Posts Tagged ‘shishu mandirs’

BJP’s Assault On Education

May 16, 2016

BJP’s Assault on Education and Educational Institutions

Nalini Taneja

Delhi University

While an impression is sought to be created that the BJP is holding back its agenda in deference to a large body of opinion in the country being opposed to it, on the ground the BJP has been having a field day in pushing through its programmes. It is concentrating on and going full steam ahead on the cultural & educational front in polarising society along communal lines. There is an attempt to Hinduise the educational system, root out liberal and leftist influences, and to re-write history in order to justify its anti-minority outlook.

This is evident not only from the much publicised agenda sought to be implemented at the State Education Ministers’ Conference held in October ’98 but also from the massive text book revision undertaken by the Sangh Parivar in keeping with this design. Much of their agenda is incorporated through moral education and general knowledge texts that concentrate on inculcating a Hindu consciousness and ‘pride in being a Hindu’. In the Government schools in the BJP ruled states and in the 20,000 odd Vidya Bharti schools and the shishu mandirs all over the country, the prescribed syllabus presents Indian culture as Hindu culture, totally denying its pluralistic character and the contribution of the minorities to the creation of the Indian identity. Everything Indian is shown to be of Hindu origin and the minorities are characterised as foreigners owing their first allegiance to political forces outside this country.

In the name of ‘Indianised nationalised and spiritualised’ education there is an attempt to polarise and divide people along religious lines by communalising their consciousness. Through a distortion and concoction of facts there is an effort to reconstruct history and tradition along communal and sectarian lines. In fact it is quite clear what the agenda paper at the Conference meant by the abrogation of the Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution. Uma Bharti, the Union Minister of State in the Ministry of Human Resources did not take long to pronounce that the Kashmir problem finds its roots in the teaching pattern in the Madrasas and that there is a need to closely monitor them.

Thanks to these books and the efforts of their ‘dedicated’ teachers lakhs of children grow up with prejudice and hatred towards the minorities, considering them alien, and in total ignorance of our composite and rich cultural heritage. By wanting to make Sanskrit and the Upanishads and Vedas compulsory in schools to the exclusion of other texts they deny not only the secular character of our cultural heritage but also the significance of popular cultural expression and langu ages in the making of Indian culture.

The homogenised and predominantly Hindu picture of Indian identity these texts present is contrary to facts and to peoples’ historical experience. Inspite of their verbal diatribe against Macaulay, they adopt, lock stock and barrel, the Orientalist Western British Imperialist sponsored theory that sees Eastern societies as unique and incapable of modern development independently. They have also conveniently appropriated the British divide and rule paradigm of Hindus and Muslims as separate civilisational entities that cannot survive together in peace. How much of their ideological ammunition has its source in the most reactionary theories of imperialist domination is a fact that should be talked about much more and be exposed for what it represents. These theories are asserted in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

A massive survey project by the Anthropological Survey of India published in the form of a series called People of India proves a number of points which give lie to the lies of the Sangh Parivar. It shows that approximately more than 4000-odd communities inhabit this country and their cultural profile is rooted and shaped by their relationship with their environment, their occupational status, their language, etc., primarily and that religion falls way down in the construction of their identities. This survey also shows that Hindus and Muslims share more than 95% characteristics of various kinds that are common and that it is shared lives that have given shape the diverse cultural expressions. Among other things the studies also show that nobody today can be characterised as an original inhabitant or a foreigner.

Unmindful of such data and historical truth, the Sangh Parivar is pressing on with its own agenda. There is a move to change the content of school education in general as well and a review of the NCERT syllabus is an integral part of this move. As most of us would remember there was a concerted assault on the NCERT textbooks by the RSS backed political groups even during the Party government in the immediate aftermath of the Emergency. Among the books sought to be banned and consigned to a fascist type of bonfire were the history textbooks of our most eminent historians like Romila Thapar, RS Sharma and Bipan Chandra because they present a secular view on history. What they did not succeed in doing then they are trying to achieve now under the BJP Government rule. A Review Committee has been formed for the review of syllabus with a chairman whose only claim to fame is his landmark judgment that Hindutva is a way of life not religion.

The UP State education minister says publicly that by the next session twenty-five textbooks will have to be re-written. The RSS has undertaken to write along communal lines the history of every district, and has a separate Institute known as the Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Samiti, with 400 branches all over the country, for coordinating and giving direction to this effort. One of the key ‘achievements’ of this Samiti is the ‘cleansing’ of Christian influence on historical chronology. The kalganana or the ‘scientific Hindu way of calculating time’ does away with the BC/AD system and works according to the Hindu calculation of time traced from the Deva Yuga to the present Kali Yuga! Murli Manohar Joshi is already on record that the history and philosophy of foreign lands had prevented universities from becoming centres of learning. It is an indication of what they mean ‘Indianising’ education.

Science is sought to be combined with spirituality, in the name of which obscurantism and chauvinism are freely allowed to masquerade as national pride. Vedic Mathematics was introduced in the UP schools but had to be withdrawn. The recent directives curtailing experiments on animals in laboratories at the initiatives of Maneka Gandhi and sanctioned by the highest authorities in some scientific establishments, if implemented with all its clauses will set back research by decades and make next to impossible almost any experiments.

The implementation of the compulsory Saraswati Vandana and Vande Mataram mandate in the Government schools in the BJP ruled states, the renaming of towns and streets, bhajan mandalis, ‘social service’, festivals, even sporting events, particularly cricket matches between India and Pakistan, are transformed into lessons of popular education outside the formal classroom. ‘Kargil’ has become the latest and most convenient peg to hang their version of history and nationhood on as the elections draw near.

Internet is now being used as a major media of popular education, with special reference to the NRIs from whom they derive major funds, and now increasingly for equipping the middle class with arguments, data, and the intellectual resources to fulfill their leadership role in the communal bandwagon. Land has already been earmarked and according to press reports a few months back, permission has been obtained by the Delhi Government from the relevant authorities, for setting up a Holocaust type of museum on Partition which would reflect the RSS sectarian view of the tragedy. One can imagine the consequences of this along with their programme to liberate monuments. These would in fact result in the reconstruction and manipulation of popular memory to suit their diabolical designs.

All this is reinforced by the capture of the institutions of learning and education with the stated goal of influencing the funding and direction of research and educational policy. The control over committees and autonomous bodies through the strength of the State apparatus has already resulted in the creation of institutional structures designed to give sanction and legitimacy to the changes that they are pushing through and to survive the life of the present BJP Government. They guarantee the continuance of the fascist agenda even if the BJP Government is defeated at the hustings. The battle for the minds of the Indian people is clearly at a critical stage and the sooner the democratic movement in this country faces this reality, the better equipped it will be to face this onslaught on democracy for clearly this is what it is. The struggle for a secular third front in the Parliament is only one dimension of this larger struggle for the defense of democracy and peoples’ dignity.

UNDERMINING OF EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS AND COMMITTEES

The crucial institutional measures taken by the BJP government during its rule are:

It has filled the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) with historians notorious for their association with the VHP campaign on Ayodhya and without any credibility in the field of history writing…..now hardly any secular historian remains as a Council member. The assault on ICHR is clearly aimed at influencing the direction and funding of historical research towards the Sangh Parivar’s communal agenda.

The Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) has been similarly reconstituted and filled with pro RSS men whose only call to fame is their support to the Sangh Parivar’s Hindu Rashtra agenda.

The Indian Institute of Advanced Studies (IIAS) in Simla has a new chairman and several other members of the same ideological colour, among them Kirit Joshi, member of the Ved Vidya Pratishthan, an RSS outfit and GC Pande, an orthodox Sanskrit scholar.

For the Nehru Museum and Memorial Library, the candidature of eminent historians like Professors Mushir ul Hasan and Madhavan Palat were brushed aside to appoint as Director a person from the Doordarshan expected to be softer to their designs. The institution has big funds apart from a number of Senior Fellowships for research and scholarship, and is an important centre for organising seminars and discussions in social sciences.

The National Museum and other museums are being used by the BJP government to propagate the Sangh Parivar’s view of Indian History and tradition, by renaming galleries, the descriptive placards, or by virtue of choice in selection of items displayed, and various special exhibitions organised and curated for particular occasions.

The Indian Institute of Mass Communication, which comes under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, has been given a Chairman for its Advisory/Executive Council a person of RSS affiliations.

The Director of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has an Advisor with RSS links.

In the areas of Science and technology there is a systematic shift in budgetary allocations to favour branches linked with military and nuclear research and development (R&D), and to the detriment of research and studies in the fields of agriculture, health, medicine, and a general science education…. General science education, which has little place in the RSS scheme of an obscurantist and communal agenda for the ‘people’, has been relegated to the back stage.

In its caretaker capacity and in the face of all democratic opinion the BJP government has appointed a new Secretary, Mr Hari Gautam, with Known RSS links and is also making a move to appoint a new Chairperson of the University Grants Commission (UGC). The UGC is the primary body for higher education in the country, and it is well known that this government has already undermined its authority and autonomy with regard to decision-making. The UGC is being systematically used by this Govt. to privatise and commercialise education, to encourage commercial self-financing courses and to curtail state funding in the areas of study considered non-commercial.

Vice chancellors to various universities in the country have been appointed with the sole criteria of having a sympathiser at the helm of affairs.

At the Aligarh Muslim University the BJP government, despite widespread protests from the University community, has openly supported the erosion of even nominal democratic rights on the campus by the Vice Chancellor. For a long time the VC tried to block the elections for the Students Union.

A National Elementary Education Mission (NEEM) has been constituted with the aim of implementing and giving legitimacy to the BJP agenda on Education in the ‘mission mode’, i.e., on a war footing.

Key personnel in National Institute of Planning (NIEPA) and National Council of Research and Training (NCERT) have been changed, all with a view to bringing about changes through the ‘proper channels’.

A ‘Review Committee’ has been formed for the review of syllabus with a chairman (former Chief Justice of India JS Verma) whose only claim to fame is his ‘landmark’ judgment that Hindutva is a way of life not religion; hence there is nothing wrong with Hindutva ideology.

The Executive Committee of the Council for the Advancement of Peoples’ Action and Rural Technology (CAPART), which channelises the government funding in rural development sector including studies on technology development and alternatives, has been transformed into a political appendage of the Sangh Parivar.

CAPART has eight national standing committees (NSCs) which sanction and monitor projects and evolve policies.. Since its formation in 1986, CAPART has disbursed Rs 447 crores to 6,370 organisations. All NSCs were dissolved and new ones formed, bypassing the Director General and all the internal structures of CAPART.

THE SAFFRONISATION OF SYLLABI AND SCHOOL TEXT BOOKS

Communal historiography may be quite old in India but the new additions reflect greater contemporary use in dividing society along communal lines. They are also stronger in the language and expressions used. Communal bias is woven into school textbooks with preposterous ?facts? in a way that can only have dangerous consequences for the educational standards in this country.

In the name of curriculum reform there is an attempt to rewrite textbooks along communal lines on a scale that will submerge all secular interpretations in school level teaching. A whole generation would grow up with their collective memory of a shared heritage destroyed and with ideas and information that have no basis in reality. A successful implementation of these texts on a widespread scale will mean the triumph of unreason as well as a tremendous and sudden deterioration in the quality of education, where the minimum criteria of correct empirical data and a scientific temper and reason are thrown to the winds. Our children will be little suited to face the real world or the world of scholarship.

In 1996, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) conducted an evaluation of school textbooks in various subjects, including those prescribed in Vidya Bharati schools in the country. It found that many of the Vidya Bharati textbooks were “designed to promote bigotry and religious fanaticism in the name of inculcating knowledge of culture in the young generation.” A lot of very objectionable material was even being utilised for instruction in schools which, “presumably, have been accorded recognition.” It reported that there were 6,000 such schools with 12 lakh children on their rolls under the tutelage of 40,000 teachers where these books formed the core of the curriculum.

Today these books already form an integral portion of the curriculum in the 20,000 or more Vidya Bharati schools and Shishu Mandirs involving nearly 40 lakh children. The introduction of these texts into the Government schools in the BJP ruled states has massively increased the number of children who are being made victims of this second rate and poisonous ‘knowledge’. The take over of educational bodies from the highest levels to those determining the syllabi in schools will carry this wave of fascist propaganda into the entire educational process. Coupled with other forms of popular education they could change our entire ways of looking at ourselves, and also propel our political visions along fascist rather than democratic lines.

SAMPLES FROM THE HISTORY TEXTS

In the history texts the old communal interpretation of history reigns supreme. The Aryans are shown as the original inhabitants of India and the builders of Indian civilisation and the coming of Muslims an intrusion that shattered the imagined homogeneity of Indian diaspora. In their imagination it was an attack of proportions that only Macaulay equalled. The ancient period of history, especially the Mauryan and the Gupta period, is painted as ‘Golden’ because the rulers during this time are seen to be Hindus, and the medieval centuries as the advent of darkness, threat to culture, and an attack on Indian civilization.

The Moghul kings, especially Aurangzeb, are painted as cruel tyrants without reference to the medieval context in which these rulers acted. As far as these texts are concerned the cultural integration and emergence of new forms of cultural expression as a result of shared life, translations of religious texts, adoption of new dance musical and religious forms, did not exist. Bhakti and growth of national languages and literatures of the regional languages are not seen as linked to the context of this shared life.

This communal and sectarian interpretation of history also extends to the study of the National Movement, where the Muslims are painted as the enemies of the nation and responsible for Partition, and the Hindu communal forces as the greatest patriots and nationalists. The conflict between the Mughals and the Marathas and Rajputs, also feudal powers are given the status of nationalist struggles. Shivaji and Rana Pratap are great national heroes for their opposition to ‘Muslim power’. Similarly, K.S. Hegdewar and M.S. Golwalkar are great heroes in the books used as part of Sanskar Saurabh series whereas Nehru does not find a mention. Among the great men of India no Muslim or Communist finds reference, whereas the most insignificant of Hindu heroes are extolled in extravagant terms.

Those who cannot be ignored by any means are appropriated by misrepresenting them and what they stood for, as, for example, Bhagat Singh. It would appear that during the national movement there was just one definition of nation and nationhood, that of the Sangh Parivar today. The struggle for a secular nation does not exist. In these texts democracy is deliberately confused with majoritarianism, minority rights with communalism, modernity with British rule and oppression, British rule with Christianity, Hinduism with nationalism. The role of the people and popular struggles are also underplayed as unity across religions was quite pronounced in popular struggles and they are not easily open to a sectarian interpretation. Rationality, reason, factual correctness and a democratic perspective are all thrown to the winds in these texts.

Religious chauvinism is carried to the extreme in these texts. In the text books distributed in Vidya Bharti schools the map of India is shown as including not only Pakistan and Bangladesh but also the entire region of Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet and even parts of Myanmar (punnya bhoomi Bharat).

These texts are being used in Shishu Mandirs and Government Schools in BJP controlled states.

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