The dirctor of the National Council of Educational Reserach and Training, Dinesh Prasad Sakhlani, on Sunday, refuted all the accusations regarding saffronisation of the school curriculum that emerged after the recent modifications of school textbooks. Dismissing these accusations during an interaction with news agency PTI, the NCERT director stated that the modifications in the school textbooks related to Gujarat riots and Babri Masjid were done as teaching about riots can create depressed and violent citizens.

Saklani also stated that the tweaks in the textbooks were done as part of an annual revision and should not be seen as a subject of hue and cry, PTI reported.

Elaborating on the Gujarat riots or Babri masjid demolition references being tweaked in NCERT textbooks, the NCERT director asked: “Why should we teach about riots in school textbooks? We want to create positive citizens not violent and depressed individuals.Should we teach our students in a manner that they become offensive, create hatred in society or become victim of hatred? Is that education’s purpose?”

“Should we teach about riots to such young children … when they grow up, they can learn about it but why school textbooks. Let them understand what happened and why it happened when they grow up. The hue and cry about the changes is irrelevant,” he added.

These comments come at a time after the new textbooks have been released in the market with several changes and deletions.

‘Teaching Violence Should Not Be The Focus Of Textbooks’

As per the revised Class 12 textbook for political science, the Babri masjid is refered to as a three-domed structure.

The Ayodhya section that was earlier four pages long has been pruned to two pages, with deleted details from the previous version. Instead, the focus is now on the Supreme Court judgement, which led to the construction of the Ram temple at the disputed site.

“The Supreme Court verdict was widely accepted in the country. The consecration of the Ram idol in the temple was performed on January 22 this year by the prime minister. We want to create positive citizens and that’s what is the purpose of our textbooks. We cannot have everything in them. The purpose of our education is not to create violent citizens … depressed citizens. Hatred and violence are not subjects of teaching, they should not be focus of our textbooks,” Saklani told PTI, stressing that teaching violence should not be the focus of textbooks. 

The NCERT director also hinted that the same hue and cry was not being made over the absence of the 1984 riots in school textbooks.

The latest deletions in the textbooks include: the role of kar sevaks, BJP’s ‘rath yatra’ from Somnath in Gujarat to Ayodhya, communal violence during Babri masjid’s demolition, President’s rule in BJP-ruled states; and the expression of regret by the BJP over the happenings at Ayodhya.

‘Shouldn’t Supreme Court Verdicts Be Included In Textbooks?’: Saklani

Asking what was wrong in incorporating Suprem Court’s verdicts in the text books, Saklani said: “If Supreme Court has given a verdict in favour of Ram temple, Babri masjid or Ram janmabhoomi, should it not be included in our textbooks, what is the problem in that? We have included the new updates. If we have constructed new Parliament, should our students not know about it. It is our duty to include the ancient developments and recent developments.”

Rubbishing allegations of saffronisation of curriculum and textbooks, the NCERT director stated: “If something has become irrelevant … it will have to be changed. Why shouldn’t it be changed. I don’t see any saffronisation here. We teach history so students know about facts, not for making it a battleground.”

Further explaining the reason behind the tweaks, Saklani added, “If we are telling about Indian Knowledge System, how can it be saffronisation? If we are telling about iron pillar in Mehrauli and saying Indians were way ahead of any metallurigical scientist, are we saying wrong? How can it be saffronisation?”

‘No Attempts To Saffronise Curriculum’

Clarifying that updating textbooks is a global practice, the former head of the ancient history departemnt at the HNB Garhwal University said: “What is wrong about changes in textbooks? Updating textbooks is a global practice, it is in interest of education. Revising textbooks is an annual exercise. Whatever is changed is decided by subject and pedagogy experts. I do not dictate or interfere in the process … there is no imposition from top.There are no attempts to saffronise curriculum, everything is based on facts and evidence.” 

Saklani, 61, has faced criticism over the changes in NCERT textbooks, especially for the historical facts. The NCERT is revising the school textbooks as per the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.    

The recent revision of NCERT textbooks is the fourth round since 2014.

In April, the NCERT, while referring to the changes to the section on Ayodhya had stated: “Content is updated as per latest development in politics. Text on Ayodhya issue has been thoroughly revised because of the latest changes brought by the Supreme Court’s Constitutional bench verdict and its widespread welcoming reception.”

The NCERT  director also said that a few changes were made because the subjects had become irrelevant, while some had to be done to update new information. He added that several topics were deleted earlier in order to minimise students’ burden that was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to also reduce content duplication, PTI reported.

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