Farha Shareef V and Hiba V
The investigation by Indian Express revealed that those involved in the restructuring of the national curriculum framework had direct links with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the voluntary paramilitary organization of Hindu nationalists.
At least 24 members have RSS links and some of them have even served as officials in different RSS bodies, the report’s investigation finds.
The National Education Policy was launched in 2020 and aims to design four National Curriculum Frameworks (NCFs). The National Curriculum Framework (NCF) for schools is being overhauled, the first time since the Modi government came to power in 2014 and the fifth time since independence.
The Union Ministry of Education established the 12-person Committee for Curriculum Review, which is headed by former ISRO President K Kasturangan. Each NCF discussion group consists of seven to ten people and is divided into different sections related to education. The NCERT framework will be based on the work of the discussion group which will explicitly promote Hindu nationalism, as many members of it have confirmed their connection to RSS.
“We are dealing with an iceberg phenomenon now because it is only the tip of the iceberg. Only the apparent 10% we are able to determine even now,” said Sachin Narayanan, former member of the Academic Council of Delhi University and Director of Delhi University Teachers Association.
As part of an effort to “streamline textbooks” in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, NCERT has already removed information on the Gujarat Genocide, the “Naxalite movement” and “controversies regarding the urgency” of the class 12 political science curriculum, reveals The Indian Express Survey.
“References to the massacre that Gujarat witnessed in 2002, the anti-Sikh massacre of 1984 have been censored from textbooks. But most surprising is their effort to remove references to urgency, as sangh parivar often present themselves as victims of this political witch hunt. This particular rationalization finds justification for removing references to the Muslim community. Given the type of ideological work that sangh parivar organizations have done over these years, in fact, the fact that the NCF does not have a majority of experts affiliated with the far right would be a big surprise,” said Sachin told Maktoob.
“They describe it as a textbook streamlining exercise where they cut out portions. But in NCF, in later stages, they’re going to do a lot of inclusions if they haven’t already. It will be worth watching the additions they make,” he added.
Recently, The Indian Express featured interviews with members of newsgroups carrying RSS links and their answers to questions about their affiliations and the groups they work in. Most of them claim to remain detached from their ideologies and behave impartially in such forums while proudly identifying their past or present links with the RSS and its various branches.
“My connection to education is important, the other parts are not important,” says Dr. Ramakrishna Rao, chair of the discussion group for holistic, enjoyable and engaging curriculum and pedagogy. He is the current All India Chairman of RSS Vidya Bharati Education Wing.
Many refute the claim that their RSS affiliation gave them access to newsgroups; instead, they focused on their credentials and subject matter expertise. Examples include Professor Milind Sudhakar Marathe, former national president of the RSS ABVP student wing who is now in charge of the group working on science and education. However, some of them have been at pains to point out that their previous tenure did not always indicate their current political alliances.
At the same time, there are committee members who proudly acknowledge and even justify their alliances. Anjali Deshpande, from the gender department, identifies herself as one of the first full-time workers at ABVP. National Co-Organizer of RSS Affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), Dr. Bhagwati Prakash Sharma from the Philosophy and Aims of Education section, explains that SJM is a forum to awaken people to economic patriotism.
Another member of the same group, Datta Bhikaji Naik, emphasizes the value of Indian philosophy and argues that Sanskrit should be used as the language of connection.
Professor Mamta Singh, Associate Professor of Visual Arts at MKP Girls Inter College, Dehradun, from the Arts and Education group, expresses her opinion of going beyond Islamic architecture and focusing on art forms and Indian culture. Associate Professor in the Department of Rural Development at IGNOU, Dr Bishnu Mohan Dash of the group focusing on the emerging role of the community in education specifically advocates for the “Indianization of social work education”.
“The RSS has always tried to replace scientific and secular history with a narrow community version. They have been doing this in their textbooks taught in RSS schools, the Saraswaati Shishu Mandirs, for decades. However, when they come into state power, they try to push their distorted version of history into mainstream education,” Aditya Mukherjee, a professor of contemporary Indian history at Jawaharlal Nehru University ( JNU) and co-author of the book RSS, School Texts and The Murder of Mahatma Gandhi: The Hindu Communal Project told Maktoob.
“This was first done in 1977 (RSS/Jan Sangh had merged with the Janata Party which was in power) when they tried unsuccessfully to ban texts written by India’s greatest historians like Romila Thapar, Satish Chandra, RS Sharma, Arjun Dev and Bipan. Chandra for NCERT. From 1999 to 2004, with greater control over the Union government (the NDA was in power), there was again an RSS-led effort to remove critical passages from these books. Also, a number of community history texts have been prepared by them which have been harshly criticized by the Indian History Congress and others. Now, with the BJP in power without the restrictive influence of the coalition partners, the RSS has revived its project unhindered,” the professor explained.
Asked about the presence of RSS in the textbook committee, Abhishekh Nandan, president of the Central University of Hyderabad Students’ Union and leader of the Student Federation of India (SFI), told Maktoob over the phone: “This is a deliberate attempt by those in power to highlight the one-sided story of Indian history. Reframing the program to glorify one side of history and obscure others is detrimental . »
One of the prominent participants in the Alternative Ways for Schooling focus group, Prof. Ramachandra G. Bhat, argued that their focus group recommends incorporating Indianness in all facets of education, which gives us clues to the purpose of the whole project to reframe the school curriculum. .
“The dangers of injecting the poison of hatred and division into the upbringing of children through RSS functionaries cannot be overstated and should be of concern to all of us. The skewed view of education and society that was evident in the National Education Policy (NEP) continues to wreak havoc on the education landscape. The continued sabotage of textbooks and curricula is a death knell for the idea of inclusive, holistic and transformational education,” Fawaz Shaheen, National Secretary of the Islamic Student Organization of India (SIO) told Maktoob.
Farha Shareef V graduated in Sociology from Central University of Hyderabad and Hiba V graduated in English from Jamia Millia Islamia New Delhi. Both are currently writing interns at Maktoob.