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Vasudev Devnani, former Rajasthan minister: Congress govt doing jumlebaazi, undermining state’s identity

Dotasra’s predecessor in the post, Vasudev Devnani, now the MLA from Ajmer North, told The Indian Express in an interview that the Congress should not remove any mentions or references that the BJP government added.

Written by Hamza Khan | Updated: January 6, 2019 5:29:13 am
Vasudev Devnani interview Former Rajasthan Education Minister Vasudev Devnani. (File)

Among the first things after assuming charge as Rajasthan’s Minister of State (Independent Charge) for primary and secondary education, Govind Singh Dotasra, said was that he would review textbooks and reference material that were revised by the BJP government.

Dotasra’s predecessor in the post, Vasudev Devnani, now the MLA from Ajmer North, told The Indian Express in an interview that the Congress should not remove any mentions or references that the BJP government added.

Excerpts from the interview:

The new minister wants to review the revision of textbooks under the BJP government.

Ever since he took charge, the new minister has been indulging in jumlebaazi (rhetoric) of saffronisation and bantadhaar (ruining) of education. Maybe he doesn’t know much about education or maybe he is trying to make the Gandhi family happy, but this government is undermining national and Rajasthani identity, and is busy in Congressisation and appeasement. The country’s bravehearts don’t belong to any party. This is an insult to them — Maharana Pratap did not belong to any party. He fought for independence and self-respect with the aakramankari (aggressor) Akbar. So in India and Rajasthan, the Great is indeed Pratap. The main purpose of education is to make good citizens who are patriots.

Read: After textbooks, Rajasthan govt to review schools merged during BJP regime

Isn’t the aim of education also to make children think for themselves?

While reading about our country, we should (at least) become nationalists. This must be true for (curricula in) all countries — England, Germany, Japan. We are teaching real history. (Maharana) Pratap is venerable in Rajasthan. Why won’t we feel proud with him? Akbar was a foreigner, we will have to say that.

But Akbar was born here.

The basic thing is, they were invaders, they were not Indians. Why did we fight the freedom struggle against the British? Independence means rule of indigenous people and we feel proud of them. Nehru became the first Prime Minister, we teach about him.

Congress alleged that Jawaharlal Nehru was ‘erased’ from textbooks.

If a book was written in 1964, it would have had only Nehru. But now you teach about the Prime Ministers of India. After Nehru, there was (Lal Bahadur) Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Atal ji, Narasimha Rao… So when the number (of PMs) increases. Nehru is still there, we have mentioned him in five chapters. Everybody is there. Veer Savarkar too, who fought the British, it is a fact.

Savarkar sought clemency and was ready to serve the British.

You should list the facts (in textbooks). He (Savarkar) did not give (any petition), he says he did not give. What is the objection in teaching Veer Savarkar? Removing Veer Savarkar entirely is not correct. My submission is, we should study everyone. And if you want to add anyone, add. But rethinking all these heroes in the name of saffronisation is not right. And why do you hate the colour saffron? If you meet a saint or an ascetic, don’t you greet him? The Sun rises in the morning, and what colour is it? Saffron. The colour denotes sacrifice and dedication.

The Congress has accused the RSS of changing the school uniform to resemble RSS attire, and said they will review that too.

What is the logic of changing the dress again? We changed the school dress after nearly 20 years, after 1997. Now you’re going to change it within a year? What is the reason? Are they going to change it just because we did it? Do the trousers belong to any party? It will burden the children and their families (financially).

But there are so many colours, why choose those?

We wanted to change the feeling of inferiority among the children and make them look like private school students. RSS is a national organisation working within the boundaries of the Constitution.

The colour of the bicycles distributed by the government is also saffron.

The (default) colour was black. We wanted to display that it was given by the government for free. So shouldn’t there be a difference (in colour)? We gave the orange colour, but if you dislike the colour then put a ban on orange colour. Orange is worn by many women.

But why choose orange?

Most women like orange colour. This is a women’s bicycle. (If) we have to change colour, every colour would be to someone’s liking. This is only Congress’s limited thinking.

But there is no choice when it comes to school dress.

You will have to keep a certain dress, never before was there an objection to khaki shorts… Many children like it. Like when it comes to curriculum, if you ask educationists, parents and students whether the curriculum was better earlier or now, (they will say) it is good.

But popularity is not the sole indicator whether something is right or wrong.

Then what will be a sign, if not nationalism, patriotism, or children’s opinion. Only what they (Congress) think is right?…Will you teach only the facts you agree with? What is the truth?…

We merely added Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, Deen Dayal Upadhaya (to the curriculum), is this saffronisation? They have just latched onto a word, saffronisation.

There was also a chapter on RTI in Class VIII, which was removed.

A child is not as mature in Class VIII, so we brought it (the topic) in Class XII.

The committee of experts, which reviewed the revisions, had said that the revised books don’t encourage questioning.

Says who? Whatever is there in textbooks, (the students) should ask questions, who is stopping them.

The textbooks also imply that a vegetarian diet is healthier.

Scientists are saying so, the Jain community says so, doctors are saying so too. We are not saying that you shouldn’t eat non-veg. So what is the objection with merely suggesting that it is better for your health.

The new Congress Minister says education suffered under BJP.

He says we ruined education. But we improved our ranking in the National Achievement Survey from 26th position to second, enrolment in schools also increased in lakhs. The Gargi Puraskar recipients shot up from 44,000 to 1,26,000. The shortage of staff declined to about 11 per cent from 52 per cent.

Your department and government took many decisions, why do you think the party still lost the Assembly elections? Do you think development matters?

We are reviewing. We reached a proper 73 seats, while they did not reach a majority and are at 99. It was a good fight. Development is not the only issue, it is one of the issues: selection of candidates, ensuring development…party manifesto, caste equations, publicity, candidate selections, expectations of people.

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