Sunday January 20, 2019
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Aamir Khan, intolerance debate and Goebbelian propaganda

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Bollywood Actor Aamir Khan has reignited the intolerance narrative that appeared to have died down following the BJP’s debacle in Bihar elections.

While speaking at the eighth edition of the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards, Aamir Khan remarked how his wife wanted to leave India because of growing intolerance in the country.

Following this, the social media burst in protest. Many people including a few from Bollywood criticized Khan’s statements. Many showed their protest by boycotting Snapdeal that is endorsed by Khan.

The way things have unveiled in the past few months and considering how a narrative of intolerance has been built, it is quite clear that if at all intolerance is growing, it is only in the minds of certain people belonging to the left-liberal camps.

On the other hand, statistics clearly show that there has been no sudden surge in intolerance after the arrival of the Modi government in the center.

But what is more worrying is the fact that there is an attempt to silence those voices who are questioning the attempts of left-liberals to create this fictitious narrative of intolerance. When Anupam Kher organized March for India questioning the motives behind those returning awards and creating a false impression of intolerance, he was criticized for hampering the freedom of expression of those who returned the awards. In fact, his March for India was upheld as proof for growing intolerance.

Similarly, articles after articles are now being published saying, the fact that people are criticizing Aamir Khan over his comments show that there is growing intolerance. The shallowness of the argument is revealed if only one were to just stop a moment and think.

How come the freedom of expression is applicable only to those who are running this narrative of intolerance and not to those who are protesting it? If Khan has the right to speak about intolerance, then people also have the right to criticize his actions and urge Snapdeal to cancel their agreement with him. If Nayantara Sehgal has right to return her awards, then even Anupam Kher has every right to carry out March for India. Freedom of expression cannot be applied selectively.

Yet, this is what is being propagated in the media and by those in influential positions. The peddlers of this intolerance narrative appear to be aimed at creating an environment of fear among the masses so that people become insecure and hostile to each other. The peddlers appear to be trying hard to create a real situation of riot and intolerance by first creating a false narrative of the same.

What else explains their strategy of creating false narratives and portraying those who oppose this narrative as an example of intolerance? The liberal logic that is driving this intolerance narrative can be summarized thus:

  1. Intellectuals, film-makers, and other well-known people will claim that intolerance has increased. If there is no opposition to these assertions, if people do not protest against this, then it proves that ‘intolerance’ is indeed rising. Otherwise, someone would have protested.
  2. Intellectuals, film-makers, and others will claim that intolerance has increased. If some people protest against these assertions, if people become angry and outrage at fictitious claims about their country, then portray it as a living proof for the growing intolerance.

In other words, irrespective of how people respond, the liberal agenda of establishing that India is another name for intolerance is established. Though the Liberals claim to hate Nazis, they appear to have adopted the Goebbelian propaganda of repeating the lies again and again till they are accepted as the Truth.

It is high time that Indians woke up to this propaganda and recognized the Truth behind this intolerance narrative.

(Photo: www.shortday.in)

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India Needs to Improve its Educational Outcomes to Catch up with China

To catch up with China, India needs to lay emphasis on improving its educational outcomes

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The Article 30 of the Constitution gives religious and linguistic minorities “the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.”
India needs to improve its educational outcomes to catch up with China. Pixabay

By Amit Kapoor

Both China and India started building their national education systems under comparable conditions in the late 1940s. Different policies and historical circumstances have, however, led them to different educational outcomes, with China outperforming India not just in terms of its percentage of literate population and enrollment rates at all levels of education, but also in terms of number of world-class institutions in higher education, and greater research output.

The roots of China’s successful education system date back to the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), which unintentionally expanded access to the primary education through democratising the schooling system, which was previously elitist in character, thus addressing the problem of mass illiteracy.

In contrast, India continued to focus on its higher education system since independence and only realised the importance of basic education in 1986, keeping it behind China and many other countries in Asia in educational development. In terms of enrollment, China reached a 100 percent gross enrollment rate (GER) in its primary education in 1985, whereas, India attained that level only in 2000.

In terms of secondary school enrollment, India and China both started at the similar rates in 1985, with about 40 percent of their population enrolled in secondary schools. However, due to a wider base of primary school students, the rate of increase in China has been much faster than in India, with 99 percent secondary enrollment rate in China and 79 percent in India in 2017.

India is closing in on the Chinese rate in terms of access to education, but on the literacy level front, there is a huge gap in the percentage of literate populations in the two countries. In the age group of 15-24 years, India scores 104th rank on literacy and numeracy indicator, compared to China’s 40th rank.

The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which assesses after every three years the domain knowledge of 15-year-old students in reading, mathematics, science and finance, revealed that students in China performed above the OECD average in 2015. Moreover, one in four students in China are top performers in mathematics, having an ability to formulate complex situations mathematically. Further, China outperforms all the other participating countries in financial literacy, by having a high ability to analyse complex finance products. For India, the comparable data is not available as it was not a participating country in PISA 2015.

abroad, study
Representational image.

However, in India, the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2017 provides data for rural youth, aged 14-18, with respect to their abilities to lead productive lives as adults. According to this survey, only about half of the 14-year-old children in the sample could read English sentences, and more than half of the students surveyed could not do basic arithmetic operations, like division. For basic financial calculations, such as managing a budget or making a purchase decision, less than two-thirds could do the correct calculations.

With regard to the higher education system, both India and China dominate the number of tertiary degree holders because of their large population size, but when it comes to the percentage of the population holding tertiary degrees, only about 10 per cent and 8 per cent of the population possess university degrees in China and India, respectively. By contrast, in Japan, almost 50 per cent of the population holds a tertiary degree, and in the United States, 31 per cent of the population hold a tertiary degree.

In terms of the international recognition of universities, the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Ranking for 2019 places seven of the China’s universities in the top 200, compared to none for India. The global university rankings, which are based on various performance metrices, pertaining to teaching, research, citations, international outlook and industrial income, shows progress for several of China’s low-ranked universities, largely driven by improvements in its citations.

In fact, the Tsinghua University has overtaken the National University of Singapore (NUS) to become the best university in Asia due to improvements in its citations, institutional income and increased share of international staff, students and co-authored publications.

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While India has progressed in terms of massification of education, there is still a lot which needs to be done when it comes to catching up with the China’s educational outcomes. China’s early start in strengthening its primary and secondary education systems has given it an edge over India in terms of higher education. Moreover, Chinese government strategies are designed in line with the criterion used in major world university rankings, especially emphasis is on the two factors which weigh heavily in the rankings — publications and international students.

The relentless publications drive, which is very evident in China, is weak in India and has led to a growing gap in the number of publications contributed by the two countries. Further, China enrolled about 292,611 foreign students in 2011 from 194 countries, while India currently only has 46,144 foreign students enrolled in its higher education institutions, coming from 166 countries. The large number of international enrollments in China is a reflection of its state policies granting high scholarships to foreign students.

To catch up with China, India needs to lay emphasis on improving its educational outcomes. Massification drive for education has helped India raise its student enrollments, but a lot needs to be done when it comes to global recognition for its universities. Further, it needs to focus on building the foundation skills which are acquired by students at the school age, poor fundamental skills flow through the student life, affecting adversely the quality of education system. (IANS)