‘Mutilated Beyond Recognition’: Suhas, Yogendra Ask NCERT To Drop Their Names As Advisors

The textbooks have been “mutilated” beyond recognition and become “academically dysfunctional” by the rationalisation effort, according to political scientists Suhas Palshikar and Yogendra Yadav, who have urged NCERT to remove their names as main advisors from all Political Science textbooks, news agency PTI reported.

Palshikar and Yadav have written to the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and stated that the cutbacks in the textbooks were arbitrary and unreasonable and that they were embarrassed to be referred to as principal advisors.

Palshikar and Yadav, who served as chief advisors on the original Political Science textbooks for grades 9 through 12, stated: “While the modifications have been justified in the name of rationalisation, we fail to see any pedagogic rationale at work here. We find that the text has been mutilated beyond recognition. There are innumerable and irrational cuts and large deletions without any attempts to fill the gaps created.”

“We were never consulted or even informed of these changes. If NCERT did consult other experts for deciding on these cuts and deletions, we explicitly state that we fully disagree with them in this regard,”  the letter sent to NCERT Director Dinesh Saklani was quoted by PTI in its report.

Palshikar, an academic and political scientist, and Yadav, a political scientist and Swaraj India activist, were the chief advisors for the Political Science books for grades 9 to 12, which were first released in 2006-07 and were based on the 2005 National Curriculum Framework (NCF).

Their names appear in a “letter to students” as well as a list of textbook production team members at the beginning of each volume.

In their letter, they said: “As academics organically associated with the preparation of these textbooks, we are embarrassed that our names should be mentioned as chief advisors to these mutilated and academically dysfunctional textbooks. We wish to explicitly record our full disagreement with the entire process of reshaping the text in name of rationalisation.”

“Both of us would like to disassociate ourselves from these textbooks and request the NCERT to drop our names….we request you to give effect to this request immediately and ensure that our names are not used in the soft copies of the textbooks available at the NCERT websites and also in the subsequent print editions,” the letter read.

They claim that all writing has an underlying logic, and that such “arbitrary cuts and deletions” go against the essence of the text. They said that the frequent and serial removals appear to have no rationale other than to appease the powers that be.

“Textbooks cannot and should not be shaped in this blatantly partisan manner and should not quell the spirit of critique and questioning among students of social sciences. These textbooks as they stand now do not serve the purpose of training students of political science both the principles of politics and the broad patterns of political dynamics that have occurred over time,” the letter said.

The removal of key themes and sections from NCERT textbooks last month sparked outrage, with the opposition accusing the government of “whitewashing with vengeance.”

The fact that, while the modifications made as part of the rationalisation process were announced, some of the problematic removals were not disclosed was at the heart of the debate. This sparked claims of a covert attempt to erase certain sections.

The NCERT had classified the omissions as a probable error but refused to reverse the deletions, claiming that they were based on expert recommendations. It further said that the textbooks will be revised in 2024, when the National Curriculum Framework takes effect. However, the NCERT eventually reversed its position, stating that “minor changes do not need to be notified.”

Certain sections of the Class 12 History textbook were removed, including references to Mahatma Gandhi and how his goal of Hindu-Muslim unity “provoked Hindu extremists,” as well as a ban on the RSS.

“Gandhiji’s death had magical effect on communal situation in the country”, “Gandhi’s pursuit of Hindu-Muslim unity provoked Hindu extremists”, and “organisations like RSS were banned for some time” are among the portions deleted.

The references to the Gujarat riots were deleted from the Class 11 Sociology textbook, months after the NCERT removed references to the 2022 communal violence from two Class 12 textbooks.

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