The Karnataka government’s decision to include Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) founder Keshava Balirama Hedgewar speech as a lesson in Class X Kannada textbook has been criticised by a section of academics and activists, while Higher Education Minister B.C. Nagesh has strongly defended it.
The textbook, now being printed, has the lesson titled ‘Nijavada Adarsha Purusha Yaraagabeku?’ (Who is the real role model?) based on the speech of Hedgewar.
‘RSS is force behind’
Developmental educationist V.P. Niranjanaradhya said, “In the name of rationalisation of curriculum and correcting mistakes, the textbook revision committee in Karnataka has proposed many irrational changes without providing any pedagogical reasons. Based on the recommendations, many topics have been removed from the textbooks of different classes. The RSS is the force behind these changes and the institutions such as the DSERT and the Textbook Directorate are being used to tweak the textbooks.’‘
He said that this was not surprising under the BJP regime and its effort to tweak the education system “to tune it to its version of communal nationalism based on the Hindutva ideology”.
S.G. Siddaramaiah, writer and former president of the Kannada Development Authority, argued that “saffronisation of education was indeed the core objective of the National Education Policy 2020.” He alleged that the RSS agenda was being imposed on education through the NEP. “Overall changes are in tune with the concept of nationalism and culture that sectarian nationalists want to impose on the country,” he said. “These changes need to be opposed by all conscious citizens and we need to ensure that our education is in tune with scientific and secular values respecting pluralism and multiculturalism of India nation state,” he said.
Why not, asks Minister
However, Mr. Nagesh strongly defended the changes in the textbook. “We formed an independent committee to revise all the school textbooks. The decisions have been taken by the committee independently. The Department of Public Instruction has already verified that and there is no objectionable content. There is no content that hurts secular values,” said the Minister. He described Hedgewar as “a doctor who sacrificed his family and personal desires for the sake of the country”. He added that it was because of personalities such as Hedgewar that “India has great leaders like Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the former Prime Minister late Atal Bihari Vajpayee.”