I read in the newspaper today (see this and this) that a proposal has been submitted to the NCERT by the Shikhsha Sanskriti Utthyan Nyas, headed by the redoubtable Dinanath Batra of Wendy Doniger fame, that works of Rabindranath Tagore be excised from all school textbooks.
There has been a predictable hue and cry not only from political parties which sit in the opposition in Parliament but also from renowned scholars and savants, such as Shankha Ghosh and Pabitra Sarkar (alas, I shall have to look much more closely over the next few days or weeks to find out if any non-Bengali of note has cared to lodge a protest – Derek O’Brien doesn’t count). Tagore is our national treasure, far above politics, they have said, and such mischievous, petty-minded efforts point to a careful and countrywide effort to close minds and drag us back into a darker age.
Maybe the ruling party will decide that Tagore is too holy a cow to be touched, so nothing will come out of this, for now: after all, they haven’t replaced Gandhi on our currency notes yet. But my take on the issue, even as a Tagore devotee, is rather different from the expected wholehearted support from the saffron brigade or the howls of outrage from the so-called liberal, progressive intelligentsia. Mine is the reaction of a very tired and cynical mind, a mind moulded by teaching language and literature at high school level for half a lifetime. I don’t think it matters any more, one way or the other. Put in Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi and Ravinder Singh in Tagore’s place for all the difference it is likely to make. If my readers disagree with me, please let me know why; then maybe I shall explain or change my position. If there are no responses to this post, or very few, I shall take that as a vindication of my view.