BJP sees attempt to 'de-Indianise country'

NEW DELHI, AUG. 30. The move by the West Bengal Chief Minister, Mr. Buddhadev Bhattacharjee, to convene a meeting of non-BJP Chief Ministers to discuss the saffronisation of education was today roundly criticised by the Bharatiya Janata Party as an attempt to ``de-Indianise the country''.

It was not very clear what the party spokesperson, Mr. Vijay Kumar Malhotra, meant when he charged that the Congress was now joining the Left in its attempt to ``de-Indianise the country''.

The CPI(M) was trying to ``politicise education,'' it had always been guilty of ``wrong interpretation of history'' and in any case the Vajpayee Government had made ``no change in any history textbook,'' Mr. Malhotra said adding it was wrong to divide India on the issue of education.

Finally, his most compelling argument was that the Government was ``ready to accept suggestions'' on various issues related to education, and that it was not attempting to change the syllabus as the University Grants Commission and universities were ``autonomous'' and quite capable of framing their own syllabus. All that the National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT) and the UGC had done was take steps to improve the quality of education to meet the emerging challenges. Those steps were within the parameters of the national policy on education adopted by Parliament.

The party may be worried that the majority of its NDA allies had expressed strong reservations on the ``saffronisation of education''. Several party leaders have said they will simply not allow the proposed changes to be introduced in States ruled by them. The Centre has no authority to impose its views on this subject which is on the concurrent list. Another view was that the national education policy approved by Parliament could not be overturned without going back to Parliament.