Fifteen years ago, Lalit Vachani’s “The Boy in the Branch” documented the recruitment of young boys into the RSS. Times haven’t changed much, if one goes by the mushrooming of Vanvasi Kalyan Ashrams, Saraswati Shishu Mandirs, Ekal Vidyalayas and Vidya Bharatis. Besides lending financial support to these (and other) Sangh Parivar projects in India, Sanghis in the U.S. have also established their own indoctrination centers such as Balvihars. I don’t know what kind of intellectual abuse Hindutva families in the U.S. subject their kids to, but the photos below suggest Hindu victimhood (and, as a corollary, Islamic/Christian aggression) ranks pretty high in their curriculum. Empathy for the victims of terrorism, to the extent that it even exists, seems masked by an all-consuming hatred for ‘Others’.
The photos are from user Savetemples’ public gallery on picasaweb, but I’ve nevertheless blacked out the kids’ faces.
And, finally, here’s psychologist Nicholas Humphrey on WHAT SHALL WE TELL THE CHILDREN?
Children, I’ll argue, have a human right not to have their minds crippled by exposure to other people’s bad ideas—no matter who these other people are. Parents, correspondingly, have no god-given licence to enculturate their children in whatever ways they personally choose: no right to limit the horizons of their children’s knowledge, to bring them up in an atmosphere of dogma and superstition, or to insist they follow the straight and narrow paths of their own faith.
In short, children have a right not to have their minds addled by nonsense. And we as a society have a duty to protect them from it. So we should no more allow parents to teach their children to believe, for example, in the literal truth of the Bible, or that the planets rule their lives, than we should allow parents to knock their children’s teeth out or lock them in a dungeon.
That’s the negative side of what I want to say. But there will be a positive side as well. If children have a right to be protected from false ideas, they have too a right to be succoured by the truth. And we as a society have a duty to provide it. Therefore we should feel as much obliged to pass on to our children the best scientific and philosophical understanding of the natural world—to teach, for example, the truths of evolution and cosmology, or the methods of rational analysis—as we already feel obliged to feed and shelter them.