|Born||3 March 1930|
Dinanath Batra (also spelled Dina Nath Batra) is the former general secretary of Vidya Bharati, the school network run by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He has also founded the educational activist organisations Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti and Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas. Batra has been criticized for his school textbooks, where he has written racist, superstitious, religious, nationalistic statements.
Dinanath Batra was born in 1932 in Dera Gazi Khan in Punjab, in present-day Pakistan in a Punjabi Hindu family . He worked as the headmaster of the Dayananda Anglo-Vedic School at Dera Bassi in Patiala district, Indian Punjab. In 1966, he was appointed headmaster of the Geeta Senior School in Kurukshetra, the first school set up by the RSS. He is an RSS pracharak.
Notice to Sonia Gandhi
On 30 May 2001, Batra served a legal notice to Sonia Gandhi, president of the Indian National Congress. Batra stated that a resolution passed by the All India Congress Committee at its plenary session included statements that were defamatory towards Vidya Bharati. According to Batra, the resolution had stated that textbooks used by Vidya Bharati promoted negative attitude and violence towards minorities, justified the caste system, sati and child marriage as being a part of Indian culture, and contained superstitions and concocted facts inimical to scientific temper.
Litigation against NCERT
In 2006, Batra filed a Public Interest Litigation against the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), in which he raised 70 objections about the contents of secondary school history and social science textbooks. Some objections were based on the argument that Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal, Aurobindo Ghosh, and Bhagat Singh had been wrongly described as "militants". Another objection was to statements that Indo Aryans, including Brahmins, had consumed beef as a part of their diet in ancient times. Batra stated that this was a falsehood, and that cows had been worshiped in India since Vedic times. The Delhi High Court directed NCERT to form a committee to study the objections. A three-member committee concluded that of the 70 pieces of content that had been objected to, 37 had already been replaced by that year, 29 were to remain unchanged, and 4 were to be modified. The committee declined to modify the statement about Indo-aryans eating beef, stating that it was factual. However, this statement was later removed from the textbooks, as a result of a decision taken by the NCERT under the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) 2005. The process has been started by Jagmohan Singh Rajput, once an RSS member, in 2003 but it took longer than expected.
Opposition to sex education
On 15 May 2007, acting on the advice of Batra, the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chouhan removed sex education from the state curriculum on the grounds that it offended Indian values. Batra suggested that yoga be added to the curriculum instead of sex education. This view was criticised by S. Anandhi, a scholar of gender issues, who wrote that sex-education was aimed at combating child sexual abuse, and controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS by encouraging safe sexual practices. She also stated that fundamentalist organisations were attempting to repress sexuality. Later that year, Batra wrote a letter on behalf of the Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti, which stated that parents can possibly book instructors on the charge of "outraging the modesty of a woman or dishonouring a person."
Petition against Ramanujan's essay
In 2008, Batra petitioned the Delhi High Court on behalf of Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti, seeking the removal of A.K. Ramanujan's essay, Three Hundred Ramayanas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translation, from the Delhi University's history syllabus. The essay discusses the many texts and presentations of the Ramayana that appear across the globe. In response to the petition, the university set up a committee of experts to study the essay. The committee found nothing controversial about the work, and this sentiment was echoed by outside scholars. However, the university's academic council decided to remove the essay from the syllabus, in a move that was widely criticised by scholars, but welcomed by a narrow section academics in Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti.
On 3 March 2010, Batra sent a legal notice to Wendy Doniger, Penguin Group USA and the Penguin India subsidiary, raising several objections on the book The Hindus: An Alternative History by Doniger. In 2011, Batra filed suit against Doniger and Penguin Publishing under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code, which punishes acts intended to cause outrage or offend the sentiments of religious communities. In February 2014, pursuant to a settlement agreement, Penguin India withdrew all unsold copies of the book and pulped them, leading to sharp criticism.
Later, that year he also sent a legal notice to N. Ram, the editor of Frontline magazine, for printing a cover article titled Shortcut to Hindu Rashtra. On 3 March 2014, Batra sent a legal notice to the Aleph Book Company demanding that another book by Wendy Doniger, On Hinduism, be withdrawn.
In May 2014, academic publisher Orient Blackswan halted the release of a book, Communalism and Sexual Violence: Ahmedabad since 1969 by Megha Kumar, after it received a legal notice from Batra claiming the book is defamatory and derogatory to the RSS. The publisher in a letter to the author explained that it was assessing the book before the release. The publisher also put another book, From Plassey to Partition: A History of Modern India by Sekhar Bandyopadhyay, under review after his notice.
On 30 June 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party government of Gujarat issued a circular, declaring six text books written by Batra to be part of the state education curriculum as supplementary literature. Originally written in Hindi, the books were translated into Gujarati, and were released by Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, the state education minister, who stated that they were compulsory. Batra has indicated that the initiative for using the books came from the Narendra Modi government in Gujarat, and the books carry a foreword from Modi.
The books among other things, asserted that cars were invented in ancient India and urged students to draw the geographic map of an Akhand Bharat, that includes countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. They received severe criticism from historians as well as the popular press. Historian Romila Thapar stated that the books contained "not history, but fantasy." Irfan Habib, another prominent historian, described them as "hilarious but scary". He said that the books were being introduced as part of a political program, and also stated that "The point here is whether the person has any semblance of scholarship, any track record."
On 1 August, the local Congress division in Vadodara protested the books by burning their covers. The city's BJP unit criticized the act and called it an insult to the national leaders as the covers had pictures of some national leaders.
Appointment to Haryana education committee
On 12 November 2014, the newly elected BJP government of Haryana state announced that Batra would be appointed to a new committee of educationalists. The committee would consist of retired teachers and professors from the state.
NCERT Textbook objections
- The Enemies of Indianisation: The Children of Marx, Macaulay and Madarasa, 2001
- Bharatiya Shiksha Ka Swaroop (in Hindi). Prabhat Prakashan. 2014. p. 272. ISBN 9789350489826.
- "Bharatiya Shiksha Ka Swaroop" (in Hindi). Prabhat Prakashan. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
- "Vidya Bharati serves notice on Sonia". The Tribune. 2 June 2001. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
- "Under the BJP India will not become regressive". Rediff. 23 April 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
- Madhok, Diksha. "What the government of Gujarat is encouraging children to read is dismaying". Quartz India. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
- Nelson, Dean (28 July 2014). "Top Indian educationalist accused of racism over portrayal of criminal 'negroes'". The Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
- Mukerji, Debashish (15 November 1998). "Vidya Bharati: In the RSS tradition". The Week. Archived from the original on 15 September 2014. Retrieved 14 September 2014.
- "Dinanath Batra: Here comes the book police". Live Mint. 12 February 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
- Bakaya, Akshay (21 April 2009). "India: RSS Schools and the Hindu Nationalist Education Project". South Asia Citizens Web. Retrieved 16 September 2014.
- "NCERT refuses to chop beef mention". The Times of India. 27 May 2006. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
- "NCERT books have no mention of beef-eating". The Times of India. 10 June 2006. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
- "References to ancient Hindus' beef-eating past deleted from textbooks". Asia News. 16 June 2006. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
- "Madhya Pradesh bans sex education". The Indian Express. 16 March 2007. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
- Anandhi, S. (18 August 2007). "Sex Education Conundrum". Economic & Political Weekly. 42 (33): 18–24 Aug. 2007. JSTOR 4419913.
- "Former HRD minister feels sex education corrupts kids". Hindustan Times. 15 July 2007. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
- "The rule of unreason". Frontline. 18 November 2011. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
- "Your Approach Is That of a Woman Hungry of Sex". Outlook India. 11 February 2014. Archived from the original on 18 March 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
- Kapur, Ratna (15 February 2014). "Totalising history, silencing dissent". The Hindu. Retrieved 15 February 2014.
- "Outcry as Penguin India pulps 'alternative' history of Hindus". The Guardian. 13 February 2014. Retrieved 28 June 2014.
- "Global Reach—Censorship". American Libraries. 45 (9/10): 17. 2014. ISSN 0002-9769. JSTOR 24603863.
- Williams, John (16 February 2014). "Author Resigned to Ill Fate of Book in India". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
- "Children of Marx, Macaulay are defaming Hinduism: Dinanath Batra". Firstpost. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
- Bal, Hartosh Singh (December 2014). "Publishers failed to stand up to Dina Nath Batra in ways that matter. What will this mean for the future of debate in India?". The Caravan. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
- "Shortcut to Hindu Rashtra" (PDF). Frontline. 13 August 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 May 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
- "Doniger's book on Hinduism put on hold". The Indian Express. 11 March 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
- "It's Batra again: Book on sexual violence in Ahmedabad riots is 'set aside' by publisher". The Indian Express. 3 June 2014. Retrieved 28 June 2014.
- "Under pressure, publisher puts books under 'review'". The Times of India. 4 June 2014. Retrieved 28 June 2014.
- "Dinanath Batra's books are a must-read in Gujarat schools". The Hindu. 25 July 2014. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
- "Man who got Wendy Doniger pulped is made 'must reading' in Gujarat schools". The Indian Express. 25 July 2014. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
- "Dinanath Batra's books to become supplementary read in Gujarat schools". Business Standard. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
- "Preparing a blueprint to 'Indianise' education: Dinanath Batra". Firstpost. 1 August 2014. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
- "Test-Tubes in Hastinapur". Outlook India. 22 September 2014. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
- "RSS' Dina Nath Batra wants Tagore, Urdu words removed from NCERT textbooks". Hindustan Times. 24 July 2017. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
- "Historians slam Dina Nath Batra books, call them 'fantasy'". Hindustan Times. 28 July 2014. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
- "Cong burns Dinanath Batra's books". The Times of India. 2 August 2014. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
- "Dinanath Batra to guide Haryana on education". Hindustan Times. 12 November 2014. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
- "Remove Riots, English and Urdu Words, and Praise of Mughals from Textbooks: Dinanath Batra". The Wire. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
- "RSS ideologue Dinanath Batra stokes another controversy, wants Urdu words removed from Gujarat textbooks". Firstpost. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
- "Dina Nath Batra again: He wants Tagore, Urdu words off school texts". The Indian Express. 24 July 2017. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
- Bipan Chandra; Aditya Mukherjee; Mridula Mukherjee (1 January 2008). India Since Independence. Penguin Books India. p. 731. ISBN 978-0-14-310409-4. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
- "Dinanath Batra targets foreign universities in new book". Deccan Chronicle. 28 October 2014. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
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