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Meenu Anand

By R.V. Vaidyanatha Ayyar
Year 2016, pp. 707, Rs. 1995.00

VOLUME XL NUMBER 11 November 2016

The Holy Grail comes at a crucial juncture, at a time when the country is formulating its National Policy on Education, 2016, three decades since the last policy aiming to focus sharply on the quality of education, enhancing the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, and promoting transparency in the management of education in the global/ digital context. The timing to unravel a chronicle tracing the footprints of the county’s quest to achieve Universal Elementary Education (UEE) could not have been more pertinent. This cohesive, voluminous book takes the reader, through its twenty chapters, to unveil the highs and lows, the upheavals behind conceptualizing a programme, nurturing it amidst paradigms of policy making through the eyes of an astute civil servant, the main protagonist, Joseph K. It also depicts the lives of top level bureaucrats viz. Joseph K., Bordia and Giri, who work nonchalantly to bring to fruition the unending tasks and tussles undertaken to achieve the goals of UEE. The book begins with the author’s journey as Joseph K. (a pseudonym employed by him after the protagonist of Kafka’s The Castle) becoming the Education Secretary of Hyderabad in 1988, amidst the mammoth licence-permit-inspectorate Raj, closely working for the management of educational institutions to ensure that every child in the State received elementary education. Interestingly, it also traces the deep roots of modern education in India with the policy by Indian Education Commission, 1882 viz. the system of Grants-inaid, differentiation between primary education and other stages of schooling. It also effectively correlates the private provision for education, fee structure in the contemporaneous discourse and the famous Wood’s Dispatch of 1854. The efforts to constitute a common medium of instruction via setting up of The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) followed by mushrooming of institutions it provided affiliation to, its challenges and the spectacular diversification of unaided schools, setting up of DIETs and its linkage with District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) in the Indian education landscape have been well described. The second to sixth chapters unveil the twists and twirls faced by K while working under the administration maestro Bordia where he honed his administrative skills in the bureaucratic jungle warfare and gained a holistic picture on the education system in India. The author majesterially traces the launch of the landmark National Policy of Education, 1986, the Jometien Conference of 1990 while narrating the Gandhian philosophy of ...

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