Poisoning the minds of children

Aditya Mukherjee and Mridula Mukherjee

The heavy cost the nation had to pay for poisoning the minds of young children was seen in Gujarat during the mass murders following Godhra and in Orissa recently.

“Wherever they went, they had a sword in their hand. Their army went like a storm in all the four directions. Any country that came their way was destroyed. Houses of prayers and universities were destroyed. Libraries were burnt religious books were destroyed. Mothers and sisters were humiliated. Mercy and justice were unknown to them.”

This is what lakhs of children going to RSS-run schools will learn about Islam, at the tender age of nine, from their textbook Gaurav Gatha for class four published by Saraswati Shishu Mandir Prakashan (an RSS-run publishing house).

As visible proof of Muslim atrocities the same book also teaches:

“Delhi’s Qutb Minar is even today famous in his (Qutbuddin Aibak’s) name. This had not been built by him. He could not have been able to build it. It was actually built by emperor Samudragupta. Its real name was Vishnu Stambha…. This Sultan actually got some parts of it demolished and its name was changed.”

While thus demonising the Muslims, strangely it does not occur to the Hindu communalists how apt the above description is of what they themselves have been up to in Gujarat, Pune and Ayodhya in recent years. In Pune, the library of the Bhandarkar Institute was vandalised, in Gujarat mothers and sisters were humiliated and murdered, and in Ayodhya the Babri Masjid was demolished.

In the understanding of the Sangh combine (Parivar or family connotes a decent, humane value and cannot be associated with organisations that promote hatred and murder) led by the RSS, the role of Christians is no better than that of the Muslims.

The RSS-run Vidya Bharati Sansthan, which claims to be engaged in providing to the young generation education in religion, culture and nationalism, has the following to teach children about Christians in book no. 12 of a series published by the Sansthan. Followers of Christianity are portrayed as anti-national and a threat to the integrity of India and it is said:

“It is because of the conspiratorial policies of the followers of this religion that India was partitioned. Even today Christian missionaries are engaged in fostering anti–national tendencies in Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal, Bihar, Kerala, and other regions of our country because of which there is a grave danger to the integrity of present day India.”

Warnings unheeded

The heavy cost the nation had to pay for this kind of poisoning of the minds of young children ( a poisoning aided by the BJP using state power whenever and wherever they got hold of it) was seen in Gujarat during the mass murders following Godhra and in Orissa recently. For years before the Godhra riots secular activists like Teesta Setalvad had been warning repeatedly that if the communal hatred being taught to Gujarat children went unchecked, then Gujarat was heading inevitably towards the kind of communal carnage it witnessed in 2002.

After all the children in Gujarat who were exposed to the RSS type of education were not only learning to see the enemy in Muslims and Christians, they were also learning how to deal with it.

Children reading the Gujarat State Social Studies text for class IX would learn:

“apart from the Muslims even the Christians, Parsees and other foreigners are also recognised as the minority communities. In most of the states the Hindus are in minority and Muslims, Christians and Sikhs are in majority in these respective states”.

In the Gujarat State Social Studies text for Std. X, which virtually eulogises fascism and Nazism, the children would learn how to deal with these ‘foreigners’ who are making the Hindus a minority in their own country.

“Internal Achievements of Nazism: Hitler lent dignity and prestige to the German government within a short time by establishing a strong administrative set up. He created the vast state of Greater Germany. He adopted the policy of opposition towards the Jewish people and advocated the supremacy of the German race. He adopted a new economic policy and brought prosperity to Germany….He instilled the spirit of adventure in the common people.”

That in order to maintain the purity and supremacy of the ‘Aryan’ race millions of Jews were butchered was not even thought worthy of mention.

After all, the RSS ideologue, Guru Golwalkar, had categorically stated in We or Our Nationhood Defined, p. 55-56:

“German race-pride has now become the topic of the day. To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the semitic racesthe Jews. Race-pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for use in Hindusthan to learn and profit by.”

These are only a few samples of the kind of ideological poisoning that is undertaken by the RSS and its allies. We have in our book RSS, School Texts and the Murder of Mahatma Gandhi: The Hindu Communal Project, Sage, New Delhi, 2008, (authored by Aditya Mukherjee, Mridula Mukherjee and Sucheta Mahajan, all Professors of History at JNU) tried to show extensively how the vicious Hindu communal propaganda not only led to the murder of one the greatest living Hindus, Mahatma Gandhi, but even today threatens the very survival of the great legacy of our freedom struggle — a secular, multi-cultural democratic state.

No regulatory framework

No civilised country in the world today will permit racism (communalism is akin to racism and anti-semitism) to be propagated at the popular level, especially at the child’s level. It is shocking that more than sixty years after independence hate speeches can still be given during mass election campaigns threatening to cut off the hands of Muslims. It is totally unacceptable that our children are still exposed to hatred towards other communities despite secular governments making promises about “detoxifying” the education system. A promise last made in 2004 when the victory of the secular forces provided a historic opportunity to combat communalism and to restore the civilisational values of the freedom struggle which were getting severely eroded under BJP rule. However, more than four years later, schools are free to choose any textbooks they please and there is no regulatory framework in place for whetting textbooks before they can be used.

(The writers are professors of history at Jawaharlal Nehru University.)

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