Sadgopal, who had to fight his way into the national capital’s prestigious St Stephen’s College, having had his school education in the Hindi medium at Nainital, said, ” WTO-GATS is an attempt to commoditize education, which means to open it to unregulated profiteering and thereby increase discrimination and inequality in education.”
Students are bracing for the “All-India Resistance Camp Against Committing the Higher Education to WTO”, scheduled to occur in Delhi next month.
The activists said that in October this year, just two months before the 10th ministerial meeting at World Trade Organization (WTO) at Nairobi, Kenya, where the Union government plans to enter into a commitment to make higher education a tradable service, University Grants Commission (UGC) came up with the decision to scrap non-NET fellowships.
Sadgopal came down heavily on the nipping of so many scholarships, saying it was ironical that a government that constantly harps on “vikas” (development) should end up making away with scholarships.
“This government needs to define development. Is it really development of people that the government talks about? Or are they developing corporate capital? They are not contemplating WTO-GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services) for the sake of increasing access to education, they are doing it at the behest of WTO, IMF and the World Bank. This is to make education a commodity,” Sadgopal said.
Recalling the Ambani-Birla Report on Education 2000 during NDA rule, which stated that education is the source of profit, he said this was something even subsequent governments followed. He said, however, that no other Union government had stooped so low when it came to causing harm to education. “The goal is to dismantle social justice agenda for the backward classes and castes,” he said.
He said commoditization of education would help in changing the character of knowledge provided in schools and colleges. “It will be such that it promotes profit in the market. Instead of enhancing the democratic spirit and cultivating a scientific temper and critical thinking, the focus will be on profit,” Sadgopal said.
He asserted that AMU, being such an old university, could assert its voice in the matter. “The university has been part of the freedom movement and now if they join the protest it will give the movement a new dimension,” he said.
Calling on the students to join the campaign, he said, “When Zakir Hussain was a student of AMU, he heeded the call of Mahatma Gandhi in establishing a national education system. That led to the foundation of Jamia Milia Islamia.”
Asked of the saffronization of education and divisive politics, he said, “A divisive communal agenda is a bigger need for global capital than for RSS, which only serves as an agent of global capital.”