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Periyar re-introduced, definition of Sanatan Dharma, a lesson on sexual minorities and more: Karnataka govt approves textbook revision, BJP opposes

Opposing the move, BJP MLA and former Higher education minister, Ashwath Narayan stated that the Congress government is trying to bring people who are against Sanatana Dharma. 

The Congress government in Karnataka has approved revision for Kannada language and social science textbooks for the academic year 2024-25. The revised nooks are now set for printing. It includes several controversial changes, like the re-introduction of lessons on Periyar, Girish Karnad and Devanuru Mahadeva among other changes leading to stiff opposition from the Bhartiya Janata Party. The principal opposition party, BJP stated that the changes to the earlier amended curriculum were being done to “fulfil the Congress government’s ideology.”

The government has approved recommendations, and changes to 114 textbooks for the academic year 2024-25. These include 44 in Kannada language books and 70 in social science books. Revisions have been made in textbooks for Kannada first language for classes 1 to 10, Kannada third language for classes 9 and 10, and Social Science for classes 6 to 10 for the academic year 2024-25.

According to reports, several so-called “progressive” writers have been included in the amended curriculum. These authors include Girish Karnad, P Lankesh, Devanur Mahadeva, Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy, and Nagesh Hegde, among others. The panel claims to give an ‘appropriate description’ to Sanatana Dharma as it will be given a “precise definition” in the Class 8th History textbook.

As per the details, Girish Karnad’s ‘Adhikara’, P. Lankesh’s ‘Mruga Mattu Sundari’, Devanuru Mahadeva’s ‘Edege Bidda Akshara’, Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy’s ‘Samudra Chumbana’, Chandrashekara Kambara’s ‘Seemi’, Akkamahadevi’s Vachanas, Devidasa’s ‘Chakragrahana’, Mariyappa Bhatta’s ‘Namma Bhaashe’, KV Tirumalesh and VG Bhat’s children’s poems, and an article by Nagesh Hegde have been included in Kannada language textbooks.

However, the committee has not batted to re-introduce lessons on Tipu Sultan and Hyder Ali that were earlier deleted during the previous BJP government. 

According to the News18 report, sections on dynasties from Jammu, Kashmir, and the northeast have been trimmed. Additionally, the committee has retained all the “corrections” introduced into the textbooks as soon as Congress came into power last year.

Major revisions include – 

  1. Re-introducing lessons on social reformers Savitribai Phule and Periyar which were earlier dropped from the class 10 history books.
  2. Revision in parts of the “Citizen and Conduct” lesson to include gender equality in the Class VI Social Science textbook. 
  3. A lesson on the welfare of sexual minorities in Class X Social Science textbook. 
  4. The chapter titled “Indus-Saraswati Civilisation” in the Class VIII History textbook has been changed to “Civilisations of Ancient India: Indus-Sarasvati Civilisation and Vedic Period.”
  5. Revision to include “Bhakti movement”. Kanaka Dasa, Purandara Dasa, and Shishunala Sharif have been added to the Class IX History textbook. 
  6. Some information has been added on prominent philosopher Basaveshwara in a lesson in Class VII Social Science. 

This textbook revision replaces the changes initiated by the previous BJP government which were based on suggestions from a committee led by writer Rohith Chakratirtha. After the Congress government assumed power in May 2023, they formed a committee to examine the textbooks and it was led by retired professor Manjunath G Hegde. 

The committee claims that the social science textbooks have been revised giving importance to the Constitution, gender sensitivity, child rights, democratic and secular values, and scientific temper.

BJP opposes the move

According to the BJP, the Congress government in Karnataka is making alterations to fulfill its ideology and introducing lessons on people who are against Sanatan Dharma. The party accuses the Congress of creating chaos and polarisation.  

Opposing the move, BJP MLA and former Higher education minister, Ashwath Narayan stated that the Congress government is trying to bring people who are against Sanatana Dharma. 


He said, “They don’t respect the constitution and faith and belief of the people of Karnataka. They want to create chaos, confusion, and polarisation. They don’t respect the Sanatana Dharma we believe in, so they are trying to bring people who are against Sanatana Dharma, who are against our faith. By doing this they are trying to create confusion and they are working against Sanatana Dharma who we condemn and we’ll expose the Congress government and create awareness, we’ll oppose the syllabus strongly and ensure that the inclusion doesn’t happen.”

Work of Girish Karnad who compared Tipu Sultan to the Maratha King Shivaji and wore the ‘Me Too Urban Naxal’ placard added to the curriculum

Girish Karnad who passed away on 10th June 2019 was mired in controversies. Karnad had said that the Kempegowda International Airport should have been named after Tipu Sultan. He even compared Tipu Sultan to the Maratha King Shivaji. Karnad went on to say that Shivaji enjoys this stature only because he was a Hindu and the same is deprived to Tipu because he is a Muslim. 

In 2015, he along with Prof. U.R. Ananthamurthy formed a group called “Samakaleena Vichara Vedike” with the sole intention of opposing Modi and extending full support to the Congress in Lok Sabha elections.

In 2018, a complaint was filed against him for wearing the ‘Me Too Urban Naxal’ placard around his neck at an event organised on journalist Gauri Lankesh‘s death anniversary.

In the past, the Jnanpith awardee had called Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore a ‘second-rate playwright writer’.

The curriculum also includes the work of Devanur (Devanoora) Mahadeva who faced criticism for writing a propaganda book on RSS and writes for left wing propaganda portal, The Wire. 

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