Not declaring deletions on Mahatma Gandhi, RSS in textbooks an ‘oversight’, says NCERT head

The issue is being blown out of proportion, says D.P. Saklani, reacting to the controversy over the removal of sentences on Gandhiji and the RSS; Congress president Kharge says the BJP cannot erase history, no matter how hard it tries

April 05, 2023 02:55 pm | Updated 10:55 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Image for representation purpose only.

Image for representation purpose only. | Photo Credit: K.V.S. Giri

The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), the key government body that prints textbooks for Indian students from Class 1 to 12, has claimed that the key deletions in the rationalised syllabus for 2023-24, which include Hindu extremists’ dislike for Gandhi and a ban on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) after his assassination, were not declared in the public domain due to an “oversight”.

“The process of rationalisation of content happened during COVID-19 and this has been done in subjects of Science, Maths, Commerce and so on as well. While all changes were reported on our website last year, this particular change may have not been reported due to oversight,” NCERT Director D.P. Saklani told The Hindu.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education has refrained from commenting on the development.

Sentences deleted from the Class 12 Political Science textbooks include — “His steadfast pursuit of Hindu-Muslim unity provoked Hindu extremists so much that they made several attempts to assassinate Gandhiji…,”; “Gandhiji’s death had an almost magical effect on the communal situation in the country… The Government of India cracked down on organisations that were spreading communal hatred. Organisations like the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh were banned for some time…’

On comparing the new and the old versions of the NCERT’s textbooks, it was revealed that the reference to Gujarat riots of 2002 in the Political Science textbook has been reduced from a two-page chapter to simply two lines. Crucial illustrations and speech bubbles, which included questions on the Gujarat riots like — ‘Can we ensure that those who plan, execute and support such massacres are brought to the book? Or at least punished politically?’ — have been scrapped.

History and Political Sciences textbooks for Class 12 and Sociology textbooks for Class 11 have come under scrutiny for deleting crucial parts related to Gandhi and the Gujarat riots. Dr. Saklani said the issue is being “blown out of proportion” and that those blowing it out of proportion were taking a “narrow-minded” approach.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the RSS cannot erase history, no matter how hard they tried.

“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,” Mr. Kharge said.

Lok Sabha member Manish Tewari said the attempt at rewriting history has been an ongoing endeavour for the BJP-RSS.

“This is not the first time that this has happened. I recall that in the first and second NDA (National Democratic Alliance) 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. Truth has a way of manifesting itself. History bears testimony to the fact that those who have tried to re-write history have been consigned to the dustbin of history,” Mr. Tewari said.

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