The decision to outsource the Bharatiya Shiksha Board (BSB) to a private agency and snub the Ujjain-based MSRVVP is curious not just for its timing but also because it marks a flip-flop by the Union government.
The idea to establish a new national school board, on the lines of CBSE, for “swadeshikaran (indigenisation)” of education was first mooted by Ramdev. In 2015, the yoga guru, through his Haridwar-based Vedic Education Research Institute (VERI), submitted a proposal to the Centre to start a school board to help Indianise education by offering a mix of “archaistic education of Maharshi Dayanand”, “human education of Aurobindo”, “vedanta education of Swami Vivekananda” and modern curriculum.
That idea was considered and the Prime Minister’s Office even chaired a meeting specifically on Ramdev’s proposal, but it was eventually shot down after the Education Ministry expressed reservations about the Government recognising a private school board.
In fact, at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 13, 2016, the then school education secretary S C Khuntia red-flagged the proposal on the grounds that the state’s sanction for a private board would open the doors for similar requests from other unrecognised school boards.
The Ministry instead scripted plans for setting up its own school board for “Ved Vidya’ (Vedic education) under MSRVVP.
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However, this was put on the backburner until it was revived again in January 2019 when MSRVVP brought Agenda item 3A in its General Council meeting to set up its own Board.
What prompted the Council to instead pave the way for private players to establish the school board is not clear.
A school board’s mandate involves public interest as it collects large sums of money by way of examination fee from students and affiliation fee from schools. According to experts, there are about 10,000 “Ved Vidya” students studying across traditional pathshalas.
Apart from these, the BSB is likely to affiliate Ramdev’s Acharyakulam; Vidya Bharati schools (run by the RSS); and gurukuls run by the Arya Samaj because it will allow them to sustain their model of education up to Class XII, which school boards like the CBSE currently do not permit.
Since the approval on March 9, 2019, BSB has been registered as a society and set up an office in Haridwar. A sum of Rs 71 crore as corpus fund and development fund has been deposited in its bank account and the Executive Board of BSB has also been constituted of which Ramdev is the chairman. The Board is now learned to be in the process of drafting its curriculum.