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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 31 New Delhi July 21, 2018

RSS in Education, Rampant Bullying in Schools

Saturday 21 July 2018, by Humra Quraishi

MUSINGS

The RSS’ intrusion into the education sphere is writ large. The RSS-affiliated Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas, headed by Dina Nath Batra, had sent a list of recommendations to the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) demanding a host of changes in its textbooks. Batra had asked the NCERT to remove English, Urdu, and Arabic words, a poem by the revolutionary poet Pash and a couplet by Mirza Ghalib, the thoughts of Rabindranath Tagore, extracts from painter M.F. Husain’s auto-biography... Batra also wanted references to the Mughal emperors as “benevolent”, the BJP as a “Hindu” party, the National Conference as “secular”, an apology tendered by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the 1984 riots, and a sentence that “nearly 2000 Muslims were killed in Gujarat in 2002” to be removed. News reports had further stated that the Nyas objected to the facts that the Class 11 Political Science textbook mentions the “massive majority of the Congress in 1984” but “does not present the 1977 election details”, the Class 12 Political Science textbook “terms National Conference of J&K a secular organisation”, and the Class 10 English textbook “places nationalism against other ideals” as “an attempt... to show a rift between nationality and humanity by citing the thoughts of Rabindranath Tagore”. It also wanted that the Hindi textbooks must mention that the medieval Sufi mystic Amir Khusrau “increased the rift between Hindus and Muslims”.

The Nyas had on earlier occasions demanded the removal of A.K. Ramanujan’s essay Three Hundred Ramayanas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translation from the undergraduate syllabus of the University of Delhi, and had gone to court demanding that Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus not be sold in India. Their demands were fulfilled! Ramanujan’s essay was removed from the DU’s reading list, and Penguin India, the publisher of Doniger’s book, pulled it out from circulation.

It would be more than relevant to mention that in 2014, government schools in Gujarat were given six textbooks written by Batra as “supplementary literature” that claimed cars were invented in ancient India and told children to draw an enlarged nation to include Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Not to overlook the distortion of certain words like ‘roza’ (Muslims’ fast during the month of Ramzan) and their meanings published in textbooks taught in the Gujarat schools. And in the summer of 2017, the ICSE Board’s Class VI textbook, circulated in schools across India, ‘blamed’ mosques and ‘azaan’ for causing noise pollution. A chapter on noise pollution in the book, published by Selina Publishers, focused on sources that cause noise pollution. The image published in the chapter of Integrated Science shows trains, cars, planes and mosques as sources of noise pollution. The image also has a man shutting his ears in frustration right in front of a mosque!

Today new forms of bullying are rampant in schools. Singing of Vande Mataram is forced on Muslim students. Also, Surya Namaskar in schools of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Not to overlook the recent announcement by the Haryana Education Minister, Ram Bilas Sharma, that the Gayatri Mantra will be part of the morning prayers in Haryana’s government schools. Describing the mantra as “a gift by our saints and sages to the world”, he announced that a decision to this effect was taken during his meeting with senior Education Department officials.

One report after another of harassment faced by Muslim students by school teachers. If you’d recall just a few months back, a Kanpur-based student, Arsh Mohammad, tried killing himself after his schoolteachers not just taunted and ridiculed him in front of his fellow students but even ‘searched for a gun’ in his school bag! This happening on the premises of one of the branches of the Delhi Public School (Kanpur).

Children are getting threatened and humiliated by school teachers if they don’t follow the new dictates of today’s developed India!

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