October 1999
Cover Story

Right in action

Hindutva’s large–scale takeover of educational institutions is one of the little–known but major achievements of the Kalyan Singh government in U.P. 

Kalyan Singh’s bhagwa sarkar in UP was taught a resounding lesson during the recent elections but one 
 issue that did not receive nationwide focus despite persistent efforts by local groups was the systematic infiltration into educational and cultural institutions by ideologues of the RSS.

Exactly a year ago, last September, the Kalyan Singh government introduced a unique policy initiative in the area of state education. The kulp yojana was set into motion, a compulsory initiative that links every single state– run school in the state to the RSS shakha. The brainchild of the  UP state education minister, Narendra Kumar Singh Gaur, this scheme was made compulsory for all primary schools in the state. It was, according to the government circular, aimed at the “moral and physical development of the child.” Through it, schools have been directed, especially in rural areas, to involve the RSS  pracharak in ‘naitik shiksha’ (moral education). 

The aim of the scheme is to orient all state–run schools in UP along the lines of the RSS–run Saraswati Shishu and Bal Vidya mandirs. While announcing the scheme in Uttar Pradesh, the minister said that kulp was being introduced to “enhance the qualitative standard of education” in schools and to ensure that “teachers are an intermediary between school, family and society”. (see Communalism Combat, October 1998).

The same minister, N.K. Gaur, who introduced this scheme that has already been implemented by the UP state government in the rural areas was also responsible for exposing the UP bureaucracy officially to exhortations from the RSS chief, Rajendra Singh. Way back in the 1960s, Rajendra Singh, sarsanghchalak of the RSS, professor of physics at the Allahabad University would often turn up for his lecture clad in the RSS uniform, khaki shorts and white shirt, straight from the morning shakha.

But to imagine that four decades later, on July 25, 1998, the same professor stirred up a controversy by formally meeting some of the top bureaucrats of UP in Lucknow and giving them sermons on “nationalism and honesty.” This meeting was organised by state minister Gaur, and a former RSS pracharak and now an IAS officer, Akhand Pratap Singh. The presence of UP chief secretary, Yogendra Narayan and DGP, K.L. Gupta among the 60–odd officers created ripples across the establishment. 

While Kalyan Singh’s criminal-run raj and even the gross human rights’ violations by the police and the law and order machinery have drawn some national attention, the systematic infiltration or take–over by educational and cultural institutions by ideologues of the Hindu right have been, unfortunately, ignored.

Neither the state nor the country could have forgotten the controversy over the state government’s attempts to impose the singing of Saraswati Vandana and Vande Mataram in schools all over Uttar Pradesh. What is less well–known are the persistent government moves to thrust its ideology in higher education institutions through the appointments of hard core RSS ideologues as vice–chancellors of various universities.

Persons identified clearly with an RSS background have already been put as vice–chancellors for Kumaun, Purvanchal, Lucknow universities, Kashi Vidhyapeeth. Chairman of other educational bodies like SCERT and Higher Education Commission are also RSS men now. The government is also awaiting the completion of the tenures of other vice–chancellors appointed earlier. The non–RSS chancellors are facing various administrative problems including undue political interference in day–to–day affairs.

Dr. Rooprekha Verma,  who remained officiating vice– chancellor in Lucknow for a brief spell from February 1998 to December 1998 recalls how she was repeatedly gheraoed and subjected to unprecedented hooliganism on flimsy grounds by the ABVP — the student wing of the BJP — while the UP police and administration stood as silent spectators. Not only this,  she was openly criticised by the general secretary of the student’s union of the ABVP, not for anything specific, but for her views on academics, culture and politics in the presence of the chief minister, Kalyan Singh, during the swearing–in ceremony of the office bearers of the students’ union. 
The chief minister, at the function, openly sided with the ABVP member’s brow–beating, thereby boosting their morale. Observes Roop Rekha Verma, bitterly, “While the BJP swears by the old Indian traditions where the seat of learning used to be higher than the King’s, under BJP rule in Uttar Pradesh, the institution of the vice–chancellor has been made subservient to bureaucrats and ministers.”

During her tenure, Verma received several phone call and letters from members of Parliament and ministers to pressurise her in the matter of admissions and appointments. Since they were not obliged, the administration took a non–cooperative attitude at the instance of their masters. The height of non–cooperation was that even the district magistrate and the superintendent of police were never available when problems of law and order arose within the campus of the Lucknow University. “The Govt. spent Rs. 12 lakhs in building a ‘Deoras Dwar’ on the campus but despite its pronouncements, did not release funds for academic purposes,” Verma told Communalism Combat. 

The BJP state government’s and its vice–chancellor’s (Verma’s successor) blatant and unethical support to the ABVP was witnessed during the elections to Lucknow University Student Union. The ABVP’s nominee, Daya Shankar Singh, though defeated in the elections, was administered the oath of  president.  A similar event took place in the Christian Degree College associated with the  University. Such moves have given a free hand to the ABVP, which has almost taken over control of the university and is dictating terms to not only the VC but teachers as well. 

The morale of anti–social elements under this kind of political patronage is so high that, just before the elections, a girl student of Kailash Hostel was molested in broad daylight while on a campus bus. The university authorities preferred to turn a blind eye. The professor in–charge of the campus, a staunch proponent of the RSS ideology, made a public statement saying that since teenagers do indulge in such acts, it is not serious enough to invite strong action.

One of the other instances of the open support to the criminals within the universities in Uttar Pradesh is the case of the Hindu Hostel of Allahabad university where the vice– chancellor, who incidentally has not been appointed by  the BJP, wanted to flush out criminals but was vehemently opposed by the state education minister, who is also a teacher in Allahabad University.

The state government also began the process of ‘saffronising’ the state–funded literary and cultural organisations by selectively positioning their own persons at the helm, applying no criterion of merit. Besides, the government has, in a parallel process also begun promoting, funding and patronising their own cultural organisations with a specific political objective.

The post of vice–chairman of the Hindi Sansthan once held by eminent writers like Hazari Prasad Dwivedi, Amrit Lal Nagar and Shiv Mangal Singhsuman is currently occupied by one, Saran Behari Goswami whose literary contributions are known only to RSS and BJP! The entire executive and general body of the Sansthan tells the same story. Only recently, the Sansthan excelled itself by conferring an award to P.N. Oak. Oak is notorious for his brazenly communal writings. The hostility of the Hindi Sansthan in its new ideological garb to creative literary work was evident from the fact that in 1998 it refused to give any financial assistance to Katha-kram, an annual literary event organised by writers themselves at a national level.

The position of the Sangeet Natak Academy is no different. The post of the chairman of Sangeet Natak Academy, once held by cultural stalwarts like Jaidev Singh, Amrit Lal Nagar, Birjoo Maharaj is currently occupied by D.P. Sinha, a retired member of the IAS who, of late, has sponsored another cultural organisation. It is a similar tale  with the Urdu Academy, Lalit Kala Academy and Bhartendu Natya Academy.

Despite the existence of so many academic institutions and organisations, the organisation of major cultural events like the conferring of the Avadh Samman to Ali Sardar Jafri and the staging of a National School of Drama production, Quaid–e– Hayat, were left to culture vultures and the bureaucracy!

The next few weeks are going to see hectic parleying between parties on the critical question of law and order following the political debacle of the BJP in UP. What will escape national and media attention, however, is the track record of the Kalyan Singh government on two counts. A dismal human rights’ record that resulted in poor innocents being shot dead by a state police force that was encouraged in their acts by the chief minister himself. Kalyan Singh has also brazenly refused to constitute a human rights’ commission in the state despite repeated enjoinings by the National Human Rights’ Commission. And, as significantly, the systematic infiltration of all educational and cultural institutions by the ideologues of the sangh parivar.    

— Rakesh 

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