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India: Taming universities

Wednesday 29 March 2017, by siawi3


51 University VCs Attend RSS Workshop on Making Education More Indian

Eram Agha |

Updated: March 27, 2017, 9:53 AM IST

New Delhi: Over 721 academicians and experts including 51 Vice Chancellors of various central and state universities attended a two-day workshop organised by the RSS over the weekend hosted in the national capital.

The idea behind the event, as its all India organiser told press, was to brainstorm over how to make Indian education more oriented towards ‘Bharatiya perspectives.’

Titled Gyan Sangam, the two-day national workshop was held by the RSS-backed initiative called Prajna Pravah whose main speaker on Sunday was the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.

According to the organisers the primary objective of the workshop was to create ‘an academic ecosystem from Bharatiya perspectives’ out of the government’s ambit.

In the audience, among other senior academics of various institutions, was chairperson of the Indian Council of Historical Research chairman Y Sudershan Rao. Apart from Bhagwat senior RSS functionaries Sahkarvayah Krishna Gopal and Suresh Soni were present as well.

Speaking to an audience of senior academics, many of who hold senior chairs at several state and central universities of the country, Bhagwat spoke about “non-governmental and autonomous Indic thinking,” and said, “This is not the alternative but the real attempt to develop a Bharatiya perspective.”

Speaking to the press, J Nandakumar, who heads Pranja Pravah, said there have been many education commission reports – right from Dr. S. Radhakrishnan to DS Kothari commission all which had stressed on one major point – absence of “Indian-ness from our education system.”

“Our education was marked with the absence of Indian-ness. The centre of gravity of our education system shifted towards the west,” he said. Nandakumar said that the two day event was held to allow the academics to brainstorm on “how to bring the centre of gravity back to Indic thinking given that the main weakness of our system is that it is western”.

He called this task an urgent one, which needs to be pursued without any government interference.

“This is not the government work because our system of education was independent of government control. There was society taking care of it. This should be out of sarkari tantra,” he said.
The event held over the weekend will be followed by many such programs that will be held in various other states in India.

Divided in three parts and there were parallel sessions where the academicians discussed “content, contemporary trends and challenges in their respective discipline.”

The expert sessions were on different themes – “Cultural Onslaught” was addressed by co-convenor of Swadeshi Jagran Manch S Gurumurthy, and chaired by the Vice Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University Dr GC Tripathi.

The second session on “Intellectual colonization” was chaired by the former principal of Brihan Maharashtra Commerce College, Pune Anirudh Deshpande, Indologist Acharya Vamdev Shastri (David Frawley), and Dr Manohar Shinde, founder director Dharma Civilization Foundation USA. The last session “Resurgence of Nationalism – East and West” saw Professor VP Nanda of International Law Denver University with BK Kuthiala of MCRPV Bhopal.

The convenor of the program, Delhi University professor of Political Science, Prakash Singh, said, “Our academic disciplines are leaning towards western education – to bring the change we have to create literature, change minds of people and society. We have to reach among the academics first, change their thinking to start with, students will come next.”



Hindustan Times, March 26, 2017

Education should be left to domain experts, not the RSS


The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh seems to be quietly broadening its remit these days. The RSS chief’s meeting with vice-chancellors and academics to discuss how social science research in the country should be guided and how to create a “positive national narrative in academics” is indicative of this. For an organisation which claims to be purely cultural, the RSS seems to be exceeding its brief quite regularly. The main thrust of the RSS these days seems to be to ‘reform’ education and purge it of all Leftist influences. Among the issues that seem to get its goat are the Mahishasur Shahadat Diwas and the Kiss of Love campaign, both seen as alien and corrupting in its eyes.

Education has long been in the RSS’s crosshairs as it realises its potential to influence the ideology of a younger generation. But to focus excessively on Indian culture and tradition would be to do a disservice to our students who will have to compete in a globalising world. They need the knowledge and skills for a highly competitive market where they will need the right education which will stand them in good stead. They don’t need to be force fed knowledge of a past large parts of which do not stand up to academic scrutiny. Education should not be seen in terms of ideology, rather it should focus on what courses and curricula are best for the students. While the RSS has every right to put forward its suggestions, as does the public, the vice-chancellors and universities should not be coerced into adopting these if they are not suitable. The serious task of curriculum framing and introducing changes should be left to those with domain knowledge, not an ideological outfit. The RSS has become increasingly assertive it the field of education with many people with open affiliations to the organisation securing top academic jobs. In several schools, particularly in Rajasthan, school textbooks have been rewritten to showcase the glories of a mythical past. Indeed, several chapters introduced are not based on fact.

This sort of interference by those without expertise could lead to a whole generation of students coming out of educational institutions filled with knowledge which will in no way help them to secure jobs or enhance their intellect. We should be looking at incorporating the best in the world into our curricula and attracting the best faculty we can. But with this sort of intervention by organisations like the RSS neither will be possible. This is to fail our students and deprive them of what they deserve.