Why is TMC diktat on schools in West Bengal is mere polarizing tactic

The West Bengal government has decided to shut down around 125 schools affiliated to the RSS. It was found that these 125 schools are run mostly by three trusts – Sarada Shishu Tirtha, Saraswati Shishu Mandir, and Vivekananda Vidya Vikas Parishad, which proclaim to be affiliated to the Lucknow-headquartered Vidya Bharati Akhil Bharatiya Shiksha Sansthan. Vidya Bharati the educational wing of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh runs one of the largest chain of the private schools and colleges in India with an aim to build a generation that is committed patriotic fervor that will laid base of a robust and unassailable India.

In fact, its chain of schools have already produced eminent scientists and businessmen apart from legislators, bureaucrats and policy makers who have contributed immensely to the growth of this country in last sixty six years.

Vidya Bharati stands for Akhil Bharatiya Shiksha Sansthan that was established in 1952. Today the organization is running more than 12,364 schools, 428 colleges, 12,108 Sewa Kendras where more than 34 Lakh students are getting quality education from 1.5 Lakh thoroughly trained teachers.

The pupils of these schools are superior to their contemporaries both physically and mentally as well as spiritually as Vidya Bharati prepares its students better to face stiff challenges of day to day life. As in addition to the prescribed curriculum, the Vidya Bharati schools teach five extra subjects: moral education, which includes stories of heroes, songs, honesty and personal hygiene, physical education, which includes learning to wield a stick, martial arts and yoga, music, Sanskrit and Vedic mathematics.

In fact, few ideological organizations have contributed to nation building as Vidya Bharati did. So, just to bring the brand down, the political parties opposing RSS have resorted to intimidating tactics. Diktat issued by West Bengal government to close 125 schools run by Vidya Bharati and its affiliated organizations is one such tactic adopted by Mamata Government.

Meanwhile the Mamata government is justifying the its move by saying, “some schools in Bengal are not in accordance with the education syllabus.” However, the government is skirting from answering the query if it is taking similar action against some of the Madrassas, which have been found to be openly violating the prescribed syllabus by imbibing fundamentalism and spirit of Anti-Nationalism in their students and are in fact depriving children from basic education in science and mathematics.

The Mamata Banerjee led state government cannot show similar resolve to take any action against those Madrassas as it is busy in appeasing a specific section of society who are harboring Islamic Fundamentalist and the cross border illegal migrants and who make biggest chunk of vote share in some parts of West Bengal. Thus, the move is more of tactic of polarizing the electorate on communal lines.  Similar action by Mamata Government was seen to appease the specific section of population during Durga Puja Idol immersion also.   Indian Muslims do not subscribe to such thoughts of Islamic fundamentalism coming from cross border organization and Wahabis.

As far as confusion pertaining the syllabus is concerned, it is a fact that Vidya Bharati supplement standardized NCERT textbooks with its own books emphasizing the ideology of ‘Sa Vidya, Sa Vimuktaye’ that means ‘where there is knowledge, there is freedom’.

In addition to that, in the morning assembly sessions, the children are taught to sing prayers and songs steeped in the spirit of patriotism and nationalism. During national day celebrations, like the Republic Day, students are given speeches on terrorism, self-defence and the need to fight violent activists posing threat to sovereignty and integrity of India. In fact, Vidya Bharati is taking education to the most deprived and destitute sections of the Indian sub-continent including the tribal population and far flung areas of North East so that they are liberated from the shackles of social evils and injustice. Thus they are also brought along with the mainland inhabitants to contribute in building harmonious, prosperous and culturally rich Nation.

In addition to formal schools which go by a variety of names such as Shishu vatikas, Shishu mandirs, vidya mandir, Saraswati vidyalas; Vidya Bharati also runs Sanskar Kendras (cultural schools) and single-teacher schools for cultural education.

It controls over 250 intermediate colleges and about 25 institutions of higher education and training colleges. In real terms, Vidya Bharati is fighting an “ideological battle against Macaulay, Marx and Madrasawadis” as it advocates “Indianization, nationalization and spiritualization” of education.

TMC government in the state of West Bengal has insisted on painting public buildings in blue and white colour. The dash of blue-white is known to be chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s favourite as she wears white sarees with a blue border with blue-white slippers. Some schools have protested prominent being the Principal of Krishnachandrapur High School who has decided to protest against this diktat by writing a letter to the state’s education secretary.. Saffron has been a colour of their school since its establishment in 1948 by the Ramakrishna Mission.  TMC government spending over 500 crores on painting buildings blue and white ,when the schools are suffering from shortage of essential infrastructure such as classrooms, blackboards, libraries, laboratories and even toilets needs to be questioned.

TMC diktat on schools in West Bengal is mere polarizing tactic and schools and education should be kept out of politics.

Education must not simply teach work, it must teach life … says, Martin Luther King Jr.

–Vinit Goenka