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History chaptered in saffron

Course correction Rajasthan government panel pinpoints references it wants deleted from school textbooks, reports KS Tomar. Textbook controversies

india Updated: Sep 17, 2009 00:32 IST

“The primary objective of a Hindu marriage is following dharma (religion), while the primary objective of the Muslim marriage is to establish sexual relations.”

Textbook controversies

“The Muslim League was formed on the directions of the British government after Muslims developed feelings of suspicion against Hindus.”

These are excerpts from two textbooks that class XI and class XII students in Rajasthan have been studying for five years.

Now, after a five-member panel of academics studied the textbooks, Rajasthan’s Congress government wants the state education board to delete these references.

The panel’s 75-page report, made available to HT, pointed to what it called attempts to “nurture a communal ideology among the youth as opposed to the spirit of the Constitution” by the government of former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief minister Vasundhara Raje.

The books were introduced in 2004, when the BJP was in power in the state.

The National Democratic Alliance, of which the BJP was the main constituent, between 1998-2004, ordered extensive rewriting of history textbooks when Murali Manohar Joshi headed the Union human resource development ministry.

“The authors have been members or office-bearers of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or affiliated organisations,” said the report. “They are making an abhorrent attempt to implement a hidden agenda through education.”

“An explanation will be sought from textbook writers who have propagated the RSS’ ideology,” Education Minister Bhanwar Lal told HT.

The authors of the textbooks are unapologetic.

“What I have written in based on facts,” said Manroop Singh Meena, one of the authors of the class X social sciences textbook, now used by more than 4,00,000 students.

Co-author Motilal Soni, a lecturer with the government senior secondary school in Bilada, Jodhpur district, confirmed his RSS connection. “Yes, I have been associated with the RSS,” he said.

“The content does not take away the feeling of patriotism from students.”

History was “distorted” to suit the Sangh’s agenda, said the report, and social norms misrepresented to show Muslims in a bad light. “Chapter three of the class XII sociology textbook, which demeans the Muslim marriage, should be deleted,” said the report.

In the political science textbook for class XI, “A misleading attempt has been made to show that the society was divided on religious lines in the struggle for Independence.”

The probe panel, comprising Dr Ashok Acharya of the Ganganagar Law College, Dr Subhash Garg of Rajasthan University, Jaipur and G.N.Ghasiya of Government College, Neem Ka Thana, in Sikar district, recommended that a new group of authors re-write textbooks for the 2010-11 academic year.