The act of change in the course content of text books is a usual feature with different governments in India when they come to power in accordance with their own political ideology. The recent changes in the last 6 months made by NCERT in text books of class 6th to12th are on a scale never seen before. The subject of change in text material was there in the agenda of BJP when they came into power in 2014. The changes started since 2018 when the erstwhile Education Minister announced that the school curriculum would be reduced by 50%. In 2019, some chapters were also dropped, but the changes made in 2022 are sweeping. They were unable to bring out new text books but deleted portions from the old ones. The process started with the acting head of NCERT issuing a circular. It is being done with the plea of ‘‘Textbook rationalization exercise’’ and to drop ‘‘irrelevant, outdated, difficulty level and overlapping content’’. The process is not transparent and the experts involved in the committee are not known. We will classify the topics, chapters deleted from class 6th to 12th on the basis of research done by Indian Express and published in its daily edition from 18th to 21st June 2022 in four parts. The deletions have been of various types like specific words, sentences, paragraphs and even chapters.
Deletion of chapters on democratic values
A chapter on ‘‘Key elements of a Democratic Government’’ has been dropped. This chapter dealt with people’s participation, conflict resolution, equality and justice in democracy. A chapter on ‘‘Democracy and Diversity’’ which dealt with the concept of social divisions and inequity along lines of caste and race across the world, and another one ‘‘Challenges to Democracy’’ which refers to reformation of democratic politics has been dropped.
The course material on democracy was there in school text books to develop the concepts of democratic values like liberty and equality. Inequity and social division are a reality in our society and students should be aware of these aspects. The BJP government doesn’t want the students should know and analyze our social condition because it fears that the future citizens may revolt against the inequities, nor does it want to inculcate concepts of democracy in students.
Deletion of significant social movements of India after independence
A chapter on ‘‘Rise of popular movements in India’’ has been dropped which dealt with Chipko movement in Uttarakhand, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Anti-liquor movement in Andhra Pradesh, movement for Right to information, movement for rights of displaced forest dwellers in Satpura, Maharashtra, Naxalite movement, Dalit Panther movement.
There were many social movements in India after independence. It is not a question whether they were right or wrong. History is what had occurred in the past and students should have the knowledge of it. The deletion of the chapter shows the intention of BJP and RSS to keep the students blind on the mass movements of India. This shows the fear psychosis of the Indian bourgeoisie.
An exercise given to students to discuss the three farm laws passed by the government has also been dropped.
We all know the three farm laws passed by the government had to be withdrawn because of the historic farmers’ movement. It was an exercise for the students to study the farm laws and discuss its merits and demerits. What was wrong with it? Did they feel that their nefarious intentions will be exposed to the students? If they were for benefit of farmers, why is the discussion on it not being encouraged?
Gujarat riots 2002 and anti-Sikh riots
Two pages on Gujarat riots of 2002 from class 12th text book of a chapter on ‘‘Politics in India since Independence’’ have been deleted. It describes the chronology of events that lead to the riots and the criticism by NHRC (National Human Rights Commission) of Gujarat Government for failing to control the violence. The page says ‘‘Instances, like in Gujarat, alert us to the dangers involved in using religious sentiments for political purposes. This poses a threat to democratic politics’’.
One more paragraph deleted states ‘‘No religion has been wholly exempted from communal violence of one kind or another….in fact, the two most traumatic contemporary instances of communal violence occurred under each of the major political parties. The Anti-Sikh riots of Delhi in 1984 took place under Congress regime. The unprecedented scale and spread of Anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat in 2002 took place under the BJP Government.’’ The death toll in Gujarat riots was 790 Muslims, 254 Hindus, 223 were reported missing and 2500 injured as per the reply tabled in the Parliament by the Government.
It is clear that BJP and RSS never want students to study the Gujarat riots of 2002 because they were the perpetrators of it. Why have the Anti Sikh riots, which occurred during Congress regime, been dropped? Is it done to appease Congress, so that they will support deletion of Gujarat riots? The two main political parties along with many other parties are the main actors who incite riots in India for their political end and they don’t want students to know their design.
Emergency during Indira Gandhi regime
The chapter on Emergency in class 12th political science text book has been reduced by five pages. It pertains to controversies of imposing Emergency and abuse of power, arrest of political workers, restrictions on media, torture and custodial deaths. The reference to draconian impact of Emergency has been also deleted. ‘‘Civil liberties were revoked and a large number of politically active people were arrested and jailed without trial. Censorship was imposed on the media and Government officials could be dismissed without normal procedures.’’
The curbs that were placed on trade union activities during Emergency also has been deleted.
Emergency was imposed by Mrs. Indira Gandhi of Congress. It may seem puzzling why such undemocratic, fascist act of their arch rival is being deleted. BJP was a part of the movement against emergency. On deeper analysis, it is very clear: the acts of BJP at present are nothing less than the abuse of power during Emergency. Civil liberties of citizens are revoked—mob lynching, razing houses of protestors with bulldozers, arrest of journalists, branding any opposition to their views as anti-national, and change in trade union laws and so on run galore. An undeclared Emergency is in vogue. Why should they want students to know about the draconian impact of Emergency as they practice the same in one way or another?
There was a section on draconian arbitrary colonial sedition Act of 1870. This section has been dropped.
There has been lot of debate on the arbitrary Sedition Act of 1870 which was introduced during British colonial rule to arrest anyone who speaks against the government. That was used against many freedom fighters during British rule. The same Act is being used by different governments even after 75 years of independence. The Supreme Court even has expressed concern about this colonial law.
The intention of the ruling party is clear, they want to continue with the colonial Sedition law and harass all who raise their voice against them. Journalists from Manipur were arrested under Sedition law when they spoke against unscientific advocating of cow urine therapy by one BJP legislator, students from Delhi who were researching on communal tension in Tripura were arrested and so on.
Deletion of course material related to caste
The caste system, ill treatment of lower castes (Shudra), lower status of women present in India since ancient period is a hindrance to development of values of equality. The course material on caste system was not exhaustive but gave a glimpse of it and that is also being removed now. The history of the events won’t change with such deletions from text books. The method adopted should have been to educate our children on the vices of such systems which existed and the need of necessary cultural revolution to overcome it.
The portions deleted are- sentences on hereditary nature of varnas, that is, children of parents from a particular caste belong to the same caste, superior status of Brahmins, classification of untouchables and considering them as polluting, sentences like ‘‘generally women were not allowed to study the Vedas’’, ‘‘Women and Shudras were not allowed to study the Vedas’’, ‘‘caste-based discretion is not only limited to preventing Dalits from undertaking certain economic activities but it also denies them the respect and dignity given to others’’ and many others. The discussion on development of agriculture with exploitation of dasas and dasis (slaves) and of labourers has been removed.
The intention has been to hide the class, caste and gender inequality that existed in ancient India. This will hamper students’ understanding of social hierarchy and its evolution. BJP and RSS believe in the Manu Smriti which is discriminatory against lower castes and women. Our society need to develop a culture of democratization, of equality and freedom of women, but the design of the ruling class is to continue the old obscurantist values.
Minorities and discrimination
In ‘‘The challenges of Cultural diversity’’ in class 12 sociology textbook ‘resurgence and newly acquired political power of Hindu communalists’ has been omitted. In the same chapter the ‘‘vulnerability of religious minority as the religious majority because of numerical majority can translate into political power and use state machinery to suppress religious and cultural institutions of the minority’’, has been dropped.
NCERT has deleted certain portions relating to ‘‘Muslim rulers in India’’. The Indian Express stated ‘‘several pages on the Delhi Sultanate, ruled by many dynasties including the Mamluks, Tughlaqs, Khilji and Lodi, and the Mughal empire have been removed’’.
There was no nation state that we call India during medieval period. There were small kingdoms scattered all over, reigned over by kings. What were the ambitions of a King? Kings were interested in conquering and expanding their kingdom and collecting revenue irrespective of their religion. Some were benevolent, some despotic irrespective of their religions. The clans and dynasties including the Islamic ones, of those who came, some plundered and looted, some stayed back and ruled. This is invariably the nature of kings of different religions in all parts of the world. The ones who stayed back lived harmoniously, developed art and architecture, and this part of the world had highest GDP during Muslim rule. This is history. BJP and RSS have the agenda of discriminating against minorities and appeasing the majority on the basis of religion and so they are distorting history. The politics of BJP is based on hatred for minorities to appease the majority as vote bank. They continue the same policy in school text books by deleting the contributions of Mughal kings.
The art and architectural heritage of medieval India; temples of Chola kingdom, mosques of Delhi Sultans, Mughals and Deccan Sultans along with gardens, forts, and all that attest the marvels of that period, have been deleted.
This was the period when art, sculpture and architecture flourished in India. The synthesis of the Hindu or indigenous art with that of the Muslim or Arabic one produced a synthesis which still stands in the form of Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Lal Quila, Forts of Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jaipur etc., —all bear testimony to the tradition of amalgamation.
They have further deleted some portions on ‘‘Central Islamic Lands’’. This chapter deals with the evolution of Islam in the Middle East and the socio, economic and political condition of that period. The dark period of Europe in terms of science and knowledge started with the fall of Roman empire. It was the ‘‘Central Islamic lands’’ from 600 to 1200 AD which carried the torch of knowledge during this period. They translated books written in Greek and Latin into Arabic, science flourished. Muslims were a majority in those lands but Christians and Jews were an integral part of it. This is recognized by all historians of the world. A student of World History needs to know the history of civilizations and deleting such chapters only shows bigotry.
NCF (National Curriculum Framework) and RSS link
The Indian Express on 21st June ’22 states that at least 17 of the National Focus Groups out of a total of 25 working on curriculum changes under the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 have 24 members with RSS links. The focus groups were appointed by NCERT through notification on 28th Dec21. The Indian Express has mentioned the names of 24 members in different groups who have clear-cut links with RSS and 17 of them are in focus groups.
The four National Curriculum Framework (NCF) was formed under NEP2020 for curriculum changes for early childhood care and education, school education, teacher education and adult education. It was envisaged that NCERT will conduct a survey and get feedback from stakeholders.
The process has never been transparent. The Indian Express states NCERT director declined to comment on the focus groups and former NCERT director in-charge who had issued the notification declined to comment.
This was a well-planned exercise by BJP and RSS to delete portions of course material and so appointed their own men in the committee.
Deletion a political agenda
NCERT asserts that the deletions are made for rationalization, to reduce course load in keeping with NEP2020 which advocates change in syllabus. The other reasons given are irrelevant content, removal of repetition etc.
A glance at the deletions raises serious concern for educationists. If the exercise was for reducing the course content, then why have specific words and sentences been removed? This clearly shows the motive was different. The leaders of the BJP including Home Minister have already said that they want to rewrite history. This means one has to write history as per their own whims to meet their political agenda and not based on historical facts. This is distortion of history.
The chapters deleted on Muslim rulers of India and the art, craft, sculpture and architecture that developed during that period shows the narrow mindedness and hatred for the minorities. The hatred which they spread against minorities is well known.
The deletion of chapters on mass movements that developed after independence, riots in different parts of India and the draconian Emergency, show that they don’t want students to develop an inquisitive mind in analyzing the political and social life of the country.
The whole exercise has been undertaken without any transparent mechanism with selected members having allegiance to RSS. The main aim has been to curb the scientific, critical thinking, and analytic mindset of students, so that their own fascist culture and rule can prosper. Their ideology is based on false national pride and ego, based on distorted view of majority religion (Hindutva) and for that they distort history and spread false ideas and notions. This dangerous trend needs to be opposed by all citizens who love education and are concerned for the future of our next generation.