Remove English, Urdu and Arabic words, a poem by the revolutionary poet Pash and a couplet by Mirza Ghalib; the thoughts of Rabindranath Tagore; extracts from painter M F Husain’s autobiography; references to the Mughal emperors as benevolent, to the BJP as a “Hindu” party, and to the National Conference as “secular”; an apology tendered by former prime minister Manmohan Singh over the 1984 riots; and a sentence that “nearly 2,000 Muslims were killed in Gujarat in 2002”. These are some of the many recommendations the RSS-affiliated Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas has sent to the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), which recently sought suggestions from the public on reviewing school textbooks of all classes.
Along with five pages of recommendations, the Nyas, headed by Dina Nath Batra, a former head of Vidya Bharati, the education wing of the RSS, has attached pages from several NCERT textbooks, with the portions that it wants removed marked and underlined.
“Several things (in these books) are baseless, biased. There is an attempt to insult members of a community. There is also an appeasement… how can you inspire children by teaching them about riots? The history of valour, of great personalities like Shivaji, Maharana Pratap, Vivekananda and Subhas Chandra Bose find no place,” Atul Kothari, secretary of the Nyas and a veteran RSS Pracharak, told The Indian Express.
“We have found these things objectionable and have sent suggestions to the NCERT. We hope that these will be implemented,” Kothari added. The Nyas had earlier run a campaign demanding the removal of A K Ramanujan’s essay Three Hundred Ramayanas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translation, from the syllabus of Delhi University’s undergraduate syllabus, and gone to court demanding the withdrawal of Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus. Three Hundred Ramayanas was removed from DU’s reading list, and Doniger’s book was temporarily unavailable.
The five-page note has objected to the fact that the Class XI political science textbook mentions the “massive majority of Congress in 1984” but “does not present the 1977 election details”; that the Class XII political science textbook “terms National Conference of J&K a secular organisation”; and that the Class X English textbook “places nationalism against other ideals” as “an attempt has been made to show a rift between nationality and humanity by citing thoughts of Rabindranath Tagore”.
The Nyas wants that Hindi textbooks must mention that the medieval Sufi mystic Amir Khusrau “increased the rift between Hindus and Muslims”.
Some key deletions the Nyas has sought are as follows.
Political Science, Class XII:
* Paragraph on 1984 riots that ends, “During his parliament speech in 2005, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed regret over the bloodshed and sought an apology from the country for anti-Sikh violence.”
* A paragraph saying the Ram temple movement was “linked with the growth of BJP and politics of Hindutva”.
* A paragraph that describes the BJP as a “Hinduvadi party”; another that says “Hindutva or Hindupan were coined by VD Savarkar”.
* The sentence, “Babri mosque was built by Mir Baqi… Some Hindus believe that it was built at the birthplace of Ram by destroying a Ram temple.”
* A description of the Godhra incident of 2002 says: “A train caught fire… on a suspicion that the fire was caused by Muslims.” The Nyas wants “caught fire” to be replaced by “set on fire”, and the word “suspicion” removed.
* A box that says “Can we ensure that those who plan such massacres… they can be at least taught a lesson in a political manner (voting)”.
* These are among the many words the Nyas wants removed: Vice-Chancellor, worker, margin, business, backbone, stanza, royal academy (in English); betartib, poshaak, taakat, ilaaka, aksar, imaan, jokhim, mehman-navaazi, sare-aam (Urdu/Arabic words); ullu kahin ka, kambakht, badmaash, luchche-lafange, chamaar, bhangiyon (“abusive” words)
* Ghalib’s couplet, “Hum ko malum hai jannat ki haqiqat lekin/dil ko khush rakhne ko Ghalib ye khyal achchha hai”.
* A Class IX book has a poem by Ramdhari Singh Dinkar that follows a question on the “yearnings of a lover”. Such questions “misguide children and cause the loss of their character,” the Nyas has written.
* A Class XI book contains extracts from M F Husain autobiography. The Nyas wants it removed because the “central government considered his activities a threat to the country’s unity and sovereignty”.
* A chapter on the Kannada Bhakti poet Akka Mahadevi describes an incident in which she took off her clothes in protest. This “description of naked women” is an “attack on Hindu culture in the name of women freedom,” says the Nyas.
* Class VI: During the post-Vedic period, “women were normally considered equivalent to Shudras”.
* Class VII: Akbar introduced “Sulah-e-Kul policy”, which stated that “the followers of all religions have an equal place… (before) God’s grace.”
* Class VIII: An extract from the 19th century activist Tarabai Shinde’s milestone book A Comparison Between Women and Men, which attacks patriarchy and is considered the first feminist text in modern India. The extract details the “misfortune” and “social boycott” a widow suffers.
* Class XII: A chapter on the varna system says, “In this system the status was probably determined by birth. They (Brahmins) tried to make people realise that their prestige was based on birth… such parameters were often strengthened by stories in many books like The Mahabharata.”
* A chapter terms “Indra, the war god of Aryas” as the “accused” of “massacre of men, women and children” during the last phase of Mohenjo Daro.
* A chapter on the Mughal period says that “the rulers had an extremely liberal policy towards people… All Mughal rulers gave grants for the construction and maintenance of places of worship. Even when the temples were destroyed during battles, grants for their repair work were released later.”
* In his “memoirs”, Jahangir mentioned a “chain of justice” he got erected to ensure justice. This “30-yard chain had 60 bells”, and anybody could ring it and “attract attention” of the authorities.
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