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Education

Why Two Kannada Authors Revoked Permission for Textbooks to Carry Their Work

Devanoora Mahadeva and G. Ramakrishna have protested against the alleged saffronisation of Karnataka's school textbooks.

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New Delhi: Two prominent Kannada writers – Devanoora Mahadeva and G. Ramakrishna – have protested the alleged ongoing saffronisation of school education in Karnataka by revoking permission for textbooks to carry their writings. Both their writings were included in the Class 10 Kannada textbook.

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.

Several organisations, including political parties, writers’ and women’s bodies and NGOs have decided to stage a state-level protest against the ‘saffronisation’ of education, on May 31.

Mahadeva and Ramakrishna wrote two separate letters explaining their decision and calling the method of reviewing textbook ‘undemocratic’ and ‘unethical’.

“The way the school textbooks have been revamped is very unethical. Education is being targeted for bad politics and is instilling poison in the minds of children. Hence, I feel it is appropriate to exclude my writings from the textbooks,” Ramakrishna said in his letter, according to the Indian Express.

Mahadeva, in his letter, rued the fact that prominent Kannada writes had been excluded from the textbooks while RSS thinkers now found space there. He also said that Chakrathirtha statement that he didn’t know the caste of writers he included was “dangerous”, as “if one ignores caste consideration in such matters, there is a danger of 90 per cent of the writings by authors of a particular caste getting included in textbooks”.

Read the full text of Mahadeva’s letter below.

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A heated debate is on regarding the revision of textbooks in Karnataka. I hear that one of my writings has been included in the Class X Kannada textbook. Changes to the textbooks are being made each minute over something being dropped, included. Seeing all these, I will be happier if my write-up is not included in the revised textbook. If it is included already, I do not have my consent for it. I am issuing this press release to clarify my position. I am withdrawing the approval that I had given for the inclusion of my write-up in the previous version of the textbook.

Here are my reasons:

  • If the writings of such Kannada authors as L. Basavaraju, A.N. Murthy Rao, P. Lankesh, Sara Abubakar and others have been removed from the textbook, it means that those who have revised the textbooks know nothing about Karnataka’s land, its language and culture. It is sad to see the writings of RSS founder K.B. Hedgewar, and right-wing activist Chakravarti Sulibele, who represent the Hindu faction of Chaturvarnya dharma, included in the textbooks.
  • Textbook Revision Committee chairperson Rohit Chakrathirtha says he doesn’t know the caste of the writers whose works have been included in the textbooks. In a country as complex as India, if one ignores caste consideration in such matters, there is a danger of 90 per cent of the writings by authors of a particular caste getting included in textbooks. It is almost like loving the smells of one’s own kitchen! This is how India’s plural and participatory democracy is destroyed. This is not new. This practice has been going on since the days of Dr Murli Manohar Joshi as Union Human Resources Minister. Education and history have always been the first target of attack under the rule of the BJP, a progeny of the RSS. This has happened again.
  • I would like to be associated with healthy minds who will examine all these textbooks after they are published and correct all the errors in them to provide our children with materials that will help them shape their thoughts according to the Constitutional morality. We will use all the online platforms including WhatsApp to disseminate such materials to students.