(This is concluding and Part-3 of an article. )

English medium at primary school level is certainly harmful, more so to the rural and poorer masses. That is a key lesson in my life’s experiences, both as a student and as a teacher. It is being promoted by  ruling classes, more aggressively in much of South India : English medium and commercialization of education are inter-related and complementary.  It is also related to stagnation in Indian economy and enterprise. Instead of tackling the inherent problems with indigenous solutions, the vested interests are promoting the English medium which is further aggravating the class divide in India.  It may be useful only to the elite, including those of dalit bahujans,and to the vote bank politics of ruling classes. But bulk of the population, including the dalit bahujans is going to be further handicapped.

I am a teacher of maths, arithmetic to be precise, not a great teacher but an unconventional one: A school teacher without a school; without a place; without a job; without regular salary. I am a rare kind of a teacher who taught maths to more than one lakh students over 30 years.A teacher who ‘taught’ how to teachmaths to more than 2000 teachers, while myself being without qualification. There perhaps can be no survey that can match and contest my vast and deep observation. It was a unique experience I had. 

How could I have  this ? I was a product of my times, of  circumstances, personal and social.

I have been thinking of writing my story, made only some half-hearted attempts. Now I am telling it briefly here in the context of controversy created by Prof Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, to contest two of his recent pet theories, both linked to what he sees is Brahminism. One is about “Brahminical communists,” he named DV Rao in particular. He wrote: Can Brahmins Bring Revolution: An Assessment Through The Prism Of Tarimela Nagi Reddy(August 18, 2020, in countercurrents.org,). This I refuted in Part-1, based on my life’s experiences. And

I added : “Marx expected socialist revolution to happen in most advanced capitalist countries, like England, France and Germany. Most of them are predominantly non-vegetarian also. But revolution did not happen still. We hope Brahmins and Brahminism are not coming in the way there! Does it look ridiculous?”

https://countercurrents.org/2020/09/kancha-ilaiahs-theories-as-seen-through-by-a-dalit-born-teacher/

In Part-2 ( September 12, 2020) , I refuted his theories of “Brahminical conspiracies” that denied English medium for all children, more so for SCs, STs, Bahujans. He linked it with the above theme now. He had asserted : “The only way is to introduce English medium education in all Government schools from class one, as Macaulay wanted.” (See his article : Macaulay Putras And The New Education Policy: Shudras/Dalits/Adivasis Must Be Vigilant , published on August 1, 2020.  It is only one such article by him.)

In it I wrote : “Learning English is indeed a necessity for those (10%) who want to reach out, but surely it is a luxury and a curse to (90%) tens of millions students, more so of dalit bahujan communities. It is bound to widen the already vast gulf that keeps away the tens of millions, while helping a few pigmies and upstarts to become snobbish stars” as they know a little English.

https://countercurrents.org/2020/09/english-medium-at-school-level-is-harmful-more-so-to-the-rural-and-poorer-students-misleading-theories-of-kancha-ilaiah-as-seen-by-a-dalit-born-teacher/

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Political Economy of English medium

In this Part-3, I attempt to go into the Political Economy of English medium , as I saw in my life’s journey.

When I write this, I have one advantage. I was born, brought up and schooled in a poor dalit rural family of a backward region in Telangana. Nobody can accuse me of brahminical conspiracythat allegedly denied English medium for all children, from primary level itself, more so for SCs, STs, Bahujans. Those who are genuinely opposing such a policy are accused of that. They are asked : In which medium do you get your children taught? It is really embarrassing for most of the elite, more so of cities and other urban areas.

But that question is no answer to the needs of  tens of millions of poor children, most of them of rural origin. I only remember one Telugu proverb : Puli ni choosi nakka vaata pettukunnadata! Having looked at the tiger with its beautiful stripes, the petty fox burnt itself with a rod to get such stripes/marks. The educated urban elite, who have  vast resources and good English for generations, can not be imitated by the poor and their children.

Unscientific And Undemocratic Views Nurtured In Elitist Education

Now I would like to modify my above statement: Even the tiger’s stripes are  dubious. 

The situation in corporate schools in metro cities is no better, as confirmed by a large-scale survey. The significance of this large scale study is that it shows that even the country’s top corporate schools in metro cities reveal  rote learning. They are bad in science as well as social science :  Unscientific (for example on HIV)  and undemocratic views are allowed to grow in these schools.  English medium is inseparably linked with rote learning, which in turn breeds such views, as noted also in my personal observation. Here I draw attention to a large-scale, revealing WIPRO Survey: ‘Quality Education Study’ (QES) by Wipro and Educational Initiatives (EI), covering 23,000 students, 790 teachers and 54 principals from 89 schools across the country.

Student performance seems to have fallen since 2006, when a study on learning in the metros was done. While 64 schools were common to both studies, students performed lower in QES, with the fall being more pronounced in mathematics (in both classes 4 and 6) and English (class 8).

Drawing a correlation between the students’ lack of critical thinking and their views on social issues, the study says, “Rote learning is often deceptive and passes off as apparent learning, but does not let students develop higher order thinking skills such as critical thinking, creativity and application. Students who do not develop these skills also will not be able to think rationally and discriminate between what is good or bad in various social and ecological issues being faced today.”

And in their formative years, children in primary and upper primary classes show “lower sensitivity” and “demonstrate lack of progressive thought” on issues related to gender equality, acceptance of diversity and in civic responsibilities.

In a telling instance, 40-43 per cent of students in classes 4, 6 and 8 felt that education for a girl is not as important as her responsibility towards her family..

(thehindu.com, December 12, 2011.

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/learning-by-rote-prevalent-in-top-schools-too/article2707562.ece)

We are now seeing the extent of reactionary and undemocratic views, and cultural degeneration  in (anti-) social media. They are rooted in our system of exploitation and oppression, and nurtured in our schools and colleges, as seen above. The government schools and colleges are widely perceived to be poor in many respects. But what is missing in our perception is that it is part of a wider all-round degeneration, as seen below.

It is to be underlined that this rot was noticed (in 2011) almost  a decade ago, when Congress-led UPA was at the helm at the centre, not after BJP-led NDA.  The value systems nurtured by the ruling classes have been worsening ever since. What is common between them is their subservience to imperialism, US in particular.

The nationalist claims of Sangh parivar are skin deep. This govt has given a green signal to more and more private and foreign (mainly western capitalist, deemed) universities.  Corporate schools, hospitals, private transport being extended to Railways are part of a policy to serve exploiting classes within and outside  India.

English medium from school level is the feeder that is expected to create a market for those sharks. All these are not because of a demand from people, as presented by the ruling classes. It was not what was asked by people, as is being painted by some scholars like Ilaiah  and by their media. But they are created and nurtured from above.

It is part of “manufacturing consent,” as Noam Chomsky called it. I found it difficult  to express my feelings and observations. But the following lines from a scholar made my job easy :

The universities are behaving like a commodity market today. Universities are becoming degree selling supermarkets, where teachers and students are cash cows for the university managers. The neoliberal authoritarian governments consider higher education expenditure as a burden on the state. But at the same time, the governments are treating higher education as a profit-making corporate sector. Such contradictions are integral to capitalism as a system…

The slogans of ‘employability’, ‘business and industry partnerships’, and ‘knowledge transfer skills’ are new marketing tools of managerial gimmicks to attract students to the universities, where knowledge production is secondary to essentialist set of skills for jobs. Such managerial strategies have transformed universities and other centres of higher learning into vocational training centers. The teaching and non-teaching staff members are new slaves within universities…Such transformations did not happen overnight…

The interactive culture is replaced by exchange relationships driven by market forces within university campuses. The fancy glass door buildings, smart class rooms, hi-tech libraries and airport like coffeeshops are looking good but make tired students and staffs feel like solitary car parks…

The intellectuals have started normalising such a superficial notion by theorising that university intellectuals do not produce anything with immediate use and exchange value. …(There are always exceptional universities and few university intellectuals..)…The university intellectuals are micro and macro managed by the capitalist forces to achieve their larger economic goals.  But still, the university intellectual behaves like lumpen herds and betray their own class…

( See Intellectuals as Lumpen Herds in the Universities by Bhabani Shankar Nayak, countercurrents.org, August 3, 2020. Emphases added.)

https://countercurrents.org/2020/08/intellectuals-as-lumpen-herds-in-the-universities/

Ilaiah in a recent TV Interview ( ABN Andhra Jyothy )  (once again) spoke of producing castes and others. The “others”  are no more born castes. In fact it is a new class nurtured in the universities (“university intellectuals do not produce anything”).  I had in the past seen Ilaiah as a progressive social scientist, even if controversial. But it increasingly appears he is a much changed man, and changing still, as he himself indicated in the interview; his remarks on Modi  in the context of  Ayodhya speech are revealing.

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ASER All India (Rural) Report 2018

Thus the WIPRO survey of corporate schools  revealed the tiger with the dubious stripes. I occasionally teach a few freshers who join good Engineering colleges, where the students find themselves shallow. I know how they got good scores and admissions through Entrance Tests like EAMCET, by adopting rote methods, more so in English medium. That is corroborated by that survey as also  by PRATHAM/ASER surveys. These are about much humbler schools, but including private English medium schools. They confirm what I stated in Part-2.  It is instructive to see a few details:

ASER (Annual Status of Education Report), an All India (Rural) Report,2018, like earlier reports, confirms poor outcomes. It was based on a large survey, of  village schools, both private and Govt schools,  with good sampling, 30,000 volunteers  covered 596 rural districts, 17730 villages, 354944    households, and 546527  children aged 3 to 16. It gives data for “ All India (rural) All Children over time… 2014 to 2018”… and says “Basic math levels remain low.” And per cent of  children who can correctly solve simple numerical (division) problems in different grades is improving but is still so low that in Std VIII, more than half of all children are still struggling with simple division.

School children aged 14-16 were asked simple questions. Correct answers in such numeracy tests were given by less than 50% students, like :

Example 1 : He slept at 10.30 pm and woke up at 5.30 am. How many hours he slept ? Only 49.5 % boys, and 44.5 girls answered correctly.

Example 2 : The shirt is priced Rs 200, with an offer of 10% discount. How much do you need to pay? Only 33.8 % boys, and 25.5 girls answered correctly.

Similar simple tests were conducted at lower levels: Standard V children who could perform skills of  Standard II children : in arithmetic it came down from 37 % to 27.8%  during 2008-18. In Reading down from 56.2  to 50.3 % after slight recovery.

1 out 4 students were leaving VIII standard without “basic reading at least at Standard II level” in their mother tongue. 84.4 % children were able to do that in 2008; it came down to 72.8 in 2018 (all India averages). AP was slightly above and TS slightly below this average. Such literacy tends to fade out when they grow old,  it was established.

The inter-relation between reading and arithmetic skills need not be emphasized.

The ASER 2018 said : “ Concluding thoughts: Learning for all children has to be a priority. ..  Many children completing Std VIII are unprepared for higher studies or for the labour market. Preparation for school, work, and life is needed by this stage.”

And recommended : “Helping children acquire skills of reading and basic math by the end of Std II or beginning of Std III will significantly reduce learning gaps in later stages.”

Percent  of children in private schools ( age 6 to 14 ) all over India went up from 18.7  % in 2006  to 30.9  % in  2018. AP is above average at 35%. English Medium was also going up simultaneously.

(see asercentre.org for their reports)

WIPRO survey of English medium corporate schools in metro exposed that the comparative  figures are only slightly better than other schools.   It was not basically different. That difference is more due to class composition of those students. In WIPRO survey they are mostly from richer sections whose parents are often also well educated (in English also), and well placed.

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Evolution of English Medium schools

In this section, I attempt to show that English medium was not a RESULT of  people’s aspirations, to which governments are responding, as it is claimed. Rather it is a product of commercialization of education imposed by ruling classes, as part of their LPG policies (Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization.), more so from 1990s ( Narasimha Rao or PVN Regime). Public memory is proverbially short. Even intellectuals and educations saw a rising demand for English medium. Meeting the demand was old fashion. Creating a demand was new market tactics : Damn the govt schools and hospitals, and laud those in private sector.

There is a financial and economic crisis, PVN explained. His Finance Minister Manmohan Singh famously said in parliament: Beggars have no choice. No new schools in govt sector were opened. Virtues of Nehru’s mixed economy, and competition, were sold by PVN, presently a candidate for posthumous Bharat Ratna. As the number of govt schools was not sufficient, more so within a limited distance, for growing population, there was some vacuum that was filled by a few private schools which had a few English medium sections, as an added attraction. After PVN, Vajpayee regime came in and claimed it is advancing Stage-2 Reforms.

The above was the all India political context in which changes were pushed in undivided AP. How it happened or evolved at ground level is explained below :

 In my childhood, there were very few private schools like those run by some christian missionaries, or run by some Trusts: most of them were Telugu medium. Only some had a few English medium sections. There were a few govt. School teachers who offered Free Extra classes before and after school hours for back-benchers. Then a few of them conducted tuitions at home, with nominal fees, payable after harvest time (in rural areas), or even free for students who could not afford to pay. Often they were “private” and  clandestine; nobody would speak of them publicly in the school. Then a few private small schools arrived for primary level : As kids could not walk far, such schools nearby were preferred by some parents who could afford. They would teach a little English (mostly nursery rhymes), but otherwise in Telugu medium. Then came a few “convent” schools in towns that taught also in English.

In AP, a craze was created for English medium

Eversince 1990s and LPG policies Govt schools were badly and deliberately neglected. No new govt schools were opened for several years so as to meet growing population as well as rise in enrolment. So thousands of new, private schools were being opened, with little regulation. To avoid regulation by the state govt., private primary schools used to start with CBSE syllabus, which has no Telugu medium. Thus English medium was a necessity for the management; they made it to appear as an added attraction; making a virtue out of necessity. Uniforms, shoes, neckties etc, a must for English convent schools, created in the minds of gullible poor that their children will shine. Convents became good business.

Later at High school level, the convents were converted to state syllabus. Why ? It was felt that they would be better  trained for State Intermediate (plus 2), and to entrance tests (EAMCET) for professional courses. The unanticipated  problem is the teacher is too poor in English, in both govt  and private sectors. In private schools, the schools teachers’ qualifications are really worse: Many teachers are not graduates; they do not insist on B.Ed, or D.Ed. Or TET.  But the promoted  craze for English medium covers up the poor quality. There is rat race in private schools. Good scores at any cost must be achieved, irrespective of  students’ real level.

The combined effect of all these things was really disastrous. It was more on students from rural areas and lower middle classes. Their parents have little education. But English medium craze has been going up, promoted in the LPG era. Teachers in most of the private primary schools are really poor : a) they are poor in subject, often they are not  graduates;  b) nor trained with B.Ed. And c) most of them really do not know (good ) English. After all they came up through Telugu medium.  I was one of them. So rote methods and unethical practices (mass copying, leakage of question papers) went up, to keep up in the rat race. There was an impact of these on govt schools too.

The LPG era of 1990s, and some job opportunities (as 2K or year 2000 approached)  in IT and BPO sectors dependent on US and West, hastened the process. This process has helped the elite classes, but the educational outcomes of the poorer sections was adversely impacted as shown by the ASER Reports year after year. Those Reports, we have noted,  pertain to schools in private sector also. But the impression was created that govt schools are bad, private schools are better, and hence preferred by parents. The deleterious effects of LPG began to be acutely felt in education and health sectors.

Soon Junior (PUC or plus two)  colleges thrived. Sri Chaitanya and Narayana Groups of colleges (later a few others) emerged as big monopolies, admitting lakhs of students. AP CM Naidu  was hailed by imperialists, and rightly called as World Bank coolie by critics. But the native businessmen had deeper sense of the market  and retained Telugu medium, which would have a very big market. In fact, it was Telugu Academy Text books that were translated  into English, and were used by others too. Those from Telugu medium in X and Intermediate performed well, and cornered top ranks too, both in EAMCET and in JEE too.

Thus the TRS (KCR) and YCP (Jagan) governments presently ruling in Telangana (TS) and AP respectively, are NOT pioneers in promoting English education, as is claimed or blamed. They are now leading the bifurcated states of united AP.  The fact is English medium  was being promoted in undivided AP by TDP govt earlier, in the name of SUCCESS schools.  AP was bifurcated in summer of 2014. By that time, a good number of students were already in  English medium, and it was going up, also in govt schools. The present regimes only advanced  it further.

See official (DISE) Data for (new, post-bifurcated) AP 2014-15, as per official survey done in July 2014: Out of 4976 High Schools in Govt sector, 3428 Success schools had  parallel English medium : Total Enrolled students were 13.39 lac, English medium 31.36%; that was in 2014-15.  The latter has been going up….also in unaided Pvt schools…and at primary level. A craze was created that private schools and English medium are by far fine, and will have great employment opportunities, a deceptive and false claim.  The performance of students has been poor, more so those of English medium.

There was a farce recently. Jagan (YCP) govt in AP announced,  towards the end of 2019, that English medium would be introduced from primary level (Standard I) itself to all children in govt schools. Ignoring past realities, TDP and BJP initially attacked Jagan Govt that it neglected Telugu. Some of them even filed a Petition in High Court. Jagan govt retaliated and attacked : you are opposed to extending  English medium to poorer, dalit  bahujan sections, while you send your own children to English medium, and trying to use courts to create hurdles. The Govt claimed it conducted – rather repeated – a survey and found that 95 % parents preferred English medium. Fearing a backlash in vote bank politics, TDP backtracked from criticism. Meanwhile the High Court, believed to be influenced by TDP argument, quashed the GO that favored English medium.

Because of poor teaching methods, students were already unable to really grasp maths and science, even those who passed. English medium aggravated the problem. Those who pass or even those with very good scores are adopting rote methods (memorizing etc) in such a manner that they pass exams  without really learning the subject. Teachers and parents also encourage the same, aiming at better scores.  So many surveys like those of PRATHAM and ASER show how  govt. schools’ performance has been bad.  It does not mean private schools are qualitatively better. They also are equally bad. In govt. schools, it is to be noted, most of the students are from rural and poorer families, most of their parents being poorly educated or illiterate. Same is the case with  small towns, it is no different  from villages. One feature to be noted is that in private schools, students are relatively more from better-off families, affording to pay fees. The apparent better performance in private schools has a linkage with this.

At Inter level, corporate colleges, led by Sri Chaitanya and Narayana Groups, developed into monopolies, and perfected rote methods. They claimed hundreds of top ranks in EAMCET, JEE etc. Given that they sent a huge number to write exams, the ranks were not a big deal. There will be good scorers at the top with or without any coaching.   When this model was exposed they created special classes for EAMCET and IIT-JEE  coaching and later, special  schools claiming they would focus on teaching Concepts, from school level itself, an admission that they were not doing that earlier. The two groups, at one time, added  up to almost  50% of all Inter students.

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Why teachers were poor and poorer as time passed?

The brighter graduates did not opt for a career in teaching, more so in a private school that offered no good salary, and no good service conditions. The upper middle class, urban elite, who may be better in English also, do not send their children to become, after all,  school teachers, more so in AP and TS. Engineering, Medicine, MBA etc professional courses were their choices all the time, more so from late 1990s when IT sector jobs attracted them.  Teachers in AP were being selected at district level (DSC-Dt Selection Committees) though competitive exams were held at State level. Most of the teachers were (still are) thus from (lower) middle class families, particularly from villages and small towns, who are poor in English, not from cosmopolitan city of Hyderabad, and they are mostly from Telugu medium. Thus English medium private schools, except a few, are often run with teachers who are really poor : No B.Ed. Rote methods and malpractices (leakage of question papers, mass copying etc ) were resorted to. Cut-throat competition aggravated all round degeneration. One Best student is claimed by more than one institute. Junior colleges have tie-up with private schools who will be rewarded if their students join a particular junior college. All this rot was going on behind English medium and corporate schools. The rot extended to colleges, more so professional (Engineering, Medicine etc)  colleges. I know specific examples to tell this. Owners of such schools and colleges became billionaires, MLAs, manipulating parties and governments. Many MLA owned such schools and colleges. One of them became a key cabinet Minister in TDP govt.      

Private schools and colleges with English medium were thus going up in numbers for the above reasons. Governments bent on LPG policies, promoting private schools, were deliberately neglecting schools in public sector (there were schools run by state Govt., by Zilla Parishads, municipalities). To meet certain (political) demands, a few schools with better quality were created with so many names: Navodaya, Residential, Ashram, Gurukula etc. But bulk of the schools remained poor.

 

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English Medium, Rote methods and Education as Business…they go together

The situation seen above was what I had observed in my own vast experience. ASER and Wipro Data retrospectively established my observations. And that provided an opportunity for me to become an unconventional teacher who tried to fill the big gap in the system. Because of such a situation only, there has been a demand for my classes in govt. schools despite there being a trained B Ed teacher. I teach only in Telugu medium, and ensure the student really grasps the subject and performs well. I found that it is maths phobia and English medium that are real hurdles for these students, and they are complementary to each other. The phobia is aggravated when students do not (really) understand what is taught; it is more telling for maths and science subjects. I help shedding the phobia by my teaching in Telugu medium – I insist on that though I can teach, even if in bad English – and by methods that create interest and confidence that they can perform well.

More than 6 lakh students of AP registered for class X, and results in May 2019 showed 95 % passed. The previous year it was more than 94% pass. Such students who ‘some how manage to pass’ X class, get into Intermediate (plus two stage) and feel they are left behind. They become laggards, and results in Inter are poorer, with low pass percentages. Pass percentage in AP Intermediate-First year in 2019 was 60 percent, down from 68 in 2016;  64 in 2017, 62 in 2018. English medium has been a crucial hurdle.

94 % pass in X in 2018, and only 60 % in Inter-1 in 2019, a big fall. Many who passed X  with First class failed in Inter. The Inter results at 60 % do not reflect real situation : They are a result of rote methods than their real acquired skills. Those who pass or even those with very good scores are adopting rote methods (memorizing etc) in such a manner that they pass out without really learning.

It is such methods that created a big market for private coaching centres, tutorials, Question Banks and Manuals that replaced the importance of text books… they  were selling lakhs of copies.  And education, like healthcare, became a big commerce and industry :  Ignorance and disease care, respectively,  pushed up the GDP. With corporate schools, and franchisees, spreading from AP to other states and Delhi, AP became a pioneer, all thanks to LPG, promoted by govts that served vested interests. Those in that business became billionaires and ruling politicians.  They come out with massive full page Ads, and buy prime time on TV channels,  claiming hundreds of Top Ranks; they never reveal how many (lakhs) appeared through them, and what is the percentage of top rankers. The private, deemed, and foreign universities now being promoted, at the cost of State-supported universities, by a Swadeshi Govt. are but a continuation and culmination of those policies.

IT sector jobs outsourced by the US and the West gave a big push for Engineering courses. Hundreds of private colleges were allowed, even  without ensuring availability of good faculty. AP and South became a big Business hub for commerce in education. And IIT, NIT admissions themselves became big business. When they reached saturation levels, CA and civils courses  got promoted. Now AP, TS and India have lakhs of engineering graduates who are not only unemployed, but unemployable, as blamed by NASSCOM and  employers. So what ? Thousands of crores of rupees were minted by sharks who sold false dreams in this sector. And millions of poor and lower middle classes were pauperized; 90 % of them were cheated by false  promises. The crisis engulfed colleges and their business. The rot in education was aggravated, and lakhs of graduates are produced who are not EMPLOYABLE, as NASSCOM and other employers said. It is part of the larger economic crisis.

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English helps Employment? It is a myth : There are millions of unemployed people who are educated and know English too.

There are lakhs of engineering graduates who passed out in the last 20-30 years in AP and TS. Hundreds of such engineering colleges were opened during TDP regimes (1985-90, 1994-2004, 2014-19), and were continued by (YSR) Congress regime during 2004-2014.  Hundreds of  Engineering colleges set up during TDP regime were collapsing as tens of thousands  of seats were going vacant in Engineering.

In fact, it is an all India phenomenon. Out of 27 lakh Engineering seats  (in the UG (14), PG (1,8) , Diploma (11)  ) only 13 lakh students took admissions in 2019-2020, data (Times of India, 2020 Feb 13). Between 2015-2019, a total of 518 Engg colleges shut down.  “ The hopeless engineers”  and sluggish industry are leading to a massive breakdown of tech education in India,”  said GD Yadav , former VC, ICT. In 2019, only 6 lakh graduates found jobs.  AP and TS, and South India  have a big share in this.

YSR Govt of undivided AP  came  out with a scheme to reimburse 100% fees of SC, ST, BC, Minority, and EBC students, i.e., more than 80%  of all students (it is continued till date, in both AP and TS).That  was a bail-out package to education businessmen,  but was also part of  vote bank politics. They were taught engineering courses in English and they wrote and passed their exams in English medium only. Their soft skills are worthless.  Bulk of them were condemned as unemployable, who can not even be re-trained, according to NASSCOM and employers. But well-connected colleges have campus selections, and the cream and elite classes are employed, leaving out those from rural and poorer sections, whose fate is given below. 

Except for 10 to 20 percent of the graduates, who got good jobs, the rest of them are under-employed, or unemployed. Many Engineering graduates are happy to earn Rs.10000 to 15000 per month, or lucky to get Rs.20000, engaged in jobs that do not require any engineering or English skills. Tens of thousands of  B.Tech and MBA graduates in TS and AP, and in Hyderabad, are working as auto and cab drivers, as delivery boys of goods and foods (Amazon, Ola, Uber, Swiggy, Zomato etc); or as casual or contract clerks in private companies, or in out-sourced government jobs. Any livelihood is good, but for that B.Tech and MBA were not needed, Billions were spent on them by the govt and by the families. They are engaged in jobs a Standard X student is eligible for. After Covid-19, many of them lost those jobs also, and are unemployed or working in villages as manual labor and agri labor in their own farms or in others’ lands. I know such youth personally.

Let us see even those who got some jobs : Thousands of them are there in commercial sector, as salesmen or bank employees, may be well paid, but they do not need or use much English, once they are selected. Thousands of them who are unhappy with such jobs, and wanted job security, in  recent years, wrote competitive exams (with standard X basis), most of them in Telugu medium, and joined Govt. or public sector as police constables, railway gangmen, bus conductors, Class 3 or even class 4 jobs in government sector. Neither Engineering nor English skills came to their rescue. Of course, English of High school level is also tested in some of those jobs, in objective type questions which they answer by rote methods they learnt.

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It was such a crisis that provided me with an opportunity

I am a unique teacher who reached out to lakhs of students in TS, AP, and across India. Wherever I went, I found how students, even graduates, are handicapped in basic arithmetic. And English medium is an added curse to lakhs of poor students, people in general, making them weak, vulnerable and dumb, with or without their knowledge and skills, in front of English-knowing snobs. It is an agent of dis-empowerment, and definitely not of liberation as scholars like Ilaiah seek to paint it.  Moneybags are making merry, and wielding power, not those who know English. The latter in their thousands are languishing in casual jobs; tens of thousands of them are contract teachers and lecturers, with low wages and now NO WAGES since Covid-19.

It was such policies that alienated mass of poor and backward students, who were left behind. English medium made them second rank citizens, even when they pick up subjects well. With English, it is a hurdles race, particularly for the poor and dalit bahujans. However, because of movements, despite all the glamour of English medium, Telugu medium was sustained and competitive exams were conducted also in Telugu medium.  This situation created a need for me and my work, which I decided not to encash. I conducted hundreds of classes for poor students in small places, almost free of cost (taking my travel fees, by ordinary class).

With all these, I earned some good name and fame. I have great work satisfaction and good will of lakhs of poor students, most of them dalit bahujans. Of course I have no bank balance. Because most of my shows had no or little fees that kept my family (wife and three children) going with a humble life. My wife still works as an ASHA worker, lowest-paid volunteer in Govt. healthcare sector, with no regular salary.  I am  poor in English, but my unique work as an unconventional  school teacher,  helped me to reach wider and enlightened audiences, as below:

I shared platform with Nobel laureates and top teachers

That was in spite of my poor English. I am a teacher who rarely taught in English cum Hindi without a formal training in both those languages: And that was when I could share platform with not one, but around 10 Nobel laureates, in 2013 and 2014.  I was invited twice to the International Science Conclave at IIIT, Allahabad, thanks to Prof M. Radhakrishna, though I had no formal qualification. He was one key organizer of around half a dozen such science conclaves there, with several Nobel scientists staying there for a week to lecture and interact with an invited audience. Prof RK, as he was known, is a great (Retired) Professor who never tried to know my caste, and never asked me to show my qualifications.

He knew I am one without a formal qualification. But he knew I have a place given the crisis in education field. There I interacted with hundreds of science students and teachers invited from all over India,  through a few sessions, and that was the most memorable moment for me in the journey of my becoming Ankela mamayya, Uncle of Numbers. I was invited by Delhi Public School to interact not only with students but also with their highly qualified teachers. So I was invited by a few more corporate schools including Indus Valley School, Allahabad and Hyderabad Public School.  RK told me how bulk of graduates from AP and TS are  too poor in quality, despite First Class Pass.

(See RK’s Interview in Countercurrents.org 2020 Sep 5 

Face To Face With Eminent Computer Scientist-Teacher Prof M. Radhakrishna)

Last year, I presented a paper in the Indian Social Science Academy, in its 43rd Annual Congress, held at Bangalore University, in January 2019. That was thanks to the ISSA and its Founder General Secretary, Professor NP Choubey.  I was later was felicitated by ISSA, in the presence of almost 1000 delegates, from across India, who included a large number of teachers at UG and PG level. The ISSA never tried to know my caste, and never asked me to show my qualifications. The Secretary knew I am without a formal qualification.  But  again I found there the crisis in education, with or without English.

Media : My work has been appreciated in different parts of Telangana and AP, also was featured several times in popular print and electronic media in Telugu, including largest-circulated several Telugu dailies and TV channels.

I was given an opportunity in Tele School Programme in Doordarshan, and Radio (AIR) in children’s program to do mathemagic,between 2000-2004, as Ankela Mamaiah (an uncle of numbers). I was given some assignments by sincere IAS officials like Sri Mukteswara Rao and late M.Nagarjuna.

The poor English level of myself, a dalit-born humble teacher, was not a hurdle in all this. But English medium is a hurdles race for the  poor and the dalit bahujans as I saw with my eyes.

Trained over 2000 students to perform Ganitha Avadhanam , a sort of maths show

Avadhanam  in Telugu means a sort of versatile performance where concentration, versatality and speed are displayed. A scholar is simultaneously questioned by eight people in different ways; one of them performs the role of distracting the attention which should be overcome by the performing scholar. It was called Ashta (8) Avadhanam, mostly feats performed in Telugu literature. Then there is shata (100) avadhanam, with 100 questioners, the performer being called shata avadhani.

Later it was extended to maths, arithmetic to be precise. Once in Vijayawada, in January 2000, I had attended one show of Ganitha Avadhanam,where a scholar performed. I had been training myself in maths exercises, so I was able to answer most questions in good speed. The organizers were impressed, so they asked me : Why don’t you take up this art? I thought over, and decided that I will get it performed by poor girl students of Standard X, and did that; in one such show at Hyderabad, in 2014-15 several scientists, IAS officers etc witnessed a show by ten rural girls of X standard from a social welfare hostel. Without using pen and paper, they answered big sums even before a calculator could do it. Thus showed Ganitha Avadhanam is possible for any student to perform. I trained over 2000 students to perform Ganitha Avadhanam. Trained two students, Ms. Sowmya into a  state level popular Child Ganithavadhani, and Mr. Nischal Narayan into an International Performer in Mathematics.

That was possible by removing maths phobia, and I shunned English medium. I was given a project (through an NGO) to cover all Govt Residential schools in undivided AP. I began with one, but left it with the sole reason that they insisted on teaching maths in English medium. I could have done it as I did at IIIT-A, but said NO despite my need for good remuneration.  Such was my conviction that arose out of experiences.

                                                     ***                            ***

English medium is not cultivating scientific temper, but is consolidating Brahminical practices

Maths and science are linked with each other and with our life. They have little purpose if they are not linked with a scientific temper, and people are superstitious.We have in our Indian Constitution, as part of Fundamental Duties, under Article 51-A (h),  the duty “to develop the  scientific temper and the  spirit of inquiry and reform…” But our leaders  from the President and Prime Minister  down to village sarpanch, and from ISRO scientists and science professors  to the village school teacher perform pujas, observe auspicious times (also for  inauspicious activities ), unproven vaastu etc, and they openly worship Godmen (some of them proved to be criminals, and in jails).

Science also is taught and learnt in an unscientific manner, by rote methods, by memorising, in most schools. Taught in English medium, rote methods are felt needed.So students pass exams, even MSc and B.Tech, without really learning science .We have seen B.Tech. graduates who do not know how an eclipse occurs. Even many of those who learnt science of it as students, do not change in their way of  life. After theycome out of English medium schools and colleges, in their adult lives, they observe superstitious customs during eclipse. Such is our education that even after going to a metro city or US, they remain superstitious: they do not allow their pregnant wives to go out. Scientific spirit is buried in the pages of Constitution; we are a country where scientists perform puja, break coconuts, and pray that our rockets or satellites perform successfully! We perform Yagnas and pujas (worship) to control Corona, and to promote rains rather than a scientific life and environmental conservation.

Thus English medium is consolidating Brahminical practices, as well as communal politics (including Hindutva), but not weakening unscientific things in life like computerized horoscopes, palmistry, jatakas, vaastu, rituals, jet-age babas etc. Because medium is only a shell, the content remains unchanged. Rote methods related with English medium makes our science skin-deep, and reduces it into a 10am to 5 pm job,  not a way of life, as Prof RK emphasized.

Ilaiah is oblivious of these things. Rather he eulogises Modi for his Ayodhya speech, instead of exposing the double talk and hypocrisy. He trains his guns against those who fought for the oppressed. His struggle for English medium from school level and and against Brahminism is quixotic.

Incidentally, I came to know, much later, that many of those who encouraged me, like the two IAS officers, Professors RK and NP Choubey, were born Brahmin, but never practiced Brahminism. They never asked me my caste or even my formal qualifications. I have seen many such Brahmins who helped such good causes. I see the allegation (by Ilaiah and the like) is part of certain casteist ideologies and vote bank politics, which are harmful to students, and to people. I have also seen, ironically, many dalit bahujan elite, among the neo-rich, who behaved in a domineering, brahminical manner. In both cases, the fault was not in their birth that is beyond their control.

Despite my poor English, I opposed unscientific Brahminical practices, which are now increasingly adopted by dalit bahujan elite, who are taught in English medium, more than enlightened Brahmins. Whereas in the course of my work, I developed a maths lab for schools with 120 items including innovative items like 5 different abacuses, Flash card games etc. That came to be known as the cheapest maths lab, with the price range of Rs. 300 to Rs. 50,000/- and supplied to 50 schools in TS and AP.

In most Indian schools, with all their fad for English, there is no science lab and no experiments are conducted. It is no better at plus-2 stage, after which students go into S&T or STEM courses. To break out of that, I had developed also a small, affordable science lab, to insist that maths and science, both inter-related, be taught not by rote methods, but by creative practices, that made learning enjoyable.

To counter the above practices and develop the  scientific temper, like so many illustrious predecessors (Abraham Kovoor and B. Premanand), I took up miracle-magic shows: Developed self made magic items, and revealed/exposed secrets and miracles of many God-men and God-women. Reached 5 lakh audience through approximately 2500 public shows, mostly in all districts of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh

Outside TS and AP, shows were given also in Delhi, Goa, Uttaranchal, Uttar pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka etc. Visited Khatmandu (Nepal) four times as Consultant to SDF, an NGO, and gave shows on superstitions.

Academic Counselor: Addressed the maths text books preparation team at SCERT-AP. Briefly as Academic Counselor to the students of Magic course in Sri Potti Sriramulu Telugu University, Hyderabad. Personality Development, Art of Public Speaking, teaching adolescent girls how to cope with patriarchic society, are among my other vocations.

I had seen lakhs of others, in my shows, including parents who are poorly equipped to take a well informed decision about their children. Ruling classes who destroyed whatever schooling was in the public sector over the last 30 years, developed a craze and a myth that English medium is good for all children, and they add, better to commence it at primary level itself. Such decisions were taken in AP  and TS. Courts have been giving verdicts that are divergent.

Teaching and learning English at an appropriate stage is good, welcome, but definitely not English medium, more so from primary level. It is a sure prescription for ruin of rural, dalit bahujan masses.                    

***                              ***

The liberation of dalit bahujans is impossible with English medium

In recent period Prof Kancha Ilaiah is regularly in the news because of his propaganda that English medium will help liberation of the poor, more so dalits and bahujans. It is a fact that many parents, ignorant and innocent, have an illusion about English that it would provide them with jobs.

All my experience tells me Ilaiah’s view is wrong, and is harmful to village children, more so to SCs, STs, BCs etc. Their liberation is impossible with English. In fact, the English-knowing elite in the State machinery – of IAS IPS IRS IFS etc bureaucrats, the top judges and courts – the IITs and Universities let down the masses for the last 70 plus years. They very much  include dalit bahujans by birth, but who turned  elitist by class. I see them every day.

English is not new, even to dalits in Telugu states. English dalit monthly, Panchama was published under the editorship of J.S. Mathaiah, from Hyderabad, a century ago. Similarly there were BCs who published in English from Andhra and Chennai, around the same time. Tamilnadu had plenty of them. But they did not help the liberation of SC ST BC masses.  In fact, the English knowing elite, including those among SCs and BCs let down the masses, more so the rural people.

Ambedkar in his Agra (almost last) Speech of 1956 March 18 lamented how educated dalits, those in govt jobs, ditched him : “some educated persons have reached high posts after getting education. But these educated persons betrayed me. …they are busy filling their own bellies.” We see them every day. They are there in universities also today, which are centres of casteist theories and politics in the service of ruling classes. The ‘Constitution-maker’ was defeated, in a seat reserved for SCs, in Loksabha elections of 1952, by such betrayers. Ambedkar was again betrayed and defeated in by-election of 1954 May. He was accommodated in Rajya Sabha. See the Nalgonda’s contrast below.

If English helped liberation, if that were so, why should USA, the richest English-speaking country, have millions of BPL population? And millions of oppressed Blacks, and almost 25 percent of youth being unemployed, all further aggravated after Covid-19.  Same is the case with England.

In fact USA, led by a Rogue State, has been a power against liberation of oppressed countries and peoples across the world, including its own. It has drained away the English-knowing elite from India and elsewhere.  And England has been collaborating in imposing Anglo-American imperialism.

 

***                        ***

Without English, China’s  development is “without precedent in modern history”: NYT

Cuba has no English though it is in the  backyard of US, and did better in liberation than USA, particularly in education and healthcare. Our neighbor China has few people who know English. It was  once more backward than India, but today has less of BPL population, and less of unemployed youth than USA and many other developed countries. Thanks to revolution, it performed far better than all the English-speaking countries, as also the West in general.

“ China has risen so quickly that your chances of improving your station in life there vastly exceed those in the United States,” said a Report in NYT (New York Times, NOV. 18, 2018 ). “Income growth 1980-2014 +500% : Incomes for the poorest Chinese grew…Incomes for the poorest Americans fell…”, it said citing World Inequality Database. “The Chinese are now among the most optimistic people in the world — much more so than Americans and Europeans, according to public opinion surveys. What has changed? Most of all, an economic expansion without precedent in modern history. 800 million people have risen out of poverty. That’s two and a half times the population of the US. China used to make up much of the world’s poor. Now it makes up much of the world’s middle class.”

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/11/18/world/asia/china-social-mobility.html

“China’s record in poverty reduction since reform and opening up is without parallel in human history,” said a British expert , John Ross, Senior Fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies.  With rapidity and scale of economic achievement, China charged forward with its course to improve the lives of ordinary Chinese people. The enormous improvement in people’s living standards becomes the most important achievement China has made since the reform and opening up,” he said. http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-04/23/c_129857170.htm

FAO chief lauds leadership role of China in poverty reduction

Director-general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) José Graziano da Silva has praised China “…Starting from agricultural reforms, followed by boosting the rural economy other than the farming sector, and through territorial and targeted approaches, poverty was efficiently identified and addressed..”“China has set an example of successfully feeding around one fifth of the world’s population with less than 10 percent of the world’s arable land…China has also been helping other developing countries through bilateral and multi-lateral South-South and triangular cooperation programs.”

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-04/15/c_137112890.htm

If china and India join hands they can contribute a lot to the development and peace in the world. 21st century should belong to them. Indians may benefit by learning Chinese in future, as dollar is on decline.

It is in such a context that Ilaiah advocates English as an agent of liberation!

 

***                                 ***

Only a few STARS like those in filmdom are allowed to shine in that world of English medium. Thousands  of organic intellectuals are outsmarted and ignored by the English milieu.

The answer lies not in English medium but in a self-reliant, sustained and comprehensive development of our agriculture, industry and services in the interest of 80 percent of our population who are left behind, we may add, by the English-knowing elite. The world is witness to China’s experience with little of English.  

“The only way is to introduce English medium education in all Government schools from class one,as Macaulay wanted,” asserted Ilaiah (countercurrents.org,  August 1, 2020).  Whose agenda is Ilaiah pushing, intentionally or otherwise, nationally and internationally… by pushing English? It may help the elite, but definitely it would not help the poor, the bulk of dalit bahujans. This is the lesson of my life over 30 years, as a dalit bahujan teacher of one lakh students. 

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Appendix

Presentation by Chandrayya at  XLIII Indian Social Science Congress, January 17-21, 2020, Bengaluru Central University, Bengaluru.

Given below is my Presentation. I thank the Academy, particularly the legendary Dr. NP Chaubey, its Allahabad-based Founder-General Secretary, for providing me with an opportunity to make a presentation. The ISSA felicitated me on the occasion attended by hundreds of academics and students and research scholars from all over India. (Indian Social Science Academy was formerly Indian Academy of Social Sciences, ISSA.

 

The following are some of the methods I developed and taught which help in speed and accuracy, useful in facing competitive exams also.

 

  1. Speed writing

 

In the age of smart phones and easy access to entertainment, the lack of attention span of students is of great concern. Reduced attention spans results in students to only copy the content given by the teacher, when really they need to focus on understanding the concept provided by the teacher. By improving their writing skills in the direction of accuracy and speed, students will find more time in the class room for experiencing an engaging lecture by the teacher.

One of the simplest methods of improving speed writing is by encouraging kids not see their books while writing the contents given by the teacher either orally or on the display board.

The second method is by utilizing flash cards with numbers printed on them. The teacher will ask the students to observe the flash cards while she shows each card for not more than a second. Students will have to keep pace with the teacher’s speed of changing cards. The importance of not seeing the notebook while performing this task needs to be enforced in the student’s mind. This method will improve the student’s ability in concentrating on the task at hand.

The third method is to ask the students to write the alphabets and numbers of the number plates of moving vehicles. This process will improve their speeds as a moving vehicle will not be visible for a long duration of time.

The fourth method is by encouraging the kids to remember and write phone numbers as soon as they hear a phone number over a phone conversation. Each phone number is generally 10 digit long and it will boost the confidence of the student if he could successfully complete this task with consistency.

 

  1. Doubling

Human brain is an amazing instrument of countless wonders. It has the capability of memorizing, developing logic, calculating threats, enjoying pleasures and many other tasks all at the same time. Such a feat is not possible with even the most advanced super computers of the current age. The only way we can keep such a multifunctional tool in pristine condition is by providing it with tasks that help in developing logic and speed. Such tasks keep the brain active and the person performing such tasks starts exhibiting better results at school and work. He gains the potential in succeeding in every task he chooses.

An amazing method of feeding brains is with the concept of “Doubling”. With this method, the teacher provides five random numbers to the students. The choice of the numbers in terms the number of digits per number will be under the discretion of the teachers as he/she would be the best person to judge the abilities of respective students. Students should double each number from the provided set in the quickest possible time on a book.

For example the teacher can choose all four digit numbers for students of class IV and use all three digit number for students of class III. With regards to the cut-off time for the task, the teacher can either give one second for every digit for all the numbers or provide more time based on the student’s ability.

The doubling task will help students in developing imagination, visualization and concentration at a very early age in their life. Such skill will help them perform exceptionally well  in competitive exams during later years of their lives.

Grid filling -1 (+)

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Another important method in Oral Computing Skills techniques is “Grid filling (+)”. Our brain has the capability to calculate complicated mathematical functions in a very short span of time. This method will help students to train their brain with complications just by glancing at the numbers. The internal processing of the brain takes over and the students will automatically obtain the results of the calculations even before placing their pen on the paper.

To use this grid filling method, a series of random numbers should be provided on the top row and the left most columns. The grid can be utilized either for addition, subtraction or multiplication and the corresponding symbol (+, – or x) should be placed at the box formed from the intersection of first row and first column.

Based on the student’s ability, the numbers provided for the method can be either of single, double, triple or multiple digits. Teachers should motivate the students to work with grid filling methods for at least half an hour per day and friendly competitions between the students can be used to engage them in classroom environment.

  1. Dot addition

 

Adding multiple numbers in sequence might seem a complicated task, but ‘dot addition’ method can support a student perform additions of hundreds of numbers in the shortest duration of time. With practice this method can help the student perform calculations orally. And accurately, free from errors.

This method is brilliant in its simplicity. While performing the method on paper, we suggest the person applying the method to start with the bottom two numbers. If the sum of the last digits of the two numbers is less than ten, the student will have to add the last digit of the next number to this sum. This process will continue until the sum crosses the value of ten.

Students should leave the 10 and carry forward only the balance number after subtracting 10 from the sum. A dot should be placed beside the last number to indicate that a ‘10’ is left is left and only the balance is carried forward. We are following a decimal system as each dot corresponds to the number ‘10’. The student continues the process till all the numbers are utilized by placing the dots appropriately. The final left over number should be written. To the right of the newly written number, the total number of dots should be written. The same process can be applied for numbers with multiple digits.

This method can be performed orally by using the fingers instead of dots. Each finger represents a dot for such oral computation method.

 

Dot Subtraction

 

This method is slightly complicated in comparison with the Dot addition method. In our opinion students of class 4 and above should be trained with this procedure.

Like the traditional subtraction method, the number from which subtraction is done is written in the top and the number that needs to be subtracted is written in the bottom. The students will have to observe pairs of digits formed from top and bottom numbers. A dot should be placed under a digit of the bottom number if that digit is larger than the corresponding digit of the top number. This dot indicates that a ‘10’ is carried from a digit in front of the corresponding digit of the top number. Once a ‘10’ is carried forward normal subtraction can be performed.

This method motivates the students with visualization, memory.

 

  1. Smart tables

 

Multiplicative commutative law (a x b = b x a) is one of the fundamental concepts of basic mathematical calculations. The current method of table memorization is unfortunately not helping the students in utilizing the multiplicative commutative law.

Our suggestion is to re-look at the way tables are taught to the students and make minor modifications to this current teaching method.

While teaching the tables, our recommendation is that each table should start from the same digit (square of a number). i.e., the third table should start from (3 x 3=9). The previously used (3 x 1 =3) and (3 x 2 = 6) needs to be avoided as they are already covered in the first table (1 x 3 = 3) and in the second table (2 x 3 =6). This reduces redundancy and more importantly children will realize that missing parts of each table are covered in the previous tables. This search for missing elements of the table enforces the importance of multiple commutative laws.

 

  1. Smart tables-2 (11-99)

 

By following the ‘smart tables’ method children can easily perform oral calculations at least till the 99th table. The confidence aimed by such a child will be enormous and his interest towards learning mathematics increases.

For using this multiplication method, the small number should be written in the bottom and the large number in the top. The general method is to start multiplication with units place and carry forward the digit in tens place of the result to the number on the left. This method does not help in improving the speed of calculations.

First multiply the bottom number with the tens place. Place a zero to the right of this result. Take it as the first result. Now multiply the bottom number with the unit’s place of the top number. Take this as the second result. Add both the results to obtain the final result. This entire process should be done orally.

 

  1. Smart division

 

Many students find division to be complicated and one of the reasons could be due to lack of understanding the multiplication and subtraction concepts. Strengthening of multiplication concepts can be done by first working on the “smart tables” exercises.

 

The smart division is applicable for division with single digit. The division should be performed orally and quickly. Teachers should guide students to write the result without canceling the numbers. This improves the speed of calculations.

 

Furthermore teachers should give practice with divisions by reading out the dividend and divisor instead of writing on the board. The students should be asked to write directly the result in their books after calculating orally. This method can be utilized for students of classes 6 and above. At a later stage the next level of smart division can be introduced where this method can be adapted for divisions with reminders.

 

I Chandraiah is an unconventional  teacher.

Email: ankelamamaiah@gmail.com

 

One Comment

  1. Avatar S. N. Murthy Ch says:

    Marvellous! The myths about English medium were well debunked. The political economy of the same was well explained. I wish to add that this matter of English medium is not just confined to the field of education. In the context of India, which is a multi-national country, English medium education is a part of political conspiracy of destroying the languages of people of India aimed at weakening their respective nationalisms that poses a threat to the power concentrated in the autocratic centre at Delhi. This was designed and implemented by the British rulers and is being continued by their Indian successors to facilitate unhindered exploitation and oppression of the people of all nationalities in the country by imperialists and their friends, the Indian big houses.
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