October 1999
Cover Story

Breeding Bigotry

The NCERT’s National Steering Committee on text-book evaluation found that the RSS-run Vidya Bharati schools are being clearly used for the dissemination of blatantly communal ideas

We reproduce below extracts from National Steering Committee on Textbook Evaluation, Recommendation and Report II, NCERT (National Council for Educational Research and Training).
Publications of Vidya Bharati (Section VI of the report): 

The Committee shares the concern expressed in the report over the publication and use of blatantly communal writings in the series entitled, Sanskriti Jnan in the Vidya Bharati Schools which have been set up in different parts of the country. Their number is reported to be 6,000. The Committee agrees with the report that much of the material in the so–called Sanskrit Jnan series is “designed to promote bigotry and religious fanaticism in the name of inculcating knowledge of culture in the young generation”.  The Committee is of the view that the Vidya Bharati schools are being clearly used for the dissemination of blatantly communal ideas. In its earlier report (January 1993), the Committee had commented on publications which had been brought out with similar objectives by the Saraswati Shishu Mandir Prakashan and Markazi Maktaba Islami and had recommended that they should not be allowed to be used in schools. The Sanskriti Jnan series are known to be in use in Vidya Bharati schools in Madhya Pradesh and elsewhere. The Committee recommends that the  educational authorities of Madhya Pradesh and other states should disallow the use of this series in the schools. The state governments may also consider appropriate steps to stop the publication of these materials which foment communal hatred and disallow the examinations which are held by the Vidya Bharati Sansthan on the basis of these materials.

The Vidya Bharati Akhil Bharatiya Shiksha Sansthan is stated to have been set up in 1978. It has been producing materials which are used in Saraswati Shishu Mandirs and other schools which have been set up by this Sansthan in different parts of the country. A large number of these schools have been set up in Madhya Pradesh. The Vidya Bharati schools in Madhya Pradesh had earlier been permitted to have their own examinations up to class VIII as well as to have their own teacher training programme. These schools are used for the propagation of blatantly communal ideas. Some of the textbooks used in Saraswati Shishu Mandirs in Uttar Pradesh had been evaluated in 1993.

A series of booklets which is being used in the Vidya Bharati schools has been published under the general title of Sanskriti Jnan Pareeksha and Sanskrit–Jnan Pareeksha Prashn–ottari (Culture–Knowledge Examination and Culture–Knowledge Examination Questions–Answers). These books are in the form of questions and answers which are meant to be taught by teachers and memorized by students. They are also used for assessing children in an all–India examination which is conducted by the Sansthan. The Sansthan claims that during 1993–94, 3,55,282 students appeared in the examination based on this question–answer series. The total number of schools run by the Sansthan is claimed to be 6,000 with 12,00,000 students and 40,000 teachers.

The Vidya Bharati Sansthan claims to be engaged in providing to the young generation education in religion, culture and nationalism. The catechistic series is part of the Sansthan’s effort in this direction.

Each booklet in the series comprises questions and answers on geography, politics, personalities, martyrs, morals, Hindu festivals, religious books, general knowledge, etc. Much of the material in these books is designed to promote blatantly communal and chauvinist ideas and popularize RSS and its policies and programmes.
Some examples of the kind of ‘knowledge’ of sanskriti these booklets are disseminating are given below:
1. The booklets include information and questions and answers on the ‘geographical and political boundaries of India’. Besides Pakistan and Bangladesh, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and ‘Brahmadesh or Myanmar’ are all supposed to have been earlier parts of India. There is a question on Sri Lanka which reads, “What is the name of the island in the south which touches the feet of Bharat Mother, and which reminds us of Sri Ramachandra’s victory over Ravana and which was a part of our country at one time?” Arab Sagar, according to these booklets, is supposed to be also known as Sindhu Sagar and Bay of Bengal as Gangasagar. These names are also used in the map of India which is printed as the back cover of many of the booklets under the caption Punyabhoomi Bharat. In this map, Indian Ocean is mentioned as Hindu Mahasagar.

2. India is presented in extreme chauvinist terms as the ‘original home of world civilisation’. One of the booklets (No.IX), for example, says, “India is the most ancient country in the world. When civilisation had not developed in many countries of the world, when people in those countries lived in jungles naked or covering their bodies with the bark of trees or hides of animals, Bharat’s Rishis–Munis brought the light of culture and civilisation to all those countries.” Some of the examples of the “spread of the light of Aryatva by Bharatiya Manishis” given are the following:

(i) “The credit for lighting the lamp of culture in China goes to the ancient Indians,
(ii) India is the mother country of ancient China. Their ancestors were Indian kshatriyas…
(iii) The first people who began to inhabit China were Indians.”

“The first people to settle in Iran were Indians (Aryans)”.
“The popularity of the great work of the Aryans — Valmiki Ramayana — influenced (Yavana) yunan? (Greece) and there also the great poet Homer composed a version of the Ramayana”.

“The Languages of the indigenous people (Red Indians) of the northern part of America were derived from ancient Indian languages”.

3. Many of these booklets have a section each on ‘Sri Ramjanma-bhumi’. They present RSS–VHP propaganda in the form of catechisms to be memorized by the faithful as absolute truths. Some of the questions – answers in these sections are as followers;

Q. Who got the first temple built on the birth place of Shri Ram in Ayodhya?
A. Shri Ram’s son Maharaja Kush.

Q. Who was the first foreign invader who destroyed Sri Ram temple?
A. Menander of Greece (150 B.C.)

Q. Who got the present Rama Temple built?
A. Maharaja Chandragupta Vikramaditya (A.D. 380–413).

Q. Which Muslim plunderer invaded the temples in Ayodhya in A.D. 1033?
A. Mahmud Ghaznavi’s nephew Salar Masud.

Q. Which Mughal invader destroyed the Rama Temple in A.D. 1528?
A. Babur.

Q. Why is Babri Masjid not a mosque?
A. Because Muslims have never till today offered Namaz there.

Q. How many devotees of Rama laid down their life to liberate Rama temple from A.D. 1528 to A.D. 1914?
A. Three lakh fifty thousand.

Q. How many times did the foreigners invade Shri Ramajanma-bhumi?
A. Seventy–seven times.

Q. “Which day was decided by Sri Ram Kar Sewa Samiti to start Kar Sewa?
A. 30 October, 1990.

Q. Why will 2 November 1990 be inscribed in black letters in the history of India?
A. Because on that day, the then Chief Minister by ordering the Police to shoot unarmed Kar Sewaks massacred hundreds of them.

Q. When was the Shilanyas of the temple laid in Sri Ram Janmbhumi?
A. 1 November 1989.

Q. What was the number of the struggle for the liberation of Ram Janmabhumi which was launched on 30 October 1990?
A. 78th struggle.

Some other questions which have been included along with answers are:

“When did Ramabhakta Kar Sewaks unfurl the saffron flag on Shri Ramjanmabhumi?” 
“Mention the names of the young boys who laid down their life while unfurling the saffron flag”.
4. In one of the books in the series (No.12), there is a section on the saints of the world and the sects/faiths founded by them. The statements made in this section are designed to promote contempt and blind hatred against other religions. One statement on the followers of Christianity reads as follows: “It is because of the conspiratorial policies of the followers of this religion that India was partitioned. Even today Christian missionaries are engaged in fostering anti–national tendencies in Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal, Bihar, Kerala, and other regions of our country because of which there is a grave danger to the integrity of present day India”.
About Islam, one of the statements is as follows: “Thousands of opponents of idol worship, the followers of Islam, go to the pilgrimage centre of Islamic community at Kaaba to worship ‘Shivalinga’. In Muslim society, the greatest wish is to have a darshan of that black stone (Shivalinga)”. 

In another question, children are asked to fill in the blanks ‘rivers of blood’ as the means by which Prophet Mohammad spread Islam.

5. There are special sections in some of the booklets on RSS, its founder and its other leaders. In one booklet (No. 11), RSS, which is mentioned along with Arya Samaj and Ramakrishna Mission etc. as a social reform organisation, is given the status of divine power. It says, “Some divine power, whether it was Bhagwan Ram or Bhagwan Krishna, has always emerged for the preservation of the greatness of Indian culture. The Hindu organization Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh has arisen to end the present miserable condition and for the defence of the greatness of Bharatiya Sanskriti.”

6. The ‘knowledge’ imparted in the booklets includes such facts as Meghnath Saha, being the author of History of Hindu Science. Punjab University being located in Jalandhar, Jammu–Kashmir University located in Jammu, Annamalai University in Madras, and Andhra University in Hyderabad.

Much of this material is designed to promote bigotry and religious fanaticism in the name of inculcating knowledge of culture in the young which should be a matter of serious concern. 

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