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Joshi swears by right to rewrite textbooks

Joshi swears by right to rewrite textbooks

Author: Rajesh Ramachandran
Publication: The Times of India
Date: December 2, 2001

Amidst a raging controversy over the 'saffronisation' of education, Union human resources minister Murli Manohar Joshi, speaking from a Sangh Parivar platform on Saturday, announced an "intellectual freedom struggle" and pledged to continue with his programme of changing the curricula until the country became "intellectually free".

Launching an offensive on critics of the Centre's education policy, he said, "Sangh Parivar leaders have taken the expression saffronisation as a compliment because saffron is sacred and denotes renunciation and penance."

Inaugurating a two-day 'national education conference' organised by the RSS-affiliate Vidya Bharati here on Saturday, Mr Joshi attacked Marxists and followers of Macaulay, accusing them of denigrating ancient Indian scholar. He emphasised that children must be taught about the country's past glory

A resolution supporting Mr Joshi's programme was passed by about 30 former and serving vice-chancellors from various universities of the country and a host of senior officials from institutions like the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT), the National Council for Teacher Education, the National Institute for Educational Planning and Administration and the National Open School.

At a closed-door meeting on Sunday, the officials will discuss "how to change and what to change" further in the curricula. Speaking to this newspaper, general secretary of Vidya Bharti Dinanath Batra said it would be an informal discussion at which members would discuss ways to channelise the energy of youth.

The resolution passed at the meeting said the national education conference supported the efforts of the Centre to rewrite the curricula against all odds in order to bring about harmony between Indian education and the sources of Indian culture. Another resolution-on the orientation for value education at the higher learning institutes of India-was also passed. A third, on university education, which was slated to be passed on Saturday, had to be re-phrased and will now be released on Sunday.

In his hour-long speech, Mr Joshi gave instances to show that ancient Indian scholarship had been forgotten by the Marxists who, he said, believed that India did not have a history. Speaking about the Lithuanian President reciting the Bhagvad Gita to him, Mr Joshi wondered if the Indian President would be able to do so. Alluding to Aryabhatta's contribution to the study of gravitational force, Bhaskaracharya's on calculus and Charaka's and Sushruta's on medicine and surgery, Mr Joshi said, "When we can be reminded of our defeats, we can also be reminded of the achievement of our ancient scholarship. It was Macaulay who devised a way to defeat the will of the country by teaching Indians that we had no learning and achievement."

He then rounded up with the assertion, "If talking about the Rig Veda and the Gita is saffronisation, then I am saffronising education."

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