The Ministry of Human Resources Development may make it mandatory for schools to keep its recently published “Veergatha” comic book series in their libraries to make “nationalism” attractive to young minds. Sources in the ministry also hinted that the New Education Policy (NEP) may stipulate that some exclusive chapters be included in the syllabus to promote patriotism and ancient Indian history. The New Education Policy (NEP) may be renamed as “New Revolutionary Education Policy”.
The first edition of the Veergatha series exclusively features the Param Vir Chakra (PVC) awardees. The war struggles of the heroes have been illustrated through graphic comic strips to make it appealing to young readers.
“Most of us hardly know the names of our war heroes, even though these people gave their lives for the country. The Veergatha comic strip is an attempt to make our young ones aware about such people who sacrificed their lives to protect the people,” said a ministry source on the condition of anonymity.
“The series focuses on children between nine and 12 years of age. That is why portraying real life heroes like the fictional cartoon heroes seemed like a better idea than a monotonous story book that just has a plain narration,” explained the ministry source.
The Veergatha series has been published by the National Book Trust of India, an autonomous body established by the MHRD, in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence. The war heroes featured in the first edition of the comic books consists of five Param Veer Chakra (PVC) awardees including the first recipient of PVC, Major Somnath Sharma, who fought in the 1947 India-Pakistan war. Among others are Major Shaitan Singh (1962 India-China War), Second Lieutenant Arun Khetrapal (1971 India-Pakistan war), Captain Manoj Kumar Pandey (1999 Kargil war) and Company Quarter Master Havildar Abdul Hamid (1965 India-Pakistan war).
Apart from this, at least two to three chapters promoting nationalism and five to seven chapters promoting ancient Indian history may also be included in the Social Studies syllabus. However, no information was available on the content of these chapters.
“The love for our homeland is something that comes naturally to a human being,” said R. Subrahmanyam, Additional Secretary (Technical Education), Department of Higher Education, MHRD. However, he didn’t confirm any exclusive efforts that the MHRD might be making to promote nationalism in the upcoming education policy.
Sources in the ministry also stressed on the misappropriation of facts that led to speculation over the MHRD’s role to promote “nationalised” ideals in school education. “The minister had never suggested introducing flags or tanks on college campuses to promote patriotism. In the light of recent events, at a meeting with the heads of Central universities, the proposal came from some of the campuses and the minister simply approved it because the college authorities felt so,” said a ministry source.