RSS-affiliated schools bloom across Bengal

Whether it is demonetisation or the arrest of Trinamool Congress MPs in the chit fund scam, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been at loggerheads with the BJP government at the Centre.

However, the bitter acrimony seems to be absent when it comes to granting government affiliation to RSS-controlled schools in Bengal.

The State government gave affiliation to more than a dozen such schools last year. These schools are run by the Vivekananda Vidyavikas Parishad (VVP).

The VVP is the Bengal chapter of the Vidya Bharti Akhil Bhartiya Siksha Sansthan, an RSS-affiliated organisation. The VVP’s website clearly states that its primary objective is to establish an education system which will create a generation of “youths with a Hindu mindset.”

Hindu mindset

“Our aim is to develop an ideal education system which will create a generation of youths who will have Hindu mindset along with well developed spiritual outlook,” states the website of VVP, which is run by RSS pracharaks and was founded in Bengal in 1982.

Speaking to The Hindu, VVP organisational secretary Tarak Das Sarkar said: “All our schools received State government affiliation after 2011 (when TMC came to power in Bengal).” Asked why the TMC government was giving affiliation to VVP despite its known acrimony with the RSS, Mr. Sarkar, however, avoided a direct reply.

“We have followed due procedures to get the affiliations. There is no politics behind it,” he said.

Permanent affiliation

In 2016 while eight schools (up to Class VIII) and two schools (up to Class X) run by the VVP have been given permanent affiliation by the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE), 15 primary schools were issued provisional affiliation by the West Bengal Board of Primary Education. As a result these schools will now be able to get grants under the Centre’s Sarva Siksha Abhiyan scheme as well as facilities such as free textbooks and midday meal from the WBBSE. They would also be eligible for no objection certificates from the State’s Education Department for being upgraded to Secondary Schools under the WBBSE.

According to VVP authorities, the organisation currently runs 326 schools in Bengal.

Interestingly, State Education Minister Partha Chatterjee did not seem to be much bothered about it. Speaking to The Hindu the Minister said: “It is not the State government’s concern whether any organisation running schools has “Hindutwa’ as its agenda.” He also said that if the related schools themselves have declared such an agenda then their “affiliation will be withdrawn” and due action will be taken against them.