Jawaharlal Nehru who?
The new Social Science textbook for Class VIII in schools of Rajasthan has erased Nehru from the pages of history. It does not mention who India’s first Prime Minister was.
Not yet available in the market but uploaded on the website of publisher Rajasthan Rajya Pathyapustak Mandal — http://www.rstbraj.in — the textbook features Mahatma Gandhi, Subhas Chandra Bose, Veer Savarkar, Bhagat Singh, Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and revolutionary Hemu Kalani but is silent on Nehru and other Congress freedom fighters. There is also no mention of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination by Nathuram Godse.
Meant for use in schools of the Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education, the textbook revision has been carried out as part of “curriculum re-structuring” by the State Institute of Education Research and Training (SIERT), Udaipur.
In the previous edition of the textbook, the chapter on National Movement had Nehru prominently in a box titled Major Leaders of National Movement. Again, the chapter on India After Independence, in the earlier edition, began with the contribution of Nehru and Sardar Patel to government formation.
In the new chapter on National Movement, there is no mention of Nehru, Sarojini Naidu, Madan Mohan Malviya or other freedom fighters. The chapter on post-independence India is again silent on Nehru. It mentions Rajendra Prasad as the first president and describes in detail the contribution of Sardar Patel to the unification of India.
Asked about the omission of Nehru, School Education Minister Vasudev Devnani told The Sunday Express: “The government and I have nothing to do with it. I am yet to see the new textbooks. The syllabus is created by an autonomous body and the government does not interfere in it at all.”
Devnani had recently said that the Rajasthan government was re-designing textbooks to ensure “no Kanhaiya Kumar was born in the state”. He had also said that he wanted the curriculum to have a three-pronged effect: teach the child about the ‘veer’ and ‘veerangana’ of Rajasthan; make the child proud of Indian culture; and, create an ideal citizen and a patriot.
Devnani had said that Mughal emperor Akbar would be taught without the suffix ‘Great’, which would be used to describe Maharana Pratap. The change is reflected in the Class VII textbook for medieval history.
The foreword by the SIERT Director in the new Social Science textbook thanks UNICEF for financial and technical assistance. The history section has been written by a team of eight authors, most of them senior teachers and principals from government schools. The team is headed by Brajmohan Ramdev, retired district literacy officer (Jaisalmer), and includes Dr S K Gupta, retired professor, Mohanlal Sukhadia University, Udaipur.
Reacting to the omission of Nehru from the textbook, Rajasthan Congress president Sachin Pilot told The Sunday Express: “This is taking saffronisation to the next level. The BJP’s ideological bankruptcy has stooped to such levels that it is erasing the country’s first Prime Minister from school history books. But they should know that this does not mean they can erase Nehru’s memory and his contribution from the nation’s collective conscience. We will oppose this attempt to alter the nation’s history.”