After Gujarat, the Haryana government is set to introduce school textbooks on ‘moral education’ authored by Dinanath Batra, convenor of the RSS-backed Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti.
Batra told The Indian Express that he has authored six textbooks, titled ‘Naitik Shiksha’, for classes VII to XII following a request from Haryana Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma.
All the textbooks start with the “Saraswati Vandana” — “a mantra recited for knowledge and wisdom” — and will have essays, couplets, stories and poems to instill “Indian values” and “nationalism” in students, he said.
“The Haryana Education Minister had called me about a month ago and asked me to do this. My work is almost done… This week, he informed me that the state SCERT (State Council of Educational Research and Training) officials will collect the textbooks on September 28,” said Batra.
“I’ve been told that they will be introduced as supplementary reading from the next academic session,” he said.
Confirming the decision, Minister Sharma told The Indian Express: “I respect Dinanathji, he was my school principal. Yes, I have requested him to author moral education textbooks for our students.”
However, Sneh Lata, director of SCERT in Haryana, told The Indian Express, that she has “no knowledge” of a meeting with Batra on September 28. “We haven’t received an instructions to meet him just as yet,” she said.
According to Batra, the textbooks — each of 50 pages — will include Rahim’s couplets and essays on Vikramaditya, Chanakya, A P J Abdul Kalam, Swami Vivekananda and Swami Bharati Krishna Tirtha, “who compiled the 16 sutras of vedic mathematics”, among others.
“They will also have a lesson on Yama and Niyama, which is the ethical precept in Patanjali’s yoga sutras,” he added.
Asked about the inclusion of the “Saraswati Vandana” in the textbooks, Batra said he was confident it would not be opposed by non-Hindu students.
“Saraswati is not a religious figure. Each part of the goddess is a symbol of qualities that every student should emulate. The moon behind her head, for instance, keeps the head cool and calm. The swan is a symbol of telling good from evil. Which right-thinking Muslim student will not want to have these qualities?” he asked.
The textbooks also include poems written by Batra, including this verse: “Maine swapna liya hai, vidyalay key nirmaan ka Hindutva ki neev par, desh bhakti ke aadhaar par (I have a dream, of building a school on the foundations of Hindutva and patriotism)”.
Batra’s “moral education” books are already prescribed as compulsory reading in government schools in Gujarat, and include advice such as not blowing candles for birthdays as it was against “western culture”.
Asked if controversial parts in the Gujarat textbooks could find their way into the books for Haryana, Batra said, “You can call it whatever you want but I’ll write whatever evokes nationalism in children.”
It was Batra’s civil suit in 2014 that led to the pulping of American scholar Wendy Doniger’s book on Hinduism.
This year, he was officially appointed as the head of a state panel tasked with the responsibility of revamping education in Haryana. Some of the decisions taken by the BJP government in Haryana and supported by Batra — compulsory teaching of Sanskrit and Bhagvad Gita in schools — have already snowballed into major controversies.