‘Saraswati’ replaces Indira’s name from Rajasthan government scheme for girls | cities | Hindustan Times
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‘Saraswati’ replaces Indira’s name from Rajasthan government scheme for girls

The Indira Priyadarshini Puruskar Yojana will now be called Padmakshi Puruskar Yojana. Padmakshi is another name for Goddess Saraswati. The award will be given on Basant Panchami- celebrated as the birthday of the goddess- beginning 2017-18 session.

cities Updated: Jul 03, 2017 09:17 IST
Rakesh Goswami
Students of government secondary school study in a class in western Rajasthan.
Students of government secondary school study in a class in western Rajasthan.(HT File Photo)

The Rajasthan education department has replaced the name of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi from a scheme for meritorious girls in secondary schools in June this year.

The Indira Priyadarshini Puruskar Yojana, given to girls who score the highest in their district in Classes 10 and 12 of the Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education (RBSE), will now be called Padmakshi Puruskar Yojana.

Padmakshi, meaning a woman with lotus-like eyes, is another name for Goddess Saraswati, the deity of wisdom and knowledge. The award will be given on Basant Panchami at district-level functions every year, beginning 2017-18 session, said a press note from the education department.

Basant Panchami — celebrated as the birthday of the goddess — marks the beginning of spring (Basant in Hindi) and falls on the fifth day (Panchami) of Maagh month in the Hindu calendar. Hindus worship the goddess on this day and wear yellow — the colour of spring.

“Girls of general, scheduled caste, scheduled tribe, other backward class, minorities and below poverty lines categories who score the highest in RBSE exams in Class 8, 10 and 12 will be awarded with cash and a certificate,” the note quoted the education minister, Vasudev Devnani, as saying.

However, the press note was silent on renaming of the scheme.

The Ashok Gehlot government started the Indira Priyadarshini Puruskar Yojana in 2010-11 to award Rs 50,000 to Class 12 and Rs 40,000 to Class 10 district toppers in four categories: Schedules caste, scheduled tribe, other backward class and minorities.

In 2013, the former chief minister included general category girls in the scheme and increased the award money to Rs 1,00,000 for Class 12 and Rs 50,000 for Class 10.

Apart from the new name, the Padmakshi Yojana now has extended the award to toppers of Class 8 and included BPL families as the sixth category. The education department note said girls of each category scoring the highest in Class 8 in their district will be given Rs 40,000.

The award scheme, Devnani has been quoted as saying, is to promote girls’ education in the state and to maintain their enrolment rate in government schools.

When HT reached out to the minister for a comment on the rechristening of the award scheme, he said, “Focus on the positives of the scheme – we have included a new category and extended it to include Class 8 toppers.”

Gehlot, though, reacted sharply to the change. “Changing names of government schemes is a manifestation of a mean mentality. Schemes are named after leaders of the country and not of parties. This (the name change) is a dangerous trend,” he told HT on telephone.

Last year, Rajasthan government came under fire for erasing India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru from the Class 8 textbook.

In the new textbooks for Class 10 and Class 12 introduced this year, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled state has an extra dose of nationalism, with Hindutva ideologue Veer Savarkar pushing the role of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, to the margins.

Educationists criticised the rewritten textbooks, calling the new curriculum ‘Hinduisation’ of the country’s freedom struggle.