Delhi: Social, civic responsibilities in focus in deshbhakti class

Sep 29, 2021 12:08 AM IST

Under the Deshbhakti curriculum, Delhi government school teachers will work from Wednesday on instilling a sense of patriotism among students

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday launched the Deshbhakti curriculum for students studying in over 1,030 Delhi government schools in the Capital with an aim to produce “staunch patriots” instead of “moneymaking machines”, to promote development in the country.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and principal secretary (education) H Rajesh Prasad wave the Tricolour during the launch of Deshbhakti curriculum in Delhi government schools.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and principal secretary (education) H Rajesh Prasad wave the Tricolour during the launch of Deshbhakti curriculum in Delhi government schools.

Under the Deshbhakti curriculum, Delhi government school teachers will work from Wednesday on instilling a sense of patriotism among students by using classroom activities such as making and carrying flags and encouraging students to explore the idea of India and their love for the country.

The larger objective was spelled out in the budget speech by finance minister Manish Sisodia, who also holds the education portfolio, in March, when he said that the curriculum is aimed at making “responsible citizens who will contribute to nation-building”.

The curriculum framework released in August stated that it builds on interdisciplinary themes of civic literacy, environmental literacy, and global awareness.

“Deshbhakti curriculum actively seeks to build a sense of belongingness, ownership, and responsibility towards the nation among students, which would also inspire them to make necessary sacrifices for the country. These values are sought to be developed in students by facilitating critical and creative thinking skills rather than by coercion,” the curriculum framework stated.

In the curriculum released on Tuesday, teachers have been asked to share worksheets through WhatsApp on social issues around children such as elderly abuse, harassment of women, discrimination against people on the basis of caste, religion, or gender, not paying taxes, selling adulterated goods, travelling in buses or trains without tickets, or seeing someone spit on the roads.

Students will discuss these questions with their family members and acquaintances, record their observations in their diary, and share them in the class. According to the curriculum, the goal is for students to realise the misuse of resources in the country, and what can be done to improve the condition.

“While we feel patriotic when listening to stories of our freedom fighters or hear the national anthem, or see the Tricolour, it does not happen quite often. The goal is to create an atmosphere in which a child can spend 24 hours of a day basking in the feeling of patriotism. No matter what we do, everyone, including adults, should remember that they do it for the country,” said Kejriwal.

“Instead of training moneymaking machines who think about earning more money, we have to create kattar deshbhakts (staunch patriots) who work for the betterment of the country and its citizens.”

Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said it “took two years to prepare the content due to Covid-19 pandemic”.

“...the curriculum will create patriotic passion among students and not engage in moral preaching on what a patriot should or should not do. Children would be encouraged to look within themselves and be inspired through the stories of our freedom fighters such as Bhagat Singh who was hanged at 23 and understand their love for the country. We will bring this passion in the hearts of students studying in classes 6 to 7,” he said.

The curriculum has been divided into three sections -- from nursery to Class 6; classes 6 to 8 and classes 9 to 12 — with the Delhi government releasing the latter two segments on Monday. The curriculum for the first group will be released when schools reopen for them. Currently, students in classes 9 to 12 are allowed to come to school for in-person classes. Delhi Disaster Management Authority officials are expected to discuss the reopening of schools for classes 6 to 8 on Wednesday.

On September 23, HT reported that there will be one Deshbhakti period every day for students from nursery to Class 8; and two sessions per week for those in classes 9 to 12.

Teachers have been asked to act as facilitators, and allow students time to ponder over questions and refrain from giving their views on the answers given by the children.

Anju Rohilla, who is the Deshbhakti nodal teacher for SKV Uttam Nagar, said, “Learning will be through discussions and all views will be heard. While the teacher will not give their own views, their peers will be allowed to discuss every student’s idea of country, patriotism, and love for the country. So if a student’s idea of patriotism works against the spirit of diversity of the country, we plan to ask more probing questions which would lead to the student realising that any kind of discrimination or violence would not count as patriotism or love for the country...”

Parents welcome move

Most parents that HT spoke to said that they weren’t aware of the details of the curriculum but welcomed it as a positive step to inculcate a love for the country among children.

Siya Sharan, a parent of a Class 12 government school student, said, “We need the curriculum because children are getting detached from their culture and history. Planting trees or helping their fellow citizens is also a part of patriotism and only if we teach these things in schools from a young age, will students truly imbibe them. Casteism and religious divide have been a problem for too long in our country and if the curriculum addresses these issues in the school itself, it is a welcome step.”

‘Inspiring stories’

Sisodia said the idea of sharing these “inspiring stories” is to encourage students to think about the circumstances of the freedom fighters and how they strived for the country’s freedom despite adversities.

For classes 9 to 12, teachers will facilitate group discussions on topics such as the contribution of freedom fighters and activities such as identifying the different feelings if one steps on a book, water bottle, cricket bat, or the Tricolour; the respect accorded to farmers and parents of those in the armed forces; and the workers who build our cities. The students will also be asked to reflect on the diversity of the country.

The classroom learning will involve asking senior students to reflect on these questions and then note them down in their Deshbhakti diary.

However, DU professor Apoorvanand was critical of the concept. He said the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) should not bring “political battle to classrooms” and “trivialise the enterprise of education”.

“I understand the political compulsion to introduce the curriculum as the party is competing with other parties to show who is more patriotic. But I feel it is unfair to bring this in classrooms,” he said.

The curriculum

The teacher’s manual for classes 6 to 8 has seven chapters and that for classes 9 to 12 comprises five chapters.

The chapters advise discussions on topics such as “difference between love for the country and respect for the country”, “who is a patriot and what constitutes patriotism”, and questions on why the country is lagging behind in terms of development even after 75 years of Independence, and what it would take to build the “country of our dreams”.

Students will also maintain a Deshbhakti diary to record their reflections during these classes and to record their homework, including responses from elders around them.

Among the different activities prescribed for classes 6 to 8 are writing a letter, story, poem, or article on India after a discussion on the reasons to be proud of the country.

The students have also been asked to approach elder family members and acquaintances and ask them what they mean when they say they love the country.

Some activities also ask students to reflect on the shortcomings of the country, such as rising poverty, unemployment, growing population, casteism, corruption, illiteracy, child marriage, child labour, and lack of clean water and electricity.

The curriculum will also discuss India’s freedom struggle along with stories and contributions of 100 freedom fighters, including Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, Uddham Singh, Ashfaqullah Khan, BR Ambedkar, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Savitri Bai Phule, Birsa Munda, Mangal Pandey, and even publications of revolutionary papers Swaraj and Amrit Bazar Patrika.


    Kainat Sarfaraz covers education for Hindustan Times in Delhi. She also takes keen interest in reading and writing on the intersections of gender and other identities.

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