New Delhi: Students who clear Class X (Veda Bhushan) and Class XII (Veda Vibhushan) offered by Vedic boards will now be eligible to join any college for higher education, including medicine and engineering, on par with students from other boards across the country, The Telegraph reported.
In effect, the students from Vedic boards – Bharatiya Siksha Board (BSB), Maharshi Sandipani Rashtriya Veda Sanskrit Shiksha Board (MSRVSSB) and Maharshi Sandipani Rashtriya Ved Vidya Pratisthan (MSRVVP) – need not have to sit for another exam held by National Open Schooling Examination, which was mandated thus far, to test their competence on par with students from other boards. Only those clearing NOSE exams were eligible to apply for admission to colleges for further education.
This decision comes after a government-designated body, the Association of Indian Universities (AIU), in its governing council meeting on August 2 agreed to recognise Vedic education, its related courses and certificates. It also approved equivalence for exams and certifications offered by Vedic boards.
Now that they have been granted the same status as other education boards in the country, the Vedic boards can now operate as full-fledged boards to take new initiatives, including setting up affiliate schools. One of the Vedic boards, BSB is run by Patanjali Yogpeeth whose trustees include Baba Ramdev.
According to a letter sent out to BSB karyakari adhyaksh (working president) N.P. Singh by AIU secretary-general Pankaj Mittal on August 3, the regulating authority set out a few conditions for the Vedic board to follow, including the teaching of modern subjects, and compliance with the Right to Education Act, National Curriculum Framework (NCF) and National Council for Teacher Education’s (NCTE’s) rules.
While NCF deals with broad guidelines for syllabii prescribed by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), the NCTE relates to rules on teacher appointments. To ensure that there is strict compliance, the AIU said it will carry regular reviews and checks.
Following AIU’s decision, the Union education ministry wrote to state chief secretaries, the University Grants Commission, technical education regulator All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the vice-chancellors of all universities, informing them of the recognition granted to the Maharshi Sandipani Board as a regular board, one of the Vedic boards.
Subsequently, AICTE informed colleges under its jurisdiction to consider students from Vedic boards for admissions like any other regular board.
“You are, therefore requested to consider Veda Bhushan & Veda Vibhushan certifications awarded to candidates by MSRVVP (Maharshi Sandipani Pratisthan) equivalent to 10th Standard & 12th Standard certificates respectively for the academic purposes,” the AICTE circular said, according to the Telegraph report.
According to the BSB board website of Patanjali, the focus of the education it offers is on “Vedic education, Sanskrit education, shastras and darshanas… Bharatiya parampara” although modern subjects are also taught. Similarly, MSRVSSB board says Vedas and Upanishads would remain “the major component of the syllabus”, but modern subjects will also be part of the curriculum.
“There’s a plan to blend modern subjects like science, social science and mathematics with the syllabus. But the Vedas and other texts like the Upanishads will remain the major component of the syllabus,” said a top official from one of the boards.
The decision, which is expected to have far-reaching implications on education in the country, has naturally raised concerns among academics. Questions are being asked if students from Vedic boards will have the necessary competence and skills to join higher education institutions and eventually the job market.
According to a retired professor from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), who spoke to the Telegraph on the condition of anonymity, the Vedic boards would only teach “Brahminised syllabus”. He said such curricula would promote texts like Manu Smriti, Vedas and the Upanishads, which he said, “presented the Brahminical tradition as the sole Indian knowledge tradition, ignoring the rival Shraman Dharma”.
“Equality was never advocated or practised in the Brahminical tradition. The objective of mainstreaming Vedic education is to establish the supremacy of Brahminical thoughts,” the Telegraph quoted him as saying.
On the other hand, a Jamia Millia Islamia professor, with whom the Telegraph spoke, differed with the views expressed by the JNU professor. He said Vedic boards did not seem too different in principle from the madrasa boards, which too teach a blended syllabus.
The Jamia professor then went on to offer that the Union government in 2008 recognised the madrasa boards and mandated them to teach modern subjects along with their religious teachings.
“This (recognition of Vedic boards ) is not new. Rather, this was expected. It will be interesting to see how much of the syllabuses is made up of modern subjects in the Vedic boards,” the Jamia professor said.
Featured image: Representational image of a Yagnashala
This article was first published on The Wire.