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Representational image of college students in India | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
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New Delhi: In the latest draft of its new National Education Policy (NEP), the Narendra Modi government has replaced the word ‘liberal’ with ‘holistic’ under the higher education section, ThePrint has learnt.

The Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry had put out the draft NEP 2019 in May. It had a section titled “Towards a More Liberal Education”. The latest draft has amended that to “Towards a More Holistic Education”.

Sources told ThePrint that the change was made at the insistence of HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal.

The RSS also had certain reservations over the term “liberal” which it conveyed to the ministry, added the sources.

According to a senior HRD official, in the latest draft, the section heading has been changed to “Towards a More Holistic Education”. Most of the previous references to the word ‘liberal’ have also been removed from the section.

“The draft was shown to the HRD minister who pointed out that the word liberal doesn’t gel with their way of looking at education. He then asked the officials to change it to ‘holistic’, though the entire policy remains the same,” said a senior HRD official who didn’t wish to be named.

However, a second senior HRD official pointed out that the draft is still not final and subject to change.

“The draft prepared by K. Kasturirangan mentioned the section as liberal education. But that is the committee report. We are finalising the report now and it is a dynamic process and subject to change,” said the official on condition of anonymity.

Kasturirangan, the former ISRO chief, had led a panel to prepare the NEP draft that was submitted to Pokhriyal when he took charge in May. While finalising the policy, the ministry revised the panel’s draft to shorten it to 55-60 pages from the earlier nearly 500-pages, and presented it Pokhriyal again in November.

The HRD Ministry refused to comment on the report. However, third ministry official said, “The word ‘holistic’ means all-encompassing, complete and all-embracing and which is why it was suggested that rather than ‘liberal’, ‘holistic’ should be used. It is surely not being done because of any pressure from any one. The entire policy and the sentiment remains the same.”

Also read: India’s draft education policy isn’t a conservative conspiracy. But it may never take off

The new policy

The HRD Ministry commissioned the National Education Policy in a bid to revamp India’s education system.

After putting out the NEP draft in public domain, it received over two lakh suggestions from states and other stakeholders.

The policy had run into rough weather earlier this year over Centre’s perceived attempts to impose Hindi on all states. Following this, the ministry had clarified that it would not force any language on states via the three-language formula in schools. Several ministers, especially those from the south Indian states, had earlier expressed apprehension over the reported move.

The introduction of Arabic as one of the languages in the three-language formula and inclusion of Urdu among India’s classical languages are some of the other suggestions received by the ministry.

Also read: Modi govt’s new education policy draft wants law taught in English & local languages


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