Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education Report, Nov 2021January 29, 2022
The Blueprint of Saffronisation of Education
The ‘New Education Policy, 2020′ is being implemented in urgency. ‘Reform’ of education system has always been the first agenda of the RSS. We are living under, de facto, RSS rule. What does the government mean by ‘reform’, no one has any confusion. BJP is the political wing of RSS which is the mother, main server of all Hindutva offshoots. RSS was founded on 27 September 1925 in Nagpur, but it remained in periphery, could not make any significant dent in Indian political landscape till 1977 when it assumed center stage as part of Janata Party, courtesy Jai Prakash Narayan (JP). Indira Gandhi declared emergency to save her chair. That was the first and premature attempt by the ruling dispensation to take fascistic course well before the economic conditions of capitalist system so warranted and that is why that move got aborted and it, then, boomeranged very badly. Entire nation witnessed wave of mass fury as a result of forcible snatching of all democratic rights, never witnessed in independent India. The tsunami of that mass fury in 1977 against Congress rule was so overwhelming that it could have swept away this system of capitalism itself along with Indira Gandhi government and that scared and drove ruling bourgeoisie to turn against its most trusted party, the Congress overnight and a brand- new political entity, Janata Party and a new messiah JP appeared on the scene, quite dramatically. Janata Party which did not have even its first organizational elections, no infra structure in place but it had no dearth of funds to fight Lok Sabha elections all over the country. Knowing the reason is no rocket science!! Any miracle can happen in case the ruling bourgeoisie perceives any challenge or threat to its class rule. Jana Sangh, the then political arm of the RSS, also became a part of Janata Party because of the support it got from JP. After formation of the Janata Party government in 1977, Jana Sangh, means the RSS got the first opportunity to implement its pet agenda of ‘Indianization of education system’. But those were the times when RSS used to be very circumspect before taking any step and used to step back quickly in case its irrational move aroused any mass protest. When the issue of dual membership came, that no one can have membership of RSS simultaneously with Janta Party, the Jansanghis agreed without blinking. The services that Anna Hazare rendered to bring the disruptive ideology of the RSS to power in 1914, JP had rendered the same, a good 36 years before him.
Second major opportunity for the RSS to implement its nefarious education agenda was in 1997 when a hard- core RSS pracharak, Murli Manohar Joshi became the Minister of Human Resource Development in Atal Bihari Vajpayee cabinet. Even then, BJP could not muster courage to put existing education system upside down. They still feared staunch public rebuff that its unscientific educational changes cause and used to back track quickly, instead of going all out, head on, like now. This attempt was, however, more aggressive than the previous one. When there was public outrage, the steps were pulled back, not with the intention to abandon their project but as a measure of strategic retreat.
The scenario has changed qualitatively and dramatically after 2014. Sangh’s agenda of ‘reforming’ education, especially history, is now being implemented in an aggressive and irretrievable manner. If there is a public protest, steps are no longer taken back, the protest is either ignored by keeping mum or ways are found to deal with it. Let us accept the truth that leave aside forcing withdrawal, country failed to build even such movement to oppose ‘New Education Policy’ that would have caused any concern for the Nizam to even have a relook at it. This sinister move went through, unbelievably smoothly for BJP. Students are the most energetic segment of society, they are the real power house, student movements have history of bringing even the most -deadly regimes on to their knees, they must not have surrendered so meekly. All India Forum for Right To Education (AIFRTE) has failed in its mission, so far at least. There is no point in shying away to accept the truth. The RSS has travelled quite a long distance in direction of changing the entire education system, pedagogy and the school curriculum according to its core ideology. Constitution of the present Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Education that submitted its report of the recommendations, after successfully enacting a drama of eliciting ‘public opinion’ during pandemic, is a big leap in that direction. Chairman of the PSC on ‘Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports’ is Dr. Vinay Sahasrabuddhe is the chief ‘educationist idealogue’ of RSS. BJP alone has 12 members in this 21-member committee which means that BJP alone is in majority. Its allies JDU, Biju Janata Dal, AIADMK have 4 members. The rest of the parties have one member each. Otherwise also, the era when these committees used to make any difference has gone past. Committee submitted its report to the Rajya Sabha Speaker on 30 November 2021. The credentials and qualifications of the chairman Dr. Vinay Sahasrabuddhe are ‘impeccable’; a Rajya Sabha MP, joined RSS in school days, has been the National Secretary ABVP, is the director of RSS’s organization ‘Rambhau Mahalagi Prabodhini’ and has been the Vice President of BJP. As if that is not sufficient, he has also authored a book “The Innovative Republic” on ‘innovative experiments on democracy and development’ that took place during Modi’s first term!! No surprises, therefore, on his being the President of ICCR also besides being chairman of this PSC on education and all that!!
- ‘The NCERT and SCERT should incorporate the ancient wisdom, knowledge and teachings about life and society from Vedas and other great Indian Texts/ Books in the school curriculum. Also, educational methodologies adopted in the ancient universities like Nalanda, Vikramshila and Takshila should be studied and suitably modified to serve as a model reference for teachers so as to benefit them in improving their pedagogical skills for imparting education in the present- day context.
- ‘Contributions of ancient India in the fields of Philosophy, Science, Mathematics, Medicine, Ayurveda, Epistemology, Natural sciences, Politics, Economy, Ethics, Linguistics, Arts etc may also be included in text books. The traditional Indian knowledge system should be linked with modern science and presented in the contemporary context in NCERT textbooks.’
- Displaying pathological hatred to any form of diversity and plurality, the committee emphasizes again and again that the course and syllabus of all the subjects have to be the same across India. ‘All books especially history books other than published by government agencies used for supplementary reading may be in consonance with the structure/ content of NCERT books to avoid discrepancies. Also, Ministry of Education should develop a monitoring mechanism for ensuring the same.’ Every subject content has to be same in this continent like country like ours!! ‘The ministry should explore the possibility of developing a class-wise common syllabus for various subjects for implementation … as this will go a long way in maintaining uniformity in different standards of school students across the country.’
- Some activists, revolutionaries of the freedom movement have been depicted in a completely wrong way, as if they are criminals. This anomaly must be set right. (Name is not given but the PSC seems to have Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in mind).
- The Gupta dynasty, Vikramaditya, Chola kingdom, Chalukya, Vijayanagara, Gondwana, Travancore and Ahom states of North East have not got proper place in ancient history which needs to be corrected. Means, history should be written by disparaging Muslim and Christian faiths rather than objectively and factually.
- Our history is full of glorification of Muslim invaders. This is very unjust. History should be written again to correct this distortion.
- Till date history has not been written with ‘national’ sentiments, it should be written from national point of view. The spirit of ‘national history, national pride and unity’ needs to get a proper place in writings on history.
- Acknowledging that the contribution of women has not received due importance, recommendations have been made to give importance to the contribution of women as during Vedas, Upanishads, Jatakas. There is also a reference of giving proper place to many forgotten fighters but it appears that ruling dispensation has decided to shun Mangal Pandey, Pandita Ramabai, Birsa Munda, Dadabhai Naoroji, Balgangadhar Tilak, Dr. Ambedkar, Mahatma Gandhi, Periyar Ramaswamy, Subhash Chandra Bose, Jawaharlal Nehru, Alluri Sitarama Raju etc.
History has the highest emphasis in entire report. History and history books written in the seventies and eighties have been specially targeted. Criticism has not been made on the basis of any scientific reasoning whatsoever but in a concocted way, in a round- about method. An attempt has been made to discredit history irrationally and whimsically, that is why the Indian History Congress did not lose time in rejecting these recommendations.
Committee completed the farce of seeking suggestions in this regard from students, teachers and academicians on e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org under its pet scheme, ‘Opportunity in Calamity’ when the corona epidemic was wreaking havoc in June last year. Last date for giving suggestions was 15 July 2021, only a few lucky Indians would be knowing that!! It is, however, clear that some ‘suggestions’ were accepted. Which valuable suggestions were accepted? Although no details are provided as to how many suggestions were, actually, received, how they were scrutinized and on what basis the suggestions were accepted or rejected, details of one sample suggestion that appears to have been accepted in toto, are quoted in detail here below. Since this suggestion from Dr. Shonu Nangia, Professor of Foreign Languages, Department of Communication, Languages & Arts, Louisiana State University at Alexandria, USA, is in public domain as it is available on RSS website and text of this suggestion matches with recommendations of the PSC; it is definitely the most valuable. It deserves to be read by all concerned with education and pedagogy.
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“In a statement put out by the Rajya Sabha Secretariat, the public was informed that “The Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports has taken up for examination and consideration the subject ‘Reforms in The Content and Design of School Text Books.’” The three main focus areas in the circular specifically pertain to: 1) The removal of references to un-historical facts and distortions about India’s national heroes from textbooks; 2) Equal or proportionate inclusion of references to all periods of Indian history; 3) The proper representation of the role of great historic women heroes, including Gargi, Maitreyi, etc. or rulers like Rani of Jhansi, Rani Channamma, Chand Bibi, Zalkari Bai, etc….
Gross Distortions of History
An article in TFI Post by Abhinav Singh dated July 1, 2021 gives good examples of the distortions of history that Indian history textbooks contain. We reproduce here three examples cited by TFI Post that can stand up as independent case studies:
Example1: “School history books currently in circulation across the country are replete with innumerable botched stories regarding the rich history of Bharat. There are several kingdoms and kings whose reigns are barely mentioned in the books. Freedom fighters who died giving their lives for the motherland are reduced to caricaturist figures while the likes of cruel, blood-hungry rulers like Tipu Sultan are glorified as the apostle[s] of patriotism. The erstwhile ruler of Mysuru, Tipu Sultan massacred more than 700 Mandyam Iyengar families [just] in Melukote [for refusing to convert to Islam], including women and children during his rule. The town, to this day, does not celebrate Diwali and mourns the death and destruction that the horrendous Tipu Sultan wrecked over the holy town. Tipu’s cauldron of barbarity included the blood of thousands of Hindus, and yet he [is] the ‘Tiger of Mysuru’ for [the] Marxist and leftist historians” who have written the textbooks.
Example 2: “Our history books, written by distortion artists like ‘Romila Thapar’ made us believe all throughout our childhood and teenage years that Emperor Ashoka converted to Buddhism and became a pacifist after the Kalinga war where he was overcome with grief after seeing the bloodshed and thousands of dead bodies. However, as surprising as it may sound, Emperor Ashoka converted to Buddhism and became a pacifist almost four years prior to the Kalinga war as the pillar edicts, Mahavamsa and Divyavadana suggest.”
Further, Singh notes, “Ashoka became Buddhist [in the] 4th year of his rule. When he invaded Kalinga [in his] 8th year, Ashoka was a BUDDHIST when he waged Kalinga war. After [the] war, he killed 18,000 Non-Buddhists who allegedly ‘insulted Buddhism. Whom do they finally blame? Yes, Hindus and Hinduism.” Popular history-distortion debunker True Indology had also talked about this on his now suspended Twitter account, TFI Post reminds us, which also reveals how foreign owned neocolonial social media platforms like Twitter routinely and brazenly arrogate upon themselves the role of final arbiters in matters pertaining to India’s internal culture wars.
Example 3: “NCERT history textbook for class 12, titled ‘Themes of Indian History’, falsely claim[s] in one of the paragraphs, ‘All Mughal emperors gave grants to support the building and maintenance of places of worship. Even when temples were destroyed during the war, grants were later issued for their repair – as we know from the reigns of Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb. This coupled with the fact that NCERT had no evidence to back its assertion, invited massive outrage on social media.’”
Reporting on this theme, Times Now News writes “The book in question claims that Mughal emperor Aurangzeb gave grants to rebuild Hindu temples during his reign. However, when Tapinder Singh, a social activist from Bharatpur in Rajasthan, asked the NCERT via an RTI about evidence backing the claim, the autonomous government body was not able to furnish any proof. The RTI activist has sent a legal notice to the NCERT to change the content making the false claim. Following the disclosure, it was claimed that wrong history was being taught by the NCERT book in CBSE schools in the country, not just to the new generation but also to those preparing for competitive exams.” All these absurdities show the distortions and the corruption in the system.
The remainder of this article attempts to articulate the contours of a possible new framework for the teaching of History, one in which History is taught in tandem with Culture, in particular. The educational mess, this situation where people are not taught about their real history, fosters a lack of awareness that is at the root of so many of India’s problems. This is also what is really at the heart of not just the induced religious conversions but also the shocking mass forced religious conversions of people belonging to India’s indigenous faiths like Hinduism and Sikhism that have recently come to light.
It’s a matter of grave concern that these incidents are happening within the boundaries of modern India where Hindus still make up more than 75 percent of the population but are nevertheless hapless victims of rape, violence and forced religious conversions, not just historically but even in 2021 – just because of their identity. The root cause of the imbalances and strife in India’s body politic is that the current educational system has contributed to fostering the creation of antagonistic identities instead of fostering an overarching unity deriving from love and respect for culture of India that is Bharat as enshrined in the Constitution. The educational system is also guilty of misrepresenting and diminishing all that is culturally native to India while glorifying all that is the foreign, alien and hostile to its ethos. Clearly, a new curriculum is the need of the hour.
While it is commendable that input is being sought from all quarters, the specifics of what will be included and what will be excluded in the reformed history textbooks will be ultimately decided by chosen domain experts who may or may not themselves be clear about what such an exercise should lead to. What is imperative though is that the reform, the changes in the curriculum, should help heal and repair the social fabric of India which right now is being torn asunder by all kinds of fissiparous forces. If we are clear on this all-encompassing goal of saving India from being torn apart and if we are clear on the outcomes we want–which should include the correct knowledge of the past and learning the right lessons from the past–we will get better results. To repair India, we must repair the educational system itself.
While this will necessitate lots of other things—a host of other steps and reforms—right now, in this paper, we are just dealing with the question of history textbooks. It is in this context that rather than give suggestions about what specific distortions to remove and what specific omissions to include, I would like to focus public attention on what the proposed textbook reforms should ultimately result in. I am particularly interested in articulating some of the key desirable societal transformations and educational outcomes that a reform effort should be oriented towards. I share these here.
Desired Societal Transformations
The repair of the “History and Culture” curriculum should be such that it should make the following macro level societal transformations possible in a few years:
- Higher ethical standards via character-building and good citizenship values.
- A move away from pathological attachments to ethno-religious, ethno-linguistic, or ethno-regional identities towards the primacy of greater common shared-citizenship based loyalties.
- Mass awareness about foreign funded subversive activities including induced and forced religious conversions and its impact at various levels.
Desired Educational Outcomes
The repair of the “History and Culture” curriculum should be such that it should lead to the following educational outcomes:
- Comprehensive knowledge of Bharatiya History and of Bharatiya contributions to world civilization, science and technology.
- Comprehensive knowledge of World History, in particular the effects of Islam and Christianity on World History and on native peoples and cultures across the globe, including India.
- Patriotism and empathy for what India went through. Knowledge of the sacrifices made.
- Pride in one’s civilizational journey as a people. Deep knowledge of one’s own culture and its richness.
- The ability and desire to impact the future of the globe based on a correct understanding of the past.
- Appreciation for the itihasas (Puranas, Ramayana, Mahabharata) and an understanding of Vedic wisdom (comprising elements like yoga, Indian philosophy, Sanskrit, meditation/inner exploration, and the Gita) which are considered to be core components of the timeless Bharatiya Sanskriti. These must be made part of a common core curriculum for all students moving through the educational pipeline in India.
- Skill in Purva-paksha to thrive in an intellectualized global world.
The above points are not exhaustive but can be a good starting point in the redesign of textbooks and the curriculum as we think about what kind of India we want to strive to build—a broken India where the culture wars of today will lead to civil wars in the future or an India that is internally strong and united in its knowledgeable of its own past. Many recent events have abundantly shown that there are various groups working to balkanize India, including extreme left anarchist-Marxist groups as well as fundamentalist groups with allegiances to two major proselytizing religions who see India as unfinished business, a structure to be dismantled and completely reshaped and re-carved. The cultural and historical deracination of the youth of India due to stupid public policies and colonial era educational ideologies makes their job easier. Reforming the curriculum with an eye on the listed educational outcomes and social transformation goals will be a powerful antidote to all this as well.
Competing ideologies create ideological balkanizations and ultimately lead to physical balkanizations. The recent takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban with the blessings of various foreign powers and the overt support for the Taliban from some quarters within India should be a warning bell. The events in Afghanistan show us how easily a house, when compromised by competing ideologies acting on it, collapses because it has no real internal strength or unity. For India to stay internally secure, it must reform education, reform the teaching of history, and show authentic respect for historical truth. Truth has hitherto been treated as a taboo. Social cohesion built on commonly shared understandings of authentic history would be the surest foundation for an internally united and stable India.”
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This is the direction of the proposed education policy ‘reforms’ recommended by PSC. How much the content of this valuable suggestion matches with the actual recommendations!! Isn’t it the most valuable suggestion that guided PSC to formulate its recommendations? What the RSS ‘scholars’ of the country are shy to say, a US professor has put out unambiguously.
UNICEF and UNESCO have studied the devastating physical, mental and emotional effects of corona pandemic on children’s education, worldwide. Representative of these organizations related to India submitted their report related to this PSC on 23 July 2021. That report is part of recommendations. UNICEF and UNESCO report informs;
- Over 15 lakh schools and 13.7 lakh Child Development Centers were closed in India due to the Corona epidemic. This has affected the education of a total of 286 million children, very badly.
- Over 24% of the total households in India do not have internet facility and 61.8% do not have a smartphone.
- Over 40% of the total students could not get digital education by any means as they did not have access to distant learning.
- In the rural India, 10% less children were able to get digital education than in the urban side.
- Unable to connect with the digital education system, children are facing severe psychological and mental stress. At the same time, poor children have also to face shortage of food, which has badly affected their health.
This powerful PSC headed by Dr Vinay Sahasrabuddhe should seek a reply from the government on this issue. In a ‘Vishwaguru’ India, so many children are deprived of education due to lack of internet and smartphone facilities, then how will they get education when schools are closed? Corona is going to exist in some form or the other, experts say. It is, therefore, necessary to immediately provide smartphones or laptops to the children of these poor homes and it is vitally important to have free internet facility in all such houses. What work has been done by the Modi government in this direction so far in its tenure of 8 years, this committee should seek answers from the government? The chairman of the committee, Dr. Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, himself has to explain that as he claims that there has been such a tremendous progress during the first regime of Modi, as he has written in his book, ‘Innovative Republic’. How is then the condition of education in the country so pathetic? By when will such a large number of poor children be enabled to take ‘distant education’, nation wants to know?
The running thread in any RSS ideological discourse is always like this. “Our ancient India was great. The period before the arrival of the Muslim invaders was the golden period. There was peace and prosperity all around. Everyone lived in joy with love and harmony. Women were respected under Sanatan Dharma. Rivers of milk and honey were overflowing. There was an amazing development of science and technology. All the inventions in the whole world that happened in modern era after the industrial revolution, were because the Muslim and Christian invaders looted treasure house of our knowledge of ancient India. Final and ultimate knowledge on every subject on this earth is there in Vedas and Upanishads and our sages are the final authority on science and technology for all times to come. Hindus are great and unconquerable. Our Aryan race is great, we are great……”
There is no harm in dreaming, one may indulge in day dreaming as well but when one proceeds to act, taking dreams to be true, there occurs a serious problem. Myths have to explode when faced by reasoning, balloons are to burst!! This core ideology of the RSS/BJP doesn’t stand on its feet. It falls flat on the ground when tested on hard historical facts. Attempt to prove these mythical dreams true, drives them to distort history. Let’s see, what the world renowned, eminent historians have to say on this subject.
“During the freedom struggle, Indian historians indulged in an uncritical glorification of pre-Islamic India: the Indian state was described as a constitutional monarchy; tribal oligarchies were equated with Athenian democracy; the village assemblies (sabhas) in south India were portrayed as little democracies; the period of the Gupta rulers was treated as the golden age when the Indian people were happy and prosperous and lived in peace and harmony. This picture of ancient India supplied an ideological support to freedom fighters; but after India’s Independence it served no such purpose though the Hindutva ideologues have clung on to these ideas, and, inspired by them, even our Prime Minister has made laughable statements about the Indian past on several occasions. But a scientific analysis of our sources amply proves that at no stage in history the common people of India witnessed a truly golden age. The history of India, like that of any other country, has been a story of social inequities, exploitation of the common people, religious conflict, and so on. The idea of a golden age has always been abused, in India as well as in other countries.”
– Prof D. N. Jha
“But during all this, there is nowhere to be found any evidence of an era of ancient glory, a lost golden age. Man did not progress equally or steadily; Rather, he made complete progress. From a fairly incompetent animal, to a tool maker and tool-using creature that dominated the entire planet by its own numbers and now only has to learn to control itself through its various activities. Human bones excavated after several tens of thousands of years show that it was a grand achievement for any Old Stone Age man to live to the age of forty; Far from being more healthy than he is today, he was also more prone to parasites and degenerative diseases that cut his life very short. The golden age, if any, is in the future, not the past.”
– D. D. Kosambi
Resist this irrational project of RSS/BJP to annihilate education by contaminating it with fabricated, fictionalized, gospels in school education curriculum instead of fact based, logical, scientific education material. Massive wave of united mass movement against NEP, 2020 and the saffronization project must be built and intensified. Student and teacher community, supported by all education loving people, have to rise to the occasion and this disastrous blue print of distorting history must not be allowed to succeed.