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Unbridled saffronisation of education system in Rajasthan

Abhishek Gaur, Jaipur, April 4, 2015

Dateline

The proposed reforms to improve education standards in Rajasthan have given enough ammunition to the opposition and social organisations to blame the BJP government for trying to saffronise and implement the ‘RSS agenda’ in curriculum.

The proposed reforms include replacing the present MacAulay pattern of education with Indian value-based education system, compulsory Surya Namaskar and Yoga sessions in schools and allowing BJP MLAs to donate local area development (LAD) funds to individual RSS-backed institutions.

The growing influence of the RSS lobby in educational institutes, suggestions from the RSS for the proposed new education policy of the union government and speculations over appointment of RSS ideologues to key academic posts are being debated intensely in the desert state. Social and minority organisations have already declared they will challenge some of the reforms like Surya Namaskar in Rajasthan High Court, saying that it is against their religious practice and ethics.

The Rajasthan government is working on changing curriculum in the primary schools. Several NGOs have also been approached to give suggestions. Two ministers holding the education portfolios have criticised the present education system and have favoured implementation of the ‘Indianised’ version.

Recently, school education minister Vasu Devnani said, “We are working on some changes to provide better lessons for the primary students. Instead of teaching them on MacAulay pattern of education that is ‘A’ for apple, ‘B’ for bat or ‘C’ for cat, we will teach them A for Anant (infinity), ‘C’ for computer.” Indianisation of education is the need of hour to make better citizens with Indian values and we are working on that, he added.

Higher education minister Kali Charan Saraff expressed the intentions of his government and landed in the thick of controversy by saying, “Since 65 years of independence, MacAulay pattern of education has just produced black firangs. Job oriented and moral based education is the need of the hour and Indian education pattern is the only solution.”

For the BJP government, the biggest controversy has been the mandatory implementation of Surya Namaskar in 48,000 schools of the state which includes 28,000 government schools and 20,000 private schools. The government has restructured the pattern of morning assemblies in the school.

According to the government circular, the first five minutes of the assembly will be utilised in singing national anthem, national song, morning prayer and taking the oath to perform the duties for the nation. The next 10 minute slot has been fixed for doing yoga, Surya Namaskar and meditation. The last five minutes have been fixed for reading a Hindi and English newspapers. The circular defines the new model of morning assemblies for secondary and senior secondary students.

“The new changes in the morning assembly will create a congenial atmosphere for imparting education and it will help in building concentration and retention power in students. It will also improve the mental and physical health of the students and develop their overall personality,” said minister Devnani.

Minority organisations’ decision to challenge these in HC was taken at the national meeting of All India Muslim Law Board held in Jaipur where leaders blamed BJP government for saffronisation of education. “We will challenge all these anti-secular decisions of the Rajasthan government in the High Court. They cannot make Surya Namaskar and Yoga session mandatory in schools. Islam permits its followers to bow only before the one who has given birth to them.

As a result, Surya Namaskar and yoga are against the religious sentiments of Muslims,” said Abdul Raheem Qureshi, the assistant general secretary of the Law Board.

According to him, the state government has gone a step ahead accepting recommendations of RSS and implementing the ‘anti minority decisions’ in the school. Several schools are planning to introduce teachings of Bhagwad Gita in school curriculum and minority organisations have strongly objected to it, he added.

MLA funds


The government has allowed MLAs to spend Rs 10 lakhs from their local area development (LAD) fund on RSS affiliated Vidya Bharti schools. Earlier also the Vidya Bharti schools were allowed to receive grant from MLALAD funds and all schools were treated as one unit. But now every school would be taken as individual unit allowing the MLAs to give Rs 10 lakh to each one of them. The rural development and panchayat raj department has approved a proposal to this effect.

The RSS-affiliated Vidya Bharti runs a network of schools in the state. There are about 600 schools running under the names of Adarsh Vidya Mandir, Vidya Niketan and Saraswati Balika Mandir.

“The previous government’s policy was wrong so we asked our government to change it. When schools are operating in different constituencies, how come money could be given at one place,” a senior BJP legislator.

The increasing influence of the RSS is evident from the recent resignation of Prof Dev Swarup, vice chancellor of Rajasthan University and appointment of new chairperson of Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education, who is seen as strong supports of Sangh. Prof Swarup, resigned a couple of months back alleging undue pressure from the RSS lobby and government nominees in the syndicate.

Strong rumours of appointment of RSS ideologues to key posts in the education sector and the RSS proposing a new education policy to the Union government are also doing rounds in the state. “Recently, the state government closed many minority linguistic schools and merged them into general schools. Now, the RSS is preparing an education policy targeting minority institutes. It is completely saffronisation of education in Rajasthan,” said a Muslim leader.

 

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