INTERVIEW WITH M.M.P. SINGH*
The New Education Policy and the Teachers' Movement
MMP Singh: Our analysis of education. Government policies, and teachers' movements should have as its central focal point two kinds of interrelated contradictions : between imperialism and the Third World, and between the Indian big bourgeois ruling groups and the Indian people/ The struggle to control knowledge and learning processes, to establish domination and hegemony over knowledge, is a crucial part of the ongoing conflicts between imperialist neo-colonialist forces and newly-liberated Third World countries trying to maintain and consolidate their independence. Neo-colonialist penetration is a threat as much, if not more, in the domain of education and culture as in economic life, for control over the learning process and communications has become absolutely central in the contemporary world. Again, education and culture are never independent of class interests, and efforts are made in every country to appropriate them for providing ideological legitimation of ruling groups. Our paradigm for understanding all problems of education, learning processes, and culture must, therefore, begin with the triangle composed by the interests of neo-colonialism, of Indian ruling classes, and of the Indian people.
Many specific teachers* movements might appear purely economistic at first sight and this may predominate for certain phases or particular struggles which have overwhelmingly emphasized objectives like higher salaries. But taken as a whole, three phases need to be distinguished in the history of the all-India teachers* movement.
The first stage had been one of local or regional agitations against specific kinds of injustice to redress grievances on what may be termed compassionate lines. From around 1967-69 began a second phase, when the scattered organizations and delegations started developing into mass bodies of teachers through the level of real, as distinct from paper organization achieved varied greatly from region to region. Only in some pockets did teachers' associations become real mass organizations. Agitations in this second phase, which continued till 19^4-85, combined redress of specific grievances with the raising,
* President, DUTA, Delhi University, Delhi.