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Communalism Education

Education in India being ‘edited’ to suit a right-wing syllabus... one chapter at a time

Communalising classrooms is no longer a mere threat; the process began a while ago, and once printed in textbooks, threatens to stay

Karuna John 19 May 2022

saffronisation of education

In 2020 the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), was in the news for ‘editing’ its Class 12 history syllabus. The CBSE dropped the chapter titled 'The Mughal Court: Reconstructing Histories through Chronicles'. The next thing that made news was the decision by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to drop chapters on “federalism, citizenship, nationalism, and secularism” from the political science curriculum of Class 11. Also reportedly deleted was a section on demonetisation. However, as the news was followed by  much debate, these 'deleted' topics were restored in the 2021-22 academic session.

The education board had claimed that the edits were to lessen the “burden” on students as the Covid-19 pandemic was raging. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) removed selected portions from the textbooks of Classes 9 to 12. This reportedly reduced around 30 percent of lessons/text taught in as many as 190 subjects for the academic year 2020-21, stated news reports. However, closer study by academics revealed that much of this was yet another attempt to inject the Hindutva, or Sangh Parivar’s agenda of so called ‘nationalism’ onto the students, many in the higher classes, just a couple of years away from casting their first electoral votes.

According to a detailed report in Frontline, the deletions were specific chapters on federalism, citizenship, nationalism and secularism which were “completely deleted” from the Class 11 Political Science syllabus. Other deletions included “business ethics, the Planning Commission and Five-Year Plans, demonetisation, goods and services tax (GST)” and “Indian democracy, social structure, stratification and social processes have been removed from Sociology”. The publication also reported that “entire chapters on early societies, nomadic cultures and confrontation of cultures have been removed from World History," and that "portions about peasants, zamindars and the state and understanding Partition have been axed from Indian History. Issues pertaining to gender, caste and social movements have also been removed.”

The All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE) had issued a public statement in reaction, observing that “democratic theory of the separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers of the state, and the federal structure of the Indian state, strengthened by institutionalisation of local self-governance, is unacceptable to the RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh]-BJP which believes in complete centralisation and concentration of power in a Supreme Leader—an idea that the RSS, drawing inspiration from Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany, has propagated since the early 1930s. In opposition to the Constitution, their goal is ‘One leader, one nation, one state’.”

The  new New Education Policy (NEP) was proposed by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, within weeks of returning to power for a second term in May 2019. It was a part of the Alliance’s election promise.  

The All India Forum for Right To Education had also organised a meeting in New Delhi on November 11, 2021, demanding the repeal of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. The AIFRTE has been at the forefront of raising concerns about the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, which its Organising Secretary Dr Vikas Gupta even called as a policy that implements an RSS agenda of communalisation of education. He said, “It is totally against the students, especially those who are Dalits, Adivasis, religious and linguistic minorities, disabled and LQBTQIA+. This policy aggravates the caste-based and communal divide in education.” 

The AIFRTE had demanded the repeal of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. An ‘NEP Quit India campaign’ was also announced that year.

However, the NEP has stayed, and Saffronisation of education has continued, in both, schools and colleges. In February 2022, Jawaharlal Nehru University’s newly appointed Vice-Chancellor Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit, reportedly said her focus would be on “constructing Indo-centric narratives," as well as “the implementation of the National Education Policy”. The statement by the first woman VC of JNU who is also an alumna of the university, showed that her ‘agenda’ was on the same lines as that of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Union Government. "The immediate focus of this administration would be to provide a clean administration, student-friendly and gender-sensitive environment for academic excellence. We would strive to implement NEP-2020, the vision of our Hon'ble Prime Minister, especially in interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary areas of studies, JNU rising to greater heights of academics and research. The focus would be in constructing Indo-centric narratives," read the statement, attributed to her, that was shared by politician Varun Gandhi. 

Mahabharata, Ramayana ‘patriotism’, yoga, mantras enter classrooms

In 2021, the Madhya Pradesh government added Mahabharata and Ramayana as courses in the Engineering syllabus. This was reportedly done as “a part of National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 and for the learning of students” and reportedly “add cultural tenets to technical education.” The state’s Higher Education Minister Mohan Yadav told the media, "Whoever wants to learn about Lord Ram's character & contemporary works can do so in engineering courses… if we can bring our glorious history forward, no one should have any issue with it.”

According to a report in the Hindustan Times, “Applied philosophy of Shri Ramcharitmanas was being introduced as an optional subject in art stream; the foundation course of English, preface to Mahabharata by C Rajagopalachari will be taught to first-year students. Besides English and Hindi, yoga and meditation were also introduced as the third foundation course, which includes ‘Om Dhyan’ and reciting of mantras as part of syllabus.” 

 

 

Perhaps they were inspired by Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal led Aam Admi Party (AAP) government that has introduced ‘patriotism’ as a subject in schools, since  2021. The ‘Deshbhakti curriculum’ and classes is also one of the ‘top achievements’ that the AAP lists when it talks about the famed ‘Delhi model’, the government schools also have a massive National Flag installed on the campus. Kejriwal said, “The country had focused on all other subjects over the years,” but “Deshbhakti (patriotism) was not taught in schools” and so his government wanted to teach children “sense of respect for constitutional values” with themes such as: Knowledge (awareness of constitutional values, plurality and diversity, and freedom struggle, among others), Values (honesty, integrity, love and respect for the country) and Behaviour (standing up against injustice, scientific reasoning). There are also prayers to Saraswati, the Hindu Goddess of learning recided by all students in these schools, stated some reports.


Drop Faiz, Lankesh, Ramakrishna and other ‘Left’ writers, add RSS’s Hedgewar

By April 2022, the CBSE also dropped poems of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, sections on Non-Alignment Movement, Cold War era, rise of Islamic empires in Afro-Asian territories, chronicles of Mughal courts, and the industrial revolution, from the CBSE’s Class 11 and 12 political science syllabus.

That was then. Flashforward to May 2022, Karnataka government included the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar’s speech as in the Class X Kannada (first language, State syllabus) textbook from the 2022-23 academic year.  It has also dropped works by Karnataka’s iconic writer and journalist P. Lankesh, titled “Mruga Mattu Sundari” and another by Leftist thinker G. Ramakrishna’s “Bhagat Singh”. The lessons that ‘replace’ them are works by writer Shivananda Kalave’s “Swadeshi Sutrada Sarala Habba” and M. Govinda Pai’s “Naanu Prasa Bitta Kathe”, reported The Hindu. Also dropped “in the detailed text are Sara Aboobacker’s “Yuddha”, A.N. Murthy Rao’s “Vyaghra Kathe”, and Shivakotyacharya’s “Sukumara Swamy Kathe”. Instead “Vedic scholar the late Bannanje Govindacharya’s “Sukanashana Upadesha” and Shatavadhani R. Ganesh’s “Shrestha Bharatiya Chintanegalu” were included. 

Up North, in the hill state of Uttarakhand, which like Karnataka has a BJP-led government, it was declared that the Vedas, Ramayana, and the Bhagavad Gita may be taught in schools across the state. Education Minister Dhan Singh Rawat also said that an MBBS course in Hindi is next on the agenda, reported The Print. Rawat claimed, this too was “in line with the National Education Policy (NEP), and “Indian knowledge systems instruction in the local language or “mother tongue” that it has suggested.

 

Related:

Goa gov't will reprint books by Savarkar, Karnataka will teach Hedgewar’s speech

Is Taj Mahal not a part of Indian Culture?

Why the indigenous language movement in J&K's erstwhile Doda is crucial

Karnataka: Hindu Janajagruti focuses on ‘Bible in classrooms’, after hijab controversy

Rashtriya Shiksha Shredder: Rahul Gandhi on CBSE’s latest omissions

Hindi Imposition and Hindu Nation

Saffronisation of education is okay, but hijabs are out?

Education in India being ‘edited’ to suit a right-wing syllabus... one chapter at a time

Communalising classrooms is no longer a mere threat; the process began a while ago, and once printed in textbooks, threatens to stay

saffronisation of education

In 2020 the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), was in the news for ‘editing’ its Class 12 history syllabus. The CBSE dropped the chapter titled 'The Mughal Court: Reconstructing Histories through Chronicles'. The next thing that made news was the decision by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to drop chapters on “federalism, citizenship, nationalism, and secularism” from the political science curriculum of Class 11. Also reportedly deleted was a section on demonetisation. However, as the news was followed by  much debate, these 'deleted' topics were restored in the 2021-22 academic session.

The education board had claimed that the edits were to lessen the “burden” on students as the Covid-19 pandemic was raging. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) removed selected portions from the textbooks of Classes 9 to 12. This reportedly reduced around 30 percent of lessons/text taught in as many as 190 subjects for the academic year 2020-21, stated news reports. However, closer study by academics revealed that much of this was yet another attempt to inject the Hindutva, or Sangh Parivar’s agenda of so called ‘nationalism’ onto the students, many in the higher classes, just a couple of years away from casting their first electoral votes.

According to a detailed report in Frontline, the deletions were specific chapters on federalism, citizenship, nationalism and secularism which were “completely deleted” from the Class 11 Political Science syllabus. Other deletions included “business ethics, the Planning Commission and Five-Year Plans, demonetisation, goods and services tax (GST)” and “Indian democracy, social structure, stratification and social processes have been removed from Sociology”. The publication also reported that “entire chapters on early societies, nomadic cultures and confrontation of cultures have been removed from World History," and that "portions about peasants, zamindars and the state and understanding Partition have been axed from Indian History. Issues pertaining to gender, caste and social movements have also been removed.”

The All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE) had issued a public statement in reaction, observing that “democratic theory of the separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers of the state, and the federal structure of the Indian state, strengthened by institutionalisation of local self-governance, is unacceptable to the RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh]-BJP which believes in complete centralisation and concentration of power in a Supreme Leader—an idea that the RSS, drawing inspiration from Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany, has propagated since the early 1930s. In opposition to the Constitution, their goal is ‘One leader, one nation, one state’.”

The  new New Education Policy (NEP) was proposed by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, within weeks of returning to power for a second term in May 2019. It was a part of the Alliance’s election promise.  

The All India Forum for Right To Education had also organised a meeting in New Delhi on November 11, 2021, demanding the repeal of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. The AIFRTE has been at the forefront of raising concerns about the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, which its Organising Secretary Dr Vikas Gupta even called as a policy that implements an RSS agenda of communalisation of education. He said, “It is totally against the students, especially those who are Dalits, Adivasis, religious and linguistic minorities, disabled and LQBTQIA+. This policy aggravates the caste-based and communal divide in education.” 

The AIFRTE had demanded the repeal of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. An ‘NEP Quit India campaign’ was also announced that year.

However, the NEP has stayed, and Saffronisation of education has continued, in both, schools and colleges. In February 2022, Jawaharlal Nehru University’s newly appointed Vice-Chancellor Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit, reportedly said her focus would be on “constructing Indo-centric narratives," as well as “the implementation of the National Education Policy”. The statement by the first woman VC of JNU who is also an alumna of the university, showed that her ‘agenda’ was on the same lines as that of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Union Government. "The immediate focus of this administration would be to provide a clean administration, student-friendly and gender-sensitive environment for academic excellence. We would strive to implement NEP-2020, the vision of our Hon'ble Prime Minister, especially in interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary areas of studies, JNU rising to greater heights of academics and research. The focus would be in constructing Indo-centric narratives," read the statement, attributed to her, that was shared by politician Varun Gandhi. 

Mahabharata, Ramayana ‘patriotism’, yoga, mantras enter classrooms

In 2021, the Madhya Pradesh government added Mahabharata and Ramayana as courses in the Engineering syllabus. This was reportedly done as “a part of National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 and for the learning of students” and reportedly “add cultural tenets to technical education.” The state’s Higher Education Minister Mohan Yadav told the media, "Whoever wants to learn about Lord Ram's character & contemporary works can do so in engineering courses… if we can bring our glorious history forward, no one should have any issue with it.”

According to a report in the Hindustan Times, “Applied philosophy of Shri Ramcharitmanas was being introduced as an optional subject in art stream; the foundation course of English, preface to Mahabharata by C Rajagopalachari will be taught to first-year students. Besides English and Hindi, yoga and meditation were also introduced as the third foundation course, which includes ‘Om Dhyan’ and reciting of mantras as part of syllabus.” 

 

 

Perhaps they were inspired by Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal led Aam Admi Party (AAP) government that has introduced ‘patriotism’ as a subject in schools, since  2021. The ‘Deshbhakti curriculum’ and classes is also one of the ‘top achievements’ that the AAP lists when it talks about the famed ‘Delhi model’, the government schools also have a massive National Flag installed on the campus. Kejriwal said, “The country had focused on all other subjects over the years,” but “Deshbhakti (patriotism) was not taught in schools” and so his government wanted to teach children “sense of respect for constitutional values” with themes such as: Knowledge (awareness of constitutional values, plurality and diversity, and freedom struggle, among others), Values (honesty, integrity, love and respect for the country) and Behaviour (standing up against injustice, scientific reasoning). There are also prayers to Saraswati, the Hindu Goddess of learning recided by all students in these schools, stated some reports.


Drop Faiz, Lankesh, Ramakrishna and other ‘Left’ writers, add RSS’s Hedgewar

By April 2022, the CBSE also dropped poems of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, sections on Non-Alignment Movement, Cold War era, rise of Islamic empires in Afro-Asian territories, chronicles of Mughal courts, and the industrial revolution, from the CBSE’s Class 11 and 12 political science syllabus.

That was then. Flashforward to May 2022, Karnataka government included the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar’s speech as in the Class X Kannada (first language, State syllabus) textbook from the 2022-23 academic year.  It has also dropped works by Karnataka’s iconic writer and journalist P. Lankesh, titled “Mruga Mattu Sundari” and another by Leftist thinker G. Ramakrishna’s “Bhagat Singh”. The lessons that ‘replace’ them are works by writer Shivananda Kalave’s “Swadeshi Sutrada Sarala Habba” and M. Govinda Pai’s “Naanu Prasa Bitta Kathe”, reported The Hindu. Also dropped “in the detailed text are Sara Aboobacker’s “Yuddha”, A.N. Murthy Rao’s “Vyaghra Kathe”, and Shivakotyacharya’s “Sukumara Swamy Kathe”. Instead “Vedic scholar the late Bannanje Govindacharya’s “Sukanashana Upadesha” and Shatavadhani R. Ganesh’s “Shrestha Bharatiya Chintanegalu” were included. 

Up North, in the hill state of Uttarakhand, which like Karnataka has a BJP-led government, it was declared that the Vedas, Ramayana, and the Bhagavad Gita may be taught in schools across the state. Education Minister Dhan Singh Rawat also said that an MBBS course in Hindi is next on the agenda, reported The Print. Rawat claimed, this too was “in line with the National Education Policy (NEP), and “Indian knowledge systems instruction in the local language or “mother tongue” that it has suggested.

 

Related:

Goa gov't will reprint books by Savarkar, Karnataka will teach Hedgewar’s speech

Is Taj Mahal not a part of Indian Culture?

Why the indigenous language movement in J&K's erstwhile Doda is crucial

Karnataka: Hindu Janajagruti focuses on ‘Bible in classrooms’, after hijab controversy

Rashtriya Shiksha Shredder: Rahul Gandhi on CBSE’s latest omissions

Hindi Imposition and Hindu Nation

Saffronisation of education is okay, but hijabs are out?

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