The Shivraj Singh Chouhan led BJP government in Madhya Pradesh (MP) has decided to include chapters on Hindu religion and mythology in technical and higher education. Announcing the new syllabus under the New Education Policy (NEP), the state’s education department said that a few chapters of the Ramayana, the Ramcharitmanas and the Mahabharata have been added to the curriculum for engineering students. The move comes days after MP announced the inclusion of the Hindutva ideologies of leaders such as RSS founder Dr Keshav Hedgewar, and Bharatiya Jan Sangh founder Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya, in MBBS courses.
The higher education minister, Mohan Yadav said that there is nothing wrong in adding the “glorious history of Mahabharata and Ramayana in the syllabus”. According to reports, the syllabus has already been prepared under the NEP, 2020 by the state’s teachers’ board. Engineering students will be taught the Ramayana and the Mahabharata in the first year. The Ram Setu, a chain of natural limestone shoals between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka that has also been mentioned in the Ramayana, has also been added to engineering courses to teach students about the thousands historic work of bridge construction.
The education minister said that the move will help in inculcating leadership ability and humanitarian attitude in students who will be familiarising themselves with the character and contemporary works related to Lord Ram. “(We will) bring our glorious past to the fore and if we can take history forward, then nobody should have any problem with it,” said the minister in his statement.
Speaking with News18, Yadav asked that if the Ramcharitmanas is not included in the Indian education syllabus, then will it be taught in Pakistan or Afghanistan. “We are so proud that lord Ram was born in our land. Even Mahatma Gandhi had passed away chanting Ram Ram, so Ram is rampant in our culture. If we include lord Ram’s life lessons as an optional subject, what’s wrong with it,” said the minister while speaking with the news channel.
Mahabharata and Ramayana for BA students
The state government has also decided to include a separate course syllabus of Mahabharata and Ramayana for BA first year students. According to reports, a chapter named “Ramcharit Manas Ke Vyavharik Darshan” (applied philosophy of the Ramcharitmanas), has been added to the syllabus.
An official said that the course, which will be an optional subject for BA students in their first year, will help in improving personality development and leadership skills of the students.
Medical Courses In Hindi
Meanwhile, the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh is also preparing to offer medical, nurses and other paramedical courses in Hindi language. The state’s education minister, Vishwas Sarang said that a committee will be formed to provide the MBBS courses in Hindi too.
Sarang had earlier asked all the medical colleges in the state to add the biography of RSS leaders – Dr Hedgewar and Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay – as part of the first year foundation course. According to the minister, reading about these “great personalities” would help in building the character of medical students and producing good doctors. The foundation course for MBBS students is likely to begin from the 2021-22 academic session.
Congress Slams Shivraj’s Government
The Opposition has criticised the MP government’s move of adding these chapters in the syllabus. Terming it to be the “saffronisation of education”, the Congress said that religion and education are both separate things and should not be mixed.
Congress’ Madhya Pradesh state spokesperson, Narendra Saluja accused the BJP of misleading the public by mixing religion with technical and higher education. “Religion could be a different subject but should not be mixed with technical knowledge,” said Saluja in his statement.
Another Congress leader, MLA Arif Masood asked CM Chouhan why the Quran, the Bible, and the Guru Granth Sahib were excluded from the syllabus. Taking a jibe at the state government, former chief minister and Congress Rajya Sabha MP Digvijay Singh said that MBBS students may no longer need to study medicine. The Congress has also expressed its extreme indignation and organised a protest in Indore regarding the proposal to rename ‘Kulpati‘ as ‘Kulguru‘ in state universities.
Chennai’s Anna University had sparked a huge controversy in a similar move in 2019, by including chapters on the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads in the syllabus for B.Tech courses. However, the university had clarified it to be an optional subject after facing backlash from rights groups and students.
Recently, a report claimed that the College of Defence Management (CDM) had recommended including the ancient chapters on Kautilya’s Arthashastra and the Bhagavad Gita into the current military training curriculum. The study said that it would be of help in the context of strategic thinking and leadership to the Indian Armed Forces.