November 15, 2016

India: Education ministry should stop the RSS from furthering its ideological agenda in schools (Editorial, Hindustan Times)

Editorial, Hindustan Times, November 15, 2016

HRD ministry should stop the RSS from furthering its ideological agenda in schools

Hindustan Times | Updated: Nov 15, 2016

If the RSS and its affiliates are to be believed, there is nothing in science that was not known to ancient Indians. Take these examples. ‘Astronomy and metaphysics are described in the Rig Veda, the concept of the atom can be traced to Vedic times, Paramanu (beyond atom) was considered to be the smallest particle, which cannot be divided further, nuclear energy is produced by splitting the same.’ Sushruta is the ‘father of surgery’ who described over 300 surgical procedures… including a method of stitching intestines by using ‘ant-heads as stitching material’.

Now we could dismiss this as a hankering for a romanticised past, but these are pointers from study material issued by the Vijnana Bharti, the science and technology wing of the RSS, for an examination it is holding in over 2,000 government and private schools across on November 20. Around 140,000 students from Classes 6 to11 will take the three-hour exam on ‘Indian contribution to science’ and the ‘Life of former President APJ Abdul Kalam’. The test has been designed by Vijnana Bharti and schools like DPS, Kendriya Vidyalayas, Navodaya Vidyalayas and Amity International Schools have told their teachers to hold special classes for the students to bring them up to speed with these subjects.

This is really breaching all lines. Students are overburdened as it is with the normal curriculum. It is unfair and counterproductive to allow such organisations to hold additional exams for them. What is the locus standi of the Vijnana Bharti in the education sector? Has it got sanction from the HRD ministry or the states to hold such tests? The RSS and its affiliates have been attempting for ages to put their stamp on school education, not to mention pushing their candidates for the leadership of higher educational institutions. But schools are meant to teach children from a curriculum devised by experts comprising knowledge that will stand them in good stead when it comes to competitive exams or higher studies.

Knowledge of the glories achieved by India in Vedic times may be interesting but it should not be imposed on children in the form of examinations. The ministry is in the process of framing the new education policy. It has rightly asked for inputs from all stakeholders. But these inputs must be vetted by those with domain knowledge and not outfits which are trying to further an ideological agenda. Allowing this examination will open a window for further encroachment into the space of education. The ministry should resist this in the interest promoting scientific and relevant education.