The Foreign Exchange of Hate
IDRF and the American Funding of Hindutva
2002, Sabrang Communications & Publishing Pvt. Ltd, Mumbai, India, and The South Asia Citizens Web, France
Download / Print

Appendix G:
The Promotion of Bigotry: Sangh Parivar/IDRF's Contributions to Education

 

Considerable documentation exists outside of this report on the communalization of education in India. [141] This Appendix therefore is not aimed at developing an overall analysis of the RSS inspired communalization of education. Its intention are more narrowly focused on the nature of communalized education being spread by some Sangh organizations that are directly funded by IDRF. Accordingly, we focus on three IDRF funded Sangh organizations: Vidya Bharati, Sewa Dham, and the Bharatiya Education Society/Trust.

G.1 Vidya Bharati

The Vidya Bharati is the Sangh’s leading organization in the area of education and runs several schools including Saraswati Shishu Mandirs. IDRF funds have been given to many schools affiliated with Vidya Bharati.

A sampling of ‘Sanskrit Gyan’ textbooks used in Vidya Bharati and Shishu Mandir schools offers some startling revelations [142]. The students are presented with ‘facts’ such as:

  • Homer adapted Valmiki’s Ramayana into an epic called Iliad,
  • The language of the Native American Indians evolved from ancient Indian languages
  • a map of India which includes not only Pakistan and Bangladesh but also the entire region of Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet and even parts of Myanmar.

These sample “facts” from the Sanskrit Gyan textbooks are picked to show the extent to which the project of building Hindu pride is taken to. Once we comprehend that claims are being made over Homer and Native Americans then it is not difficult to understand that the ancient Indian history that students are taught is closer to mythology, while medieval history is totally communalized. Islam is made out to be a violent and militant religion, and Muslims are depicted as intolerant rulers. In modern history, glory is placed upon the RSS, which is shown as being central to the Freedom movement. Inflammatory, anti-Muslim literature, which had been banned earlier for inciting communal passions, makes its way into the literary texts in these schools.

State institutions have for some time taken note of these gross distortions and raised concern over it. An article in, Frontline, a leading mainstream magazine records this concern:

In 1996, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) conducted an evaluation of school textbooks, including those prescribed in Vidya Bharati schools in the country; it was reported that there were 6,000 such schools with 12 lakh children on their rolls under the tutelage of 40,000 teachers. The NCERT made the alarming diagnosis that many of the Vidya Bharati textbooks were ‘designed to promote bigotry and religious fanaticism in the name of inculcating knowledge of culture in the young generation.’ The evaluation found it a matter of ‘serious concern’ that such material was being utilised for instruction in schools which, ‘presumably, have been accorded recognition (emphasis added) [143]

Of course, more recently, the NCERT itself has been gutted with most liberal intellectuals removed from the Council and the Council’s leadership being handed over to an Hindutva ideologue. [144]

G.2 Sewa Dham (Delhi)

Sewa Dham is also one of the educational organizations of the Sangh funded by the IDRF. The level of distortion and bigotry prompted attention from the New York Times. An article by Somini Sengupta who visited the Sewa Dham school concludes:

Education is a centerpiece of the Hindu revivalist campaign, which is natural, considering its cause: to build a Hindu nation out of what is officially a secular country with rights accorded to religious minorities.

The school curriculum, as we saw in the case of Vidya Bharati, promotes mythology as history where “Lord Ram, the blue-skinned warrior-king of Hindu lore, lived 886,000 years ago,” a conclusion based on ''ancient texts and astrology.” Further Ram is described as “the source of inspiration for Indian culture'' and a Hindu golden era is constructed as one that dates back to the “time of the Indus Valley civilization of the third millennium B.C.” Furthermore, the students are also fed the Sangh propaganda about its campaigns. Sengupta records the contents of a quiz for eighth graders as follows:

[it] tests their knowledge of the continuing campaign to build a Hindu temple in Ayodhya, the mythical birthplace of Ram, where Hindu militants razed a 16th-century mosque in 1992. Students are grilled on everything from the date on which the temple reconstruction movement began to the names of those killed by the police [145]

G.3 Bharatiya Education Society

The Bharatiya Education Society is an RSS School in Rajasthan. While we have already documented the elevation of mythology to the status of history and the communal bigotry in the RSS curriculum, we include this report on BES to point to the fact that regressive education goes beyond these parameters and includes the construction of women in specific ways. A Christian Science Monitor describes education in this school as follows:

Students get a large dose of ‘Hindutva’ values - teachings that argue for the preeminence of India's 5,000- year-old civilization. Girls learn that Hindu females are at their best as mothers. ‘The woman has a special place in the home,’ says Jagdish Prasad Gujar, the principal of BET. ‘Our women, our mothers, help to keep India strong.[146]

The conclusions again are apparent. Education clearly is a critical component in the Sangh’s efforts to build a Hindu Rashtra and the IDRF contributes significantly to the creation of infrastructure and promotion of a curriculum that can without exaggeration be described as bigoted.


 

141. Most recently, a well documented and brilliant analysis, Prejudice and Pride by Krishna Kumar, Penguin India, 2002

142. In the Name of History: Examples from Hindutva-inspired school textbooks in India, Akhbar

143. A Spreading Network, by Venkitesh Ramakrishnan, Frontline, Nov 7-20, 1998

144. Reading the NCERT Framework, by Balmurli Natrajan, Rahul De' and Biju Mathew, Ghadar, Volume 5: Number 1, Feb 21 2002

145. Hindu Right Goes to School to Build a Nation, Somini Sengupta, New York Times, May 13, 2002

146. Hindu-based education, going strong, Robert Marquand, Christian Science Monitor, Feb 16th, 2001

Next >>