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Karnataka Education Minister defends decision to include Dr Hedgewar’s speech in textbooks, says govt’s focus is to drive nationalism

The Primary and Secondary Education Minister BC Nagesh has defended the inclusion of a speech by RSS founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar in the Kannada language textbook for Class X.

A day after some far-left organisations had protested against the inclusion of a speech by Hindutva ideologue and writer Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar in a revised Kannada textbook for students of class X, the Karnataka government has defended its stand saying there was no question of altering it.

In a recent decision, the Karnataka government had decided to include Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar’s speech as a lesson for the Class 10 Kannada medium students as part of the curriculum for this academic year (2022-23).

As per the latest changes adopted by the Textbook Revision Committee, the Class 10 students who have opted for Kannada as their first language will study several new chapters, including lessons – ‘Nijavada Adarsha Purusha Yaraagabeku’ (Who is a good male role model), ‘Swadeshi Sutrada Sarala Habba’ by Shivananda Kalave and ‘Naanu Prasa Bitta Kathe’ by M Govinda Pai, ‘Sukanashana Upadesha’ by Vedic scholar the late Bannanje Govindacharya, and ‘Shrestha Bharatiya Chintanegalu’ by Shatavadhani R. Ganesh.

The Karnataka Textbook Revision Committee has also dropped chapters of controversial figures such as – ‘Mruga Mattu Sundari’ a piece by journalist P Lankesh and ‘Bhagat Singh’ by left-activist G Ramakrishna, ‘Yuddha’ by Kasargod’s Sara Aboobacker, ‘Vyaghra Kathe’ by AN Murthy Rao and ‘Sukumara Swamy Kathe’ by Shivakotyacharya from the detailed and non-detailed Kannada textbooks.

Following the decision by the Karnataka government to revise textbooks, the far-left groups have attacked the government claiming that the BJP-led government was attempting to ‘saffronise’ the education. Far-left student organisation All-India Democratic Students Organisation (AIDSO) had claimed that the Karnataka government had omitted lessons of Bhagat Singh, while a speech made by the founder of the RSS, allegedly spread communal hatred, was added.

“Already, people across the State had raised questions about the committee set up for textbook revision by the BJP government and its chairman. It is now proven that the government constituted this committee to include the BJP agenda in education. AIDSO calls upon people and students to resist the government’s propaganda of narrow-minded ideology. We demand that the texts removed be immediately added,” the far-left organisation claimed.

Karnataka government defends revision, says Bhagat Singh is not removed from textbooks

However, the Primary and Secondary Education Minister BC Nagesh has defended the inclusion of a speech by RSS founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar in the Kannada language textbook for Class X. The minister categorically stated that the focus of the government is on promoting the RSS ideology from which students can derive inspiration on patriotism and nationalism. He said those who have been criticising our move should go through the content first and then come for a debate.

“Some people oppose it as they wish to insert their own ideology into textbooks. There is no question of removing Hedgewar’s speech from the textbook. The book has already gone for print,” he said, stressing that the changes in textbook content are an evolving process.

He added that young minds must embrace an inspirational ideology instead of merely taking individuals as their role models.

“Innumerable leaders have shaped their lives by following the RSS founder’s ideology, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Experts do suggest changes from time to time which have to be in­­c­o­rporated. As per Christian hi­story, the Earth was flat. Sh­ould we continue that,” asked BC Nagesh, as he defended the inclusion of Hedgewar’s speech by the Textbook Revision Committee. 

The minister also denied that the content on Bhagat Singh was removed from textbooks and termed media reports false. 

Meanwhile, Rohit Chakrateertha, the chairman of the Textbook Revision Committee, said there was no pressure from any political party or organisation, and the revision does not amount to imposing any organisation’s ideology on students.

“We have chosen Hedgewar as a writer and not on the basis of his ideology or organisation,” Chakrateertha said.

Earlier, the Textbook Review Committee set up by the Karnataka government had also recommended toning down the “glorified content” on Islamic tyrant Tipu Sultan in the syllabus. The changes in the syllabus were recommended by the textbooks review committee that will be incorporated for the 2022-23 academic year.

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