Skip to main content

Highlighting role of caste in hurdles faced by Shivaji being construed as effort to spread hate: Teesta Setalvad

By Our Representative
Well-known human rights defender Teesta Setalvad is again in the eye of storm following a complaint lodged against an educational trust she has been running, Khoj, for "utilising" funds given by the Government of India's Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) for five years till 2014 for creating an atmosphere of hate and venom through educational material prepared during the period.
In a sharply-worded letter to MHRD minister Prakash Javdekar, Setalvad has called it nothing but yet another witch-hunt against her, insisting, the Khoj project was "sponsored by the MHRD during the period of the Central government grant and were duly reported to the Ministry annually". Setalvad and her organization Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) are known to be in the forefront in the fight for victims of violence he 2002 Gujarat riots.
Insisting that none of her works could be "construed as hate speech", Setalvad said, a "suitable explanation" should be given to her by the MHRD to "avoid any unnecessary legal steps", adding, when a similar controversy arose in 2001 regarding historical facts on which she is being targeted, the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), after studying manuals, set aside the complaint.
Insisting that Khoj's educational material was based Indian intellectual growth "embodied" in the writings of Dr BR Ambedkar and Jyotiba Phule, who "seriously contested" the prevailing interpretations of history and culture, Setalvad, in a statement in an email alert, said, the latest complaint on Khoj her by an ex-employee of CJP is part of the conspiracy by powerful people to harass her.
Filed by Rais Khan Pathan, whom the email alert calls a "disgruntled ex-employee", his complaint with the Gujarat police claims that Setalvad mixed ‘religion with politics’ using her school education initiative Khoj, adding, Khoj received a grant of Rs 1.4 crore from MHRD under the UPA regime, utilising it for spreading disharmony by circulating “exploitative literature” full of “hate” and “venom”.
Active since 1994, Khoj (Invention), said Setalvad's email, has worked on the crucial area of education policy related to democratisation of social studies and history syllabus and text-books. The Khoj project ran in municipal and zilla parishad schools, and as recognition of its approaches, in 2004 she was appointed to the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) Committee.
Trouble began in February 2015 when Union minister Smriti Irani made statements against Setalvad for including the subject of caste in teacher training manuals, with special reference to how Shivaji was represented. The matter referred to was from a chapter on Shivaji’s coronation used in middle school teacher for training manuals, prepared by Khoj.
"The narrative of Shivaji is supported by the work of reputed historians like Jadunath Sarkar and Govind Sakharam Sardesai. When objection to this had been first taken by the Shiv Sena in September 2001, the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) Maharashtra had completely cleared the teacher training text books", Setalvad said.
Historian Jadunath Sarkar has been quoted as saying, “A deep study of Maratha society... reveals some facts which it is considered patriotism to ignore... The greatest obstacles to Shivaji’s success were not Mughals or Adil Shahis, Siddis or Feringis, but his own countrymen... We cannot be blind to the truth that the dominant factor in Indian life — even today, no less than in the seventeenth century — is caste..."
Another historian quoted is Govind Sakharam Sardesai, who recalls how on June 5, 1674, when the event of coronation of Shivaji took place at Raigad fort, "the orthodox Brahman opinion was not favourable to Shivaji’s claim to be recognised as a Kshatriya by blood, although he had proved this claim by action". To ensure smooth coronation, Shivaji had to negotiate with "Gaga Bhatt of Benares, a learned representative of that school of Hindu law–givers", who was "invited to Raigad to arrange the details..."

Comments

TRENDING

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Gujarat link of controversial US doctor who 'forced' WHO quiz Trump's wonder drug

By Rajiv Shah
A top American doctor, Sapan Sharankishor Desai, born and raised in the “affluent” North Shore (Chicago) region of Illinois by Indian parents, at one point of time involved in NGO activity through  dedicated to “improving” the lives of the impoverished in Gujarat, is in the eyes of a major international storm following his paper (retracted) in a “Lancet” questioning Donald Trump-promoted drug hydroxychloroquine.

Border conflict? RBI nod India's 'brotherly' help to China internationalise its currency

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
In the middle of a global pandemic, China started an unprovoked border conflict with India. It unraveled trust deficit and ties between the two neighbours. As thousands of Chinese troops tried occupying Indian territory, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government directs the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to allow the Bank of China to start regular banking services in India. The Bank of China will now operate in India like any other commercial banks.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Clean chit to British rulers, Muslim League? Karnataka to have Veer Savarkar flyovers

By Shamsul Islam*
The BJP government of Karnataka led by BS Yediyurappa is going to honour Hindutva icon VD Savarkar by naming two of the newly built major flyovers in Bangalore and Mangalore after him. There was a huge uproar against this decision of the RSS-BJP government as many pro-Kannada organisations with opposition parties and liberal-secular organizations questioned the logic to ignore so many freedom fighters, social reformers and others from within the state.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Case for nationalising India's healthcare system amidst 'strong' private control

Counterview Desk
A draft discussion note, prepared by Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based gynecologist and activist, sent to the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as also a large number of activists, academics and professionals as an email alert, is all set to create a flutter among policy experts for its strong insistence on nationalizing India’s healthcare system.