In what is likely to raise the hackles of many educationists, the first-ever BJP government in Haryana looks set to introduce 'Bhagavad Gita' for students of all classes in its schools across the state.
The State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT), declared the designated academic authority by the state government under the Right to Education Rules, has recommended introduction of Gita for Classes 1 to 12 in government-run schools in the state.
The state education department, directed by education minister Ram Bilas Sharma to introduce the scripture in the school curriculum, had written to SCERT last month, asking it to suggest the classes in which Gita could be introduced, which chapters or portions should be included in curriculum to disseminate the teachings enshrined in the scripture and whether its saar (essence) should be taught or Sanskrit slokas (couplets, especially ones in which each line contains 16 syllables) with their meaning in simple language.
The academic authority, which constituted a team of experts to examine the issue and submitted its recommendations three days ago, has suggested introduction of slokas from Gita for each class, with the number of these going up in higher classes. While five slokas have been recommended for each of the primary classes (1 to 5), 10-15 slokas have been selected for Classes 6 to 12, with the difficulty level going up in higher classes, education department sources told Hindustan Times.
SCERT experts have suggested that slokas could be introduced in primary classes for recitation since the children in these early classes are unable to read words and sentences in their mother tongue, leave alone Sanskrit. In higher classes, 10-15 slokas each have been selected with their bhavarth (meaning) in Hindi for inclusion in curriculum.
Education department and SCERT officials confirmed shortlisting of slokas for Classes 1 to 12. Gita has 18 chapters containing 700 slokas. The department, as it has already indicated, would now consult a team of educationists, including the consultative committee proposed under RSS ideologue and retired teacher Dinanath Batra, on the method of inclusion of Gita in the school curriculum before taking the final decision.
While SCERT decides and develops the content of textbooks for Classes 1 to 5, the state government will need prior permission of National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) for making any changes in the content of books for Classes 6 to 12, as textbooks developed by the national academic body are currently being taught in government-run schools in the state. "There is no bar on having a separate book. The government will have to take the decision whether it plans to include Gita in Hindi textbooks being currently taught in schools or publish a separate book," sources said. In case the government decides to have a separate chapter on the scripture in the exiting textbooks in the academic year 2015-16, it would have to quickly finalise the content and take permissions as the new academic session commences on April 1.
The education minister, who made the announcement regarding introduction of Gita in the school curriculum, had directed the department in January that the scripture should be introduced in the syllabus so that the new generation could learn about ancient and historic events and gain from the cultural and mythological repository.
The department was asked to take quick action. The minister also pushed for inclusion of yoga in the school curriculum for better physical and mental growth of children. The state government has already appointed yoga guru Ramdev as its brand ambassador for yoga and ayurveda, with chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar writing to him to express his gratitude for acceding to the request.
Ramdev a state guest
The state government on Wednesday decided to give yoga guru Ramdev, who has been made brand ambassador for yoga and ayurveda in the state, the status of "state guest" whenever he visits Haryana. Health minister Anil Vij made this announcement through a tweet at 9pm after a meeting on promotion of yoga and ayurveda in the state.
Who stands where?
Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar: "By introducing Bhagavad Gita in textbooks and propagating yoga, we intend to improve our education and value system."
Education minister Ram Bilas Sharma: "Bhagavad Gita is the solution to everything. It is the supreme source of culture and human values in our society."
Haryana Congress president Ashok Tanwar: "We are fine with it. The government should introduce scriptures of other religions also. They all teach good things. There should be no discrimination."
Former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda: "People have faith in Gita. However, it should not be used for political purposes."
Hisar MP Dushyant Singh Chautala (INLD): "It is saffronisation of education. Children of different religions are enrolled in schools. You cannot force scriptures of a particular religion on all. Also, the government should first teach Hindi instead of focusing on Sanskrit."