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Monday, June 14, 2021

Northeast Twitter storm: NCERT says region finds ‘adequate space’ in its publications

A series of tweets on Saturday from the NCERT’s official handle said that a “depiction of North East in NCERT’s Publication: A book on North East India - People, History and Culture has been brought out in 2016.”

Written by Tora Agarwala | Guwahati |
Updated: June 6, 2021 9:07:03 pm
From left to right: Punjab YouTuber Paras Singh and Congress MLA and former Union minister Ninong Ering.

A day after students from the northeastern states participated in a Twitter storm, seeking more focus on the region in the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) curriculum, the government organisation said that the northeast already finds “adequate space” in its publications.

A series of tweets on Saturday from the NCERT’s official handle said that a “depiction of North East in NCERT’s Publication: A book on North East India – People, History and Culture has been brought out in 2016.” It added that “the Social Science Textbooks of NCERT for classes VI, VII, X and XII have interwoven contents related to North East in a different form.”

“At present, contents with regard to North Eastern states finds adequate space in NCERT’s publications for its use by students & teachers,” said the thread, which tagged the official handles of the Ministry of Education, Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, the Union Education Minister, among others.

Triggered by the racial slur controversy involving a Punjab based YouTuber last week, the virtual campaign on June 4 had students, as well as public personalities — including athlete Hima Das, MP Shashi Tharoor and MP Gaurav Gogoi — tweeting with the hashtags #AchapterforNE and #NortheastMatters to demand that a mandatory chapter on the history and culture of the northeast be included in the syllabus. The topics trended on the number two and three spots for two hours on Friday.

About NCERT’s response, Debonil Baruah, Advisor, North East Students’ Union (NESU), Vadodara, one of the organisers of the Twitter storm, said that while they were aware of and appreciated the supplementary reader published by NCERT in 2016, the demand was of “a mandatory chapter to be included in the main syllabus.”

In 2017, the NCERT published ‘North East India — People, History and Culture’, a supplementary textbook for students from Class 9 to 12. “The fact is that it is supplementary and not part of the main curriculum. Publishing the reader is well and good, but what’s the point if people are not reading it?” Baruah asked.

The organisers of the Twitter storm are now going to write a memorandum to the Education Ministry in consultation with professors and intellectuals from the region. “In our memorandum, we will give constructive suggestions. As I said earlier, this kind of racism can be solved only through education. We will also approach MPs from the Northeast for support,” he said.

While there have been efforts to include the region’s history in central educational institutions, it has not worked out yet.

In 2014, following the attack and murder of 19-year-old Nido Tania in Delhi, the MP Bezbaruah Committee report had made a number of recommendations, including integration of Northeastern culture and history in the NCERT syllabus. In 2017, Arunachal Pradesh MLA and former Union minister Ninong Ering had introduced a Private Member Bill, ‘The Compulsory teaching of North-East culture in Educational Institutions’ in the Parliament, but it was not taken up.

On Saturday, Ering wrote to Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Dr Nishank reiterating the demand. “This is my humble request not only as a representative but as a common citizen of Northeast India. This one step can lead to the elimination of frequent cases of racial discrimination against us,” he wrote.

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