Education for Hindu Rashtra: UGC-NCERT’s on Rightwing Drive

Amalendu Upadhyaya
Posted By -

By Dr. Ram Puniyani

Education for Hindu Rashtra: UGC-NCERT’s on Rightwing Drive

As the ruling party BJP is close to completing two terms in office, its impact on most of the institutions is more than obvious. While ED-IT-CBI have played their role in cornering the opposition parties, Election Commission at times has played a partisan role, the UGC and NCERT are not far behind in changing the educational pattern to suit the political ideology of the ruling Government.

Hindu Nationalism in Education: Unpacking the Agendas of the New Education Policy!

At one level the New Education Policy is out to change the whole pattern and structure of our educational system. Regularly new instructions are being sent to induct the Hindu nationalist sentiments and ethos for the students. One recalls that when this Government was trying to intimidate and undermine the student movements and protests, these activities were labeled as anti-National and the then MHRD Minister Smriti Irani came up with the idea of installing a tall pole in each University to hoist the national flag. The idea was also floated to put a military tank in JNU in particular, where the vocal students were articulating on various issues that went against the grain of thinking of the ruling Government.

Celebrating Dattaji Didolkar: Examining the Controversy Surrounding UGC's Directive on Hindu Nationalist Figures in Education

Recently a few more circulars have been issued. One is that students should be made to participate in the year-long celebrations of the birth Centenary year of Dattaji Didolkar. Didlkar was RSS Pracharak, who set up the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). This cult-building exercise for a Hindu Nationalist is particularly meant for colleges in Maharashtra. Is UGC right in promoting the celebration of figures from the Hindu Nationalist stable? The figures who should be promoted are surely those who stood for Indian Nationalism or fought against British colonial rule. Mr. Didolkar, being a part of RSS, was never part of neither freedom struggle nor he stood for the values enshrined in the Indian Constitution.

The other circular is asking for the setting up of ‘Selfi points’ with the backdrop of Prime Minister, Modi. Such a step is being taken surely with the 2024 elections in mind. This is an idea, which has no place in a democratic country. It is deliberate propaganda for a leader belonging to one party and its supreme leader. It violates the ethos of democracy for sure! Such blatant violation of democratic and constitutional values; is a gross abuse of power by the ruling party.

Topping it all has come the instruction that for students between 7 to 12 standard Ramayan and Mahabharat should be taught as a part of history, (Times of India, 22nd November). As per the expert Panel of NCERT, this will bring self-esteem, patriotism and pride to the Nation! These two great epics of India are definitely a part of our mythology. They do represent the social norms of the times when they were written. One can learn a lot about those times from these epics.

Ramayan amongst is extremely popular not only in India but also in different countries of Asia like Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bali, Sumatra etc. Interestingly it has many versions. Originally written by Valmiki, it was later made more popular by Goswami Tulsidas, who rendered it in popular Avadhi. It became part of popular culture from the 16th Century onwards in Northern India. Interestingly there are many versions of Lord Ram's Story. The version being promoted by Hindu nationalists is one among many. The book by Richa Paulman, “Many Ramayans’ (OUP) deals with the diverse version of Lord Ram's Story. On similar lines, A.K.Ramnujan wrote an essay, ‘300 Ramayans: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translation’. This remarkable essay was part of the Delhi University curriculum till the ABVP protested and this was removed from the syllabus.

The Hindu nationalists want a particular version of Lord Ram’s story to be projected. Ramanujan in his essay tells us the diverse telling of the story, Jain version, Buddha version, and Women’s version (by Rangnayakmma of Andhra). Adivasi Ramayan has yet again a different storyline. Ambedkar wrote ‘Riddles of Hinduism’ and drew our attention to Ram killing Shambuk as he was performing penance, and as Shudra’s were not permitted such a thing he was done to death by the Lord Himself. Ram also killed Bali from behind, Bali is a king revered by backward castes, who chant:’Eida Pida Javo: Baliche Rajya Yevo’ (Let our pains go: Let Bali’s return as a King). Ambedkar is very critical of Ram banishing Sita to the forest on the suspicion of fidelity. Periyar is also critical of Lord Ram for imposing the North Indian Aryanism on the Dravidas. The real history is mired in some vague understanding while the great epic gives us a valuable insight into that time.

Similarly, Mahabharat, composed by Maharishi Ved Vyas is the longest poem ever composed and gives us a valuable glimpse of those times. They are important sources of historical knowledge. To put them in the syllabus as history is a different idea altogether. It is linked more to the Hindu nationalist agenda than unravelling the truth of history.

In addition, among many other moves by the panel; is to instruct the name India with Bharat on the ground that India denotes slavery, as the word was given by the British. They deliberately want to suppress the fact the variations of the word India are prevalent from the times much before the British came here. As early as BCE 303, Megasthanese had called it Indica. The derivatives from river Sindhu have been in vogue from early times. ‘Bharat that is India’ is the perfect formulation outlined in our Constitution. But in tune with the Hindu Nationalist Agenda, they are not comfortable with the word India. Lastly, they want to re-periodize Indian history. The early period of Indian history, which the British called as Hindu period, they want to call it the ‘Classic Period’. The idea is to present the values of that period as the baseline for our society. These values, outlined in Manusmriti were the precise ones that made Ambedkar rebel against and burn this book.

UGC-NCERT are totally guided by the Hindu Nationalist agenda, totally in contrast to the values of the Indian Constitution.
(These are the personal views of the author)

Post a Comment


Post a Comment (0)