Reviving Indian Textbooks: The Barkha files

Last week we launched a campaign: #SaveOurChildren. The thought emerged from the HRD Minister’s speech in Parliament where she read passages from Class IV and Class VI textbooks, approved by the previous UPA regime, which are factually incorrect, distort history, and paint India in poor light with respect to the ongoing conflict with Pakistan on Kashmir.

There have always been murmurs about how several facets of the history, geography, economics, and civics we teach our children are written by agenda merchants, pop historians, and establishment professionals, who made careers out of carving out a neo-Anglican narrative, which constantly and purposely demeans the Indian dharmic narrative. Hence, we launched #SaveOurChildren, asking all our readers and people at large, to send to us such cases of distortion.

We received an overwhelming number of entries, on a variety of topics. Eventually, we will make a collection of these problems with our children’s books and we will then petition the Union Minister for Human Resource Development Mrs. Smriti Irani to:

  1. Verify if such passages indeed in our textbooks
  2. Verify if such textbooks are still being used
  3. Get these references fact-checked
  4. Issue corrections wherever needed
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Today we publish the first tranche of such cases sent to us by readers. While we were expecting a fair bit of historical, cultural and political distortion, we had never imagined we would find in textbooks, the names of modern day journalists, who are still working in their field. One such name was of Barkha Dutt. While Barkha is arguably one of India’s most prominent female faces on TV, she is one of the most controversial ones too.

She has received extreme criticism for her poor or rather excessive coverage of the 26/11 terror attacks, which eventually might have helped terrorists in their mission. She has long denied this, but recently she did admit to this and this was her best defence:

She has also been embroiled in the Radia tapes issue, where she was heard discussing political formations with Nira Radia, a power broker. Barkha was accused of lobbying and power-broking for former telecom minister A Raja.

Of course Barkha emerged absolutely unscathed out of both the above controversies, controversies which could have finished careers in another time, in another land. The same cant be said though of Chaitanya Kunte, a blogger whose only crime was to expose Barkha’s shoddy reporting on 26/11. He was sued by Barkha, hounded and his blog was shut down.

For these reasons, it is appalling to see readers claiming that she finds a mention in textbooks which our children our reading:

A reader claims the above picture is from a CBSE textbook.

And this is another instance where she is said to be mentioned in a sanskrit textbook:

If the above is true, those who were in favour of a “nuanced” history should also consider if Barkha Dutt’s antecedents should also be listed in books, if at all her name should be there in the first place. Once the campaign is over, we shall send over these claims by various people to the HRD ministry so that they can verify that these are indeed real and then take appropriate action. Till then, you can send your entries :

Click their pictures and share with us:

On our Twitter handle @OpIndia_com

or

On our Facebook page

or

Email to us at [email protected]

or

If you wish to remain anonymous, use file sharing sites like these.

Append these social media posts with the hashtag #SaveOurChildren. Do not forget to mention these details along with your submission: The name of the state, the name of the board / agency (CBSE, ICSE, NCERT, State Board etc) and the class/division the book is from.

 


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