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Saffronisation of Education

The National Conference on Saffronisation of Education held on 21 July 2001, in New Delhi, co-sponsored and organized by All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, All India Milli Council, Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Markazi Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith, Anjuman-e-Islam, Mumbai, All India Educational Movement, New Delhi, Al-Ameen Educational Society, Bangalore, Madina Education Society, Hyderabad, and Minorities Educational Institutions Association, UP, Lucknow, and Imarat-e-Sharia, Patna, at the end of its deliberations, has unanimously adopted the following resolution:

The National Conference on Saffronisation of Education, Keeping in view the provisions of the Constitution relating to the secular order and to the educational and cultural rights of the religious minorities;

Conscious of the fact that communalisation of our multi-cultural society through cultural assimilation and the erosion of secular values has been a long-term basic objective of the Sangh Parivar, with its commitment to the ideology of Hindutva and the slogan of ‘one Country, one People and one Culture’;

Mindful of the tight grip of the BJP, as the major and dominant party in the NDA, on the Ministries of Human Resource Development and Culture, which has accelerated the pace of transformation under the present regime;

Taking note of the induction of men of Sangh background into national policy-making and research institutions, sometimes as their head, the steady purge of progressive and secular elements from them and, in general, the deliberate exploitation of prestige, power and patronage of the government and its official machinery to attain the Parivar’s objective of remoulding education, and thus the Indian mind, in accordance with its ideology. The diversion of scarce resources to RSS-controlled and RSS-inspired NGO’s to support their educational programmes and the deliberate and systematic campaign to rewrite history of our country from the Hindutva angle;

Anguished by the proposed reorientation of School Education, in line with the long-term goals of the RSS, particularly through the NCERT’s Curricular Framework for School Education, 2000, which substitutes moral instruction by ‘value education’, which reduces academic space for languages and limits it as far as possible to Hindi and Sanskrit only, thus effectively eliminating the teaching of minority languages, which narrows the scope for acquiring knowledge about world civilizations and religions by unduly stressing our own ancient heritage and which inhibits the development of rational outlook, scientific temper or expertise in natural and social sciences, all designed to obliterate diversity and introduce regimentation;

Noting, also, that the proposed school curriculum has been formulated without any nation-wide discussion and is sought to be imposed without the mandatory consultation with State Governments and political parties and discussion in the Parliament;

Regretting the introduction by the University Grants Commission of anti-scientific courses in Vedic Astrology, Purohitya and Vedic Mathematics, notwithstanding protests from leading scientists like Narlikar, Yashpal and Joshi, and generous grants for expanding facilities for teaching of Sanskrit in the Universities and even in technical institutions of national eminence, to meet non-existent demand, at the cost of fulfilling the Constitutional responsibility, and judicial mandate, for universalizing elementary education;

Deeply Conscious of the fact that the battle for secular education cannot be fought alone by one religious group, or even by the religious minorities collectively, and convinced that the battle is indeed the battle for the survival of the secular order in the country and for the inculcation of the values of multi-culturalism and scientific temper in the world of the 21st Century;

* Rejects the National Curricular Framework as anti-democratic, anti-secular and anti-national and as nothing but the road map for the Hinduisation of education;
* Demands that the NDA Government act transparently and, if it seeks to change the National Educational Policy in any material aspects, it should consult the States and the educational fraternity and then table a Policy Paper in the Parliament for discussion and approval;

* Emphasizes, in particular, the imperative of introduction of universal primary education, through the medium of Mother Tongue at the primary level and with the Mother Tongue as a compulsory subject in the School Curriculum at the secondary and higher secondary levels and allocation of adequate resources to attain the national goal of universal elementary education upto the age of 14;

Demands the reaffirmation of the Three Language Formula in its original form, without any numerical conditions, (1) First Language: Mother Tongue throughout school education, (2) Second Language in Hindi-speaking States: For those whose Mother Tongue is Hindi, any other Schedule 8 Language spoken in the State as Optional Language; for those whose Mother Tongue is a Language other than Hindi, Hindi as the COMPULSORY Language

In Other States: For those whose Mother Tongue is a Language other than Hindi, Hindi as COMPULSORY Language; for those whose Mother Tongue is Hindi, the Principal Language of the State as Compulsory Language
(3) Third Language: English or Hindi or Sanskrit or Arabic or Persian as the Optional Language.

Opposes, while recognizing the importance of Sanskrit as a national heritage and as a source of Indian culture, the introduction of Sanskrit as a compulsory subject in schools or for the multiplication of college and university departments of Sanskrit and for the introduction of Sanskrit and Vedic courses in higher educational institutions, because scarce resources should not be wasted on courses which have little utility and few takers;

Regards the introduction of religious rites and rituals such as Saraswati Vandana in the schools and of courses in Vedic Astronomy and Hindu Rituals as unconstitutional and demands their withdrawal by the Governments concerned;

Reiterates that while private organizations should be allowed to spread education with nationally approved curriculum, syllabus and textbooks, the Government should bear the primary responsibility for educating the people and establish government schools of various levels in all Panchayats/Wards, Blocks/Towns and Districts, in accordance with national norms, to serve as models of secular education for the private institutions to follow;

Demands that value education at the school level be limited to moral instruction i.e. the teaching of universal moral values and cultural norms, so that it is not used as a vehicle for the propagation the cosmology, theology or mythology of a particular religion and the denigration of others and that its syllabus and textbooks should maintain a balance among various major religions professed by the Indian people so that the students acquire knowledge and appreciation of all religions and cultural streams in our country;

Suggests that for the inculcation a sense of nationalism and the spirit of patriotism in addition to the National Anthem, the school should be allowed to introduce other patriotic songs such as Sare Jahan Se Achcha which, being in the commonly spoken languages, are likely to make more impact;

Condemns the deliberate and systematic rewriting of Indian History as Hindu history with the object of selectively emphasizing religious conflict rather than cultural interaction, social synthesis and creative cooperation in the development of the composite national culture and calls upon the government not to use history to reopen past wounds and to keep them bleeding or to promote bias and prejudice and generate revanchist tendencies;

Demands that a permanent national body of experts be established to review all textbooks and prescribed reading material upto the secondary level in languages, history and social studies from the angle of promoting national integration and communal harmony and the values of Equality, Liberty, Justice and Fraternity enshrined in the Constitution;

Invites the secular forces collectively to combat the Sangh’s educational strategy to saffronise education, in the name of reform, as its real objective is brainwashing our children, sowing mutual contempt, hatred and discord among various sections and promoting Hindutva ideology, in the name of unity, patriotism and nationalism.

Calls upon, in particular, the educationists to endeavour for a truly national curriculum, devoid of denominational particularities in syllabi, textbooks or school culture, which would encourage all religious communities to entrust the education and moral instruction of their children to the common school system without any fear of indoctrination and thus for an educational system which would be universal in its range and accessibility and create the personality of a new Homo Indicus, not only knowledgeable and well-informed but modern and scientific in his outlook, patriotic but free of jingoism and obscurantism, nationalist and yet a citizen of the world, true to his own religious beliefs and cultural roots and yet respectful towards people of other religions and cultures and considers that uniform education of quality, with the above objectives, can alone transform our country into a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural model for the rest of the world in the 21st Century;

Appeals to all secular forces and organizations, political, social and educational, to form a representative national body, which should have branches in all states, in order to monitor, continuously and systematically, diagnose distortions of the educational system and campaign for prompt remedial measures, taking into account the legitimate concerns of the religious, linguistic and cultural minorities, as well as, to all educational movements, organizations and societies, to associate themselves fully and unreservedly with such a body in order to share this great national responsibility;

Records its appreciation and gratitude to Shri V.P. Singh, former Prime Minister of India, and to Shri I.K. Gujral, former Prime Minister of India, for their guidance and their inspiring Inaugural and Valedictory Addresses and to Shrimati Sonia Gandhi, President of the Indian National Congress, Shri H.S. Surjeet, General Secretary of the CPI(M) and Shri A.B. Bardhan, General Secretary of the CPI for their gracious messages of solidarity and support.

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