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An agenda that is ‘positively' saffron?

Bageshree S.

‘Workshops to improve the morale of teachers'



Pushing the agenda:The accent on Yoga and Pranayama is evident everywhere in the 160-page manual for the training programme.

Bangalore: A training programme for teachers, developed by the State's Education Department apparently to make them more child-friendly, actually comes loaded with prescriptions that have little or no scientific basis.

The manual for the programme, structured to inculcate positive thinking ( Dhanathmaka Chinthane), offers a curious pedagogy that mixes Hindutva ideology with what is mandated by the secular state.

Passages that speak of the value of Gayathri Mantra, Bhajane, Naama-japa, Dhyana and the wisdom of “ sanathana vijnanis (rishis)” are inserted alongside information on ways of creating child-friendly classrooms, preventing child abuse and fulfilling the promises of Right to Education Act.

The accent on Yoga and Pranayama (recommended with shloka recitation in some cases) is evident everywhere in the 160-page manual. Plus there are passages that uphold the benefits of Indian healing methods, often not accompanied by citations of the research that has gone into it.

Tall claims

Take the claim made on page 38 which quotes California-based Deepak Chopra that the “Primordial sound therapy” can cure ailments such as cancer. The combination of three sounds — “a”, “u” and “ma” — can cleanse the lungs and cure several ailments, it is stated.

Another passage in the very next page says that “Jala Chikitse” (which involves drinking six glasses of water early in the morning) can treat a whole range of health problems, ranging from headache and obesity to leukaemia and breast cancer. The same chapter suggests that students can be made to go through a “manah-prashamana kriye” after the daily prayer, which includes Yoga namaskara along with recitation of “Om”, recitation of “Shanthi mantras” and so on.

Speaking about the role that endocrinal glands play in the moods of adolescents, the manual says that India's “ancient scientists” ( rishis) have discussed it all a thousand years ago. The section on glands further says categorically that a malfunctioning pituitary gland is responsible for cruelty of character, and that “it arouses murderous and violent tendencies” — again with no specific citation. Surya Namaskara, Pranayama, Shambhavi Mudre and Gayatri Matra are among remedies suggested for rectifying problems of the endocrine glands.

Western influence

The chapter on “Service mentality” squarely blames “Westernisation” for erosion of India's community-centric sensibility — where “individual, family, environment, village, country and the universe are seen as part of one consciousness”.

A series of workshops for officials of the Education Department on “Dhanathmaka Chinthane” is currently going on in Vivekananda Yoga Centre at Jigani in Bangalore. The manual says that it has incorporated some inputs from a Mangalore-based institute, Abhiyanam.

‘No agenda'

Denying the presence of any agenda in the programme, Principal Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education R.G. Nadadur said that the workshops were meant to “improve the morale of the teacher, foster team spirit and present a common sense of purpose for the entire department.”

“A number of tools are used in training and they altered according to the needs of the workshop,” he said.

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