A furious debate has broken out over attempts by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party to "Hinduize" the educational system, root out liberal and leftist influences and in some cases to re-write history.
Reporter: Murali Krishnan
Speakers: Dina Nath Batra, former school principal and Hindu campaigner; G V L Narasimha Rao, member BJP national executive; Rakesh Batabyal, professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University.
KRISHNAN: 85-year-old Dina Nath Batra, a former principal of a school and the founder of the Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti or Save Education Campaign sees himself as the saviour of Hinduism and Hindu culture.
In the western state of Gujarat, school children are now reading books that offer the following - stem cell technology should be credited not to the Americans but to the Hindu epic, Mahabharata, that automobile technology existed in India's Vedic times and that Indian culture is not a mixed one and not drawn from different regions.
Eight books, written by Batra several years ago, were resurrected by the Gujarat government and prescribed as supplementary reading across 42,000 schools. All eight carry forewords by then chief minister and now Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Batra is unapologetic.
BATRA: The education of every country should be rooted in its culture and wedded to its growth.
KRISHNAN: Attempts by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP to change textbook syllabi to highlight the roles of national leaders supposedly ignored by the Congress have now stirred a controversy. There are fears that party could overhaul the educational system given the mandate it has won.
Rakesh Batabyal is a history professor at the capital's prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University.
BATABYAL: This is because the right wing nationalist is primarily trying to appropriate the space created by the national movement. The Indian national movement created the largest template that we adhere to and in order to appropriate that space, it (BJP) wants to tinker with the syllabi because schools and colleges are the largest democratic spaces. If you appropriate that space, by calling the other as pseudo or false then you have a future secure for yourself
you have appropriated that space.
But G V L Narasimha Rao, a member of the BJP's national executive contests that.
RAO: There has been a distorted of view of history that has been presented only to glorify members of Gandhi Nehru dynasty and not really acknowledging the vast contributions made by various other statesmen in our Independent movement and also otherwise.
Mr Batra has a long history of campaigning against any material he deems that has shown the
Hindu religion in poor light.
Earlier this year, Batra and his supporters had forced a major publishing house to recall and pulp all the copies of the book, "The Hindus: An Alternative History', written by respected American historian Wendy Doniger.
BATRA: I think when there are abuses or when there are not good things... ills and evils and they are being sold through books. They are earning from bad things why should the publisher earn? They should earn from good things, events and books. I know good books are my good friends and bad books are my bad enemies and I want kill those enemies.
KRISHNAN: The attempts of the BJP to propagate an agenda in the name of inculcating "Indianness" in the minds of young students came to an abrupt halt when it lost power to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in 2004.
The Congress then took adequate measures to "detoxify" the school curriculum by editing out the contents from textbooks and revising the national school curriculum.
Mr Rao has a different take.
RAO: That a country like India with its vast heritage and civilisation, and where our culture and history in a way is intertwined with our religious epics, I think some amount of learning of our epics would only inculcate moral values in children.
But Mr Batabyal disagrees
BATABYAL: You must remember that India is the only post-colonial country which produces its own textbooks and that has come through after a long struggle. Now if that culture
the idea of creating a new textbook is given a go-by
by making the textbook reflecting the mood and wishes of the ruling dispensation, we will send a very wrong signal.
KRISHAN: Voices of protest have begun. The bigger question is whether political parties should use education as a tool to make people amenable to their worldview.