This article explores how the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has pursued its ideology of Hindu nationalism through educational reforms. It pays most attention to the reforms undertaken by the first BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, from 1998–2004. A key argument is that these reforms mirrored BJP’s ideology. The reforms were legitimized with reference to certain challenges facing contemporary Indian society, particularly the threats represented by value degradation and a weakening of indigenous traditions. I view such arguments in terms of sublimating all challenges to the cultural realm. Moreover, these reforms aimed to establish an education system based on a coherent, integrative framework, concurring with the ideological outlook of the BJP. In the final part of the article, I examine the current NDA regime and seek to explain why similar reforms do not appear to be high on Prime Minister Modi’s agenda. By doing so, the article sheds light on the question of Modi’s commitment to Hindu nationalist ideology. A major argument is that to Modi, Hindutva-inspired reforms of the education system collide with the promises made during his electoral campaign and with key elements of the political programs he has initiated so far.
This story first appeared on tandfonline.com