‘Saffronization of Education’ – a recent addition in the education scenario in India – has been a much debated and controversial topic after the BJP government took over the country in 2014. Last month BJP lost elections in few of its notable strongholds like Rajasthan. After the Vasundhara Raje government was replaced by the Ashok Gehlot one, the educational sphere has come under scanners. What does the current Congress government want to do in Rajasthan? State Minister of Education, Govind Singh Dostara, says that inclusion of new practices in Rajasthan schools – like yoga, Surya Namaskar, use of saffron bicycles etc – need to be analyzed from the historical standpoint. He adds that if these additions are found tinted religiously or politically, they will be excluded from the education scenario of Rajasthan.
In the first cabinet meeting of the Congress in Rajasthan, it was decided that the syllabus needs to be revamped as it has been ‘Saffronized’ by the previous government. Congress has taken on the process very meticulously – the government has formed a committee of educationists & historical experts who will review every aspect of the syllabus and curriculum of Rajasthan schools.
It is alleged that under the influence of the BJP government, the mention of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was dropped from the syllabus of class VIII. Another matter that had angered the educationists of Rajasthan is the inclusion of BJP Government schemes such as Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Swachch Bharat Abhiyan etc in the syllabi of classes I to VIII. Congress, then opposition, had lashed out at former state education minister, Vasudev Devnani, for taking away the title of ‘The Great’ from Mughal Emperor Akbar’s name and using it for Maharana Pratap instead.
The Congress alleged that it was the BJP governance that influenced even the history lessons in schools. Children are now being taught in details about the scientific & mathematical inventions of Bhaskaracharya and Aryabhatta. Though this in itself is a good step as the contributions made by these Indian mathematicians thousands of years ago are used even today in daily life, Congress alleges that in this cover, BJP has tweaked the syllabus by attaching less importance to the discoveries of western scholars and scientists like Newton or Pythagoras.
Dostara alleges that the BJP government had tried to erase the contributions of the Nehru-Gandhi family from the History syllabus. The Congress in Rajasthan is also alleging that BJP has tried to ruin the image of the stalwarts like Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi by diminishing the contributions made by them. Dostara says that BJP has spared only Mahatma Gandhi by not removing his picture from the Indian currency notes.
The education department today also stresses the fact that practices such as morning yoga or Surya Namaskar are not evil but the students should also not be forced to participate. It should stay as an optional activity. Along with this, the Gehlot-government has also raised the educational eligibility bar for Panchayat elections.
Whether or not the decisions taken by the previous government was ‘Saffronization of Education’ or if the current undoing is just a warm-up for Congress for 2019, is still not known. Only time can tell if all this will positively affect the educational sphere of the state of Rajasthan.