New Delhi, Jul 6: Congress today claimed that under HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar, a "systematic attempt to hand over everything" in public education system to the private sector would gain momentum and appealed to progressive and nationalist forces to come together to counter the trend.
Party spokesman Manish Tewari said apprehensions arose over Javadekar's track record of being "kind" to private institutions during his tenure in the Environment Ministry. Recalling that the minister had waived a fine of Rs 200 crore on an influential industrialist accused of environmental degradation, he said in this backdrop Javadekar taking charge of the HRD Ministry was "all the more ominous and sinister".
Taking a dig at Smriti Irani, whose tenure in the HRD Ministry was marred by several controversies, he wondered what would happen in Textiles Ministry, where she was shifted in yesterday's expansion of the Union Cabinet.
Accusing the government of making a "systematic" effort to "emasculate" India's public education system and "handing over everything to the private sector", he said such attempts would be more harmful for the poor.
Tewari also took exception to RSS calling a meeting of Vice Chancellors in Chhattisgarh recently to review functioning of the education system in the state. Questioning the locus standi of RSS in the matter, he said, "This is not saffronisation of education.
This is far more sinister. This is fascistisation of education." Alleging that the government was systematically attempting to "subvert and dismantle" the public education system of this country, he said, "What is scarier is the frontal assault by the HRD Minister on the autonomy of public universities."
Claiming that the University Grants Commission has now even "taken away" from public universities the right to frame their own syllabi, he said the protests by teachers and professors across the country had no impact on the government. He said while the UPA had raised the budget of HRD Ministry from Rs 11,000 crore to Rs 82,000 crore "the moment the Modi government came to office, it rolled it back to Rs 69,000 crore.
Last year, it marginally increased it to Rs 72,394 crore". He said the UGC had its budget reduced by 55 per cent and such a "huge slash is absolutely unprecedented". "It is time that all progressive and all nationalist forces got together to protect the public character of India's education system," he added.