ALLEGATIONS OF saffronisation of education are flying thick and fast as the BJP Government has decided to delete a poem on Pt Jawaharlal Nehru in Class I syllabus, having already dropped the westernisation-promoting nursery rhyme ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star…’
Predictably enough, the Congress has exploded in anger over the alleged go-by to Nehru from textbooks in such a fashion. But the BJP Government is unfazed.
Dismissing allegations of saffronisation of school education, Minister for School Education Dr Narrotam Mihra said none of the lessons introduced in the new syllabus were against democratic values, secularism and national integrity.
Whatever changes have been made in the syllabus were in keeping with the spirit expressed by the Supreme Court, he claimed. He said ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star…’ might have been dropped from the nursery rhymes but then the first poem in the new book is ‘ Come little children come to me, I will teach you ABC…’ . This is an attempt to attract children to study English, he said.
He said as far as dropping poem on Pt Nehru is concerned, it was felt by the experts that children of that age were more curious about environment about them and therefore, a poem in this regard to environment has been introduced in the book.
Besides, there were directives from the Supreme Court that lessons about environment and nature be taught to little children, he said.
Similarly, in the textbook of Standard IV lessons have been chosen to conform to the Supreme Court directive to give more emphasis on nature, environment and surroundings of children, he said.
Mishra further said that life of Pt Nehru was in place in syllabus of different classes. In Standard IV Hindi textbook itself, there is a lesson on his letters to his daughter Indira Gandhi. There is also lesson titled ‘Balloon Seller’ in standard V, he said.
There were verbal protests when it transpired that the popular English rhymes taught in nursery including ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star…’ and ‘Johny, Johny Yes Papa…’ have been replaced with rhymes of Indian poets.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and School Education Minister Narottam Mishra defended the change stating that this was done to check westernisation of a child’s impressionable mind.
But the alleged tinkering with Nehru’s presence in textbooks has seen the Left as well as Congress see red. Besides, a popular short story Abbu Khan Ki Bakri written by (late) President of India Dr Zakir Hussain has also been dropped from the Hindi textbook of class IV.
Congress and its frontal organisations including Youth Congress and National Students Union of India (NSUI) hit the streets condemning the State Government’s move right from morning today.
They dubbed the move as an attempt to saffronise education and play with the future of children. A couple of memoranda were also handed over to the Governor in this regard during the day.
School Education Minister Narottam Mishra, however, defended the change. “It is a routine exercise and when the syllabus is reviewed certain lessons are bound to be dropped and new ones introduced,” he said.
Changes in syllabi are not limited to primary classes alone. Pt Nehru’s reminiscences of wife Kamla Nehru titled Kamla, taught in Hindi textbooks of class VII, has also been dropped. It has been replaced by another essay of Pt Nehru on river Ganges.