NCERT responds as ‘embarrassed’ Yogendra Yadav and Suhas Palshikar ask academic body to drop their name as advisors

NCERT asserts none can claim ownership of textbooks and withdrawal of association is ‘out of question’

Updated - June 09, 2023 11:36 pm IST

Published - June 09, 2023 10:16 pm IST - New Delhi

Yogendra Yadav and Suhas Palshikar say they do not want to be associated with these “mutilated“ textbooks. File

Yogendra Yadav and Suhas Palshikar say they do not want to be associated with these “mutilated“ textbooks. File | Photo Credit: K. Murali Kumar

After two academicians wrote to the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) seeking the removal of their names as chief advisers of Political Science textbooks for Class 9 to 12, the academic body sent out a circular saying “individual authorship” cannot be claimed for its textbooks.

Amid the row over deletion of portions from school textbooks, academicians Suhas Palshikar and Yogendra Yadav, who is also a Swaraj India party leader, wrote to NCERT Director Dinesh Saklani stating, “If NCERT did consult other experts for deciding on these cuts and deletions, we explicitly state that we fully disagree with them in this regard.”

In the letter sent on June 8, they claimed that the “rationalised texts” had been “mutilated beyond recognition” and that they were “embarrassed” to be associated with these textbooks.

Paragraphs about Hindu radicals’ attempts to kill Mahatma Gandhi and the ban placed on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) after his death were among those removed by the NCERT. It also removed material on Gujarat riots of 2002 and the Mughal reign in India, among other things. 

Mr. Palshikar and Mr. Yadav wrote, “As academics who were naturally involved in the creation of these textbooks, we are ashamed that our names should be mentioned as primary advisors to these mangled and academically dysfunctional textbooks. We want to make it clear that we completely oppose the process of changing the text in the guise of rationalisation.”

Their letter added, “Both of us would like to distance ourselves from these textbooks and request the NCERT to drop our names… We request you to give effect to this request immediately and ensure that our names are not used in the soft copies of the textbooks available at the NCERT websites as well as in the subsequent print editions.”

Mr. Palshikar and Mr. Yadav said that they could not see any pedagogic rationale behind the deletions by the NCERT.

“Textbooks cannot and should not be shaped in this blatantly partisan manner and should not quell the spirit of critique and questioning among students of social sciences,” the letter continued.

“These textbooks as they stand now do not serve the purpose of training students of political science (in) both principles of politics and the broad patterns of political dynamics that have occurred over time,” the letter further states. 

However, on June 9, the NCERT issued a circular saying, “Textbooks at the school level are developed based on the state of our knowledge and understanding on a given subject. Therefore, at no stage individual authorship is claimed, hence the withdrawal of association by any one is out of question.”

“During 2005-2008, Textbook Development Committees [TDCs] were constituted by NCERT for development of textbooks in various subjects for all classes. These Committees were academic in nature and existed until the textbooks were developed. After the textbooks are published their copyright remains vested with NCERT independent of the Committees. Therefore, the roles of the members of the TDCs in various capacities such as Chief Advisor, Advisor, Member and Member-Coordinator was limited to advising how to design and develop the textbooks or contributing to the development of their contents and not beyond this,” the circular said.

“The terms of these TDCs have ended since the date of their first publication. However, NCERT acknowledges their academic contribution and only because of this, a matter of record, publishes names of all TDC members in each of its textbook. NCERT, as the copyright owner of all its textbooks, adopts clear procedures to make corrections/changes from time to time depending on, (a) feedbacks received from their users [teachers, students etc.]; (b) identification of factual inaccuracies, incompatible expression based on core values as recommended for textbook development etc. NCERT has been doing so on a regular basis for its reprint editions,” it stated.

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