Education minister Prakash Javadekar has described his six-hour meeting with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS yesterday as part of a process to gather feedback as he puts together a new education policy.
“I am in the process of discussing the education policy…I am willing to discuss this issue with every political and non-political body that’s associated with the education sector, ” said Mr Javadekar on Thursday.
Present at the minister’s first formal meeting with the RSS yesterday at the Gujarat Bhawan in Delhi, were several other members of the Sangh Parivar, as the RSS and its affiliates are together known – the Vidya Bharti, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, Rashtriye Shikshak Mahasangh and four other education-related organisations.
The affiliates, sources said, listed their inputs on what the new education policy should include, stressing on “nationalism along with ancient Indian knowledge,” which the Sangh says has been ignored in the last 70 years.
Vidya Bharti made a presentation on the challenges faced in primary education in villages, the sources said. Other ministers were briefed on problems faced by people from deprived sections and tribal regions.
“Better education facilities mixed with a curriculum and syllabus that has nationalism and positives of India’s past need to be executed to make these sections feel that they are a part of the mainstream,” said a leader of the ABVP, a student body.
Political rivals have accused the RSS, the ruling BJP’s ideological mentor, of attempting to interfere in the government’s work to “saffronise education” by setting a right-wing agenda through textbooks and syllabus in schools and colleges.
The RSS and its affiliates are said to have been upset with Mr Javaedkar’s predecessor Smriti Irani as the education policy she was driving did not adequately reflect their inputs. In a big cabinet reshuffle earlier this month, Ms Irani was shifted out to the more low profile Textiles Ministry.
Mr Javadekar, who promised a brand new education policy as he took over from Smriti Irani this month, has earlier dismissed allegations of “saffronisation” saying there is “no such thing.”