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NCERT syllabus: Mentions of Babri, Gujarat riots, Hindutva clipped

By, New Delhi
Apr 05, 2024 09:01 AM IST

NCERT drops references to sensitive topics like Babri Masjid, Gujarat riots, and minorities in Class 12 political science textbook.

The National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) dropped some references to the Babri Masjid, the politics of Hindutva, the 2002 Gujarat riots, and minorities, in its political science textbook for Class 12 that will come into effect from this academic session, adding to a growing list of textbook changes and updates on sensitive topics in recent years.

The changes were made public by the body on its website on Thursday. (HT ARCHIVE)
The changes were made public by the body on its website on Thursday. (HT ARCHIVE)

The changes were made public by the body on its website on Thursday. The NCERT textbooks are taught in schools under the Central Board of Secondary Education, to which roughly 30,000 schools in India are affiliated.

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To be sure, references to the same subjects might occur at other places in the textbook.

NCERT officials did not respond to requests seeking comment.

In chapter 8, Recent Developments in Indian Politics, references to the “Ayodhya demolition” was dropped.

“What is the legacy of the Ram Janambhoomi movement and the Ayodhya demolition for the nature of political mobilisation?” was changed to “What is the legacy of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement?”

“To bring the initial questions in synchronisation with internal latest changes made in the chapter,” was the rationale offered by the body.

In the same chapter, reference to the Babri Masjid and the politics of Hindutva were dropped.

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The earlier paragraph was – “Fourth, a number of events culminated in the demolition of the disputed structure at Ayodhya (known as Babri Masjid) in December 1992. This event symbolised and triggered various changes in the politics of the country and intensified debates about the nature of Indian nationalism and secularism. These developments are associated with the rise of the BJP and the politics of ‘Hindutva’.”

This was changed to – “Fourth, the centuries old legal and political dispute over the Ram Janmabhoomi Temple in Ayodhya started influencing the politics of India which gave birth to various political changes. The Ram Janmabhoomi Temple Movement, becoming the central issue, transformed the direction of the discourse on secularism and democracy. These changes culminated in the construction of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya following the decision of the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court (which was announced on November 9, 2019).”

NCERT said in the document that the content was updated as per “latest development in politics”.

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In chapter 5, Democratic Rights, a reference to the Gujarat riots, was dropped in the caption to a news collage.

The earlier version was – “Do you notice references to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in the news collage on this Page ? These references reflect the growing awareness of human rights and struggles for human dignity. Many cases of human rights violations in diverse fields, for instance, Gujarat riots, are being brought to the public notice from across India.”

This was changed to “Many cases of human rights violations in diverse fields are being brought to the public notice from across India.”

“The news collage and content refer to an incident that is 20 years old and has been resolved through the judicial process,” the rationale given by NCERT said.

Some places where the Muslim community was mentioned earlier have also been altered.

In chapter 5, Understanding Marginalisation, a reference to Muslims being “deprived” of the benefits of development has been dropped.

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The earlier version was – “According to 2011 census, Muslims are 14.2% of India’s population and are considered to be a marginalised community in India today because in comparison to other communities, they have over the years been deprived of the benefits of socio-economic development.”

The updated version – “According to 2011 census, Muslims are 14.2% of India’s population and are considered to be a marginalised community because of their having comparatively lower status of socio-economic development.”

No rationale was given.

In the same chapter, the older book said, “Often this becomes an excuse to treat them unfairly and discriminate against them. This social marginalization of Muslims in some instances has led to them migrating from places where they have lived, often leading to the ghettoisation of the community. Sometimes, this prejudice leads to hatred and violence.”

In the new book, the word “unfairly” was changed to “differently” and the last line changed to, “sometimes, this prejudice has also led to hatred and violence.”

In a chapter titled Gender, Religion and Caste, a line that said, “Human rights groups in our country have agreed that most of the victims of the communal riots in our country are people from religious minorities. They have demanded that the government take special steps to protect religious minorities” was changed to, “Human rights groups in our country have demanded that the government should take special steps to prevent communal riots and protect religious minorities.”

In another chapter titled “Secularism”, the new book changed the phrasing of a sentence describing the 2002 riot victims.

“More than 1,000 persons, mostly Muslims, were massacred during the post Godhra riots in Gujarat in 2002,” was changed to “more than 1,000 persons were killed during the post Godhra riots in Gujarat in 2002.”

“In any riots people across communities suffer. It cannot be just one community,” was the reason for the change given by NCERT.

Some updates have made more explicit references to China. In a chapter titled Contemporary Centres of Power, the line “...military conflict over a border dispute between the two countries marred that hope” was changed to “...Chinese aggression on the Indian border has marred that hope.”

The history and sociology textbooks were also updated, with several changes to the history of the Harappan civilisation, tribals and people’s movements.

In Class 12 sociology textbook, some images of communal riots were removed. “These photos are not relevant in the present time,’ the body said in its rationale.

Another change related to the movement around the Sardar Sarovar Dam. “The coming of private property in land has also adversely affected tribals, whose community-based forms of collective ownership were placed at a disadvantage in the new system. The most recent such example is the series of dams being built on the Narmada, where most of the costs and benefits seem to flow disproportionately to different communities and regions,” was changed to: ‘The coming of private property in land has also adversely affected tribals, whose community-based forms of collective ownership were placed at a disadvantage.”

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