Empire strikes back with Kama Sutra

New lessons in Indian history for UK schoolchildren triggers anger and condemnation, reports Vijay Dutt.

india Updated: Dec 28, 2006 02:40 IST
Vijay Dutt

New Lessons in Indian history for British schoolchildren have triggered condemnation and anger from several traditionalist quarters in England.

The 13-page lesson plans, announced by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), have been termed anti-British because of the inclusion and the manner of description of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Fears have also been expressed that 12-14 year olds would be exposed to the sexually explicit Kama Sutra, which they can access through a website link included in the lessons.

In the new history unit, titled “How and why is the legacy of British rule in the Indian Sub-Continent interpreted in different ways”, has been attacked by traditionalists as presenting an anti-British interpretation of the Empire. The QCA, however, counters that the course is intended to give a valuable insight into the shared history of Britain and India.

Guidelines from the QCA say that after 15 hours’ teaching, pupils should be able to evaluate different interpretations of the Amritsar massacre and the contribution made by key individuals such as Mahatma Gandhi.

The History Curriculum Association, an advisory body on education, accused the QCA of a "politically correct" interpretation of Britain's imperial past.

Chris McGovern, director of HCA, said the unit promotes a judgmental approach to the subject because of the emphasis on "new history" in which children construct the past for themselves "through a host of politically correct perspectives".

The references to the Kama Sutra and "Indian genders" were part of a misguided attempt to encourage children to understand history from different viewpoints.

First Published: Dec 28, 2006 02:37 IST