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NCERT drops certain portions on Gandhi, RSS from history textbooks; Cong terms it ‘distorting’ history

April 7, 2023

April 5, The NCERT has dropped from its class 12 history textbook certain portions on Mahatma Gandhi and how his pursuit of Hindu-Muslim unity “provoked Hindu extremists”, and on a ban on the RSS, triggering a row, with the Congress accusing the Centre of “whitewashing” and “distorting” history.

“Gandhiji’s death had magical effect on communal situation in the country”, “Gandhi’s pursuit of Hindu-Muslim unity provoked Hindu extremists” and “Organisations like RSS were banned for some time” are among the portions deleted from the textbook.

The portions referring to Gujarat riots have also been dropped from class 11 sociology textbook, months after NCERT removed the reference to the 2022 communal violence in two class 12 textbooks.

NCERT Chief Dinesh Saklani, however, said the syllabus was rationalised in June last year itself, and there has been no trimming of the curriculum this year. He said certain changes did not find mention in the rationalisation notification earlier due to an “oversight” and the issue should not be “blown out of proportion”.

Union minister Shobha Karandlaje also defended the decision to remove these and other references from textbooks, saying the Congress was the “biggest manipulator” of India’s historical facts and the BJP was only correcting the “wrongdoings” of the past.

As part of its “syllabus rationalisation” exercise last year, the NCERT, citing “overlapping” and “irrelevant” as reasons, dropped certain portions from the course including lessons on Gujarat riots, Mughal courts, Emergency, Cold War, Naxalite movement.

A text reading “Communal Politics began to lose its appeal” in reference to the time after Gandhi’s death in 1948 was also removed from the textbook.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge slammed the BJP and RSS over the issue, saying no matter how much they try, they cannot erase history.

“You can (make) changes in Textbooks but you cannot change the history of the country. This is an attempt by the BJP-RSS, they can try as much as they want, but they cannot erase history,” he said.

Tagging a media report on the issue, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said on Twitter, “Whitewashing with a vengeance.”

Asked about the issue at a press conference at the Congress headquarters here, Manish Tewari said the rewriting of history has been an “ongoing endeavour” of the RSS and BJP.

“This is not the first time that this has happened. I recall that in the first and second NDA governments in 1998-99, this particular project was being unveiled. The only thing I would like to say is that you can distort history but you cannot erase it,” he said.

The NCERT Chief, who took charge in February last year when the rationalisation exercise was already underway, claimed nothing has been omitted overnight.

“Subject expert panel had recommended dropping certain texts on Gandhi. It was accepted last year only. It was not mentioned in the list of rationalised content maybe due to an oversight. It should not be blown out of proportion,” Saklani told PTI.

“Nothing can be omitted overnight, there are proper procedures and professional ethics have to be followed. There is nothing intentional behind it,” he added.

Asked whether there are more such contents for other subjects and classes which have been dropped and were not announced during rationalisation, the NCERT chief said, “We are looking into it”.

“If more such contents are found, which were missed due to oversight we will notify them shortly… in a day or two,” he said.

A note by NCERT on its website reads, “In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was felt imperative to reduce content load on students. The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 also emphasises reducing the content load and providing opportunities for experiential learning with creative mindset. In this background, the NCERT had undertaken the exercise to rationalise the textbooks across all classes and all subjects”.

“The present edition is a reformatted version after carrying out the changes. The present textbooks are rationalised textbooks. These were rationalised for the session 2022-23 and will continue in 2023-24,” it adds.

Among the reasons cited behind the choice of dropped subjects during rationalisation are — content based on genres of literature in the textbooks and supplementary readers at different stages of school education; for reducing the curriculum load and exam stress in view of the prevailing condition of the pandemic; content.

Subjects easily accessible to students without much interventions from teachers and can be learned by children through self-learning or peer learning and content which is “irrelevant” in the present context were also dropped from the curriculum.

An official from the education ministry, who did not wish to be identified, said the new curriculum framework as per the NEP is still being worked out and the new textbooks as per the updated curriculum will only be introduced from the 2024 academic session.

Source: PTI

Also Read: New NEP-aligned NCERT textbooks to be introduced in 2024-25: Education Ministry

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