RSS holds high-profile event to influence India’s education policy

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The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is gearing up for a last-ditch effort to stamp its influence on India’s new education policy and pressurise the government to include suggestions such as compulsory daily prayers in schools and colleges, sources said.
The Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal (BSM), an affiliate of the RSS, is organising a seminar next Tuesday to discuss the proposals, in which Union human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar will be one of the speakers.
The high profile event will be attended by Muralidhar Rao, the BJP national general secretary. This will possibly by Javadekar’s first public interaction after taking charge on Thursday.
“The HRD ministry has made some parts of the policy public and we will discuss the policy with experts and give our suggestions too,” said Mukul Kanitkar, organizing secretary of the BSM.
The attempt is likely to re-ignite charges by the Opposition and many activists that the government is trying to saffronise education.
The accusation gathered steam this year after former HRD minister Smriti Irani asked IITs to teach Sanskrit and senior BJP leaders batted for revising the history syllabi and including modules on ancient India.
The draft education policy formulated by the TSR Subramanian committee ran into controversy last month over its suggestions to curb campus politics, forcing the ministry to do a U-turn.
The BSM gave a number of suggestions to the committee, but sources said, many of them weren’t included in the final draft.
“Now that the ministry is giving a final shape to the policy, all significant issues that have not been taken care of will be discussed at the forum,” said a source.
Other than daily prayers, the BSM wants students to pay regular tributes to Indian heroes, have an eight-year general education plan and the government to fund NGOs that teach children up to Class 8.
A significant suggestion included in the draft policy was bringing minority institutions under the fold of the Right to Education Act (RTE), under which 25% seats are reserved for poor students.
The BSM had said minority-run institutions misuse the privilege given to them by the Constitution and often admit more students from the majority community.
The June 12 discussion will be held at the Constitution Club, which will also see in attendance former NCERT director JS Rajput, who was criticised a few years ago for alleged saffronisation of the school curriculum.

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