Shivasundar, a human rights activist, traced the explosion of Hindutva content in textbooks to the prejudices induced into the National Curriculum Framework in 2000

The Hindutva slant in textbooks — from sullying Muslim and Christian histories to exclusion of a Dalit perspective — has led to “ghettoisation of children’s mind”, said speakers at a seminar held here on Sunday to debate the effects of “saffronisation” of school textbooks.

The one-day seminar ‘Saffronisation of textbooks and subaltern voice’ saw progressive thinkers trace the disappearance of minority, gender, adivasi, and tribal perspectives from textbooks.

K.L. Ashok, State general secretary of Karnataka Komu Souharda Vedike, said while the State Government’s move to introduce the Bhagavad Gita in schools were thwarted by protests, there was an ongoing subtle propaganda of changing syllabi in classes 5 to 7.

Shivasundar, a human rights activist, traced the explosion of Hindutva content in textbooks to the prejudices induced into the National Curriculum Framework in 2000, when the BJP-led NDA was in power at the Centre. “In social sciences, there is no concept of true or exact history.

It is here that saffronisation could be introduced with ease,” he said, citing the efforts to make Krishna, a mythological deity, into a “documented” person born in Uttar Pradesh.

Hindu state

Another “telling distorting” was the “reclamation” of the Indus Valley Civilisation as a Hindu civilisation. “Hinduism being propagated by Aryans was deleted while claiming that Hinduism existed in the country and was practised in Harappa and Mohenjo-daro. Along with images of Muslims as invaders and Christians as converters, these textbooks can prejudice a child’s mind,” said Mr. Shivsundar. It wasn’t a coincidence, he said, that histories as told by the books took the form of geographical boundaries of Hinduism, skipping early South Indian history.

While the change in Government at the Centre brought with it a detoxification of content, saffronisation still continued in the State as evident in the functioning of Vision Focus Group, 2006, he said.

“They have filled the textbooks with lies, making it wicked and damaging. Non-Hindus are shown as being from outside the State while Hindu iconography such as Goddess Bhuvaneshwari was used as symbols of Kannada. One child asked his father if his acquaintance was Kannadiga or Muslim. Since when did Muslims or Christians become non-Kannadigas?”

He criticised the exclusion of contributions of Islamic rulers in Deccan Sultanates of North Karnataka in these textbooks.

Exclusion of Dalits

There was an intentional omission of Dalit history while Brahminisation was being pushed forward by textbooks, said Indudhara Honnapura, Editor of Samvada Patrike.

“Even though they have been subjugated for centuries, the books give the message that only upper castes have constructed the nation. There is no mention of caste discrimination or their contributions to social reform,” he said.

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