The Centre is learnt to have cleared the way for private players to set up the country’s first national school board for Vedic education, reversing the position taken by Smriti Irani when she was HRD minister.
As first reported by The Indian Express last month, the governing council of Maharshi Sandipani Rashtriya Vedavidya Pratishthan, in a meeting held on January 11, gave its in-principle approval for setting up the Bhartiya Shiksha Board (BSB) to standardise Vedic education. The meeting was chaired by current Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar and also attended by Minister of State for Law and Justice P P Chaudhary.
However, the draft Board bylaws, recently circulated by the ministry to all MSRVP governing council members, provide for a private sponsoring body to establish BSB.
According council sources, the proposal received by the members last week states that MSRVP will select a sponsoring body with a net worth of Rs 300 crore to set up the board. It further says that MSRVP will issue an ‘Expression of Interest’ inviting applications from interested parties for the same.
As per the draft proposal, the eligibility criteria states that applicants (company/trust/society) should have worked in the area of Indian traditional knowledge and been in existence for at least 10 years. With all things being equal, the applicant willing to commit the largest funds for the development of the Board will be finally selected by MSRVP.
Sources said bylaws permitting private entities to set up BSB were met with resistance from some of the MSRVP governing council members. The ‘Expression of Interest’ will be issued only once the bylaws have been approved by the council.
The proposed BSB will be established with the objective of standardising ‘Indian traditional knowlege’ such as Vedic education Sanskrit education, Shastras and Darsanas and Bhartiya Parampara. Like any school board, BSB will draft syllabus, conduct examinations, issue certificates and affiliate Gurukulas, Veda pathshalas and new schools that offer a blend of Vedic and modern education.
Three years ago, the HRD ministry had rejected a similar proposal mooted by Yoga guru Baba Ramdev expressing serious reservations about the government recognising a private school board.
Ramdev’s proposal — for his Haridwar-based Vedic Education Research Institute to run and control Vedic Education Board — was red-flagged by the then school education secretary S C Khuntia at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 13, 2016, on the grounds that the state’s sanction for a private board would open the doors for similar requests from other unrecognised school boards.
At present, no private board is recognised by the Centre.