Revised NCERT Textbook Drops Statement That J&K’s Accession Was Based on Promise of Autonomy

All references to India's first education minister Maulana Abul Kalam Azad have also been deleted from the revised political science textbook for Class XI.

New Delhi: The revised National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) Class XI political science textbook has omitted an earlier statement which said that Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to India was on the basis of a promise that the state would remain autonomous, according to The Hindu.

The news report, published on Wednesday, April 12, added that the authors of the revised textbook have also deleted all references to India’s first education minister Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.

These omissions are a series that have been unearthed after the NCERT has ‘rationalised’ the school syllabus to compensate for time lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the autonomous organisation had reported some of these omissions and deletions, it had kept others under wraps. These included dropping content on the Mughals and the 2002 Gujarat riots from the Class XII history books and certain portions on Mahatma Gandhi.

On April 5, reacting to the controversy about the NCERT surreptitiously dropping some content, its director Dinesh Saklani said: “Possible oversight, no ill intention.” He also said the changes will not be rolled back.

Now, The Hindu reports that the decision to remove the reference to Azad from the first chapter of the old Class 11 political science textbook “Indian Constitution at Work”, and J&K’s autonomous status, mentioned in chapter 10 of the same textbook, was also kept out of public domain.

According to the report, in the old textbook, the paragraph about J&K said: “For example, the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to the Indian union was based on a commitment to safeguard its autonomy under Article 370 of the Constitution.” [Emphasis supplied]

But this reference was dropped. Article 370 was diluted and J&K’s special status was revoked by the BJP-led Union government in August 2019. The state was also bifurcated into two Union Territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

According to The Hindu, the earlier textbook said: “The Constituent Assembly had eight major Committees on different subjects. Usually, Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad or Ambedkar chaired these Committees.” [Emphasis supplied]

The sentence now says: “Usually, Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, Sardar Patel or B.R. Ambedkar chaired these Committees.”

The deletion of the reference to Azad comes after the Naraendra Modi government in December 2022 dropped the Maulana Azad National Fellowship for students from minority communiites.

Knowledge about Vedas will earn credits

A day earlier, news reports revealed that as per the final report on the New National Credit Framework (NCrF) of the University Grants Commission (UGC), students would be able to earn credits for specialised knowledge in Hindu scriptures like the Puranas, Vedas and the Indian Knowledge System. Referring to the report made public by UGC on April 10, an Indian Express report said on April 11:

“The document lists 18 major Vidyas, or theoretical disciplines; and 64 kalas, applied sciences or vocational disciplines and crafts that can count towards credits earned during school education. This provision was not there when the draft NCrF was first shared in the public domain for feedback in October 2022.”

Knowledge in “18 Vidyas” has been defined as knowledge on the four Vedas, the four subsidiary Vedas (Ayurveda–medicine, Dhanurveda – weaponry, Gandharveda-music and Silpa – architecture), Purana, Nayaya, Mimansa, Dharmashastra, Vedanga, the six auxiliary sciences, phonetic, grammar, metre, astronomy, ritual, and also that philosophy can be considered for “creditization”. The news report said NCrF has included “special expertise in Indian Knowledge System” as one of the six areas in which students “who are national- and international-level achievers can earn credits. The remaining being games and sports, performing arts, craftsman of heritage, social work and special achievement in innovation.”  

A Hindustan Times report said that the framework “integrates the credits earned through school education, higher education and vocational and skill education. It will cover the credits assigned on the basis of learning hours from Class 5 to PhD level. The total hours of learning per credit will be 30.” UGC chairperson M. Jagadish Kumar added that the committe is “already working” on integrating Indian Knowledge Systems to higher education. “Now, the option will be offered to students as a part of school education as well,” he said.