The ‘Quit India’ movement 1942, whose 75th anniversary is currently being celebrated, was the major landmark in the struggle for India’s Independence. On 8th August the Indian National Congress working Committee Meeting at Gowalia Tank Maidan (now August Kranti Maidan) decided to launch the movement against British rule. This was the major popular mass movement after the non cooperation movement of 1920 and Civil Disobedience of 1930. Gandhi’s’ magic of involving the Indian people against the British was the spinal cord of struggle for India’s Independence. Earlier the politics of Congress was exclusively done by the educated and other elite. Gandhi in tune with his philosophy, the major ingredients of which were Satya Graha and non violence, revolved around the involvement of all the people irrespective of their caste, class, religion or gender.

Earlier in May 1942 Gandhi was already telling British to leave India. With this resolution of Congress the biggest battle for Independence came into being.  The term for this upsurge, ‘Quit India’, was provided by a Socialist Congressman, Yusuf Mehrali. Most of the Congress leaders were arrested, and thousands courted arrest to make the point of their participation in the direction of Indian nationalism. The revolt was massive to the extent of shaking the British rulers. What were the core values of this movement?

It is true that Congress was the major party unquestioningly standing for this movement, providing the ideology and logistics of the movement. The other political formations like that of Communists and Hindu-Muslim nationalists kept aloof from this. For communists, as Russia joined the war against Germany, this war was labeled as Patriotic War and they supported British. Muslim Nationalism, Muslim League with Jinnah in the leadership, had already talked of separate Muslim Pakistan. They were unconcerned about this movement. They felt an undivided India is synonymous with Hindu raj.

As far as Hindu nationalists are concerned, there were two major streams. Hindu Mahasabha under the leadership of Savarkar, which was opposed to Quit India movement and gave firm instructions to supporters of Hindu Mahasabha to stick to their assigned duties in the state apparatus. The other stream was RSS. Its Chief Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar issued the instruction to all the Shakhas, not to do anything which will annoy British authorities and to abide by law. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the RSS worker, was arrested during this period, but he was quick enough to clarify that he was a mere onlooker and not the part of agitation and so he was let off. The founder of previous avatar of BJP, Bharatiya Jansangh, and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee was at that time leader of Hindu Mahasabha in Bengal. He promised the British that he would do everything in Bengal to defeat the Quit India movement.

The participation of the people of the country was remarkable. This movement was the peak expression of what the concept of ‘India as a Nation in the making’ stood for. As people of all religions fought shoulder to shoulder, Gandhi’s central credo of Hindu-Muslim unity was there for all to see. By this time the support for Muslim League was miniscule and Hindu Mahasabha did not have much electoral support from Hindus. It is these values which culminated in the Indian Constitution.

Today what is happening while we commemorate the 75th Anniversary of a great mass movement? The ruling party which is not aligned with the spirit of Indian freedom movement and so also of Quit India movement has to blow some trumpet for electoral considerations. So our Prime Minister in his ‘Man Ki baat’ expresses the hope that people quit communalism, casteism, corruption etc. This is a noble thought but seems to be mere slogan. We have seen that due to the policies of this Government, communalism has grown by leaps and bounds. Adding on to the divisive issue of Ram Temple, Love Jihad, and Ghar Wapasi has been added a more potent issue of Holy cow-beef eating. This issue itself has led to incitement of mass hysteria leading to lynching after lynching. The IndiaSpend data of last six years of lynching has shown that these incidents have gone up many times over during last three years, since Modi came to power. The insecurity of Muslims has gone up by leaps and bounds; they have been marginalized from the political stream at a rapid speed.

It is during last three years that we have witnessed the atrocities against dalits going up and assuming frightening proportions. The institutional murder of Rohith Vemula, the brutal flogging of dalits in Una is a sampler of the state of dalits in the country. While the economy is taking a rapid downturn for weaker sections of society, the issues of corruption like that of Vyapam are being put under the carpet. The Nobel sentiments expressed by Prime Minster will remain hollow trumpets unless steps are taken to unite the people in the spirit of what Mahatma taught, i.e. Hindu Muslim unity and freezing the issues like that of Holy Cow-Beef for the sake of better social atmosphere.

BJP is launching nationwide ‘Sankalp Se Siddhi’ (Determination for Achievement) program at all India level in which among others film on Savarkar will also be shown. It is a total negation of the spirit of Quit India movement, as Savarkar had strongly opposed the movement, as he was for Hindu nation, for collaborating with British to oppose Muslim nation. The basic ideology and spirit of this great mass movement urges upon us to value the spirit of fraternity and equality rather than paying lip service to Mahatma by making him an icon of cleanliness, to follow him on the path of communal politics. Remarkably Gandhi had refused to endorse to move to ban cow slaughter in deference to the diversity of the country. One hope that the resolution being passed in joint house of parliament will have a mention of Gandhi and Congress, who were the pivot of the struggle for Independence.

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED

What is RSS agenda in Education?

Ram Puniyani

In its recommendation to NCERT, Shiksha Sanskriti Uthan Nyas, an RSS affiliate asks for removal of English, Urdu and Arabic words, the thoughts of Rabindranath Tagore; extracts from painter M F Husain’s autobiography; references to the Mughal emperors as benevolent, to the BJP as a “Hindu” party., an apology tendered by former prime minister Manmohan Singhover the 1984 riots; and a sentence that “nearly 2,000 Muslims were killed in Gujarat in 2002”. (25th July 2017) As such these recent recommendations to NCERT are continuation of the same agenda which is working for its goal of Hindu Rashtra.

Education has been the major area of work for RSS all through. Since it has a view of Nationalism which is opposed to the concept of Indian Nationalism, it already had made lot of efforts to promote its views through Shakhas, through Sarswati Shishu Mandirs and through Ekal Schools. It has set up organizations to influence the policies in the field of education like Vidya Bharati. It has also started putting its followers in the top positions in Universities and major research institutes of the country. The previous BJP led NDA regime had already started the process of saffronisation by changing the school books and by introducing like courses like Paurohitya (priest craft) and Karmakand (rituals). The attempt to bring in their viewpoint on ancient, medieval and modern history have been intensified during last few years (from 2014) with BJP being in the seat of power. RSS leaders have been interacting with MHRD ministry to overall change the education system. One can say that the gradual changes in education and forthcoming education policy by BJP is aimed to bringing it in tune with golbalisation, privatisation along with Hindutva agenda of manuwad.

The type of education aimed to be introduced aims to change the thinking pattern of the coming generations. The goal is to instill a pattern in consonance with the Brahminical norms, to promote orthodox medieval mind set and to undermine the scientific temper. Now in a recent meeting their leaders are saying that the past governments have written history and other subjects the way they wanted. It was their history. Now it's time to teach genuine history and take the education system in the right direction. Their aim is to introduce “Project Bhartiyakaran” in education.

Already there are signs that RSS volunteers are out to change the total education system and the content of history, social science and other books. Even before BJP led NDA Government came to power, with the rise of Modi on political firmament, with the perception that he is likely to come to power, the Right wing organizations intensified their offensive against genuine scholarship. Dinanath Batra of Shiksha Bachao Abhiyan Samiti and RSS-affiliated Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas from many decades, succeeded in pressuring Penguin, the World’s largest publisher, to pulp Wendy Doniger's scholarly book ‘The Hindus: An Alternate History’. This book brings out through the interpretation of mythology the need to understand the caste and gender aspects in a sensitive manner. The history she has focused on goes against the hierarchical mind set of RSS combine and so pressure was put to pulp it. Already a set of nine books authored by Mr. Batra have been translated in to Gujarati and introduced in 42000 schools in Gujarat. This may be a trial run before doing similar things at larger scale. Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu explicitly stated as early as last year (June 23, 2013) that “it (the BJP) will change textbook syllabi, if it returns to power”. Batra wants a nationalistic education system has to be developed to address the requirements and through this we have to develop a young generation that is committed to Hindutva and nationalism.

As a part of this scheme of things the Hindu mythology is looked up as a part of history. All the RSS pronouncements like Aryans were the original natives of this land are being given a higher projection. The distorted interpretation of Mohanjo Daro/Harappa being the Aryan civilisation are being presented forcefully and lot of money is being spent in the research of the river Sarswati and to prove the historicity of Ramayana and Mahabharata. These two epics Ramayana and Mahabharata are being given the status of History and attempts are being made to introduce these in the schools as part of the History curriculum. The assertions that this civilization had achieved all the peaks of development in stem cell research, aviation (Pushpak Vimana), Plastic surgery are being brought in as the part of 'our' achievements.

Similar distortions in medieval period have been made part of the curriculum. Now it is being said that the Qutub Minar was built by emperor Samudragupta and its real name was Vishnu Stambha. At another level, the battles for power between Shivaji and Afzal Khan, the battle between Akbar and Maharana Pratap, Guru Govind Singh and Aurangzeb, are being given a religious color. The syncretic traditions, the core of spirit of India, are being sidelined and sectarianism is at the forefront in this version of history.

These changes have come under scholarly criticism from the professional, progressive, secular historians. Even earlier when previous NDA regime made similar changes in books, the term ‘Saffronisation of education’ for this presentation of history was used. Now this process is being done very blatantly. This ideological understanding of RSS, that all the kings who fought against Muslim rulers are Hindu nationalists. It’s a total distortion of understanding of history as kings did not fight for religion; their fights were for power and wealth. And kings of same religion also had running battles with each other.

With present recommendations to NCERT, the agenda of Hindu nationalism is marching in a very blatant way. The ancient, medieval modern History is being given a tilt along with doing away with the scientific temper. It seems RSS is out to create not just history but a whole knowledge system running parallel to its worldview of sectarian nationalism.

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED