Caste Struggle and Colonialism dropped from NCERT school textbooks

Written by SabrangIndia | Published on: April 8, 2019

The rationale behind this, as given by another NCERT official, is that the students had to study much more for a 100-mark social sciences paper as compared to history and mathematics.

New Delhi: In the guise of lessening the student’s burden, caste struggles, farm labour and colonialism were dropped from students textbooks in the second textbook review by the current government.
In the latest textbook review, the NCERT has removed three chapters from ‘India and the Contemporary World – II’ history textbook of class 10th beginning this academic year. Since the current government came to power, this is the second textbook revision on the basis of the curriculum rationalisation exercise undertaken by the HRD Minister Prakash Javedkar as reported by the Indian Express.   
News of this happening had been circulating since March.
The report further says that the book is now 72 pages thinner with three fewer chapters. The deleted chapters are- ‘The Nationalist Movement in Indo-China’ which spoke about the rising nationalism in the Indo-China region, its basis for colonialism and the women’s role in the anti-imperialist movement in Vietnam. The second chapter, titled ‘Work Life and Leisure’, talks about the cities of London and Bombay; their growth and its environmental challenges, rising joblessness, increasing makeshift shelters among other things. The last chapter ‘Novels, Society and History’ explains how novels influenced the modern ways of thinking in the West and in India.
As reported by The Wire, three chapters from class 9th history textbook relating to caste struggles, the history of cricket and the impact of colonialism on rural communities were removed. Earlier, the schools were given the choice to decide the five chapters from the eight chapters on which the students will be assessed- two from the section titled ‘Events and Processes’, two from ‘Livelihoods, Economies and Societies’ and one from ‘Everyday Life Culture and Politics.’
Speaking to the Indian Express, an NCERT official said that the earlier assessment manner created confusion among the students and the teachers. He further said that “The issue of who decides which of these chapters are to be taught remained uncertain. Moreover, since the question paper for social science is common, there was confusion among students, teachers and even Boards of examination. So in pedagogical interest, it was decided to retain the chapters which reflect the defining themes of the textbook and students will now be assessed on only those (chapters).” For a similar reason, the chapters from the Class 9th book were removed as mentioned earlier.
On the contrary, former NCERT chairman Krishna Kumar said that “The new approach, according to NCF of 2005, is that the textbook need not be tied to the exam, that it is a resource for creating greater awareness and curiosity about a subject. Hence the idea that the whole textbook need not be the basis of examination and that schools and children should be free to select portions on which they are examined, whereas other portions can be simply for arousing greater interest.” He further went on to say that the deleted chapters were important elements to generate curiosity among the students and to look at the historical happenings in a broader context. Also, keeping them only in the digital copy wouldn’t have the desired effect.
Though Javedkar had recommended reducing the curriculum by 50%, NCERT has reduced it by 20% in social sciences textbook with minimal cuts in mathematics and sciences. The rationale behind this, as given by another NCERT official, is that the students had to study much more for a 100-mark social sciences paper as compared to history and mathematics.
NCERT had drawn widespread criticism in March for its decision to delete a chapter on the Channar Revolt, the 19th-century agitation by lower-caste Nadar women in the erstwhile kingdom of Travancore from the Class 9 history textbook in Kerala.
The Channar Revolt, or the upper cloth movement, which took place between 1813 and 1859, saw Nadar women defying diktats imposed by the upper castes that lower caste men and women must not clothe their upper bodies.
The erasure of caste struggles and farm labour from textbooks is not the first time the ruling govt has attacked the education system.
It has been accused of ‘saffronising’ syllabus, especially in history textbooks after it was reported that the NCERT was under pressure to replace a reference to the ‘Anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat’ in the political science textbook for Class XII to simply the ‘Gujarat Riots’ in addition to changing the interpretation of Hindutva. A passage in the book which carried Vajpayee’s famous ‘raj dharma’ quote was also reportedly considered to be unnecessary, The Wire reported.