• 3 universities toe Batra line, offer Vedic Maths course

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    [OpEd Editor’s note: This news item in the Dec. 29 Hindustan Times is an appropriate follow up to the STRATFOR Analysis piece “India’s Prime Minister Modi faces opposition within his own party” which we published here yesterday. Among the details mentioned in that analysis is the discomfort caused on moderates within PM Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by deeply nationalist and Hindu forces.

    The summarizing lead of that Stratfor analysis is as follows: “India’s political establishment has been swept up in a far-reaching controversy over remarks made by members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government regarding the Hindu nature of the Indian state. India has officially been a secular democracy since gaining independence in 1947. Freedom of religion in the country, guaranteed by the 1950 constitution, has been instrumental in maintaining relations between Hindus and India’s significant Muslim population—one of the world’s largest — and a diverse group of religious minorities. Many of Modi’s Cabinet members and closest supporters— and even Modi himself—are affiliated with the Sangh Parivar, a loose collection of right-wing organizations supporting the concept of Hindutva, or Hindu nationalism. The Modi administration’s reliance on its core base of Hindutva supporters will limit how far the prime minister can go in reining in these elements of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), even at the risk of instigating communal violence and galvanizing political opposition.]

    By February, three Indian universities will be teaching Vedic mathematics, thanks to memorandums of understanding signed with the Shiksha Bachao Andolan [thinki tank]of Dinanath Batra, widely known for his Hindutva-inspired ideas on education. The latest is Punjab Technical University (PTU), which begins the six-month certificate course in February.

    Batra courted controversy this year when he got author Wendy Doniger’s book ‘The Hindus: An Alternative History’ pulped. His organization has also prepared a school syllabus in Vedic mathematics for classes 1 to 12 and is looking to design a full diploma course next year.

    “We are providing PTU with the syllabus and resource persons and they will start both regular and online certificate courses,” Shiksha Bachao Andolan co-coordinator Atul Kothari told Hindustan Times. The organization is widely seen as an offshoot of the RSS, but Kothari firmly denied any such association. [The RSS, acccording to Wikipedia, the “Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (lit. National Volunteer Organization or National Patriotic Organization is a right-wing charitable, educational, volunteer, Hindu nationalist, non-governmental organization. It is the world’s largest voluntary non-governmental organization. RSS states that its ideology is based on the principle of selfless service to India.”]

    “As for our syllabus, the idea is to see in what ways Vedic maths can be used to simplify the subject within the CBSE format,” he said.

    Kothari added that the organization had been lobbying with governments for Indianization of education, but refused to answer whether a BJP government at the Center made it easier to push for its policies. “I had met (former HRD minister) Kapil Sibal too. We do our work irrespective of the government,” he said.

    This is the third MoU the think tank has signed with universities to push for Vedic mathematics, believed to be an ancient system of solving mathematical problems with the help of the Vedas. Other agreements were signed with the Kalidas Sanskrit University in Nagpur and Atal Bihari Vajpayee Hindi University in Bhopal where courses have begun, Kothari said.

    “There is a lot of scope for research in this field. Some mathematicians in England are also exploring it. Vedic mathematics provides children new methods to solve problems and is thus useful for teacher training too,” Ashish Arora, who teaches maths at Punjab Technical University told Hindustan Times, confirming that the course is all set to begin. Founded in 1997 under a Punjab legislature law, the university has 494 affiliated colleges today.

    —© 2014 the Hindustan Times (New Delhi)/ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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