In new Rajasthan textbooks, Veer Savarkar overshadows Gandhi and Nehru
New textbooks for Rajasthan state board schools being taught from this year have an extra dose of nationalism, with Hindutva ideologue Veer Savarkar pushing to the margins the role of Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi.
One of the textbooks introduced in the BJP-ruled state even describes the first crop of Congress leaders as mostly moderates who were prosperous, middle-class intellectuals hailing from big cities and having no connection with the masses.
The revised textbooks for classes 10, 11 and 12 also bring students up to speed on current “hot topics” such as the Uniform Civil Code, Hindi as the country’s contact language and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign policies, especially with reference to Pakistan.
But what is bound to raise more eyebrows is Savarkar getting a big chuck of space, even edging out Jawahar Lal Nehru from the social science textbook of Class 10 and decimating Mahatma Gandhi to a passing reference. Education experts are calling these history “revisions” as Hinduisation of the country’s freedom struggle.
Last year, India’s first Prime Minister Nehru was erased from the Class 8 textbook.
The government, however, defends the revisions saying that Nehru has been given ample space in the Class 9 textbook. “Every hero can’t be included in every book,” says Vasudev Devnani, state education minister.
There is more. The Class 10 social science textbook describes the first crop of Congress leaders as moderates, adding that they wanted to prolong British rule in India because they felt the latter’s exit will lead to lawlessness in the country.
This narrative is taken a step further in the Class 11 political science textbook. Here, the Congress party is described as a ‘nurtured baby’ of the British, and that it was established by the capitalists and representatives of the upper middle class.
In the Class 10 book, Savarkar has been described as a great revolutionary, a great patriot, and a great ‘sangathanwaadi’ (organisation man). “The lifelong sacrifices he made for the country’s independence is beyond words,” says the textbook.
A chapter on the “moderates, extremists and revolutionaries” of the struggle gives about three pages each to Gopal Krishna Gokhale (a moderate) and Bal Gangadhar Tilak (an extremist), and one-and-a-half page each on Bhagat Singh, Chandra Shekhar Azad, and Subhash Chandra Bose. It also explains their ideologies at length.
The subsequent chapter on the Non Cooperation, Civil Disobedience and the Quit India movements dwells on these events while relegating Mahatma Gandhi’s role to the periphery. The chapter does mention Nehru though.
A chapter in the book on the torch bearers of the Indian independence movement lists them in the following order: Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Swami Vivekanand, Maharshi Arvind Ghosh, Mahatma Gandhi, Veer Savarkar, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, BR Ambedkar, Jawahar Lal Nehru and Deendayal Upadhyay.
Commenting on the changes, Rajiv Gupta, retired professor of sociology at University of Rajasthan, says that those who supported the colonial empire and succumbed to it, like Savarkar, have been glorified in the revisions.
RBSE head: Books will promote original thinking
The new syllabus will provide students a platform for an overall personality development and establishing a meaningful relationship between their roots and academics, RBSE chairman Prof BL Choudhary writes in the acknowledgement of the new text books for classes 10-12.
“As per the directive of state government, new syllabus has been prepared by Board of Secondary Education, on the basis of major social, historical, and cultural events at national and state level,” he says.
Under the programme, text books were prepared for classes 9 and 11 of the 2016-17 session, and for classes 10 and 12 for the 2017-18 session.
“The books will promote creativity, original thinking, contemplation and expression... The modern techniques and teaching aids will also make learning more effective, interesting and result-oriented,” Choudhary says.