Patriotism, Bharat Mata and Bharatiya sanskriti will find pride of place in Hindi language textbooks of Gujarat when the new academic session gets under way in June. In four textbooks, for students of classes IX and XI, under Hindi first language and Hindi second language, the Gujarat State School Textbook Board (GSSTB) has come out with a curriculum that includes the song Manushya tu badaa mahaan hai, sung in RSS camps.
The textbook for class XI also has Kadam milakar chalna hoga — a poem by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
And while neighbouring Rajasthan has ostensibly trimmed Jawaharlal Nehru in its textbooks, the GSSTB book for class XI second language will have the first prime minister’s take on an issue under much debate these days — Bharat Mata ki jai. The chapter — a part of his autobiography — has Nehru explaining the idea of Bharat Mata to a group of farmers in Rohtak, Haryana.
The summary for the chapter reads: “Prastut lekh mein anpadh gramin log ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’ ka naara toh lagate hain kintu Bharat Mata ke sachche swarup tatha unki vatslata se anjan hain. Unki us agyanta ko lekhak ke dwara dur karke vastvikta se parichit karne ka prayas hai” (In the essay, illiterate villagers raise slogans of ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’ but are ignorant of her real form and affection. The writer [Nehru] has tried to remove that ignorance and make them familiar with reality)”.
It quotes Nehru as explaining to the farmers: “Bharat Mata koi sundar, bebas, asahaay naari nahi hai jiske dharti tak latakne-wale lambe baal hon, jaisa aksar kalpit tasviron me dikhlaya jaata hai…” (Bharat Mata is not a beautiful, helpless woman with long hair touching the ground, as is usually shown in imaginary pictures…)
Manushya tu bada mahan hai, written by Pandit Bharat Vyas and sung at RSS camps, has been included in the class IX textbook at serial number 20, followed by an exercise for students to memorise the song. The exercise for teachers asks them to make students recite and sing the song.
Nitin Pethani, chairman, GSSTB, said, “This time we have made an attempt to instill the sentiments of nationalism among students…we have done this in a sharp, precise and effective manner through selection of literature…that will arouse patriotism among the younger generation, which is gradually fading.”
Asked why this is being done primarily through Hindi textbooks, Pethani said, “It is rare to see such patriotic feeling in Gujarati literature (when) compared to Hindi, which is our national language.”
Noted Gujarati writer Raghuveer Chaudhary, who was honoured with Jnanpith Award for 2015, is one of the senior subject consultants for the class XI textbook.
“We have included literary work of writers on the basis of the curriculum framed and given to us…that specifically included nationalism and freedom struggle,” said a subject expert (name withheld on request) for class XI.