State calls Pythagoras theorem ‘fake news’, proposes to teach Manusmriti under NEP

Published on Jul 11, 2022 12:21 AM IST

The controversy comes at a time when the primary and secondary education in Karnataka came under scrutiny over the syllabus row under the Rohit Chakrathirtha-led textbook revision committee

A team from Karnataka, preparing the proposal, has also recommended that children be taught Sanskrit as the third language. (Representational image)
A team from Karnataka, preparing the proposal, has also recommended that children be taught Sanskrit as the third language. (Representational image)
BySharan Poovanna

Bengaluru

A fresh controversy has erupted in Karnataka’s primary and secondary education as a ‘position paper on knowledge of India’ proposes that students not merely accept contents of textbooks as “infallible truth” and question how “fake news”, such as Pythagoras theorem, apple falling on Newton’s head and other issues, are “created and propagated.”

A team from Karnataka, preparing the proposal, has also recommended that children be taught Sanskrit as the third language, and mooted the introduction of Manusmriti and ancient numeral systems, such as Bhutasankhya and Katapayadi-sankhya paddhati, in its syllabus under the National Education Policy (NEP), according to a media report on Sunday.

“Many of the Smṛiti literature of this civilisational nation have been relegated to obscurity or being proscribed due to incomplete and poor understanding of their ethos and content. For instance, even though Manusmṛiti contains lofty ideals of public and societal good, it has become controversial to the extent that its very name solicits unwarranted bemoan from a section of our society. It will be a matter of surprise to learn that injunctions to the effect of prohibiting the spilling of pollutants, leftovers, blood or poison in water; spitting in water; urinating on the streets or in the barns; defecating/urinating in fields, canals, mountains, fire places, dilapidated Devālayas; littering river banks is mentioned in Manusmṛiti,” according to the contents of the paper that was submitted to the Department of State Educational Research and Training (DSERT) in January this year.

“Encouraging an attitude of questioning and not merely accepting whatever the textbooks (or print/electronic/social media) say as infallible truth, with a clear foundation of how knowledge generation takes place and how fake news such as Pythagoras theorem, apple falling on Newton’s head etc. are created and propagated,” according to the position paper.

HT has seen a copy of this paper.

The controversy comes at a time when the primary and secondary education in Karnataka came under scrutiny over the syllabus row under the Rohit Chakrathirtha-led textbook revision committee that dropped references to prominent historical personalities and including controversial figures in what was touted as an attempt to “saffronise” school education by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state.

The controversy around the syllabus and growing protests had forced the Basavaraj Bommai-led state government to make around eight changes even though the demand is that the entire textbook be withdrawn.

“It is also recommended that some of the examples given in the textbooks on Bhāratīya geometry can be done outside the classroom, probably in the playground. Sections on Greek mathematics need to be trimmed down, especially the depictions of the faces of “Greek mathematicians” such as Pythagoras, Heron etc,” according to the position paper.

Karnataka primary and secondary education minister BC Nagesh could not be reached for comment.

“This is just in the primary stages of preparations. Like in the NEP, all states can make proposals on subjects it deems as important and send it to the national council which will have the final say,” said one person aware of the developments, requesting not to be named.

A BJP minister said that there was a need to constantly change the syllabus to ensure students get updated information and not remain stagnant with contents that may not have relevance now. He requested not to be identified as the subject does not come under his department.

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