Maulana Azad reference omitted in NCERT textbook

Authors of the revised Class 11 political science textbook have also deleted the fact that Jammu and Kashmir had acceded to India on the basis of a promise that the State would remain autonomous.

Updated - April 13, 2023 06:57 pm IST

Published - April 12, 2023 09:37 pm IST - NEW DELHI

India’s first Education Minister Maulana Abul Kalam Azad in conversation with historian Arnold J. Toynbee and his wife in New Delhi on February 21, 1957. Photo: PIB via The Hindu Archives

India’s first Education Minister Maulana Abul Kalam Azad in conversation with historian Arnold J. Toynbee and his wife in New Delhi on February 21, 1957. Photo: PIB via The Hindu Archives

He was a freedom fighter and India’s first Education Minister, but any mention of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad has been deleted from a revised political science textbook published by the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT). The authors of the revised Class 11 textbook have also deleted the fact that Jammu and Kashmir had acceded to India on the basis of a promise that the State would remain autonomous.

These are the latest in a spate of controversial deletions from new NCERT textbooks as part of the process of rationalising the syllabus. More glaring is the fact that NCERT failed to declare either of these revisions in the public domain.

Azad’s reference appeared in the old Class 11 NCERT political science textbook, Indian Constitution at Work in the first chapter, which is titled “Constitution — Why and How?” Last year, when the NCERT published a list of deletions in a list of rationalised content, it had declared that ‘no changes’ had been made in this particular textbook.

Also read | Historians condemn key deletions from NCERT textbooks

Azad omitted

In the older version of the textbook, a paragraph in the first chapter read, “The Constituent Assembly had eight major Committees on different subjects. Usually, Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad or Ambedkar chaired these Committees. These were not men who agreed with each other on many things. Ambedkar had been a bitter critic of the Congress and Gandhi, accusing them of not doing enough for the upliftment of Scheduled Castes. Patel and Nehru disagreed on many issues. Nevertheless, they all worked together.”

On mapping the changes between the old and the revised version of the textbook, The Hindu found that Azad’s name had been dropped from the new version, with the relevant sentence now saying, “Usually, Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, Sardar Patel or B.R. Ambedkar chaired these Committees.”

On mapping the changes between the old and the revised version of Class 11 NCERT political science textbook, Indian Constitution at Work, The Hindu found that Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’s name had been dropped from the new version. Photo: ncert.nic.in

On mapping the changes between the old and the revised version of Class 11 NCERT political science textbook, Indian Constitution at Work, The Hindu found that Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’s name had been dropped from the new version. Photo: ncert.nic.in

Azad, however, had played a key role in 1946, when he led the Congress in the elections for the new Constituent Assembly of India, which would draft India’s Constitution. He had also headed the delegation to negotiate with the British Cabinet Mission, in his sixth year as Congress president.

Azad fellowship discontinued

This is not the first time that references to Azad have been expunged from the current political narrative, says historian and author S. Irfan Habib, whose biography Maulana Azad: A Life was released earlier this year.

“Last year, the Ministry of Minority Affairs chose to discontinue the Maulana Azad Fellowship, which was launched in 2009 and provided financial assistance for five years to students from six notified minorities — Buddhists, Christians, Jains, Muslims, Parsis and Sikhs — to pursue M.Phil and Ph.D,” Prof. Habib told The Hindu.

What makes the deletion more glaring, Prof. Habib adds, is that Azad was the first Education Minister of independent India and had a leading role to play in advocating for key reforms such as free and compulsory primary education for all children up to 14 years. Azad was also a key founding member of the Jamia Millia Islamia, various Indian Institutes of Technology, the Indian Institute of Science, and the School of Planning and Architecture.

Reference to accession dropped

In the tenth chapter of the same textbook, titled “The Philosophy of the Constitution”, the reference to Jammu and Kashmir’s accession has also been deleted. The dropped paragraph had said, “For example, the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to the Indian union was based on a commitment to safeguard its autonomy under Article 370 of the Constitution.”

Article 370 was abrogated by the Central government in August 2019, ending Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomous status. In October 2019, the erstwhile State was split into two Union Territories.

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