Saffronisation (Indian English) or Saffronization (American English, Pakistani English) is an Indian political neologism (named after the saffron robes worn by Hindu sannyasis[1]) used by critics[2][3] and others[1][4] to refer to the policies of right-wing Hindu nationalists (Hindutva) that seek to recall and glorify ancient Hindu cultural history (the term "Hindu" in their view encompassing "dharmic" religions including Hinduism and the Sikh, Jain and Buddhist traditions). On the other hand, Murli Manohar Joshi, a leading member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, said saffronisation means to go back to the holy traditions of India.[1]

Saffronisation in text books

Political overtones to textbook revisions were noted in attempts made in 2000-01 by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at restructuring government bodies tasked with overseeing textbooks. Though efforts were made to exert control over bodies, such as the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), amongst others, the process was not "exactly satisfactory from the BJP point of view," as noted in a report published by The Hindu. BJP made no secret of its intent to saffronise education, but it was noted that the party faced the problem of implementing its intent. One obstacle to revising textbooks was found, at that time then, in the large number of states, which did not support BJP efforts to revise textbooks. However, it was noted that in those states which BJP was in power, such as Rajasthan, extensive changes in textbooks were carried out.[5]

After a rival political party, the Indian National Congress, came into power, efforts were undertaken in 2004 to reverse the saffronisation of textbooks previously made by BJP.[6]

Supporters for the saffronisation of Indian textbooks advocate for a version of history, for example, that argues that the Aryan race originated in India, because, according to an official with the right-wing Hindu nationalist group, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the North Pole was originally in India before it shifted to its present location. When The Hindustan Times reviewed the issue of saffronisation of Indian text books in late 2014, it noted that right-wing efforts to impose this alternate recounting of history faced "some difficulty as it lacks credible historians to back its claims."[7] One acknowledged epoch of Indian history particularly troublesome for historians is the medieval period. Since there is no consensus about that era, history for that period is subjective and open to the influence of the textbook writer’s sympathies and outlook : "the choice of the textbook writer is more decisive than anything else," it was noted in The Hindu report.[5] For example, when the medieval period of India is saffronised, it is described as "a dark age of Islamic colonial rule which snuffed out the glories of the Hindu empire that preceded it."[6] Another trap in the politicisation of history relates to contention over the state of Jammu and Kashmir.[5] By mid-2015, The Times of India reported that the National Council of Educational Research and Training, which is in charge of publishing textbooks, had participated in a meeting convened by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, and during that meeting the issue of changing textbooks was discussed. An official from the ICHR complained that the theme of nationalism did not receive proper treatment in textbooks, setting the stage for possible textbook revisions.[8]

The state government of Rajasthan reportedly spent Rs 37 crore to reprint 36 textbooks used for classes 1 through 8 for the 2016-2017 academic session that will be based on an agenda that would promote Indian culture by including historical figures, such as Maharaja Surajmal, Hemu Kalani, and Govind Guru. The text books that had been approved up to the 2012-13 academic session were rendered obsolete under the rewriting of history, and those books were auctioned off. In total, 5,66 crore new text books were ordered printed for an agenda that critics described was intent on supporting the saffronisation of textbooks. Rajasthan (primary and secondary) education minister Vasudev Devnani denied the charge of saffronisation, but educationists described his decision as the "Hinduisation of education" that occurs when right-wing forces come to power.[9]

The state government of Karnataka has reportedly ordered new textbooks for the 2017-18 academic session in an effort that academicians and critics have described as a "blatant attempt to saffronise textbooks."[10]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 In fact, saffron is the colour that represents the very ethos and psyche of this country. Saffronisation means to go back to the holy traditions of this country. Statement by former Indian Human Resource Development Minister, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi "'Do they understand the meaning of saffronisation? We have made education the most vibrant growth segment' (Interview with Dr Murli Manohar Joshi)". Dharma Universe. 6 June 2004.
  2. "Saffronisation: Activists rip through Textbook Society's defence". The Deccan Herald. 14 February 2012. Archived from the original on 8 March 2012.
  3. Raghavan, B. S. (12 September 2001). "Saffronisation". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 14 May 2007.
  4. We are unable to accept the contention of the learned counsel for the appellants that the prescription of Jyotir Vigyan as a course of study has the effect of saffronising education or that it in any manner militates against the concept of secularism which is part of the basic structure of the Constitution and is essential for the governance of the country. opinion of the Indian Supreme Court in "Supreme Court: Bhargava v. University Grants Commission, Case No.: Appeal (civil) 5886 of 2002". Archived from the original on 12 March 2005. cited Negi, S. S. (15 June 2004). "Teaching of astrology no promotion of religion: SC". The Tribune. Chandigarh, India. Archived from the original on 28 June 2004.
  5. 1 2 3 Singh, Amrik (August 25, 2001). "Saffronisation and textbooks". The Hindu. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  6. 1 2 Ramesh, Randeep (June 25, 2004). "Another rewrite for India's history books". The Guardian. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  7. Raza, Danish (December 8, 2014). "Saffronising textbooks : Where myth and dogma replace history". The Hindustan Times. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
  8. Akshaya, Mukul (June 24, 2015). "Saffronization fears over history textbooks rewrite plans". The Times of India. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
  9. Goswami, Rakesh (January 20, 2016). "Saffronisation ? Raje scraps Cong textbooks, spends Rs 37 cr on new ones". The Hindustan Times. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
  10. "Revised textbooks from 2017–18 academic year". The Hindu. June 10, 2015. Retrieved March 10, 2016.


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