Books published by the education wing of the RSS in Gujarat have made it to the curriculum of students studying in the 105-odd primary schools being run by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC). These books have been introduced for the first time for classes I to VIII during the current academic year.
The books, published by Vidyabharati Akhil Bhartiya Shiksha Sansthan, Gujarat Pradesh, aim to “foster a national education system to develop a young generation devoted to Hinduism, national unity with patriotism and pride for overall development…”
The books, titled Jivan Vikaspothi, carry chapters on yoga, physical training, socially constructive acts, culture, Vedic maths and music in eight different levels, beginning Class I.
The yoga chapters lay down a disciplinary daily schedule for students, right from physical yogasan to chanting Sanskrit shlokas. The Class I music chapters include bhajans to Goddess Saraswati, Lord Ganesha, Lord Krishna and songs in praise of Maharana Pratap, Chhatrapati Shivaji and Rani Lakshmi Bai.
The textbooks do not camouflage the promotion of Hindu nationalism, in line with the RSS ideology. The website of the publication, however, says its educational belief is to counter the “menace of conversion by Christian missionaries” through its educational programmes.
The website says, “The greatest menace of tribal areas is the exploitation of poor natives of forests by the Christian missionaries… Instead of blaming them, Vidya Bharati has extended its educational programmes to Vanvasi areas. The effort is to foster national unity, respect for all religions and faiths, patriotism and pride in Bharatiya dharma.”
A special focus is also on noted RSS founders K B Hedgewar and Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, popularly called Pujaniya Guruji.
Officials said the subject is out of purview of evaluation. Keyur Rokadia, chairman of VMC Primary School Board, said it is only to promote “overall” development of students.