Rashid Paul

‘Imposed’ Cultural Calendars in Schools & Colleges

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Shall It Integrate or Estrange Further the Kashmiri Youth

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, On Aug 14, 1945, Japan accepted the Potsdam Declaration and surrendered unconditionally to the Allied powers. The overriding concern at the general headquarters (GHQ) of the Allied powers was the immediate abolition of the militaristic education and ultra nationalistic ideology. In early 1946, GHQ invited the United States Education Mission to Japan, and it played a decisive role in creating a new educational system.

The Encyclopedia further informs that the Mission’s report recommended thorough and drastic reforms of education in Japan. The report was subsequently adopted in its entirety as the basic framework for a new democratic educational system.

Subsequently there were many revisions to the curricula but each major revision represented an educational response to a variety of social needs, above all the economic. On the whole, the postwar educational reforms catapulted Japan to the great economic growth which it enjoys in the contemporary world. As per World Bank data, Japan’s per capita income is more than 40,000 USD. In contrast, India’s per capita income is just 1927 USD. In fact it is reported to have further gone down in the past few years

The island country is the third largest economic power of the world. It is a trusted partner of the US. Through its economic supremacy which it achieved after US occupation and subsequent modernization of its education, it holds a sway on political and economic matters of the nations the world over, including India. One of the beauties of the post surrender educational reform brought in by the Allied Forces through United States of America was that it allowed education in Japan to be adjusted to intrinsic cultural and political orientations. The reform helped eliminate uniformity and rigidity of education at all levels and emphasized individuality.

The phenomenon has however been missing rather contrary in the post 5th of August 2019 milieu, when the government of India eliminated the partial autonomic status of Jammu and Kashmir. Divesting of special status and bringing it under direct control was done on the narrative of making the region part of the “economic growth story” of India.

As the schools and colleges have now opened up after nearly three year lock up, a new phenomenon was however experienced by educational establishments during the three long years of closure. Calendars emphasizing national cultural events of India like Kala Utsava, Yoga days, Suray Namakskar, Amrit Manthan, Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat, Amrit Mahatsava and others were ordered to be celebrated by the schools and colleges in Kashmir. Small groups of students were made to attend the schools for observance of these calendars even during the pandemic, albeit normal academic activities were directed to be kept off. Teachers were asked to upload the videos of cultural programmes and then send to the authorities.

The cultural calendars according to the teachers are aligned to the “religious brand of nationalism” that has swept across India. Given the ethnic and cultural background of Kashmir this “cultural imposition” will considerably disaffect its school going population. This “compulsorily cultural mainstreaming” into the national “Sanskriti” will further drift the youth. The dominance of this Sanskriti on everything else is bound to add up to the simmering disaffection.

Introducing youth to the mosaic culture of the sub continent with a spirit of respect for cultures across the earth is a legitimate way of education. It instills the basic human decencies. But thrusting anything which is not intrinsic, will definitely lead to a state or situation which is sure to prove counterproductive.

A cultural revolution is not going to take India out of the current dismal economic situation. Twenty five percent of its GDP is held by 100 people and the income of the rest of the citizens is no better than the under dogged people of Africa or Latin America. Reform in the content of education and bringing it at par with Japan and other developed civilized world is the only magic potion to its afflictions.

It needs to reduce its strong control on education and create a system that encourages pupils and teachers initiative. A progressive curriculum emphasizing economy and content that is market driven is required.  The process of production of irrational lumpen masses from our schools and colleges needs to be put to an end.

Quality education with a thrust on intrinsic culture is a critical step to break the cycle of crisis in India and reduce the intensity of conflicts.

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