New Delhi: When it comes to moulding hearts and minds, the Bharatiya Janata Party believes in catching ’em young.
Consider the following questions and answers from a model exam for ‘general knowledge’ that the party wants all schools in Uttar Pradesh to get their students to take:
- Who said India is a Hindu country?
Answer: Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar
- Swami Vivekananda led which religion in ‘Dharma Sabha’ in Chicago?
- Which Muslim invader did Maharaj Suheldeo cut to pieces?
(“Maharaja Suheldeo ne kis Muslim akranta ko gaazar-mooli ki tarah kaat diya tha?)
Answer: Syyed Salar Masood Ghazi
- Where is Ram Janmaboomi?
- What book did Dr Ambedkar write challenging the claims of Gandhi and the Congress about Harijans?
Answer: Congress and Gandhi Have Done
These loaded questions are part of Samanya Gyan Pratiyogita 2017, a 70-page booklet to be distributed to students in schools in Uttar Pradesh.
The correct answer to the Ambedkar question is ‘What Congress and Gandhi Have Done to the Untouchables’ and he also wrote a book called ‘Riddles of Hinduism’ and ‘Annihilation of Caste’ but then a question about them serves no purpose for the BJP. Vivekananda spoke about the Hindu religion and not its politicised manifestation, Hindutva, but then accuracy is clearly not the purpose behind the production of the booklet.
The ‘General Knowledge Competition’ booklet, released by BJP president Amit Shah at the party’s headquarters in Lucknow on Monday, covers topics like nationalism, Hindutva, RSS ideologues and leaders including Deendayal Upadhyaya, K.B. Hedgewar, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, Veer Savarkar and Nanaji Deshmukh, the Indian Express reports.
The booklet also includes questions on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies like demonetisation and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath government, besides standard BJP agenda items like Ramjanmabhoomi, which the party claims is at the exact site where the historic Babri Masjid once stood before it was demolished by Hindutva extremists on December 6, 1992.
The BJP’s booklet is intended to help students “prepare” for a competitive exam the BJP is holding on August 26, for the birth anniversary of party ideologue Deendayal Upadhyaya. Registration for the exam, which is expected to have 100 objective questions, opened on Tuesday and is open till August 16. A fee of Rs 5 per student is also being collected, thus ensuring that the exercise is not just a way of moulding impressionable minds but is also cost-effective. Dainik Jagran reports that the competition will be only open to students in class 9 and 10.
Apparently, as many as 9,000 schools across the state – mostly private but some government – have “consented” to getting their students to sit for this test.
Last month, BJP leaders were quoted by Hindustan as saying students taking part in the competition would be given a book to familiarise them with the “life and views of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, our motherland, Indian culture and our great leaders.” The booklet released by Shah is presumably this book.
Predictably, the ‘syllabus’ for the exam extols the RSS (described as the “largest social organisation in the world”), and various government schemes and initiatives like demonetisation and Jan Dhan Yojana. According to the Indian Express, a list under the title ‘First in India’ provides information about “the first governor general, president, vice-president, Lok Sabha speaker, deputy PM, law minister, industry minister, first woman CM and woman governor” – in short, every conceivably type of dignitary – “but does not mention the first prime minister”.
Subhash Yaduvansh, the BJP’s state secretary, said that around 9 lakh students were expected to take part in the competition and 2 lakh party workers had been engaged to conduct the exam. He told the Indian Express, “Upcoming generations should know about the great personalities and heroes of history, about whom people were not told so far. Also, it is a fact that RSS is the largest social organisation. All facts in the booklet are correct and questions will be asked from it,” adding “People should know about Hindutva because it is good lifestyle.”