Are citizenship and secularism ‘disposable’ subjects for Indian students?

MHRD 'rationalises' curriculum, also drops modules on Human Rights, Legal Aid and Local Government 

CBSE School
Picture for representational purpose only. 

In the latest policy decision taken in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has decided that high-school students no longer need to learn about  “federalism, citizenship, nationalism, and secularism”. Those chapters have now been deleted from the political science curriculum of Class 11.

The Union Minister for HRD Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ said this was done in view of the “extraordinary situation prevailing in the country and the world. The government has done this as a part of its attempt to ‘rationalise syllabus up to 30% by retaining the core concepts.” 


Thus the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) was advised to revise the curriculum and reduce course load for the students of Class 9 to 12. However the board seems to have gone above and beyond the brief to revise the syllabi for those classes for the academic session 2020-21, and removed large chunks across subjects.

Many senior teachers are baffled by the timing. “How can anyone say at this moment that what percentage is to be reduced? For the Board classes we used to complete syllabus by October-November,” said a senior teacher of a government school. 

According to another teacher, a political science expert himself, other subjects too have been affected. “For class 12 mathematics, a few sub topics have been removed from some chapters. This has hardly reduced ten days of work, how does it help,” he asked. Some other teachers are surprised at the choice of subjects removed as well. The subjects deleted they said were easy for the students to read and understand. And therefore they were easier to answer in the final exams and helped the student score better marks. “Easy topics which used to be helpful to get through, have been removed. In humanities complete chapters have been removed,” said a class teacher. Another added that most class 12 science students are also preparing for entrance exams for engineering and medical colleges and cannot skip any chapter in the syllabus at all. Not at least “till clear instructions received from National Testing Agency (NTA),” said a science teacher.

Political Science topics CBSE deleted include:

  • Federalism 
  • Local Governments
  • Why do we need Local Governments?
  • Growth of Local Government in India
  • Citizenship 
  • Nationalism 
  • Secularism 
  • Environment and Natural Resources (Completely Deleted)
  • Changing nature of India’s economic development Planning Commission and Five-year Plans
  • India’s Relations with its Neighbours: Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Myanmar

History topics CBSE deleted include:

  • Understanding Partition
  • Peasants, Zamindars and the State
  • Colonial Cities
  • Early Societies
  • Nomadic Empires
  • Confrontation of Cultures

Legal Studies topics CBSE deleted include:

  • Historical context of Human Rights in India
  • History of the Legal Profession in India
  • Classification of Lawyers: Roles and Functions
  • Legal Profession in other Jurisdictions (This includes Legal Education in the United States, UK and other countries like France, Germany, Singapore, People’s Republic of China and Australia)
  • Brief history of legal services
  • Legal background – Free Legal Aid under International law, the Indian legal system
  • Hierarchy of Legal Aid Service Authorities – The Central Authority, The State Authority, The District Authority and Taluk Legal Services Committee
  • Funding
  • Administrative Law

In English Core topics CBSE deleted include:

  • Writing Classified Advertisements
  • Letters to the editor (giving suggestions/opinions on an issue) 
  • Application for a job with a bio-data or résumé
  • Article & Report Writing
  • Narrative Grammar
  • Modals
  • Clauses
  • Change of Voice
  • Error Correction, editing task/cloze passages

The complete list of deleted topics may be read here:

In an official communication HRD Minister Pokhriyal had also informed that a few weeks ago, he invited suggestions from all educationists on the reduction of syllabus on social media by using #SyllabusForStudents2020. He said changes made in the syllabi were finalised by various course committees and approved by the curriculum committee and governing body of the board. The CBSE has not told heads of schools to ensure that students are informed about the topics that have been reduced. However the reduced syllabus will not be part of the topics for Internal Assessment and year-end Board Examination.

The Indian Express has reported how, sub-sections such as ‘Why do we need Local Governments?’ and ‘Growth of Local Government in India’ have been removed from the curriculum. The CBSE’s official statements added that the teachers must now explain to the students “to the extent required to connect different topics” even as chunks have been removed. 

According to the IE report, “recently, the other central board – Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) – had announced to reduce their syllabus for class 10 and 12 by 25 per cent to “make up for the loss in instructional hours during the current session 2020-21.”

“It would have been easier on the students if the government had just delayed the session. They could have now opted for a session to start in January and last till December, like they do abroad. The wider syllabus was needed to help the students learn better, more holistically,” said a teacher, adding that the students will now need a lot of help to connect the dots and will still need to be told about the missing chapters even if they are not going to earn any extra marks.   

(The revised syllabus is available on CBSE Academic Website: )



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