Updated: August 6, 2021 4:45:23 pm
After the Tamil Nadu Textbook Corporation’s move to drop caste-based surnames of Tamil scholars from textbooks became a talking point in the state, its chairman Dindigul I Leoni said the names were being changed on the basis of orders issued by the AIADMK government in 2019, but it is only now that the books are being distributed.
In an interview given to a Tamil television channel, Leoni said that leaders in the state had earlier taken steps to remove references to caste in the names of streets and roads and this decision too was taken in continuance of that ideology.
“In the Class VII Tamil textbook, Kavignar Namakkal Ramalingam Pillai has become Ramalinganar. Similarly in Class XII Tamil textbook, U Ve Swaminatha Iyer has been identified as U Ve Swaminathar. In Class IX social science, Manonmaniam Sundaram Pillai has been referred to as Manonmaniam Sundaranar,” he said.
“The decision was taken in 2019 during the AIADMK regime. K A Sengottaiyan, the former Minister for School Education and then Tamil Nadu Textbook Corporation’s Chairman B Valarmathi recommended the change to SCERT,” he clarified.
When asked whether the changes would continue to be in place, he said the School Education Minister and Chief Minister will hold consultations with experts and make necessary recommendations to SCERT. “We will take steps to provide a syllabus without any confusion,” he added.
Officials from the textbook corporation reiterated that the changes were made in the 2019 curriculum and the books were reprinted in 2020 and are now being distributed to students.
PMK founder Dr S Ramadoss has, meanwhile, sought to reverse the change. Taking to Facebook, Ramadoss wrote that even though he supports the intention behind the move to abolish caste references, it will also erase the identity of the scholars. “Caste can be abolished only by creating equality among people, for which the central and state governments are taking measures like providing reservation in jobs and education. Removing caste surnames shows a lack of understanding of the issue,” he said.
“There is nothing wrong in dropping the caste surnames of normal persons, however, exemptions should be provided for achievers, else there is a risk of erasing their identity,” the Pattali Makkal Katchi chief added.
He said the practice of using caste surnames ended in Tamil Nadu 50 years ago and so a similar issue won’t crop up when it comes to upcoming achievers and leaders.
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