Do not compare Apples to Oranges
On the face of it the decision of the HRD Ministry looks to be one in favor of the masses - but is it really so? No decision should be one sided and specially when it concerns the future of the nation- our children, a lot of deep thought should be given.
A lot has been said about the poor availability of NCERT books and the fact that it is not possible for everyone to download it and the cost involved in the same. I would not like to get into the same debate. let us try to be neutral and look into the actual reasons for schools preferring books from private publishers. It has nothing to do with the monetary gains but the quality of content. These books, in comparison to those published by NCERT, are much more simple, lucid and easy to understand. they make the process of learning easy and fun and not boring and tedious. And I am sure that the main aim of the HRD Ministry is to have 100% literacy over and above everything.
It is an undeniable fact that Indians are one of the best brains in the world and outperform in almost every field. And they have not grown and excelled only because of the books published by NCERT as everyone knows that they are not sufficient. They have had to use the books published by the private publishers to gain that extra knowledge or extra edge to excel. Had it been only NCERT books we would not have been boasting of am Indira Nooyi or a SatyaNadella today to name just a couple.
The card that the HRD Ministry is playing upon to gain favor for its rash decision is to encash on the sentimentality of the parents to stand in its favor- and that is the price of the books. Let us now get into the root cause of the price difference. NCERT gets subsidies from the government which these publishers don't. Second the books from private publishers come under the tax loop and now with GST applicable on Children's Picture books, Lab Manual and Workbooks it will add to the miseries. We are all practical and rational human beings and know for well that the cost of a book is also effected by the changes in the fuel prices, transportation costs, paper costs- all of which is not in the hands of the publisher but is regulated by the government. At the same time in comparison to the NCERT books the books from private publishers are written by highly creative authors whose talent needs to be remunerated accordingly and to suit the needs of the students better these books have to be revised and updated regularly all of which comes at a cost. Education is a basic right so why can't the government keep the books completely out of the tax loop? Why can't the government partner with the publishers to work for a better and completely educated India?
Let us also look at the working dynamics of the whole thing also. When our Constitution was framed then the legislature ( law making organ) was kept separate from the Executive( Law Enforcing Organ). I am sure that our government would agree that the framers of our Constitution were the best brains in the country. They did this because they also must have realized that everybody has their own area of expertise and no one should become dictatorial. So why not in this case? Why is the NCERT taking the Private publishers as its Competitor? Why Can't it work in coordination with the private publishers? Let the guidelines and the framework come from NCERT and the implementation to be done by the private publishers. The outcome of such a partnership would help us build a brighter future for India. Isn't that the intention of the Government too? And is the government ready to take the responsibility that once it will be only NCERT publishing the books then it will not become monopolistic and high handed in its approach?
I would like to request the government to look into issues of major concern like the standard of the Government schools, the quality of education imparted there, smoothening out of the education system and bringing in uniformity in Education through out the nation instead of diverting into trivial issues and upsetting things which are running smoothly. The NCERT is also supposed to train the teachers to raise the standard of teaching in our schools which is a grave need of the hour specially in Government schools why not utilize their expertise there instead of burdening them with everything and churning out mediocre results.
If we look into the working dynamics of NCERT publishing the books only. Then let us look straight into the eye and accept the fact that they don't have the capacity to meet the demands of the nation. this will lead to a shortage of books, black marketing, corruption and confusion in the market.Another evil that this rash decision brings in its fold is large scale unemployment. What solution does the government have to offer for that? Why does it want to snatch away the bread and butter of so many? Our honorable Prime Minister talks of Skill India, a very commendable thought, but this unwise decision works like a butcher's knife on the creativity of thousands of authors who work endlessly to make the process of learning more student friendly. Over night the creative skills of so many people will come to an end and our children would be deprived to learn from the knowledge and experience of many which could help them become better individuals and professionals.
To conclude I can just say that this step to make NCERT books compulsory is like comparing Apples to Oranges. The NCERT books are very dull, boring, confusing, uninteresting in comparison to the other books that attract and make learning easy and yet at the same time are regularly updated and revised by quality authors. Instead of just rooting out a thing which has been doing good for years let us look at ways to make it better. The publishers, NCERT and the government can be partners in this initiative and certain subsidies and tax exemptions can help us secure a better future for our children. It is always wise to be democratic, practical, pragmatic and rational in approach than to be cynical, and dictatorial. Together we can help achieve the mission of an educated India on a faster economic growth rate than to push back both education and economy with this one sided view point.