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NCERT censures 'vote bank' politics and 'minority appeasement' in chapter on secularism; draws Congress ire

Revised content for the books, which the NCERT justifies as being done 'in view of COVID 19 with an objective to reduce the content load' have been criticised for furthering the government’s political agenda.
Last Updated : 17 June 2024, 13:47 IST

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New Delhi: In continuation of the controversies over changes in textbooks, the NCERT, in a chapter on politics in the syllabus of political science for this academic term taught to students in class 11, states that “vote bank” politics “disregards equality” and promotes “minority appeasement”. The changes prompted Congress leader Jairam Ramesh to call the syllabus body as an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

NCERT chief, D S Saklani, stoking further controversy, on Monday said that in NCERT textbooks “India” and “Bharat” will be used interchangeably – in October last year, when an NCERT panel suggested this change it had led to an uproar.

Revised content for the books, which the NCERT justifies as being done 'in view of COVID 19 with an objective to reduce the content load' have been criticised for furthering the government’s political agenda.

In the political science textbook for class 11, in a chapter on “secularism”, the textbook poses a question on whether welfarism for one section comes at the cost of another.

In the following passage in this term’s textbook, the answer states: “In theory, there may not be anything wrong with vote bank politics but only when vote bank politics leads to the mobilisation of a social group to vote en masse for a particular candidate or political party during elections, this distorts electoral politics. Here, the important feature is that the whole group works as a single monolithic unit during voting.” This passage was not in earlier textbooks.

Another change which stirred the controversy was the syllabus agency removing the name of the Babri Masjid from a chapter on politics in class 12 text books, instead calling it “three-domed structure.” Saklani justified the change by stating that there is no need to teach children about “riots” in textbooks.

On Monday, Saklani told the news agency PTI that both the words will be used in the books and the council has no aversion to either “Bharat” or “India”.

“It is interchangeable....our position is what our Constitution says and we uphold that. We can use Bharat, we can use India, what is the problem? We are not in that debate. Wherever it suits we will use India, wherever it suits we will use Bharat. We have no aversion to either India or Bharat,” he said.

Responding to these changes, Congress’s communications chief Jairam Ramesh said that the NCERT is “no longer a professional institution” and that it is “mounting an assault on our country's Constitution”. “It has been functioning as an RSS affiliate since 2014 … NCERT’s objective is to produce textbooks, not political pamphlets and propaganda,” he posted on X.

“NCERT is mounting an assault on our country's Constitution in whose Preamble secularism features explicitly as a foundational pillar of the Indian republic. Various Supreme Court judgments have clearly held secularism to be an essential part of the basic structure of the Constitution,” his further added.

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Published 17 June 2024, 13:47 IST

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