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

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Students as Bhakts?

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The “Deshbhakti curriculum” is a new initiative by the Delhi government to inculcate nationalism and patriotism among school students. The curriculum seems to hint towards state-led nationalism. The implications of such a curriculum have to be understood by questioning what does the government mean by “desh” and “bhakti” in the Deshbhakti Curriculum. Here, the very notion of bhakti seems to be problematic as there seems to be an implication that the government desires students to be bhakts or devotees instead of critical citizens. The fact that bhakti is associated with religion, particularly Hinduism, reflects the Hindu nationalist ideas propagated by the government.

The scholar Avijit Pathak notes that a bhakt does not have the capacity to critique the “sacred,” which is opposed to the reflexive thinking proposed by theories of education and pedagogy. He argues that school students should be inculcated with compassion and empathy instead of hyper-nationalism and demonstrative patriotism. Moreover, the bhakts of political parties tend not to question their leaders and instead follow them thoughtlessly.

Such a discussion also gives rise to important questions: What is the idea of the nation according to the government which they wish to inculcate among school students? Is the idea of the nation restricted to majoritarian Hinduism? What are the implications of instigating hyper-nationalism and demonstrative patriotism in school students? These are some of the questions that can only be answered by thorough research. However, then again, will students with hyper-nationalism inculcated in them be able to reflect critically on the policies of the government?

The Indian university system already experiences the implications of hyper-nationalism in the form of attacks on public universities. Pathak also explains the crises of the public universities by describing how, under the dominance of hyper-nationalism, public universities are constantly under the pressure of proving their “devotion” towards the nation, otherwise university students risk being attacked and be labelled by terms like “anti-national.” The public school education system might have a similar, if not the same, future if critical thinking is not propagated among the students. Such a scenario also questions the aim of education as proposed by the Delhi government.

It can be concluded that the Desh­bhakti Curriculum gives rise to many questions pertaining to the status of the school system and future citizens. It is quite early to state the long-term effects of the curriculum but its risks can be assessed. The title of the curriculum in itself seems to be questionable and hints at propagating a hegemonic nationalism. It also runs a risk of forming citizens who do not question and follow ideologies and individuals without any reflexive thinking. Further research is necessary to explore the ideas of the Indian nation propagated by state governments to better understand the implications of such curricula.

 

New Delhi

 

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Updated On : 31st Jul, 2022
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