GN BUREAU | July 28, 2014
Dinanath Batra, president of ‘Siksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas’ and national convener of Siksha Bachao Andolan and also a member of the national executive of the RSS’s education cell, is back in news. Having earlier hit the spotlight for getting renowned American scholar Wendy Doniger’s book on Hinduism ‘pulped’, Batra’s books, which are prescribed in Gujarat’s school curriculum, are now in the eye of a storm – for teaching children lessons that are, well, somewhat bizarre.
Some examples of prescription for children from books authored by Batra:
Don’t blow out candles on your birthday. It’s “western culture” and needs to be shunned. Instead, wear “swadeshi clothes” this day, do a havan, pray to the ishtadev, feed cows.
Drawing a map of India? Make sure you include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. These are part of undivided India or “Akhand Bharat”.
* “We know that television was invented by a priest from Scotland called John Logie Baird in 1926. But we want to take you to an even older Doordarshan… Indian rishis using their yog vidya would attain divya drishti. There is no doubt that the invention of television goes back to this… In Mahabharata, Sanjaya sitting inside a palace in Hastinapur and using his divya shakti would give a live telecast of the battle of Mahabharata… to the blind Dhritarashtra”. [Read the Indian Express reports for more here and here].
All this – purportedly efforts to promote Indian culture and tradition – is prescribed by the Gujarat government, which has asked 42,000 primary and secondary schools in the state to make a set of nine books by Batra as part of the curriculum’s supplementary literature.
Nine books introduced in Gujarat’s schools, celebrate the ‘gurukul’ style of imparting education, prescribe a code of conduct for teachers and students that conform to “Bharatiya sanskriti” and redraw the map of India to include countries in the neighbourhood. Besides, four books in a series titled ‘Prernadeep’ compile stories about how a childless couple got children after doing ‘gau seva’.
Should such books promoting misinformation be part of school curriculum?