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Saffronization moves decried
By S Ubaidur Rahman

Moves to saffronize education and tamper the history by the BJP and its government were unanimously deplored by speakers in a conference organized jointly by 11 prominent Muslim organizations in New Delhi on 21 July. The conference held at the Ghalib Institute drew people from all walks of life and was attended by prominent leaders and scholars of world-fame.

The conference was divided into two sessions. The first was devoted to saffronization of education and the other was on the moves to rewrite national history.

It's now a well-known reality that the BJP is bent on changing the whole structure of the nation and give it an altogether different identity. Some people have described this as the party’s ‘hidden agenda.’

VP Singh, who attended the meeting despite his poor health, said, while criticizing the saffronites’ move to change the educational system of the country, that it is a subversive move that has no parallel in our history. The former prime minister said that the contributions of both the Hindus and Muslims are enormous in the construction of the nation and both have contributed greatly for it. He added that the secular credentials of the country warrant that the contribution of both the communities should be given equal place in the books of our curricula. Mr Singh added that extremist elements are always eager to take control of two things, one is education and other important thing is media. He further said that the BJP government during both the stints has not allowed any of its constituents to be given HRD and information portfolios. He said that the sort of tampering the BJP is doing in curriculum does not augur well for the nation and exhorted the like-minded people to come to a single platform to fight this menacing attempt.

Syed Shahabuddin, who was one of the architects of the conference, lashed out at the saffronites for their subversive moves in this respect. He said that 'the BJP first came to power in the centre in 1998 and again after the following general elections. On both the occasions it could only form a coalition government with an agreed agenda but it reserved the portfolios of the HRD, culture and information and broadcasting for itself.This has a meaning and purpose in terms of the long-term objectives of the Sangh Parivar: The saffronization of education with the full support of power and prestige of the government and thus to remould the mindset of the younger generation, to brainwash them of the ideals of democracy, secularism, social justice and rule of law enshrined in the Constitution and to inject the ideology of Hindutva in all its chauvinist and obscurantist connotations and to assimilate various religions.'

He said that what caused him and others wake up was when MM Joshi, the HRD minister, released the National Curriculum Framework for Social Education drafted by the NCERT without any consultation with anyone. It was then, he said, when we woke up to realize that the hidden agenda was being deliberately and systematically implemented under the control of an extra-constitutional establishment.

Eduardo Fleiro, MP and convener of the Parliamentary Forum on Education lashed out at the BJP and other outfits of the Parivar. He said that now the struggle is not between rightists and secularists. He said that this fight has already been won by the saffronites. He went on to say that the fight is now between rightists and far-rightists. He gave the examples as to how the known saffron faces like ML Sondhi, former Jan Sangh MP and chairman of the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), was unceremoniously removed from the chairmanship of the ICSSR. He also gave the example of Grover, the chairman of Indian Council of Historical Research, himself one of their acclaimed scholars, was hounded to get two employees of the ICHR who belonged to a minority community removed from their posts. He said his death that happened in mysterious circumstances should be probed by the CBI.

'People who want to maintain some sort of balance and standards are unacceptable for the votaries of Hindutva. They don't care for proven work or constitutional behaviour' Flario added.

He said that it was decided by Parliament to get the educational policy revived every five years, but the government is not interested in reviving the educational policy. He added that the NCERT that is the sole body to prepare school textbooks is not preparing textbooks. Instead, the BJP government is hiring consultants from outside the NCERT. Fleiro added that one, Atul Rawat, has been hired to prepare textbooks, though his credential holds nothing but the fact that he writes in the RSS mouthpiece, Organiser, against Christianity, Christians and Muslims.

Ashfaque Ahmad, secretary, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, gave concrete proof of what changes the government is actually doing in the educational curriculum. He added that there is great communication gap between different religious communities in the country and this gap should be narrowed.

Shaukatullah Khan, who teaches in Jamia Millia Islamia, said that the saffron outfits are taking on different communities separately because they are fearful of the collective wisdom of all the people.

Tampering of history also came in for equally sharp criticism during a debate on the issue. It was chaired by the Punjab University VC and Dr R Sangheeta Rao. People like Prof. Zahoor Qasim, Praful Bidwai, took part in this debate. Dignitaries who attended the conference included Maulana Sirajul Hasan, Ameer Jamaat-e-Islami, IK Gujral, Syed Hamid and several other prominent personalities.

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