'Saffron' Content Edited Out of Texts - The New Indian Express

'Saffron' Content Edited Out of Texts

Published: 17th December 2013 08:37 AM

Last Updated: 17th December 2013 11:04 AM

The Education Department has edited out “saffron” content or content that promotes the Sangh Parivar’s ideology from school textbooks. The changes will reflect in next year’s textbooks.  

The government modified the texts for classes five and eight following complaints that the erstwhile BJP government had rewritten them, distorting facts and denigrating some communities.

“We sent the complaints to the textbook committees who in turn expunged objectionable content. We will not allow saffronisation in our textbooks,” said Primary and Secondary Education Minister Kimmane Ratnakar.

The Minister told Express, “Distortions of fact, interpretation and emphasis had crept into certain history and social science textbooks in Karnataka.” “Regional heroes, ethnic identities and faith-based communities are described in a manner that do not do justice to them and sometimes denigrate others,” he said.

Many organisations and writers had taken objection to the ‘saffronisation’ of textbooks during the previous BJP government. A delegation of academics had also met Governor H R Bhardwaj in this regard.

The BJP defended its intervention as ‘patriotism’. Former Primary and Secondary Education Minister Vishveshwar Hegde Kageri said, “I am collecting details on the changes. Our government had tried to inculcate nationalism among schoolchildren.”

Kageri urged a debate on the expunged portions. “I have no objection if they have made changes on expert advice, but texts should not be altered for political reasons,” he said.

The government also plans to include a chapter on the contributions of the Wadiyars of Mysore in school syllabi next year.

A memorandum submitted by a group of writers and academics had alleged the lessons treated ‘Dalits, women, adivasis and minorities as inferior beings, whereas the National Curriculum Framework of 2005 clearly recommends that the curriculum should be culturally neutral”.  History books were accused of “toeing the line of the Sangh Parivar”.

There is a clear anti-minority bias in content depicting Muslim kings as persecuting Hindu subjects and Hindu kings as only fighting Muslim kings, the memorandum had complained.

For example, the class eight Hindi textbook refers to the ballad of ‘Punyakoti’, in which a tiger takes an oath: “Eating cow’s meat is a bad thought; henceforth, I will not eat cow’s meat.” The Kannada original contains no such oath.

All books in April

Kimmane Ratnakar said the government had already completed the tender process and all 237 textbooks, from class one to second PU, would be ready by April.

Hitherto, the government used to call for tenders in April-May and printers supplied textbooks only after reopening of schools. But this time committees are working ahead of the cycle, he said.

Printing textbooks would cost around `6 crore. The government supplies textbooks free to over 75 lakh children. Around four lakh extra textbooks would be printed to replace badly printed ones, he said.

Ratnakar said he would keep copies of each textbook in his office to cross-check as and when complaints are received from citizens and teachers.

If complaints are genuine, they will be sent to the respective committees and changes incorporated during reprinting, he said.

Content had been selected keeping in mind the relevance to the region, he said, adding that the tenure of textbook committees would be three years and members would not be disturbed in the middle.

Wadiyars in Texts Next Year

The government will include a chapter on the contributions of the Wadiyars of Mysore in school syllabi next year.

Ratnakar said, “Nobody can dispute the contributions of Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV and Jayachamaraja Wadiyar to all fields. The government will be honoured to have a chapter on them.”

He said the chapter would be incorporated next academic year as it was too late to schedule anything in this year’s textbooks.

Prof P V Nanjaraje Urs, historian and authority on the Wadiyars of Mysore, welcomed the minister’s decision. “Although late, at least now the government has understood the Wadiyars’ contributions. I am ready to extend all help,” he told Express.

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