New Delhi: Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust is one of three applicants to have expressed interest in establishing the first Vedic school board in the country.
According to the Indian Express, the Haridwar-based trust was one of only three applicants who responded to the ‘Expression of Interest’ released by the Maharshi Sandipani Rashtriya Vedavidya Pratishthan (MSRVVP) on February 11 to establish the Bharatiya Shiksha Board (BSB). Interested applicants were only given a week to respond, and the deadline expired on the evening of February 19.
The BSB will be the first private education board that will gain recognition from the Centre. It aims to “standardise Indian traditional knowledge”: Vedic education, Sanskrit education and yoga.
The board will draft a syllabus, conduct examinations and issue certificates. Gurukuls and other institutions teaching Sanskrit, Vedas or yoga would be affiliated to the board.
It is unclear if the MSRVVP – an autonomous body under the human resource development ministry – will extend the deadline or proceed to vet the applications.
The vetting process will be led by three judges, following which the governing council, headed by HRD minister Prakash Javadekar, will take a final call.
The Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust’s professed objectives include researching the ‘knowledge-base’ of saints such as Patanjali, Charak and Sushrut, to “study and research subjects associated with Yajna, Organic Agriculture, Cow-Urine, Nature and Environment in addition to the study and research in Yoga and Ayurveda” and “begin degree and diploma courses for students in disciplines of Yoga and Ayurveda”.
Among the trustees are Ramdev, Acharya Balkrishna, Swami Muktanand and Shankardev.
The eligibility criteria for establishing the BSB required the applicants to be involved in “preservation, conservation, promotion and propagation” of Vedic education, Sanskrit education and yoga for at least five years.
The sponsoring bodies, as applicants are called, must have a net worth of at least Rs 300 crore and should be prepared to provide at least Rs 50 crore as corpus fund, apart from development fund, buildings, office space and infrastructure.
Among the applicants, if the other norms of eligibility are judged to be equal, the applicant that has earmarked the highest fund will likely receive the nod.
If selected, the sponsoring body is required to register the BSB Society within a month of receiving confirmation from the MSVVP. It will also be required to establish the board within three months of the confirmation, failing which the order could be cancelled.
Earlier, the Narendra Modi government had rejected Ramdev’s proposal to establish a private “Vedic education board”. In September 2016, then HRD minister Smriti Irani suggested a government body along the lines of CBSE instead.
Despite the rejection, Ramdev continued to make appeals.
In January this year, the HRD ministry paved the way for the formation of the BSB.
After this decision was announced, The Wire expressed concerns about its objectives:
Many institutions already conduct some of the classes that the new BSB-instituted schools are expected to do, and don’t have many takers. In 2016, the MSRVP itself funded 83 Vedic pathshalas and vidyalayas around the country, with 462 teachers and 3,020 students. At the same time, Sanskrit had the second-highest number of Indian language PhD students in the country (971) and the third-highest at the PG level (26,886), in 2017.
This being the case, it is a worthwhile aspiration to further legitimise the study of Sanskrit texts, including Vedic ones, in schools, and regularise how those schools are run. But it shouldn’t expose students to bad scholarship.
Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurved, a consumer goods company that is worth over Rs 12,000 crore, is also likely to establish a “Vedic university”. Reports said last month that the government had given an in-principle approval for a “Vedic university to be established at the central level” to the company.