New Delhi(First post): The RSS campaign to purge the Indian education system of all 'foreign' influences is due to get a huge boost in Rajasthan, where moves are underway to effectively rewrite 6.5 crore textbooks in the state.
Ever since the formation of the Narendra Modi government, RSS has been consistently engaging with it over shaping its education policy, a move criticised by the Opposition as an attempt to saffronise the education system. And this latest incident is unlikely to go down well either.
According to a report in the Indian Express, primary and secondary education minister, RSS member Vasudev Devnani is set to oust names like Akbar the great, Pythagoras and Isaac Newton from state textbooks in favour of 'local' heroes like Veer Savarkar, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh, Maharaja Suraj Mal and Maharana Pratap.
“Why should our children only learn about Akbar, the Great? Why not Maharana Pratap, the Great? Our children are constantly learning about foreign rulers, mathematicians, scientists et al,” he told the Express. “Soon after I took charge, I wanted to rework the textbooks but I was told printing had started and making changes would cause a huge financial loss. This year, we will bring significant changes,” he added.
Devnani had earlier made headlines for making the surya namaskar compulsory in government schools in the state, following a similar initiative that was carried out in Madhya Pradesh.
Bizarre as Devnani's plans are however, they are hardly unique. The Gujarat government implemented a similar scheme in 2014, when it decided to introduce seven books by Dinanath Batra, a member of the executive committee of RSS education wing Vidya Bharti, as recommended reading for its primary and upper-primary students.
Batra himself has very strong opinions on the current education system in India, which he also feels gives much too much importance to 'foreigners'.
The Times of India quoted from one of his writings as follows:
Education in India is neither Indian nor a real education. Education has nothing to do with this country's land. It is result of mischiefs with words by Marx and Macaulay that today's young generation has become aimless, arrogant and stubborn and is in the race of being unemployed. A nationalistic education system has to be developed to address the requirements and through this we have to develop a young generation that is committed to Hindutva and nationalist."
Then in another worrying incident of attempts to rewrite history, the RSS came under fire in September for trying to blame the emergence of the Indian caste system on 'foreign invaders'.
In its never-before-heard-of take on Dalit history, the RSS released three books on the subject, where the authors held foreign invaders responsible for the emergence of certain castes. The books, authored by BJP spokesperson Vijay Sonkar Shastri, were released by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. RSS leaders had written the preface for all three books.
According to a report in the Hindustan Times, top RSS leader Bhaiyyaji Joshi states in the preface to one of the books, “To violate Hindu swabhiman (dignity) of Chanwarvanshiya Kshatriyas, foreign invaders from Arab, Muslim rulers and beef-eaters, forced them to do abominable works like killing cows, skinning them and throwing their carcasses in deserted places. Foreign invaders thus created a caste of charma-karma (dealing with skin) by giving such works as punishment to proud Hindu prisoners.”
And it hardly stops there either.
Newspaper reports from September 2014 claimed that the Sangh was planning to piece together the history of over 670 districts and 600 tribal communities in the country. The Sangh is already undertaking a decade-long project to produce a version of Indian history based on the Puranas.
To this end, the Akhil Bharatiya Itihaas Sankalan Yojna (ABISY), a Sangh affiliate, established the Bharatiya Puran Adhyayan Sansthan (Indian Institute of Purana Studies) within the RSS headquarters premises in Delhi, reported the Indian Express. Dubbed 'Puranantargat Itihaas', the project is based on ABISY's argument that it's incorrect to say that there are only 18 Puranas, when there are 106.
What is also interesting however, is that the Rajasthan decision comes a little over a month after the RSS adopted a resolution asking the BJP-led Union government and those in states to impart education in the mother tongue of students or constitutionally recognised state languages, saying those educated in a foreign language get "alienated" from their culture and tradition.