Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar was in conversation with Rajya Sabha TV’s Neelu Vyas.
Here are some edited excerpts from the interview:
On the occasion of 71st year of Independence, are we free in the real sense?
We have achieved many things, all governments have contributed to it. Now the focus is different. What remains to be done needs more focus. Earlier governments wanted to create ‘babu-dom.’ Now quality is the issue.
PM said let’s remove the scourge of terrorism, corruption and communalism and so on from the society. The PM also gave a benchmark of 2022 for it, is it achievable?
PM has pledged to bring freedom from corruption , terrorism, poverty, casteism and communalism. PM is a goal setter and goals are important.
World employment social report says employment will remain a challenge?
We are not manufacturing sector driven. Our major plank is the service sector. Digital India, Make in India , Swachh Bharat will create jobs. We should get out of the mindset of government jobs. Mudra Yojana will help indirectly in empowering people. The profile of organised sector is changing. Opposition parties shave lost the connect to the ground. Real action is being missed out by them. SMEs are the growth story. Khadi is becoming such a big enterprise. All these will become a big source of jobs. Aadhaar will also create jobs. Crores of Jan Dhan accounts will also create jobs.
Have cultural and religious differences impacted the moral fibre of the democracy?
The democratic fibre of the country has become strong. People are choosing rulers with caution. Elections are taking place and the voter is the king. People want progress. They don’t want to practice the politics of caste and creed. People have faith in Modi’s leadership.
Opposition says plurality is in danger, one is not really free to eat what they want?
We did not make any such laws. Food is a personal choice. We are not imposing anything. We believe in conquering the hearts. We don’t impose, that’s not our culture. Nobody should teach us tolerance. New are a tolerant society .
A large section of the people have painted cow protection groups with black. Have they not been able to explain themselves or their objectives?
Even a single incident is bad. In this vast country some incidences happen then there are other incidents of lynching too. Even in Godhra ‘kar sevaks’ were lynched. So many incidents of lynching have taken place. We condemn each death. The law cannot be taken into ones hands.
Do we need a new definition for nationalism?
People are patriotic for their country. People express patriotism through various methods. Nobody is teaching patriotism. There is no imposition. People are expressing their love and patriotism through different ways.
There is polarisation through patriotism, and polarisation through nationalism.
It’s rather unifying. Its not dividing the country, you will find the narrative pleasant.
There is a global buzz on Swachh Bharat. What are the challenges in making the country open defecation free?
So much is happening on the ground. Thousands of girls are carrying out a campaign. The whistle-badge is becoming a people’s movement. People blow whistles in villages if they see others defecating in the open. More than 60 lakh villages are now open defecation free. Waste management rules are in place. Cleanliness is a mindset change.
Despite all the cleanliness drive you have dark corners like what has happened in Gorakhpur.
We have achieved a lot and much more needs to be done. Children have been dying of Japanese encephalitis for years but no study has been conducted so far. Our government is at least working on a plan.
If you look at the journey of the last 70 years, are you in a position to say each and every child goes to school?
My challenge is to make government schools better. Many schools became just mid-day meal schools. Aana, khana aur jana. We want to make real schools. More emphasis will be on learning outcomes. We are giving more emphasis on training of teachers. Everyone will be made accountable. 11 lakh primary school teachers will be trained through Svyam and Svyam Prabal , including online training. Those who study will get results, otherwise they will lose their jobs. In higher education also we are giving complete autonomy to IIMs. We have to trust our best brains. Regulation is not the answer. We need to give freedom and trust the students as well. We will create 20 world class universities, 10 each in government and private sector. Research and innovation will be the key word. More autonomy to UGC will also be given.
For all this, a lot of money is needed but education is never given a priority.
5 per cent of the GDP is already being given. We are trying to get more funds. 20, 000 crores extra will be pumped in. We want to motivate the teachers to make schools better.
Exorbitantly high fees are charged by pubic schools. What are you doing to check that?
Government schools will improve. A poor person need not invest in education. We don’t regulate the private schools. There should be a complete disclosure of their balance sheets. There should be no hidden costs. All must be explained to the parents. I’m sure that more competition will come from the government schools.
Looking at the society have we been able to create a gender-just society?
The real challenge is to change the society. Gender sensitisation through practical things will become part of the curriculum. Parents’ education becomes imprtant., they are the ones who crate a mindset.
(Watch the entire interview at 10pm tonight on the show To The Point)