Thought Box



by HUMRA QURAISHI April 6 2024, 12:00 am Estimated Reading Time: 4 mins, 21 secs

Humra Quraishi comments on reports coming in of the centre awarding Sainik School agreements to educational institutions associated with RSS, Hindutva organisations and BJP, among other things.

The most alarming development this week: An analysis of Right to Information replies by The Reporters' Collective has revealed that between 2022 and 2023, the Centre awarded 40 Sainik School agreements to educational institutes associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Hindutva organizations, and leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or its allies.

This revelation raises serious concerns for any conscientious citizen. Furthermore, it's crucial to note the significant percentage of Sainik school students who pursue careers in the Indian armed forces. Considering this, one cannot ignore the potential ramifications of biased and communal teachings on the otherwise secular environment within the armed forces.

Adding to the gravity of the situation is the fact that as far back as 2019, there were reports indicating the RSS's intentions to establish its own Sainik school in Western Uttar Pradesh. Additionally, reports of arms training camps organized by Hindutva groups for their cadres cannot be disregarded.

These developments prompt reflection on the direction in which our society is headed. The infiltration of ideologically motivated institutions into spheres as critical as military education and training poses a significant threat to the fabric of our secular democracy.

While news reports occasionally shed light on the curriculum taught in RSS and BJP-backed schools, there appears to be a pervasive reluctance to question or challenge these teachings. The consequence is the potential indoctrination of an entire generation into a mindset of hostility towards Muslims, fuelled by hate and distorted facts disseminated at the school level.

Years ago, during an open forum, Delhi University professor Nalini Taneja delivered a shocking revelation about the content taught in RSS-affiliated schools. She vividly recounted passages from textbooks that dripped with venom, each one designed to instil hatred towards the 'other'—the Muslim community—in impressionable young minds.

Taneja cited excerpts from these textbooks, revealing a disturbing narrative: history texts presenting an unapologetically biased view, depicting Aryans as the original inhabitants of India and glorifying Hindu rule while demonizing Mughal rule, venerating figures like Hedgewar, Golwalkar, and Savarkar as great freedom fighters while branding Muslims as traitors, defending abhorrent practices like casteism, child marriages, and sati, and denigrating languages like Urdu as foreign.

This deliberate propagation of divisive and prejudiced ideologies within educational institutions is not just alarming but dangerous, as it undermines the very fabric of inclusivity and secularism that should define our nation.

Former Vice Chancellor of Lucknow University, Professor Roop Rekha Verma, spoke candidly about the communal atmosphere prevailing in academic institutions across Uttar Pradesh, emphasizing the alarming consequences. She not only highlighted the biased content in textbooks but also underscored the detrimental impact of teachers' discriminatory language against Dalits and Muslims within classrooms.

Similarly, in a 2016 interview with me, former IIT Mumbai Professor Ram Puniyani provided insight into the teachings within RSS-affiliated schools. He described a pattern of authoritarianism and indoctrination, with textbooks propagating a mythical narrative of Hindu superiority, demonizing Muslim rulers, and promoting casteism. Puniyani emphasized that these schools instil hatred towards religious minorities in young minds.

If this trend persists, the implications are ominous. Indoctrinating children with communal ideologies at such a formative stage will undoubtedly breed biases that permeate into literature, history, and educational materials.

It's crucial to recognize that despite BJP-RSS propaganda, the Muslim community remains deeply sceptical of right-wing agendas. They see through attempts to exploit issues like Triple Talaq for political gain, understanding that such gestures are mere tactics to mask deeper prejudices. The relentless targeting of Muslims by right-wing groups under various pretexts—from dietary choices to marital practices to educational pursuits—only serves to exacerbate tensions.

These developments signal a troubling trajectory, with the right-wing agenda gaining momentum and advancing into its implementation phase. It's a sobering reminder of the challenges faced in preserving the inclusive and secular fabric of our society.

It's also perplexing to observe that only a handful of the prominent figures tainted with political wrongdoing are arrested and imprisoned, especially when the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) reveals that a staggering 225 sitting Lok Sabha MPs have criminal cases pending against them. This accounts for 44 percent of the total sitting MPs in the outgoing Lok Sabha.

Moreover, this unsettling revelation prompts reflection on the conditions within our prisons and the treatment of those incarcerated. An independent watchdog group or individuals should conduct a thorough review, as there are growing concerns about the quality of life for prisoners. Reports of prisoners fearing poison-laced food and suffering from serious health issues cannot be ignored.

In lighter news, I must mention Vinod Pande, a multi-talented individual who continues to inspire at an impressive age in his early 80s. Known as a filmmaker, writer, commentator, and YouTuber, Pande's latest novel, "Minister's Mistress" (published by Reindeer Books/Become Shakespeare), offers a captivating narrative. Pande delves into the intricacies of human relationships and the complexities that arise, mirroring the themes present in his cinematic works. His storytelling skilfully navigates through human emotions and desires, culminating in a compelling and often unpredictable conclusion.

You can buy your copy here:

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.