BJP 'saffronising' textbooks

The ruling BJP government has been accused of trying to “saffronise” school textbooks.

Former chairman of the Backward Class Commission, Dr C S Dwarkanath, freedom fighter H S Doreswamy, and former MLA A K Subbaiah, addressing the media here on Thursday, said the State government was “indoctrinating young minds by “Hinduising” textbooks along the lines of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideology.

Citing examples as proof for their claim, they said the draft Social Studies textbooks of standards five and eight contained a map of the undivided India showing only Hindu temples and shrines, apart from the various mutts in Karnataka.

Reading excerpts from the textbooks, Dwarkanath said: “Describing the battle between Rani Chennamma and Muslim ruler Hyder Ali, the Class V textbook suggests that the ‘Shatru’ (enemy) won the battle against Chennamma. It could have as well been ‘Hyder Ali won the war’. Is it just an error in the use of appropriate words?”

He said the textbooks eulogised the generous side of Chennamma, suggesting that the queen had given huge financial donations to mutts in the coastal region. The textbooks of both Classes V and VIII also have a map identifying places of importance in the country. 

“However, the map shows the old undivided India, with temples and mutts marked prominently. The map does not have any other places of religious or historical importance. Where is today’s Pakistan or Bangladesh?” Dwarkanath asked. The map is reportedly being considered for inclusion in the textbooks by the draft committee.

The textbooks also have a portion on the ‘Hare Krishna’ temple run by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon) in Bangalore. “The textbook mentions that Iskcon has been providing free mid-day meals to schoolchildren every day,” said Dwarkanath.

A K Subbaiah suggested that the Forum against Communalism would take legal recourse if the government did not withdraw the textbooks. “It seems the BJP government, instead of  abiding by the Constitution, is relying on the ‘panchanga’, or the religious calendar to prepare the Social Studies curricula,” he said.

Responding to the allegations, Minister for Primary and Secondary Education Vishveshwara Hegde Kageri said the government had confined itself to the National Curriculum Framework 2005 and there were no diversions from it.

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