Saffronizing our education

By Dr. Sao Tunyi


When Governor P. B Acharya nominated 10 members to the Court of Dibrugarh University, he was accused of nominating at least four members who neither have strong academic background nor good social reputation except that they all have RSS background. The Governor’s action was not an isolated case, but a part of a systematic plan of the RSS-led BJP to saffronize our education. The attempt to oust Amartya Sen from Nalanda University is a more recent example. The Nobel Laureate said that the Modi government is attempting to seize control over academic institutions in the country.


Professor Meera Nanda in her book ‘The God Market: How Globalization is making India more Hindu’ argues that with neoliberal capitalism, religiosity has not decreased but increased especially among middle class and the god market has become a booming business to tap this increased religiosity and money. Globalisation has not curtailed the spread of virulent political Hinduism but is actually driving its growth. One major area of this market is to make education in India Hindu. The institutions for training Hindu priests and teaching Hindutva have rapidly increased. There is mad rush to get ‘deemed’ university status for these institutions. Once the university gets recognized, the corporate bodies invest heavily in the university. The education imparted in these institutions is not to develop critical and analytical thinking, but to spread Hindu worldview and Hindu nationalism/patriotism and training of priests on Hindu rituals. This ‘State-Temple-Corporate complex’ is cultivating a religiosity which is replacing the more secular institutions of the Nehruvian era.


The Hindu majoritarianism plays the card of a victim which our Governor played in his speech at a temple in West Bengal, when he said that in some part of our country; even the name of Krishna cannot be invoked. Professor Nanda says that the Sangh parivar has been drawing political mileage out of the lie that government favors the minorities with its appeasement policies and Hindus are victimized in their own country. But the lie is exposed by the fact that crores and crores of public money are being diverted for funding temple constructions, renovations, training of hindu priests and running the temple-run institutions. Rajasthan government spends Rs. 26 crores every year for temple renovations and training Hindu priests. Government of Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh gifted lands to Baba Ramdev to build 2 universities. Jharkhand gifted him another 100 acres of land. Although his medicines are not scientifically tested, his university was given recognition and he was appointed as its ‘vice-chancellor for life’. Multi-million dollar Ashram of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar near Bangalore stands on government land which was leased to him for 99 years. Orissa government gifted him 200 acres of land to build a Sri Sri University of Art of Living.


Amartya Sen pointed out that under the Modi government, there is budget cut on education and health. He said this is wrong because economic development requires an educated and healthy workforce. He said Modi’s formula on economic growth is driven by financial and industrial leadership instead of putting human beings at the centre. The result is that public education is underfunded and is increasingly being controlled by private hands with extreme ideology. This cut in government spending on education and health correlates well with Meera Nanda’s assessment that the government is now ‘actively seeking partnerships with private sector and Hindu establishments to run schools, universities, tourist facilities, and other social services.  As a result, public funds earmarked for creating public goods are increasingly being diverted into facilitating the work of these charitable institutions which bear a distinctly Hindu traditionalist bias.’


IIT Delhi and Bombay have been affected. There is a draft bill to bring IIMs under direct control of the government. There is attempt to politicize all education institutions and governing bodies and penetrate them with people from RSS background. Coaching centres for competitive exams have come up with the aim to inculcate an ideology and control key decision making positions. There is attempt to teach students that all the scientific discoveries and inventions (e.g. stem research, television) were already discovered in ancient India documented in Hindu mythological books. Pseudo-science such as Astrology is peddled as ‘science’ where one can get a Ph. D degree. There is reason to suspect, going by the news items in national dailies, that re-writing of NCERT textbooks is already underway. These are all part of a grand plan to saffronize education in India.


Dr. Sao Tunyi works as an Epidemiologist at Directorate of Health and Family Welfare, Kohima. Feedback can be sent to, or visit his blog