ADVENT of the Bharatiya Janata Party to power has enabled the Hindutva forces to put the entire academic apparatus in the country in the service of the ideology they wish to see ruling the minds of the people. Efforts are being mounted at several levels to introduce biased history, popularize classical languages, bring in mythology in literature and art, and turn the evaluation system in such a way that those who have traditionally dominated the academic scene would make or mar the individual careers, something disadvantageous for the subaltern classes.
Reports from Gujarat suggest that Tribal students are being coerced into writing Vanavasi instead of Adivasi in the caste columns of the admission forms. Adivasi is a legal term for members of the scheduled tribes who enjoy the reservation which is not available to Vanavasis. But Hindutva forces insist on Vanavasis. Why? Because in Sangh Parivar etymology, Arayans are the original inhabitants of India and the term Adivasi seriously undermines the “only Islam and Christianity are alien faiths” theory which is employed to provoke hatred against these two communities. This has put the Adivasis in Gujarat in a dilemma. They stand to lose their reservation benefits by ignoring the standard terminology. In some schools of Gujarat the children are regularly beaten and ostracized for bringing non-veg. stuff in their lunch boxes.
But more sinister than all this is the effort to introduce biased history and textbooks in schools. Already Vidya Bharti network of 17,000 schools run by the Sangh parivar has introduced books that inject lot of propaganda into these books. Taste a few samples culled out by the National Steering Committee for Textbook Evaluation in its report in 1991.
Question: How many devotees of lord Ram laid down their lives between 1528 and 1914 for the sake of liberation of Ram Temple in Ayodhya?
Answer : 3.50 lakh
Q: Why is Babri Masjid not a mosque?
A: Because Muslims have never prayed there.
Q: Why is the November 12 a Black Day in the annals of Indian history?
A: Because the then chief minister ordered firing on the unarmed kar sevaks gathered at Ayodhya resulting in death of thousands of them.
The Committee had held that much of the material in the Vidya Bharti schools was designed to promote bigotry and religious fanaticism and had recommended removal of all such material.
While Vidya Bharti’s case may be a special one as a curriculum designed by a body of hardcore fanatics or advocates of aggressive cultural nationalism, there have been attempts to inject venom even through secular curriculum. An English composition question paper in Karnataka had once asked the students to translate the sentence : Mussalman Desh ke shatru hain. (Muslims are the enemy of the nation) A more intelligent and loaded specimen comes from Uttar Pradesh where the Hindi composition question paper asked the students to write a letter to the Chief Minister (then the seat was occupied by Mayawati of Bahujan Samaj Party) suggesting that “facilities for teaching of Urdu would not benefit anyone”. Some years ago the states of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh had followed a policy of formulating the curriculum in such a way that those who opted for Urdu language were forced to study only History, Civics and Economics and not the natural sciences while Hindi was grouped with Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics.
But more surprising than all these is the decision by the Kerala University Board of Studies to remove the Medieval period of Indian History from post graduate History Syllabus. This is a deliberate effort to remove period of Muslim rule and is likely to leave a large gap in understanding of the History. That this happens in a Marxist rule state makes the act much more reprehensible.
The concern for imparting religious and ethical values could be understood but the way curriculum is being communalized, does greater disservice to the nation. It unleashes monster of communalism allowing it to poison the innocent minds. It will only nurture a divided community, a fragmented nation and a disunited country. No wonder then why historical animosities are raising their head with sickening regularity. Any interpretation of history that undermines the plural character of the nation, is fraught with the risks disrupting the national unity. Hatred recoils with vengeance. And cruelties lie in many layers in India. No wonder if the Arayan fascism is sought to be countered with Dravidian resurgence. It is therefore wiser to keep the layers of victimhood under wraps.