Nine books introduced in Gujarat’s schools celebrate the gurukul style of learning in ancient India, prescribe a code of conduct for teachers and students that conforms to “Bharatiya sanskriti” (Indian culture), redraw the map of India to include other countries, and interpret history through a series of stories on rishi-munis, dev-daanav (saints, demons, deities) and “heroes” of pre-Independence India.
The Gujarat government published the nine books in March this year and, through a recent circular, mandated them as supplementary reading for primary and secondary students, with distribution free to 42,000 government schools.
Four books in a series titled Prernadeep compile anecdotes about how a childless couple got children by doing gau seva, how the country’s second president Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan had told the British that Indians were “rotis cooked right by God”, and how a “Bal Narendra” hid behind a bunch of plantains waiting for Hanuman.
Shikshan Nu Bharatiyakaran defines “entertainment” for school students as: “Collecting tickets, stones, stamps, pictures, feathers of birds, or cards, and preparing a scrapbook of these, participating in social activities, watching programmes on Doordarshan, and organising a programme on Akashvani for the school”
The same book pushes for the use of the word “acharya” in place of “professor”, saying the latter is a legacy of the British. “Professors profess, or preach, while the acharya practises. So quit such pretentious usage and permanently use acharya,” it says.
Eight of these books, published by Gujarat State School Textbook Board, are by Dina Nath Batra, national executive of the RSS education wing, Vidya Bharati. The ninth, Tejomay Bharat, has members of Vidya Bharati in its review committee, and seeks to redefine history, science, geography and redraw the map of India.
As many as 50,000 copies of each of these books have been distributed. These are Vidyalaya: Pravruttiyon Nu Ghar; Shikshan Maa Triveni; Prernadeep 1,2,3, and 4; Shikshan Nu Bhartiyakaran, Vedic Mathematics and Tejomay Bharat. “No royalty or any fee has been paid to the author. We are not charging any amount from school students for 45,000 copies,” said the chairman of GSSTB, Nitin Pethani.
All eight of Batra’s books carry a full-page bio of the author, with messages from then chief minister Narendra Modi, and education ministers Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, Nanubhai Vanani and Vasuben Trivedi.
The books were written by Dina Nath Batra in Hindi around seven or eight years back. “The Gujarat State School Textbook Board had seen and read our books. They liked them and said they wanted to translate them into Gujarati and introduce them in schools. No financial exchange has been made; it was entirely on good relations. I have not taken a single paisa,” Batra told The Indian Express from Delhi.
Indians as ‘rotis, cooked just right’