Can anyone tell me meaning of saffronisation? says Dinanath Batra

  • Sanjeev K Ahuja, Hindustan Times, Gurgaon
  • Updated: Nov 19, 2014 11:51 IST

Dinanath Batra, the man who got Wendy Doniger's book on Hinduism pulped on the grounds that it insulted Hindus says he will leave his ideology back in Delhi when he steps into Haryana as head of a proposed committee to advise the state government on educational reforms.

As chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi wrote the foreword for his books, but Dinanath Batra is clear he has no connection with India’s Prime Minister .

Batra, who acquired pan-Indian presence by getting American writer Wendy Doniger's book on Hinduism pulped on the grounds that it insulted Hindus, is now heading to Haryana.

The 85-year-old retired school headmaster was recently appointed as head of a proposed committee that will advise Haryana government on educational reforms.

Batra, president of Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas and national convener of Shiksha Bachao Andolan, told HT in an interview he would introduce the recommendations of Kothari commission that lay special focus on patriotism, healthcare, social consciousness and spiritualism.

His focus on gurukul style of learning , redrawing the Indian map to include other countries and interpreting history through stories about rishi-munis (sages and seers), dev-daanav (deities and demons) among others to conform to “Bharatiya sanskriti” or Indian culture has critics. Batra, however, does not appear concerned.

Recuperating from a surgery in his Delhi home, the controversial author — whose books have been prescribed by Gujarat for its school students — said he would be a changed man when he enters Haryana for his new role.

What would say about fears that Dinanath Batra’s induction in the committee will cause saffronisation of the education system in now-BJP ruled Haryana?
Can anyone tell me the meaning of safrronisation? Is it about donning saffron attires or anything else? Saffron fabric symbolises sacrifice and service. As per Vivekananda, sacrifice and service are the ideals of our country.

The worry is about the saffronisation of the curriculum to be introduced in the state. What is your take on this?
The curriculum in Haryana will be designed on the basis of the proposed national education policy. Union education (human resource development) minister Smriti Irani has said the new education policy will be rolled out within a month or in the new year. It is to be finalised after large-scale deliberations and debates after wide publicity and not by a handful of experts. We will go to villages and towns to reach out to people including principals, parents and education department officials to know their feedback. It will not be a one-man show but a wider consultation and suggestions of the people would be inducted in the proposed state education policy.

What about fears that the new education policy will have a glimpse of your ideology?
I will leave my ideology back in Delhi when I step into Haryana, where I will talk to the people and department officials and other stakeholders on the basis of which the ideal education system will be framed for the state for the new academic session next year.

What are your views on spiritual education?
I agree with the four words suggested by the Kothari Commission that has said patriotism, healthcare, social consciousness and spiritualism should be a part and parcel of our education system. Spiritualism is not about worship or prayers, it is about human service which is service to God.

Haryana is not known for being strong on the education front and the state’s youth have not truly got the benefits of development and industrialisation. What’s your take on this?
Haryana will not be backward on this front anymore as the skills education I plan will connect it with industries. Mahatma Gandhi had always propagated the need for skill education and development, and Thinking Fingers was his idea. Thinking Fingers means that whatever you think should be produced with hands. But our syllabus does not carry skills development curriculum, as it’s more on theoretical side. You will find new curriculum from new session.

What you plan to introduce specifically for the youth?
The focus needs to on developing vocational and professional opportunities. Youth should also get the right kind of direction. Education is not only aimed to win your daily bread and butter, but also for the art of living life. A new consultation committee will take care of it in Haryana.

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