Bangalore: Academics and authors call for scrapping of new textbooks

Writers and scholars under the All India Save Education Committee (AISEC), Karnataka, on Wednesday called a conference in Bengaluru to demand the scrapping of the new textbooks. The conference was also attended by authors who recently revoked permission to use their works in textbooks. Speakers like Niranjan Aaradhya, GS Siddaramiah, Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy and A Murgieppa also pointed out the “distorted content” in the textbooks reviewed at the conference.

Aaradhya, an academic, claimed that the mandate of the committee headed by Rohith Chakrathirtha was to submit a report on “misleading” facts in one of the chapters on religion in the class VIII social science textbook.

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“The committee’s mandate was simply to submit a report to a group of academic experts on the manual’s misleading content. However, without a review mandate, the committee revised the textbooks for Classes IX (Kannada), Classes II-IV (Environmental Sciences) and Classes VI-X (Social Sciences). Additionally, the revised content is in violation of the National Curriculum Framework.

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Rajashekar VN, Vice President of AISE, claimed that the textbook review committee inserted a chapter on Bharatvarsha (Akhanda Bharat) in the class VIII social science textbook. The chapter apparently mentions that countries like Myanmar, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh were part of India. “We were critical when the manuals were revised by Congress in 2002 and also by the BJP in 2012. However, this year the revision added fuel to the fire. The textbooks… are clearly out of step with India’s constitutional and democratic values. The chapter on Bharatvarsha is clearly out of sangh parivar and BJP playbook. We need the government to withdraw these changes and reinstate the manuals from the previous committee.

Rajashekar further stated that the Class VIII Social Science Textbook mentions Indus Valley Civilization as Saraswati Hindu Civilization and equates Vedic Dharma with Sanatana Dharma. He added that the part related to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi by Nathuram Godse had been removed from the manual.

SG Siddaramiah, a writer who revoked permission to use his work in Class X Kannada textbook, said, “If the state government has dissolved the textbook review committee, then why are the revised textbooks they distributed? With so many distorted facts about India, it is clear that the government is introducing shakha lessons into school lessons…”

Notably, the outgoing BJP government decided on Tuesday to make changes to the revised parts of Class IX textbooks on Basavanna and BR Ambedkar after facing harsh criticism from a section of scholars and writers on the “ distortion” of history. However, many controversial parts in the textbooks remain, such as showing Goddess Bhuvaneshwari holding a saffron flag instead of the Kannada flag in the Class VI history textbook.

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