Textbooks today are aimed at creating “activists” and not educating students, the newly appointed chief of ICSSR Braj Bihari Kumar has said, terming universities like the JNU a “nurturing ground” for them. Kumar, who took over as the head of the apex body for promoting research in social sciences last month, also believes that caste-based conflicts and intolerance are “fringe” phenomena and should not be seen as a reflection of the Indian society as a whole.
“Textbooks are not meant for making students activists but for educating them. Unfortunately the books are driven by an agenda today and there is a need for a curriculum rehaul,” the 76-year-old former anthropologist, who once famously called Prime Minister Narendra Modi the “worst victim of intolerance”, said.
“Textbooks are in bad shape today. I had found a map in a social science textbook which showed Jammu and Kashmir out of India, there was another one not showing northeast area as part of the country. There are several lapses in our textbooks,” Kumar told PTI in an interview.
Kumar, who used to used to edit a journal, Dialogue, before he joined the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), had written in an editorial in 2016 that “NCERT textbooks are driven by political agenda and are partly responsible for the increasing social conflicts and anarchical trends in society”.
“I had also written two letters to former HRD minister Smriti Irani pointing out the issue but I did not get any response,” he said.
Kumar lashed out at “JNU-like universities”, claiming, “several persons from a single family are massacred in Chhattisgarh and there is jubilation in JNU and a march in praise of the killers, much cannot be said about the kind of varsity that is.” He, however, did not elaborate.
He said though the JNU projected itself as one of the best universities, “they can’t claim excellence when they are hurting nationalist sentiments and becoming a nurturing ground for activists and not a place for education. Taxpayers do not pay money for activist-making”.
Kumar also said that “caste-based conflicts” and “intolerance” should not be seen as reflection of the Indian society in entirety.
“Caste-based conflicts, untouchability and intolerance are all fringe phenomena. They should not be treated as general phenomena and reflection of Indian society,” he said.
Kumar, who had in one of his editorials in the journal ‘Dialogue’ had said that caste in its present form and intra-Hindu societal exploitation were “entirely non-Hindu factors” caused by “aggressive anti-Hindu agenda of conversion” by Muslim rulers, also said subjects like Hindu-Muslim riots and caste-based conflicts should not be part of curriculum.
The ICSSR was established in 1969 by the central government to promote research in social sciences. It gives grants to institutions and scholars, and reviews the progress of social science research.