Jaipur: Rajasthan board of secondary education (RBSE) textbooks, rewritten under the Vasundhara Raje-led Bhartiya Janta Party in 2017 to glorify the Narendra Modi government and enforce its Hindutva ideology, have been revised once again under the state’s Congress government.
While the new textbooks have not eliminated all mentions of the Modi government, several controversial sections have been dropped or rewritten. These include the parts on demonetisation, Vinayak Savarkar, the battle of Haldighati, Article 370, a uniform civil code, the ‘appeasement’ of the minorities, religious conversions and right-wing Hindu nationalist groups.
The revised textbooks have removed demonetisation from the chapter on corruption for Class 12 political science students. Earlier, the textbook said demonetisation is known as ‘kale dhan ki safai (cleaning black money)’ in the history of economics. It also said that this was a ‘historical decision’ by the Modi government to bring back black money from abroad, fight corruption, stop the financing of terrorist organisations and curb the usage of black money in elections.
Demonetisation was also stated as one of the achievements of the Modi government’s diplomacy in the chapter on India’s foreign policy in the same textbook. This too has been dropped.
“The second major achievement of the present government is the historic decision of demonetisation taken on November 8, 2016, which is not only appreciated in the country but in the world as well. In the coming time, this decision would be helpful in determining India’s foreign policy because it is a new initiative towards improving the economic condition of India on one hand and tough step to combat terrorism,” the previous textbook stated.
The Reserve Bank of India had said in August 2018 that 99.3% of the demonetised notes had been returned, bellying the government’s initial claim that those hoarding black money would not be able to launder it.
Savarkar is no longer ‘Veer’
Savarkar, a Hindutva ideologue who was given a lot of space in the previous textbooks and called ‘Veer’ or ‘the brave one’, is now referred to by his given name, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. The section on Savarkar in the chapter on India’s freedom struggle for Class 12 history students has been carefully edited to mention his clemency application to the British government.
“Troubled by the torture inflicted on him in the cellular jail, Savarkar presented mercy petitions before the British government – on August 30, 1910 and November 14, 1911 – in which he claimed himself as the son of Portugal. He wrote that he is ready to act as per the government’s wish. He sent the third petition in 1917 and the fourth one on February 1, 1918. The British government accepted his petition and set him free on the condition that he wouldn’t participate in any political activity for the next five years. During this time, he started working for All India Hindu Mahasabha and became its president. Savarkar launched a campaign to establish a Hindu rashtra (nation).
“During the second world war, he extended support to the British government. He asked Hindus to seek military training and become active in the war. He also gave the slogan of “Hinduise all politics and militarise hinduodom [sic].” He opposed quit India movement in 1942 and creation of Pakistan in 1946. On January 30, 1948, after Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, he was accused of conspiring for murder and assisting Godse, but was acquitted,” the revised history textbook reads.
The new textbook has also omitted an introductory paragraph on Savarkar. “Among the revolutionary leaders of India’s freedom struggle, the name of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar is prominent. It was because of his patriotism and sacrifice that he was known as Veer Savarkar. He inspired the youth to take part in the revolutionary activities against the British rule,” said the erased section.
Maharana Pratap and Akbar never fought on religious lines
The Haldighati battle and the pro-Maharana Pratap narrative used by top BJP leaders time and again has been meticulously dealt with in the revised textbooks.
While the previous textbooks had stated that Maharana Pratap had an edge in the battle, the new textbooks have attempted to strike a balance by not mentioning who had an upper hand and explaining why the battle cannot be called a religious war.
“This way, Akbar couldn’t neither defeat Maharana Pratap nor destroy the military power of Mewar. This military campaign by Akbar was unsuccessful and the result was in favour of Maharana Pratap. Angered over the outcome of the war, Akbar denied Man Singh and Aasaf Khan to join the court. When the kings of Rajasthan were competing to establish marital relations with the Mughals to accept their subordination, Maharana Pratap’s path to independence was quite appreciable,” reads the old text, now erased.
The new textbook has replaced this with, “In fact, the struggle between Maharana Pratap and Akbar was not a religious war, it was a struggle of domination between two political powers. It is also noteworthy that the commander of Pratap was Hakim Khan Suri, while the leader of the Mughal army was led by Raja Man Singh.”
Hindu Mahasabha listed along with AIMIM and SIMI
The chapter on casteism and communalism in the Class 12 political science textbook has undergone major changes. The Hindu Mahasabha, a right-wing Hindu nationalist political organisation, has been added to the list of other political outfits that propagate separation for vested interests. Earlier, only Muslim organisations like Jamaat-e-Islam, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen and the Students’ Islamic Movement of India were mentioned.
Under the heading of “meaning of casteism” in the chapter, the revised textbook has been appended, “Caste was originally a characteristic of Hindu society but now it has also expanded to Muslim and Christian societies.”
Religious conversions, uniform civil code and imposition of Hindi dropped
The previous textbook listed religious conversion by Gulf countries as one of the causes of communalism. This has been removed.
“Prospering from the oil income, the Muslim organisations in the Gulf countries and the Christian organisations in the European countries spent a huge amount of money on religious conversions and spreading communalism, not on their educational or economic development. Encouraging the Harijan section of Tamil Nadu for conversion is one such example. These situations creates communal tension,” the previous textbook said.
Under “suggestions to remove communalism” in the same chapter, it was earlier stated that a uniform civil code should be adopted. “By abandoning the appeasement policy, the government should create a uniform civil code as different laws for different classes and sects create a sense of separation in the country. There should be no legal discrimination on the basis of caste, religion, language and sect,” the old text reads.
It also recommended that the government fix a language policy. “To make Hindi as a contact language in the whole county, leaders should rise beyond politics and take measures,” reads one of the suggestions to curb communalism.
It opposed special arrangements for the upliftment of minorities. “The government should make arrangements that create a sense of security in the minds of the minorities but giving them privileges to form their vote bank give rise to dissatisfaction among other sections which the government and political parties should avoid,” the old textbook reads.
All these suggestions have been dropped from the chapter.
Basis of removal of Article 370 erased
The revised chapter on India’s relations with its neighbours (Pakistan, China and Nepal) in the Class 12 political science textbook has removed the mention of Article 370, which grants autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir.
In the previous textbook, under the headings “Special status of Kashmir” and “Basis for removal of Article 370”, it said,
“Article 370 of the Indian constitution has been a subject of controversy since its implementation. Due to this provision, the state of Jammu and Kashmir was given special status but it was completely a temporary arrangement keeping in mind the circumstances during that point. In the past 70 years, almost every government has tried to find a solution to this problem but it couldn’t be solved. The special status of Kashmir has not only helped to preserve the self-interests of its rulers and leaders but also encouraged a feeling of separation.”
Ironically, the chapter on India’s freedom struggle in the Class 10 social science textbook still mentions that only people from prosperous, intellectual and middle-class backgrounds, who couldn’t connect with the masses, were leaders of the Congress in the first phase.
This article has been corrected as it had originally called Savarkar an RSS ideologue.