Excerpts of two poems of renowned Pakistani Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz have been excluded from the Class 10 Social Science textbook in the 2022-’23 curriculum of the Central Board of Secondary Education, The Indian Express reported on Saturday.
For more than a decade, the verses were part of the “Religion, Communalism and Politics – Communalism, Secular State” segment of the National Council of Educational Research and Training’s textbook called “Democratic Politics II”, according to the newspaper.
The segment will continue to be part of the textbook “excluding image[s] on page 46, 48, 49”, the CBSE has reportedly said.
The three pages carried two posters and a political cartoon. One of the pages had a poster by the Act Now for Harmony and Democracy, a non-profit organisation co-founded by activists Harsh Mander and Shabnam Hashmi.
The poster had an illustrations of one of Faiz’s verses translated into English, according to The Indian Express.
The verse – “Not enough to shed tears, to suffer anguish, not enough to nurse love in secret…Today, walk in the public square fettered in chains”, was translated from Faiz’s poem “Aaj Bazaar Me Pa Ba Jola Chalo”, or “Let us walk in the market in shackles”. Faiz had written the poem while being taken in chains from a jail in Lahore to a dentist’s clinic, where locals recognised him.
The second poster, issued by the Voluntary Health Association of India, had a verse from Faiz’s poem “Dhaka Se Wapsi Par” or “Upon returning from Dhaka”. The translated verse – “We remain strangers even after so many meetings, blood stains remain even after so many rains” – was from the poem that Faiz wrote after he visited Bangladesh in 1974, three years after the country became independent.
The third page carried a cartoon by Ajith Ninan, that had been published in the Times of India. The cartoon depicted an empty chair with religious symbols on it.
The caption read: “This chair is for the CM-designate to prove his secular credentials…There will be plenty of rocking!” The Indian Express reported.
The textbook had been developed by a committee chaired by Professor Hari Vasudevan of the University of Calcutta’s Department of History, after the revision of the National Curriculum Framework in 2005, according to the newspaper.
Faiz was a nominee for the Nobel Prize for literature and in 1963 was the first Asian poet to win the Lenin Peace Prize, according to the Library of Congress. He was born in Sialkot on February 13, 1911, in pre-partition Punjab.
Amnesty International India Chair Aakar Patel on Saturday described the CBSE’s move to exclude the verses as “petty”. Many others, including actor-filmmaker Nandita Das, also highlighted the move.
Other reading material excluded from the CBSE curriculum
Chapters on “democracy and diversity” which documented social division and inequalities in India and movements, “popular struggles and movements” with a focus on Nepal and Bolivia and “challenges to democracy” on reforming politics have also been dropped from the Class 10 Social Science textbook, according to The Indian Express.
A chapter on “Central Islamic Lands” that dealt with Islamic empires in Afro-Asian territories has been dropped from the Class 11 History course content, according to the newspaper.
Segments on the “Impact of globalization on agriculture” from a chapter on food security in the Class 10 curriculum and a chapter on “Cold war era and Non-aligned Movement” from the Class 12 Political Science curriculum have also been removed.
In the Class 11 Mathematics curriculum, a unit on mathematical reasoning has been dropped, according to The Indian Express.