Indianise, nationalise, spiritualise: The RSS education project is in expansion mode

In June, as college consequences were being announced across the u . S . A ., Shiv Kumar was thrilled. Kumar is the national secretary of Vidya Bharti Akhil Bharatiya Shikshan Sansthan, a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh affiliate that runs an predicted 12,363 formal faculties, 12,001 unmarried-trainer faculties and tens of lots of sanskara Kendra’s throughout the us of a.

Kumar delivered up the media brouhaha around the Class 10 kingdom topper in Assam. The pupil was from Sankardev Shishu Niketan, a Vidya Bharti college. And he was Muslim: Sarfaraz Hussain.

“Muslim bacha hai, is like church ho hi hai [He is a Muslim that’s why he was being talked about],” said Kumar. “However our children also topped Uttarakhand board, Uttar Pradesh board, and CBSE all India board – they’re Hindu kids, so may be uninteresting for the journalists.”

Kumar defined a reporter asking him how a Muslim student might match into a Sangh school that imparted strict Hindu majoritarian values. “I without delay called up the Assam topper’s father and positioned the journalist on,” stated Kumar. “’Ask him the identical question,’ I said. The father tore the journalist apart. He informed him, ‘Muslim or Hindu, display me every other precise school in this location that I can have the funds for after which I’ll ship my son there.’”

RSS in education

As most government faculties collapse below insufficient budgets and absent teachers, Hussain’s father, a tea-shop worker, became explaining his desperate lack of options, But that turned into sufficient endorsement for Kumar. Quoting the Vidya Bharti motto to “Indianise, nationalized and spiritualise” education, he said that Sangh colleges were open to each person, irrespective of identity. “Individuals who belong to different religions also can recite Saraswati Vandana, and learn about Indian heritage and Vedas,” he said. “What’s incorrect in that? Sarfaraz’s parents despatched him voluntarily.”

Today, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh schooling program is on a diffusion force. However, it faces the robust complaint from large sections of academia and the media for promoting a mixture of Hindu nationalism and fervent majoritarianism.

Further, historians like Romila Thapar have alleged that the Sangh and Bharatiya Janata Party are trying to rewrite ancient history with an anti-Muslim bias and seeking to set up Hindu civilizational supremacy through fables and myths in place of proof-based total studies.

The national Democratic Alliance government’s push for Sanskrit in colleges, the elimination of eggs from midday food in BJP-ruled states, and its leaders explicitly calling for the elimination of references to Mughal emperors Akbar and Aurangzeb from history textbooks to make extra space for Hindu kings like Shivaji and Maharana Pratap have all intensified the talk.


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“The ones who’ve dominated training until now do not forget RSS techniques and ideas to be illegitimate and ignorant,” stated RSS ideologue Rakesh Sinha. “Why ought to we’ve got talk with folks who appearance down upon us? The paintings will hold because lakhs and lakhs of Sangh members are committed to working against this liberal leftist attitude.”

Long-time period mission

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has continually kept its eye at the Long method. The primary Saraswati Shishu Mandir changed into the installation in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh in 1952. Vidya Bharati now has 3,206,212 students, in step with its internet site. different RSS affiliates – Shishu Mandir Sewa Bharati, Bharat Kalyan Prathisthan, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, and Bharatiya Jan Seva Sansthan – also work in revolt and disaster-hit areas or places in which few country groups provide primary amenities.

Now, the Sangh’s robust defensiveness about growing criticism drives a greater competitive schooling marketing campaign. Today, under the Har Prakhand Mein Vidyalaya assignment, the RSS wants to set up a model college in each block of the united states earlier than 2017. On the one hand, it is to promote its motto, and on the opposite, to test the increase of convent faculties and missionary-run educational institutions, a lot of whom also operate in underdeveloped villages.

Other than opening more colleges, the Sangh is are also education teenagers in villages to turn counsellors and tutors for youngsters enrolled in government colleges.

In Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the Vidya Bharti and other RSS affiliates are involved in writing part of the curriculum and schooling teachers. Haryana faculties have outsourced moral schooling to Dinanath Batra, a former teacher, convenor of the Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti, and chairman of Bharatiya Shiksha Niti Ayog, an RSS council to advise the Narendra Modi authorities on what they talk about as Indianising the us of an’s education system.

On the principal degree, RSS organizations had been actively lobbying for inclusion within the Centre’s new schooling policy, changes like price education, neighborhood and cultural records and chapters on India’s achievements in all fields. It is also pushing for the mother tongue as medium of preparation in number one colleges, and the scrapping of the no-detention policy.

“We attempted to satisfy preceding governments and proportion our inputs But we had been unnoticed,” stated Atul Kothari, joint secretary of the Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti and coordinator of the Bharatiya Shiksha Niti Ayog. “However, inside the NDA authorities, we get conferences with the Prime Minister’s Workplace and HRD Ministry. At the least, we get heard.”

Sinha defined that the only way to cope with the rebellion in opposition to the “Indianisation and spiritualization” of training in India is to see it as coming from “a category of individuals who are genetically anti-RSS and are highbrow fascists”. “We’re preventing towards a mindset, so we don’t have to take their screaming significantly,” he said.

The defensiveness has become especially apparent in the latest task to the Sangh schooling undertaking.

The media villain

Outlook magazine recently posted an investigative record by means of journalist Neha Dixit on the unlawful transfer and indoctrination of 31 tribal ladies from Assam to Sangh-run colleges in Gujarat and Punjab.

The story used documentary proof from several enterprises including the Assam country Commission for Protection of Infant Rights, and stories from mother and father to show that the girls – aged as younger as three to eleven – were taken away without informed consent. The affidavits supposedly giving consent are doubtful: they’re in English and signed in English although maximum parents of the tribal girls are illiterate or do not know English. they are also dated a month after the youngsters were taken. mother and father had no longer seen or spoken to their daughters for as long as 12 months, and a lot of Dixit’s interviewees complained approximately being kept in the darkish approximately the precise region in their youngsters.

Sangh participants inadvertently brought up this tale for instance of the media vilifying their efforts in education. There was outrage – which has caused BJP members submitting a police complaint towards Dixit and Outlook for inciting communal violence. But There has been additionally something deeper, something bordering soreness. Karyakartas felt misunderstood and stricken On the criticism of what they considered being selfless seven (provider).

Dinanath Batra, who had sought a ban on pupil Wendy Doniger’s ebook on Hinduism, stated that the Sangh had modelled its contributions to the government based totally on its very own experience in running instructional establishments. “it’s miles based on Hindu values due to the fact that’s what we accept as true within, and it’s far ordinary, so what’s incorrect with that?” stated Batra. “Why is that violating Toddler rights legal guidelines?”

Batra was obliquely alluding to the Outlook tale.

Capturing the messenger

Dixit’s investigation makes  vast allegations in opposition to a few Sangh-run faculties: unlawful transfer and Hindutva indoctrination.Indianise, nationalise, spiritualise: The RSS education project is in expansion mode

Sangh participants truly brushed away the matter of unlawful transfer as “impossible” or “not exploitation”. An RSS functionary, who often interacts with the Top Minister’s Workplace and the Human Sources Development ministry, said: “Some of the SE Vikas may have made some technical errors – We’re a large movement, some mistakes might also happen. But then a journalist comes along and blows it out of proportion.”

A senior member of the Vidya Bharti presented again the example of topper Sarfaraz Hussain in Assam. “that is what We’re doing in Assam and across the USA,” the member said. “We trust in high best, inclusive schooling, no longer the type of lies that magazines accuse us off to make money.”

before Dixit wrote the story, many state our bodies had brought the violations to the Sangh’s be aware. In 2015, the Assam country Commission for the Protection of Infant Rights, the child Welfare Committee (Kokrajhar), the country Child Protection Society, and Childline (Delhi and Patiala) had all issued orders to the worried Sangh clothing to go back the kids to Assam.

“These orders had been violated with impunity by Sangh-run establishments with the help of the Gujarat and Punjab governments,” wrote Dixit.

No Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh functionary interviewed for this newsletter appeared to need to contemplate the possibility of Kary Karta’s reducing corners at great, or violating laws at worst. “We are busy doing social service and we are not going to insult our Kary Karta’s through wondering their moves,” said the RSS functionary close to the principal authorities. “There is no mistake,” he insisted. “Then what enquiry? The mother and father simply pass over their children who are in the hostel, so they’re dissatisfied. It will pass.”

The senior Vidya Bharti member wrung his palms irately. “Whilst Christian missionaries do it and madrassas do it, I’m quite positive that Outlook journalist will now not write something,” he said.

Like many RSS participants, he too mistakenly related the word “trafficking” (first used within the context of the 31 women by means of the Assam kingdom Commission for Child Rights) to sexual exploitation, even though it has a broader definition. He said that calling the Sangh’s paintings “trafficking” changed into “disgusting”, and “I don’t assume we ought to ever do this type of horrendous aspect”.

Meanwhile, a movement has been taken against the messenger. Whilst BJP contributors lodged a police grievance in opposition to Dixit and Outlook, The countrywide Fee for Protection of Infant Rights, below the primary government, has also reportedly to threatened to sack Runumi Gogoi, the chairperson of Assam kingdom Fee for Safety of Toddler Rights, except she changed her 2015 document on the 31 girls.

As for providing mainstream Hindu practices to tribals, many Sangh individuals asked how this became wrong or exploitative. some insisted that animist woodland dwellers are the unique Hindus and should be introduced into the mainstream fold. Others stated Adivasis had to be protected from Christian missionaries and Naxals. “Bad tribals are careworn and reduced with the aid of different human beings thru schools and money,” stated Vidya Bharti’s Kumar. “We enlighten them about their proper roots, which is Hindu.”

Indoctrination or socialisation?

Even though RSS schools use authorities-prescribed textbooks, the teaching methods are shot through with what the Sangh calls “nonsecular values” which might be solely Hindu nationalist. Critics call it indoctrination, but the RSS prefers the word “socialisation”. Zealous, devoted Kary Karta’s and pra charkas teach and run faculties, they’re often alumni themselves and convinced of their position inside the extra purpose of instructing the underprivileged, from any faith or caste.

This seven, however, might come packaged with other less inclusive beliefs, held with identical conviction, like attitudes to Muslims on a spectrum from fear to hate, and violent opposition with Christian missionaries.

In an occasion of the Akhil Bharatiya Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram held in Ahmedabad in might also, the Gujarat tribal Improvement minister claimed, to much applause, that the BJP authorities had averted tribals from religious conversion. Vanvasi schools and education centres are relevant to this intervention.

In Haryana’s soon-to-be-released textbooks for moral training, Batra stated he has covered teachings from not best the Gita, But additionally the Bible and Quran – “proper mind from all religions, in the same percentage”.

but, a quick perusal of the books showed the textbooks did now not have a great deal to confirm his claim.

“Who in their right thoughts can say yoga is bad?” he requested. “If a boy doesn’t like, it’s his loss. He can tell his instructor – no I can now not do it.” At this, he smiled mischievously possibly On the improbability of a Child in an Indian authorities college status as much as his teacher without dire consequences.

The RSS functionary, who interacts often with NDA ministries, claimed to be amused by “mild punches the leftist media throws at them”. He said, “people surrender their whole lives to be full-time employees, live for many years in a forest without any services to assist the forgotten Poor,” he said. “Why to belittle their efforts?”

One such trainer, 36-yr-vintage Deepshika (call modified), who teaches in a Saraswati Bal Mandir school in Janakpuri in Delhi, said she didn’t have an awful lot of profits, However “in an international in which youngsters are gaining knowledge of garbage from their smartphones, we need to reintroduce them to their cultural values”.

She enjoyed the heated debate on saffronisation in the media These days. “The greater These JNU-kids call us silly, the more determined I come to be,” she said, laughing.

“Our seniors tell us to remember the fact that we are not conservative or inflexible; our enemies are those terrified of trade factors of view,” she said.

She confirmed this reporter a slender ebook of quotes through MS Golwalkar, the second one Sar Sangh Halak of the RSS beneath whom the organisation grew in size and have an effect on. “After I examine him, everything turned into clear,” Deepshika said. “I’m in the right direction.”