Post corona India will be more poverty-ridden. Poverty will expand the scope of inequality as we have seen how inequality exists between Ambanis, Adani and other monopoly capitalists on the one hand and the 250 million migrant workers who walked thousands of miles without food, with children and old women dying and suffering on the national high ways on the other. This inequality will increase so much so that everyday starvation and death of labour will become the new normal. At the same time the riches of the monopoly capitalists who do not know what to eat from their dining table where there would be hundreds of items and also because of their overeating what diseases they will suffer from. Such inequalities make India a country of disease and death. The gap between the poor who starve and die and the rich who have more food than they could eat and digest will be New Hindu Rashtra.

What is the one solution to this kind of poverty and inequality on the one hand and the inhumanity of the Indian rich on the other? In my view English medium education to migrant workers children in their villages from kindergarten to class 12. We have seen how caste deceived the poor masses in all forms of political and administrative activities and measures. All ideologies have ruled at least in different states— liberal, communist and Hindutva.

The masses, who mostly come from the oppressed and untouchable castes, and communities trusted the Brahmin- Bania leaders and intellectuals who came to them during the freedom struggle. They neither promised them nor gave them English medium education in the villages, which their own children got during the freedom struggle also in the towns. The leaders of freedom struggle only gave them the right to vote, nothing else. Of course, that was one significant step in a positive direction.

Then they trusted the Brahmin-Bania communist leaders and intellectuals who promised them land and better wages for their work. But they never promised English medium education in their villages. They have delivered some land through distribution and improved some wages. They never promised English medium education in their villages and do not want them to get that education now, as they branded it as a foreign colonial language. But their children learned that language and for their own families that language became national. The poorest of the poor trusted the communists more than they trusted Congress leaders and believed them that they would always tell the truth. But on the issue of education now it turned out to be that they told a lie. Their trust in Congress nationalists and communist revolutionaries deceived them. They then thought Hindu nationalists will tell the truth.

Now the Hindutvawadis came and promised temples, and asked the poorest of the poor non-Muslims to fight Muslims and said ‘you will get everything. Temples will be built in villages, wealth will come to your homes walking as goddess Lakshmi delivers wealth at your doorsteps’. In their raj what came to them was what they experienced during corona times. Sudden lockdowns, walking, starving and dying on national high ways, built for the rich people’s cars and luxury buses.

But they never talk about education, leave alone English education in villages. But the Hindutva leaders also educate their children in English medium schools, preferably in foreign countries. Hence the single agenda for multiple problems the poor suffer is individual empowerment starting in poor people’s children’s lives in their own villages. Nothing liberated them all these years. All kinds of ideological leaders and intellectuals suggested all kinds of solutions to the caste-class oppressed and exploited mass problems. But they never suggested the education in a language that their children study in urban centres, that should be available within the villages.

Older generations of the poor suffered for centuries. The parents of children are also suffering in this generation. Never in Indian history one language, one content education was suggested for all Indians by Brahmin-Bania intellectuals, whatever ideology they professed. Children have to be empowered by the time they become adults with a new education system. By then they have to see the whole world, not just India.

The second aspect of the manifesto is teaching the dignity of labour in schools across the board. In corona times also we have seen only food producers and safai sainiks saved the nation. Agriculturism was never taught as a philosophy as Chinese schools do. Tilling the land, sowing, weeding, harvesting, cattle grazing all must be part of school lessons. We must also write many school children text books on many artisanal tasks and arts.

Art is not just painting and dancing. Shoe-chappal making is an art; pot making is an art; washing clothes is an art; weaving clothes is an art; fishing in the waters is an art. Scores of writers must write on these arts in English so that a selection becomes possible. We must overcome the regional language chauvinism and writing books from books. Books must be written on peoples life, work, their creativity and productivity.

The choice for selection from these English writings to incorporate in school text books should be enormous. As Mahatma Phule advised we must avoid lessons from brahminic texts or the saint- sanyasihood. Yoga is not relevant for a nation building. Body exercises should be part of productive work. Any sitting posture exercise should be left for only old aged persons but not for children and young people. Yoga in young age will make the youth lazy. They should practice running, high jump, long jump, kabaddi and so on. Children must be taught that yoga is lazy non- working people’s exercise.

Thus, the people’s manifesto must focus only on English medium education and dignity of labour so that all children and youth across the country can speak on one language and read the same content book when they are in schools. We must stop telling people fight, fight and fight on the streets. They fought for many things for several generations and nothing came to them. We must tell them to educate, educate and educate in English in schools and colleges. Let us see what will happen.

Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd is a political theorist, social activist and author of many books, the latest being From Shepherd Boy to an Intellectual—My Memoirs


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