NEP 2016: The Myth of Saffronisation

In April 2016, the TSR Subramanian Committee submitted its report on the New Education Policy (NEP) to the MHRD. Since then, there has been a steady stream of criticism of the report, most of which claim the report to be an attempt at “saffronisation of Indian education”.

Since the submission of the report, the Cabinet minister heading MHRD has been replaced and the new minister has given the report a quiet burial. In fact, in May 2017, the minister announced that the process of setting up a new committee for the NEP is still underway.

Going through a number of articles and posts on the TSR Subramanian Committee report, it is quite clear that the main “accusation” against it is that it apparently aims to saffronise Indian education. Many *recommendations* made in the report have been highlighted to substantiate the fears about saffronisation. Upon closer scrutiny, though, it becomes quite clear many of the apprehensions are totally unfounded – in fact totally false.

An attempt is made here to list a few of the concerns expressed, and the actual recommendations of the Committee on those topics.

Concern: Not enough stakeholders consulted

Reality: The report itself gives details of the people consulted, the documents referred to and the process followed.

(a) holding regional consultation meetings at Gandhinagar, Gujarat (for western region), at Raipur, Chhattisgarh (for eastern region), Guwahati, Assam (for north-eastern region), and NUEPA, New Delhi (for both northern and southern regions);

(b) Visits to institutions of higher education and school visits in Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Gujarat;

(c) consultations with national level institutions like NUEPA, NCERT, AICTE, UGC, NCTE, IGNOU, NIOS, etc.; and

(d) consultations with more than 300 educationists, Vice-Chancellors, experts, CSO and NGO representatives, and representatives of education providers in the private sector at NUEPA, New Delhi. The details of regional consultations and consultation meetings with institutions and individuals by the Committee are given in Annex IIB, Vol. II

Concern: Alternative school (evening schools) will be provided for children’s from slums and migrant labors background

Reality: The committee notes that prior to the commencement of the RTE Act, many slums and bastis had alternate schools for drop-outs and un-enrolled children. In order to ensure drop-outs have an alternate option, the committee recommends separate norms be introduced for such schools and schools which fully comply with the norms be allowed to continue.

Another recommendation made is with respect to children who repeatedly fail to meet learning standards in spite of repeat attempts. Instead of letting them remain drop-outs, the committee recommends alternate schooling methods be provided to them to ensure they develop a minimal set of competencies at least.

Concern: Reversal of no-detention policy

Reality: The committee recommends retaining no-detention up to Class V

For classes above V, it recommends introduction of detention subject to following 2 conditions

  • Remedial coaching be provided to the concerned student
  • At least two opportunities in terms of tests for the student to clear and move along with the rest of the class.

In other words, make detention as an absolute last measure.

Concern: Imposition of mother tongue

Reality: The committee notes that the previous NEP of 1986/92 actually mandates mother tongue as the first language and also mandates English and Hindi. The committee also notes that the above mandate is violated significantly in many states.

The committee therefore recommends two main things on this front

  • Regional language be the primary language up to Class V
  • Choice of second and third languages at subsequent levels be left to the individual states

Concern: Imposition of Sanskrit

Reality: The committee does not formally make any recommendation on Sanskrit! It however has provided some detailed comments on Sanskrit teaching under the section on “Language Policy”. It notes that many states have already made Sanskrit compulsory from Classes 6-8. It suggests Sanskrit be made an independent subject at a suitable primary stage. At secondary and higher secondary levels, it suggests Sanskrit as an additional and elective subject.

Concern: Intense inclusion of Yoga in curriculum

Reality: The committee recalls that the previous NEP of 1986/92 strongly recommended inclusion of Yoga in the curriculum.

“…Yoga will receive special attention. Efforts will be made to introduce Yoga in all schools”

The exact recommendation of the committee on Yoga is as follows

“Every school, both public and private, should be encouraged to bring Yoga in as part of the schooling process, and facilitate every child to learn the basics of Yoga. Particularly in urban schools, where there is shortage of playground facilities, Yoga can play a significant part in the development of a young student”

It becomes quite clear from the above that the committee recommendation on Yoga is actually much less insistent than the previous two NEP reports! The committee merely recommends Yoga while the previous NEP *directs* schools to include Yoga.

Concern: “Only 10 lakh scholarship for higher education”

Reality: The committee actually recommends a massive increase in the number of beneficiaries who will receive fellowships.

The committee notes that currently there are only about 82,000 beneficiaries.

“The UGC currently distributes about Rs.1050 crore annually as higher education tuition/fellowship to about 82,000 beneficiaries covering 35,000 fellowships each year. This represents around 200 scholarship schemes of the MHRD as well as other ministries…..

…..Since there is no overall countrywide reliable database available it can be estimated that there are between 40 and 50 thousand fellowship slots available every year in the country”

To improve this situation, the committee recommends setting up of a “National Higher Education Fund” to support 10 lakh students a year.

“the Committee recommends the establishment of a National Fellowship Fund, primarily designed to support the tuition fees, learning material and living expenses for about 10 lakh students every year. These scholarships should be made available to students belonging to the economically weaker sections, specifically those below the poverty line”


While the TSR Subramanian Committee report has been junked, and a new Committee formation is supposedly in the works, the exact reasons behind this development is unknown.

There seems to have been a concerted effort to discredit the report and paint it as the work of a “saffron hindutva” group.

Even after 3 years of the NDA-2 Government, there is no sight of any progress on creating a NEP. The MHRD definitely owes an explanation to the public on why the efforts of the first 2 years in creating a NEP has been junked. The exact concerns from “stakeholders” must be made public.

(Note: The committee also recommended imposing RTE on minority educational institutions through suitable legislative changes. It also recommended relaxation of infrastructure norms of existing schools depending on local conditions – a move which would have helped many Hindu schools survive.

It must be made known to the public if these recommendations was also objected to)



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