Senior representatives of the RSS and its affliliates in the education sector Thursday asked Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani to “correct” the history taught in schools to highlight Indian heroes, and the role played by Hindu culture and its leaders in shaping the country.
This suggestion was among the main points raised by 22 representatives of 11 organisations during their meeting with Irani at Madhya Pradesh Bhawan. According to sources, Irani did not promise anything in her response, and spoke only for about 10 minutes, but noted every suggestion and asked for written submissions in some cases.
This was the sixth such meeting between Irani and the RSS affiliates since May, and assumes significance with the government yet to decide on policy changes in the sector and with many crucial appointments still pending at central universities, IITs, IIMs and other institutions.
“The representatives told the Minister that the future generation should learn the true history of India. They said that what children are now taught is the version the West wanted India to learn. They felt that Indian children were not familiar with real Indian heroes. For example, one of them said today’s children knew little about national heroes from the south,” the sources said.
BJP leaders J P Nadda and Ramlal, and top RSS functionaries Suresh Soni, Krishna Gopal and Dattatrey Hosbale were among those who attended the meeting. One notable absentee was Dinanath Batra, who famously forced Penguin India to withdraw American scholar Wendy Doniger’s book “The Hindus: An Alternative History”. The organisation that Batra heads — Shiksha Bachao Andolan, created by an RSS affiliate Vidya Bharti – was represented by Atul Kothari.
The representatives also sought a revamp of the country’s education system, suggesting that the government needs to focus on “quality, competitiveness and affordability”. They also wanted the ministry to make education more “knowledge-based instead of information-based.”
They suggested a review of Jan Shikshan Sansthans (JSS), alleging mismanagement in these district-level resource support agencies. The Indian Express had reported on April 8, 2013 about how a quarter of these Sansthans, approved by the HRD ministry, belonged to leaders of key political parties or their relatives and friends from both the earlier NDA government and the UPA regime that followed.
According to sources, the RSS has grouped its frontal organisations under six broad categories — Arthik Samooh, Sewa Samooh, Shiksha Samooh, Suraksha Samooh, Jan Samooh and Vichar Samooh — to interact with the government and BJP. Organisations in these groups started their latest round of interactions Tuesday, with Irani attending Thursday’s meeting with organisations under Shiksha Samooh. RSS’s BJP liasion Krishna Gopal and his predecessor Soni have been a common feature in all the meetings.
“This is to give government a proper feedback from the grassroots as our organisations work at the ground level and are aware of ground realities in every sector,” an RSS functionary said.
Others who attended Thursday’s meeting include Sunil Ambekar and K Raghunandan of Akhila Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP); B M Pande from Akhil Bhartiya Itihas Sankalan Yojne; Mahendra Kapoor and J P Singhal from Rashtriya Shaikshik Mahasangh; Shiv Kumar from Vidya Bharti; C M Krishna Shastri from Sanskrit Bharti; and Anant Sahasrabuddhhe from Vigyan Bharti.
This was also the third such meeting after the BJP-led government and RSS set up a new mechanism to strengthen coordination between the two. “To avoid the kind of tussle that happened during NDA-1, between government and sangh affiliates, we have decided that these meetings will be a regular affair but their frequency is yet to be decided,” said a senior RSS office-bearer.
RSS and its affiliates have been pushing for a revamp of the education system ever since the NDA came into power this year.
Baba Ramdev had recently proposed a new national school board for “Indianising” the education system, while BJP leaders have spoken about blending the Gurukul system with modern education. In August, Irani said that the education policy, formulated in 1986, has to undergo a course correction to make “Made in India” a “grand” label. “We will initiate a state-wise, region-wise national debate and deliberation to formulate a new education policy,” she said.
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