Dina Nath Batra has not been on a mission to get one book banned. A key petitioner in the case that led to publisher Penguin deciding to withdraw all copies of Wendy Doniger’s book The Hindus: An Alternative History, Batra is now in the middle of reading On Hinduism by the same author. It is next on his hit-list.
The dyed-in-the-wool RSS supporter concedes the withdrawal of Doniger’s book is a “big one”, even though it is not his only claim to fame.
Batra and his Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti (SBAS) have also been responsible for removal of “objectionable passages” from NCERT textbooks, filing a case against paintings by M F Husain, diluting the sex education curriculum and campaigning for the removal of eminent scholar A K Ramanujan’s essay from a Delhi University history course, among others.
But Batra insists his real mission is to change the face of Indian education.
Batra is in the thick of a plan to set up the first-of-its-kind non-government education commission for India and is also simultaneously pushing through an “education manifesto” for Lok Sabha polls, advocating greater weightage to value education, patriotism and Indian knowledge and traditions.
While he emphasizes that his “mission” has no political colour to it, his plans and associates are a dead giveaway. His key collaborators to set up the commission include, among others, Prof J S Rajput, the director of NCERT in the Vajpayee government, who was responsible for the controversial “saffronisation” of NCERT textbooks.
The Batra blueprint for education in India has no place for NCERT or for eminent academics who helped “desaffronise” textbooks as he calls them “Marx aur Macaulay putras” (the progeny of Marx and Macaulay).
“The idea is to do away with them altogether…NCERT changes according to its political masters,” Batra told The Indian Express.
This is Batra’s third major move at “reforming” the Indian education system and a core group has been formed to work on the proposed education commission.
While Batra started with SBAS that took on NCERT textbooks and the government’s plans to introduce sex education in schools, the movement expanded to the Shiksha Sanskriti Uthan Nyas which he heads and which has a presence across 20 states.
The core group has already held six-odd meetings to create a three-tier system that will look at all educational issues including school-to-college textbooks.
The “education manifesto for upcoming Lok Sabha elections” that has been sent to all major political parties focuses among other aspects on “Jeevan Mulyon ki raksha” (saving value systems), “Bhartiya gyan-vigyan tatha paramparon ko sthan” (mainstreaming Indian knowledge and science systems as well as Indian traditions) and inspiring greater continued…