🔴 “We remain strangers even after so many meetings, blood stains remain even after so many rains.”
🔴 “Not enough to shed tears, to suffer anguish, not enough to nurse love in secret… Today, walk in the public square fettered in chains.”
For over a decade, CBSE students have read these translated excerpts from two poems in Urdu by Faiz Ahmed Faiz in the “Religion, Communalism and Politics — Communalism, Secular State” section of NCERT’s Class 10 textbook “Democratic Politics II”. The verses have been excluded from CBSE’s 2022-23 academic curriculum, which was released on Thursday.
The portion of the curriculum document, which lists the Social Science course content for Class 10, states that the segment on religion, communalism and politics will continue to be part of the course content — “excluding image on page 46, 48, 49”.
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The images referred to are two posters and a political cartoon.
One of the posters, illustrated with Faiz’s verses, was issued by NGO ANHAD (Act Now for Harmony and Democracy), which has social activists Shabnam Hashmi and Harsh Mander among its co-founders.
The two posters and the cartoon are the only images to have been excluded from the course content. The CBSE did not respond to queries from The Indian Express on the reasons for the exclusion.
According to the leading literary web portal Rekhta, the poem from which these verses were taken were composed by Faiz when he was being taken from a jail in Lahore, in chains, to a dentist’s office in a tonga through lanes that were familiar to him.
The second poster, with excerpts of the other Faiz poem, was issued by the Voluntary Health Association of India, which describes itself as a federation of 27 state associations. Rekhta says Faiz had written this poem after his visit to Dhaka in 1974.
The cartoon by Ajith Ninan, which shows an empty chair adorned with religious symbols, was taken from The Times of India. It is accompanied by the caption: “This chair is for the CM-designate to prove his secular credentials…There will be plenty of rocking!”
The textbook was developed by a committee chaired by the late Prof Hari Vasudevan of the University of Calcutta’s Department of History following the revision of the National Curriculum Framework in 2005.
Also dropped from the course content in the book are chapters on “democracy and diversity”, which introduce students to the concept of social divisions and inequalities along the lines of race and caste across the world, including in India; “popular struggle and movements” with focus on Nepal and Bolivia; and, “challenges to democracy” on reforming democratic politics.
The “How to use this book” segment states that graphics, collages, photographs, posters and a wide range of political cartoons occupy a major portion.
“These images provide visual relief and some fun. But you should not merely ‘see’ these images and turn the page. You are expected to ‘read’ the meaning of these images. Very often politics is carried out not through words but through images. The captions and questions that often accompany these images help you to read these images,” it states.
Besides, a chapter on “Central Islamic Lands” is missing from the History course content for Class 11. It deals with the rise of Islamic empires in Afro-Asian territories and its implications for economy and society, according to the curriculum for 2021-22.
Among other Social Science themes to have faced the axe this time include “impact of globalization on agriculture” from a chapter on Food Security in the Class 10 curriculum. A chapter on “Cold war era and Non-aligned Movement” has been dropped from the Class 12 Political Science curriculum.
These apart, a unit on mathematical reasoning has been dropped from the Class 11 curriculum. Composite functions, inverse of a function, elementary properties of inverse trigonometric functions, mathematical formulation of linear programming problems, and binomial probability distribution have also been kept out.
As part of its decision to rationalise syllabus, the CBSE had announced that chapters on federalism, citizenship, nationalism, and secularism in the Class 11 Political Science textbook will not be considered while assessing students, triggering a major controversy. The topics were restored in the 2021-22 academic session and remain a part of the curriculum.
In 2012, the NCERT had agreed to drop six cartoons from the Political Science textbooks of classes 9, 10, 11 and 12 following outrage over “anti-political class” content. In 2018, the NCERT had undertaken another round of revision of political commentary, including tweaking the captions under cartoons.
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