Dina Nath Batra, an educational activist and former RSS pracharak, has vast experience as a teacher and had also served as general secretary of Vidya Bharati, the RSS educational network that runs schools for children.
Batra has made numerous suggestions on the national educational policy to Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani.
In this interview with Abhijeet Anand, he defended the campaign that he ran against American Indologist Wendy Doniger, that led to her publisher recalling her book, The Hindus: An Alternative History, Batra said there is a need to protect India&’s culture from external influences.
What are the suggestions that you have given to the HRD minister on the national education policy?
We have suggested that there should be an autonomous Education Commission. The influence of politics on education is not good for the country. It is also essential to establish Bharatiya Education Services because the control of education should be in the hands of educationists. Ancient knowledge of tradition and glorious history of Bharat should be included in the school curriculum. Also we have said there should be free education for girls at every level. Social Service Centres, we have said, should be established at national level. Students should go to nearby locations for social service and after successful accomplishment of the work, certificates should be provided to them. Twenty per cent of the amount which is allocated for the members of municipality, legislative assembly and Parliament for the social and educational development of their areas should be compulsorily spent for the outreach and development of education. Such contributions will enhance literacy and infrastructure facilities of the country.
Worldwide there is a trend for giving autonomy to educational institutions. But here you are talking of creating an Education Commission. Why are you against a norm that is being followed everywhere?
Autonomy should be restricted to freedom. Freedom should be given to a certain extent. In making change of syllabus and curriculum, there can be freedom; we will not allow politics to come. By autonomy we mean that education should be free of politics. But there are rules and regulations. Education is governed by that.
Won’t the Education Commission itself restrict the autonomy?
Education Commission will be autonomous. On the pattern of SC, EC, a Bill will be passed. Nobody can run his writ in the Education Commission.
Do you think there is need to bring changes in the syllabi across India?
Yes, state board standards vary from one state to another. When students of some boards come for admission in the university, some are ahead of others. I think there is a need to see all this. The syllabi of the boards should be streamlined. We have said this in the suggestions given to the HRD Ministry also. We have suggested that a Control Committee should be set up to streamline the syllabi.
Has your organisation opposed the Bill which was supposed to allow foreign universities to set up campuses in India?
We say let the knowledge come from all sides. This has been there from Vedic age. But you have to safeguard yourself from cyclones. We are not talking of giving equal status to foreign universities. There are financial implications of this. Also, one has to see what academic thinking these foreign universities are bringing. What we can do is enter into collaborations. China has entered into collaboration with 30 universities.
You have said that it is good to study traditions. But when foreign authors study traditions, why do you raise objections?
They are free to study traditions but they are not free to make interpretations in whichever way they want. Jawaharlal Nehru in his autobiography has said Hindu religion is the oldest religion but Hinduism has been attacked from all sides. We have always said that we are not dogmatic. We have said truth is one. We have not said that there is one messenger of God.
But you ran a campaign against Wendy Doniger.
She is a foreigner. That foreigner has attacked Hindu beliefs. Have you read the preface of her book? She says that her aim is to look for sex in all the scriptures. And also she says that all chapters are full of sex. Any such onslaught on our culture cannot be taken lightly.
You have also attacked A K Ramanujan, who is regarded as a scholar of Indian literature.
In his book, Three Hundred Ramayanas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translations, he has written that Ravan sniffed and Sita was born.This was taught in Delhi University. He also wrote that women are childproducing machines. SC also asked DU to withdraw it, which shows it was violation of law.
Don’t you think that there should be tolerance?
We are tolerant to a certain extent. If somebody slaps me, then I must slap also. If there is no fault of mine, I should react so that one does not cross limits again.