Published: 31st May 2023
Post objections, NCERT drops references to Khalistan from Class XII textbooks
According to MoE officials, the objection pertained to the mention of the Anandpur Sahib resolution
The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has dropped references to the demand for a separate Sikh nation Khalistan from the Class XII Political Science textbook. The move came after the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) raised objections to it.
According to top officials from the Ministry of Education (MoE), last month, the SPGC had alleged NCERT of misrepresenting historical details about Sikhs in the textbook titled Politics In India Since Independence. The body's objection pertained to the mention of the Anandpur Sahib resolution, as per a report by The New Indian Express.
The sentences and what officials say
"The resolution was a plea for strengthening federalism but it could also be interpreted as a plea for a separate Sikh nation" and "The more extreme elements started advocating secession from India and the creation of Khalistan," are the dropped sentences. The statements have been rewritten as "The resolution was a plea for strengthening federalism."
"Representation from SGPC was received regarding withdrawing objectionable content against the Sikh community by misrepresenting Sri Anandpur Sahib resolution. A committee of experts was constituted by NCERT to examine the issue and the decision was taken on the basis of the recommendations of the panel," said Sanjay Kumar, School Education Secretary, MoE.
The Anandpur Sahib resolution was a document adopted by the Shiromani Akali Dal in 1973. The resolution affirmed the party's commitment to the Sikh religion and demanded greater autonomy for Punjab. It also demanded that the city of Chandigarh should be handed over to Punjab and that Punjabi should be given second-language status in neighbouring states.
"A corrigendum has been issued by NCERT. While the physical books for the new academic session have already been printed, the changes will reflect in the digital books," Kumar said. However, dropping several topics and portions from the NCERT textbooks had last month triggered a controversy.
The controversy around dropping topics
The Opposition blamed the Centre for "whitewashing with vengeance". At the heart of the row was 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. This led to allegations about a bid to delete these portions surreptitiously, as per TNIE.
The NCERT described the omissions as a possible oversight but refused to undo the deletions, stating they were based on the recommendations of experts.
It also said that the textbooks were anyway headed for revision in 2024 when the National Curriculum Framework kicks in. All the same, later NCERT changed its stand and said "minor changes need not be notified".
Among the references that were dropped from the Class XII History textbook were certain portions on Mahatma Gandhi and how his pursuit of Hindu-Muslim unity "provoked Hindu extremists", and led to a ban on the RSS. Portions referring to the Gujarat riots were also dropped from the Class XI Sociology textbook, months after NCERT removed the reference to the 2022 communal violence in two Class XII textbooks.