Jaipur: ‘Who gave the slogan of sabka saath, sabka vikas?’, ‘What all has been done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to improve relations with Pakistan?’, ‘During his Nepal visit, how did Modi assure Nepal?’, ‘What was the reason behind implementing demonetisation?’, ‘Name four development programs of the Modi government,’ ‘What was the contribution of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in the freedom struggle?’ are a few of the questions in the revised Class 10 and 12 textbooks of the Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education (RBSE).
The new social science textbooks have chapters added on demonetisation, Make in India, the negative impact of non-vegetarian food on health, reporting of terrorist activities by media channels, the prime minister’s foreign visits, cashless transactions, NITI Aayog, the 16th Lok Sabha elections, Swachh Bharat Mission and the Paris Agreement, among the Modi government’s other initiatives.
The contents of the textbook have been drawn up in such a way that they leave no space for students to question the other side of the initiatives. The questions at the end of each chapter do not encourage any critical analysis either.
“Seventy percent of the syllabus is kept same. Changes have been made only in the social science syllabus, as the previous textbooks focused on the world more than India and Rajasthan. We don’t want our kids to lag behind. For those who are making an issue out of it, we have invited suggestions/feedback on the revised textbooks that could be used next time,” Professor B.L. Choudhary, chairman of the RBSE told The Wire.
Under section 22 of the Rajasthan Secondary Education Act, 1957, the RBSE forms a textbook committee that is responsible for the preparation and periodic revision of textbooks.
“With the ascent of BJP to the Centre in 2014, the Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government in Rajasthan has indulged itself in propagating the party’s Hindutva ideology through alteration in the school syllabus,” said Professor Rajiv Gupta of the Rajasthan University. “It is for the first time that the state government has given suggestions to RBSE to revise its textbooks. Controversies of the BJP government are tactfully ignored in the new books. Gandhi’s assassination and the 2002 Gujarat riots aren’t mentioned anywhere. Also, the initiatives talked about in the textbooks highlight only the positive aspects, lacking any critical assessment. This is a clear example of ‘manufacturing consent,”
‘Elite’ Congressmen wanted to prolong British Raj
The chapter on India’s freedom struggle in the Class 10 social science book says that only people from prosperous, intellectual and middle-class backgrounds, who couldn’t connect with the masses, were the leaders of the Congress in its first phase. Liberals wanted to strengthen British Raj in India and focused on its publicity, as they considered it emblematic of peace and order, and feared disorder in its absence. They never demanded India’s freedom during that phase, the textbooks say.
Savarkar, who has been given significant space in the Class 10 chapter on India’s freedom struggle, is mentioned as the ‘only brave revolutionary to be sentenced to two life terms of imprisonment and put in tireless efforts to stop partition,’ sidelining Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. No reference to Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination has been made in the books.
Demonetisation as ‘kaale dhan ki safai’
The chapter on corruption in the Class 12 political science textbook says demonetisation is known as ‘kaale dhan ki safai‘ in the history of economics. It was a ‘historical decision’ by the Central government to bring back black money, fight corruption, stop the financing of terrorist organisations and curb the usage of black money in elections. The textbook says nothing about the hardships faced by the public due to the sudden cash crunch, the impact on people in the informal sector who mainly deal in cash, the decrease in demand and other negative impacts that the decision has had on the Indian economy.
Non-vegetarian food and health
The Class 10 physical and health education book says that non-vegetarian food harms the body. As compared to the previous edition, meat products have been eliminated from the long list of fat, protein and mineral salts sources. Only eggs have been mentioned in the new book. The book also describes in detail ‘when to eat,’ ‘how to eat,’ ‘what mantra to chant before the meal’ and ‘how influence of western culture in the country is breaking families apart and reducing sanskar in the new generation’.
Lotus as a ‘symbol of Indian culture’
A poem called ‘The Lotus’ by Indian poet Toru Dutt, in the Class 10 English book Golden Rays, describes ‘the victory of the lotus as the victory of Indian culture’. The poem depicts the lotus, which is also incidentally the election symbol of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, as the favourite flower of Indian gods and goddesses. Many prizes – the Padmashri, Padma Bhushan, Padam Vibhushan – are named after the lotus (padma means lotus in Sanskrit). The poet describes a dispute among flowers (lotus, rose and lily) as a beauty contest but goddess flora chooses the lotus as the flower of supreme beauty.
The question that follows the chapter reads, ‘How is the lotus considered as a cultural symbol in the Indian society?’
Modi’s foreign policy and ‘surgical strike’
The chapter on ‘India’s relation with its neighbours’ talks about Modi’s visit to Pakistan, China and Nepal. It covers agreements signed with China and Nepal with special reference to Pakistan. It covers a range of topics on the Modi government’s relations with Pakistan – from inviting Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for the oath taking ceremony and no interaction between Modi and Sharif at the 18th SAARC summit, to the raising of Balochistan’s human rights issue, the surprise visit to Lahore on Sharif’s birthday, the Pathankot attack, the Uri attack by terrorists and its retaliation by India in the form of the army’s ‘surgical strike’.
The media ‘makes violence look more attractive’
The chapter on terrorism gives a lot of space to ‘terrorism and media coverage’ and lists the repercussions of ‘over reporting’ terrorist activities by the media. It reads, ‘The media’s presentation of terrorism in Kashmir and Punjab is stereotypical, which instead of creating hatred against the terrorists leads to a sense of tolerance towards them. Terrorism prospers due to excessive media coverage and makes violence look more attractive. Over reporting of terrorist activities encourages formation of terrorist organisations, raises their popularity, unfavourable effect on work efficiency of administration and may lead to terrorist groups controlling media channels.’
It may be recalled that the Information and Broadcasting ministry had tried to ban the Hindi news channel NDTV India for a day for allegedly breaching national security with its coverage.
Patanjali products instil nationalism
Patanjali products have been categorised as ‘Swadeshi’ along with Tata, Godrej, Amul, Hero and Bajaj. The chapter on the Indian economy says ‘Swadeshi increases love for the nation and nationalism is an effective element for the development of the country.’
Complete silence on controversies
Although the textbooks cover recent issues like demonetisation and the Paris climate deal, there is no mention of the events that have contributed to the perception of growing intolerance in the country. Even the chapter on casteism and communalism in the political science textbook does not mention events such as the 2002 Gujarat riots, Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, cow vigilantes, the beef ban, the Dadri lynching or the award wapsi movement of prominent writers.
“The government is playing with the future of children. Just because the BJP is in power and wants to propagate its Hindutva ideology, they are teaching all non-scientific things. Already the government schools are not able to compete with the private schools and now such ‘revision’ of syllabus will bring down the performance of students even further. The textbooks are pedagogically faulty,” Komal Srivastava of the Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti told The Wire.