Published: 18th April 2023
NCERT clarifies stance on removal of references to Azad and Gandhi in Class XI textbooks
"This was done as a regular practice of reprinting of NCERT textbooks which includes correcting the information," an official said
National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has clarified its stand over the removal of references to Maulana Azad in Class XI textbooks. The references to freedom fighters and India's first education minister were dropped way back in 2013 and should not be linked to the curriculum rationalisation exercise undertaken last year, the body said.
A top NCERT official said, "While exploring the matter in earlier editions of the textbook, it was found that from 2014-15 onwards the name of Maulana Azad was not there in the referred para. This textbook for the session 2014-15 was finalised for printing in October 2013 as per the record of the Publication Division. It should not be linked to the current rationalisation exercise," as mentioned in a report by PTI.
Asked whether the change was notified then, the official said, "This was done as a regular practice of reprinting of NCERT textbooks which includes updating and correcting the information. As part of its "syllabus rationalisation" exercise, the NCERT dropped certain portions from its textbooks, including lessons on Gujarat riots, Mughal courts, Emergency, Cold War, Naxalite movement, citing them as "overlapping" and "irrelevant".
In the Class XI Political Science textbook's first chapter, titled Constitution - Why and How, a line about Constituent Assembly meetings, which now reads "Usually, Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, Sardar Patel or BR Ambedkar chaired these Committees..." previously had a mention of Azad too. This deletion has kicked off a political controversy with the Opposition accusing the ruling BJP of "whitewashing with vengeance".
The Congress lashed out at the government last week, saying there was a concerted attempt to "rewrite" history and pass on a "distorted legacy built on lies". On Friday, April 14, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, tweeted, "What a disgrace. I have no objection to adding neglected figures to the historical narrative, but deleting people, especially for the wrong reasons, is unworthy of our diverse democracy and its storied history."
At the heart of the present row is the fact that while the changes made as part of the rationalisation exercise were notified, some of these controversial deletions weren't mentioned in them. The NCERT described the omissions as a possible oversight but refused to undo the deletions, saying they were based on the recommendations of experts.
Earlier, NCERT Director Dinesh Saklani had claimed that the changes which were "missed" in the rationalisation booklet will be notified soon. However, on Friday, it issued a statement saying "minor deletion or addition" is not notified given avoiding any confusion at the level of teachers and students.
"In the context of rationalisation exercise also some minor deletions (a sentence or a word or a phrase, etc) were done, which were not included in the details of the notification of the rationalisation, as this was under the regular process of reprinting of textbooks. NCERT firmly stands on its version that nothing has been removed or deleted after rationalisation undertaken in academic session 2022-2023," the statement added.
"Gandhiji's death had magical effect on communal situation in the country", "Gandhi's pursuit of Hindu-Muslim unity provoked Hindu extremists" and "Organisations like RSS were banned for some time," are among the texts missing from the Class XI Political Science textbook for the new academic session, as per PTI.