Karnataka: Scholars, Writers Resign From Govt Bodies to Protest 'Saffronisation' of Textbooks

Renowned writer S.G. Siddaramaiah has also withdrawn permission for the inclusion of his poem 'Manegelasada Hudugi' in the Class IX Kannada textbook.

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New Delhi: A number of scholars and educationists from Karnataka have protested against the ongoing “saffronisation” of education in the state, by resigning from state government committees and bodies.

A revision committee headed by Rohith Chakrathirtha, which was constituted in 2020 after the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in Karnataka, to examine social science and language textbooks, recently revised social science textbooks from Classes 6 to 10 and Kannada language textbooks from Classes 1 to 10. Chapters on revolutionary and freedom fighter Bhagat Singh, Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan, Lingayat social reformer Basavanna, Dravidian movement pioneer Periyar and reformer Narayana Guru have allegedly been removed from the syllabus or severely curtailed with. Facts on Kannada poet Kuvempu were also allegedly distorted. Meanwhile, a speech by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar has made its way to the Class 10 revised Kannada textbook.

Writers S.G. Siddaramaiah, who was president of Rashtrakavi Dr. G.S. Shivarudrappa Pratishthana, H.S. Raghavendra Rao, Nataraja Budalu and Chandrashekhar Nangli wrote to chief minister Basavaraj Bommai on Monday, resigning from various posts they held, The Hindu reported.

“The recent unconstitutional attack and oppression in education, cultural, and political spheres of the State has left us concerned. The government’s silence and lack of action on those who have been openly inciting communal hatred undermining the State and federal structure has left us anxious and scared,” their letter said.

Siddaramaiah has also written to minister for primary and secondary education B.C. Nagesh and withdrawn permission for the inclusion of his poem ‘Manegelasada Hudugi‘ in the Class IX Kannada textbook. Earlier, two prominent authors – Devanoora Mahadeva and G. Ramakrishna – had revoked permission for textbooks to carry their writings.

Hampa Nagarajaiah also resigned as president of Rashtrakavi Kuvempu Pratishthana, saying that the government was taking no action against Chakrathirtha even though he made defamatory statements against Kuvempu and the state anthem. “Since the government has not only not taken any action against people who have defamed Kuvempu and the anthem, but since they have been made members of the official committee, it sends a wrong signal to people,” Nagarajaiah’s letter to Bommai states.

Educationist V.P. Niranjanaradhya declined an honour from the state government for his work on the National Education Policy. “The State government has resorted to communalise and saffronise education and in this process, no curriculum framework, constitutional values and education policy have been followed. Since this exercise and the programme to which I am invited both are led by the Education Minister, I stand by the constitutional values and boycott it,” he responded to the invite, according to The Hindu.

Several student groups too have been protesting over the changes and have planned further protests.