What The Right Wing Hindutva Did To History Textbooks The Last Time It Was In Power

Posted on May 20, 2014 in Education, Politics

By Prem Ayyathurai:

The basic characteristic of any attempted revolution is the idea sense of urgency it implies – among other things, an urgent re-education of the masses to enable them to participate in the democracy which you want to impose upon them. Understanding this pressing need, the RSS established the Vidya Bharati Akhil Bharatiya Shiksha Sansthan (VBABSS) in 1978. This organization is tasked with coordinating its national project of using the education system in laying deep roots for its rich ideology in the Indian psyche.

For years, the RSS pottered around intelligently in the background with this project, understanding that most Indians, soaked in the afterglow of Nehruvian secularism, would protest this project if they went about this business overtly, until it overplayed its hand, of course, when the BJP assumed power at the centre in 1998.

 A crowded class room
A crowded class room

Displaying its keen appreciation of the power of propaganda, it immediately busied itself in appointing hardcore ideologues Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti in the HRD and Information and Broadcasting Ministries. In October 1998, the BJP government called a conference of State Education Ministers and Secretaries with the stated agenda of Indianising, Nationalising and Spiritualising education in the nation. Understandably, this Conference came close on the heels of the VBABSS resolution that called for, in typical Hindutva terminology, an increase in the essentials of Indian culture in the curriculum from 10 to 25 percent.

Before reading through some of the choicest extracts from VBABSS textbooks, let us understand the scale at which the organization operates in India today — it declares in its 2012-13 report that the VBABSS operates a total of 13,514 educational institutions of various levels from pre-primary to colleges; these schools, hold captive 31,37,930 children in India today.
That figure is worth keeping in mind when we navigate the following spiritualization of education:

What are the ‘essentials of Indian culture’?
Select declarations from Sanskrit Gyan textbooks, Vidya Bharati Schools, RSS inform us that:
1. Homer adapted Valmiki’s Ramayana into an epic called Iliad.
2. Greek philosophers like Herodotus and Aristophanes were influenced by the Vedas.
3. The Egyptian faith was based on Indian traditions according to Plato and Pythagoras.
4. The language of the Native American Indians evolved from ancient Indian languages.
5. Jesus Christ roamed the Himalayas and drew his ideas from Hinduism.

In continuing to raise critical questions about the historic Ram Janmabhoomi saga, we are left wondering:

Q. Why is Babri Masjid not a mosque?
A. Because Muslims have never till today offered Namaz there.
Q. How many devotees of Rama laid down their life to liberate Rama temple from A.D. 1528 to A.D. 1914?
A. 3,50,000.
Q. How many times did the foreigners invade Shri Ram janmabhoomi?
A. 77 times.
Q. Why will 2 November 1990 be inscribed in black letters in the history of India?
A. Because on that day, the then Chief Minister, by ordering the Police to shoot unarmed Kar Sewaks, massacred hundreds of them.
Q. What was the number of the struggle for the liberation of Ram Janmabhumi which was launched on 30 October 1990?
A. 78th struggle.

One can only imagine what the impact of such continuing education has on the minds of children across the nation. A 1998 NCERT report hesitatingly condemns the VBABSS textbooks, saying that much of the material in the so—called Sanskrit Jnan series is “designed to promote bigotry and religious fanaticism in the name of inculcating knowledge of culture in the young generation

In a forthright declaration of their focus, the RSS website says of the VBABSS – “The child is the centre of all our aspirations.