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|October 22, 1998||
Educational reforms only through consensus, clarifies Joshi
Worried over the controversy generated by agenda notes circulated for the state education ministers' conference beginning today, Human Resources Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi ahs said the government was committed to introducing educational reforms only by consensus and it would make no attempt to dilute the rights of the minorities.
Addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday, Dr Joshi clarified that the recommendations made by Vidya Bharati, the Sangh Parivar's academic body, were part of the non-official notes sent to the participants. The government, he added, had nothing to do with these papers.
The clarification came after Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh wrote to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, alleging that an attempt was being made to ''saffronise'' the education system by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government by circulating the recommendations of the Vidya Bharati.
Some political parties, like the Communist Party of India, have already reacted sharply to the inclusion of the Vidya Bharati's recommendations in the agenda notes.
Justifying the inclusion of the non-official papers in the agenda notes, Dr Joshi said, ''We have received recommendations from various non-official bodies...The Centre has to discuss these with the states...It is up to the states to take a decision on these recommendations. If they want, they can reject these also''.
The three-day conference is being organised to find ways and means of improving the quality of education from primary to university levels.
This is the first such conference being organised by the BJP-led coalition government after it assumed office at the Centre in March.
The ministry said the meeting was being held as part of the government's national agenda for governance in which it had committed itself to eradicating illiteracy.
Despite the ministry's clarification, the matter is likely to be raised by the ministers from the Congress and left parties ruled states at the conference.
The conference is being held at a time when the Centre is concerned over the tardy progress in the implementation of various schemes aimed at achieving total literacy.
It may also review the recommendations made by the recent world conference on higher education, organised by Unesco in Paris.
Murli Manohar Joshi has already stated that the government would not like to leave education at the mercy of market forces.
In the ''country paper'' presented by India at the Paris meet, the government indicated that it was considering introducing ''radical changes'' in the examination system.
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