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Politics India

Is Indian education being tainted by communal politics?

The last three months recorded many controversies in Indian education that hint at the sectarian attitude of college administration.

Vallari Sanzgiri 04 Sep 2021

NEP 2020Image Courtesy:hindustantimes.com

From the introduction of the National Education Policy 2020 to the revision of university curriculums, India’s academia is voicing great concern about manipulation of learning for political gains.

States like Gujarat have already introduced cow research institutes that talk about traditional uses of cow milk, urine and dung. Universities with strong student union bodies have also been at odds with their own students. Even more worrying is the sudden replacement of Dalit, Adivasi and women’s voices with a greater focus on ‘Hindu culture’ in social science courses.

Within the last three months, Indian syllabus across universities has gone through some controversial changes. Some of these changes are as follows:

Jai Prakash University removes namesake from political science syllabus

Irony abounds as Bihar’s Jai Prakash University (JPU) in Chapra decides to remove socialist leader and freedom fighter Jayaprakash Narayan from the political science syllabus. Chapra is also the native land of Narayan. Further, other leaders like Ram Manohar Lohia, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, M.N. Roy and others were also removed from the postgraduate course.

However, the exclusion of the “Hero of Quit India Movement” has angered many, not the least of which include Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav. According to The Telegraph, student organisations also protested in defiance of the move. The leaders have now been replaced by other freedom fighters like Deendayal Upadhyaya, Subhas Chandra Bose and Mahatma Jyotiba Phule.

Delhi University and exclusion of widely-acclaimed women writers

Teachers from the institution’s English literature department have had no qualms about expressing their ire on the sudden exclusion of writers, Bama, Sukirtharani and Mahasweta Devi. Experts condemned how the enforcement of the Oversight Committee’s recommendation bypassed and violated the democratic process of syllabus-making. Most recently, teachers circulated a statement decrying the exclusion of the texts. Bama and Sukirtharani provided voices of Dalit women from Tamil Nadu through their poems and stories. Meanwhile, Bengali activist Devi’s short story Draupadi talked about the woes of a tribal woman. Groups like the Dalit Intellectual Collective have demanded the reinstatement of the texts along with apologies to the three writers.

JNU introduces ‘jihadi terrorism’ course

Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) introduced a new course on terrorism that describes “jihadi terrorism” as the only “fundamentalist-religious inspired terrorism”. The news sparked criticism from many experts about the ‘communal’ tone to the course. However, Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan complimented Vice Chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar for sanctioning the course.

Pradhan argued that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offers a similar course on terrorism and that such courses should be encouraged in academia. However, like the DU incident, Kumar allegedly brought in this course without due consultation of JNU’s academic bodies.

Further, the aforementioned MIT courses take a general overview of recent political science literature to understand why non-state elements such as terrorists resort to violence. The JNU counterpart allegedly follows an Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideology.

Calcutta HC orders tells VBU students, no protest within 50 mts of campus

Visva Bharati University (VBU) students, demonstrating against the expulsion of three students, were told by the High Court on September 3 not to protest within 50 meters of campus grounds. The students were also told to end their agitation outside the residence of the Vice Chancellor. However, the student body said they will continue their protests elsewhere to support the three students who were punished for participating in a campus protest in January 2020.

According to Newsclick, the VBU administration has changed its attitude since the RSS took over and the “saffronisation” of the institution began.

Communalised approached of the UGC history syllabus

Historians from the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and the JNU alike criticised the University Grants Commission (UGC) in August for its new curriculum framework for undergraduate studies in history. Experts called the new syllabus that moved away from a “historian based approach.”

According to the Times of India, experts condemned the omissions of important historical periods and their replacement with mythology. Further, renowned scholars such Irfan Habib and RS Sharma have been dropped from the curriculum along with literature on Mughals, women and caste.

The first paper of the course, the ‘Idea of Bharat’ also hints at an excessive focus on Hindu culture by talking about Hindu civilisation in the ancient period and completely omitting the medieval period that includes the Mughal empire. Decrying this biased approach, historians have been demanding the total scrapping of the syllabus since its introduction in June.

BHU’s course on Hinduism

The Banaras Hindu University (BHU) will soon launch a Hinduism degree course wherein students will learn about ancient knowledge, tradition, art such as ancient trading activities, architecture, weapons, tools used by great Indian emperors.

The Sanskrit department will plan practical aspects of scriptures, Vedas and ancient inscriptions through mantras. However, the course will be conducted by the Philosophy department. Course-markers claimed that the goal is to attract foreign students interested in studying Hinduism.

However, the course does not extend to other forms of religion in a culturally diverse country like India. In fact, BHU states it will be the first degree course of Hinduism. Earlier, the Himachal University offered a diploma course for the same.

Related:

OC has violated the democratic process of syllabus-making: DU teachers
India will remember Gail Omvedt forever
51 Reasons to say goodbye to NEP 2020: AIFRTE
NCPCR suggests extending RTE to all minority institutions

Is Indian education being tainted by communal politics?

The last three months recorded many controversies in Indian education that hint at the sectarian attitude of college administration.

NEP 2020Image Courtesy:hindustantimes.com

From the introduction of the National Education Policy 2020 to the revision of university curriculums, India’s academia is voicing great concern about manipulation of learning for political gains.

States like Gujarat have already introduced cow research institutes that talk about traditional uses of cow milk, urine and dung. Universities with strong student union bodies have also been at odds with their own students. Even more worrying is the sudden replacement of Dalit, Adivasi and women’s voices with a greater focus on ‘Hindu culture’ in social science courses.

Within the last three months, Indian syllabus across universities has gone through some controversial changes. Some of these changes are as follows:

Jai Prakash University removes namesake from political science syllabus

Irony abounds as Bihar’s Jai Prakash University (JPU) in Chapra decides to remove socialist leader and freedom fighter Jayaprakash Narayan from the political science syllabus. Chapra is also the native land of Narayan. Further, other leaders like Ram Manohar Lohia, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, M.N. Roy and others were also removed from the postgraduate course.

However, the exclusion of the “Hero of Quit India Movement” has angered many, not the least of which include Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav. According to The Telegraph, student organisations also protested in defiance of the move. The leaders have now been replaced by other freedom fighters like Deendayal Upadhyaya, Subhas Chandra Bose and Mahatma Jyotiba Phule.

Delhi University and exclusion of widely-acclaimed women writers

Teachers from the institution’s English literature department have had no qualms about expressing their ire on the sudden exclusion of writers, Bama, Sukirtharani and Mahasweta Devi. Experts condemned how the enforcement of the Oversight Committee’s recommendation bypassed and violated the democratic process of syllabus-making. Most recently, teachers circulated a statement decrying the exclusion of the texts. Bama and Sukirtharani provided voices of Dalit women from Tamil Nadu through their poems and stories. Meanwhile, Bengali activist Devi’s short story Draupadi talked about the woes of a tribal woman. Groups like the Dalit Intellectual Collective have demanded the reinstatement of the texts along with apologies to the three writers.

JNU introduces ‘jihadi terrorism’ course

Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) introduced a new course on terrorism that describes “jihadi terrorism” as the only “fundamentalist-religious inspired terrorism”. The news sparked criticism from many experts about the ‘communal’ tone to the course. However, Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan complimented Vice Chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar for sanctioning the course.

Pradhan argued that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offers a similar course on terrorism and that such courses should be encouraged in academia. However, like the DU incident, Kumar allegedly brought in this course without due consultation of JNU’s academic bodies.

Further, the aforementioned MIT courses take a general overview of recent political science literature to understand why non-state elements such as terrorists resort to violence. The JNU counterpart allegedly follows an Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideology.

Calcutta HC orders tells VBU students, no protest within 50 mts of campus

Visva Bharati University (VBU) students, demonstrating against the expulsion of three students, were told by the High Court on September 3 not to protest within 50 meters of campus grounds. The students were also told to end their agitation outside the residence of the Vice Chancellor. However, the student body said they will continue their protests elsewhere to support the three students who were punished for participating in a campus protest in January 2020.

According to Newsclick, the VBU administration has changed its attitude since the RSS took over and the “saffronisation” of the institution began.

Communalised approached of the UGC history syllabus

Historians from the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and the JNU alike criticised the University Grants Commission (UGC) in August for its new curriculum framework for undergraduate studies in history. Experts called the new syllabus that moved away from a “historian based approach.”

According to the Times of India, experts condemned the omissions of important historical periods and their replacement with mythology. Further, renowned scholars such Irfan Habib and RS Sharma have been dropped from the curriculum along with literature on Mughals, women and caste.

The first paper of the course, the ‘Idea of Bharat’ also hints at an excessive focus on Hindu culture by talking about Hindu civilisation in the ancient period and completely omitting the medieval period that includes the Mughal empire. Decrying this biased approach, historians have been demanding the total scrapping of the syllabus since its introduction in June.

BHU’s course on Hinduism

The Banaras Hindu University (BHU) will soon launch a Hinduism degree course wherein students will learn about ancient knowledge, tradition, art such as ancient trading activities, architecture, weapons, tools used by great Indian emperors.

The Sanskrit department will plan practical aspects of scriptures, Vedas and ancient inscriptions through mantras. However, the course will be conducted by the Philosophy department. Course-markers claimed that the goal is to attract foreign students interested in studying Hinduism.

However, the course does not extend to other forms of religion in a culturally diverse country like India. In fact, BHU states it will be the first degree course of Hinduism. Earlier, the Himachal University offered a diploma course for the same.

Related:

OC has violated the democratic process of syllabus-making: DU teachers
India will remember Gail Omvedt forever
51 Reasons to say goodbye to NEP 2020: AIFRTE
NCPCR suggests extending RTE to all minority institutions

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In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
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