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Scholars squirm over Savarkar’s biography in school textbooks

THE ASIAN AGE. | SHRUTI GANAPATYE
Published : Jun 19, 2017, 1:41 am IST
Updated : Jun 19, 2017, 1:41 am IST

Amit Shah, who was on a three-day tour to Mumbai, released the biography on the Hindutva icon V.D. Savarkar.

V.D. Savarkar
 V.D. Savarkar

Mumbai: After the recent Rajasthan textbook controversy, a fresh debate has erupted in Maharashtra over the demand to introduce controversial Hindutva icon Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s biography in schools and colleges. Former Shiv Sena MP Bharatkumar Raut made the demand before BJP president Amit Shah on Sunday. However, scholars and academicians have slammed the demand, terming it as an attempt to saffronise textbooks.  

Amit Shah, who was on a three-day tour to Mumbai, released the biography on the Hindutva icon V.D. Savarkar at Savarkar Smarak on Sunday. Shiv Sena MP Bharatkumar Raut, who was present at the event, said that the government should make efforts to introduce Savarkar’s biography in schools and colleges.

Objecting to the demand, Satyashodhak Communist Party leader, Professor Pratima Pardeshi said that it would lead to the glorification of the Hindutva icon. “Savarkar’s views were anti-Muslim and anti-women. He supported the two-nation theory. Books have been written about the negative side of his character. But here, they are talking about his glorification through the biography. It is nothing but Brahmnisation of history. There is no need for students in the modern age to learn it because it will make their views myopic and narrow their thought process,” Mr Pardeshi said.

Gandhian activist Dr Vivek Korde ridiculed the demand, highlighting that Savarkar had sought a concession from the British government. “There were many freedom fighters in Andaman jail whose contributions were more significant for the freedom movement. They did not even seek any concessions from the British government like Savarkar. After going to the jail, Savarkar changed drastically and remained away from the freedom movement between 1934 and 1947. Will the syllabus makers tell this real history to the students,” Mr Korde said.

Ram Puniyani, a writer and activist, said that the believers of Hindu nationalism, who are in power, are trying to change the content of the textbooks to match their political ideology of Hindutva. “The RSS and the Shiv Sena do not have any icon who was part of the freedom movement. Partly, they can stretch and make Savarkar as a freedom fighter to take away attention from Nehru and Gandhi,” Puniyani added.

However, professor Surendra Jondhale from Department of Politics in the University of Mumbai said an unbiased version should be introduced. “I feel that authentic biography should be taught and Savarakar’s ideas should be critically discussed,” he said. 

Tags: amit shah, vinayak damodar savarkar, hindutva icon
Location: India, Maharashtra, Mumbai (Bombay)