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regular-article-logo Saturday, 25 May 2024

Right there: Editorial on the entry of RSS into education through the government route

A Hindutva-driven view of the past, its presentation as a benchmark for a nationalist present, and the undermining of scientific attitudes in recent years have been seeping into school syllabi

The Editorial Board Published 05.04.24, 07:37 AM
Representational image.

Representational image. File Photo

The forward-looking attributes of the education system inscribed in the National Educational Policy, 2020 were announced with fanfare. Learning requires the free play of thought and expression in an environment open to questioning and with the space to make choices. Yet a Hindutva-driven view of the past, its presentation as a benchmark for a nationalist present, and the allied undermining of scientific attitudes in recent years have been seeping into school syllabi and texts. Now two appointments seem to project the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government’s alleged endorsement of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s values. These exhibit a breakdown of boundaries between the government and the Hindu Right outfit that is ominous for a secular democratic structure. Pankaj Mittal, the secretary-general of the Association of Indian Universities, a nodal agency for universities set up in 1925 and funded by the Centre, has become the president of the RSS-linked Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas. The AIU by-law that makes mandatory the removal of the executive head upon his or her association with any organisation that subscribes to political activity appears to be irrelevant in Ms Mittal’s case. The national secretary of the SSUN, Atul Kothari, has said that the SSUN does not participate in political activity and the RSS is not a political organisation.

Evidently, the RSS’s championing of the Hindu nationalist cause is not political, and the SSUN’s advice to the government regarding curricula, including the introduction of Vedic mathematics, is politically disinterested. Mr Kothari is an RSS pracharak and, in a remarkable coincidence, has been appointed professor of practice at the Central University of Himachal Pradesh. This recently established chair is for experts from different industries and professions, whose domain expertise neutralises the need for academic degrees. Mr Kothari’s expertise lies in being a top officer of the SSUN — circular logic? — and an NEP adviser. He works on the behavioural aspects of Hindutva and Hindu traditional knowledge. The appointments indicate direct traffic between the RSS and the government; that, too, in education. There is an alarming frankness in it: Ms Mittal will receive an ‘extension’ in the AIU beyond her term and not the mandated ‘reappointment’, which requires competition. Mr Kothari is from no industry or profession. The entry of the RSS into education through the government route must be firmly resisted by all who value it.

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