Saffron contents continue to remain in Karnataka school textbooks

Only five changes made in the textbooks after Congress came to power

January 13, 2014 09:55 am | Updated May 13, 2016 09:20 am IST - BANGALORE:

Even as the Congress government has claimed that “saffron” content in the primary school textbooks is being edited out, a close reading reveals that changes have been minimal and had barely gone beyond correcting factual errors.

Only five changes have been made in the textbooks of classes 5, 6, 8 and 9 after the Congress government came to power, according to a list of changes carried out, given to The Hindu by the Karnataka Textbook Society.

‘Silly objection’

Most portions that ran into controversy continue to remain. For instance, objections had been raised that the Social Studies textbook of class 5, Bangalore Division, showed rulers fighting wars against only Muslim kings. Textbook committee members, however, have called it a “silly objection”.

The contention that the Hyderabad Karnataka region’s history in the Social Studies textbook of class 5 shows a picture of Muslim kings harassing their Hindu subjects has also been dismissed by the committee, which has argued that only “facts” have been presented.

Suresh Bhat B., president of the Committee for Resisting Saffronisation of Textbooks in Karnataka, however, said there were several selective omissions and commissions.

The five changes made after the Congress government came to power are all “minor factual details”. For instance, in the Social Studies textbook of class 9, the line about Muslims praying “facing Makkah” has been changed to “facing Kaaba”. A line in class 9 Science textbook that claimed that Dronacharya was a test-tube baby has been removed.

Significantly, changes in the chapter titled ‘Punyakoti’ in class 8 Hindi textbook were done when the BJP government was in power. A sentence in the chapter saying a tiger takes an oath against killing cows for food has been removed. Sources said the changes were made in October 2012.

Review sought

Dissatisfied with the changes made, a delegation of activists met Mr. Ratnakar last month to step up pressure to review the textbooks before they go for print for the next academic year. Those who were part of the meeting said a heated debate took place between textbook committee members and the activists. Mr. Ratnakar said a memorandum submitted by the activists was forwarded to subject committee experts.

However, activists are irked over the fact that the committee to look into complaints comprises subject committee experts, who were involved in the preparation of textbooks. The activists are demanding that an external committee, comprising experts who were not involved in textbook preparation, be set up.

Mr. Bhat said there cannot be a hope of change when the members who were reviewing textbooks were those who framed the textbooks in the first place.

“Nothing can be done unless people with a saffron bias are removed from the committee,” he said.

G.S. Mudambadittaya, chief coordinator of the textbook committee, however, denied that there was any saffronisation in the textbooks, and said that those making the allegations were not experts in education. “There is no rhyme and reason in their argument,” he said.

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