Over the weekend of 25-26 March 2017, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), through its intellectual body Prajna Pravah conducted a seminar at Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Technology and Management. This “Gyan Sangam”, an invitation-only event, was attended by over 700 scholars and over 50 of the top executives of government universities across the country. Yogesh Tyagi, Vice Chancellor of the University of Delhi, was also present at the seminar. The two-day event was a closed-door workshop and was apparently triggered by a contemporary need to “Indianise” the educational system by providing a nationalist narrative.
J Nanda Kumar, the National Convenor of the Prajna Pravah, talked about the dilution of the Indian culture as a result of the “culture of protests” and the practice of “cultural evenings” on campus. He said, “This is a time of revival of nationalism throughout the world. All intellectuals here should also come together to nationalise our education system.” This cry for change is apparently an attempt to free the students’ minds from colonial values and replace them with national values. He stated, “We have to develop a social an intellectual point of view that will be able to solve the problems of our current generation. We have to free our youth from the colonial values.” RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said during the proceedings, “This seminar is not organised to raise an alternative narrative but to raise the true nationalist narrative in our education system.”
The seminar had three sections – session-wise discussion with regard to academic subjects such as history and political science, expert sessions on topics such as cultural onslaught, and an interactive session with Mohan Bhagwat. None of these sessions provided any specific policy details as to how the education system will, in reality, be “Indianised” or how university syllabi will include a “Bhartiya” perspective. The only answers received were the crafting of a non-governmental and autonomous academic system. How this will automatically lead to the removal of the “culture of protests” and the Indianising of education is yet to be clarified. When J Nanda Kumar claims that the current atmosphere in Indian universities “badly affects young minds and poisons the environment of our educational institutes”, the least these young minds deserve is a reasonable alternative that will lead to holistic growth and awareness among students – not merely the furthering of a self-serving agenda by an increasingly authoritarian ruling party.
Image credits: Press Trust of India