The Revised high school and higher secondary level textbooks are yet to hit the market, but the controversy about their Hindutva overtones is already causing ripples in the state.
Opposition parties have questioned the manner in which the syllabi have been revised to glorify Hindu culture and rulers. For instance, Shivaji is handsomely praised as a Hindu saviour but Akbar is “demeaned” as an aggressor. The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh’s vision of ‘Akhand Bharat’ also figures in good measure.
Jamuna Devi, Leader of Opposition, said that the state government was pushing the RSS agenda by tinkering with history textbooks.
“Adding or deleting reference of historical personalities or events would only distort history. Shivaji and Akbar are both our history and should be taught to children in proper perspective,’’ Jamuna Devi told Hindustan Times.
But School Education minister Dr Narottam Mishra refuted her charge, saying that before raking up the controversy, people concerned should read the texts.
“No one was either glorified or demeaned. We simply want to put forth correct information on the great people of India and its glorious tradition”, he said.
It is the first time that the high school and higher secondary syllabi have been revised by the syllabus standing committee of the State Council of Education Research and Training.
Earlier, the MP Board of Secondary Education used to supervise the drafting of the syllabus.
Govind Sharma, Chairman of the standing committee said the syllabi revision was intended to inculcate nationalistic pride among students and provide them information ‘in proper perspective’.
“If Mughals — including Akbar — were invaders, history books should show them as such. Shivaji’s role in upholding nationalistic pride and setting up the first Hindi fiefdom cannot be underestimated. Why should we shy away from putting things in proper context?” said Bhagirath Kumrawat, a senior member of the SECRT’s Syllabus Standing Committee.
Both Sharma and Kumrawat defended the changes. The committee carried out syllabus upgrading and textbook writing and rewriting. “Without reading the textbooks, people are seeking to generate controversy”, they said.