At a time when his Ministry is in the final stages of preparing a New Education Policy, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar held a meeting with leaders of some RSS-affiliated organisations. The meeting, which lasted for several hours, took place at Gujarat Bhawan in Delhi and discussed issues related to education.
Members of Vidya Bharati, ABVP, Rashtriya Shaikshik Mahasangh, Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal, Sanskrit Bharati, Vigyan Bharati and Itihas Sankalan Yojana were present at the meeting.
While Javadekar had earlier attended an RSS-linked event on the New Education Policy, this was a comprehensive discussion with RSS-affiliated organisations related to education.
The question that arises is that even though the HRD Ministry has sought inputs from all concerned on the New Education Policy should blatantly nationalistic bodies like the RSS be allowed to influence such an important policy as the new education policy. RSS makes no bones about its ideology to saffronise the Indian educational system.
During his tenure, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi as Minister of Human Resource Development in the Vajpayee-led NDA Government (1998) and had brought serious changes in the curriculum, education and social science-history books.
The books which were introduced during his tenure had statements like these:
- It is because we are the children of Manu that we are known as manushya or manav (human).
- Scientists consider plants as inanimate, while the Hindus consider them as animate and having life.
- On refusing to accept Islam, Banda Bairagi had the heart of his son thrust down his throat.
- Sati is presented as a Rajput tradition that we should be proud of.
Similar distortions in the History were,
- ‘Qutub Minar was built by emperor Samudragupta and its real name was Vishnu Stambha’.
- In addition, the battles for power between Shivaji and Afzal Khan, the battle between Akbar and Maharana Pratap, and that between Guru Govind Singh and Aurangzeb were all given religious colour.
Do we want distorted facts for our children? Do we want rational facts and scientific understanding or do we want communal interpretations of all things? Do we want to instil a divisive mind set in our younger generation or do we want to show a peaceful, democratic way forward that benefits each and all?
Consider this: in it’s suggestions to the HRD ministry on the new education policy, the RSS has suggested that English be done away with at all levels of school education.
Knowledge of English is India’s strength especially vis-à-vis countries like China. Indian students and workers across the world have benefited from their ability to speak, read and write English.
RSS wants the medium of instruction from elementary to higher levels in schools to be in the mother tongue and not English, in fact it says English should not be mandatory at any level.
Why should the mother tongue be taught in schools at the cost of English. Why cannot both co-exist? More and more people in India are realising the value of knowing English. The fact that more and more English medium schools are sprouting up is evidence of the importance and popularity of the language.
India’s outsourcing business, its IT sector have all flourished because of the English advantage. This should not be thrown away just because one mis-guided body thinks otherwise.
The education policy must not lose sight of the fact that we live in a global community. It must adopt measures that give our children the very best of education so that they have an edge over others in the global field. Don’t the children of our ministers study in English medium schools and invariably attend college abroad?
According to the RSS, all research work should be linked to national requirements and those which are not should not get UGC scholarships.
This is another confounding demand. Who will define which research is in the national interest or not? The impact of any research is always global. To restrict research by not granting scholarships on vague lines will harm not only the nation but also leave general mankind all the poorer.
There is the usual demand that references that insult Indian culture, traditions, sects, thoughts, eminent persons and offer wrong explanations should be removed from textbooks.
Bodies like the RSS which have a political ideology of Hindu Nationalism as opposed to Indian Nationalism as dictated by the Constitution of India, cannot dictate to the whole nation what Indian culture is, and what “insults” it. As for ” wrong ” explanations, the only right explanation in a textbook should be based on bare facts and nothing else.
The education policy is too important for it to be tinkered with by those with little knowledge of the subject. Narrow policies should not be interfering in something as vital as education.
Well organised Hindu bodies like the RSS who are extreme and militant communalists and others of their category believe that Hindus are the true sons of the soil and that Muslims are encroaches and the enemy. They also believe that Hinduism must be forced down our throats. Such a divisive mindset is very dangerous for our plural, diversified country.
Those who have the interest of the country at heart and who understand the dangers of communalism must undertake an intensive campaign of mass education of the people. Political, national and healthy education of people will educate them as to how any kind of communalism is dangerous to the nation.
The government must take every step to resist the communalism of education and keep a broad-minded approach towards it as befits a country of our stature and constitution. We must keep pace with the world and not step backwards in our thinking and our actions, if we wish to advance as a nation.
#The views expressed by Author are truly personal.