New Delhi: As expected, the new BJP government at the Center has started unmasking its real face by initiating “Saffronisation” programme of text books in the garb of protecting the ancient heritage. The new Human Resources Development Minister Smriti Irani, who was in news for wrong reason after assuming the charge, wants introducing the Hindu perspective in the education system. Sources said she has asked her ministry officials to develop educational material that encapsulates the contribution of ancient Indians in different fields like science, mathematics, social sciences, philosophy, grammar and language. It is also learnt that the ministry is planning to set up a committee to study the ancient Hindu texts, Vedas, Upanishads and other epics to select relevant material for teaching. She brought this up during detailed interactions with senior bureaucrats in the past two days. She also articulated her desire to preserve the ancient culture and heritage of the country, sources said. This is being seen as an attempt by the government to push through the RSS’ educational revamp agenda.
It to be recalled that a group of eminent academics and intellectuals had demanded last year for setting up a national commission for evaluating and vetting textbooks in Social Sciences and Humanities to check the increasing “Saffronisation” of textbooks in Karnataka and other states. For example, a story in Karnataka text book inserted narrating pledge of tiger as it says he will never eat the flesh of cow.
Historians Romila Thapar, Mushirul Hasan, former West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi, JNU’s Dr Zoya Hasan, Director CSDS Rajeev Bhargava, senior journalist B G Verghese, playwright and actor Girish Karnad had said in a statement that “Various distortions of fact, interpretation and emphasis have crept into certain history and social science textbooks in Karnataka and other states that contain elements of “Saffronisation” and valorisation of specific regional heroes, ethnic identities and faith-based communities in a manner that do not do justice to or even denigrate others. This has happened in Maharashtra, Punjab and elsewhere (as cited by the CABE Committee of 2005 on non-governmental text books taught in private schools, chaired by Prof Zoya Hasan), and others.
Now the BJP got absolute majority in the Lower House, academics fear that it will pursue the Saffronisation agenda with much vigor as it had tried to do during its earlier rule in late nineties.