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Sangh-backed bid to 'Indianise' education

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By Ananya Sengupta
  • Published 9.12.14
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New Delhi, Dec. 8: As the Narendra Modi government prepares to start discussions on a new education policy by January, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-linked organisations seem to have begun a campaign for a "nationalist" and "Indianised" school curriculum.

Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat attended an end-November conference on education in Nagpur that pushed an "alternative syllabus" with an apparent intent to bowdlerise Muslim rule in India, play up a mythical "Golden Age" and reduce the "dominance" of English.

The two-day "Nationalist Education: Concept and Structure" conclave, held by the Sangh-backed Punarutthan Vidyapeeth, seemed to be advocating a school syllabus focused on Vedic and moral education, Sanskrit, family values and vocational training.

This newspaper has copies of some of the documents from the event, and spoke to Vidyapeeth convener Indumati Katdare and a fellow Sangh activist who attended the event but asked not to be named.

"We are concentrating on forming an alternative syllabus - an integral model of Indian education," Katdare, coordinator for the event, told The Telegraph over the phone from Nagpur.

"Also, we want to polarise the academia into our ideology because at the end of the day, they will be the ones teaching this Indianised curriculum to the students."

Katdare is secretary of the Punarutthan Trust, which claims to research Indian history and culture and recently launched the Vidyapeeth (school), which is yet to be operational.

Asked if the effort to reform the national curriculum had gathered momentum because of the change of guard at the Centre, Katdare tacitly acknowledged it.

"The BJP and our organisation have similar mindsets," she said. "Other governments have caused hurdles in our path; this government is unlikely to do so."

Held at the Sangh's Reshimbagh facility in Nagpur, the event drew over 250 academics, including eight vice-chancellors, the Sangh activist who attended it said.

He said the speakers, who included Sangh ideologues and leaders such as Anirudh Deshpande and Suresh Soni, stressed that the changes should be brought "slowly" and "subtly", concentrating on the next six months to three years.

"This is a long-term plan," Katdare agreed. "The goal is to achieve the change within the next three generations, slowly and steadily."

The Sangh source who was at the conference said the idea was to "train teachers in the ideology of the Sangh so that they can get the draft plan into action through teaching the next generation".

He said the draft plan paper presented at the meeting advocated severely editing "the chapter on Muslim invaders".

"Otherwise," he explained, "it makes the Hindu leaders look weak. They (the speakers) also said it had a negative impression on children."

Katdare provided some general hints about the contents of the curriculum.

"It will focus on the family structure as the nucleus of all social order. Our curriculum will teach students to learn from their families and make it their socio-cultural base," she said.

"History will be taught as a part of sociology and culture and not in isolation. While the economy prevails above all today, our plan will incorporate value-based economy in education."