NAGPUR: A comment made by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat at a principals’ conference on Tuesday, albeit in a lighter vein, attracted considerable attention, with many wondering whether it was directed against the government. While narrating a mythological story in which a father asks his son to “shut up”, Bhagwat said even those in power show a similar attitude sometimes.
During his 40-minute speech, the RSS sarsanghchalak was sharing the story of young Nachiketa and how his innocent but uncomfortable questions were causing embarrassment to his rich father during a yagna. The RSS chief cited the story while making a broader point about education to an audience which comprised primarily of school principals.
Bhagwat said, “Nachiketa asked his father why he was donating diseased cows whereas only healthy ones should be given. So the father said ‘Shut up’. This role (attitude) is not that of a teacher, but of a father. And can sometimes be that of those in power. Shut up, it’s (father’s statement) made out of the feeling that my child should be smart and not naive. Maybe those in power also feel the same sometimes.”
Later in the speech, Bhagwat talked about how fear affected people in their daily lives. “People either don’t do or say things because of fear of various things. Fear can also make them do or say things which they shouldn’t, regardless of how educated they are,” he noted.
Citing the example of the Soviet regime, he narrated an anecdote of a meeting chaired by Nikita Khrushchev when he had taken charge of the Communist state. “Khrushchev presented a report at the International Communist Conference in which he criticized Stalin’s regime because of the atrocities that were committed. One of the delegates then shouted and reminded Khrushchev that he too was part of Stalin’s politburo and questioned his silence back in those days,” Bhagwat said.
Apparently this delegate sat down immediately, not giving Khrushchev enough time to identify who he was or the direction from which the statement came. Bhagwat continued, “Khrushchev demanded to know who the delegate was but for the next five minutes, nobody owned up. Khrushchev then said that just as everyone in the audience was silent, he too did the same under Stalin because he was afraid.”
After the event, Bhagwat did not speak with the media, but an RSS member, who is also an academic, said drawing any political inference from the speech would be “far-fetched”. “The sarsanghchalak was simply making a point about education and how it must enlighten people so that no wrong steps are taken,” he said.
State BJP president Chandrakant Patil said, “I am not aware of Bhagwat’s statement as I am travelling in my constituency. Hence I would not like to comment.”





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