NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party's win in the 2014 general elections was “historic”, says a new NCERT text book meant for Class XII students. The book titled Politics in India Since Independence, which hit the market recently, also seeks to establish the party’s support for Muslim women’s cause by noting how it stood for them during the 1989 Shah Bano case against the then ruling dispensation.
To boot, the chapter titled “Communalism, Secularism, Democracy” tries to enlighten discerning students on how the BJP after 1986 began to emphasise the Hindu nationalist element in its ideology.
“Hindutva literally means Hinduness and was defined by its originator V D Savarkar as the basis of Indian nationhood. It basically meant that to be members of Indian nation, everyone must not only accept India as their father land but also their holy land,” reads the new content added to the text.
For the uninitiated, the book also explains the meaning of ‘Hindutva’. “Believers of Hindutva argue that a strong nation can be built only on the basis of a strong and united national culture,” it says.
The book has also dropped the phrase “anti-Muslim” from a passage on 2002 Gujarat riots. The passage has now been titled “2002 Gujarat riots”. The word ‘Muslim’ has been cut from the text inside as well, though it remained critical of the way the state government handled the riots.
While NCERT director H K Senapaty was not available for comment despite attempts to reach him, sources in the Council said the changes in the content were part of a revision of the textbooks after 11 years.
Strategy to promote certain ideology, say educationists
"Changes in the NCERT textbook have been brought in following multiple discussions with subject experts over a number of months and we have tried to include contemporary events and some recent development,” said an NCERT official.
Education experts, on the other hand, see it as part of broader strategy to promote a “certain” ideology.
“Every political dispensation tries to influence textbooks but the current government has a very clear swing towards trying to tamper with historical facts,” said Amber Ahmad, who teaches political science in Kamala Nehru College in Delhi University.
“I find it laughable that the BJP is projecting itself as a champion of Muslim women when they were responsible for a target attack on them in 2002,” she said. “On the other hand, it’s cringe-worthy that the word Muslim has been dropped from Gujarat riots in the textbook. Any country which does not acknowledge its blunders, however shameful they are, is bound to repeat them.”
Biswajeet Mohanty, who teaches political science in Deshbandhu College in the capital, said that while on the one hand the government is trying to “present distorted historical and political facts to young students, it’s also assaulting institutes of higher education to prevent critical thinking”. “There is a sinister link between the two,” he said.