Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been quoted in a section of the media that he has threatened to quit if the RSS did not contain its front organisations like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal from creating problems for him by their unbridled utterances. No source of this momentous information has been cited. It is, therefore, difficult to say how far this is true.
If Modi has really conveyed such an intention to the Sangh Parivar bosses, it shows his fear of losing his own importance in the Parivar. It could also be a ploy to fool the people. Modi has grown up in the Sangh Parivar ideology and it is difficult to assume that he has become a reformed bigot within a few months of becoming the Prime Minister. Modi could never have imagined to reach that position without the active support of the RSS and all its affiliates. The RSS, naturally, did not sit him on the Delhi throne to become a Jawaharlal Nehru.
He must have been fully aware of the ‘Hindutva potential’ of Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Yogi Adityanath, Sakshi Maharaj and such other fanatics when he cleared their tickets for Lok Sabha as he was holding the pre-eminent position in the party after he had got the party declare him as the prime ministerial candidate. One presumes that it was his own decision to include Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti into his Council of Ministers. Before the Lok Sabha elections Modi was also saying, in his own style, the things which he is now reported to have found unpalatable to him.
Modi was known to be the most trusted lieutenant of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and nourished in Veer Savarkar’s teachings about the ‘collective guilt of the Muslims’. Veer Savarkar believed that the ‘Muslims need to be punished not only for what they themselves have done but what their co-religionists had done in the past’.
M S Golwalkar, another source of inspiration for the Sangh Parivar activists, Narendra Modi included, points out in his book ‘We or Our Nationhood Defined’ what Hitler had done in Germany. Subhash Gatage’s well-researched book ‘Godse’s Children – Hindutva Terror in India’ quotes from Golwalkar’s book to add: ‘…Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for Races and Cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit’.
One who imbibed this ideology for nearly five decades becomes a liberal within a few month of getting power? Difficult to believe.
Primary education has never received the required attention in this country. It was completely relegated to the background when age of ‘globalisation’ started in the early nineties; the focus was then shifted, obviously and unashamedly, onto the institutions of higher learning, universities, IIMs, IITs and so on. Even the present Government has promised spread of IITs, IIMs and universities with no word about improving the quality of teaching at the lowest level or improving the conditions of school buildings which continue to be derelict across the country, with negligible exceptions.
Not surprisingly, the private shops are flourishing everywhere in the country where the child’s education is not only costly but not always conducive to the proper development of the child’s personality and character.
“Free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years within a period of ten years after the commencement of the Constitution” was enshrined in the Directive Principles of the Constitution. It was only in 2009 – fifty-nine years after the promulgation of the Constitution – that the Union Government enacted the Right to Education Act for providing free and compulsory education to the children of 6-14 year age group. It became operative from April 2010. Its implementation continues to be tardy because no Government, either at the Centre or in the States, has its heart in it.
A recent report on “Elementary Education in India: Progress towards Universal Elementary Education” prepared by Union Ministry of Human Resources reportedly on instruction of Minister Smriti Irani highlights the sorry state of primary education in the country, including in Gujarat.
There are a few conscientious persons who are trying to impart meaningful education to children. One such couple was spotted by journalist-turned-writer Hartosh Singh Bal during his procrastinated journey along the river Narmada. In his book “Waters Close over Us”, Bal describes in detail his meeting with Amit and Jayashree and went to visit their school at Sakkad village near Sendhwa in the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh.
Bal says that Amit and Jayashree were working among the tribals in Jhabua district when their attention turned to issues that needed more prolonged attention. With children of their own, the state of the Government schools was an obvious focus. The schools barely functioned, teachers rarely if ever taught, and in the happy circumstances where these problems did not exist, the Bhil students were repeatedly tested on a curriculum that had no relevance to their lives.
They decided to set up a school that stemmed from a way of seeing and acting in the world very different from what they had left behind. In the years since it was set up, they had managed to implement several of the ideas they had in mind. A curriculum had been designed with local needs in mind, built around a history that meant something to the Bhil students. The learning was interactive. Students tried out science projects and mathematical problems on their own rather than through rote learning. Even something as simple as tending to the garden with its organically grown vegetables ensured that these children of farmers carried a new knowledge home.
This would stand out in any of India’s large cities, writes Bal, leave alone the corner of tribal India where a functional school was a small miracle in itself. But there were no teachers in the region who could teach what was required. The solution was eventually found: the older students, who had already learnt the material through their own interaction with Amit and Jayashree, knew what to teach. The timings for the classes were staggered, and the older students acted as guides on the same journey they had already undertaken. Education and stay for them was free: the school sustained itself on the fee the parents of younger students could afford to pay, as well as the money from friends and well-wishers.
Such efforts are being made at other places also, but they are few and isolated. The tragedy is that in India those who can afford prefer to donate for temples or religious activities rather than invest in imparting good and cheap education to children.
What Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on black money in Parliament was TOTALLY irrelevant. The issue was not what the government is, or is not, doing. The point under discussion was Narendra Modi’s promise.
Before the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had formally declared Narendra Modi as the Prime Ministerial candidate — the first time a party in India had done so. Modi iterated and reiterated dozens of times during the election campaign that if his party was voted to power, he would bring back the entire black money stashed in foreign banks within 100 days.
The BJP was voted to power and Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister. Nearly 200 days have elapsed since. Modi has not only failed to bring back the black money from foreign banks but has also stopped even talking about that. The people of the country have the right to seek answers to certain pertinent questions arising from this situation.
When Modi was repeatedly making the promise to bring back black money within 100 days, was he doing so with definitive information which he had and others apparently did not have or did not want to disclose? Or was he taking the people of the country for a ride with the intention of luring them into voting for the BJP?
If he did have some information, the people who have voted for his party need to be taken into confidence and told about it and also the nature of difficulties that have arisen preventing him from fulfilling his 100-day deadline promise. This should better be explained by Modi himself. Even Arun Jaitley did not touch upon these issues but continued to harp on clichés so often heard in Parliament during the ‘corrupt’ UPA regime of Manmohan Singh. That is a dead horse now. Why does Jaitley continue to flog it to hide his own government’s failures?
If Modi’s 100-day deadline promise was based on nothing substantial, he should stand up as a man and apologise to the people of the country for making a fool of them. This cannot be left to others like Arun Jaitley.
In the late eighties’, Vishwanath Pratap Singh had sought – and got – power by promising to book the culprits of the Bofors within 30 days. That turned out to be as big a hoax as Modi’s 100-day deadline to bring back black money. The people felt cheated as they are feeling now. Some mechanism needs to be developed to take to task such unconscionable demagogues for taking the people for granted for their selfish ends. Then only the country can have a healthy democracy.