New Delhi, Aug 7: Within months of the Bharatiya Janata Partys victory in 2014 general elections, the then HRD Minister Smriti Irani, claims a new book, "met with senior RSS figures" who wanted "the essentials of the Indian culture" to be reflected in the school curriculum across the country. This claim, along with an exploration of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) into its present form is presented in "The RSS: A View to the Inside" by Walter K. Andersen and Shridhar D. Damle, who had written "The Brotherhood In Saffron" in 1988. "Attending the meeting was the influential RSS sah sarkaryavah (Dattatreya) Hosabale, who has taken the lead in the RSS on educational matters.
"A year later, on 6-7 September 2015, the education and culture ministers of the BJP-controlled states met with Irani and RSS participants to talk about a uniform educational policy in the states," claims the book, backed by an elaborate reference section. The book further mentions that in view of the "importance of the HRD ministry in implementing the RSS goal of ‘indianizing' education", the party selected Prakash Javadekar to replace the controversial Irani.
"Just a month after assuming his new post, Javadekar called a meeting that included senior RSS and BJP officials and other constituents of the sangh parivar engaged in education. The motive of this meeting, says the book, was to discuss "the draft education policy earlier initiated by Irani" and to seek "suggestions to instill nationalism, pride and ancient Indian values in modern education".
The book points a finger to HRD minister's "appointments to sensitive cultural and academic bodies", mentioning that it aroused a chorus of criticism. It refers to the removal of Parvin Sinclair as the director of National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), and among others, the naming of Gajendra Chauhan as chair of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII).
"A direct strategy to create a competitive Hindutva intellectual narrative is reflected in the proliferation of RSS think tanks, eight of them in the Delhi region alone, that sprang up following the surprise BJP loss in the 2004 parliamentary elections. "They have emerged as major players in the think tank world of Delhi in the wake of the BJP victory of 2014," the book says.
It also says that "who's who of the BJP and the Modi government", including Principal Secretary to the Prime minister Nripendra Misra, NITI Aayog members Bibek Debroy and V.K. Saraswat, BJP national executive member Bal Desai and ministers such as Suresh prabhu, Nirmala Sitharaman, Jayant Sinha and M.J. Akbar are associated with such think tanks. The book, published by Penguin Random House, is priced at Rs 699 and is available both in stores and online.