Another Blow to V.H.P
Mukundan C Menon
Amidst the ongoing controversy over the UPA Government’s first
anniversary celebration, not many took note of the Union Human
Resources Development Ministry’s significant decision to stop grants
to ‘Ekal Vidyalayas’ (one-teacher schools) run by the so-called
Friends of Tribal Society (FTS), in collaboration with the Vishwa
Hindu Parishad (VHP), in the tribal belts of the country.
The decision follows a study, which revealed that the FTS which was
provided assistance by the erstwhile NDA Government since 1999-2000
under the "Innovative and Experimental Education Component of the
Education Guarantee Scheme and Alternative & Innovative Education,"
was "misusing these funds and using the grants for creating
disharmony amongst religious groups and creating a political cadre".
Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi, a hard-core RSS ideologue, had been leading
the HRD ministry during the Vajpayee Government.
Soon after the UPA Government took office last year, the new HRD
Ministry headed by Arjun Singh constituted a four-member committee,
comprising Avdesh Kaushal, Dipak Malik, P Sudhir Kumar and K R Meena,
to submit a report on the numerous complaints that public funds were
being used by FTS to support "institutions — some of which
masqueraded as non-governmental organisations —that promote
Pending the probe, the HRD Ministry did not release grants to FTS in
the last fiscal (2004-2005). Following the receipt of the probe
report, the Ministry under Arjun Singh, a known RSS bet noire, has
decided to stop funds and grants to FTS completely.The FTS main
agenda was a systematic program to Hinduise primary education
especially in States like Jharkhand where Christian missionaries
have been working among tribals in remote distant tribal hamlets for
According to available information on funding details for the last
three fiscals, the FTS in West Bengal unit had received the largest
allocations of Rs. 49.97 lakhs in 2002-03. During the 2003-04, the
three units of FTS in West Bengal, Assam and Jharkhand were
allocated a total of Rs. 1.04 crores, which constituted nearly half
of the total amount sanctioned across the country.
Among other places, the enquiry committee visited Singhbhum district
of Jharkhand and Tinsukhia and Dibrugarh districts of Assam to
collect details and corner evidences to reach its conclusions.
Notably, the committee found that apart from the HRD Ministry, the
Ministries of Rural Development, Tribal Welfare, Science &
Technology and Women & Child Development also sanctioned funds to
"These funds were being diverted to generate hatred toward
minorities, and condition the minds of children", it said. Citing an
instance, the report says, during roll call in classrooms, students
were made to respond with `Jai Shri Ram’, and only the names of
Hindu Gods were used to teach English alphabet.
For example, English booklet in Jharkhand teach the Class-II primary
students thus: A for Arjun, B for Brahma, C for Cow, D for Dhruva,…G
for Ganesh, H…for Hanuman,…J for Jambavan,…M for Mahadev,…O for Om,…R
for Ram,…T for Temple, U for Uma.
Ironically, the letters ‘E’, ‘F’, ‘Q’, ‘W’, ‘X’ and ‘Z’ simply does
not exist in this booklet. For the FTS champions, these letters are
not worthy enough for the tribal students to learn. Reason? No names
of Hindu Gods beginning with these letters are readily available!
Daily school-prayers are devoted each day to different Hindu Gods
like Lord Shiva, Hanuman etc.: Aaj Somwar Hai, Shivji ka var hai;
sache man se bhajan karenge, sabka bera par hai; aaj mangalwar hai,
Hanumanji ka var hai....
The committee also found that names of many students "enrolled" in
the Ekal Vidyalaya registers were simply copied from government-run
schools nearby. In many places the committee found that the Ekal
Vidyalaya school registers were identical copies of government
schools functioning in the same village. Since it is physically
impossible for the same students to attend both schools regularly,
the EV registers existed were aimed at merely siphoning off grants.
No reading or learning material was provided to students despite
specific allocations to the FTS. If at all these were provided, it
was through the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and not the FTS, the report
said. Interestingly, a base book (Khele, Kude, Nache, Gaye) for
training teachers of EVs was written by one Rakesh Popli. He
happened to be a member of the grants-in-aid committee of the HRD
ministry that decided to which NGOs would be given funds for running
The book contains Popli’s version of Birsa Munda’s life as a
definite eye-opener to both our historians and educationists. Popli
wrote: "Birsa studied in a missionary school; converted to
Christianity; was made to eat beef and forced to cut his tuft in
hostel; returned home upset; began worshipping tulsi, wore sacred
thread; roamed in forests; struggled against missionaries, landlords
and British government...arrested, slowly poisoned in jail." In
addition, Popli’s book also contains a series of rhymes on cow, Ram-Sita
and other Gods of Hindu pantheon.
Apart from propagating communal education of hatred, EV teachers
also participate in direct actions to promote the "Hindi-Hindu-Hindutva"
ideology of Sangh Parivar. For instance, Manney Singh Kandiyan, an
EV teacher at Tantnagar block of Singhbhum district in Jharkhand,
frankly explained to the enquiry committee during their visit "how
he, with his other colleagues, destroyed a half-built church in
2002". Kandiyan also told the inquiry team that charges against him
were dropped at the behest of the ruling party.
While exposing the VHP-run Ekal Vidyalayas siphoning off public
funds under the guise of providing non-formal education and learning
materials to tribal and rural students, the enquiry committee also
acknowledged the role of non-formal education for universalisation
of elementary education and called for a review of the schemes to
support such endeavors. Alternative schooling be allowed only in
places where formal schools do not exist, it recommended.
The Committee, in particular, noted that the FTS and the Bharatiya
Janata Party got foreign funds in the name of tribal education, and
suggested that these sources of funding, too, be put under the
scanner as they were being used for a divisive agenda.
Notably, several institutions other than the Evs, under FTS, had
come up in different parts of India using public funds to make
Hindutva inroads into Tribal belt during the erstwhile NDA regime.
In Kerala, for example, a two-day event was held in the predominant
tribal district of Wayanad to inaugurate the Akhila Kerala Vanavasi
Sangamam organized by the Kerala Vanavasi Vikasa Kendram on January
15-16, 2003, functioning under the Akhil Bharateeya Vanavasi Kalyan
Ashram headed by Jagadev Ram Orone of Orissa.
Inaugurated by the RSS supremo K. S. Sudarshan, it was addressed
among others by India’s Sprint queen P T Usha and Bharateeya Vichara
Kendram Director P. Parameswaran. By exhorting the tribals to thwart
attempts from various quarters to separate them from Hinduism,
Sudarshan said, "The British had invented many theories like the
Aryan invasion to divide the Hindus. Though the theory has no
logical validity, it was used to create schism within the community.
The Arya-Dravida, Brahmin-non-Brahmin, North India-South India
divisions are the by-products of the theory,’’ he said.
According to Sudarshan, there were attempts to exclude Adivasis from
the Hindu fold during the pre-Independence era. "At the time of
census, the British said the tribals do not belong to Hinduism as
they practice animism, a mode of worship which includes worship of
plants and stones. But the then Census Director said animism is a
part of Hinduism because Hindus also do worship plants and stones.
However, the British eventually succeeded in separating tribals from
Hindus in 1941."
Turning his guns against Christianity, Sudarshan put forward a
relatively new theory: "Hindu concept of worshipping everything is
not acceptable to Christianity as that religion cannot agree that
the essence of divinity can exist in man. It took centuries for
Christianity to agree that divinity is present in women. Before
that, thousands of women were burnt alive in the name of witch-hunt.
But atrocities against women were unheard of in India because Hindus
worshipped the female gods along with male gods."
Christianity was not the lone target of Hindutva hate-campaign
during the NDA ruling period. At a time when millions of public
funds were siphoned off in the name of non-formal education to
tribal students, the same Hindutva forces systematically unleashed
an orchestrated campaign against Muslim madrassas throughout the
While inaugurating the delegate session of Bharatiya Janata Yuva
Morcha (BJYM) at Kozhikode in April 2002, the then Union Minister of
State for Home, Vidyasagar Rao, alleged that madrasas in Kerala were
serving as base-camps for Pakistani intelligence (ISI) agents to
operate from. "ISI agents are luring students in many of these
religious institutions to carry out militant mandates. We really
need to be alert against the mushrooming of such madrasas all across
Despite harping upon the convenient ISI charge against the Muslim
madrasas, the NDA ruling period came to a close without providing
any convincing evidence in support of these fallacious allegations.