August 04, 2015

India: FIR call on Asaram text

FIR call on Asaram text
Rakhee Roy Talukdar

Jaipur, Aug. 3: Education activists in Rajasthan today demanded that an FIR be lodged against the publishers of a Class III textbook, which describes rape-accused spiritual guru Asaram Bapu as a saint.

At least one activist said it appeared to be a "conspiracy" by some people who want to prove that Asaram is innocent, hence their call for a police complaint.

The septuagenarian Asaram, in jail since 2013 for allegedly raping a teenager in his ashram in Chhindwara, Madhya Pradesh, features in a chapter on saints in the book Naya Ujjala.

In the book, published by the Delhi-based Gurukul Education Books and being taught in some public schools in Jodhpur, Asaram shares space with Vivekananda, Mother Teresa and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, among others. Yoga televangelist Ramdev also features in the book on moral education.

Activists of Shiksha Adikhar Manch, an education rights forum, say teaching about Asaram violates moral values. "How can Asaram be equated with the likes of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Vivekananda? It is like teaching immoral values to minor students," Vishamber, an education activist, told The Telegraph .

"It seems to be a conspiracy of those who want to prove that Asaram is innocent. There are many in the ruling BJP who have taken out rallies in favour of Asaram and some VHP leaders have openly defended Asaram. That is why we demand that an FIR be lodged against the publishers."

The educationists, however, couldn't confirm whether the book got clearance from the government before it was included in the syllabus.

State education minister Vasudev Devnani couldn't be reached for comment. The Delhi-based publisher said no case had been filed against Asaram when the book went into print but added that the book was now being withdrawn and a new reprint would be ordered.

Educationists and social activists also voiced fears that the government was trying to "saffronise" education. They said proposed reforms like replacing the existing Macaulay pattern of education with a system based on Indian values, including the Surya namaskar and yoga sessions in schools, indicated such attempts.

Devnani had earlier said: "We are working on some changes to provide better lessons for primary students. Instead of teaching them on the Macaulay pattern of education, that is 'A' for apple, 'B' for bat or 'C' for cat, we will teach them A for anant (infinity) and 'C' for computer. Indianisation of education is the need of the hour... and we are working on that."

source: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1150804/jsp/nation/story_35328.jsp