencing the camp. What had even more surprised Gandhiji after his interaction with the swayamsevaks was the total absence of untouchability, caste indifferences or other discriminatory practices at the Wardha camp. On enquiring, a Swayamsevak told Gandhi: “There are no differences like Brahmin, Maratha, Asprishyas, etc., in the Sangh. We are, in fact, not even aware of what castes many of our Swayamsevak brethren belong to, nor are we interested in knowing it. It is enough for us that we are all Hindus.”

Gandhi turned to Appaji and asked: “It appears almost impossible to ward off the evil of untouchability from our society. How has this phenomenon been made possible in the Sangh?”

Appaji Joshi replied: “Feelings of high and low, touchability and untouchability can be abolished only by emphasising the inherent oneness of all Hindus. Then only will the spirit of fraternity be reflected in their sincere behaviour, and not merely in words. The credit for this achievement goes to Dr. Keshavrao Hedgewar.”

After that, along with the swayamsevaks, who had assembled in the prayer hall as per the Sangh tradition, Gandhiji also offered his salutations to the Bhagawa Dhwaj or the Saffron Flag. As Appaji led Gandhiji towards other facilities of the Wardha camp, Gandhiji noticed a portrait and asked its whereabouts: “Whose portrait is this?”

Appaji said that the portrait was of Dr. Hedgewar.

Gandhi inquired: “Is that the same Dr. Keshavrao Hedgewar you mentioned when we were talking about untouchability? How is he connected with the Sangh?”

“He is the Chief of the Sangh. We call him the Sarsanghachalak. All the activities of the Sangh are carried on under his guidance. It is he who has started the Sangh.” replied Appaji.

Gandhi curiously asked Appaji: “Will it be possible to meet Dr. Hedgewar? If possible, I want to hear about the Sangh from him directly.”

As Dr Hedgewar was out of Wardha camp, the meeting between Gandhiji and Dr Hedgewar took place on the next day, wherein the discussion between the two stalwarts was evident of the rich Bharatiya culture of acceptance and co-existence of diverse ideas, viewpoints, and practices.

Gandhi’s Tryst with Doctorji

As the discussions began, Gandhiji was quick to kindle his mind and ask Dr Hedgewar about the observations he had made at the Wardha camp the previous day: “Doctorji, your organisation is admirable. I am aware of the fact that you were, for many years, a Congress worker. That being so, why did you not build such a volunteer cadre under the aegis of a popular organisation like the congress itself? Why did you float a separate organisation?”

Doctorji candidly replied: “It is true that I worked in the Congress. I was also the Secretary of the Swayamsevak Dal at the time of the 1920 session of the congress, when my friend Dr. Paranjape was the Dal President. Subsequently, the two of us tried to build such a volunteer cadre inside the congress. But our efforts were not successful. Hence this independent venture.”

Doubting any possible financial constraints that Doctorji had faced in the congress, Gandhiji asked: “Why did your attempt fail? Was it for want of financial assistance?” To which Doctorji replied: No. No! There was no dearth of funds. Money can be a great help, no doubt. But money alone cannot accomplish everything. The problem that faced us was not one of money but of attitudes.”

Gandhi doubtfully asked Doctorji: “Is it your opinion that noble-hearted people were not there in the Congress, or that they are not there now?”

Doctorji elaborated on the challenges that he had faced in building such a dedicated cadre within the Congress. He said: “There are many well – meaning people in the Congress. What is at issue is certain basic attitudes. The Congress has been formed primarily with a view to achieving a political end. Its programmes have also been drawn up accordingly, and it needs volunteers to arrange for these programmes. The Congress leaders are therefore used to looking upon volunteers as unpaid servants who arrange chairs and benches during meetings and conferences. The Congress does not seem to believe that the problems of the nation can effectively be solved only when there is a large and disciplined body of dedicated Swayamsevaks who are eager to serve the country of their own accord and without waiting for inspiration from elsewhere.”

After interacting with several of the Swayamsevaks at the Wardha camp the previous day, Gandhi asked Doctorji: “What exactly is your conception of a Swayamsevak?”

Doctorji elaborated on the idea of Swayamsevak, an ideal example of a selfless and dedicated volunteer: “A Swayamsevak is one who would lovingly lay down his life for the all – round upliftment of the nation. To create and mould such Swayamsevaks is the aim of the Sangh. There is no distinction between a Swayamsevak and a leader in Sangh. All of us are Swayamsevaks and are therefore equal. We love and respect everybody equally. We give no room for any differences in status. This is in fact the secret of the remarkable growth of the Sangh in such a short period with no outside help, money or publicity.”

On hearing the very idea of Swayamsevak, Gandhiji continued the conversation further: “I am indeed very glad. The country will certainly be benefited by the success of your efforts. I have heard of the vast following the Sangh has acquired in the Wardha district. … How do you meet the expenses of such a huge organisation?”

At this instance, Doctorji explained the noblest method of selfless contribution for meeting the financial necessities of the Sangh. Doctorji said that “The Swayamsevaks themselves bear the burden, each offering his mite as Gurudakshina.”

The RSS has a tradition wherein Swayamsevaks willingly contribute a part of their earnings as Gurudakshina once a year on the auspicious occasion of Guru Poornima. Gurudakshina is Bharat’s ancient Vedic practice and a Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh spiritual tradition of acknowledging one’s Guru or the teacher by voluntarily donating an honorarium or daana. Importantly, in the RSS, the Swayamsevaks symbolise and personify the Bhagawa Dhwaj or the Saffron Flag as their Guru and submit their Dakshina after salutations. Indeed, the Bhagawa Dhwaj has a great grand history and eternal ideological teachings of Dharma to learn from as it furls under the blue sky.

Amazed at Doctorji’s deep involvement in the affairs of Sangh, Gandhiji asked, “It looks as if your entire time is consumed by this work. How do you carry on your medical profession?” to which Doctorji replied, he has not taken to medicine as a profession.

Amazed at the reply, Gandhiji enquired how Doctorji supported his family: “How then are you supporting your family?”

Gandhiji was then surprised to know that Doctorji was not married and therefore made the following remarks: “I see – you are not married! Very good. That explains the remarkable degree of success you have achieved in such a short duration! Doctorji, with your character and sincerity, there is no doubt you will succeed.”

Afterword

This historic visit of Mahatma Gandhi to the Wardha RSS camp and the detailed discussion with Doctorji about the philosophical evolution of Sangh, its tradition of selfless service and vision for the nation, has been widely diluted, neglected and kept away from the social, cultural and political discourse of India. As India embarks on a journey as Viswaguru, there is a greater need for constructive discourse and critical thinking in society to enable the masses to judge beyond political and social barriers. Therefore, observing 75 years of Indian independence through Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav should motivate us to leap forward as a nation in taking Bharat to its’ pinnacle of glory’.

Source: Dr. Hedgewar: The Epoch-Maker A Biography, 1981; Edited by H. V. Sheshadri, Sahitya Sindhu Prakashana, Bangalore. ISBN: 81-86595-34-1

(The writer is a PhD research scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and is also JNU Vibhag Convener at ABVP Delhi)

Kerala Simham Veera Pazhassi Raja: The Man Who Defeated and Shocked the British**

The statue of Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja inside the Pazhassi Raja Smrithi Mandiram at Pazhassi in Mattannur, Kerala. (Source: https://www.keralatourism.org/thalassery/photo-gallery/pazhassi-raja-smrithi-mandiram-wooden-sculpture/81)

Date of publishing: August 15, 2020

Source: https://www.organiser.org/Encyc/2020/8/15/Kerala-Simham-Veera-Pazhassi-Raja.html

Bharat is home to the lineage of countless warriors who defended the country against Arab, Portuguese, British, Dutch, French and other colonial forces both on land and sea over the last 1000 years. When the British East India Company traders layed the strategy to rule India it swiftly took the shape of British political hegemonism with a militaristic fervor. Much before the First War of Indian Independence in 1857 the forces of the British East India Company confusingly paused at a fierce warrior king in Kerala whose name reverberated as Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja – केरल वर्मा पलशी राजा. Also known as ‘Kerala Simham’ or the lion of Kerala, Pazhassi Raja presented crushing defeats to the British forces and equally resisted the invading forces of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan of Mysore.

Kerala Varma (the birth name) was born in 1753 at Pazhassi / पलशी in Kannur into the royal family of Kottayam. This resilient prince was put to test when he was made one of the de facto heads of state at the age of 21 by superseding many older contenders. This was the critical time when forces of Hyder Ali had seized the kingdom of Malabar in 1773 which led the then King of Kottayam to seek political asylum with the kingdom of Travancore. Pazhassi Raja resisted the troops of Hyder Ali in 1774 and ultimately led his kingdom to victory against the forces of Hyder Ali in 1793 through deliberate and intended alliance with the British. But the British had different ideas, including securing monopoly over the pepper trade point near the Thalassery port which was liberated from Hyder Ali ! The British started levying tax and struck a deal with Kerala Varma’s uncle Vira Varma and appointed him as the King of Kottayam. What followed was the British’s cunning and treacherous double game of tax centered exploitation of the peasantry and yet maintaining the sovereignty of Vira Varma as the local ruler. This interference by the British in the local governance and affairs of the economy which exploited the common people was the reason that made Kerala Varma the legend he is known for: Kerala Simham.

Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja’s resistance against the British was unique in the sense that he refused to abandon his subjects and was immensely successful in mobilizing people of all castes, classes and faiths. He earned immense respect from the people for his firm decisions, resilience and successful war tactics. However this popular support angered the British and the Pazhassi’s palace was attacked and royal treasuries plundered in 1796. Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja and his men escaped in to the forests of Wayanad. He started to build an army to wage guerilla warfare and established strategic camps which was positioned across the thick forests of Wayanad. The British with no knowledge of the deep forests could not even reach Pazhassi Raja. In 1797 Pazhassi Raja’s force defeated an army of over a thousand troops led by Major Cameron where only a few of the British soldiers returned alive. Such conflicts continued the next four years until the British came up with their peace treaty with Pazhassi Raja.
However, with the death of Tipu Sultan in 1799 and British annexation of Mysore, the tensions between Pazhassi Raja and the British resurfaced when the British attempted to annexue Wayanad into Mysore. However this time Pazhassi Raja presented the British with a blowing defeat that deemed eligible for global recognition till date. Pazhassi Raja waged the 13 year long Cotiote war (1793 – 1806) or the war of Kottayam against the British. The guerilla warfare tactics of Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja thwarted and defeated the British forces led by the globally acclaimed Maj. General Arthur Wellesley – the Duke of Wellington, who had later on led the British forces to victory at the second Anglo-Maratha War (1803), at the Battle of Waterloo (1815) against Napoleon Bonaparte and later became the British Prime Minister twice. Therefore Cotiote war waged by Pazhassi Raja is the only war in which the globally acclaimed Major General Arthur Wellesley failed and that too against a fiery local king. The Cotiote war of 13 years also happens to be the longest war fought by the English East India Company during their conquests in India and was much longer than the Anglo-Mysore wars, Anglo-Maratha wars, Anglo-Sikh wars and Polygar wars!

Pazhassi Raja inducted the Kurichya tribes of Wayanad into his guerilla warfare in the Cotiote war and amazingly proved the dominating strength of the arrows against that of the British guns. The Cotiote war also caused severe loss of lives in the ranks of British officers and soldiers. The British were nowhere near in even tracing Pazhassi Raja in the forests of Wayanad. The British therefore resorted to recruiting Kolkars who were the natives and had detailed knowledge of the forests of Wayanad so as to secure information that could enable the British forces in capturing Pazhassi Raja. It was through treachery and information leaked out by the native Kolkars that the British succeeded in trapping Pazhassi Raja on 1805. Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja attained martyrdom fighting the British forces at the age of 52 in 1805, thus bringing an end to his resistance which started in 1774.

Pazhassi Raja’s valour, daring courage, indomitable spirit and the unrelenting love for his people is unforgettable for the generations who have known his life. Indeed, the revolt and resistance of Pazhassi Raja was a people’s revolt as he united people from all walks of life. The ‘Pazhassi Raja Tomb Museum’ in Manathavady, Wayanad still hosts the king’s memorabilia and weaponry used by the king and his troops. Pazhassi Raja’s 32 years of resistance against the British tyranny is artistically documented in the well acclaimed 2009 Malayalam movie ‘Pazhassi Raja’. The martyrdom of Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja is but the eternal saga of struggle and brave resistance for Indian Independence.

(Sabareesh.P.A is currently a Research Scholar at the Centre for Studies in Science Policy (CSSP), Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.)

References:

  1. The restorative rebellion of Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja: https://www.rjisacjournal.com/the-restorative-rebellion-of-kerala-varma-pazhassi-raja/
  2. Cotiote War: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cotiote_War
  3. Kerala Culture, Dept. of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala: http://www.keralaculture.org/pazhassi-tomb-manathavady/660
  4. Kerala Tourism: https://www.keralatourism.org/wayanad/pazhassi-musuem-mananthavady.php
  5. Evergreen legacy of the Pazhassi Raja who fought British: https://www.onmanorama.com/travel/essential-kerala/2019/05/21/evergreen-legacy-pazhassi-raja-who-fought-british.html
  6. This rebel king from Kerala was so ferocious that even the British revered him: https://www.thebetterindia.com/154585/news-kerala-varma-pazhassi-raja-british/
  7. Chapter 3, Wayanad in Arma: The Revolt of Pazhassi Raja, 1800 -1805: https://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/122184/9/09.chapter%203.pdf
  8. How Pazhassi Raja of Kerala resisted troops of Hyder Ali, Tipu Sultan, and British: https://www.myindiamyglory.com/2018/07/22/how-pazhassi-raja-of-kerala-resisted-troops-of-hyder-ali-tipu-sultan-and-british/

National Education Policy: Laying Foundation for Atmanirbhar Bharat

Date of Publishing: August 01, 2020

Source: https://www.organiser.org/Encyc/2020/8/1/National-Educational-Policy.html

  • As the world becomes borderless, global standards set the game rolling in creating new paradigms towards efficiency, and that is precisely the roadmap that the NEP 2020 lays forward.

Dr K. Kasturirangan in June 2019, as the chairperson of the committee drafting the National Education Policy, specified in an interview that India’s education structure needs no fine-tuning but a definite ‘change in totality’. 1968 was the year when the Government of India introduced the first policy for education. The second education policy followed in 1986. The Union Cabinet on 29th July 2020 approved the National Education Policy (NEP) – 2020 which has come after 34 years. The NEP 2020 has called for ‘transformational reforms’ in school & higher education sectors and vouches for access, equity, quality, affordability and accountability in education which is in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals 2030. The NEP has envisioned to transform India into a self-sufficient global knowledge economy through a holistic, flexible and multidisciplinary education system that suits its challenging needs of the 21st century.

Anxiety in Parents, Teachers and Trainers:

Over the last couple of days, a lot of anxious questions have raised from parents, teachers and educational trainers alike as to how the NEP 2020 will unfold in theirs and student’s lives. A question frequently put forward by anxious parents is of this nature: my daughter is in her 9th standard, my son is in 11th standard and would the NEP affect their curriculum and board exam scores? Another middle-aged teacher working in a private school asked, how to adapt creative teaching methods to stay competitive in the new education phase? The fact is that it is too early to answer these questions. The policy document has only spoken about the comprehensive framework or the foundational idea. The centre and state governments are expected to ‘concurrently’ come up with the detailed guidelines for training the teachers, jointly prepare academic curriculum and several other rules and regulations that will provide the greater subjective understanding and bring further clarity to the National Education policy 2020.

Pouring oil to the fire are those who have not assessed the long term positive impact that the NEP 2020 could have on India’s education system. Let’s be open for endless constructive criticism instead of taking a destructive critique of the NEP. To self-assume that NEP will bring sudden and drastic changes in the ongoing curriculum due to parenthood anxiety or lockdown loneliness does not hold logic. But one thing is for sure: there is undoubtedly going to be an overall ‘change’ in India’s education system in a phase-wise manner. I think this sounds sensible enough given the mammoth task of restructuring a colonial-era educational system to a futuristic one amidst infrastructural constraints. In fact the government has set a target of 2040 to implement the entire policy.

Let’s talk about ‘change’- which the human mind tries to avert at the psychological level. Human history has several examples wherein empires, societies, organizations, economies, business enterprises and even individual leaders being gradually phased out for not having adapted themselves or their entities to the changing scenarios or for having shown a total aversion to change. The advent of information technology has multitudinally fastened this ‘phasing out’ of outdated thought processes and uncompetitive organizational structures to give way for creative thinking and ‘disruptive’ innovation-led development. This is simply because old and static ideas no more work for today’s’ dynamic world. Moreover, the rapidly increasing applications of artificial intelligence, big data and machine learning have furthered the necessity to think in a multidisciplinary approach for complex problem-solving. It is therefore important to point out that the NEP 2020 emphasizes on introducing multi-disciplinary studies and critical thinking approaches at the school and college level academic curriculum. In the years to come the outcomes of having adopted critical thinking at a multidisciplinary level shall surely enable India to improve the skill and problem-solving capabilities of its populace. So to proactively be willing to adapt to the gradual upcoming changes in the national education system as envisioned by the NEP would be our bit of contribution towards the foundational roadmap to a self-reliant India – Atmanirbhar Bharat.

Essential highlights of the NEP 2020:

1. Universal access to school education at all levels through infrastructure support, innovative education centres, open schooling, vocational courses apart from other support.

2. Early childhood care through replacement of 10 + 2 school curriculum with a 5 + 3 + 3 + 4 curriculum for the age groups of 3-8, 8-11, 11-14 and 14-18 respectively. This shall enable the pre-schooling of children during their crucial 3-6 age group thereby enabling the development of mental faculties, play/activity-based thinking and learning of the child through the proposed National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education (NCPFECCE).

Early childhood education will emphasize on (a) developing curiosity (b) logical thinking and problem solving (c) arts, crafts and music (d) relationship with nature (e) colours, shapes, alphabets and numbers (d) teamwork and collaboration (e) play-based and discovery-based learning (f) ethics (g) self-identity (h) etiquette, behaviour and emotional development. This will be implemented by strengthening institutions, including Anganwadi and pre-schools with teachers trained in the new syllabus.

3. National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy for primary schools for all learners by grade 3 by 2025.

4. Holistic revamping of school curriculum and pedagogy according to 21st-century skills and requirements through reduced curricular content yet enhanced critical thinking and a greater focus on practical learning. Towards this, choice of subjects together with increased flexibility has been given and rigidity between arts – science, curricular – extracurricular and distinguishing of vocational – academics have been diluted. This aims for laying the foundation towards multidisciplinary and flexible learning from the school level.

5. NEP 2020 has layed emphasis on native language or mother tongue as the medium of teaching and instruction till Grade 5. Sanskrit and other classical languages as an option at all levels of school and higher education; foreign languages from secondary level to enhance lingual skills of students which opens the scope towards a lingua-cultural mind of the student. Standardization of Indian Sign Language across the country aimed at developing curriculum for divyang students with hearing impairment.

6. Reforms in academic assessment that emphasize on competency, promote learning and development, testing analytical skills, critical thinking and conceptual clarity. School examinations in Grades 3, 5 and 8 with a redesigned holistic assessment for 10 and 12 board exams. Towards setting standards in this regard PARAKH – ‘Performance, Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development’ will function as a new National Assessment Centre.

7. Equitable and inclusive education for every child to learn and excel irrespective of circumstances related to birth or socio-economic or geographical background. Gender Inclusion Fund and Special Education Zones for disadvantaged regions and groups to be set up in this regard.

8. National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST) for robust teacher recruitment and career path.

9. Increasing Gross Enrolment Ration from 26.3% to 50% by 2035. Target addition of 3.5 crore seat to higher educational institutions.

10. Multidisciplinary education through flexible curriculum, combination of subjects, vocational education and training for undergraduate courses with multiple exit options with ‘appropriate certification’ after every year i.e. the student will be an eligible Certificate holder after 1 year, Advanced Diploma after 2 years, Bachelor’s Degree after 3 years and Bachelor’s with Research after 4 years. Establishment of Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERUs) with global standards at par with IITs, IIMs. This would benefit students aiming at selective learning, certification and securing early employment opportunities.

11. Establishing a National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education – NCFTE 2021 towards enhancing teaching standards and recruitment. Four year integrated multidisciplinary course/training for teacher recruitment. National Mission for Mentoring through senior/retired faculties for providing mentoring to university and college teachers.

Subjective Analysis:

The need for creative thinking, critical analysis and innovative solutions has been continually rising in today’s globalized and competitive world. As the world becomes borderless, global standards set the game rolling in creating new paradigms towards efficiency, which is emphasized in the NEP 2020. Therefore the need to set higher standards in skilling and training by ensuring the multi-faceted framework through vocational and multidisciplinary education is the need of the hour. This would pave the way for competitive advantage in global markets for India.

The policy sets the way for interactive and practical classrooms as a policy mandate. The challenges in this regard are going to be infrastructure up-gradation and much importantly attaining global infrastructural standards in the long term. India has a history of falling back on infrastructure development deadlines in the urban and rural areas. But the lessons learnt during the COVID-19 pandemic assert the need for constant up-gradation of amenities and facilities: physical and digital in rural and urban. The task of recruiting and training, upgrading teaching and presentation skills of teachers is going to be an ‘Everest’ challenge. It would demand a paradigm shift from what is ‘decades of soaking’ in a static and repetitive academic module towards the proposed dynamic, holistic, multi-disciplinary and extended spell of action.

It is undoubtedly true that a good vision for school education can positively lay the foundation for higher education on the lines of multi-disciplinary and further to trans-disciplinary with a shared focus on science, arts and humanities. The NEP – 2020 is going to put to test the political leadership, bureaucrats, administrators, policymakers, teachers, parents and other stakeholders of their willingness and proactiveness enroute a mammoth task of upgrading the very definition and scope of ‘studentship’ for the envisioned Atmanirbhar Bharat.

Sabareesh.P.A is currently a Research Scholar at the Centre for Studies in Science Policy (CSSP), Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

National Educational Policy: Redefining ‘Studentship’ for Atmanirbhar Bharat

Date of publishing: July 30, 2020

Source: https://indusscrolls.com/national-educational-policy-redefining-studentship-for-atmanirbhar-bharat/
  • As the world becomes borderless, global standards set the game rolling in creating new paradigms towards efficiency, and that is precisely the roadmap that the NEP 2020 lays forward.
  • The NEP demands a paradigm shift from what is ‘decades of soaking’ in a static and repetitive academic module to what has been proposed as a dynamic, holistic, multi-disciplinary and extended spell of action
  • A good vision for school education can positively lay the foundation for higher education on the lines of multi-disciplinary and further to trans-disciplinary with a shared focus on science, arts and humanities.

One thing in common between Dr K.Kasturirangan and myself is that we are the alumnus of Sree Rama Varma (SRV) High School Ernakulam in Kerala established in the year 1845. Of course, there is a gap of decades between Dr Kasturirangan and me passing out from SRV. In fact, the decadal difference is so much’ so much that Dr Kasturirangan retired as the Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in 2003 and I only passed out my high school in 2005. This irrelevant comparison of decades can be vaguely correlated to India’s history – timeline of introducing education policy. Nothing odd.

Dr K. Kasturirangan in June 2019, as the Chairperson of the committee drafting the National Education Policy, reiterated that India’s education system needs no fine-tuning but a ‘change in totality’. The first time Government of India introduced a policy for education was in 1968. The second education policy followed in 1986. The Union Cabinet on 29th July 2020 approved the National Education Policy (NEP) – 2020 which has come after more than three decades, 34 years to be precise. The NEP has made recommendations for several institutional reforms, including the establishing the Prime Minister led National Education Commission.

The NEP 2020 has called for ‘transformational reforms’ in school & higher education sectors and vouches for access, equity, quality, affordability and accountability in education. The NEP has envisioned to transform India into a self-sufficient global knowledge economy through a holistic, flexible and multidisciplinary education system that suits the challenging needs of the 21st century, thus chiselling the roadmap for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’. Some of the essential highlights of the NEP 2020 are:

School Education:

1. Universal access to school education at all levels through infrastructure support, innovative education centres, open schooling, vocational courses apart from other support.

2. Early childhood care through replacement of 10 + 2 school curriculum with a 5 + 3 + 3 + 4 curriculum for the age groups of 3-8, 8-11, 11-14 and 14-18 respectively. This shall enable the pre-schooling of children during their crucial 3-6 age group thereby enabling the development of mental faculties, play/activity-based thinking and learning of the child through the proposed National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education (NCPFECCE).

Early childhood education will emphasise on (a) developing curiosity (b) logical thinking and problem solving (c) arts, crafts and music (d) relationship with nature (e) colours, shapes, alphabets and numbers (d) teamwork and collaboration (e) play-based and discovery-based learning (f) ethics (g) self-identity (h) etiquette, behaviour and emotional development. This will be implemented by strengthening institutions, including Anganwadi and pre-schools with teachers trained in the new syllabus.

3. National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy for primary schools for all learners by grade 3 by 2025.

4. Holistic revamping of school curriculum and pedagogy according to 21st-century skills and requirements through reduced curricular content yet enhanced critical thinking and a greater focus on practical learning. Towards this, choice of subjects together with increased flexibility has been given and rigidity between arts – science, curricular – extracurricular and distinguishing of vocational – academics have been diluted. This aims for laying the foundation towards multidisciplinary and flexible learning from the school level.

5. NEP 2020 has layed emphasis on native language or mother tongue as the medium of teaching and instruction till Grade 5. Sanskrit and other classical languages as an option at all levels of school and higher education; foreign languages from secondary level to enhance lingual skills of students which opens the scope towards a lingua-cultural mind of the student. Standardisation of Indian Sign Language across the country aimed at developing curriculum for divyang students with hearing impairment.

6. Reforms in academic assessment that emphasise on competency, promote learning and development, testing analytical skills, critical thinking and conceptual clarity. School examinations in Grades 3, 5 and 8 with a redesigned holistic assessment for 10 and 12 board exams. Towards setting standards in this regard PARAKH – ‘Performance, Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development’ will function as a new National Assessment Centre.

7. Equitable and inclusive education for every child to learn and excel irrespective of circumstances related to birth or socio-economic or geographical background. Gender Inclusion Fund and Special Education Zones for disadvantaged regions and groups to be set up in this regard.

8. National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST) for robust teacher recruitment and career path.

Higher Education:

9. Increasing Gross Enrolment Ration from 26.3% to 50% by 2035. Target addition of 3.5 crore seat to higher educational institutions.

10. Multidisciplinary education through flexible curriculum, combination of subjects, vocational education and training for undergraduate courses with multiple exit options with ‘appropriate certification’ after every year i.e. the student will be an eligible Certificate holder after 1 year, Advanced Diploma after 2 years, Bachelor’s Degree after 3 years and Bachelor’s with Research after 4 years. Establishment of Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERUs) with global standards at par with IITs, IIMs. This would benefit students aiming at selective learning, certification and securing early employment opportunities.

11. Establishing a National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education – NCFTE 2021 towards enhancing teaching standards and recruitment. Four year integrated multidisciplinary course/training for teacher recruitment. National Mission for Mentoring through senior/retired faculties for providing mentoring to university and college teachers.

The need for creative thinking, critical analysis and innovative solutions has been constantly rising in today’s globalised and competitive world. As the world becomes borderless, global standards set the game rolling in creating new paradigms towards efficiency, and that is precisely the roadmap that the NEP 2020 lays forward. Therefore the need to set higher standards in skilling and training by ensuring the multi-faceted framework through vocational and multidisciplinary education is the need of the hour. This would pave the way for competitive advantage in global markets for India.

The National Education Policy – 2020 reassures that the days of memorising are gone and paves the way for interactive and practical classrooms as a policy mandate. The challenges in this regard are going to be infrastructure up-gradation and much importantly attaining global infrastructural standards in the long term. India has a history of falling back on infrastructure development deadlines in the urban and rural areas. But the lessons learnt during the COVID-19 pandemic assert the need for constant up-gradation of amenities and facilities. The task of recruiting and training, upgrading teaching and presentation skills of teachers is going to be an ‘Everest’ challenge. It would demand a paradigm shift from what is ‘decades of soaking’ in a static and repetitive academic module towards the proposed dynamic, holistic, multi-disciplinary and extended spell of action.

It is undoubtedly true that a good vision for school education can positively lay the foundation for higher education on the lines of multi-disciplinary and further to trans-disciplinary with a shared focus on science, arts and humanities. The NEP – 2020 is going to put to test the political leadership, bureaucrats, administrators, policymakers, teachers, parents and other stakeholders of their willingness and proactiveness enroute a mammoth task of upgrading the very definition and scope of ‘studentship’ for the envisioned Atmanirbhar Bharat.

Sabareesh.P.A is currently a Research Scholar at the Centre for Studies in Science Policy (CSSP), Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

PM Narendra Modi’s Inclusive ‘Sabka Vishwas’ and the role of Sangh Parivar

Date of Publishing: October 25, 2019

Source: https://indusscrolls.com/pm-narendra-modis-inclusive-sabka-vishwas-and-role-of-sangh-parivar/

The role of the Sangh Parivar is going to be unprecedentedly higher from hereon as a social and cultural guardian in achieving ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’.

The Narendra Modi 2.0 led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had returned back with a thumping majority in the parliament and now is the time to see that the much important qualitative development takes a faster pace. But the task of social upliftment is multipronged and massive. Societal development and upgradation is not just the duty of the government but also the collective duty of every citizen. Having said that, the role of Sangh Parivar towards societal upliftment from hereon is going to be much greater than ever before. This multitudinal duty of the Sangh Parivar is certain to increase even further in the days to come because there exists no other national organization as wide, deep-rooted, popular and experienced as it is. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) indeed knows the pulse of the nation.

Whenever any government comes to power there is a high level of motivation among its leadership and cadres to promote its agenda and plan for further consolidation of power and authority at all levels and by all means. Enroute this could also lead to and result in the overstatement of communal thoughts, abuses emanating from socio-religious intolerance, misuse of political power at the grassroots level and thereby putting the interests of the poor and minorities in grey and this is where Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upgraded mantra Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas, Sabka Vishwas comes into crucial play. It was on the 25th of May, at the NDA parliamentary party meeting, where Narendra Modi’s address to the newly elected Members of Parliament of the NDA parties, which gave rise to the inclusive mantra ‘Sabka Vishwas’ to the existing and well proven ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas’. The Prime Minister’s address was not a private meeting of the NDA but much evidently a post-poll victory address from the parliament to the nation, all observing countries and all those waiting with brickbats to pick between the lines with the intention to take potshots. 

Prime Minister and his Cabinet of Ministers alone cannot achieve Sabka Vishwas, but the entire nation has to make an attempt to achieve it and the Sangh Parivar should bear the social torchlight like a guardian. By portraying ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas, Sabka Vishwas’ the Prime Minister has abided by his Dharma – duty that the administrator of a state is required to see his subjects as equals, take all social groups into confidence and protect those who seek protection. Prime Minister Modi categorically said that apart from continuing to focus on the poor his government shall remove the trust-deficit of the minorities ‘deceived’ by the traditional vote bank politics. This inclusive policy of the NDA government is in accordance with the dynamic, ever reverberating and living philosophy of Bharat: Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam meaning ‘the whole world is one family’. But inorder to prove that the world deserves to be ‘one family’ – India needs to steadily march ahead as a single family and show to the world that India is a diverse and yet a united phenomenon!

History teaches us that development is a combine of economic, political and social growth that takes place in a country over a period of time. Trends of development comes with the gradual emergence of a lively and enriching society, an economic developmental peak in the middle and then a degrading pattern towards the end of it. Even great civilizations in India and worldwide have had such patterns in the past. The path to ‘democratically’ stretch this ‘period of overall development’ could lie in extending the time period through prolonged human development with a better understanding of human values and much importantly through the spiritual enrichment of human consciousness. In ensuring this’ is where the crucial role of the Sangh Parivar comes into play i.e. the societal part of development in accordance with the Bharatiya culture and character. It is very much important for the Sangh Parivar to abundantly handhold and groom young social leaders with an ability to identify forthcoming challenges, conviction to critically think and proactively evaluate, apt sense of emotional intelligence, decision making ability with a desire to learn from mistakes, achieve goals through smart work and a clear understanding of India’s geography, history and culture associated with it. We require such a leadership at the societal level to stich an ecologically sensitive economics too! A society that is constantly evolving with such a responsive character & boldness can rarely go hopeless & directionless, and the resulting political and economic development spearheaded by a selfless and ‘out of the box’ thinking society needs no explanation.

The RSS today is the guardian and beacon light of socio-cultural India and not many of its voracious critics know about its potential and strength. This is because flattery or show-off has never been pursued by it and that is exactly why the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is fondly called as ‘Sangh Parivar’ by both insiders and outsiders for its silent yet penetrative work nationwide. Had there been no founding of the RSS by Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar or ‘Doctor Ji’ in 1925 and effective grooming and nurturing by Shri. Madhav Sadhashiv Golwalkar, also known as Shri. Guru Ji, India would have gradually lost hold of its cultural heritage from its mainstream, only to become a destructive investment hotspot for various foreign business and religious groups, something which the liberal-intellectuals of today would never agree with. However hard several of the vested groups have intentionally tried to propagate falsified and malicious hatred against the Sangh Parivar at the global level, it has only enabled the RSS to work more spiritedly for the societal welfare, communal harmony and up keeping of India’s cultural ethos. This is just similar to how the Colonial British suppressed and undermined the Bharatiya culture, heritage and beliefs but ultimately resulted in India’s cultural sentiments getting passionately resurrected into ‘Cultural Nationalism’. This comparison is valid because Sangh Parivar is synonymous with the Bharatiya culture and heritage. Today, it is an irrevocable public belief that the Sangh Parivar and Govt. holds a good, cordial and constructive relationship which is in the overall interest of India, its society and diverse culture. However shrewdly the liberals strategize to defame the Sangh Parivar, their efforts are not going to match the meticulous – mammoth work undertaken by it. Because RSS is thoroughly a grassroots organization and works in response to the ground realities that are truly concerning the Indian society and its population. Through several of its goal-oriented organizations, RSS aims to multitudinally enrich India’s socio-cultural thought process for peace and harmony. Today there is an urgent requirement for socio – religious and sub-regional harmony and cooperation in India and this can be brought about only by taking into confidence the belief of the multi-cultural and religious groups residing in India. It is also high time to put India on a path of development where every citizen shall have a role to play and this requires a behavioral change in the citizenry which need to be brought about through a mass social movement. The citizenry in the long term need to be empowered to reject anything that is detrimental to social harmony and national growth. Rather than supporting divisive groups that promote conflict and religious tensions in the society, groups should work to mainstream public opinion towards national development through proper channeling of opinions and constructive criticism. However, any threat to the sovereign democratic setup of India by any of the socio-politico-religious groups must be dealt with iron fists, without doubt. This means to put an end to all the vested interests of the non-state & extra-state actors and sponsored anti-national activities that continuously attempt to challenge the very sovereignty of India. Indeed ‘Sabka Vishwas’ has to be achieved within the availabilities of our Constitutional framework.

(Sabareesh P A is a Research Scholar at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi)

The Selfish Politics of Language

Selfish politics of language

Date of Publishing: June 26, 2019

Source: https://indusscrolls.com/the-selfish-politics-of-language/

Having born in a Telugu speaking family in Tamil Nadu, mostly educated in Kerala and partly in Karnataka is what enables me to speak all the four south Indian languages of Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada. English helped me to interact with people in new states in the beginning and later on I also learnt to write and speak in Hindi. Having learnt Hindi has empowered me more in understanding and expressing my thoughts with my Hindi speaking friends in Delhi and particularly JNU. I can use Hindi language to express my thoughts with a Bengali, Assamese, Odia, Marathi, Kashmiri, Marwari, Gujarati, Pahadi, Sindhi or Awadhi speaking friend and he/she is happy to see a Hindi speaking South Indian through me! The language of Hindi is a wonderful common option of expression for India. Hindi has enabled me to understand the trans-culture that is India. Obviously it was difficult learning Hindi in the beginning for me, but then could understand the importance of learning Hindi to interact, exchange ideas and survive in a Hindi speaking part of this nation and I’m proud of my attempt in this regard.

Many of my progressively thinking Hindi speaking friends have also benefitted by understanding the basics of the four south Indian languages and the associated culture from me. Many coming from a Non-Hindi speaking family but still can speak in Hindi can understand this two-way flow of information quite nicely. This phenomenon is very much cherished in JNU too. We live in a nation where progressive-minded people are willing to learn Arabic, French, Russian, Italian, Chinese, advanced English among other skill requirements to equip themselves better in this competitive world. Learning a new language today has become as important as learning computer programming was in the 1990s and 2000s.

Hailing from Tamil Nadu myself, I know many of my close relatives and friends who have very sadly accepted that they have been put to tremendous employment, social and cultural disadvantage when they are away in the northern part of India, because they don’t know how to speak Hindi. This gives an advantageous edge to those who can communicate better in Hindi inspite of possessing technical skills. Many also have lately realized and accepted that discouraging Hindi learning had been an important aspect of Tamil politics or even Dravidian politics of being Anti-Hindi. Let me tell you these are the selfish politicians who just think about themselves and just about their regional political career. Laws bring about a unity in the method of governance in a democratic way. If laws don’t then guns will have to govern, but then that will be undemocratic. The government is trying to do things democratically and we have the freedom to critique it, but constructively and futuristically. Political debates in the name of saffronisation of culture, language imposition, rights of linguistic minorities and all are mere politics of stupidity run by idiosyncratic politicians. So this issue of the Politics of Language is immature and deserving of a kick in its butt.

WHEN A SOUTH INDIAN LEARNS HINDI OR A NORTH INDIAN LEARNS ANY OF THE FOUR LANGUAGES OF TAMIL, TELUGU, MALAYALAM OR KANNADA IT NOT ONLY OPENS UP EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE SPEAKERS AT PAN-INDIA LEVEL BUT STARTS TO FILL UP THE PREVAILING NORTH – SOUTH DIVIDE THROUGH WELL-INTENDED INTERACTIONS AND CULTURAL EXCHANGES. THIS COULD INFACT RIGHTLY GUARANTEE WHAT IT TRULY MEANS TO SAY, ‘UNITY IN DIVERSITY’ IN THE SOCIO-CULTURAL SENSE.

It is high time that people think logically about the future rather than fall victims of idiotic – lunatic narratives as this is. The pathetic fact is that the ones who have Hindi as their mother tongue or have learnt Hindi are also part of discouraging non-Hindi speaking students from learning Hindi or understating the culture associated with Hindi. This is disgraceful and Pity! Come on folks you are learning a new language and the very attempt promotes your brain to develop newer neuron connections because learning a new language too is a skill. People who have understood this must take and ask others to take a positive attitude towards it. Learn and let others learn.

Hit Pakistan where it pains the most

jawans

Date of Publishing: February 17, 2019

Source: https://indusscrolls.com/hit-pakistan-where-it-pains-the-most/

The legacy of boxing reminds us of the aggressive and gloved sport that requires the players to score points by punching the opponent’s face. The player hard punches in the areas of abdomen and ribs too so that the opponent lowers his arms to expose the ‘sweet face’ where every punch brings points. But there is another way of winning the bout: Knock out! To do that the winner hits the face in such a hard way that the opponent loses consciousness and this is what Prime Minister mostly refers to as “Muh-thod Jawab” which means ‘jaw shattering response’.

Here we are talking about knocking out Pakistan’s face and that is by liberating Baluchistan which is the largest province of Pakistan bordering Iran in the west, Afghanistan in the north & northwest and Arabian Sea in the south where the strategically important Gwadar port is being developed with investments from China. India should liberate Baluchistan just like it did in 1971 to liberate Bangladesh from its erstwhile East Pakistan. We need to show Pakistan once again what the Indian Army is capable of, that if it can send ISI sponsored coward Jaish-e-Mohammed terror modules to the Indian soil in the name of Jihad, then they have to pay a very big political price for it. A state like Pakistan whose government has no control over its army is undeserving to be called as a state. This should not be told in words but must be deliberated through sheer and brutal military action. The current government has shown the boldness to do it.

Jaish al-Adl which is yet another Pakistan based ISI sponsored militant group also martyred 27 soldiers of the Iranian troops in a similar fashioned suicide attack. So the pressure piling up on Pakistan is not just from India but also from Iran, apart from other world nations, because Indian and Iranian armed forces were martyred the same way by ISI operated Islamic fundamentalist terrorist groups within a gap of a week. Not just that, the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria which is on the verge of a defeat at the hands of US backed forces would definitely be looking for another safe haven for sustaining its terror activities and we cannot allow it to establish in the Indian soil. Yet another developing scenario is the visit of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman to Pakistan and the simultaneous willingness of the representatives of Afghanistan Taliban to meet Mohammed Bin Salman. Though Saudi Arabia has condemned the attack on the Indian armed forces, it has also gone ahead with financial assistance worth billions of dollars which is apart from delivering free oil to Pakistan for at least three years. Reuters reports that this is seen as a renewed token of gratitude for Pakistan’s commitment in endorsing and protecting the order of Saudi’s royal family in the Arabian Peninsula and in return Saudi Arabia shall be Pakistan’s strategic friend and a participant in its investments along with China. Doesn’t it smell foul?

But all that India could manage to diplomatically checkmate the crown prince’s visit to Pakistan is by countering it with a stopover visit by India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to Tehran, Iran’s capital, to meet Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Aragchchi and deliver a strong united message against Pakistan’s terror atrocities. What and where India would stand diplomatically with Saudi Arabia when Mohammed Bin Salman visits India early this week is to be eagerly watched upon.

At this instance, the national sentiments in India are for a befitting retaliation and revenge but I opine that we have to give a “Jaw Shattering Response” that is fit to be engraved in Indian history. When you hit the enemy, you hit it where it is weak and pains the most. For Pakistan, Baluchistan is weak, strategic and has witnessed pro-independence sentiments and insurgency by Baloch nationalists for several decades. If China and Pakistan are too interested in Kashmir then India is damn interested in Baluchistan. Let’s not forget Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s support to the people of Baluchistan in his address to the nation from the ramparts of the red fort during his Independence Day speech in 2016. Now is the time to walk the talk.

(Sabareesh PA is a Research Scholar at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi)

ISA: India’s quest for the high table in global energy geopolitics

Date of Publishing: MAR 23, 2018

Source: https://southasiamonitor.org/news/isa-india-146-s-quest-for-the-high-table-in-global-energy-geopolitics/sl/26917?title=isa-india-146-s-quest-for-the-high-table-in-global-energy-geopolitics&type=sl&nid=26917

With the initiation of a solar movement worldwide, India has gained an opportunity to exercise its diplomatic ‘soft power’ and lead global collaborative and renewable energy geopolitics, from India’s point of view, writes Sabareesh P.A for South Asia Monitor.
By Sabareesh P.A
India’s initiative, along with France, to form the International Solar Alliance (ISA) at the Conference of Parties 21 (COP 21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on 30th November, 2015 was aimed at attracting investment and the world’s attention towards India while portraying it as a viable destination for investment in the renewable energy sector.
The goals of the ISA are to achieve a target of 1 TW of solar energy by 2030; promote solar technologies, new business models and investment in the solar sector; and formulate projects and programmes to promote solar applications. India’s solar quest is to effectively use the sunshine streaming over 121 nations between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn to bring about a ‘universal orange revolution’.
On March 10, 2018, New Delhi hosted heads of state and government and ministerial delegations of over 30 nations at the first ever ISA Summit. The ensuing document stated that the challenge of clean solar energy being costlier than thermal power could be faced with more private commercial players entering the renewable energy sector under the supportive shade of government. They could initiate research and develop solar technologies and efficient solar components. The ‘solar cooperation movement’ is being currently spearheaded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron.
The ISA Summit not only reminded world leaders about the most abundant renewable source of energy but also that a rapid shift must be initiated for them to meet their respective Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). The alliance also outlines the importance of solar energy in achieving the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
Though the India-led global alliance is a first at the international level, India has been locally working on the solar angle through the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) which was launched in 2009 to achieve the earlier target of 20,000 MW of solar power by 2022. The Modi government has recently revised that target upwards, to 100,000 MW.
It is important that India formulate a viable solar policy to execute massive solar projects to achieve the target of 100 GW. This also requires an estimated investment of a massive six lakh crore rupees, initially from the public sector, to provide a boost to the solar manufacturing sector.
The most important outcome of a successful solar mission in terms of climate change mitigation is that it can reduce the filthy smoke emissions from thermal power plants (about 170 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over its lifecycle).
There are always challenges during any paradigm change. Recently India was dragged by the United States to the World Trade Organisation over a trade dispute related to the ‘local procurement’ clause in the procurement of solar panels for solar projects, which is in contempt of world trade obligations. The precise and devoted focus at the policy level and multilateral interaction are now required.
According to the Economic Times, “The International Solar Alliance is … India’s contribution to enabling developing countries to make the transition to a low-carbon economy. In diplomatic terms, it was a game changer for India, when it emerged as a proactive partner in the transition to more sustainable development.”
With the initiation of a solar movement worldwide, India has gained an opportunity to exercise its diplomatic ‘soft power’ and lead global collaborative and renewable energy geopolitics, from India’s point of view.
(The author is Chief Coordinator at http://www.scienceindia.in, a web portal which provides scientific mentorship programmes for Indian school students. He can be reached at sabareesh.pa@gmail.com)

Changing political dynamics in South Asia and India’s defense strategy

Date of Publishing: December 11, 2017

Source: https://indusscrolls.com/changing-political-dynamics-in-south-asia-and-indias-defense-strategy/

Ever since the partition and Independence of India, the world has looked upon India’s development by coping up with its multi socio-cultural, multi ethnoreligious and multi-linguistic society adorning diverse cultural traits. The historical shaping of Indian Subcontinent, politically comprising Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka is unique in terms of polity, economy, and socio-cultural dimensions. The contemporary South Asia’s ‘buzzing epicentre’ of ‘concentric geopolitics’ is indeed the beginning of shift in power axis from the ‘Northern Atlantic Sub-hemisphere’: United States of America (U.S.A), European Union (E.U) and its allies towards South Asia comprising China and India.

The existing friendly relationship between U.S.A and E.U is a result of historic conflicts, disputes, diplomacy and spheres of agreements. South Asia being a diverse theatre, a non-bipartisan relation can ensure sustained peace and development. The rising Chinese influence in South Asian region with the ‘Dragon’s Paw’ reaching to West Asia till Europe and to the neighbouring countries of India. The ‘String of Chinese Silk’ (String of Pearls – Maritime Silk Road)strives for massive infrastructural projects, some being reached out to Pakistan, it’s all-weather cosy friend, through the disputed territories of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Icing the ‘cake of menace’ for India is the twin threat of Pakistan exported terrorism and the increasing radicalization of local Muslims in India, particularly in Jammu & Kashmir. The ‘epicentre of global terrorism’ is a reality of this notorious neighbour. India’s foreign policy over the decades has shifted with the changing dimensions in South Asian politics with the ‘yet to revive’ Afghanistan being cared post withdrawal of U.S special forces.

The past one decade saw the Government of India increase aid and assistance to its neighbouring countries. However, China has stood at the periphery of nations neighbouring India. At this instance, India’s emancipation of ‘Act East Policy’ focusing on the Asia-Pacific region for strategic dialogue and economic cooperation aims to strengthen ties with ASEAN countries. The policy gains attention at a time of China’s hegemonic agenda to ‘wall’ the South China Sea. The recent milestones to consolidate relationships with a ‘cherry of trust’ may not work with all the countries, but it emphasizes India’s seriousness to take forward SAARC nations together as a bloc like the European Union.

The current Government hints at the future strategic ambitions to tilt the opportunities of the ‘Asian Pivot’ in favour of India and bring the ‘cusp of change’ in ‘diplomatic and geopolitical winds’ from diverse landscapes adjoining the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal in favour of India. India’s bilateral relationship with neighbouring countries comes with ‘pie and thorns’. Amidst such a hotspot, India’s defence measures and preparedness and strategic relationship with South Asian nations take the limelight.

India’s assistance to Bhutan for development of hydropower projects; expertise for the Constitution of Nepal; energy cooperation with Bangladesh; assistance to build the Afghan Parliament; quick humanitarian assistance for supply drinking water in Maldives and much importantly the ‘SAARC satellite’ are just a few ‘sweet-toothed’ strategies to strengthen India’s relations with the immediate neighborhood in return for their support to leverage India’s strategic role in International politics particularly India’s permanent membership at the United National Security Council.

The blind tribeman

(POETRY)

In a corner of the world,
where wolves always howled.
There lived a barbaric tribe,
which never heard of bribe.

It hunted with aggressive pride,
all that they found on their side.
They wore ornaments of bones,
and held weapons of stones.

The tribesmen spoke using their fingers,
and sniffed along, to spot strangers.
But one man stood forever in dark,
and all that he had was a great heart.

He guided the hunters in night,
and taught the children to fight.
His mimics attracted the prey,
and the tribesmen gave him a pray.

He picked even the slightest of the vibration,
and led the fellow tribals through tradition.
Stood in the front as a brave wiseman,
portraying as a simple tribeman.