Birthday cakes bad, 'Undivided India': Dinanath Batra's works now in Guj schools

A set of books by Dinanath Batra - who gained notoreity when he managed to get Penguin to agree to pulp American scholar Wendy Doniger’s book on Hinduism - are now going to be a part of the Gujarat primary school syllabus, says a report in the Indian Express

The report says that on 30 June, "the state government issued a circular directing more than 42,000 primary and secondary government schools across the state to make a set of nine books by Batra, translated from Hindi to Gujarati, part of the curriculum’s 'supplementary literature'."

And the books contain some gems which highlight Dinanth Batra's 'Indian' thinking.

For instance the report points out that in one book titled "Shikhan nu Bhartiyakaran (Indianisation of Education)" Batra writes against the celebration of birthdays with cakes and candles because it is a western practice. He writes, "Instead, we should follow a purely Indian culture by wearing swadeshi clothes, doing a havan and praying to ishtadev (preferred deity), reciting mantras such as Gayatri mantra, distributing new clothes to the needy, feeding cows, distributing prasad and winding up the day by playing songs produced by Vidya Bharati."

In another book, Batra also shows that regardless of geopolitical compulsions, he does not believe that India's neighbours should be recognised as separate countries. In a book titled "Tejomay Bharat (Shining India)", Batra argues that the Indian map should include "countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Burma" as it's all a "part of Akhand Bharat.” He also writes, “Undivided India is the truth, divided India is a lie. Division of India is unnatural and it can be united again…”

He also feels that there is no need for English language education and instead advocated the teaching of Sanskrit to students along with a an emphasis on the mother tongue ("with 20 percent for Sanskrit") with Hindi as a second language.

Dinanath Batra in this photo. Image by Pallavi Polanki

Dinanath Batra in this photo. Image by Pallavi Polanki

Bharat Pandit, Director of Gujarat State School Textbook Board, told the paper, "These books, with several references by Dina Nath Batra from our rich history, will help our students develop moral values and that should be considered an integral part of education."

This is not the first time that Dinanath Batra has spoken out against what he calls the influence of Western culture and the corruption of Indian history. In an earlier interview with Firstpost Batra had said that “children of Marx and Macaulay” were “defaming Hinduism”.

He also objected to NCERT textbooks saying, "As far as NCERT is concerned, the current textbooks are misleading and full of flaws."

Batra had added, “There were 75 passages that were misinterpretations and defamatory. I went to court and many of these passages were dropped by NCERT. Again they’ve brought new history books. Again we are studying those. There are issues with them too…The condition of the Hindi books is even worse. Have you heard of Hindi books having English poems? There are 180 English words, 170 Urdu words, even Persian poems have been included. We are agitating against those books."

He also had a bone to pick with how NCERT textbooks represented Hindu epics. “They say they are fiction. Ramayana is history. They are great books. They are not myths. They are history,” he had told Firstpost.

On his ideas of education and what constitutes a good book Batra had said, “There are three aspects to a book. The intention of the author, its content, and the language used. On all those counts, the NCERT books are problematic. These problems can be solved when we will have writers who are dedicated to this country, who are committed to its culture.”

Now it seems with his books making it to the Gujarat curriculum, acche din have indeed come for Batra.


Published Date: Jul 25, 2014 01:00 pm | Updated Date: Jul 25, 2014 01:19 pm