Amid allegations of Jawaharlal Nehru being dropped from Rajasthan board textbooks, fresh controversy erupted after it was revealed that freedom fighters Chandra Shekhar Azad, Sukhdev, Ram Prasad Bismil and Khudiram Bose were axed from the NCERT history textbook.
Furthermore, content on Vivekanand was reduced from two pages to a single sentence, and information on Subhash Chandra Bose was cut from 1,250 to just 87 words in Class 8 history textbook of the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT), which was revised in 2012.
An RTI activist in Jaipur sought information from the NCERT on what basis the cuts were made. The council in January said it was done on the recommendations of the National Focus Group Position Paper on Social Sciences to accommodate “the multiple ways of imaging the Indian nation”, but didn’t answer any specific queries.
The RTI activist — Suryapratap Singh Rajawat, who is a member of the Sri Aurobindo Society — first spotted the discrepancy while scanning the revised history textbook for information on nationalist Aurobindo Ghosh.
In the 2002 edition, chapter 10 of the history book — titled Struggle for Swaraj — of Class 8 had a section on the Bengal stalwart with a photo. But the entire section was dropped from the revised textbook. Ironically, the NCERT headquarters is on Aurobindo Marg in New Delhi.
“I discovered that content on Swami Vivekanand had been pruned to just one sentence (on page 120) in the new book. In the old book there were two pages (page 141 and 142) on him in chapter 8, titled Religious and Social Reform Movements and Cultural Awakening under the ‘Ramkrishna Mission and Vivekanand’,” he said.
Similarly, in the chapter titled Nationalist Movement (1923-1939), the hanging of Ashfaq Ullah Khan, Ram Prasad Bismil, Roshan Singh and Rajendra Lahiri for the Kakori conspiracy and of Suryasen and Tarakeshwar Dastidar for a raid on a police armoury in Chittagong were mentioned, but were deleted in the revised edition.
The Jallianwala Bagh massacre too was pruned from two pages and photo to a single line in the revised textbook.
The revised NCERT textbook dedicates 37 pages to the history of cricket and clothes.
“The idea behind having such topics is to show that sports also have a history and that history is not just about momentous events, about kings, queens, kingdoms and personalities,” the NCERT said in its response, defending the alteration. “[It is] to show how cricket became the site of many other histories — of colonialism, nationalism, community politics and the politics of capitals and states.”
The NCERT said the textbook was developed in accordance with the guidelines of the National Curriculum Framework 2005, which followed a different pedagogical scheme.
“All precautions are taken by the textbook development committees and the national monitoring committee to ensure that there is no bias or any special orientation in the textbooks and the content is strictly objective,” it said. “Therefore, it would not be appropriate to compare two sets of textbooks.”