An RSS affiliate, which describes Brexit as a movement for reclaiming national identity, will hold a conference on “salvaging the uniqueness of Indian entity”, an event that will be hosted by a university with two ministries as partners.
The host – Indira Gandhi National Open University (Ignou) and the partners – union ministries of human resource development and health and family welfare – are bound to raise eyebrows and invite charges of government aiding RSS and its affiliates.
Rivals often accuse the Modi government of letting the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), the ideological parent of the ruling BJP, impose its radical views in fields of education, culture and science.
The RSS maintains that it is an apolitical organisation and steers clear of the government and its decisions.
The Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal through the conference plans to hark back to an India that was “sone ki chidiya (the golden sparrow, a reference to the country’s vast riches and wealth) to preserve its contribution to science and astronomy.
The Indian Institute of Mass Communication, an autonomous body under the information and broadcasting ministry, Delhi-based Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, which works under the ministry of culture, and Bharat Niti are the other partners.
The academic exercise was in line with the growing discomfort against globalisation and the demand for “looking inwards”, BSM joint organising secretary Mukul Kanitkar said.
“It is a phenomenon that is occurring world over. Look at Brexit, for 62% of the people it was an issue of identity. Under the garb of globalisation, uniformity is being foisted on people,” Kantikar told HT.
His views are reflected on the BSM website. It says BSM started work in the educational sector in 1969 to awaken patriotism and nationalism. Its aim is to re-orient the present education system in tune with Indian knowledge tradition.
The two-day Idea of Bharat conference, scheduled for February, will also address issues such as a righteous prosperity, self restraint vs legal restrain to create a social order.
IGNOU would provide logistics and academic coordination for the event, academic coordinator professor Kapil Kumar told HT.
When asked why the university had chosen to partner the RSS, often criticised for trying to impose its stringent Hindutva agenda in the fields of education and culture, Kumar said, “These are absurd fears about the Sangh.”
The university had earlier partnered with “Left-aligned organisations” as well. “All those who raise questions about the RSS, they should worry about those who praise Pakistan in campuses,” he said.