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'Inclusion of the Vedas in textbooks won't saffronise education'

June 04, 2014 02:16 IST

'Is there any harm in studying the history of India? This is not a regressive stand. The Vedas and Upanishads should be included in our textbooks.'

'Modernisation is necessary, but there is no harm in adding an Indian touch to it,' says Dinanath Batra, left, below, who has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking a complete revision of textbooks.

The retired school principal runs the Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samithi in New Delhi and was recently in the news for forcing publishers Penguin India to withdraw Wendy Doniger's book, The Hindus: An Alternative History.

"What is the harm in seeking the inclusion of the Vedas into our text books? Children have been studying the history of the world all these years," Batra tells Vicky Nanjappa/Rediff.com

"Is there any harm in studying the history of India? This is not a regressive stand. The Vedas and Upanishads should be included in our textbooks."

"I am not fond of the current education system. I believe that children should be aware of India's history and all elements linked with it. I have been noticing that the Indian education system is divided. There is a great need for us to realise that education is an integral part of our system," Batra said.

"I have been saying for long that our education system needs to be changed and textbooks need to give the correct picture of our history. There have been complaints of facts being distorted."

"With the NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training) beginning the process of revising school textbooks, I thought it was time for me to step in," Batra added.

"I have urged the prime minister to direct the NCERT from not going ahead with this process. This revision, which was proposed by the UPA (United Progressive Alliance)-I government, reeks of ideological bias. This kind of a revision will not help our society and children. I am told the revisions being made are minor, but what I want is a complete revision."

"I would like to see the inclusion of the Vedas, Upanishads, chapters on Kanada the philosopher and also Aryabhatta. Don't you think our children need to know all this? Such a revision would only contribute to value-based education in India. I often find children of today are not given access to value education. Many are not aware of our history."

"I do not know why many say my intention is to saffronise education. All the things that I have suggested are an integral part of our history and there is no harm in children studying it. I feel that even parents will get to learn through this process."

"This is not saffronisation of education. It is just putting forth the correct facts. I also do not think what I suggest is taking us decades back. There has been a question raised if the inclusion of what I am suggesting would affect modernisation. That will not happen, as I feel modernisation is very necessary, but there is no harm in adding an Indian touch to it."

"I am confident the government will take my views into account. I have also written to the human resource development ministry and urged them to set up a panel before they revise these books. If the books are revised as per the policy formulated by the UPA, then it would only worsen our education system."

"There is a lot children will gain if the government considers what I have been saying. I feel that children should be made to compulsorily work in the villages and slums to understand their problem. Such an exercise should be undertaken for children after their 10 and 12th."

"Children should get access to the vast Indian history. Textbooks must start with the contributions that Indians have made in fields like physics, mathematics and other sciences. I have also found that poems in Hindi textbooks have been written in Persian. Not only is Sanskrit missing, even the Hindi is being destroyed."

"There is a need to have a commission that is autonomous in nature. The government's role would be to fund it, but not interfere in its working. By doing this I feel the government will not impose their ideology on education and a good set of people will decide what is in the best interest of our children."

Vicky Nanjappa/Rediff.com in Bengaluru