The HRD minister wants to teach rainwater harvesting. But is he willing to learn it from communities?
the Union human resource development minister, Murli Manohar Joshi, who is out to 'Indianise' the country's academic agenda, has directed the University Grants Commission (ugc) to introduce a course on water harvesting in both under and post-graduate levels. But the decision has some interesting strings attached. If sources in the ministry are to be believed, it is a counter-strategy for the minister who has been under attack for introducing astrology as a subject in universities recently. He wants to justify astrology by adopting water harvesting as 'an Indian study'. Also, the decision seems to be exclusive to the minister as nobody in the ugc has any clue about it.
Even if Joshi has his way, the question arises as to who is going to teach water harvesting: India's numerous communities who have perfected this life-saving technology or the usual academicians. Water harvesting assures much more livelihoods than that of few academicians. It is a technology, which is as varied as India's 600,000 villages. It is about communities who know the value of water. Unless the people who use the tradition to script their prosperity are not involved in imparting this valuable knowledge, it will be another case of warped education. There is no place for Oxford and Cambridge scholars here.
With all sympathies to the honourable minister's 'Indianisation', he has failed to show his commitment for water harvesting as he did for astrology. He is yet to address countless conferences and meetings hawking support for water harvesting. He defended astrology as science and a source of 'livelihood' for many. Maybe he has not been able to identify the science and source of livelihood in water harvesting. Hope he takes a cue from the communities who have mastered water-harvesting ages before he decided to introduce it in colleges.
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