Voices Monday, July 20, 2015 - 05:30
  In its July 19 issue of the RSS-mouthipiece Organiser, writer Sandeep Singh argues that the Board of Governors of educational institutes like IITs and IIMs must be made more accountable. Quoting instances of members of the Left and Congress being appointed as board members and their ‘ideological’ control over the institutes, the writer calls says that the board of governors to be held responsible for their ‘anti-India/anti-Hindu activities’. Several media outlets have reported on this article. Such arguments, especially when made in the context of ongoing controversies regarding appointments in educational institutions and in the official mouthpiece of the RSS, must not be seen in isolation. This could be seen as a part of a concerted effort by saffron outfits to permeate into our professional education system. Though many saffron outfits have blamed the left parties and groups supporting them of having a stronghold over many campuses, it seems the same route is being taken by these very outfits. Just last week, NDTV reported that Baba Ramdev, along with members of the RSS tribal wing Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, was present at the first meeting of the Unnat Bharat Yojana anchored by IIT Delhi. As a part of their discussions with the IIT heads, the Hindu right-wing operatives are supposed to have encouraged the study of the genetic code of cows and bulls and research cow-based agriculture. Senior members of the IIT board were also in agreement with these ideas, according to documents sourced by NDTV. Few months back, IIT-Madras blew up over the de-recognition of the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle by the IIT management based on an anonymous complaint stating that the group was trying to create hatred against Hindus. There have also been recent attempts by the government to erode the autonomy of the IIMs through new legislation. The Organiser article in question itself was written in the context of the ongoing controversy of appointment of BJP-member Gajendra Chauhan as the Chairman of Film and Television Institute of India, Pune.   Screengrab of the article on Organiser It is however important to note that professional educational institutions have been old haunts of the Hindu right-wing. The IIT Madras for example, as pointed out here, has a history of holding unscientific talks on scientific subjects by religious talking-heads, self-appointed priests and ‘Vedic science’ experts. In these talks, the 'guests' talk against evolution, defy geography and exhort the Vedas for their scientific nature, at time even invoking applause from the audience. RSS ideologue S Gurumurthy has delivered several lectures at IIT Bombay on India, its glorious history, economics and the need to brand India in a particular way at the global forum. He has also lectured on Vande Mataram and nationalism at IIT Madras. BJP member Subramanian Swamy too has been a regular feature at IIM Bangalore, IIM Ahmedabad and IIT Kanpur talking about subjects such as Indian nationalism and spinelessness of Manmohan Singh, among others. There has also been a lot of dissent over the lecture by Dr. N Gopalkrishnan at IIT Madras for his Hindutva-apologia. In fact, months after the new government was formed, Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani was at the eye of a controversy over setting up of a separate vegetarian canteens in IIMs and IITs. The move was seen to have been spurred by an RSS pracharak. The difference now, it seems, is that the Sangh Parivar is going all out to control the institutions of professional education and imbibe in them their idea of religious nationalism and fervour.  With the BJP government at the centre, Hindutva leaders and their outfits have got another opportunity to institutionalise their ideologies in government institutions.