The Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi on Tuesday announced the inclusion of “deshbhakti” or patriotism in the school curriculum to instil a sense of patriotism among students and inspire them to feel proud about their country.
Reportedly, every class — from elementary nursery to higher secondary class 12 — will mandatorily have what AAP has dubbed to be “deshbhakti curriculum” to cultivate patriotic sentiments among students in their formative years. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal launched the patriotism curriculum at an event in Chhatrasal Stadium on September 28 to mark the occasion of the birth anniversary of freedom fighter Bhagat Singh.
As per the so-called deshbhakti curriculum, schools in Delhi are mandated to have one period every day for patriotism studies for students in the nursery to class 8, and classes per week for students studying in classes 9 to 12.
The circular released last week by the Directorate of Education (DoE) said, “Every deshbhakti period shall start with a five-minute ‘Deshbhakti Dhyaan’, where the teacher and students shall practice mindfulness, reflect on their gratitude for the country, freedom fighters, and any five persons that they consider deshbhakts, and pledge their respect for the country.”
Lauding his government’s move to include a curriculum that aimed to engender patriotism among students, Kejriwal said, “They (the students) will be prepared to fulfil their responsibilities and contribute towards the nation’s progress. They will also be prepared in a way that if the need arises, they can lay down their lives for the nation and be willing to give their all to the country.”
While it is admirable of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal to roll out a curriculum that emphasizes patriotism and mandates students to take lessons on deshbhakti, he should be the first one to enrol himself in taking those lessons. If Kejriwal’s past antecedents are anything to go by, they indicate patriotism has never been a strong suit of the Delhi CM.
There have been umpteen incidents in the past when Kejriwal’s patriotism has left a lot to be desired. From using the Pulwama terror attack to further his brand of petty politics to the brazen pandering of the Khalistanis to win votes in Punjab to raising aspersions on the calibre of India’s Armed Forces in conducting Surgical Strikes against terrorists, Kejriwal has not been subtle in expressing his disdain for patriotism and nationalistic feelings for India.
Here are some of the occasions that demonstrate why Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal should take the lessons on patriotism first:-
Brazen politicisation of the Pulwama terror attack
On February 14, 2019, a convoy of vehicles carrying security personnel on the Jammu Srinagar National Highway was attacked by a vehicle-borne Islamic terrorist at Lethpora in the Pulwama district, Jammu and Kashmir, India. The attack resulted in the deaths of 40 CRPF personnel. The responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed.
At a time when the entire country should have united against the scourge of terrorism that emanates from Pakistan, Kejriwal tried to use the dastardly attack in Pulwama to peddle preposterous conspiracy theories. A couple of months after the attack, Kejriwal took to Twitter to insinuate that the Pulwama attack was carried out by Pakistan at the behest of the Modi government to help PM Modi in the forthcoming General elections in May 2019.
“Pakistan and Imran Khan are openly supporting Modi Ji. It is clear now that Modi Ji has some secret pact wid them. Everyone is asking – did Pakistan kill 40 of our brave soldiers in Pulwama on 14 Feb just before elections to help Modi Ji?” Kejriwal had tweeted.
Pakistan and Imran Khan are openly supporting Modi ji. It is clear now that Modi ji has some secret pact wid them.— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) April 11, 2019
Everyone is asking – did Pakistan kill 40 of our brave soldiers in Pulwama on 14 Feb just before elections to help Modi ji? https://t.co/hIh5PGqr9E
His political rivalry with the BJP notwithstanding, Kejriwal did not flinch from asserting that the Indian government was working in cahoots with its arch-nemesis Pakistan and was responsible for the killing of 40 CRPF soldiers so that they continue to remain in power after the Lok Sabha elections. This incident demonstrated Arvind Kejriwal’s willingness to throw patriotism to the winds if that helped to discredit his political adversaries.
Proof of Surgical Strikes conducted in PoK after Uri terror attack
Another incident that raised questions on Kejriwal’s patriotic credentials was demanding proof for the Surgical Strikes conducted by the Indian Armed Forces on terror camps located in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir in the wake of the Uri terror attack.
In the aftermath of the Surgical Strikes when the nationalist sentiments were high, Kejriwal released a rare video congratulating the Modi government and the Indian Army for avenging the deaths of martyrs in the Uri attack. However, towards the end of his video, Kejriwal sought a piece of evidence to establish that Surgical Strikes indeed happened, cunningly claiming that he is asking for evidence to bust the Pakistani propaganda that refuted the occurrence of any Surgical Strikes in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.
We fully support PM on surgical strikes. Urge him to similarly counter Pak’s dirty propaganda. Do watch this msghttps://t.co/jk1CvYmcan— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) October 3, 2016
Delhi CM’s demand for proof was instantly lapped up by Pakistani propagandists to reinforce their narrative that the Surgical Strikes as claimed by India was nothing but a sham. During that time, Pakistan had vigorously denied the occurrence of any surgical strikes in its controlled territory. Pakistan’s denial of the incursion was on expected lines, given that the acceptance of the attack would have been tantamount to a tacit admission of the presence of terrorists at those launch pads and more importantly admission that the Indian forces carried out the attack right under the nose of its Army.
Notably, Pakistani Twitter users had then trended #PakStandsWithKejriwal on Twitter as a mark of support to the AAP supremo for his video raising doubts about the Armed Forces’ claims of having conducted surgical strikes in PoK.
Although Kejriwal’s narrative on Surgical Strikes converged with that of Pakistan, his supporters and other AAP leaders nonetheless continued to raise suspicions over the veracity of the attacks. AAP ran a campaign of sorts to discredit the government by casting aspersions over the authenticity of the operation and seeking corroborating evidence to prove the claims.
However, at a time when he should have resolutely and unconditionally stood behind the Indian Armed Forces and exhibit his patriotism, Kejriwal instead questioned the Army’s claim of conducting Surgical Strikes in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and sought evidence for the same, echoing Pakistani stand on the raid. Perhaps, Kejriwal thought patriotism meant hewing to enemy country’s propaganda and disregarding one’s own Army’s assertions.
Brazen pandering to the Khalistanis
The interests of Khalistanis run counter to that of patriotic Indians. Khalistanis still harbour the dream of hacking off Punjab from India and establish it as a separate sovereign country. This demand has never found popular support among common Sikhs as they feel that their interests are well protected within India. However, this movement has always found support from Pakistan.
Khalistan movement was at its peak during the Indira Gandhi regime with the likes of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale leading an armed struggle. But it slowly fizzled out thanks to nationalist Sikhs in Army and politics, who could save India from another partition.
But in his attempt to win Lok Sabha seats from constituencies in Punjab, Arvind Kejriwal and his party AAP had no qualms in courting Khalistani separatists during the 2014 elections. This revelation was made by none other actor-turned-politician Gul Panag in 2018 when she admitted in a Twitter post that AAP blatantly pandered to Khalistani proponents in the run-up to the 2014 General elections.
Poorly calculated flirtation that was. One I warned against. Repeatedly. It’s because they didn’t ‘get’ or ‘understand’ Punjab. Thought the K gang had electoral weightage. All of us from Punjab, knew better. But alas!— Gul Panag (@GulPanag) February 24, 2018
Kejriwal and his deputies in AAP had then thought that Khalistani ideologues and supporters held electoral weightage and by ingratiating with them they would be able to brighten their chances of winning Lok Sabha seats on constituencies in the Punjab region. This charm offensive was reciprocated by pro-Khalistan outfits by declaring their support to the AAP during the Lok Sabha elections.
The inclusion of the “deshbhakti curriculum” in the school syllabus in Delhi does not jibe with Kejriwal and AAP’s previously held stance. The Delhi CM now wants students in the city to imbibe the importance of remaining loyal to one’s motherland and be proud of their country, a far cry from what Kejriwal has indulged in all these years. Contrary to what he is preaching, Kejriwal’s behaviour in the past could be termed as unpatriotic at best and treasonous at worse. Therefore, before asking Delhi students to study patriotism, Arvind Kejriwal should himself take those lessons first.