The Congress party and leftist organisations have joined hands to protest against the supposed ‘saffronisation’ of school textbooks in BJP-ruled Karnataka. The development comes a day after the Primary & Secondary Education Department of the State published the final revised copy of social sciences and Kannada textbooks.
The Opposition, backed by NGOs and leftists, will hold demonstrations at the Bengaluru’s Freedom Park on May 31 this year. They have alleged that the Karnataka government had included a speech by RSS founder KB Hedgewar in the history textbook and omitted lessons on tyrant Tipu Sultan, Periyar, Narayana Guru and freedom fighter Bhagat Singh.
The organisations that are at the forefront of the protests include the Student Federation of India (SFI), the All India Student Federation (AISF), the National Student Union of India (NSUI) and others.
Even the Campus Front of India, which was behind the recent Hijab controversy in Karnataka, has already begun mobilising people against the decision of the BJP government.
The alliance of Opposition, leftists and Islamists have demanded the rollback of the revised textbooks, along with the termination of the Textbook Revision Committee that is led by Rohith Chakrathirtha.
This is despite the fact that 78% of textbooks have already been printed while the remaining work will be completed in 2 weeks’ time by the Karnataka Textbook Society. The primary accusation against the BJP is that it is ‘saffronising’ and ‘Brahmanising’ the academic curriculum in government schools.
Allegations and Clarifications provided by the Karanataka Education Minister
BC Nagesh, the Education Minister of Karnataka, has rubbished the allegations levelled against the BJP. He has accused the Opposition of being unable to tolerate that the BJP is prioritising education in the State.
“During the Siddaramaiah-headed Congress government, the syllabus was said to be a burden. The teachers complained that they couldn’t cover the syllabus in one year. No lessons on revolutionaries Narayan Guru, and Bhagat Singh have been dropped. False propaganda is being taken up on social media and otherwise,” he informed.
While speaking about the controversy over Periyar, he clarified, “A few lines have been deleted about social reformer Periyar. The present syllabus says, Lord Ram belongs to the Vaidik culture and Ravan belongs to the Dravidian culture. Should the students be taught about this?” the minister said.
He inspired crores of people. Led life of brahmacharya. If the content is an issue, we’re ready to speak with them (Congress) about it. But Congress is afraid of Hindutva. They want to see Hindu society divided, so they can get votes: BC Nagesh, Karnataka Education Minister pic.twitter.com/KQCN8Z0KOb— ANI (@ANI) May 23, 2022
BC Nagesh defended the decision to include a speech by the RSS founder in the history textbook. “He joined the revolutionary movement and he was also with the Nagpur Congress Movement, that is why his speech has been included,” he stated.
“The PDFs of the textbooks that went viral are unverified and the hard copy is the final one. The Congress and other opposition parties jumped the gun without reading the content properly,” he added.
“The changes were made to select portions of Kannada and history textbooks, where the previous committee headed by Barguru Ramchandrappa had got certain facts wrong. Moreover, the lesson on Narayan Guru has been transferred from the history to the Kannada textbook because students were overburdened with a lot of history lessons,” BC Nagesh emphasised.
He has also dismissed claims that the BJP is ‘Brahmanising’ the academic curriculum. He pointed out that the Opposition had begun identifying literature with caste. We are working to provide knowledge that is based on content and not caste,” he said.
BC Nagesh also pointed out how during the Congress era, lessons on Tipu Sultan were increased from 1 to 6 pages while the syllabus on Mysore Maharajas was reduced. “The new committee has included portions highlighting the contribution of Mysore Maharajas (Wadiyar dynasty) in their fight against the British,” he concluded.