|The resounding and clear verdict of the people of India, epitomized by the verdict in Gujarat is clearly against the politics of hatred and division and a plea for humane and just governance. The Gujarat genocide of 2002 repulsed and horrified both the people of Gujarat and India, even two years ago. In December 2002 also 49 per cent of Gujaratis voted against the political peddling of hatred despite state intimidation and terror. Yet the ruling NDA and the BJP government in Gujarat shamefully did not accept moral and physical responsibility for the carnage and gloated over their electoral victory which came after the violence. Now, two years later, the stand of all right thinking Indians, regardless of caste and creed, stands vindicated. In the just concluded elections, the Congress contesting on a secular platform has got a majority in 92 assembly segments as against 90 by the BJP.The people of India have now decisively shown that the divisive politics of communalism has no lasting space in India. What all Indians want is a life of dignity and peace, a harmony that has deep and civilizational roots in this land. While welcoming this verdict, we urge the next government to undertake measures to ensure justice to the riot victims in Gujarat to undo the damage done to institutions with the appointment of RSS men in key posts, to desaffronise education and to create and maintain an atmosphere of harmony in which creative endeavour is not endangered by the lumpens of the Sangh Parivar.In the last year alone there have been attempts to stifle creative and scholarly expression as witnessed in attacks on Habib Tanvir in Madhya Pradesh, vandalism at Bhandarkar Institute in Pune, and attacks on artists and artworks in Surat by the vandals of the VHP and Bajrang Dal to list just a few instances. A democratic society has to weed out such bigotry.The Supreme Court judgement in the Best Bakery case confirms what the secular groups and citizens have been saying in relation to providing justice to the victims of state-sponsored communal violence in Gujarat even after two years of the worst-ever carnage. The tragedy of Gujarat was compounded by an unrepentant administration and executive described as ‘ modern day Neros’ by the judgement.
The six years of BJP-led government’s rule have been a period of unmitigated disaster for all national level academic and cultural organizations over which the BJP-led government exercised its authority. Their autonomous academic and professional character was subverted and they were converted into instruments for implementing the blatantly communal agenda of BJP and its parent organization – the RSS – and its various ‘educational’ and ‘cultural’ bodies. Within a short period of its coming to power, the BJP-led government appointed persons who were totally committed to the communal ideology of BJP and to implementing BJP’s communal agenda to head almost every national level organization. The compositions of the various bodies of these organizations was changed to ensure that there was no deviation in their activities and programmes from the communal agenda which the BJP had set for them. It is incumbent upon the new government to immediately take steps to undo the damage which the six years of BJP-led government’s rule has inflicted on the various academic and cultural organizations of the country. We urge upon the government of the United Progressive Alliance to take the following steps at the earliest. To hold an inquiry (or a series of inquiries) into the functioning of National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), Indian Council for Historical Research (ICHR), University Grants Commission (UGC), Indian Institute of Advance Studies (IIAS), Indian Council of Scial Science Research (ICSSR), Indian Councl for Philosophical Research (ICPR), Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA), National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE), National Open School (NOS), National Institute of Educational Planning and Administation (NIEPA),
etc. and to take steps to restore and strengthen the professional, atuonomous and secular character of these organizations. To remove from office those heads of the organizations who have brazenly misused their position to convert the orgnizations headed by them as instruments for implementing BJP’s communal agenda and to initiate proceedings against them for violating norms and rules of conduct governing the offices held by them.To inquire into all appointments and promotions made by the heads of these organizations appointed by the BJP-led government for any violation of rules and norms governing appointments and promotions and to take corrective measures.To inquire into cases of harassment of staff of academic organizations and to annul all transfers which were made to harass academic staff and to suppress free expression of opinions in academic matters.To set up committees to examine the programmes and activities pursued by these organizations and the projects funded by them and immediately put a stop to those programmes and activities which were designed to serve a communal agenda. To immediately order the publications of the Towards Freedom volumes prepared under the auspices of ICHR which had been withdrawn at the instance of the BJP-led government .To reconstitute and convene the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) which the BJP-led government had declared defunct and had refused to reconstitute and convene in violation of the directions of the Supreme Court. To withdraw the so-called National Curriculum Framework for School Education (NFSCE) and to set up a Committee to consider afresh the question of formulating a national curriculum framework. To set up expert committees to review the syllabuses prepared by the NCERT on the basis of the NCFSE and all new textbooks brought out by NCERT from 2002 to 2004, hased on these syllabuses.To immediately withdraw the new social science and history syllabuses and textbooks based on them brought out by NCERT during 2002-04 which have been condemned by academic opinion throughout the country for their blatantly communal distortions and sub-standard quality, to immediately stop their reprinting and distribution and direct the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to describe them with immediate effect. To restore the social science and history syllabuses which were in use till 2001 and all textbooks based on them brought out by NCERT till 2001, particularly all history textbooks, and to immediately bring out their reprint editions; to direct the CBSE to prescribe them from the 2004-05 academic session; to also direct the CBSE to withdraw the circular issued by it in October 2001 ordering deletion of some passages from four history textbooks of NCERT which had been prescribed by the CBSE up to 2001.To review the materials brought out by the NOS particularly in the areas of social studies, history, culture and other subjects and to withdraw all such materials which ae found to be promoting communalism and obscurantism.To stop funding of various ‘educational’ bodies set up by various organizations of the Sangh Parivar and to take all necessary steps to stop the misuse of educational institutions for disseminating communal hatred and prejudices.To stop the UGC from taking any step which infringe upon the autonomy of universities and other institutions of higher learning. To put an end to the interference in the functioning of IIMs. To do away with the Central Admission Test (CAT) for admissions to technical and management courses in all universities.It may be added that these are among the initial steps that the government must take to undo the damage done by the BJP-led government to academic and cultural organizations. The inquiry committees to be set up to look into their functioning and activities will uncover many more misuses of authority and programmes to serve the communal agenda which would need to be appropriately addressed.