ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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On Saffronisation of Education

It is usually believed by exponents of Hindutva that theirs is a bold revolt against western hegemony, but in fact it is an imperfect and slavish imitation of that hegemonic system, a caricature.

The term ‘saffronisation of education’ appears to denote a fairly innocuous, if dubious process. It is in fact both a treacherous and frivolous response to a grave cultural crisis, a kind of response that is typical of Fascism, and Fascists have made the most of radical impotence. Democrats with an inadequate sense of history, and leftists and radicals whose smugness is criminal in the light of their own historical consciousness, read in it a silly and disgraceful exercise, something like one of the numerous outcrop of ersatz Hindu cults of the moment. They fail to see that it is a combination of a confident appeal to a brutalised mass consciousness and a coercive imposition of a dogmatic view of national history and culture. When the BJP, backed by the Sangh Parivar, detected slurs on communities like the Sikhs and the Jains in the impugned history textbooks of the NCERT, Congress stalwarts like A K Anthony and Digvijay Singh also murmured their assent to that reading, oblivious of the fact that those history textbooks (e g those by Romilla Thapar and Bipan Chandra, as well as those by Arjun Dev) had been written and approved during long years of Congress rule in the centre. Evidently there is now a change in the climate of opinion which makes critical references to traditions of different indigenous religion acts taboo. The change indicates far more than a turn towards populism. To put it bluntly, there is a confusion between legitimate pride in one’s heritage and an over-sensitive, indeed aggressive attitude towards any critical interrogation of that heritage.

It is common to assume that such symptoms are passing whims and fads of those who occupy positions of power. On the contrary. When the Babri Masjid was turned into a heap of rubble, two of the most eminent and hard-hitting intellectuals among westernised orientals, Nirad C Choudhuri and V S Naipaul, well known for their pugnacious admiration for the west, hailed the barbarous act as a vindication of a dishonoured culture. In this view at least there is no difference between the die-hard saffron brigade and the most intransigent pro-western elements. What is the secret behind this incredible alliance?

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