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HVK Archives: Vidya Bharati: in the RSS tradition

Vidya Bharati: in the RSS tradition - The Week

Debashish Mukerji ()
November 15, 1998

Title: Vidya Bharati: in the RSS tradition
Author: Debashish Mukerji
Publication: The Week
Date: November 15, 1998

Like all good RSS pracharaks, Dinanath Batra is forthright with
his views but diffident when it comes to talking about himself.
Born in 1932 in Dera Gazi Khan - now in Pakistan - he has been
an educationist all his working life, initially as headmaster of
the DAV School at Dera Bassi in Patiala district, and
subsequently from 1966 as headmaster at the Geeta Senior
Secondary School in Kurukshetra. The Geeta School was the first
ever set up by the RSS in 1946.

The first Saraswati Shishu Mandir was begun in 1952 in a rented
building at Gorakhpur in eastern Uttar Pradesh. As the number of
schools increased, a state-level Shishu Shiksha Prabandh Samiti
was formed to coordinate their activities. As more schools were
set up in other sates more state committees were formed.

In 1977 the Vidya Bharati Akhil Bharatiya Shiksha Sansthan, was
founded, and all the state-level boards were affiliated to it.
The sansthan is today the country's biggest NGO in education,
running 13,000 institutions which employ 74,000 teachers and
educate 17 lakh students. It has 8,145 primary schools, 2,800
high and senior secondary schools, 2,000 single-teacher schools,
40 colleges, 15 teacher training colleges and seven technical
institutions.

All except the single-teacher schools and about half the primary
schools are recognised by the respective state education boards.
And Dinanath Batra, a founder member of Vidya Bharati, has been
its full-time general secretary since 1990.

The genesis of the present controversy lies in late August when
Vidya Bharati held a conference on education after three years.
nlike in earlier years, we invited other organisation in the
field of education as well, said Batra, f which 30 sent
representatives. We wanted to hear what others outside the RSS
were thinking about education as well.

Many of them were ike-minded organisation - the Ramakrishna
Mission, the Chinmaya Mission, the DAV colleges - but they
included representatives of the NCERT and the CBSE too.

At the conference, a core committee was formed draft a paper on
educational reform. Though Batra was its secretary, the
committee included many outside the RSS fold: retained NCERT
professors, a former chairman of the Staff Selection Service
Board, UP, and well-known figures like Kirit Joshi and Subhash
Kashyap. The committee formulated the list of recommendations
which has since achieved notoriety. They were submitted to Joshi
in early October.

Joshi, who had attended the last day of the conference, was
pleased. According to Batra, Joshi called in Education Secretary
S.D. Dasgupta and told him, f you can include something from
this in the government agenda, do so=94.

ut Dasgupta sent out the whole document as an annexure for the
education ministers conference, and that too from an anonymous
group of xperts, alleged Batra, Joshi however defended his
officer. don share that view. Ie not taken it up, he
said tersely.

However Joshi agreed that the description of Chitlangia as a
Vidya Bharati functionary was an error by his officials.
hitlangia has nothing to do with Vidya Bharati. Sometimes
genuine mistakes do occur, he said.


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