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SAFFRONIZATION OF EDUCATION? – Another rewrite of history textbooks could be on cards 

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Stoking fears of saffronization of education in some quarters, the proc ess to rewrite NCERT histo ry textbooks may have begun. Earlier this monthbetween June 8 and 12NCERT conducted a work shop for a qu shop for a quick review of history textbooks attend ed by scholars from all parts of the country , including th ree council members of the Indian Council of Historic al Research.Before the workshop, a meeting took place in the HRD ministry in which NCE RT officials were called and the issue of change in history textbooks was discussed. Th ough both HRD and NCERT maintain that the meeting was to address “mistakes and controversial issues in history textbooks“, Sardindu Mukherji of ICHR who attended the meeting told TOI, “There are obvious problems with textbooks. These books should be replaced.“

Since 1977, when Jana Sangh joined the government as part of the Janata coalition, there has been threat of changing textbooks, especially history. In 1999 when NDA came to power, all NCERT textbooks were changed. In 2004, UPA replaced them again.

A senior NCERT official involved with history texts told TOI, “ A five-day workshop is not held to correct minor changes. These books have been in use for more than 10 years, and from time to time changes have been made.“ He says one of the things that came up for discussion in the workshop is the time it will take to come up with new history textbooks. Mukherji says, “It is for government to decide. But we are told that commissioning and writing takes 18 to 24 months. If at all, new books can come only in 2017. Books are first written in English and then translated in Urdu and other languages.“

Mukherji went along with two council members Meenakshi Jain and R S Agrawal. They were representing ICHR chairperson Y Sudershan Rao who could not make it to the meeting.

Mukherji points out a problem with Class XII history textbooks and alleges that Jinnah is highlighted as much as Gandhi while there is no mention of revolutionaries. He also says emergence of nationalism does not get proper treatment. When it is pointed out that it is part of textbooks in the earlier classes, he says, “It should be in Class XII since those interested in history have opted for the subject. They should study in detail.“

In fact, Mukherji has already prepared a compendium of big mistakes in the history textbooks and says his opposition has nothing to do with ideology .

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